Thursday, 26 February 2009

Spiritual Legacy

Just a thought about rock 'n' roll and feminism; it occurs to me that women everywhere owe a great deal to African-American music, be it the Negro spirituals and gospel music transformed into the electrostatic genius of Ray Charles or the jazz and blues geniuses of the late C19th/early C20th that influenced Elvis Presley to such devastating effect. Before rock 'n' roll burst on the scene, the majority of women were sexually repressed, or encouraged to be so; to think in regimented, prescribed ways; to emulate their parents and accede to their diktats unquestioningly; to believe that being an old maid the worst fate that could befall a woman - in short, to exist only as a male-created entity. 
The old guard were right to fear the power of music. After rock 'n' roll burst on the scene, nothing was ever quite the same again. Women dropped their inhibitions and realised that they, too, were sexual beings. A new age of mass articulation and self consciousness dawned. Liberation from unconscious taboos, prejudices, artificial constructs and suppressions. The language of music, one which had been strait-jacketed for too long into a neat, didactic series of little ditties sung by beautiful anodyne women and handsome lacklustre men, was unleashed, and with it the freedom narrative: 'we hold these truths to be self-evident...'

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Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat -Ralph Ellison