Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Blues - Feel like going home

I have a lump in my throat and i will just confess right now that i cried, in awe? i still dont know, but i cried. [Disclaimer: i cry in 99.8% of movies]. That is not the reason for this entry though. I borrowed the film 'Feel Like Going Home' from the library and just finished watching it awhile ago. I enjoy listening to blues, though i would not consider myself an avid fan who knows much about it other than listening to it on public radio or attending a concert or two.

The film is about the origins and the history of the blues. From the juke joints of the mississipi delta to the Niger River in Mali. Martin Scorcese produced it, he does some narrating in several bits but the main person who anchors this amazing film is Corey Harris. Its almost like Scorcese knew the person through which this story should be explored is corey harris, and he stepped away and let Harris go on this wonderful journey of discovery.
Many things struck me in this film. Listening and watching Son House, makes you almost cry, yet imparts strength to your spirit. Just hearing him speak, his voice is the blues.
The flute (cane)playing of Otha Turner was beautiful, better yet, his words, actually the stories and words of all the people corey harris spoke to were deep. Real deep.
In the days of slavery in America, the [african]drum was banned, yet later the use of snare drum in the mississipi featured, as corey harris put it..interwoven polyrythms, which are very common in african music. Harris poignantly observed that Africa was always just a heartbeat away.
If you listen to the radio show the world by PRI the tune for the geo quiz by Ali Farka Toure opens Corey Harris's segment in Mali. He speaks with Salif Keita, whose music is moving, though i cant understand a single word. I must admit that this is the section i found just incredibly special.
You know how when people come to visit in Africa and the elders sit on chairs under a tree to talk? Corey Harris was talking with Toumani Diabate at his compound, with Diabate telling him of his history,he hails from 71 generations of griots in mali. They also talked about how they felt about slavery.
Harris met and played with Habib Koite, then with Ali Farka Toure, who apparently was forbidden by his family to be an artist (because he was considered a nobleman). I tell you this film is interesting. As Harris and Ali Farka Toure play a version of John Lee Hooker's song under a tree on an island off the niger river, you can sense the still ness.
Scorsese noted Harris's words. "To know yourself, you have to know the past".
Two quotes from Ali Farka Toure,
"The culture is here, it is the heart of African tradition. We have all the roots of the history, the legends, the biography and the science and the African technology."

"I will tell you this, there are no black Americans. There are blacks in America, no black americans exist. The blacks left with their culture and they kept it. But the biography, the ethnicity, the legends they did lose. Still, their music is African. Whether in the US or in Mali i think that there are only cities and distances separating us, but our souls, our spirits are the same[snip]. I feel sorry, "why?" because they are people who should be united."
one more quote from alan Lomax
" When the whole world is bored with automated mass distributed video music our descendants will despise us for throwing away the best of our culture."
Its a wonderful film. Wouldnt it be cool if PBS teamed up with KTN or Citizen/Royal Media to show films such as these?


Blogger Msanii_XL said...

so this has been kept hidden why?

7:27 AM  
Blogger Afromusing said...

woiyee, i wasnt hiding it per se..moved it back..for u! :)

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Griot said...

Wow Afromusing, you are really representing African music (maybe remind people on your other blog to check this out); I love Habib Koite, Salif Keita's voice so beautifully haunting, and in general I am a big collecter of African music, and I think that albums from the past should be re-marketed or videos shown. Great work Afro :-)

3:32 AM  
Blogger Afromusing said...

that is a brilliant idea to remarket videos.. thanks griot, please visit again, or if you have a blog please send me a link :)

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Mentalacrobatics said...

Looks like a powerful movie. I'll look out for it. Thanks :-)

2:59 PM  
Blogger UARIDI said...

Yes! (I mean the linking of PBS with Kenyan TV.) The historic links of blues and all "American" music with Africa is incredible.

I love Baba Maal, although I do not understand a single word of what he says.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous JKE said...

Did they also show Boubacar "KarKar" Traoré of Mali in this movie?

(No, not Rokia...Traoré is a popular name in Mali just like Kamau is in Kenya :-)

10:39 AM  
Blogger Afromusing said...

mental :))

Uaridi, Baaba Maal sounds great! i like his music too!

JKE, i dont recall, though they may have...

4:13 PM  
Blogger jke said...

Again, Blues is the only music that gives me this long lasting "harmony-feeling" :-)
When I heard this Mali Blues for the first time, I instantly realized where Blues as such actually comes from. This music goes directly to my heart and touches me every time.

And then of course I think of this funny piece I've found on a compilation some years ago titled "under African skies" where Ray Lema gives a small dialogue on Franco Luambo Makiadi and what made his tunes so famous (which, for me, is just like this Blues pattern - always repeating...).

5:30 PM  
Blogger MaZungu said...

You have opened me up to a new curiosity, a new thought, a new discovery. I am not sure where to begin finding this film but begin I will.

My senses tell me that you have started me on a brand new Journey. I am blessed to have found your review, you are a blessing to have shared it!


7:48 AM  

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