Saturday, May 4, 2013

Belafonte Sings The Blues

The art of Harold George Bellanfanti Jr. (b. 1927)
His friends call him Harry Belafonte

"Belafonte Sings The Blues" record released 1958 by RCA Victor, LPM-1972, a "New Orthophonic" high fidelity recording

Give me a minute, here…
I realize that Harry Belafonte isn't everybody's cup of tea, and the blues may not make you tingle, I get that part, too….

So, just saying, here's a side of Belafonte you may not know, and this is the gritty, gutsy, smoke-gets-in-your-eyes, I-gambled-on-your-love kind of blues….

I realize most folks don't talk like this these days, but this is my favorite album of all time. And I do mean "album," I bought this vinyl 33 1/3 record in a cardboard jacket sometime in the early 1960s, when I  was in high school, I thought reading the jacket notes was cool, I read them time after time, Nat Hentoff wrote the notes for this one, in the old formal style, very articulate, erudite, Hentoff assumed readers would understand his references to blues structure, jazz origins, and he used big words like "exultantly" and "wryly unconquerable spirit"….it's a re-education to read the notes again.

I've listened to Belafonte's blues all my adult life, and listening to the cuts again now is a re-generation of the spirit, I know all the words, I can sing the nuances, I experiment with feeling the hurt in "I gambled on your love , baby, and got a losing hand…"

I just slump into Belafonte's mood when he sings "The Way That I Feel":

This is the way that I do feel,
I feel it everywhere I go…
I feel just like a engine
   that lost its driving wheel.

This is the mojo of the blues, the inconvenient truth, and the inconvenient love.

Thanks again, Harry.


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