THIS IS what I did with mine.
For the Fourth — Independence Day — I watched the first two segments of The Martin Scorsese series “The Blues” — more history lessons/reminders. Fireworks and firecrackers tearing up the twilight sky…
The moments I was most moved by were those that symbolized the role of (and need for) self-definition, telling your stories — in your voice — and the impact and resonance of that simple act.
Garland Jeffreys was intensely channeling Skip James and the poignant curve of his story — Mississippi bluseman recorded but not paid — the back-in-the-30s familiar story arc. James disappeared for 30-some years and then reappeared, pulled from his near-death bed, to cameo at Newport Folk Festival in 1964. A resurrection.
Whole song here:
For the most part, I felt that the intercutting in “The Soul of a Man” which served to underscore the contemporary through-line (that these men/words/experiences haven’t been forgotten) — felt disruptive after awhile. I didn’t feel as if I could be in one place. I think fewer performances would have allowed the present-day material to feel that much more resonant and impacting. The stronger moments stood out nonetheless: Jeffreys’ and Lou Reed’s spare early bars of “Blind” Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave is Kept Clean” stole my attention.
And this too: James Blood Ulmer, Vernon Reid and Eagle Eye Cherry:
Today, I’m still digging and listening and digging some more.
The man, Skip James, here: