More on Scott-Heron — artist in the American tradition

I turned to the recordings of Gil Scott-Heron after writing that he should have and did known better than to abuse drugs as he did, leading to his decline and demise. They make me ever more impressed with his scope and intensity, in both long ago and recent work. His 2010 recording "Me and the Devil" fully justifies the black and white zombie pulp of the video by Coodie and Chike that accompanies it. It's a horror song of a burned out, psychotic soul, a new link in an American tradition running from Edgar Allan Poe through Robert Johnson … [Read more...]

Big Ears in the White House: Obama’s boomer soul, and predecessors

Thanks to President Barack Obama, January-February 2009 has been a great time for American popular music. It's well known he's got big ears. But Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen and Herbie Hancock at the Lincoln Memorial, Aretha Franklin singing at the Inauguration, Paul Simon and Esperanza Spaulding among those paying tribute to Stevie Wonder, winner of the Library of Congress' Gershwin Prize -- who himself tore it up on "Superstition" and "Signed, Sealed and Delivered" --  at the White House!?! What other U.S. leader has so valued and spotlit … [Read more...]