This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

February 9, 2010

Hi-Tech Fruit and Strange Lynchings

This is another post from my old blog. I was reminded of it recently when I read this excellent post at Sociological Images. Lately my mind has been on all things NOLA. (Our Colts’ loss to the wonderful and well-deserving Saints is only part of the reason.) So this post caught my eye. In particular, this slant makes me ponder my old post in a new way:

For someone who was harmed by a hurricane, using the imagery is a way of reclaiming the hurt they suffered, even appropriating the strength of the force that hurt them.  But, for others to use it, it is trivializing that same hurt, re-imagining the destruction they suffered.  It is not funny, from this perspective, to imagine that New Orleans could be hit again.

I was reminded while reading that of some of my (Black) family and friends using “slave” in an in-group, joking kind of way. I’m OK with that, but bristle when I hear others use it. For example, at a recent swim meet, one of the other parents (a White woman) said something about not doing “X” because we would get yelled at by the person in charge of the meet. She said, “We’re liable to get lynched behind that.” All of my crew sitting there—me, my husband, and my father—were taken aback. My father said, “Oh, you probably don’t want to say that.” The woman totally didn’t get it: She thought he was talking about not saying that the person would be angry with us. He kept at it: “No. I mean, you shouldn’t be saying that—to us [motioning to him, my husband, and me].” The woman, light dawning, turned all shades of red.

The in-group/out-group dimension was not something I considered when I first wrote this piece years ago. But I’m thinking of it today. And today I am (still) wondering: What’s in a song? What’s in a phrase?

"Broken Branch" PPR_Scribe

I. Some Background

The summer before I left home for college I raided my parents’ music collection, choosing dozens of albums (yes, albums: black vinyl, 12 inches, 33-and-a-third rotations per minute: LPs) that I wanted to “borrow” and take to Boston with me on my great adventure in adulthood.

One of those albums I chose from that raided collection was by Billie Holiday. One of the songs on that album from that raided collection was “Strange Fruit.”

That song is something I could not ignore. At the time, I was not too enamored of Lady Day’s voice: It seemed a little scratchy to me, and wispy…without the force, range and rhythm of female jazz vocalists like Ella and Sarah and Dinah and others who I was getting into at the time. (It didn’t help, I guess, that my image of Billie Holliday and what her voice must have sounded like was colored by my having first seen and heard her in the guise of Diana Ross in “Lady Sings the Blues.”)

But that song, “Strange Fruit,” I had to listen to.

Since that time I have come to appreciate Billie Holiday. And I have continued to be fascinated by that song. I have recordings of it by at least three different artists. And a recent search of the song on iTunes revealed more than a dozen different versions, by a very strange and eclectic mix of artists. There is even a group, The Strange Fruit Project, hailing from Waco, Texas.

In addition, I am glad to see that there is a scholarly interest in the song as well as the phenomenon “Strange Fruit” so eerily bore witness to: the widespread lynching campaigns of African American men, women, and children in this country. (See resources below.)

II. But, What Does (Can) It Mean?

I have to admit, I am not sure what all these artists intend when they invoke these images:

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

What is it about these words that makes the song relevant for an artist—of any background—living today? What does the history of the lynching of Black Americans mean to a 50-something White European rocker, or a 20-something Black American rapper?

Is it even about “lynching” at all?

III. Lynching as Metaphor

Whatever you think of Clarence Thomas, his was–hands-down–the most brilliant use of lynching as a metaphor ever. In one swoop he galvanized a deep memory in African Americans and scared off White Americans who saw themselves as exactly opposite of those Whites of days gone by who were the perpetrators of lynchings with ropes, guns, fire, and tree branches.

Hard to believe that almost 15 years have passed since Thomas’s confirmation hearings. A little memory-refresher from the 10/11/91 hearing session (Note the words I emphasize in bold):

Mr. Chairman, I am a victim of this process and my name has been harmed, my integrity has been harmed, my character has been harmed, my family has been harmed, my friends have been harmed. There is nothing this committee, this body or this country can do to give me my good name back, nothing.

I will not provide the rope for my own lynching or for further humiliation. I am not going to engage in discussions, nor will I submit to roving questions of what goes on in the most intimate parts of my private live or the sanctity of my bedroom. These are the most intimate parts of my privacy, and they will remain just that, private.

In that evening’s hearing session he evoked this metaphor again in his now (in)famous and classic “high-tech lynching” statement:

There was an FBI investigation. This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It is a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, as far as I am concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity-blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that, unless you kow-tow to an old order, this is what will happen to you, you will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate, rather than hung from a tree.

One book specifically takes on the idea of the use of “lynching” in metaphorical contexts, “Legacies of Lynching: Racial Violence and Memory” by Jonathan Markovitz

...Examines the evolution of lynching as a symbol of racial hatred and a metaphor for race relations in popular culture, art, literature, and political speech. Markovitz credits the efforts of the antilynching movement with helping to ensure that lynching would be understood not as a method of punishment for black rapists but as a terrorist practice that provided stark evidence of the brutality of Southern racism and as America’s most vivid symbol of racial oppression. Cinematic representations of lynching, from “Birth of a Nation” to “Do the Right Thing,” he contends, further transform the ways that American audiences remember and understand lynching, as have disturbing recent cases in which alleged or actual acts of racial violence reconfigured stereotypes of black criminality. Markovitz’s original and brilliant reinterpretations of the media spectacles surrounding Bernhard Goetz, Susan Smith, and Tawana Brawley provide subtle and compelling examples of the continuing stakes of political battles waged over imagery of race and gender nearly a century ago. Markovitz further reveals how lynching imagery has been politicized in contemporary society with the example of Clarence Thomas, who condemned the Senate’s investigation into allegations of sexual harassment during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings as a “high-tech lynching.” (Source)

If you do a little window shopping in the blogosphere and other media you’ll find Thomas’s “high tech lynching” metaphor/accusation invoked all over in all sorts of situations, by both those on the political left and those on the political right. In no case are any of these uses about actual people being burned, their genitals cut from their bodies, their necks broken from being snapped by a rope looped over a tree branch. In these cases, like that of Justice Thomas, the appeal is to the perception that “mobs” of media folks or government officials or university professors or other elite others in positions of power are using sophisticated tools and tactics to unfairly attack the ideas and integrity of some “victim.”

Whatever you may think of the individual cases, is this deployment of “lynching” as a means of description an appropriate use of history? Not: “effective” use–appropriate

I am all for the use of metaphor in rhetoric. But in most of these cases this particular use of lynching as metaphor sickens me. Comparing a “good name” or a well-paying job to skin, genitals and a beating heart is definitely a case of evaluating apples in terms of oranges.

Very strange fruit, indeed.

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Other Resources:

December 11, 2009

Old School Friday: Always In Prince’s Hair

Filed under: Old School Friday, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 8:40 am

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

~”Hair” from Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical

Finally! I am back in the Old School Friday swing of things. I’ve been out of the groove for a while: semester-specific increased workload, chronic medical condition fatigue, annoyance at racial and political nonsense…. I missed last week’s theme, “Gone, but not forgotten“; I missed the week before that on musical crushes. But I am back now so all else is forgotten.

This week’s theme is “Blame it on the hairstyle.” I decided to go with a single artist who has gone through several hair style incarnations.

That artist is Prince.

In chronological hair order, first up is a young Prince with full afro from his For You album: “Soft and Wet”

Moving from big ‘fro to long permed locks is Prince in his self-titled album the following year. The funny thing about his look during this phase is that I had, at about the same time, a hair style almost exactly like it: The slightly off-center part, the Farrah Fawcett-inspired feathered bangs—Prince and I could’ve been twins!

“Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?”

From the looks of him in the band picture on the inside of the liner notes, Prince next did a kind of jheri curl-looking hair style on Dirty Mind—so very 80s! (And he was singing about ess ee ex—so very naughty!) And in another bit of PPR_Scribe-Prince confluence, I too sported a curl for a minute—just before my last year of high school in ’81. I cut all my long hair off—much to the horror of the ladies in the beauty shop at the time. One threatened to call my mother, certain that there was no way she would approve of me chopping my hair down to two inches or so.

“Head”

Fast forward through several years and several albums.This next style, I am happy to say, is where my hair similarities with Prince ended. Newly released from all his record label drama, by Emancipation he had changed both his hair and his name: O(+> His hair was in a kind of close cropped, full banged style with a space shaved just above one ear in which he sported his unpronounceable symbol.

“One of Us”

These days Prince is once again Prince, and he wears a very mature and surprisingly conservative short wavy style. In my opinion he has been at his best recently with his live albums. On Indigo Nights he went Old (Rock) School with this Led Zeppelin cover:

“Whole Lotta Love”

I’m not sure I “blame” anything on Prince’s hair. But his styles over the years have been fun to watch—almost as much as his music has been fun to listen to.

Have a great Old School Friday and a great weekend!

As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine. Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.

November 27, 2009

And so it begins: OSF Holiday Preview

I am not a shop til you drop kinda gal. Instead of hitting the stores today, I—along with Mr. Scribe and the two Scribe daughters—did yard work. My back is aching, my allergies are kicking and six yard bags are filled with leaves, twigs, and various other organic matter. I am envious of my next door neighbor who has hired a professional lighting company to deck her house in the most spectacular yet tasteful holiday display. Maybe tomorrow I will dig out our measly three boxes of decorations out of storage and begin our own decorating. I am especially excited to look at all of my thank you letters given to me by the third graders last year following my Kwanzaa presentations at school.

Whatever the case, I guess The Holiday Season has begun. As a preview, I’d like to offer the following Old School holiday songs. Enjoy!

“What Christmas Means to Me” by Stevie Wonder

“Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery

“Christmas Time is Here” (from Charlie Brown Christmas) by the Vince Guaraldi Trio

“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” by Ella Fitzgerald

“Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” by Johnny Mathis

“Ave Maria” by Marian Anderson

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As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine. Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.

November 6, 2009

Inspirational Old School Friday: All Blues

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 11:17 pm

The theme for this week’s Old School Friday is Songs That Inspire. I have many songs that inspire me in one area or another. But the song that inspires my creativity and writing output is definitely “All Blues” by Miles Davis. At one point while writing my dissertation I had this whole album on repeat, listening it to it again and again and again. I would feel a special surge of inspiration whenever Track #4 would open with that amazing piano and high hat.

Instead of providing a clip to just that song, I am re-posting a previous OSF post where I featured the entire album. Enjoy!

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The theme for today’s Old School Friday is “the Greatest of All Time.” As usual, the creators of this meme have purposefully left open interpretation of the theme—and a look around the OSF participants reveals the usual high degree of creativity folks came up with in applying their own lenses.

I think I will do something a little different. I will focus on the greatest art form ever created by the young country we call the United States of America. That art form is jazz music. I know this heres a fightin’ words kind of topic among jazz fans, but I think that—hands down—the greatest jazz album of all time is Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.

Listen to the whole album here on Last.fm.

I’d really, however, like to dedicate this OSF to all those jazz musicians who are not well known. All those people who play on street corners or in subway stations…who gig in small neighborhood clubs and at the zoo’s “jamming with the animals” programs…who learn brass and percussion and improvisation in high school jazz band.

When I was growing up, everything “extra” I ever got was because of my mother’s jazz gigs that she got in addition to her full time teaching or other jobs. My private telephone, my prom dress, my summer leadership camp—my own saxophone for jazz band. All thanks to the tips she got in her “kitty jar”—an extra large brandy snifter that sat atop her piano and that she primed with a couple of bucks of her own to cue folks in to what they were supposed to do. She was only continuing the tradition of her own mother, who had a regular full time gig for much of her adult life.

Some of my favorite memories of my mother, and the true mark that I had reached adulthood, was when I would come home from college and go out to jazz clubs with her. There is a tradition in the community of jazz musicians that when you have a gig, you invite fellow jazz musicians who are in your audience to sit in with you for a tune or two. To snub a colleague was to risk not getting a recommendation from them in the future, or an opportunity to sub for them, or certainly the chance to be asked to sit in with them in return. It was always quite incredible to listen to her perform with these musicians. She became someone else on stage, and for a time, took me with her.

My mother’s name would not be known to you. Unless you happen to be one of her thousands of former students or unless you happen to be familiar with the Indianapolis community jazz scene of the 70s and 80s. But the next time you are having drinks in a bar and you see the vocalist or trio performing on the small stage up front, or are waiting on the 5:12 to take you home and you see the brother blowing “Satin Doll” on his horn, please drop a five or ten into the kitty jar or open saxophone case for my Moms. And know that you are helping to continue the greatest music of our, and possibly all, time.

Happy Old School Friday!

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As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at (her new place) Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine. Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.

October 31, 2009

I Smile for Old School Friday: Halloween Edition

Because I am late with my Old School Friday selection, I am going to kill two ravens with one headstone and combine the official OSF theme, Songs That Make Me Smile, with a tribute to one of my favorite dates on the calendar. Here are Halloween-flavored songs that make me smile.

I may as well start with the obvious. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” has become more than a song. It is a cultural institution. From prisoners to wedding parties to my little brother’s recent swim team talent show, everyone at some point in their life must find reason to participate in a reenactment of the Thriller choreography.

Of course this Halloween the song is bittersweet, with the recent death of MJ and the thus-far enormously successful film This Is It. “Thriller” is still one of those Halloween-appropriate songs that makes me smile.

“Thriller (Bird Peterson Remix)” by Michael Jackson

Another highly participatory Halloween song that always puts a smile on my face is from one of the most uproariously fun movies of all time. If you ever meet me in person remind me to tell you the story of the first time my friends and I, in high school, went to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show downtown, bringing bags full of raw eggs and rocks and filled water balloons—all of which were confiscated by the security guard at the door. Or, about the time we took my exchange student from Yugoslavia to see it for his first time, and he got mad when the audience yelled “VIRGIN” to him when he said the wrong thing at the wrong time.

“Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show Motion Picture Soundtrack

My last pick is probably the best song ever made to send a chill up your spine. It makes me smile because ever since I was a child I have loved scary movies—and The Exorcist is one of the scariest ever made.

“Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield

Have a safe Halloween weekend!

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As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine.

Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.

October 23, 2009

Old School Friday in Small Doses

Filed under: Old School Friday — Tags: , — pprscribe @ 11:57 am

I was in somewhat of a bind this Old School Friday. The theme is Sade.

My first thought upon reading that was–Huh? Come up with a tribute post to an artist who only has three albums?

Well, I looked it up, and actually she has 5 studio albums (plus a new one that is supposed to be released), a remix album, a “Best of” album, and a live album.  Still not a whole lot of material. (And of course quantity does not equal quality.) But that still did not explain my reticence to dedicating an entire OSF post to Sade.

I have seen Sade in concert and enjoyed it a great deal. I own two of her albums, and am looking forward to the new one. So why was I hesitating?

309391023_775ad42aa2

"My Old Medicine bottle/jar collection." aussiegal, http://www.flickr.com/photos/aussiegall/309391023/

Then I started listening to Love Deluxe—that I hadn’t listened to in full in years…and it struck me—That‘s why. By the time I got to “Kiss of Life” I was totally chilled out. Somewhat depressed. Lethargic. Sade is one of those artists I love—but that I have to listen to in only small doses. She does what I call “groove music.” You may call it “mood music.” I love Sade’s music—but only so long as I can deal with the mood it puts me in. As I was listening to Love Deluxe I wished she could have up-tempo-ed her mid-tempo songs just a notch. Maybe throw in a break with a Missy rap in the middle of “Cherish the Day”… Something just to shake things up a bit.

But no. Sade is for that mood and anything else would destroy the mood. Best to just sit back, relax, and enjoy.

“Like a Tattoo” by Sade

So this insight about Sade gave me the inspiration to adapt this OSF post to better suit my needs. In addition to Sade, I’d like to feature a couple other artists I love, but only seem able to listen to a little bit at a time.

I may be risking my (perhaps already in jeopardy) Black woman card here. But another artist that fits this bill for me is Erykah Badu. I have every single album she has ever commercially released. But I still can only deal with Ms. Badu a little at a time. In her case I think it is all the super-spirituality-new-agey-earth-mothery themes in much of her music. I can deal for a while—but only for a while. Then her music gets to sounding just a little pompous, like she takes herself a little too seriously. I know; I know. She’s an artist, and she’s sensitive about her s***.

Again, when I am in my Baduizm phase, it’s best to just relax and enjoy.

“Drama” by Erykah Badu

The last small-dose artist I’d like to feature is someone I didn’t get into until I started dating Mr. Scribe. At the time, I thought it cool that this Black dude was so into such a wide range of music. That meant he wouldn’t make fun of me for my own musical tastes! The list of artists he turned me onto is quite long, including Lenny Kravitz, the B-52s, Nirvana…

And Sinead O’Connor.

Sinead’s music is also moody. And she also seems a little full of herself at times most times. But I still love her stuff. Even if I do want to shake her sometimes and say, in my best Heath Ledger Joker imitation, “Why so serious?”

“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor

So this week, as my fellow OSFers feature Ms. Adu, I think I will spread out my Blog visits over the whole weekend. Wouldn’t want to OD on the chill pills!

Happy OSF and have a great weekend!

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As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine.

Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.

October 22, 2009

Way to Wonderful

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 11:30 am

It’s OK to head out for wonderful. But on your way to wonderful, you’re gonna have to pass through alright

~Bill Withers, in doc trailer “Still Bill” (via Afronerd)

(Also see “Somebody to Lean On“)

October 10, 2009

As Freshman Funk: Old School Friday

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 9:13 am

(OSF, Weekend Edition)

Freshman year of high school was funky. 1978-1979. The end of a decade. As I have said before, I was in a new school. One With Black People! I could spread my wings and be a New Me! I had become friends with girls with older sibs with cars. I went to Clubhouse Parties every week—so long as I could cough up 3 or 4 dollars for gas (…nobody rides for free).

Some songs from the soundtrack of that first year of the rest of my life I have already posted in other OSFs. Songs from Heatwave, from EWF, from Taste of Honey. And of course, from Prince. Other contributors to my freshman year include the Bar-Kays, the Bee Gees (yes, they could be funky), Chic, Donna Summer, and Rick James.

But I think there may be one song I have yet to throw OSF’s way. This song is from what is probably one of the top 5 albums of all time by any artist of any genre. The song is not something I necessarily danced to, and perhaps I should not even classify it as “funky” in the move your booty kind of sense funky. But it was funky in a deeper sense of moving my mind, my spirit, my imagination. I would listen to this song over and over on my earphones. I memorized every line, and sang them as liturgy instead of lyrics.

The song is “As” by Stevie Wonder, from Songs in the Key of Life. One of the greatest songs of alllll tiiime. You can bet your life times that—and twice its double.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

“As” by Stevie Wonder

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As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine.

Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.

September 25, 2009

OSF Tribute to a True Musical Maverick: Meshell Ndegeocello

Filed under: Old School Friday — Tags: , , , , , , — pprscribe @ 9:13 am

It’s Tribute Week here at Old School Friday! And here is mine:

It was a hot summer day, Washington D.C., at some outdoor urban fair celebrating some thing or another and featuring overpriced bottled water and free concerts. It was a homecoming of sorts for Meshelle Ndegeocello, a relatively new artist on the scene. Though she was an Army brat born in Germany—she had spent some childhood and college years not far from where she was now jamming on stage. I was impressed with how tight her band was, how they changed chords at her merest nod of instruction and took it to the bridge one more time with the merest thump-signal of her bass. Somewhere in this enjoyment of the concert, the woman standing next to me said “Sweet Jesus, it’s like I wandered into a meeting of the dyke mafia.”

I experienced a moment of confusion. Perhaps she had assumed I was Family and was sharing a wry in-joke observation with me. In which case I would be flattered. But perhaps she had assumed I was a fellow homophobe and was sharing a hateful condemnation with me. In which case I would be outraged.

Probably for the sake of this blog post all these years later I should make up a story of a witty response on my part and a funny resolution. But as happens in most such ambiguous encounters, I said nothing. The moment hung there and then dissipated, leaving the sounds of Meshell and her kick-ass band going through another number for the crowd.

But I do recall then noticing for the first time that the audience was filled with almost all women. Some seamed just to be jamming and enjoying the music. Many, though, seemed to be silently dissecting Meshell and her lyrics: Here she is talking about “if that’s your boyfriend he wasn’t last night…wassup with that? Is that Black woman up front her partner? How well does she know Madonna? I thought her stuff would sound more like John Mellencamp. How the hell do you pronounce her name, anyway? So, is she a rapper or what?

OK. So I know I was probably imagining what these women were thinking. And I understand that most people—regardless of mafia membership—probably had to work a little at fitting Meshell into a neat box. She was funk and hip hop and spoken word and R&B and jazz and rock. She was an openly bisexual woman singing songs about loving men and loving women. She played an instrument that was a tall as she was. What the hell was she?

A maverick, that’s what.

How fitting, then, that she was recording on Madonna’s then-new label, Maverick Records.

Since that first album, she has continued to evolve. Themes of the the often-time painful exploration of spirituality and sexual and racial  identity have taken more space on her albums. Themes of sexual and romantic longing infuse her lyrics in ways that are honest and blunt and familiar to anyone who has ever loved and not-gotten or loved and lost. She has explored jazz instrumentals that—in an ideal world—would have critics talking of her ushering in a “neo-fusion” movement as they have talked of her jump starting “neo-soul.” She has collaborated with some of the most talented artists in the music world.

She is a staple on tribute albums and movie soundtracks, with her ability to so expertly study and reinterpret the music of her predecessors and to so beautifully  paint music-mood pictures.

Despite being—still—highly unpackageable in a heavily packaged musical world, she has managed to produce a steady output of music that is greedily gobbled up by a strong, if somewhat small, fan base.

And I hear that she will be releasing a new album!

I hope that this means she will also be embarking on a tour—a major one that will pass through my small corner of the universe. The Meshell Ndegeocello experience is not complete without seeing her in concert. I saw her one more time after the free D.C. concert—this time indoors, in Montreux, Switzerland at the famous jazz festival. Again, she was absolutely amazing. Again, her band was tight. Again, she took us through all sorts of genres and moods and grooves. She, obviously, takes performing seriously, as she had been no less professional and serious about her performance at her early free D.C. concert than on this international stage.

I can only hope—and wait. And in the meantime offer up this Old School Friday Tribute to a True Musical Maverick, Meshell Ndegeocello. As always, have a great OSF and a wonderful weekend. Enjoy!

Dred Loc (Sly and Robbie Edit)

Who is He (And What is He to You)?

Leviticus: Faggot

Fool of Me

Picture Show

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As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine.

Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.

September 18, 2009

OSF: Music for Smooth Criminals

Filed under: Old School Friday — Tags: , — pprscribe @ 7:43 am

There were two ways to interpret this week’s Old School Friday theme Criminal Records. One: Music by artists who actually have criminal records and served time in prison. Two: Music about crime and prison—either literally or metaphorically: criminal records of the (old school) vinyl kind. (Also, I guess a third interpretation could be “songs performed by artists in prison concerts.” There are a surprising number of them, but unfortunately I do not happen to own any.)

Well I tried to cover both bases with my picks this week. I first thought of MJ’s “Smooth Criminal,” but then decided to just jack his title for mine. So—no MJ—sorry! But I do have Sade singing “Is It a Crime?” Of course, if you have to ask….

And I know I just recently featured Johnny Cash and “Folsom Prison Blues” when the theme was Songs You Might Be Surprised I Know. But I just love the song and it is perfect for the theme. So, here it is again for this week. He is also one of those artists, BTW, who has performed concerts to prison audiences.

The Rap/hip hop world is a gimmee in terms of songs about doing crime and doing time. But I will just pick one of the songs from one of the greats. Tupac here, then, with “When I Get Free.” And in this case I cover both bases as Shakur, in addition to rhyming about the prison life, himself served time in prison.

Finally, a crime wave of a more metaphorical and political bent, with Spearhead and “Crime to be Broke in America.”

Have a safe—and 100% crime-free—Old School Friday and weekend!

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As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine.

Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.

September 12, 2009

My Old School Friday’s a Day Late and Dollar Short

Filed under: Old School Friday — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 10:32 am

We are poor, and poor is one of three things people don’t want to be. Right next to sick, and dead.

~James Evans

"Money, Hanging On." cobalt123, http://www.flickr.com/photos/cobalt/425231402/

"Money, Hanging On." cobalt123, http://www.flickr.com/photos/cobalt/425231402/

I’m with James. I never understood this romance we sometimes have about not having money. And this immediate suspicion we sometimes develop of anyone who has money—particularly those who used to not have money but now do. So my first Old School Friday song for this week’s “All About the Money” theme will not be about the ills of money, or how it turns folks evil, or how it can’t buy love. Yes, “they” say the best things in life—love, for example—are free. But like Barrett Strong says, love cannot pay the bills: “Money (That’s What I want).”

Rappers know this simple truth. You want a kind of economy that runs on something other than money? Want a Star Trek-era society where everybody works for personal gratification and the betterment of the Universe? Believe it or not, that kind of society—researching it in think tanks, selling it on the floors of our law-houses, creating the institutions that will serve as safety nets in this new age—all of that requires (you guessed it) money. Yup. “It’s All About the Benjamins,” baby. Tell ‘em, Biggie and Lil Kim.

Now if you do not find yourself with a positive cash flow, all is not lost. It is just a matter of scale. When I had less money, I still lived my life—just on a more slimmed down scale. I was livin’ small—but still havin’ a ball. I rode the subway instead of my car. That made doing everyday things like visiting my baby more challenging, but I still got it done. And if the subway was late, I always had my own two feet. Like Edwin Starr, I could just keep on walking to see my baby. Even if it was 25 Miles on foot.

Hmm. No, Mr. Evans had the right intuition. I admit: I’d rather ride than walk. But it’s nice to know that if I ever had to do without again, I’d probably be OK. As long as I still had Old School Friday, that is.

Have a good one, everybody!

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As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine.

Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.

September 4, 2009

OSF: Now with Snuggles, Cuddles and Butterfly Kisses

Filed under: Old School Friday — Tags: , — pprscribe @ 7:27 am

Well, it has been a pretty serious week here at This So-Called. Time to lighten the mood with this week’s Old School Friday theme, “Tunes to Cuddle To.”

Actually this theme is perfect for old school music. In my opinion, not many songs of any genre put out today are truly cuddle-worthy. To me, “to cuddle” is to engage in an activity that is its own ends to its means. That is, there is no expectation of…something else to follow the cuddling. It is neither foreplay nor epilogue. It is everything all wrapped up in one marvelous package. Done correctly, one should be so fulfilled following a cuddle session that anything more would be—well, anticlimactic.

That is the art and pleasure of cuddling.

And no one embodies that more than musicians and vocalists who performed during times in this country when social norms dictated a little less speed and forward progression in the stages of mating rituals.

So, I am flashing back a little more than I usually do with my OSF picks this week. I will begin with a nod to those current day musicians who understand what I was just talking about with the Roots-produced version of Nat King Cole’s “Walking My Baby Back Home” from the Re:Generations project. (Which I strongly recommend, BTW.) 

Next up is Errol Garner’s “Misty.” This is a very appropriate pick for this week as it was one of my late grandmother Rhona’s signature pieces. If you can’t see yourself cuddling to this all night long, then you just are not capable of really cuddling!

Staying with the jazz mood, my next pick is the Miles Davis Quintet‘s version of “When I Fall in Love.”

My final choice is the smooth and silky vocal stylings of Mr. Sam Cooke and “You Send Me.” I was not yet born when this song came out, but the fact that it remains for me a perfect cuddle song is a testament to its timeliness.

Well that’s it for me until next week. Have a very happy Old School Friday and a fun and safe Labor Day Weekend!

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As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine.

Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.

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