have a lump in my throat and i will just confess right now that i
cried, in awe? i still dont know, but i cried. [Disclaimer: i cry in
99% of movies]. That is not the reason for this entry though. I
borrowed the film ‘Feel Like Going Home’ from the library and just
finished watching it awhile ago. I enjoy listening to blues, though i
would not consider myself an avid fan who knows much about it other
than listening to it on public radio or attending a concert or two.
film is about the origins and the history of the blues. From the juke
joints of the mississipi delta to the Niger River in Mali. Martin
Scorcese produced it, he does some narrating in several bits but the
main person who anchors this amazing film is Corey Harris. Its almost like Scorcese knew that the best person
through which this story should be explored is Harris, he stepped away
and let Harris go on this wonderful journey of discovery. Many things struck me in this film. Listening and watching Son House,
could make you emotional, yet impart strength to your spirit. Just
hearing him speak, his voice is the blues. The flute (cane)playing of Otha Turner was
beautiful, better yet, his words, actually the stories and words of all
the people corey harris spoke to were deep. Real deep.
In the days
of slavery in America, the [african]drum was banned, yet later the use
of snare drum in the mississipi featured, as corey harris put
it..interwoven polyrythms, which are very common in african music.
Harris poignantly observed that Africa was always just a heartbeat away.
If you listen to the radio show the world by PRI the tune for the geo quiz by Ali Farka Toure opens Corey Harris’s segment in Mali. He speaks with Salif Keita,
whose music is moving, though i cant understand a single word. I must
admit that this is the section i found just incredibly special.
know how when people come to visit in Africa and the elders sit on
chairs under a tree to talk? Corey Harris was talking with Toumani Diabate at
his compound, with Diabate telling him of his history,he hails from 71
generations of griots in mali. They also talked about how they felt
about slavery. Harris met and played with Habib Koite,
then with Ali Farka Toure, who apparently was forbidden by his family
to be an artist (because he was considered a nobleman). I tell you this
film is interesting. As Harris and Ali Farka Toure play a version of
John Lee Hooker’s song under a tree on an island off the niger river,
you can sense the stillness and camaraderie. Scorsese noted Harris’s
words. “To know yourself, you have to know the past”.
Two quotes from Ali Farka Toure, “The
culture is here, it is the heart of African tradition. We have all the
roots of the history, the legends, the biography and the science and
the African technology.”
“I will tell you this,
there are no black Americans. There are blacks in America, no black
americans exist. The blacks left with their culture and they kept it.
But the biography, the ethnicity, the legends they did lose. Still,
their music is African. Whether in the US or in Mali i think that there
are only cities and distances separating us, but our souls, our spirits
are the same[snip]. I feel sorry, “why?” because they are people who
should be united.”
one more quote from alan Lomax
When the whole world is bored with automated mass distributed video
music our descendants will despise us for throwing away the best of our
Its a wonderful film. Wouldnt it be cool if PBS teamed up with KTN or Citizen/Royal Media to show films such as these?