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Posts Tagged ‘Cadillac Records’

Howlin' Wolf Arrives Proudly at Chess Records

Howlin' Wolf Arrives Proudly at Chess Records

The cable channel Starz is playing the movie Cadillac Records and I watched it while thinking about politics past and present.  The film, based on Chess Records, chronicles the musical careers of Leonard Chess, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, Etta James and Little Walter.

Chess decided to start a blues label to get paid from the emerging sound of “race” records.  Of course, gospel produced blues and blues produced R&B, and Rock and Roll is really blue-eyed R&B.  You can’t blame Chess for making money in the Black community—the same can be said for the White corner stores from our childhood and the Asian corner stores in our communities today.  Most of the artists in the film were happy if they had liquor, women and flashy cars but Howlin’ Wolf was different.  In real life, Howlin’ Wolf, Chester Arthur Burnett, drove himself to Chicago from the Mississippi Delta with $4,000 in his pocket. 

Though functionally illiterate into his 40s, Wolf returned to school, earned a GED and later took accounting and business courses.  He married an educated woman who managed is professional finances so well that he paid his band members decent salaries and provided health insurance.  To see Muddy Waters go to Chess repeatedly for money struck a nerve with me.  I remember hearing in college that Minnesota Fats was Etta James’ father but seeming someone look for validation from someone who is not interesting in them got on my last nerve. 

The same can be said about the relationships between the Black community and the two major political parties.  In Georgia politics, Blacks are the consistent base of the Democrat Party but Black candidates for high office will usually find someone jumping in the primary race who the establishment deem more electable.  I just realized that candidate for governor of Georgia Thurbert Baker has been state attorney general since 1997.  But, some in the Democrat establishment thinks former Governor Roy Barnes is the guy to take back the governor’s mansion.  We know that the next governor will likely be GOP in this red state so let’s hope their nominee is familiar with our community on some level.

The GOP in this state can’t produce a Black congressional candidate if left to their own devices because they don’t understand the moderate to conservative nature southern Blacks.  Leonard Chess was smart enough to let the artists do their things and Michael Steele should do the same thing with Black GOP candidates or White candidates who need Black support to win.  Of course, they don’t think they need Black or moderate support.  Did Chess and later Barry Gordy at Motown follow established norms or did they put it out there and let the people decide—sounds like Obama over the Clintons.

A conservative, self-determination movement is brewing the Black community and the Democrats are poised to be the beneficiaries while the GOP battles internally with their worst elements.  You Black Republicans need to stop asking if this candidate or that candidate is acceptable to the GOP establishment and just do it like Howlin’ Wolf—without advances or approval from the boss man- just give the boss man his cut and he will smile all the way to Suntrust Bank.

A conservative, self-determination movement is brewing the Black community and the Democrats are poised to be the beneficiaries while the GOP battles internally with their worst elements.  You Black Republicans need to stop asking if this candidate or that candidate is acceptable to the GOP establishment and just do it like Howlin’ Wolf—without advances or approval from the boss man- just give the boss man his cut and he will smile all the way to Suntrust Bank.

(Cue Etta James or Beyonce crooning “At Last.”)

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