Sunday, November 14, 2010

Howlin' for Blues

Quincy Troupe Jr., author of "Chicago (for Howlin' Wolf)", was obviously influenced by blues music in the 20th century. Chester Arthur Burnett was born on June 10, 1910 in White Station, Mississippi. Better known as "Howlin' Wolf", he was a famous blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player.

Chester Arthur Burnett was mentioned in Troupe's poem and he was, hands down, one of the many influential American artists. "No one could match Howlin Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits". He was good at what he did and many of the songs that he wrote had true deep down meaning that many would be affected by. He is an influential person who will be remembered forever.

In 1955 Wolf moved to and settled in Chicago, Illinois. Moving there was important because it brought him in contention with Muddy Waters, as they competed for a position in Chicago clubs and at Chess records. One could see that Wolf had the drive in him to compete for spots in Chicago to get his name out there and at the time it was much harder to try to get the world to know you. When 1956 rolled around, he recorded "Smokestack Lightin" with Willie Johnston, and Hubert Sumlan on guitars, Hosea Lee Kennard on the piano, Willie Dixion on bass and Earl Phillips on drums.

By 1975 he was tired and ill. Howlin Wolf had several problems which included heart attacks at the beginning of the decade and was suffering from cancer. At the end of 1975, he went into the Veteran Administration hospital in Illinois and he finally died on January 10, 1976.

I think that Troupe mentioning Howlin' Wolf in his poem was something that everyone at that time could relate to. He was such a good blues artist that he even inspired poets to write about him. In comparison to other poems that poets have written about Chicago, Troupe's has a different vibe to it. The poem still didn't represent Chicago as a pleasant place, but it was still a city of creativity and the working class.

Troupe's inspiration through Howlin' Wolf has inspired me to think of blues music in a whole new way. It has a deeper meaning and it is more than just a catchy rhythm. And now...I'm howlin' for blues.

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