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Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Big Joe Turner and The Proverbial Woodshed

Years Active: 1953-1985

Listen up. This post is not about white males. But it is about a particular white male and the few self-centered and arrogant white guys left like him. Beyond him, it's about a subject that we really don't want to discuss--about black music and the people who straight-up stole it from innovators who were nothing less than geniuses, about cultural expropriators who,were, essentially, nothing more than thieves. Shall we?

We were sitting in an Expresso Royale coffee shop. It was about 10 African Americans (two musicians), 1 Somali, 2 white guys (professional local musicians) and 2 Latino guys (1 a professional loyal musician and 1 a student in music at the University of Minnesota). We were talking about Big Joe Turner. It was his birthday, and the daddy and the two local musicians were talking about Joe Turner and the music that came out of Kansas City that influenced music throughout the world.

The white guy came over, sat down and immediately tried to change the subject. “Hey, have you guys heard of Bill Haley? Man, he was great..." We all looked around at each other, asking each other with our eyes:

"Who the f**k is this guy doing coming here without pulling up a chair and trying to preach to us?" "What makes this guy think that, as soon as he sits down, everything has to revolve around him? This asshole didn't even say what's up or hello!"

So what bothered the daddy about this guy? A white guy came to the table? No, there were already two there. That he sat down and tried to change the subject? Partially. He sat down and tried to change the subject from Big Joe Turner to Bill Haley, the guy who stole Big Joe Turner's music ON JOE TURNER'S BIRTHDAY! Folks, this is like changing the subject from courageous Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to that obese druggie Rush Limbaugh. What bothered the daddy is that Bill Haley is about as good an example of any of folks who stole black music, and not an example of a great musician.

2

This particular guy has done this before. And the daddy has noticed a pattern-- that he only "chats" to us predominantly black folks about sports or music. Secondly, he only talks sports or music that happened long time ago, thinking that we will not know about it, that he will then have the opportunity to wax poetic. Apparently, this guy thinks that, if a sports activity occurred before Michael Jordan, we wouldn't know about it. And, if music was played before James Brown, we wouldn't know about that either. So, as far as this guy was concerned, music for the daddy and his homies begins with “I feel good” and ends with Fitty at the candy shop.

And what a perfect opportunity to school the maddening, unwashed, black guys and two white but wanna-be-black guys and other non-white hanger-ons at the yuppie coffee shop.

3

Well, school was in session, alright, because the daddy comes from a musical family (gospel, blues, and jazz); because the daddy, in no uncertain terms, took this arrogant white expert and homie-wanna-be to the inner-city proverbial woodshed.

Arrogant white expert:

“Have you guys heard of Bill Haley? Man, he was great…”

The daddy:

"Excuse me. We were talking about Big Joe Turner. You’re talking about Bill Haley and the Comets. He was born in Highland Park, Michigan in 1925, the year my dad was born, I think. He tried to playing country and western and swing around Michigan. But them folks said, “Man, get that shit out of here.

Before hooking up with three other dudes to make the Comets, he was in a group called the Four Aces. That's when Haley met a producer for the Decca label, who told him to stop playing swing and play what he called jungle beats. He told him to find some black music.

That’s how he came to make “Man Crazy,” which was the first so-called rock and roll record to make the billboard charts. But it was straight-up black music. But after his success with Man Crazy, he went whole hog, so to speak, and did nothing but black music: “Shake, rattle, and roll,” “See you later, alligator,"Flip, Flop and Fly," “Rock around the clock.”

He faded from the scene around 1957, when younger, more exciting guys came along like Elvis, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, and when racist, white American media finally let white girls go to shows where black men were performing like Little Richard, Chuck Berry. and Chubby Checker.

Bill Haley stole Big Joe Turner's music. Turner was the first to sing all those songs. We were talking about him because today is his birthday. Do you have anything to add about Big Joe Turner?

4

The white expert said he had to get going. Everyone at the table said, “Have a good one,” smiling and trying hard not to laugh out loud as he walked toward the door. The daddy was thinking, "I'm going to feel bad about this tomorrow...honest!"

Know your musical black history. Know Big Joe Turner.

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Note: The five professional musicians in the group said they were more disgusted with this guy than me. They said he was talking about something they make a living playing all the time; and they didn't need him to tell them about music. If the daddy hadn't said something to him, they would have.

15 comments:

EveNotes said...

Hello Daddy,

I know what you are talking about. But I also know that you aren't going to feel bad about what you have written/said. I recall some of your other writings where you have shared, "Don't ever feel bad about speaking the truth...you seek to discover the truth and to share it with others..." I just hope the so-called expert listened and learned from you and the others in your group. Make it a great day.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

thanks for the reminder maybe joe williams will be a good one to remind us about also. have a great weekend

MacDaddy said...

Evenotes: You've read my writings. You know I speak the truth. But I just wish it he had sat,listened a little and maybe added to the discussion we were having; and once that subject had played out, start another one if he likes. Show some respect and common sense, but he didn't show much respect; and I let him know that. Yes, I would do it again.

Torrance:Joe Williams came out of that Kansas city blues era. And what a voice! I got to post on him.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Daddy, I am glad you put that person in its place. I said "its" because it was a demon trying to get your goats about a subject he shouldn't have tried to horn in on.

That's what ruined me in this town for the one radio station I worked at and wanted to return to: they wanted me to play THEIR VERSION OF black music.

You see, I created a show called "Soul Classics" that was popular as soon as it hit the airwaves. They increased the power of the station, and I had fans all the way damn near to Chicago. Chicago is a great town for tunes and radio, and I was competing directly with them! The "status quo" cannot stand an independent spirit, especially one who is knowledgable, capable and inflexible as to program content, especially when he didn't need any help conceptualizing or keeping the show topical, interesting and hip.

They wanted me to play "smooth jazz" people like (hell, I can't even spell their names, they are so unfamiliar to me!!!)...oh well, I remember at least one name: it was Delbert McClinton, who had a couple of albums popular at the time. I said, "why play someone who is trying to copy B.B. King when I have all of his records and can PLAY him!?"

I played "soulful" records by white people: Rolling Stones-"Miss You", "Hot Stuff", "I Can't Get No Satisfaction", Barbra Streisand: "Guilty" (duet with Barry Gibb), "Woman In Love", etc, "Play That Funky Music (White Boy)"-Wild Cherry, "Brother Louie", Stories...there are many, many soulful "blue-eyed" brothers and sisters who made good soul music, but for those imitators and syndicators...I'm like you: I know who they are, but they don't fit nor do they compare with the originals. They took the sales and the notoriety in their genres copying styles, now they want the historical respect that is reserved for Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Big Mama Thornton, Louis Jordan and Dinah Washington, although I must say that Kay Starr gave Dinah a run for her money-they sound almost identical on some records...

James

rainywalker said...

daddyBstrong you don't have to explain yourself to me or anyone else. I'm here to learn something, not to claim I know anything about music.
rainy

truth said...

DaddyBstrong,
You did the right, brother!

You told the truth and sometimes it hurts! He'll be alright and if not, so be it!

MacDaddy said...

James: Initially, I wasn't trying to do this. I was just trying to enjoy a good cup of java with friends. I'm sorry it turned out that way. Are you going to get a job with another radio station? You know three times more about music than me. Why can't you get a job as a DJ on some all-night radio station?

Rainy: I know I'm a writer. But I'm not a good one. I didn't express the tone of his arrogance, when he spoke to us. He talked like one of those host of classical musical programs on radio. He sound like he really hated working folks. I apologize for not being write clearly. I'll just say he sound like he hated regular folk. That's the best I can do. I heard later that he was a teacher at the U of Minnesota. I don't care. I disliked him. That's my prejudice. I'm sorry I didn't explain this well.

MacDaddy said...

Truth: I admire the way you lay it down on your blog: speak the Truth with all its residual power. But I'm afraid that, unlike you, I failed as a writer. I failed to describe the the tone of his voice, the conviction, the assurance, he possessed when he spoke he asked, "Have you heard of Bill Haley? He was great..." I'll work on my writing skills.

rainywalker said...

daddyBstrong perhaps you misunderstood my comment I agree with you and most of the comments, you did the right thing. Anyone trying to join a conversation should start with some pleasantry and be willing to discuss the subject at hand.
rainy

R.J. said...

Now that was taking him to the woodshed. It's a shame that we don't hear about people like Big Joe Turner more often. That's why I'm thankful when you make posts like this.

judy said...

other than the names, i'm not familiar with bill haley or joe turner. but i'll only be checking out the music of one of them. i am loving your black history posts, daddy.

MacDaddy said...

Rainy: I agree.

RJ:We should be hearing the originators and innovators, and not the imitators. That's why I don't watch music award programs. I would rather Etta James than Beyonce, Hank Williams rather than Clint Black (although I do think he's a fine songwriter), Freddie King rather than Clapton. It's just the way I am.

Judy: I highly recommend one of those Best of CDs of Big Joe Turner. You will not be disappointed.

Jay said...

Dr. King Deserves Better in Charlotte, NC!

http://drkingdeservesbetter.blogspot.com/2007/02/dr-king-deserves-better.html

Big Man said...

Well, that was a helluva history lesson. I think I just read about that Haley dudein this biography I've been reading about Jimi Hendrix.

Corey said...

Going through you archives, I had to comment on this one! I SO RELATE! I really, really hope you didn't feel bad about what you said or ESPECIALLY about how you said it. The arrogance of these PARTICULAR know-it-all white guys fouls the air as soon as they make their presence known. I've been a record collector since I was a child. My uncles, aunts, siblings and parents turned me on to everything black folk ever created. And then I turned myself on. But I'm not supposed to know NUTHIN' about my own heritage beyond Hip Hop - which is actually what I know far LESS about. If they don't try to act shocked at what (and who) I know then they often want to play games and see HOW MUCH I know. THEN they get pissed off that I knew anything at all because I robbed them of the opportunity to be Mistraknowitall.

One of the first songs I heard as a kid (from my aunt's 78 collection) was Big Joe Turner's Honey Hush - and no, I am not a child of the 50's. Bill Haley, indeed! HONEY HUSH ! ! ! !