8/15/2005

The Blues - Feel like going home

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?

6 Comments:

Blogger jjray said...

Bravo AfroM. IMHO, your best post to date. Way to the tell the story, let that emotion spill on the page. BTW, Blues has long roots here in the Lou and I've had the pleasure over the years to sit in little smoky bars where you're right up on top of the bluesmen, you sway with them, you feel them. I want to check out the Blues haunts in downtown KC by the river next time I'm in town.

8/15/2005 9:25 PM  
Blogger Nakeel said...

Not just cool it will be educative if only our local TV stations realize the need of having educational programmes for the locals but i guess will happen 2012.... Nice piece you gat there...

8/16/2005 6:31 AM  
Blogger Ndesanjo Macha said...

I have watched it, too. Amazing. The connections between cultures...well, I know why Bob Marley had to sing, "So much things to say..."

8/20/2005 9:46 AM  
Blogger Afromusing said...

@jjray, oh thank you! Will check out the schedules and let you and Irene know, Karibu!
@nakeel, glad you enjoyed it, if it werent for copyright laws i would make copies and send you, check it out tho.
@ndesanjo..which of Marleys' song was that?

8/20/2005 11:05 AM  
Anonymous mshairi said...

I have been meaning to come and leave a comment on this post ever since I read it but the pressures of work have prevented me!

Isnt it wonderful how music can be so beautiful and evoke such strong emotion that you find yourself in tears not because you are sad but only because the music is so lovely and makes you nostalgic for what you dont know?

8/23/2005 5:01 PM  
Blogger Afromusing said...

mshairi, thanks for elucidating exactly how i felt at the time. It is amazing.

8/27/2005 1:41 PM  

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