Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday Video

which goes deep into the past.

"Brown-Eyed Handsome Man" was the B-side to Chuck Berry's 1956 single "Too Much Monkey Business" and in addition reached number five on the R&B charts based on its own merits. Quite wisely for the 1950's, Berry deliberately changed his vocal delivery and intonation with the deliberate intention to sound white and skillfully incorporated white cultural motifs in an effort to reach beyond the scope of "race records", the euphemistic term for black music in those days. This was helped by the fact that he was raised in a middle class household, rare for African-Americans in those days.

I've always loved Berry's playful lyrics and equally playful guitar playing. One of the first artists to synthesize the blues with country music (then called hillbilly), Berry contributed as much to the formation of rock 'n roll as any other artist who can state a claim towards the genre.

He also had a thing for armed robbery, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and tax evasion, but let's not dwell on the negative aspects of his personality, shall we?

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