Music Tuesday has been on vacation for a while, but it’s back this week with a terrific piece by American writer and poet Julie M. Casey. You can learn more about Julie in her bio below, but first, I hope you enjoy her post. Thank you, Julie, for sharing!
I am a great lover of all genres of music, but I am thoroughly convinced I was born in the wrong era because of my obsession with vintage jazz and blues. Billie Holiday, Big Joe Turner, Etta James, Buddy Guy, Big Mama Thornton, B.B. King, Otis Rush… The list goes on and on.
You might wonder how a girl from the Midwest, born in the late sixties, became so captivated by these musicians. Oddly enough, I have to thank the United States Navy for this amazing blessing in my life! Back in 1985, at the mere age of seventeen, I was stationed in the birthplace of jazz itself, New Orleans, Louisiana.
At first I was in somewhat of a culture shock, but soon realized that the Crescent City was indeed my very own Utopia. Jazz and blues are the roots of this iconic city! My first trip to the French Quarter was mind blowing. Street musicians playing this rich, soulful music I had never heard before. They were on every corner–amazing musicians I might add–and the people listening to them were dancing in the streets!
Before I knew it, my hips were swayin’ from side to side, my head was bobbin’, and my hands were clappin’ to the beat. My heart instantly fell head over heels in love with this music, these people, and this city!
I made my way up to Jackson Square where I found a plethora of street artists. Musicians, street performers, fortune tellers: you name, it they had it! And the smell of Cajun cuisine permeating from the countless restaurants. All I can say is “Oh my God!”.
Let me get back to the music though, because it is indeed the heartbeat of this city. It is what pulls in millions of tourists every year. It is what New Orleans is known for.
I want to take you back to June 12th, 1986. This was my 18th birthday, and I of course wanted to celebrate it down in the Quarter. I saw an older couple on the corner of Bourbon and Conti. He was playing a trumpet and she was singing. I stood there frozen. Their music had put me under some kind of spell.
At the end of their song, I decided I needed to meet these two incredibly talented human beings. I introduced myself and asked them what the name of the song was that they had just performed. Her reply, in her thick, southern, distinctly N’Awlins accent was “Oooh child, you’s probably too young to even know!” I nodded yes. She told me it was Careless Love Blues by Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith. It was a beautiful song they had both done justice covering.
She then went on to tell me that this was the very first song she had ever danced to with her husband when he was still courting her. My mind began to wander off, imagining that very moment. Their names were Nellie and Ray, and I will never forget them.
After that encounter I began going into vintage record shops searching for these old albums. It became my addiction. And to truly appreciate this classic music, you have to listen to it on those old vinyl albums with all their imperfections. There’s just something about those hints of scratches and slightly warped vinyl that can literally give you goosebumps when you listen to it melodically and perfectly blended into these magical tunes.
Ninety-nine percent of my writing is done while listening to these mesmerizing songs. They help me relax, and they definitely get the creative juices flowing within me. At this very moment, as I write this blog, I’m listening to Billie Holiday’s album Songs For Distingue Lovers. Undeniably in the top ten best blues albums of all-time, and my favorite by far.
If you’re not familiar with this genre of music I implore you to give it a listen. Surf YouTube for Vintage Jazz and Blues, and I know you will get lost in it for hours on end. Pandora has a wonderful station called Delta Blues that I adore. I guarantee you will be googling vintage record stores before you know it to start your own obsessive collection.
This music and these artists are timeless. Every generation needs to be, at the very least, introduced to it. It has been my passion, and my own personal therapy for thirty plus years, and will continue to be until my ashes are sprinkled from the Canal Street Wharf into the Mighty Mississippi for one last serenade, and hopefully it will be Louis Armstrong’s It’s A Wonderful World!
Julie Casey is an American writer hailing from the Midwestern city of Bloomington Illinois. Born June 12, 1968, she is the youngest of eight children. Julie is also a devoted mother and grandmother herself. She has been writing poetry for nearly four decades. Recently she has decided to delve into the erotica genre of her creative outlet, and with that, has found an immense degree of satisfaction and success with the transition into the more deviant aspects of her art. She has had her work featured in Little Raven Publishing*, Rebelle Society*, and Horror Sleaze Trash. She also has impending work to be featured in The Pleasure Loft Fall Edition*. Her writing is definitely her passion, and with the support of fellow writers, along with family and friends, she has finally made the courageous leap to share her work with the rest of the world.
Thanks again Mary for the opportunity! I hope everyone enjoys it! If you haven’t been The Big Easy you’re missing out!
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I haven’t been there, but hope to someday soon, Julie! Thanks for the awesome post!
My aunt lived in Bloomington – that’s definitely Lincoln country – about as far from Bourbon Street as you can get! Nice to meet you Julie – best of luck with your writing!
Thank you Jan!