Monday, 23 September 2013

My turn to sit in the blue chair

The blues is a chair, not a design for a chair or a better chair . . . it is the first chair. It is a chair for sitting on, not for looking at. You sit on that music.

John Lennon


Lennon meant that the blues is the template, that all music that follows is other people's attempts to create the blues.  Every song is another chair in the auditorium.

Once upon a time there must have been the First Chair (an invention as worthy as the discovery of Fire or the First Wheel). After that others would have tried to make a chair, one that was more comfortable, more convenient, transportable, a two seater, a rocking chair, a more ergonomic chair,  a fancier chair, a simpler chair. A stool, a throne, an adjustable leather office chair on wheels - tho that is probably a more recent invention.  Some will have had more imagination than others, some more technical skills, some better materials available.  So no two chairs will look alike.

And the blues is the same.  It isn't a museum piece, it is for sitting on, for using. And every new song is every songwriter's attempt to recreate the first song.  And it may be a rock song, or a ballad, techno or disco, country or western, pretty metal or satanic death house, by Lennon or Macca, the Beatles or the Stones, One Direction or Capt Beefheart, Johnny Dowd or Ron Sexsmith.  Everyone is trying to make a chair. 

Elvis wasn't trying to create a whole new genre of music, he was just doing a cover of a blues song, That's all Right, Mama, but being a white boy with a country band it sounded new and different. The Beatles weren't trying to drag music out of the 50s into the 60s - they were trying to be Elvis. But they were Scouse and rowdy and their chairs sounded different too. And when the Clash rejected Elvis, Beatles and Rolling Stones in 1977 they did it with two guitars, bass and drums. The Clash, the Pistols, Led Zep, Radiohead, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Robin Thicke, they were all just trying to create a new blue chair.

Blue Chair, Elvis Costello

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