>where did this come from? who would’ve thought that at the end of the day i’d be hooked on bobby “blue” bland? well, dear readers, let me tell you how it happened…
september 11, 2001. while most conversations surrounding this exact date are dismal and depressing, there is one bright spot: the blueprint. jay-z released (what i think) is his best album. some may argue the black album (i think thats the only other contender, though i have a soft spot for kingdom come), but my top vote goes to the blueprint. my all-time favorite jay-z track, “heart of the city (aint no love)” resides on the heart of the album. it’s amazing how one track can change your musical perspective. this song is a perfect example.
i discovered at a much later date – we’ll say a year or so ago – that it was produced by mr. kanye west. it’s no wonder i love it. this has caused me to dabble in his other produced work (common, john legend, talib kweli, pharrell, selected jay tracks). turns out, if kanye produced it, i basically love it to bits*. i had never really understood the concept of a producer before this song. what a revolutionary moment.
however, there was more. this song was much more than just a sick beat kanye came up with and threw behind something s. carter spit out – the thing i think i liked MOST about this song was the sample that kanye used (sample is an extremely loose term here – there is so much sampled here that you could basically consider it a remix). so a while after i started researching everything kanye had produced, i started checking out all the samples he’d used. both on his own albums and on the other tracks with other artist he’d with whom he had collaborated. being a limewire enthusiast at the time (this is about 6 months ago now – soon after kanye released graduation), i promptly downloaded “aint no love in the heart of the city” by bobby “blue” bland. aaaaaaand boom goes the dynamite**.
at the time i didnt know what i’d uncovered. since the ‘remix’ had relied so heavily on the sample, it wasn’t really a shock that i liked it, but i had no idea that it was just the tip of the iceberg. i’ve been sitting here for months with a bobby bland track; i never thought to dive deeper. it was like i’d been holding an unopened Wonka Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight with a golden ticket waiting inside forever. this evening, jon managed to open that fudge bar from across the pond***.
around 7:18 pm CST (2:18 pm CET) i was sent the full album. oh. my. goodness. my musical mind has just transcended the genres to which it was previously attuned. suddenly i’m hooked on a blues artist from the 50s, 60s and 70s. suddenly i want to make a trip to 18th and Vine in downtown kc. i want to hit up the blue room. i want to tour the negro league hall of fame. i want to sit in a smokey lounge and soak in an hour and a half blues set that only consists of one song. i want to understand this genre of music that i’ve somehow missed.
and if that wasn’t exciting enough – get this – i cashed in a border’s gift card for joe posnanski’s book The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America (more to come on this incredible book/man – everyone can learn a thing or two from buck o’neil). but this book totally encompasses the same time period, music, and overall idea. in a chapter early in the book, posnanski writes about what 18th and vine (the location of the negro leagues hall of fame) was really like back in the days of blues. back when every bar and lounge in the jazz district was exploding with heartfelt, soul-filled blues. apparently after the bars would close up, the bands would just move it out into the street, and the different players from the different establishments would compete, collaborate, steal each other’s sounds, listen to each other, tweak their own sounds and wouldn’t charge a penny. what a scene.
anyway. now that i’m on my 11th trip through dreamer i feel like i’ve got a decent grasp on how great this sound is. bobby sings about jilted love mostly. which is beautiful for so many reasons, but most of all, i think, because it can encompass a dozen different emotions which quickly can be turned into an album with so much contrasting emotion its hard to handle at times. sorrow, confusion, anger, glimmers of hope, disgust, jealousy and mistrust. killer piano, passionate brass and saxophone, and some serious electric guitar all they’re mixed and matched with varying tempos and so much vocal emotion that you can’t help but wonder why the h adam paul cooper hasn’t dabbled in it before now. what a schmuck.
and why, pray tell, do people no longer dress like bobby b? where can i find a shirt like that? hawt. that nearly puts justin timberlake to shame…eh.
* – what a queer phrase. not queer meaning peculiar. see definition 2.
** – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W45DRy7M1no
*** – referring to the atlantic ocean. apparently.