A Letter Throwed in Your Back Yard

Tobias Wood Henderson expat56@hotmail.com
Wed Apr 18 01:21:17 EDT 2007

When I began my professional career in the Blues, it was 1955 and two things 
applied. First, my father had just informed me that due to my mother's 
ethnicity, I was a jew and that I should be proud of that and allow no one 
at any time to disparage my race or the religion associated with my race. 
Then he went further and said that no one of any race should be disparaged 
for that, not for their sex, not for their politics, and not for their 
religion. He said that every person has an inherent right to meet God on 
their own terms. Whatever satisfied their soul was their right. He said that 
no one had a monopoly on God, not even the Hindu with their remarkable 
pantheon of avatars. He said that Women could do any job a man could, even 
if they had to make adjustments (due to different muscularity to menn) in 
the "way" that they performed their job. No one had the right to pay them 
less, to treat them with less respect, or to assume that their place in the 
universe was to "serve" men. The second thing that applied was that my 
mother (who was a jew) hated everything that was not White and Protestant. 
None of her brothers and sisters shared these sentiments but my mother was 
the kind of peckerhead that I refused to be. So I left home and thereby 
missed being educated in hatred and intolerance. Although I physically 
returned in 1959, when I was 14, I never really came home. By the time I got 
back I had a bank account, my own car and a reputation as a bandleader and 
musician. I just did not play for white folks. I did not get to date much 
because the parents would not allow their girls to date a "N" lover. They 
were not bad people or bad parents. They just represented what they thought 
was right. As the times changed, so did they and now, when I am down that 
way, occasionally I run into a mother or father from those long ago days. 
99% of them apologise to me for those days. So, to sum up. Racism, Sexism, 
Ageism, in fact, all the "isms" are a matter of personal choice mostly. 
People who practice these anti-social specialities are often misguided and 
have been manipulated into positions they believe they cannot abandon 
without "betraying" some cause or other. They should be dealt compassion 
because they are us. The Blues is and should be a means of communication 
that breaks down barriers. The rappers don't bother me because the best of 
them draw a picture of the bottom edge of society that is dead accurate (no 
pun intended). I know this because I spent time in jail with some of them 
and their art is drawn from the mean streets of LA and other major cities. 
They mostly don't do the things they sing about but some of them have and 
music is the only way out of the ghetto. You can fantasize about American 
society all you want to but the fact is the rich have gotten richer and the 
poor have gotten poorer. As the standard of living in this country has risen 
the level of poverty as defined by the Federal government has also risen. 
Now, if you are at the poverty level you have an annual income of 
$25,000.00. Since I am personally poor and disabled and receive SSI, I am 
perfectly familiar with poverty. I have an annual income of $10,200.00 which 
has to support two adults. Can I understand slavery? Maybe, I am a jew after 
all and in the whole Bible, we were slaves. Can I understand what a Black 
person feels about his or her situation or what should be after nearly 300 
years and is not yet? After living a good part of my life in Europe where 
slavery was overturned at least 50 years before it died in America and a 
Black man in Scotland is simply a Scotsman and entitled to whatever he or 
she needs based on need and not colour, No, I am still culture shocked after 
returning here as is my English wife. But, I go wherever I want to and I 
have no fear. My heart is strong in the belief that a man is a man and a 
woman is woman and the colour of the outside is no barrier to love or 
friendship. I sing the Blues and play the Blues and write Blues because that 
is what I believe to be the best form of communication so far devised in 
this country. If I am ever menaced because of my colour then if necessary I 
will gladly die to preserve that person's right to menace me because I have 
so far failed in my intense desire to make things better. I will not sit and 
endlessly repeat old stuff with no relevance. I will fight to make my music 
heard and defend my right to make my music because I give a damn. The "isms" 
don't touch me any more than the Imuses and Limbaughs of this world do. I 
recommend that everyone ought to read Rush Limbaugh's book. In there he 
defined the fact that he found a "niche" in American society that "allowed 
him to practice his art of communication and handsomely rewarded him for it" 
He considers himself an "entertainer". One has to wonder what Joseph 
Goebbels (Hitler's master of communications) would have made of Rush. 
Goebbels founded the modern science of social communications and his books 
on the subject are still studied. Rich people in Germany who hated democracy 
put Hitler in power thinking they could control him (Whoops) and then he 
murdered and imprisoned those very people. The point is simple. You do not 
have to grow nothing from your roots and you can still turn back to the 
people and take your art to them and change their minds, even if only one 
mind at a time. What on earth does it matter who wrote or sang the song 
first? What matters is how much of yourself you are willing to put into the 
song when go before an audience. Believe me folks, old guitars and amps 
don't matter either. I had them. My uncle was a friend of Lester Paulson and 
when he and Mary Ford tangled in a messy divorce, he (Les Paul) gave a bunch 
of his guitars to my uncle to give to me. So I had them. I had a Fender 
Broadcaster with a radio-style toggle switch instead of a real pickup switch 
and no truss rod in the neck. It was new when I bought it and damned near 
unplayable. I had at least one of all the "famous" guitars and I blew up 
amps on the radio show I had in Texas. They did not influence my "sound" on 
the guitar or form it. My hands made my sound along with my ear. I have made 
a 50 year career on my small light and you can do the same.

Stop whining about what was and get on with what is.

Tobias Wood (TW) Henderson

Blues-L web site: http://www.netspace.org/~blues-l/
Archives & web interface: http://lists.netspace.org/archives/blues-l.html
NetSpace LISTSERV(R) software donated by L-Soft, Inc.   http://www.lsoft.com
To unsubscribe from BLUES-L, send an email with the message UNSUBSCRIBE BLUES-L to: listserv@lists.netspace.org

More information about the Blues-l mailing list