Song Of The Day 3/21/2016: Brenda & the Tabulations – “The Wash”

Star Time Preview – My notes indicate that today I'm supposed to talk about the subject "Why I'm Doing an R&B Show," and I realized that discussing my talking points would basically be plagiarism of my own damn blog from June 28, 2014. So you could just go and read that admirably heartfelt manifesto; it was quite popular in its day.

The idea for Star Time, and even my initial encounters with who would become the brainpower behind KVRU, predate that blog entry. Since then a lot of things have happened in the broader environment of America that have only made me more sure this was the show I was going to do. These things haven't been easy to watch and they've been angering to talk about. Any ideas of venting those thoughts on the blog were pre-scuttled by my reluctance to discuss anything remotely political here, as I tend to morph into something of a windbag. But I've been thinking about it for so long, in anticipation of answering to somebody about it, an occasion which hasn't happened yet. So, as succinctly as I can, here:

Ninety-five percent of the artists I'm going to play on Star Time have not enjoyed the particular privileges that I have. I'm still incensed at that reality and that we still have to remember it. I think many of us assumed the situation of racial equality would be a lot better when we elected Obama in 2008. Unfortunately we didn't account for obscurantist bluster of reactionary brutes who somehow got talked into believing they were losing some kind of dopey birthright. People who get defensive about a hashtag called BlackLivesMatter because it didn't immediately address their need to be stroked. Somehow they read the phrase "AndOthersDon't" in that phrase. I'm not seeing it. Is it in 1-point compressed Arial typeface or something?

Star Time is intended as a celebration -- well, as much of a celebration as someone with my self-consciously toned-down radio presence can be -- of music of a relatively particular kind from a particular era. That era was also, in many ways, painful and worse for many of the artists I'm going to play. Some of that music, including stuff I will play with no hesitation, still needs to be heard and applied today. That's a fact that almost pisses me off, if not for the fact that even a lot of that protest music (for example, The Staple Singers' "Long Walk to D.C.," a huge favorite of mine) is celebratory in its own promise and determination. So I'll play that stuff too. I think the only things I can't do besides swear on the radio is call for the overthrow of the American government, and even there we've got to be sure they're not really joking.

African-American music is incredibly important to all forms of popular music that came after it. It's the base of it, actually: Rock, pop, metal, EDM, punk, even country (especially country, in fact) are unthinkable without it. That's why I'm doing this show: It's as close to a common thread across all forms of pop music as we'll get. That's not political correctness. That's actual historic, documented fact that you can even Google. Most musicians understand this. I think most fans do, too. When you're talking the legacy of black forms like jazz, gospel, blues and R&B, you're talking about the roux of all American non-classical music made from the 20th century onward. (Except new age. That was invented by Dow Chemical, I believe.)

So that's my bit about that. I wasn't planning on mentioning this anywhere else, but in the off-chance that it comes up on the show I think my job is more to listen to what others are saying, to get their stories out there. That's the job of Star Time and radio as a whole, really. If I have my own comments, then I just aim to be as responsible and reasoned as possible. Sometimes it's hard for allies to know exactly how someone in their position can help the situation. But in my experience, you never go wrong by just listening first.

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