The Weekday Ramble is a daily dose of sports, music, culture, and more from Rambling On founder Erik Ritland. For more information check us out on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or at our website.
Tuesday January 20, 2015
Romantic poetry and funk royalty.
Legendary Walt Whitman was a 19th century poet. He created the first uniquely American voice in literature along with essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson and vagabond Henry David Thoreau (who is best known for spending a night in jail and taking vacations at a pond near enough to his parents to raid their pantry when he was hungry).
Whitman had an incredibly creative mind. One of the first poets to forgo traditional poetic structures, his fluid “free” verses are majestic and flow effortlessly. Too bad these innovations are wasted on a bastardization of Britain’s bastardization of India’s transcendental philosophy. Whitman, the 1800s equivalent of a spoiled suburbanite, never came near the transcendence of an Indian guru. Though his poetry makes it sound easy.
He was also tied down to an overly romantic view of nature and the self. Man, he loved himself. His most famous poem is even called Song of Myself. For an idea of how annoying people with too much self-esteem are, read Walt Whitman.
A Minneapolis soul legend
James Harris III, better known as Jimmy Jam, made a name for himself in Morris Day and the Time and later as part of a production team with Terry Lewis. Their work, which holds a record 31 songwriting and production credits in the Billboard top ten, most notably includes Janet Jackson’s r n’ b breakthroughs Control and Rhythm Nation 1814.
Though not as well-known as his famous collaborator Prince, Harris is also from Minneapolis. His first band Mind and Matter made a splash in the Twin Cities in the late ‘70s. Their mix of soul, funk, and disco is fun and fresh. Even at 18 he wrote melodic songs that foreshadowed his later achievements.
Some singles and basement recordings of Mind and Matter were released a couple years ago as a part of The Numero Group’s rightly popular Eccentric Soul Series. 1514 Oliver Avenue (Basement) is a wonderful education in some of the best underground music made in the ‘70s in Minneapolis. The highlight is "Disco Child," which features far out layers of keyboards.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.