"Rhythm, Country & Blues” A Comparison: by Hisami

"Rhythm, Country & Blues” A Comparison: by Hisami

Hisami Ohshiba

今から25年前、米国に移住した私は、ESL(English as a Second Language)のクラスに通いだした。クラスメイトはアジア人が多かったが、欧州、中東出身の生徒もいた。クラスのルールは、英語のみを使用し、友人間でも母国語禁止だった。私以外にも日本人生徒が何人かいて、彼らは平気で日本語で会話していた。私はクラスでは一切日本語を話さなかったので、他の国のクラスメイトは私を日本人だと思わず、アジアのどこかの国の人間だと思っていたと後で告げられた。ESLで初めて英語のエッセイの宿題が出された。以下は私が書いた初めて英語のエッセイである。これは音楽ヴィデオの"Rhythm, Country & Blues”を視聴して自分が感じた想いである。四半世紀の節目にポストしておく。

"Rhythm, Country & Blues” A Comparison: by Hisami 

I had never thought about the relationship between soul music and country music before I saw the music video “Rhythm, Country and Blues”. It was the greatest voices of rhythm and blues and country music in a project of historic proportions. I was surprised by the video’s narration, “Memphis and Nashville are 200 miles apart, in a straight line. And they’re at opposite ends of the universe, musically.”

画像1Country Music Legend, Hank Williams

 Of course, I already knew the place of each city in musical history. During World War 2, Nashville became a performance center for country music. Country music is rooted in southern traditional music. One of the strengths of the style proved to be its lyrics, which often deal with topics avoided in other popular music, such as loneliness, poverty, and homesickness. The most important vocalist was Hank Williams, who assimilated elements of two approaches which were traditional mountain style and honky-tonk.

On the other hand, in the 1940’s, rhythm and blues emerged as a combination of rural blues and black-oriented, big -band swing music, performed by small ensembles with a lead vocalist or instrumentalist and rhythm and backup sections. There were great pioneers and popularizers James Brown, Ray Charles and B.B. King. Since the 1950’s, rhythm and blues has been the generic source of black music, as well as of American pop music.


The King of Blues, B.B. King

Soul music was a further development of rhythm and blues. It has two main substyles: the polished, sophisticated Detroit style, featuring such as Stevie Wonder and The Supremes, and the earthier, more gospel-oriented Memphis style, exemplified by Otis Redding and Booker T. and the MG’s.

The Two great music forms, rhythm and blues and country music, are still developing, In the 1980’s, country music produced country rock, while soul music provided a new form called “rap”.

Before I saw the video, I thought that they were opposite musical styles, but there are not. It is only 200 miles between Memphis and Nashville, and like any close neighbors or relatives, they have a strong influence on each other, The video indicates something to me that truly American: two different races on the same boat down the big river. The forms are different but the music demonstrates the simple human spirit.

Resources: “Rhythm Country and Blues” Music Video



Hisami Ohshiba


Hisami Ohshiba
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