Forward into the past

R. Crumb’s “A Short History of America,” a glicee print of which hangs on the wall of my apartment.

Later this week I’ll be resuming my guitar lessons, about which I first wrote here. I seem to be heading forward into the past as I get older, and not my own past either, but much further back. My enthusiasm for ragtime and Piedmont blues as well as other early American music appears to tie together with my newfound enthusiasm for Mark Twain and even that archaic writing instrument the pencil. I suppose I can be faulted for being out of touch with my times. “They say Wilder is out of touch with his times,” director Billy Wilder once said of himself. “Frankly, I regard it as a compliment. Who the hell wants to be in touch with these times?”

You can read more about Piedmont blues in Samuel Charters’ classic study of this music, The Country Blues. A few years back, PBS aired the below documentary about the style.

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