MP3 Chainsaw Dupont - Ghost Kings of Beale St.
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13 MP3 Songs
BLUES: Rhythm & Blues, BLUES: Rockin' Blues
Ghost Kings of Beale St.
Halfway â whether itâs a good thing or a bad one is entirely a matter of perspective. Halfway can be a glorious hybrid or a tedious limbo; without a sense of direction it can be an ominous crossroads.
Memphis is halfway between the gritty blues of Chicago and the party rhythms of New Orleans. Itâs a city that has always looked south for culture but north for validation. Rockabilly, spirituals, blues, and country all crossed paths in Memphis, got soaked in reverb, and re-emerged as pop music back when pop was cool. Sun Studio made it famous, but it was Stax that made it popular. Both labels had a distinctly Southern tension â half white, half black, one of them mixing the fury of bluegrass, hillbilly, and blues music, the other in near-blasphemy fusing spiritual and secular influences into pop music with weight and intensity.
The Gateway to the South seemed to focus its rebellion through its music. After Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, within a stoneâs throw of Beale Street, the large black population of Memphis seethed with despair, and dignified resolve, but not with rage. That same year, the city government demolished most of the Beale Street entertainment district, leaving a tiny remnant intact to represent its enormous musical legacy.
Two other Kings, B.B. and Albert, rose to fame in Memphis, but only well ater the heyday of Beale, refocusing attention on the extraordinary black musical contributions of the city. They found fame in the 1970s as the last of the white icons associated with Sun, Elvis Presley, fell into decline and occasional ridicule, a shadow of the groundbreaking artist he was during the segregation era.
The fog of segregation and Memphisâ ambivalent relationship with the sacred and the profane created a fortuitously antagonistic tension in its music, similar to the alchemy of Cold War filmmakers in Eastern Europe who had to channel their message in subtext to evade censors. The simple existence of Elvis, using the same studio as Ike Turner and Howlinâ Wolf, or of Booker T. & the MGs multi-racial band, was a slap in the face to segregation. Like Solidarity in Poland, producers at Stax were not afraid to cloak their message in the garments of the church, making it an organic whole which, if not unassailable, was at least tied aesthetically to the civil rights movement and its concerns.
This fusion of the earthly and the spiritual also added a forbidden allure to much of its innovation. There is both a hallucinatory ecstasy and a carnal pleasure in the best Memphis music, a sort of mutant enjoyment that is neither holy nor sensual â and both holy and sensual.
Itâs the state of the spirits â ghosts, notions, specters, visions, and any other half-realized, smoky image of a dream that ever dared to materialize. Halfway, the magic moment between real and imagined, between spark and flame, the moment when evil becomes good, sinners become saints. Thereâs a balance between rhythm & blues, melody & harmony, parody & tribute; which way it tips depends entirely upon which way you want it to go.
We decided long ago that the final chapter of the Blues Street Trilogy would celebrate Beale Street. As raw as Chicago Blues gets, Memphis gets that sweet, like smoked meat smothered in sweet barbecue sauce. We tried to update that sweetness with power, while maintaining its simplicity, doing a âDelta Crushâ on Memphis soul and rockabilly.
Lake St. Lullaby emphasized empty space and raw chords, Bourbon St. Breakdown emphasized rhythmic intensity, Ghost Kings of Beale St. emphasizes melody and harmony. These musical forms find their analog in the lyrical content of each record as well, as the first is about hope and disappointment, the second about addiction and obsession, and this last is about acceptance and resolve.
Take the three CDs together and you have the fundamentals of blues -- the tap root of all American music, either as an influence or as a form to react against.
âGhostsâ appear as a recurring theme, lyrically and musically. The âInvisible Manâ of track 1 might as well be a ghost, his unrequited (and forbidden?) love languishing forever. The dead icons of âSinners Or Saints?â haunt all modern music. âEvery Little Deathâ & âBack Again From Goneâ toe the line that separates living from dead. âBluesOMaticâ¢â suggests a different kind of ghost â a mechanical one that generates blues songs with no sould, only structural integrity and saleability.
We tried to retain any âghostingâ that resulted from the recording process, either from prior takes or studio âcrosstalkâ (most obviously these can be heard on âBack Again from Goneâ and âThe Floodâ).
Taken in its entirety, this collection of songs is about persisting, like gravity, in the face of obstacles and setbacks, finding your center, and emerging out of the halfway haze and into the light.
Steve âMrBiGâ Pasek
BiG Productions, Inc.
in partnership with CDbaby
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