Saturday, December 9, 2017

Rumble-The Indians Who Rocked The World | Lefsetz Letter

Rumble-The Indians Who Rocked The World

There’s a moment in this movie…

They’ve gone on about Jesse Ed Davis. Showed him playing with Taj Mahal, being flown over to England to participate in the “Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.” Hooking up with John Lennon. And I know who Jesse Ed is, or was, but these kinds of credits don’t mean much until…

Jackson Browne shows up and says he called Jesse Ed to play on his initial solo LP.

And Jesse Ed says he really doesn’t hear himself playing on that track.

So, Jackson has the engineer cue up another and Jesse Ed says this one will work.

So Jesse Ed goes into the studio, the track is playing, but he’s not paying attention, he’s tuning his guitar, and then when it gets to the space for his solo he rips something off in one take and then is done. Just like that. But what makes this story so great is that was the solo in DOCTOR MY EYES!

I can’t say there’s a plethora of those hair-raising moments in this movie, but there aren’t many solos like the one in “Doctor My Eyes.” Or as Randy Castillo says, you can practice in your bedroom all you want, but you won’t get great until you play with others, he sat behind the kit for Ozzy.

Yup, you learn about all the famous Indians, they seem okay with that word, we whites know them as Native Americans. And of course they have a chip on their shoulder, that’s why they made this movie. The head-scratcher is now it’s the whites who have a chip on their shoulder, believe they’re oppressed. Hell, look at rock and roll, scratch an older white male and you’ll find out he hates rap. Someone took his rock away. But where did the rock come from?

This film posits it came from Indians.

Is that true?

Hell if I know. That’s why you watch a flick like this, to be edified.

And they end up focusing on this one early bluesman Charley Patton. I’ve only heard his name, I’m more familiar with Robert Johnson, but Patton was an Indian and played that sound that influenced all those English musicians, you know, the ones that put rock and roll over the top. And Charley Patton taught Howlin’ Wolf how to play the guitar and when the Stones came to America they insisted on putting him on a TV show with them. You get it when you see the footage. That’s the power of the sound.

You get it listening to Charley Patton too.

Quincy Jones talks about going to juke joints. This was before the internet, if you wanted to get loaded and eat and dance and…this is where you went.

And one of the greatest revelations is the footage of Mississippi, a place most people have heard of and almost no one has been to. I’ve been there barely, when I went to Memphis. It’s different.

You see the countryside and you can envision how this music was engendered.

And there have been a lot of Indians in rock and roll. Famously Robbie Robertson, and Redbone, and many argue that Link Wray started it all, with “Rumble.”

But what this movie does best is provide context.

That’s what we’re missing today. A roadmap. That will tell us where to start, where to go and illustrate the attractions along the way. That was blown apart by the internet.

We were moving along swimmingly, with AM and FM, and then MTV came along to create a monoculture, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 allowed radio consolidation and then the internet blew it all apart. I guess you just can’t hold the public back that much.

But you watch this flick and you think about music. When you used to play and sing and…

This is what the younger generation doesn’t understand. We oldsters lived through something. The only equivalent thing in my life is the internet. There was essentially nothing and then something came along to dominate, we all got onboard and rode the wave. The Beatles hit and it changed life. Not only were we addicted to the radio, we bought instruments, we went to shows, and you had to leave your house to do it.

Now you can stay home and connect and most people don’t play and you go to the gig to text and shoot selfies.

Not that there is not a music scene today, but music does not drive the culture.

Nor does the internet.

We’re in a strange malaise.

But when you watch a film like “Rumble” you realize there’s a way out, and it’s got to do with story. People have to keep telling their stories, and connecting the dots. Knowing when they’re right and wrong. And in it not for the money but for the experience. We’ve gone topsy-turvy. But when you see “Rumble,” you know they got it right.

Just say if it’s too late for me.

And for those not in the know, that’s the cue for Jesse Ed to wail, a little beyond the minute and a half mark in “Doctor My Eyes.”

Most of you know it by heart.


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