THE MIDNIGHT JUKEBOX

Here's a list of famous Americans, in no particular order:

Bob Dylan, The Marx Brothers, Robert Johnson, The Balfa Brothers, Jack Kerouac, Janis Joplin, The Carter Family, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cab Calloway, Charlie Parker, Charlie Patton, Hank Williams, Mark Rothko, Mel Brooks, Harry Choates, Andy Warhol, Frank Zappa, Jackson Pollock, Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny, Tennessee" Williams, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday.

And here is a question to go with this list of names:

If any of these people were starting out on their careers today, would any of them become a household name all over the world?

Personally, I don't think so because, like Europe before it, culturally, the USA has lost it's way. Once it was a nation that was proud of its inventiveness and its maverick artists. Not anymore. Now it has been Simon Cowellized. It's embraced hip hop, the most talent free popular culture trend the world has ever known. It has turned its black people back into slaves who have to dance naked for their masters.

Of course, there are as many crazy, talented young geniuses out there as there were when Buster Keaton first stared dolefully into a camera or when Lou Reed first walked on the wild side, but they ain't going nowhere. America can't be bothered to get up off its arse and go look for them. Its lost its soul. Like the rest of us the world over its people demand to be spoon fed with bland, junk food culture. Money for nothing and MTV.

Tonight I'm going to play you four tracks from Tom House, an American folk singer who has been scraping together a living as a musician for twenty or so years now. He has released a lot of records and has gigged regularly. He is a genius in the way that only Americans seem to have the knack of being, brave and inventive. Yet, my guess is that the only person who will have heard of him, other than me, will be Tim Chesterton if he happens to be passing through.

TOM'S MYSPACE PAGE

PURCHASE VIA MADPRIEST'S AMAZON STORE

Comments

THE MIDNIGHT JUKEBOX — 12 Comments

  1. Actually, I am a big fan. Remember that I am an old folkie. I gave up trying to make a living at it long ago but I am still a fair musician if not singer anymore. My arthritic fingers make some riffs difficult but the dulcimer is more finger friendly than the guitar.

    FWIW
    jimB

  2. What, a big fan of Tom House? That makes two of us then. Perhaps we should ring up Tom and tell him. He’ll be so pleased.

  3. I confess I had not heard of him before today, but I am glad to have made his acquaintance. I don’t think he’s been this far north. Thanks for this, Jonathan.

  4. The dulling-down, as well as dumbing-down, of the US’s culture is driven – like all ills – from corporate capitalism.

    We only publish what pays, and we only know what pays because someone else did it before, so do it again. Fed that diet long enough, the majority have come to feel it is quite appropriate for men and women with imaginations limited to dollars and cents to tell us what constitutes art. We may not know art, but we know what we’re told we like!

  5. another us artist you should check out is Curtis Eller – curtiseller.com –
    CURTIS ELLER is New York City’s angriest yodelling banjo player. He sings about pigeon racing, performing elephants and Jesus, all of which he has seen with his own eyes. He started his show-business career at the age of seven as a juggler and acrobat in the Hiller Olde Tyme Circus in Detroit, but has since turned to the banjo because that’s where the money is. His biggest musical influences are Buster Keaton, Elvis Presley and Abraham Lincoln.

    why he isnt a household name…

  6. CURTIS ELLER is New York City’s angriest yodelling banjo player. He sings about pigeon racing, performing elephants and Jesus, all of which he has seen with his own eyes. He started his show-business career at the age of seven as a juggler and acrobat in the Hiller Olde Tyme Circus in Detroit, but has since turned to the banjo because that’s where the money is. His biggest musical influences are Buster Keaton, Elvis Presley and Abraham Lincoln.

    why he isnt a household name…

    Because he hasn’t tried running as a Republican?

  7. I’m sorry, mikeb, I was being, in the ancient Gaelic, a smarr-tass.

    The banjo, circus, and Elvis all came together in my mind’s eye to make a comedic picture of a gloriously glad-handing snake-oil salesman – hence the idea he’d make a great Republican, maybe Tealiban, candidate.

    It wasn’t actually a comment about Mr. Eller.