Songs of (yester)Day: A Tale of Two [Cool-ASS] Cities

Posted on January 4, 2012


My boyfriend always liked being sketched first thing in the morning foto@me

The origin of various genres of music has long been a source of fascination. A music history class at uni led me to Greil Marcus, and after I read Lipstick Traces I was sold. Greil Marcus is basically a historian who uses music and the evolution of its forms to study contemporary history, focussing on America. It’s so amazing, and so beautiful to trace the journey of African (-American) music along its political and social trajectories and realise how far it’s come without changing the essence of what it stands for*. Here’s a page detailing the history of jazz. Here’s another one explaining the changes and influences of Rhythm and Blues.

(*it would be interesting to see where this goes in the next decade with the buppie phenomenon and changing dynamics in race relations.)

In any case, I was reminded of this because yesterday I found myself sold with a Ess-Oh-El-Dee on two tracks. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why my brain was making this awesome mashup that had me bopping and sliding about. The two songs are seemingly friggin different but maybe they have the same roots – heavy on beat, feeling and wordsmithin’.

This one has an actual official mv but I refuse to link to it cos it’s cheesier than macaroni. Plus if you really need to see quivering spilling tits I reckon you know better places to find them. So we will all respectfully look upon Snoop Dee-Oh-Double-G’s smug little mien while we make daaaawg gestures in the air. Watch out for the birdcall at 0.15-0.16. It’s awesome.

And these guys, I have spoken about them before. Still lovelovelove. Still waiting for new material. C’mon, boys.

Along these lines, I’ve been wondering why classical music (i.e. from Bach to Beethoven) never made a similar transformation. If R&B is Madonna (sorry, sorry, stay with me), then classical music is friggin…umm… Cyndi Lauper (she’s actually pretty cool) Whitney Houston. Or something. I mean, I know there are sexed up tarts in short dresses and too much makeup leering at the camera while pulling out a sometimes-decent Rachmaninoff, but the genre has not evolved the way R&B has, nor has it continued to be relevant in pop culture. I coulda make comments here about chequered history/ turmoil/ struggles/ fields of cotton etc vs uh, plushy velvet cushions and a whip, but let’s leave it. It just goes to show that music really is about human expression, and pain may just be the most compelling one.

update: Really interesting article on ska, reggae and dub.

up-update: all that talk about 80s ladies. Aiiiissshh.