Thursday, April 14, 2011
"Race Music" Appreciation,...Done In Reverse
I love all that drama hanging on, and swooping around, that simple-assed beat - it's hardly a "song" at all. More like a slice of life, or a feeble construction that, somehow, attains power. And the way two separate vocals start at once, each one distinct yet complimentary, setting up a pattern for the others which overlap throughout. Wicked smart. Simply amazing. A "masterpiece" of deception.
War had this way of making the simple sound so complex, and vice versa, while also giving you the impression they came up with the shit while smoking on somebody's back porch. What are they laughing at? And whose idea was it to tell the story of the Cisco Kid and Poncho Villa in the first place? Doesn't the detail that they'd "eat the salted peanuts out the can" come across as bizarrely you-are-there authentic? (And can you imagine an artist, today, going that far off the boy/girl/sex plantation - this was the '70s! - to land a hit?) Genius don't follow no rules but to get there.
There had to be time when white folks heard what black people were doing and they were sure we were crazy. The don't-make-no-sense orchestration, the wailing, the sheer out-there construction, with a hint of slave songs, gospel, and doo-wop, all plopped on cheap plastic with the drunken Jackson Pollock-like abandon of a late night jazz session. Who cared what white folk thought? O.K., it's insane - insanely good, insanely original, and insanely effective. There was just nothing else like it. So it had to be made. We were finally free. And this was our music.