Tonight Kish and I got back from a performance at Schiller Park — more about that later — and we decided to build a fire. When Skipper decided to turn in, I thought I would stay up for while, stoke the flames, drink a few cold beers, and listen to some American music.
But . . . what to listen to, exactly? Because when you are talking about American music genres, you have the luxury of incredible choice. Ragtime, jazz, blues, rock ‘n roll, soul — it all depends on your mood.
It’s extraordinary, when you think about it. This country has produced a series of musical forms that have tremendous, worldwide, everlasting appeal. We’ll gladly leave waltzes to Austria and opera to Italy, but we’ve cornered the market on just about everything else worth mentioning. And don’t just take my word for it. Ask people in France or Japan about Louis Armstrong or John Coltrane or Miles Davis, or listen to British lad Eric Clapton team up with Duane Allman for Derek and the Dominoes’ epic treatment of Key to the Highway, or listen to some early Chuck Berry or Jerry Lee Lewis and then hear the Beatles or the Rolling Stones cover those songs, and you realize what a fantastic wellspring of music has been tapped in the United States of America.
Tonight I felt like listening to some blues, so B.B. King and the Blind Boys of Alabama and Robert Johnson and Leadbelly and Odetta — as well as J.T. Lauritsen and Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin and the Allman Brothers — helped to brighten and prolong a great evening. Just listening to it made me proud to be a citizen of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.