and the Live Sex Show
Panama Red Plays Roosendaal
to Amsterdam, Buffy
A LETTER FROM AMSTERDAM
For some reason, maybe it's preoccupation with and depression about
Bush's War, or maybe it's due to an uptick in cerebral oxygenation
since he quit smoking, Ol Panama hasn't been spinning it out as
is his accustomed wont. Here's some archival stuff while we're waiting
for the RedMan to get his groove thing back. When we asked if there
wasn't something he wanted to communicate, he just said,
"Yes. SUPPORT THE TROOPS. BRING 'EM HOME."
FORMAL MUSIC AND DEVIATION FROM FORM
Most people would not
stop to think about it but all this stuff, blues, rhythm&blues,
country, western swing, latin, name it, are very formal musics.
Which is to say they have form. And strict form at that.
I write, or attempt
to write anyway, in a lot of different styles...I've often wished
I could restrict myself to just one as it would make it easier to
market the stuff I do, but I can't help it...so I've learned to
just go with it, and write what comes down the pipe. But in doing
that one of the things I've noticed is this: quite often in the
process of becoming a hit, a tune will be in a genre, but will deviate
just enough from the form to be outstanding in that style. A couple
of country examples can be based on the fact that country music
rarely can utilize a major seventh and still be country. The exceptions
that come to mind immediately are Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues,
and Lookin for Love (in All the Wrong Places), both of which were
country hits (and crossovers as well) even though they use the formally-forbidden
You can make the argument
and be quite correct that, because these tunes used the dreaded
major seventh, they were therefore not real country tunes at all.
Still, based just on the usual listening habits of the people influenced
by the genre in which they found popularity, they have caused the
major seventh to be a little less daring when used in that milieu.
Or The Thrill is Gone,
in which BB struggles manfully to force that major scale onto that
minor feel. A great deal of the pathos (if you will) of that
recording results from just that struggle. There is a dissonance
generated that has somehow a profound heart-pulling effect. But
in the hindsight that we call Music Theory, it's just a major scale
overlaid onto a minor feel, and maybe it's because BB just doesn't
ever play a minor scale. Felix Pappalardi once said to me that success
consists of making the right mistakes.
Someone on one of my
groups was talking about not 'getting' Southern Rock. You had to
be there, I guess. But the fact of the matter is that all of those
Allman Brothers/et al tunes have been absorbed into the lexicon
of rocknroll and other pop musics in general, so that now the licks
derived from Southern Rock are not in themselves identifiable and
separable as being 'southern', but have added their water to the
vast reservoir that characterizes what is acceptable in rocknroll.
And this is not to deny that those licks were not themselves derivative.
Hendrix is a prime example
of this absorption process. When the dude first came out, there
was an amazing amount of scramble on the part of guitar players
to figure out what he was doing, where his head was. And
within a couple of years of his death, or even before, Jimi licks
were turning up in all kinds of LA stuff; Doobie Brothers comes
to mind (ohohoh listen to the music), that bar chord hammered onto
the minor above. But
Jimi also got this stuff from somewhere himself, a lot of it country.
Maybe Floyd Cramer.
So what I'm saying is
perhaps obvious, but still for all that a little fascinating: that
what we like about a tune may not always be its faithfulness to
its nominal genre. What we like about it may be the places where
it deviates from the accepted norm. Sort of like love.