Reading And Listening Out Loud

Listen to Cornel West for five minutes and you'll get that feeling — the excitement that takes over when someone extremely convincing is uttering a stream of recommendations. Recommendations that you know are the real thing, books you should read, music you should hear, people you should read about. It doesn't feel like an assignment... just pure anticipation.

After the show is over I'm going to pull out all the various writers and musicians and politicians Professor West name checked — but check out the excerpt from his memoir on our website for a couple to tide you over. Literally — Anton Chekhov and L'il Wayne in the same paragraph.

Like the peerless Russian writer Anton Chekhov and the matchless Irish author Samuel Beckett, the bluesmen sing of real-life, here-and-now experiences of tragedy and comedy even as they offer up help. They offer up strategies for survival. They share their coping skills. They get us to dancing and laughing, rapping and exposing the hypocrisy of a soulless and sanitized civilization.

Bluesmen aren't sanitized. Bluesmen aren't deodorized. Bluesmen are funky. Bluesmen got soul. The great blues artists — Toni Morrison, Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, Sterling Brown, Koko Taylor, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Lil' Wayne, Alvin Ailey, Curtis Mayfield, Giacomo Leopardi, Sarah Vaughan, Gwendolyn Brooks, Bruce Springsteen, Muriel Rukeyser, Savion Glover, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Thomas Hardy, Ella Fitzgerald, August Wilson, Mary J. Blige, Jacob Lawrence, Federico Garcia Lorca, Duke Ellington—fight the good fight by doing what they can and moving on.

More to come.

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