Stuck, Ch. 21. Changes: Charles Bradley, “Changes”

Stuck has been a weekly serial appearing at 3QD every Monday since November. The table of contents with links to previous chapters is here.

by Akim Reinhardt

“Change is pain.” —South African poet Mzwakhe Mbuli

Mzwakhe Mbuli - Change Is Pain - MusicManhattan always has been and always will be New York City’s geographic and economic center. But if you’re actually from New York, then you’re very likely not from Manhattan. Like me, you’re from one of the outer boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, or Staten Island. And as far as we’re concerned, we’re the real New Yorkers. The natives with roots and connections, and the immigrants who are life-and-death dedicated to making them, not the tourists who come for a weekend or a dozen years before trundling back to America.

Manhattan below 125th Street (in the old days below 110th) is a playground for the wealthy, a postcard for tourists to visit. For the rest of us, it’s a job, it’s that place you have to take the subway to. Maybe that sounds like people from the outer boroughs have a chip on their shoulders. Trust me. They don’t. By and large, they’re very confident in their identity. They know exactly who they are. They’re New Yorkers. And you’re not.

However, between the boroughs themselves there can be a bit of a rivalry, and Manhattan’s not really part of that, because Manhattan is just its own thing, leaving the other four that jostle and jockey for New York street cred. For example, hip hop was practically born from tussles between the Bronx and Queens. But generally, it’s really not much of a contest. As a Bronx native, much to my chagrin, Brooklyn usually wins. Or at least, it used to.

The Bronx doesn’t have a lot to hang its hat on, but the things we have are big. The Yankees are the most successful sports franchise in world history. We have a big zoo, if you’re into that kinda thing. We created a pretty cool cheer. And of course we (that’s the proverbial “we,” not me in anyway) literally invented rap, later to be called hip hop, the world’s dominant musical and fashion force for at least a quarter-century now. But when I was a kid, it just didn’t seem to matter. Brooklyn still had a strut that the other boroughs could not match. Read more »

Stuck, Ch. 13. Will This Never End?: The Outlaws, “Green Grass and High Tides Forever”

by Akim Reinhardt

Stuck is a weekly serial appearing at 3QD every Monday through early April. The Prologue is here. The table of contents with links to previous chapters is here.

Image result for dukes of hazzardYou’ve been an on-again, off-again working band for a decade. During that period there have been numerous breakups and seemingly endless lineup changes. Then, after years of grinding and uncertainty, you finally hit it big in 1975. You earned it.

But you’re also riding a larger cultural wave; you’ve been assigned to a niche, what people are now calling Southern Rock, a sub-genre that your band pre-dates.

So be it. You worked your ass off, and now you’ve arrived. You get signed to a major label. Your eponymous debut album goes gold. You have a single that does okay. You have a nickname; the frequently shuffling roster somehow ended up with a trio of guitarists, and you’ve been dubbed the “Florida Guitar Army.” And you have an opus. The last song on your new album is worthy of your genre predecessors, the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. A confident, snarling intro is followed a fierce torrent of wailing guitar solos. Over nine minutes of kick ass, balls to the wall rock n roll, “Green Grass and High Tides Forever” will cement your place in Southern Rock lore.

Then it all starts to wobble. Read more »