Tag Archives: Bessie Smith

March 6 – From Bessie to Badu (707)

bessie

 

badu

[audio http://personal.stthomas.edu/drgjelten/shows/GRR707.mp3]

Bessie Smith sang

I’ve got what it takes
But it breaks my heart to give it away
She said I’ve got what it takes
But it breaks my heart to give it away
It’s in demand
Folks cryin’ for it every day
I’ve been saving it up for a long long time
To give it away would be more than a crime


and Robert Johnson wrote

When a woman gets in trouble, everybody throws her down
Lookin’ for her good friend, none can’t be found
You better come on in my kitchen, baby, it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors

and Maya Angelou wrote

I say,
It’s the fire in  my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally,
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I’ll be honest, when I started thinking of this week’s show, I’d forgotten that March is Women’s History Month.  I was actually inspired by a connection from our last show, in which I realized that there was a strong line of influence between some of the artists I played.  Laura Nyro was inspired by Nina Simone and Nyro, in turn, inspired many musicians.  And Simone was influenced by the huge artists that came before her: Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and others.  So I started thinking “Can we draw a line from Bessie Smith to the contemporary singers of today?”  And I decided that we could.

Now, I could have spent weeks preparing a scholarly musical lesson on women in popular music of the twentieth century.  I’m sorry, but I have neither the time nor the expertise.  So, here’s what we’re going to do.  I’ve picked songs from women artists starting with Bessie Smith and moving chronologically through the century to Erykah Badu, and I think that you can argue that each successive artist was influenced by the previous one(s).  We’ll hear from Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, Ruth Brown, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, and move into Nyro, Mitchell, Joplin, Raitt, and eventually Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill and wind up with Mary J Blige and we’ll close with Erykah Badu.

I’d be starting arguments if I said I was including the most important women singers/songwriters of the twentieth century here.  Don’t want to do that. This is subjective.  But there is something for everyone on this show, and I do think this is at least a good faith effort to connect the dots between Bessie and Badu.

I hope you like it.  Let me know what you think, as always.

Today on Great River Radio, coming to you from the University of St. Thomas’ KUST.

The details:

Great River Radio – Wednesdays 4:15-5:45 p.m.
Catch the live stream:http://www.stthomas.edu/ustclubs/kust/live/liveStream.html
Web/listen later: 
https://greatriverradio.wordpress.com
Facebook: 
http://www.facebook.com/GreatRiverRadio

iChat/AIM: kustradio

Playlist
Bessie Smith-Muddy Water (A Mississippi Moan)
Billie Holiday-Lover Come Back To Me
Mahalia Jackson-Didn’t It Rain
Ruth Brown-Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean
Etta James-Lover Man
Aretha Franklin-A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel…)
Nina Simone-I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free
Laura Nyro-Stoney End
Janis Joplin-Try (Just A Little Harder)
Bonnie Raitt-Women Be Wise
Karen Dalton-God Bless The Child
Joni Mitchell-Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody
Rickie Lee Jones-Last Chance Texaco
Lauryn Hill-Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You
Amy Winehouse-You Know I’m No Good
Cassandra Wilson-Come on In My Kitchen
Black Dub (Trixie Whitley)-I Believe In You
Mary J. Blige-Real Love
Erykah Badu-On and On

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Great River Radio - Wednesdays 4:15-5:45 p.m.

May 18 – Five Years of River Songs


The river to the ocean goes,
a fortune for the undertow.
None of this is going my way.
There is nothing left to throw
of Ginger, lemon, indigo,
coriander stem and rose of hay.
Strength and courage overrides
the privileged and weary eyes
of river poet search naivete.
Pick up here and chase the ride.
The river empties to the tide.
All of this is coming your way .
“Find The River” – R.E.M.

As humans, we are taught early in life to gauge success with tangible tools of measurement – grades, height, wealth, etc. But these measurements rarely take into account the intangible – emotions, happiness, satisfaction, love and friendship. Even music sets a structure of time, rhythm and beat. But the very best music makes us feel something else, something transcendent and beautiful. Today marks the end of the 5th season of Great River Radio. On our best days, we hope you discovered a song or two that made your heart swoon or allowed you to be lost in the moment – if just for a minute or two – during a busy day.

The constant, reliable flow of a river can also conjure up feelings of solace and grace, transporting us to places unexpected. But this spring we are again reminded that rivers can devastate and destroy, too. Perhaps, that is why so many artists are drawn to the river metaphor. Rivers represent a life cycle – often unpredictable – of birth, baptism, life, death and rebirth. Rivers run deep symbolism. For the last five years we have started most of our shows with a “river song.” Not surprisingly, we have had many wonderful songs to choose from. So, to celebrate the close of our fifth year, Great River Radio is pleased to present a very special afternoon of river songs.

Today you will hear deep south river songs by Bessie Smith, Aaron Neville and The Bottle Rockets. Great River Radio favorites Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, John Hiatt, Uncle Tupelo, Cloud Cult and The Decemberists will offer their take on the river song. And we’ll have river tracks from such diverse artists as Los Lobos, Brian Eno, Mavis Staples, Carrie Rodriguez, Robert Johnson and Richard Thompson. An eclectic mix to be sure. But would you expect anything less from the Great River Radio music staff?

As always, we are grateful that so many of you are able to tune into Great River Radio – either live or via the website. Please take a moment to join us today for our final show of the season. And have a great summer!

Peace … like a river.

Brian and Dan

Details:
Great River Radio – Wednesdays 4:15-5:45 p.m.
Catch the live stream
Web/Listen Later
Facebook
iChat/AIM: kustradio

Playlist
Going Down To The River-Fred McDowell
Backwater Blues-Bessie Smith
Louisiana 1927-Aaron Neville
Get Down River-The Bottle Rockets
A River Runs Through It-Mark Isham
Especially Me-Low
I Follow Rivers-Lykke Li
By This River-Brian Eno
Big River-Johnny Cash
Big Sun Falling In The River-Richard Thompson
Green River-M. Ward
Down On The Riverbed-Los Lobos
High Water-Uncle Tupelo
Down By The Water-The Decemberists
Find The River-REM
Wide River To Cross-Carrie Rodriguez
River Knows Your Name-John Hiatt
Black River-Amos Lee
Harlem River Blues-Justin Townes Earle
Travelling Riverside Blues-Robert Johnson
Many Rivers To Cross-The Walkmen
Ballad Of Easy Rider-The Byrds
Watching The River Flow-Bob Dylan
When Water Comes To Life-Cloud Cult

Leave a comment

Filed under Great River Radio - Wednesdays 4:15-5:45 p.m.