Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » Gunsmoke Blues

Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » Gunsmoke Blues


Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3DGF23N

YouTube: https://bit.ly/3xH50A6

I’ve been waiting for the blues to come back. Isn’t it about time? Aren’t the blues forever? One thing’s for sure, we’ve got ’em, you and me, it’s tough times, despite all the hedonistic music on the hit parade.

Which most people don’t know.

Happens to me all the time. Yesterday at the Subaru dealer. Service writer had no idea who Morgan Wallen was. I felt like I was speaking a foreign language, all I got was a blank face talking about the acts I was going to see.

Meanwhile, they keep telling us it’s about the Spotify Top 50.

Not that Buddy Guy hasn’t gotten his victory lap. The only person who’s had more is Joni Mitchell. For the last almost thirty years we’ve seen Buddy on late night TV, smiling, wincing, working his axe. A progenitor hiding in plain sight.

That’s right, Buddy was born in ’36, 19 that is. We’ll have to say that soon, not that many people live for a hundred years. But Buddy’s 86, makes me wonder how much longer Mick Jagger and his compatriots can ply the boards. You see once you’ve got the blues inside you, they never leave, but you have to get them out, otherwise they just pile up.

I’ll admit I found “Gunsmoke Blues” via Spotify’s Discover Weekly. I’ll admit the fact that Jason Isbell was involved made me curious. But I did not expect to immediately fall in that groove that the blues deliver, you know, the kind you hear all over “Fillmore East.”

That’s the Allman Brothers in case you don’t know. Not everybody who played with them is gone yet, but the Allman Brothers themselves are. Never mind almost every other member of the original band. But after a hiatus way back when, the Allmans toured, they were available, once again, hiding in plain sight.

Still, I must say I haven’t had the desire to play Buddy Guy’s new albums, I’m always eager to see him play, but I didn’t expect this complete return to form, not only has Buddy not lost a step, he’s got tons of energy left, when everybody else is thinking about retirement, or already has, or is dead.

“Trouble down at the high school

Somebody got the gunsmoke blues”

That’s the latest research, that most of these shooters are not mentally ill. Oh, they’re depressed, they’re frustrated, but they’re not schizophrenic. You see when you eliminate opportunity and the ability to get laid…you’ve got nowhere to lay your feelings. So, you choose to go out in a blaze of glory, but it’s quite different than the one Jon Bon Jovi sang about in that cowboy movie back in the eighties.

I’m not condoning the behavior. I believe in gun control. But I found what Scott Galloway said fascinating, if all these shooters just got laid would that put a huge dent in the problem?

God, are you on social media? What gets me is all these women saying they’re fat when they’re nothing of the sort. It’s true, everybody is held to an impossible ideal, hell, look at these celebrities without makeup. And it used to be everything was localized, but today everything is worldwide. Just like today’s musicians have to compete with the best of all time on Spotify, you’ve got to compete with the best looking people alive. So not only do you feel inadequate, your desires are fantasies, not rooted in reality. Everybody wants something they can’t have. I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret, being famous doesn’t solve all your problems, they’re still there, still troubling you. Sure, it’s nice to not have to worry about money, to have relationship opportunities, but most people seeking to be in the public eye are screwed-up to begin with, trying to fill an unfillable hole.

“Read it in the morning paper

Watch it on the evening news”

The bubble-headed bleached blondes are still testifying on TV, it’s just that they’re reaching ever fewer people. Quick, name your local TV newspeople! I bet you can’t, I certainly cannot. Only antiques getting their news from TV still can, the rest of us…

Don’t even get our news in the morning paper. Check the statistics, forget the Big Three, the NYT, WSJ and WaPo, circulation numbers keep dropping. Used to be everybody in L.A. got the “Los Angeles Times,” now it’s hard to find someone who does. So, if it’s in there and nowhere else, it’s like it didn’t happen. I think the stories in the LAT are there purely to make the PR people involved feel good, because they don’t move the needle.

“Over at the house of worship

People praying to the lord”

If they shoot Black people… It’s like some bizarre hearkening back to the past, where they’re only three-quarters or a half of a person. Especially if it’s a rapper, but even worse if it’s someone not famous. Yup, some white kid shoots up a Black church and most people shrug.

But people are still praying, because they haven’t got much else.

“Mama said what’s the matter

Son, you ain’t acting right”

If only the parents could see it. If only they weren’t looking at their phones, if only both parents didn’t have to work outside the home to make ends meet. Even worse, today everybody’s kid is perfect. The enemy? The teachers! Scroll down and read these stories of why teachers are quitting: https://bloom.bg/3xJF2Mt

“Some folks blame the shooter

Other folks blame the gun

But that don’t stop the bullets

And more bloodshed to come

A million thoughts and prayers

Won’t bring back anyone”

I don’t think I can add anything to this. Now mass shootings are de rigueur, they happen on a regular basis, and the news doesn’t sustain, everybody wants to forget about them.

But really, “Gunsmoke Blues” has nothing to do with the lyrics. I didn’t catch them until I looked them up. Instead, it’s the sound. You feel something, sadness, introspection, appraisal of the landscape. You stop and reflect.

“Gunsmoke Blues” has got nothing to do with the Spotify Top 50, got nothing to do with the major music business. No one expects this stuff to sell so they’re not interested. Old guy playing old music.

But now more than ever there are niches which are bigger than ever before. So many different types of music have an audience.

But it’s hard to keep going, feeling like you’re standing in the same place, struggling for money, missing home. Takes the most dedicated to keep on keepin’ on.

Or those who were brought up in a different era when music was godhead and they can’t do anything else. However too many are running on fumes, just riding around playing the old stuff, it’s nostalgia.

“Gunsmoke Blues” is not nostalgia, it’s positively now.

But it’s just a blueprint, in truth the blues live live.

Did you read today’s story on Robert Fripp in the “New York Times”?

“Robert Fripp Lightens Up – No one expected to see the leader of King Crimson dancing in a tutu on YouTube. In a rare interview, the guitarist explains ‘an entirely different trajectory.’”: https://nyti.ms/3Sp3ISi

You should, even if you’ve got no idea who Fripp is.

The money quote is this:

“I’ve learned to trust the music, trust the process. And it’s important that the audience should know they are as important as the musician. If the audience is present and engaged and listening, the relationship is qualitatively different. When that happens, the moment becomes actually real. And there is a profound satisfaction in there.”

Fripp isn’t talking about hard drives, he’s not talking about dancing, he’s not talking about flying in the backup vocals, he’s talking about real, living and breathing music.

Like Buddy Guy’s “Gunsmoke Blues.” Which says more about the shooter situation than a whole house of Congressmen.

Yes, men. The same ones taking away a woman’s right to abortion. I thought we fought this war back in the seventies, why are ignorant old men still telling women what to do with their bodies?

No wonder they’ve got the blues.

Yes, the blues are forever. They never go away. They might wax and wane, but they’re still here. And when you hear them you feel connected, get the power to soldier on in this world where you’re carrying all this weight on your shoulders, where opportunities are slim and you have to be weary of getting your ass shot off.

“Gunsmoke Blues” contains the essence of the blues. But this is the music we used to go see on a regular basis, to connect with the feeling.

The feeling is still there.


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