Langston Hughes/North-eastern blues

September 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

All I’m doing in this blogpost is juxtaposing two texts that I think speak to each other. The first is a poem by Langston Hughes (which I came across in bell hooks’ essay “Eating the other: Desire and resistance”):

Note on Commercial Theatre

You’ve taken my blues and gone–
You sing ’em on Broadway
And you sing ’em in Hollywood Bowl,
And you mixed ’em up with symphonies
And you fixed ’em
So they don’t sound like me.
Yep, you done taken my blues and gone.

You also took my spirituals and gone.
You put me in MacBeth and Carmen Jones
And all kinds of Swing Mikados
And in everything but what’s about me–
But someday somebody’ll
Stand up and talk about me,
And write about me–
Black and beautiful–
And sing about me,
And put on plays about me!
I reckon it’ll be
Me myself!

Yes, it’ll be me.

The second text is a lovely video posted on youtube by the Uramili project: a blues song/improvisation by Rewben Mashangva (which I first encountered through a public lecture in Chennai hosted by Nity Jayaraman):

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