[A] particular brand of comment showed up enough [on the Alan Lomax Archive recordings on YouTube] that I started a collection. I call them “blues affirmations.” They number in the dozens, posted to an assortment of clips of black vernacular music. These performances don’t necessarily pertain to the song structure or performance style called “blues”—they could be field hollers or minstrel pieces—but the commentary was single-mindedly focused on it.
The notion of a “pure” culture, of any kind, is informed by ignorance and/or ideology and/or romanticism. I feel set upon by a thick, dumb fog just looking at the phrase. But the Blues Affirmations stir something in me; they insist, childlike, on something real, true, forever enduring, constructed of unadulterated and unmediated purity. I look forward to them, and they undo me a bit when they arrive.
They feel authentic, so I’d like to give them the last word:
one word: BLUES…
This is blues
The real blues
Real O.G. Blues. No fancy shit!
This is the real face of the blues right here.
this is how it’s done with real blues!
this that old school real sittin on your porch blues!
That’s REAL old school blues
Oh man….. that’s the Blues baby….. that’s the real, down South, low down, heartfelt blues.
Authentic, real Blues, Love it.
it doesnt get anymore authentic than this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now that is the blues.
Blues is timeless.
there is nothing as hard as the blues
This man over here folks is the blues himself!
Great melody that shows blues music comes from the soul.
The blues is very expressive, and it is the foundation of rock music!
True music, with emotion, feelings.. His soul is speakin
the Blues needs no roaring electric guitars and smashing drums to show all the hard aspects of life without disguise
Clapton who?…THIS IS THE BLUES, R.L. shows you how it smells, looks, taste, sounds, and most importantly how it feels. Clapton never had babies cry in the background of his performances
it’s only perfect because he’s authentic
that look in his eyes at 4:05…. thats the blues right there
The blues is real, that’s why the blues lives on.
That’s from far one of the best blues I never heard… real blues… from the guts… not from the wallets !!!
This is where the blues started – AND THIS IS WHERE THE BLUES ENDS.
—Nathan Salsburg (curator, Alan Lomax Archive), “Part V of Against Authenticity,” Oxford American (6/21/13)
*As I’ve mentioned, I had the great pleasure of working with Albert, co-producing his 1978 album Ice Pickin’ (Alligator)—singular guitarist, sweet guy.