10 Examples of Bob Dylan Before Bob Dylan #4 & #5. Big Bill Broonzy & Lightnin’ Hopkins: Lifelong Blues

.It is difficult to find any new words of praise on Bob Dylan. He remains one of the true icons of popular music. However, he is not a trailblazer. His roots and inspirations are easily found. No discredit against Dylan meant. He is every bit the icon as everyone says But here is the 1st of ten people who did what Dylan does just way before him. Introducing:

#4. & #5

Big Bill Broonzy & Lighnin Hopkins

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Big Bill Broonzy

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Lightnin’ Hopkins

The hardest thing  for a musician to do is to survive and still thrive. There have been many musicians who survived strife of some sort but their popularity was a shell of what it once was. Even more difficult to do is to maintain an artistic success both creatively and financially. Where many would crumble in later years dealing with past successes, Bob Dylan stood tall and fought expectations of what he was as an artist and what his creations mieant. He survived himself and his legacy just like two of the legendary bluesmen of all time, Big Bill Broonzy and Lightnin Hopkins.

This entry focuses not only on longevity but productivity as well. While Dylan has had more than his share of clunkers, notably the album Down in the Groove (Do all the reforming you like. It won’t make it a good album), his consistently being able to make a great album marks him truly farther and greater than any other in pop music history. His ability to remain relevant while crafting his own material further confirms his genius.

Like Dylan, both Hopkins and Broonzy wrote a lot of their own material. Broonzy’s career would stretch from 1927–1958. Of note, Wikipedia informs us:

“Broonzy copyrighted more than 300 songs during his lifetime, including both adaptations of traditional folk songs  and original blues songs.”

Born Lee Conley Bradley anywhere from 1893 to 1902 in either Lake Dick, Ar or Scott Ms., Broonzy was one of seventeen children.  From a young age, Broonzy developed a passion for music and began performing anywhere he and friend Louis Carter could. After returning from military service in World War I, Broonzy would pack up his bags and leave his home in Arkansas for the more accommodating climbs of Chicago.

Lightnin’ Hopkins  career spanned from 1946 to 1982 and, according to Discog.com, released 78 albums. Hopkins remains one of the most prolific recording artist in any genre. His laid back, smooth delivery was both cool and meaningful. Like Broonzy, Lightnin’ Hopkins’ music contained elements that would set the structure for rock. Both blues men would have long recording careers.

They never reached the dizzying heights or adoration Dylan would. However in a business where people come and go by night or reach the top briefly, Big Bill Broonzy and Lightnin’ Hopkins had a durability matched by very few.

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LeBron James: King of the First Round

With his teammates help, LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers recently wrapped another first round win of the NBA playoffs. Though their first round sweep of the NBA seemed like a regular season match up, business as usual so to speak, James is building quite a legacy for the utter dominance that teams he has played on have had in the first rounds throughout his career. If nothing else, James reigns supreme as the King of the NBA playoffs first round.

The  106-102 Cavalier victory over the Pacers saw James contributed 33 points and 10 rebounds. James’ teams have won the past 21 games. Of course, with James being at the center of all of them. ESPN notes that when James’ teams have their opponent down, they do not let up:

“In each of the seven times James has gone up 3-0 in a playoff series, his team won in a sweep.”

Overall, in his fourteen NBA seasons,James’ teams have made the playoffs twelve times. During the twelve appearances, James’ teams have accrued a 48-7 record. According to ESPN:

“His .873 win percentage in first-round games is the best among the more than 300 players to play at least 25 playoff games since the current 16-team playoff format.” began in 1984.

 

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Put simply, every time King James’ teams have gotten into the playoffs they have made it out of the first round and usually none the worse for wear. For his part, James shakes off the numbers and their meaning. From Bleacher Report, LeBron noted:

“As far as the streak, I don’t get caught up into it,” James said after his most recent victory.

“I’ve been fortunate to play with two great organizations obviously here and in Miami. We’ve prepared the best way we can going into a playoff series no matter the opponent. I’ve been fortunate to get to the second round [or further] every time I’ve been in the postseason.”

Again this year, a championship remains LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers only option. Anything else for the King of Cleveland just won’t do.

 

10 Examples of Bob Dylan Before Bob Dylan #3. Skip James

It is difficult to find any new words of praise on Bob Dylan. He remains one of the true icons of popular music. However, he is not a trailblazer. His roots and inspirations are easily found. No discredit against Dylan meant. He is every bit the icon as everyone says But here is the 1st of ten people who did what Dylan does just way before him. Introducing:

3.

Skip James: A Different Voice

Skip James
Vanguard

As a live performer, you have an ultimate sense of control that can rarely be found anywhere else. A willing audience waits, crouched at your feet, waiting in the darkness wanting to be won.  No record company, agent, or manager can take can aid the artist here. It is the only place where the artist truly decides his fate. As Bob Dylan and Skip James prove, you don’t have to be a great singer to be a great performer. Both Dylan and James employed unconventional singing styles. Their styles polarized listeners. Either you liked them or you hated them. There was no in between. What set James and Dylan apart was their styles. Though unconventional, they won more than their fair share of supporters.

Nehemiah Curtis James, better known as Skip, was born June 9,  1902 in Bentonia Ms. As  with Mississippi John Hurt, James did one recording session in 1928 and disappeared from public view. With the Great Depression looming, James’ records did not sell, thus there was no great want to keep him around. Like many of James’ contemporaries, he would go through a renaissance in  popularity in the sixties.

Whereas Dylan’s singing voice could be describe as nasal, Skip James employed a somewhat high pitched that was both compelling and haunting. When combined with his equally stark and dark style of guitar playing, James, with only an acoustic guitar and his voice, could tie you in knots. You did not forget Skip James.

 

About his guitar playing, the Wikipedia entry for James states:

James often played guitar with an open D-minor tuning (D-A-D-F-A-D), resulting in the “deep” sound of the 1931 recordings. He purportedly learned this tuning from his musical mentor, the unrecorded bluesman Henry Stuckey, who in turn was said to have acquired it from Bahamian soldiers during the First World War, despite the fact that his service card shows he did not serve overseas. Robert Johnson also recorded in this tuning, his “Hell Hound on My Trail” being based on James’s “Devil Got My Woman. James’s classically informed fingerpicking style was fast and clean, using the entire register of the guitar, with heavy, hypnotic bass lines. His style of playing had more in common with the Piedmont blues of the East Coast than with the Delta blues of his native Mississippi.;

As for Bob Dylan, he began into a more abstract delivery for the Blonde on Blonde tour. He jumped more and more into the surreal.

 

10 Examples of Bob Dylan Before Bob Dylan: #2. Mississippi John Hurt

It is difficult to find any new words of praise on Bob Dylan. He remains one of the true icons of popular music. However, he is not a trailblazer. His roots and inspirations are easily found. No discredit against Dylan meant. He is every bit the icon as everyone says But here is the 1st of ten people who did what Dylan does just way before him. Introducing:

2.

Mississippi John Hurt: Traveling Troubadour

Born sometime between 1892 and 1893 in Teoc, Ms, Mississippi John Hurt’s music was unique among his blues brethren. More folk than blues, Hurt’s sound was plaintive and clear. It would fall under the genre listing of “Country Blues,”  and would sound more in place in forty years later from when Hurt first recorded in 1928.

Rock history, or so rock historians would lead us to believe, (Very nicely documented in Peter Doggett’s book Are You Ready For the Country), was changed when Bob Dylan released his 1968 album John Wesley Harding. After years of heavy touring, drinking and on and off drug use, Dylan withdrew from public life after the end Blonde on Blonde tour, as well as a disputed motorcycle accident. Dylan would reappear a year later working with The Band in what would become The Basement Tapes. However, John Wesley Harding would be the first the public would hear from him.

It was a sharp contrast to the deafening sonic boom going on in pop music, lead by The Who, Cream and Jimi Hendrix to name a few. It also contrasted sharply to Dylan’s previous album, the frantic word collage of a manic genius that was Blonde on Blonde. It was Mississippi John Hurt.

Numerous artists have covered Hurt’s songs, as well. His style of blues inspired numerous recording musicians who ruled the 1960s. Hurt would reemerge in that time as well. As his entry in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia notes:

Tom Hoskins, a blues enthusiast, located Hurt in 1963 and persuaded him to move to Washington, D.C. He was recorded by the Library of Congress in 1964. This helped further the American folk music revival, which had led to the rediscovery of many other bluesmen of Hurt’s era. Hurt performed on the university and coffeehouse concert circuit with other Delta blues musicians who were brought out of retirement. He also recorded several albums for Vanguard Records.

Before he died in November of 1966, Hurt would lead scholars to the whereabouts of next subject Skip James.

10 Examples of Bob Dylan Before Bob Dylan: #1. Son House

It is difficult to find any new words of praise on Bob Dylan. He remains one of the true icons of popular music. However, he is not a trailblazer. His roots and inspirations are easily found. No discredit against Dylan meant. He is every bit the icon as everyone says But here is the 1st of ten people who did what Dylan does just way before him. Introducing;

Son House: Rebellious Outsider Outlaw

Like many of his blues brethren, James House Jr, born 1902 in Lyon Mississippi, was torn between his faith and his music.   It would take years of hard living and drinking before he would rediscover his sanity, via, of course, finding God. The results would be three albums of a Dylan in transition from aging rock star into eventual icon.

Son House did it a little different. According to Wikipedia:

“After years of hostility to secular music, as a preacher and for a few years also as a church pastor, he turned to blues performance at the age of 25. He quickly developed a unique style by applying the rhythmic drive, vocal power and emotional intensity of his preaching to the newly learned idiom.”

Like Dylan, Son House’s songs tended to hold the “Good, piety” with suspicion.  The “Bad,” aka the devil, definitely had more than his share of flaws but at least he was honest about. Consider Son House’s song “Death Letter Blues”

You know I went in my room, I bowed down to pray
The blues came along and drove my spirit away
I went in my room, I said I bowed down to pray
I said the blues came along and drove my spirit away

You know I didn’t feel so bad, ’til the good ol’ sun went down
I didn’t have a soul to throw my arms around
I didn’t feel so bad, ’til the good ol’ sun went down
You know, I didn’t have nobody to throw my arms around

The “Good” man loved this woman. Death robbed him of her. He is bereft, despite the fact she really didn’t love him. Who does he blame?

As with Son House, Dylan’s “Good” guys aren’t too interested in the good. In “High Water (For Charley Patton) “Good’s” (ie God’s) domain is a rather bleak place:

High water risin’, the shacks are slidin’ down
Folks lose their possessions and folks are leaving town
Bertha Mason shook, it broke it
Then she hung it on a wall
Says, “You’re dancin’ with whom they tell you to
Or you don’t dance at all”
It’s tough out there
High water everywhere

Excello Records: The Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Theories abound about who invented rock ‘n’ roll and where and how it began. Most of them cross and share the same highway on their version to the truth. The one common opinion held by all is the Mississippi river always figures some way in to the narrative. The geographical feature that divides the United States in half is somewhere buried in the heart of each tale. It provided something for every need that arose in each narrative. However for independent record label Excello Records, the Mississippi would serve as a metaphor. No matter what the label did or the talent it boast. it would always be a secondary label of what was then considered secondary  people, African Americans. The talent of Excello Records took a backseat to no one and rightly boasts an integral part in the story of rock music’s development.

Excello began its life in the capital of country music Nashville, Tennessee. Founded by Ernie Young in 1953, the fledgling label was a subsidiary of Nashboro Records, also the child of Young, which specialized in gospel records. According to the website Rockbilly.nl,  “Young’s labels were off-shoots of Ernie’s Record Mart, a Nashville- based shop and mail order operation launched in 1950.”

By the mid 50s, Eddie Cochran and Elvis were finding some success with what the Wikipedia entry for Elvis Presley called, “(he)was an early popularizer of rockabilly, an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country music and rhythm and blues.” It was the mixture of a Latin-tinged back beat and blues song structure that set the world ablaze and provided the grounding with which rock flourished.  The Latin flavor would spice up the sometimes lumbering blues structured songs.

JD Miller, who would be the main creative force in the creation of the “Swamp Blues” sound,  would use his success as producer of the Lightnin’ Slim hit song “Bad Luck” to enter in an agreement with Excello and Earnie Young to distribute the tapes of the amateur R & B artists he recorded.

In October, Young would meet up with the man who would help his talented assemblage of musicians achieve a sound far ahead of its time. JD Miller was a record producer from Crowley , La. As Rockabilly notes about meeting,  it would set up “one of the most famous partnerships in R&B history,” would also be an important event in the shaping of rock music.

JD Miller’s first job was a song from Guitar Gable entitled ” Congo Mambo.”

When the song starts, you hear how the music was coming together. The staggered type rhythm introduced a new opportunity to the way their music spoke. This was rock. The only problem was it was made during the time of racial inequality. Black artists music was to made for black folk only. Certainly, they crossed over and black artists, like Excello’s Slim Harpo, would influence a whole generation who would cover his songs, including the Rolling Stones and Neil Young, but his initial successes, along with other black artists of the period were quite limited.

However, in terms of innovation, should that disqualify one like Slim Harpo from recognition and Excello themselves from the sense of achievement just because their market had limits, albeit artificial ones? The more you listen to the songs of Slim Harpo, Lonnie Brooks, Lazy Lester, and Lightnin Slim, you hear sounds that Elvis, the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis and even Buddy Holly would  never come near replicating.

Was Excello Records the birthplace of rock and roll?

Bollywood Icon Salman Khan Says Hollywood Not For Him

Bollywood icon and legend Salman Khan has been  at the top of the Bollywood heap for quite a longtime now. He’s worked with some of the greatest legends in the Indian film as well as some of its hottest young stars. His films have set box office records for Indian films, both home and aboard. What’s left to prove in Bollywood for Khan and is Hollywood next? Well, no. It’s not.

Khan was in Auckland to do a performance for his Da-Bang, The Tour.and answer questions about  his career in India to date. Since many Bollywood and other Indian cinema stars are leaving home and testing the Hollywood film scene,naturally one would assume Khan would eventually find his way to that eventuality. Far from it. Quote Khan from Deccanchronicle.com:

“No, Hollywood is too far. I don’t even feel like leaving my home when working,”

It’s not as if Salman Khan needs the work or money for that matter. Khan runs his own production company and has two films Tubelight and Tiger Zinda Hai ready for release. For proof of Khan’s popularity, the website NZHerald noted that Khan had “34 million fans on Facebook.” As well, huge crowds gathered at Auckland International Airport to view Khan’s arrival.

Da-Bang, The Tour will next head to Australia.  The musical tour boasts 100 people participants. Khan is joined by actress Sonakshi Sinha, choreographer, director and actor Prabhu Deva, model and actress Bipasha Basu, rapper and singer Badshah, anchor, anchor and TV host Manish Paul, and model, dancer and actress Daisy Shah. The tour is the brainchild of Salman Khan and was the one who set the whole thing in motion.

For this  reason, Khan popularity and respect is equal among his acting peers as it is his fans.