film · music

on music, memphis and blue jays


Today while grading papers, I saw not one, not two, but three blue jays outside my window. Their color reminds me of the pieces on found wood on which I have been working in between the usual on my plate. Both have a shade of blue that reminds me of the sea.

The birds were breathtaking.

The day was enhanced even more by my seeing “Down to Earth,” a half-hour documentary by  David Moreu. The documentary shows the workings of music in Memphis in the age of Stax Records and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but also the present day.

As the film ended, I felt chills from the singing of a woman in Memphis. Only yesterday, students enrolled in my “Bebop to Hip Hop: Young America and Music” course took up the issue of race – what else – and music.  They’d earlier learned about Memphis and Stax. I happened to be reading their in-class reflections, in fact, when those blue jays appeared.

If you have a moment, please check out Moreu’s work.

A Grant Green fan, he is also the Editor-in-Chief of Staf Magazine, a publication in Barcelona that focuses on skateboarding, surfing independent subcultures. Sounds like my kind of people. Down to earth alright.

Postscript: He also wrote a book featuring oral histories of soul music and interviewed the author of the first comic strip featuring an African American as a main character.

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