|JB Lenoir -- The Whale Swallowed Jonah
||[May. 13th, 2010|04:16 am]
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In 1966, the Blues was dead in the water. The rising festival scene managed to dig up old bluesmen like Howlin' Wolf to play festivals, while the Rolling Stones covered old Robert Johnson songs and Bob Dylan was busy peddling Lightnin' Hopkins riffs on Blonde on Blonde. White, it seemed, was the new blues: Clapton gave old standards like "Dust My Broom" a new technical sheen, and the Beatles were trying out a style that would come to be called "neo-Blues" by Abbey Road.|
Meanwhile, one man was recording a new type of blues. Shuffling African rhythms met jittery guitar movements, and with an expression like the Buddha JB Lenoir sang in a piercing falsetto voice. He was singing about the Vietnam War, and Civil Rights. On "Born Dead", he uses the startling lines, "Every black child born in Mississippi -- you know the poor child is born dead". Finally the Blues seemed relevant again. JB died at the age of 38, from complications following a car crash. He had been a kitchen worker much of his life. The new direction he forged collapsed with him, and he remains almost forgotten today.