Don't Explain, a collaborative effort between blues revivalists Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa, hit stores yesterday. It features a range of traditional blues, soul and even gospel classics first made famous by the likes of Billie Holiday, Etta James, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin. Of course, the intention is homage, but the artists are facing criticisms about cultural appropriation.
The opening track, "Sinner's Prayer" (lyrics) was recorded by both Lowell Fulson and Ray Charles in the 1950s. Here's their version:
One might have hoped that, by this hour, the very sight of chains on black flesh, or the very sight of chains, would be so intolerable a sight for the American people, and so unbearable a memory, that they would themselves spontaneously rise up and strike off the manacles. But no, they appear to glory in their chains; now, more than ever, they appear to measure their safety in chains and corpses. -James Baldwin to Angela Davis.*
Happy 4th of July weekend! We know that a large portion of this great country is in tune with pop culture in one way or another. And music is a large part of that culture. We also know that last week, the King of Pop died, which has brought things to somewhat of a halt, so to speak. It is safe to say that almost every person in America has contemplated the death of Michael Jackson over the last week. The reactions have been anywhere from grief to apathy to supposed suicide pacts between some of his hardcore fans. Undoubtedly, Jackson's influence was huge, and speculation about what his life was really like into every nitty gritty sordid detail will surely unfold in the coming months. I heard someone say no one this influential in America, hell worldwide, has died since Elvis. And sure, it was too soon. Historically, there are hundreds of musicians that have died before their time, due to things like murder, eating disorders, suicide. So in paying homage to America and some of its ever honored musicians, I've made a mix of songs from artists who died young. Some whose deaths made just as much of an impact on us as their lives.