Creativity, leaders, and "the system" (was Re: song lengths)

Mike Curtis ironmanc@JUNO.COM
Sun Jul 20 19:03:09 EDT 1997

On Sun, 20 Jul 1997 10:58:09 CDT Billy Chambless <billy@CAST.MSSTATE.EDU>

>I wish I could identify the point when it became that way. Certainly the
>period from the early 1950s to the mid-1970s was a period of dramatic
>movement and innovation among blues musicians. T-Bone Walker, Muddy
>Waters, Howlin' Wolf, B.B. Kind, Freddy King, Albert King -- all those
>guys took the form as they found it, and made their own thing out of it!

There are blues innovators today.  Sugar Blue has taken blues into
unexplored areas.  And even though he has been gone 6 years, Stevie Ray
Vaughan took it to new places.  And given time, I could easily amass a
substantial list.  Not everyone in blues is stuck in the same ol' rut.

>I wonder if there was anybody around saying, "Hey, boy, Robert Johnson
>never used no amplifier...". Or horn section. Or whatever.

Nope - these guys were simply labeled as "folk music" - and the folkies
who went electric were simply accused of "selling out" :-)  We almost had
WWIII when Dylan "sold out" and <gasp!> went electric!

>] It's a tough road for contemporary Blues musicians.  Stay on the
>] and narrow, and you compete with the ghost of Muddy Waters.  Take a
>] road and you risk being out of the game all together.
>The ironic part of that is that to really imitate Muddy -- that is, to
>really take him as a role model -- you'd have to "take a side road".
>Muddy Waters did not slavishly imitate imitate those who came before
>him. He was a leader, not a follower.

And his attitude toward new and different music is readily apparent in
his acceptance (even encouragement) of white artists based solely on
their music, his knack of "discovering" arguably the best group of
harmonica players to ever come through one band, and his direct
responsibility for an enormous body of great music.

And the first person who tries to use this to resurrect that old garbage
about "White vs black blues" gets it with both barrels.

>Wonder why being a leader is frowned upon now?

1. Many people are jealous.
2. Many people are afraid of change.
3. Many people distrust anything different.
4. Many people prefer the familiar.
5. Many people read the wrong motives into it.
6. Many people require time to get used to anything different.
7. Many people must have total conformity.
8. Many people feel that anything different is an offense against the
old, and
9. Many people fear/distrust leaders, and
10. Leaders don't much care what Many People think, which annoys the
dickens out of them.  Leaders are Mavericks and cannot be controlled by
those accustomed to calling the shots.

Most people are conformists.  We're taught that in school - and I don't
mean at all to knock the many fine and sincere teachers in the system -
it's the SYSTEM that is flawed and those power hungry perverts who insist
that we all come out of school stamped into that same boring little mold,
march in a straight line to our little jobs at big factories ad other
acceptable businesses, buy little tract houses with lovely white picket
fences, vote strictly republican or strictly democrat because that's what
we were born (sort of like religion - a very sensible way to choose
politics and religion, i'm sure you'll agree :-), and eventually die
without ever rocking the boat.  I'm not sure anything effectively can be
done about it, nor am I convinced that the vasty majority desires
anything to be done about it..
Creativity and difference are strongly discouraged by our educational
system. Those who are different are made fun of by peers and chastized,
etc., by many teachers and strongly urged (AKA "forced") to be "more like
the others".  Those who follow the rules and learn the "little boxes"
curriculum are rewarded.  The classes must cater to the slowest student
to be fully educated (not just passing marks).  Thus, classrooms are
often dens of terror for the creative and those with exceptionally high

This of course carries over into the rest of life.

What is surprising (to me, anyway) is how LITTLE opposition artistic
leaders and innovators receive.  While there is still a tremendous way to
go, it appears that nonconformity, eccentricity, artisticism, and
creativity are much better tolerated today than in times past.

 -- IronMan Mike Curtis
The One Man "Better'n A" Band
Electric harmonica, guitar, bass pedals, vocals
Cassette available - Email for details

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