Tag Archives: rock ‘n’ roll

Me and the Devil Blues

I’ve not really been on speaking terms with music lately. I’ve listened to the same two playlists over and over again, to the point where I no longer hear the music. It’s just a droning noise in the background, indistinguishable from any other sound. An endless, sound that rolls and wavers that is little more than white noise to me. Occasionally I’ll catch a snatch of something that sparks, jolting me into actually hearing what I’ve been listening to, but then it subsides again into a mindless atonal noise.

It’s a depressing thing, because while having music isn’t the end-all for me, it does mean something to me and it plays an important role in my creative drive. It’s always been there to me, to more or lesser degrees. I’ve even based some stories (loosely) on songs I’ve listened to. Sometimes it’s just a feeling that the song provokes that I then translate into story format, like the song “Wanna Rock & Roll” where a man with a cold black heart and red hot mind kills his lady because she dances with another man. If you’ve read my stories, you can probably see why this song appeals to me.

It’s always functioned as a catalyst for me, but lately I’ve been stuck in a rut, both in my writing and what I’ve been listening. So maybe if I switch up what I’ve been listening to, I can get back to writing again in earnest.

If I can find the time anyway.

15 Days Remaining.

Dylan Charles

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I Asked For Water, She Gave Me Gasoline

I like rock ‘n’ roll and its illegitimate daddy, the blues, just as much for the mythology as for the music itself. You’ve got musicians who may, or may not have sold their souls to the devil just so they can play the guitar faster than a normal man. You’ve got a death count that rivals the Great War. You’ve got a gritty, seedy underbelly that, say, disco just doesn’t have.

It’s this roughhewn, darker, murkier aspect of the genres that I enjoy. The language is often vicious, almost murderous. Blues and rock just don’t work as well when there’s polish and glow. It needs that darker half to bring out the best qualities. Cheatin’ women, murdered lovers, drinkin’, whorin’ and killin’. That’s not to say that there’s not more upstanding topics brought up, like, say, spirituality, but usually that spirituality is limited to goin’ down to the crossroads and sellin’ one’s soul to the devil.

The grittiness of the music goes beyond the subject matter and language, it’s reflected in the recording of the music itself. Robert Johnson, a blues musician who managed the impressive trick of selling his soul to the devil AND dying young, has only a handful of recordings to his name. They’re raddled with static and pops. His voice wails alone, his guitar the only instrument.  And all of it just adds to the music. The raw raggedness is a necessary ingredient and makes it more than it would be otherwise.

On the other hand, you have a blues guitarist like Jonny Lang. He rocks the guitar like the late Stevie Ray Vaughan and growls through a song like the best of them, but there’s too much foofrah, too much lace and trim. There’s the back-up vocalists, the way too many other band numbers playing horns, basses, violins and didgeridoos. With all that polish and shine, something is lost and it stops being rock ‘n’ roll and it stops being the blues and becomes a gussied up dandy who’s lost connections with his roots.

Just as I’m drawn to horror in books and movies, I’m drawn to music that has to turn its head until that darkness goes.

Dylan Charles

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