As a young boy growing up in Washington Heights, I, thanks to my surroundings, had a wide range of musical tastes. I learned to love classical on my own. My brothers got me into everything from the Beatles to Elvis Costello. My friends inducted me into b-boy culture. And MTV was where I learned of Madness.
Their videos opened a new world to me, far away from my barrio. London! Pork pie hats! Ska rhythms! It was awesome.
And, as if I couldn’t love them enough, when I started watching real football, and fell in love with Chelsea FC, I learned that Suggs, their frontman, is a devoted Blue. So, for tonight’s night owl chat, some Madness.
I’m one of those odd people who thinks “Born to Run” is the greatest rock album ever made. Better than “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band”. Better than “Exile on Main Street.” Better even than my beloved “The Joshua Tree.” No rock album had the abandon, the joy, the sheer scale of “Born to Run”. So, on the anniversary of its release, the full Monty. Enjoy.
”The blues has lost its king, and America has lost a legend. B.B. King was born a sharecropper’s son in Mississippi, came of age in Memphis, Tennessee, and became the ambassador who brought his all-American music to his country and the world. No one worked harder than B.B. No one inspired more up-and-coming artists. No one did more to spread the gospel of the blues.
Three years ago, Michelle and I hosted a blues concert at the White House. I hadn’t expected that I’d be talked into singing a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago” with B.B. by the end of the night, but that was the kind of effect his music had, and still does. He gets stuck in your head, he gets you moving, he gets you doing the things you probably shouldn’t do – but will always be glad you did. B.B. may be gone, but that thrill will be with us forever. And there’s going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight.”
– President Barack Obama
The blues are not about depression. The blues are about finding joy and life in the face of sorrow. And BB King sang about life and love. In honor of his life, a night owl chat.