I have often taken a hard stance on America. In particular, I see the health of American political culture declining, and really, let’s be honest, no longer having much to offer the world in terms of being a beacon of light for the downtrodden on an otherwise dark, lonely expanse of barren coastline.
While this is not the time or place for a discussion of failings – and aren’t we all failures in some way – I thought it worthwhile to reassert my opinions on the matter as a pre-emptive counter-point to my introduction to this week’s Saturday Night Jukebox! You see, while I lament the decline of the American Dream, I do also rejoice in the fact that the artistic culture of this great nation has perhaps never been so healthy.
Over the past century, the musical traditions of hundreds of cultures have come together, they’ve met and mingled, and a few have even ‘hooked up’.
We often describe America as a ‘melting pot’, a mashing together of peoples, traditions, opinions, and everything else that goes along with being human. From this chaos arose a creative musical explosion that has given us jazz and the blues, honky tonk and Folk, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and a little Jewish kid from Duluth, Minnesota, Bob Dylan.
What these ‘hook ups’ have produced, other than a little nagging regret and a few reported cases of herpes, is a particular ease of collaboration, a Made in America response to the often lamented global cultural homogenisation that is , I think, too recklessly blamed solely on the USA.
Tonight, I offer you two selections as examples of the width and depth of the American musical experience: Dengue Fever – a fusion of LA psychedelic-rock with Cambodian pop music – and Carolina Chocolate Drops – an old-time strings band that uses some beat boxing.