Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not in Cleveland anymore, it has moved online to cyberspace, to You Tube, it’s never closed and admission is free. All musical innovation of the last century has been a uniquely American creation, another triumph of ingenuity, passion and creativity, yet another monument to Human Action.

Everyone has their own musical list that uniquely represents their feelings, passions, and experience of their world line traversing Human Action along their space in time. Whether it is favorite love songs, tear jerking heartache, or backseat drive-in movie passion play, it can be found on You Tube. Here, in no particular order, or meaning is my “Top Ten Historical You Tube Videos” guaranteed to brighten my spirits anytime that I have a case of the Mondays.

  1. Statesboro Blues Duane Allman and Dickey Betts brilliant opening number for their sets from “Live at the Fillmore East” recorded in March of 1971. This album set the standard for all live albums to follow showing that the emotional stature of original composition as exposited in performance can surpass studio creations. Duane passed away later that year leaving a brilliant musical legacy, long before the age of video, you can only see him live on You Tube. Thirty five years after he died Duane was ranked number 2 on the Rolling Stone top 100 guitarists of all time.
  2. It’s Man’s World James Brown, the Godfather of Soul teams up with Tenor Luciano Pavarotti in an orchestral duet of his classic love song. Recorded shortly before their untimely deaths. If James Brown doesn’t get you up offa that thing, then check your pulse you may be dead.
  3. Kick Out the Jams Detroit’s original American Punks live in 1970 (I-94 is in the background). Fred Sonic Smith and Wayne Kramer paved the way for the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and the Clash. The live album by the same name is finally available on CD. Ramblin’ Rose is another classic, Wayne Kramer teaches Michael Jackson a few steps. Iggy Pop was in the crowd taking notes.
  4. Apolitical Blues Rolling Stone guitarist Mick Taylor sits in with Lowell George and Little Feat in London in 1977. According to Keith Richards, Mick Taylor was “the most melodic guitarist he’d ever heard." Mao is dead and gone, and his ideology crushed in the garbage compactor of history, but this gem lives on. Sadly Lowell George has passed on but is still alive and well on You Tube, don’t miss Dixie Chicken with Bonnie Raitt.
  5. Dock of the Bay The immortal Otis Redding studio classic. You will not want to miss his performance videos to be found on You Tube as well: I’ve been loving you to long. “May God have mercy on his sweet soul” ~ Jimmy “the lips” Fagan.
  6. Goin Home Alvin Lee, a guitarist’s guitarist, hitting the 128th notes as only he can. Live in Woodstock in 1969. He stole the show again at the 25th anniversary in 1994. The acoustic version can be found there as well.
  7. Miles Davis The Jazz King holds court on You Tube, too many favorites can be found here, if I picked mine that would be all that would be on the list. Find yours.
  8. King Curtis and the Kingpins Live at the Fillmore West a classic of jazz improvisation. Duane Allman played at his funeral along with Stevie Wonder, and Aretha Franklin.
  9. She Came in through the Bathroom Window Joe Cocker and his Mad Dogs and Englishmen perform the Beatles composition. Leon Russell put this band together for a quick tour in 1970. They were fresh off the Delaney and Bonnie Tour immortalized live. The formed the backbone of Eric Clapton’s first solo album in 1970. They later became, sans Leon, the Rhythm section of Derek and the Dominoes. This band rehearsed for a week and then went on the road, this song and the accompanying album was recorded on their 4th gig. Brilliant, now available on DVD.
  10. Star Spangled Banner the anti-war version by Jimi Hendrix closing out Woodstock in 1969. It does not get any better than this. I much prefer this than the imperial swing version Americans are subject to at most sporting events. I always put my head down, like John Carlos at the Olympics, in memory of the fallen legions; dying in vain so that the elite can steal more!

As you can tell I am partial to the live performance, much preferred to the high sound pressure renditions popularized on modern CD’s. Live performance brings the emotional stature of live performance with spontaneous innovation as co-creators. A live performance cannot be faked. Studio musicians, Auto Tune and digital remix technology can turn the talentless and dissonant (Madonnna, and Kenny Chesney come to mind) into superstars, live on stage is always an original composition unique to the audience of those present.

Classical music aficionados always like to believe that their music (largely created by dead european white guys) is deeper, more sophisticated, more important, more complicated, or just plain better. These discussions always devolve into arguments of definition, which as any logician will tell you is arbitrary. I find much of it to be musical wanking, three chord riffs with a lot of filigree.

The American 20th Century witnessed the creation of rock’n roll, jazz, blues, gospel, r&b, soul and hip-hop. The world held it’s breathe and joyously created a multibillion dollar steamroller of peace, joy and love enriching the lives of billions. An empire of Human Action as musical creativity that will outlive the piteous Pax Americana by a thousand years.

Res Ipsa Loquitor

George Giles [send him mail] is an Independent writer in Nashville, TN.

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