Friday, August 3, 2012

Blind Willie McTell

Dear John,

I have a question. Blind Willie McTell is one of the greatest blues singers of all times. He had a voice like honey. He was from Georgia. I grew up in Atlanta. So why did I have to hear about him in a bootleg song by a Jewish kid from Minnesota?

I guess it goes back to race. When I was a kid, white people didn't listen to black music. But they did - Mama used to sing bits of a song called Caldonia, which is a blues classic. She didn't hear Caldonia sung by white people.

Part of it was just the 1950s propriety thing. The Blues were dangerous. The sensuality of the music and the sexuality in some of the lyrics was shocking. I remember my mother talking about "that insidious backbeat" in rock-&-roll. The '50s were about stability, and the blues were raw and frightening.

And there's also personal taste - my parents liked big band music and the Boston Pops.

So they had this kid that loves the blues.

And you, bless your heart, learned to love them. I remember explaining the rhythm pattern to you. I always said I'd eat at Famous Dave's even if I hated the food, just to listen to the music. But you liked it, too, and that's special for a white boy from Ohio. You always cared about the things I was interested in - that meant a lot to me. You taught me about golf and I taught you about the color wheel. I watched baseball with you and you watched birds with me. We made each other better. I'm better because of you. If you were still here, I'd still be getting better - just think how much better I'd get in another 30 years!

But that wasn't what the Lord had for us. And I'm grateful for the time I had with you. You left a lot of yourself in me, so who knows? I may turn into a decent person yet!

I can see you laughing and shaking your head at me. I love and miss you, but this egg is so scrambled that I can't tell where I stop and you start. The two are still one flesh, and we'll be back together before you know it. I love you so, so much!

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