Saturday, August 25, 2012

Doc Watson - Folk, Blues, Bluegrass; and musical integrity.

Doc Watson and Musical Integrity.

When I think about America today I'm overcome with sadness for everything that has been lost. People have lost most of the values that made the nation strong - they've mostly all fallen prey to massive amounts of propaganda at the hands of some trillionaires and the completely corrupt mass media cartel of criminals that monopolize all of it.
Divide and conquer. Divided houses will not stand.
But when I think of persons still living that have made a difference - persons of integrity, I then think of people like Noam Chomsky, Ron Paul, and the musical legend - Doc Watson.
Just what is it, young man, that makes you think that Mr. Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson such a man of what you call "integrity?"
Gosh, there couldn't possibly be an easier question for me to answer! Look at what is passed off as "music" by today's media! You have to be young and very pretty to get any attention - AS IF someone's physical level of attraction ever had anything to do with music or musicianship! I almost vomit every time I turn on the radio - have you ever actually heard top 40 "music" for what it is? It's a bunch of sensationalist garbage that someone other than the singer nearly always wrote, the singer must first be a model - and the content of the lyrics is entirely based in sensationalist materialism or lasciviousness that is altogether useless, and mostly forgotten after only a year's time!
The "music" is created by someone other than the singer - who didn't even write the lyrics, and is only a model - and typically doesn't involve any actual musical instruments, but rather, samples and electronic noise tracks created by machines. What would these "musicians" do without their means of amplification, their professional song writers? Would they even be attractive to the legions of media zombies without their tailors, their make up artist, their hair stylist, and the professional photographers? I think not!
Doc Watson is the opposite of every single bit of corruption and lack of talent or integrity found in Rupert Murdoch music land. Doc was born dirt poor in Deep Gap, North Carolina - and became blind before his first birthday due to an eye disease - the peculiar squint of Doc Watson, the fact that he requires no sort of electronics or electricity to perform, and that he was never even truly a professional musician until he was forty years of age show you just where we are as a nation, and where mass media has taken us.
Today's fake musicians who are only models representing the gods of consumerism, materialism, and abiding by the ethos of Live Fast and Leave a Pretty Corpse - that's the best they can hope for. Doc Watson, however, is in his 90's now, and has legions of admirers that actually do love him, and care for him. Very different indeed!

Little Orphan Girl, By Doc Watson

Doc Watson - Little Orphan Girl - Lyrics.

"No home, no home," said a little girl
At the door of a rich man's home.
She trembling stood on the marble steps,
And leaned on the polished wall.

Her clothes were thin and her feet were bare,
And the snowflakes covered her head.
"Let me come in," she feebly said,
"Please give me a little bread."

As the little girl still trembling stood
Before that rich man's door,
With a frowning face he scornfully said,
"No room, no bread for the poor."

Then the rich man went to his table so fine
Where he and his family were fed.
And the orphan stood in the snow so deep,
As she cried for a piece of bread.

The rich man slept on his velvet couch,
And he dreamed of his silver and gold,
While the orphan lay in a bed of snow,
And murmured, "So cold, so cold."

The hours rolled on through the midnight storm,
Rolled on like a funeral bell,
The sleet came down in a blinding sheet,
And the drifting snow still fell.

When morning came the little girl
Still lay at the rich man's door.
But her soul had fled away to its home
Where there's room and there's bread for the poor.

Doc Watson - Guitar Virtuoso.

I remember years ago my uncle Tom, my Grandmother, and I took a trip to Winston Salem, North Carolina. I truly felt there as though I were in the region where the type of music that I enjoy playing and was brought up playing was truly known and appreciated. I picked up Doc Watson's album Then and Now, and a few others. On the long drive back to Texas my Grandmother even joined me in singing along to Corina Corina! I'm positive that not many people these days sing songs with their Grandmothers. I suspect that the lyrics of T.I. and "lady" gag uh are not sufficiently trans generational, and that is because they are only garbage, and will burn like so much chaff in the end.
But Doc Watson has been an American Musical Legend since the 60's Folk Music Revival, and he'd only spent the first 40 years of his life cutting his teeth in preparation for that. The man toured the United States and the world for decades after the Folk Revival stardom came and went, and he even did so with his son, Merle Watson, at his side. Merle, a wonderful musician in his own right, died doing honest work on a tractor on the Watson family farm - but the Watson musical legacy never died. Doc lives on, and has recorded with his grandson, Richard Watson - a guitarist after his father, and his grandfather's hearts.

Windy And Warm, by Doc Watson

The Music Of Doc Watson

There is much to be said for the abilities and the aptitudes of a blind man determined to feed his family that once made a living tuning pianosby ear. How many strings are there on a piano to tune, heck, I don't know - but when you've such an acute sense of sound as that, then a mere six strings is going to be somewhat less challenging for you.
The music of Doc Watson is as vast and varied as his talent. While he brought the term flatpicking to the forefront of Americana almost single handed; he'd also brought his harmonica playing, fingerpicking, and country blues to the masses of white Americans who'd never heard the black musicians years before persons like Eric Clapton, and bands like Fleetwood Mac ever were heard. Doc Watson is Folk, Doc Watson isBluegrass, Doc Watson is Country, and Doc Watson plays the blues.
While tunes such as Windy and Warm will forever be fingerpicked country blues standards, the lightening fast fiddle tunes such asBlack Mountain Rag will forever be what legions of country boys like myself have the most appreciation for. We all want to play that one at some point or another - and we flatpickers can not help this - all the while we know that we can't really every make that tune ours. Doc Watson wouldn't have you believe that the song is his, but we insist that it is his, and will never belong to anyone else - EVER.

Doc Watson - Black Mountain Rag!

Bill Monroe and Doc Watson

Doc Watson - Playing Guitar.

Bill Monroe is nearly always calledThe Father of Bluegrass, and Monroe and Watson recordings are available online and in stores. In fact - some of the most amazing and prolifically fast or up tempo fiddle tunes I've ever heard on record were when Bill and Doc played together. But Bill Monroe had become alarmed when he'd heard that the blind Doc Watson would often do carpentry work with power tools, hammers, and saws. Doc Watson even built himself a shed at one point - by himself. Perhaps sight is over rated in some cases. Monroe had told Doc Watson that he should take better care of his hands, to which Watson famously replied,
"Bill, the good Lord made my hands for more things than picking a guitar."
As stated before here, Doc Watson was a major proponent of bringing black or African American country blues to the fore for white audiences who otherwise would never have listened to any of it. He opened the door in a similar manner to bringing the Black men and women of the blues to white audiences in the same way that Eric Claptonhad done on the electric side of the fence. When questioned about it Watson had this to say,
"I'll tell you, I was exposed to quite a bit of black music, because mountain folk sat kind of in the middle of the road on that. My dad taught us to respect a man because he was a man."
Sure, that isn't so strange nowadays - but you must realize that Watson is in his 90's now, and that playing black country blues in what was surely near all white audiences in the 1960's -was a pretty big deal!
When asked if he was a musical prodigy Doc Watson had this to say about learning to play the guitar,
"It took a lot of hard work, but I had a knack for memorizing certain phrasings and sounds. I'd learn the tunes and words to songs off of old 78 records my family would play, from the time I was a very little boy."
In this text capsule my source for the Doc Watson quotes is the Spring 1990 GuitarEXTRA! magazine, and the interviewer was Gordon Ely.
For anyone interested in my opinion of what is the finest recordings featuring Doc Watson - then I encourage them to purchase the first and original Will The Circle Be Unbroken album by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The Gallagher Guitar that Doc used for that album, by the way, "Old Hoss," can now be found in the Country Music Hall Of Fame.
But Doc Watson is a pure entertainer - and the video below is the best thing I can find that exposes all of his many skills in the best possible way - save only that I haven't found one of Doc Watson and his harmonica work. Enjoy!

Doc Watson - Tennessee Stud

Doc Watosn - Deep River Blues


Steve said...

I saw Doc at Newport when he introduced the Orphan Girl song by saying his mother sang it and she learned it from Grandma Greene. And a few years later on the Boston Common Arlo Guthrie played to a large audience. When he finished to a standing ovation Doc came on next and about 50% of the people got up and started to leave. Arlo came running back out onto the stage, I do not remember his exact words, but he picked up the microphone and started yelling “Come back here, I am nothing compared to Doc, He is the greatest.” And he continued until yelling until many people returned to listen.

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