I have a lump in my throat and i will just confess right now that i cried, in awe? i still dont know, but i cried. [Disclaimer: i cry in 99% of movies]. That is not the reason for this entry though. I borrowed the film 'Feel Like Going Home' from the library and just finished watching it awhile ago. I enjoy listening to blues, though i would not consider myself an avid fan who knows much about it other than listening to it on public radio or attending a concert or two.
The film is about the origins and the history of the blues. From the juke joints of the mississipi delta to the Niger River in Mali. Martin Scorcese produced it, he does some narrating in several bits but the main person who anchors this amazing film is Corey Harris
Its almost like Scorcese knew that the best person
through which this story should be explored is Harris, he stepped away and let Harris go on this wonderful journey of discovery.
Many things struck me in this film. Listening and watching Son House
, could make you emotional, yet impart strength to your spirit. Just hearing him speak, his voice is the blues. The flute (cane)playing of Otha Turner
was beautiful, better yet, his words, actually the stories and words of all the people corey harris spoke to were deep. Real deep.
In the days of slavery in America, the [african]drum was banned, yet later the use of snare drum in the mississipi featured, as corey harris put it..interwoven polyrythms, which are very common in african music. Harris poignantly observed that Africa was always just a heartbeat away.
If you listen to the radio show the world
by PRI the tune for the geo quiz by Ali Farka Toure opens Corey Harris's segment in Mali. He speaks with Salif Keita
, whose music is moving, though i cant understand a single word. I must admit that this is the section i found just incredibly special.
You know how when people come to visit in Africa and the elders sit on chairs under a tree to talk? Corey Harris was talking with Toumani Diabate
at his compound, with Diabate telling him of his history,he hails from 71 generations of griots in mali. They also talked about how they felt about slavery. Harris met and played with Habib Koite
, then with Ali Farka Toure, who apparently was forbidden by his family to be an artist (because he was considered a nobleman). I tell you this film is interesting. As Harris and Ali Farka Toure play a version of John Lee Hooker's song under a tree on an island off the niger river, you can sense the stillness and camaraderie. Scorsese noted Harris's words. "To know yourself, you have to know the past".
Two quotes from Ali Farka Toure
, "The culture is here, it is the heart of African tradition. We have all the roots of the history, the legends, the biography and the science and the African technology.""I will tell you this, there are no black Americans. There are blacks in America, no black americans exist. The blacks left with their culture and they kept it. But the biography, the ethnicity, the legends they did lose. Still, their music is African. Whether in the US or in Mali i think that there are only cities and distances separating us, but our souls, our spirits are the same[snip]. I feel sorry, "why?" because they are people who should be united."
one more quote from alan Lomax" When the whole world is bored with automated mass distributed video music our descendants will despise us for throwing away the best of our culture."
Its a wonderful film. Wouldnt it be cool if PBS teamed up with KTN or Citizen/Royal Media to show films such as these?