Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spoken Word: Linin' Track

Taj Mahal: Linin' Track


Taj Mahal has been doin' his thang for many a year. His early recordings, back in the 60s, focused on the blues, when he turned out his formative albums like the Natch'l Blues and Recycling the Blues. Over the years, in addition to the blues, he's covered jazz and folk, reggae and African.

Like my main man Ry Cooder, he has researched and aimed to keep alive music of various traditions. He's a veritable scholar and ethnographer of music. In fact, musically, he's all over the place. The man has worked with the Rolling Stones, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, Ry Cooder, Eric Clapton, Doc Watson and Toumani Diabate (and if you haven't heard this Malian musician, you are missing some great sounds. Check out a free listen to Queen Bee with the two of them on the radio channel at (

Not posessing the most musically "soaring" voice, Taj still packs a great deal of emotion into what he's he's been gifted with. His is a rasping kind of voice, well suited to the blues, but it's also the kind of voice that works well for telling a story (a la Tom Waits), and that is what this week's focus is all about: telling or speaking a song.

There are many spots of Linin' Track where Taj's voice trends more to the musical than the spoken. However, in other places, his vocals are very much spoken - or certainly not musically tonal. This is a song credited to Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly.

Speaking of the blues and apropros of the economic woes many of us are living through, the lyrics of Linin' Track include the words: "talkin' 'bout the money I aint made" may ring true for a number of us. Or maybe, considering the Arab Spring (Israel, Egypt and environs), maybe you can relate to the lyrics: "Moses stood on the Red Sea shore, smotin' that water with a 2 by 4" ... are more to the point. The line continues, "if I could I surely would ...". A positive outlook for our times, me thinks.

Guest post by KKafa

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