1001 Albums: At Newport 1960



Artist: Muddy Waters

Album: At Newport 1960

Year: 1960

Length: 32:38

Genre: Chicago Blues/ Live



“Got my mojo working, but it just won’t work on you”

Once again the 1001 Album list throws a live album my way. I am still trying to figure out why they decided to include live albums and I swear I will figure it out… one day. For now it’s still speculation. Is it because they didn’t know which album to choose of that particular musician, so they chose a live album that just includes their best stuff? Is it because that particular performance was an incredible one that left a mark on music history? Was it a big moment in that musician’s career, thus being an important album for them?

… I think I may have answered my initial question because those all make sense. But why a live album over one of their studio albums? Why would this particular live album be more important to hear over any of his studio albums? I mean, if that’s the case, why didn’t they just choose the live albums of every band on this list?

Who knows… but until then I got to enjoy some Chicago Blues. I was wondering when I’d get some blues on this list, was a little disappointed with the lack of blues in the 50s, especially since both Blues and Jazz were the two big genres in the black community. But doesn’t matter because it finally arrived and what better way to experience the blues than through Muddy Waters himself. Muddy Waters a master of the blues guitar.

If you don’t believe me (I keep saying this) check it out. He plays that electric son of a bitch with so much soul that it’s as if the guitar itself is a member of the band. It’s hard to make a guitar sing, but Muddy sure knows how. I think that was part of the beauty of Blues, though. The musician didn’t just feel the emotion, he had it seep through the instrument itself. If a guitar could cry it would definitely be done in the blues. Songs usually have the power to make the listener feel emotions, but it’s not everyday that you hear the emotions being felt by the instrument itself. But when you do, it’s something quite special.

I haven’t listened to much Muddy Waters in my life, but if he’s half as good as his performance on this album than there’s no reason to not enjoy any of it. He comes across as energized and just having the time of his life (I can only speculate since it’s purely audio and I can’t actually see the performance). I would be surprised if I found out that the spectators weren’t dancing by the end of it. He starts off the set with some cooler playing but slowly builds up into a fun, upbeat performance that is hard not to get into. Although, why he did a part 1 and 2 of Got My Mojo Working is beyond me, especially since it just sounded like he played the exact same song, but a little shorter, a second time. The crowd was really loving it and he felt it would be best to play it again? I don’t know, but thankfully it kept the feeling going, so maybe Muddy knew exactly what he was doing.

I have to say, and this is an observation I’ve made, but there’s something about these black musicians. Every time I had an album by one, they always came off as really cool. The white musicians, for the most part, were great, but never cool like this. I had a conversation with a friend of mine about this and we both came to the conclusion that Black People are just inherently the coolest people ever. That seems like a bold statement, but really think about it. Think about every black person you’ve met. For the most part, they walk around with this confident swagger not seen in most people. Say what you will about their experiences with racism, but black people are amongst the most confident people I know, especially when it comes to music. Think about it, every white friend I have who does music, when asked about their projects always say “Well, I’m working on a few things at the moment. Got some ideas brewing around.” Ask your black friend and he’ll probably say “Already got me and my buddies in the studio and recorded the shit out of our newest album. check it out, here it is.” No joke. When I was in New York, strolling down the crowded streets in the main center of the city, who were the ones lining the sidewalks getting every passerby to grab their newest rap CD? That’s right, Black dudes. No white dude in sight, just a ton of black guys pushing and pushing to get everyone to grab their art. One even managed to get 50 bucks off of my friend just because he kept pushing.

I know it may seem negative, but what I’m saying is very positive. I admire that confidence and coolness they have. Heck, I wish I was that confident and cool. Who do you usually find complaining about their insecurities and being weak and fragile as people? White people. If you don’t believe me, compare a skinny white girl to a fat black chick. It makes a world of difference. I dare you to find me someone more confident than a fat, black chick, especially if she’s incredibly sassy. It’s almost impossible.

Musicians like Muddy Waters, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington are proof of that. Most musicians wish they could be as cool as they were. Heck, flash forward to 1989 and you’ll find yourself amidst Black Hip-hop groups standing together, speaking out and having their voices heard. Do you think punk groups like The Clash had the same amount of confidence that those groups had? Hell no. Took a lot of balls for NWA to start a riot about the police after strictly being told not too… by the police. All the white groups did was sort of go “Our government kind of sucks and society kind of sucks” (not giving the punk genre nearly enough credit here), doesn’t take much confidence to do that, I could do that.

Ok, so I don’t know if any of what I said really is true. But what I do know is that so far all my experiences with black people have been that they’re just really cool and confident people. This was definitely no exception to that feeling and I even found myself a little sad when the album ended, feeling it was much shorter than I expected. I found myself surprised when I realised I was on the last song, feeling like I had just zoomed right through the album. I was so immersed into the album that I was hoping there’d be way more than there was. That’s usually a good sign… time to listen to more Muddy Waters.

Song of Choice: Tiger in your Tank


Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco





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