The Fifth Element #41 Special Walter Pater Memorial "Burn With a Jet-Like Flame" Award
Ron Ramsey, Eugene, OR
America: The Prequel
"We will shoot some arrows into the white man. If he truly has medicine, he will not be hurt. If he has no medicine, he will be dead."—Wind In His Hair
1. Johnny Preston: "Running Bear"
"Now they'll always be together, In the Happy Hunting Ground."
In 1989, I was in Montreux, Switzerland, attending the jazz festival. The concierge at my hotel was a young woman, Native Parisian, spoke five languages. Because of her language skills, had been offered a job in Atlanta, by a large hotel chain, for the upcoming Summer Olympics. She'd never been to the US, and wondered: "What is Atlanta like?"
I was baffled. How do I explain the American South to this urbane, cosmopolitan, European woman? I thought: Religious Fundamentalism, racism, xenophobia. The lingering bad blood of the Civil War and the failed Plantation Economy.
Then I thought of a song, the picture worth a thousand words; the Essence of the American South
2. "Dueling Banjos"—Deliverance Soundtrack
3. Charlie Patton: Founder of the Delta Blues
Let's take a ride on the Underground Railroad.
4. Ry Cooder: Ry Cooder
Great Depression-era music: "One Meatball," "Do Re Mi," and Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Is The Night," what Cooder called: ."..the most soulful, transcendent piece in all American music."
5. Eddy Arnold: "Cattle Call"
Eddy's haunting yodel evokes the feel of the High Plains wind blowing over the vast American West. Elbow room.
6. Duke Ellington: Carnegie Hall Concerts, January 1943
The sound is not good, but the music transcends. And the exquisite timing: step outside, Ladies and Gentlemen: World War II in full and terrible bloom.
7. The Doo Wop Box
Straight from the street corners: "The Great Pretender," "Why do Fools Fall in Love," etc. The Race Music that terrified The Greatest Generation.
8. Frank Sinatra: "I Get a Kick Out of You" from The Capitol Years
When "Old Blue Eyes" sings: "I get a kick..." the drummer thumps his kick drum. The apex croonball moment for the swingin' "Greatest Generation." After weathering the Depression, defeating Hitler, and fighting Communism, the Greatest Generation got gapped. Left with The Rat Pack. Martinis and broads. This was the last dying gasp of the demented Silent Majority. Their way of life was over and they didn't know it yet.
9. Miles Davis Quintet: Complete Columbia Studio Recordings 1965–1968
10. Grateful Dead: Fillmore West 1969
Jerry Garcia once said: "The Grateful Dead are as American as lynch mobs. America is a complex place." Since the 10 CD Complete Box Set Limited Edition is out of print—the 3 CD compilation will be fine. The ultimate live shows of the wildest music there ever was. I got yer 1960s—right here!
11. Velvet Underground: White Heat/White Light
While the Grateful Dead were searchin' for the sound, Lou Reed and John Cale and Sister Ray were searchin' for their mainlines.
12. Ledward Kaapana: Led Live—Solo Slack-key guitar
Hawaii—the Final American Frontier. Hawaii is where we finally "...run out of West."