I recently came across, and am still working my way through, one of the most extraordinary pieces of blogging I've seen to date. Red Kelly blogs about soul music in at least five places. Lattimore Brown is a great soul singer, whose heyday was in the late 1950s the 1960s, legendary among soul afficionados, little known beyond. Brown drifted out of the public eye by the 1980s, and was generally believed to have died.
A nurse in Biloxi Mississippi had an elderly, frail and confused patient, whose name was Lattimore Brown. She googled his name, and found a soul music blogger, and e-mailed him, and Red Kelly's adventure began: a road trip, adventure in oral history and amateur musicology that is recorded over a whole series of wonderful blog posts, accompanied by mp3s of Brown's wonderful music.
I am telling you about this for a few reasons. First, I know at least some of you like soul music. But even if you don't, I think these posts demonstrate how fantastic what I think of as "citizen scholarship" can be: the non-accredited, sometimes fanatical pursuit of arcane knowledges the web has faciliated (other examples closer to home: Caroline's Miscellany, Transpontine and Lewisham '77). And third, because Lattimore's story touches on so many interesting elements of the history of America and its race politics: the role of white and Jewish people in black music, music and radio creating early spaces for interracial contact, the place of the church in African-American community, even the assination of JFK.
Start here, and then these are the other posts in more or less chronological order: We went looking for a hat (my favourite installment); Highway 61; I'm not through lovin you; Sad, Sad World. And there's more on the A side too! The last post says "To be continued", so stay tuned.
By the way, we were talking here about Eli Paperboy Reed a while back. Red Kelly links to an article by his dad, Howard Husock, at City Journal comparing Johnny Cash's politics and music unfavourably with Merle Haggard's. Here's more by Husock.
Previous: Who owns soul music?; Bo Diddley and Utah Phillips; Nappy Brown; Funky Black Hebrews; Penn and Oldham; Ike Turner, the devil and the backbeat; Redneck.