Blues-L B.S.: A plea

Sykes Marc
Sat Jun 12 01:04:32 EDT 1999

On Fri, 11 Jun 1999, chuck n. wrote:

> Since you invited debate, here is a point that will
> need clearing up sooner or later; you say that you would not be filtering
> gear, country. Well how about postings on racism, poverty, and human rights
> abuses. Do these things have as much to do with the Blues as a fuzz-tone
> stomp box and Shania Twain? IMO they have infinitely more to do with the
> Blues. That's where the REAL roots were/are...and IMO to not look at them in
> that light is being shortsighted (regardless of how uncomfortable the
> subjects make some people).

Of course, GEAR: (fuzz-tone stomp box) and NBC: (Shania Twain) can be
filtered, whereas those who post about racism and human-rights abuses tend
not to use any prefix--though, as you argue, perhaps they shouldn't have

I'll be interested to hear what the list has to say on this subject.  My
personal feeling is that it's a question of degree, not of kind.  If we
can have an intelligent discussion of some of the "contexts" of the blues
that you cite above, without attacking each other or completely going
around in circles, I think most of us would welcome it.  On the other
hand, topics like "racism," "pain and suffering," and "poverty" can be
taken to ridiculous extremes, as we've seen in the past (I'll let you come
up with your own specific examples).  I, personally, would prefer to avoid
posts like:

"I fell down the stairs this morning, and Jesus, that gave me the
blues.  I started thinking about how the old greats, like Muddy (he almost
invariably gets cited in such posts), probably had to deal with this kinda
pain everyday..."

Perhaps our framing question could be something on the order of:  Does
this topic/discussion help in any way to enhance our understanding of
blues music, blues musicians, or the contexts in which such music
developed and/or exists now?  The above post that I made up clearly
doesn't, unless you take at face value the ridiculous analogy to Muddy
Waters.  "Contexts," in my definition, has a fairly wide latitude, and
most definitely includes jazz and country--musical genres which developed
contemporaneously with blues and now exist alongside it.  However, it also
implies that you're *relating* the material on jazz and country to the
development of blues, not just posting country for country's sake.  I'm
sure that there's a country list for that, somewhere.

We could also implement Rick's suggested NBMC (no blues music content)
prefix to distinguish "blues causes" posts from "blues music" posts.  My
initial reaction to this suggestion when it was first proposed was
skepticism;  I assumed (and still assume) that anyone who filters NBC
will also filter NBMC, and vice versa, so what difference will it make?
However, it can't very well do any damage.

Hope this helps.  Thanks for the opportunity to reconsider and reformulate
my criteria for reviewing posts;  this "framing question" that I
articulate above is, I think, much better than simply filtering NBC, some
of which, as Mike Curtis pointed out, can be of value.



Marc R. Sykes
Graduate Fellow, Department of History
Queen's University

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