Archive for the ‘Britain’ Category


I first saw this in 2006 on the Internet somewhere – not YouTube or iTunes. When “Paper Planes” came out two years later it took a while to sink in it was the same singer.


london calling
speak the slang now
boys say wha
come on girls say what, say wha

london calling
speak the slang now
boys say wha
come on girls say what, say wha
slam, galang galang galang…
shotgun, get down
get down, get down, get down
too late, you down
ta na ta na ta na

blaze a blaze (galang a lang a lang lang)
purple haze (galang a lang a lang lang)
blaze a blaze (galang a lang a lang lang)
purple haze (galang a lang a lang lang)

who the hell is hounding you in the bmw
how the hell he find you, 147’d you
the feds gon get you
pull the strings on the hood
1 paranoid youth blazin’ thru the hood

who the hell is hounding you in the bmw
how the hell he find you, 147’d you
the feds gon get you
pull the strings on the hood
1 paranoid youth blazin’ thru the hood

blaze a blaze (galang a lang a lang lang)
purple haze (galang a lang a lang lang)
blaze a blaze (galang a lang a lang lang)
purple haze (galang a lang a lang lang)

london calling
speak the slang now
boys say wha
come on girls say what, say wha

london calling
speak the slang now
boys say wha
come on girls say what, say wha

they say
rivers gonna run though
work is gonna save you
pray and you will pull through
suck a dick’ll help you
don’t let em get to you
if he’s got 1 you get 2
backstab your crew
sell it i could sell you

they say
rivers gonna run though
work is gonna save you
pray and you will pull through
suck a dick’ll help you
don’t let em get to you
if he’s got 1 you get 2
backstab your crew
sell it i could sell you

blaze a blaze (galang a lang a lang lang)
purple haze (galang a lang a lang lang)

blaze a blaze (galang a lang a lang lang)
purple haze (galang a lang a lang lang)

blaze a blaze (galang a lang a lang lang)
purple haze (galang a lang a lang lang)

blaze a blaze (galang a lang a lang lang)
purple haze (galang a lang a lang lang)

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Alek Wek

awek1Alek Wek (1977- ) is a supermodel from Sudan. She is known for being dark-skinned with very short hair. She was at her height from 1997 to 2004, though she models even now in her early 30s.

She is a Dinka from southern Sudan, near the middle of Africa. Her father was a schoolteacher; she was the seventh of nine children. Growing up she did not know she was poor and black. Her family was together and she was happy. She did, however, have a skin disease, psoriasis, and thought she was ugly. The doctors could find no cure.

Then the war came.  She saw bodies on the way to the well. When soldiers shot out their front door one night, they knew they had to leave. Her father got hurt and went to Khartoum, the capital, for an operation.

At age ten she talked her way onto a military plane leaving for Khartoum, where her father lay. As she got on board she turned to look and saw the sadness in her mother’s eyes. Soon the rest of her family got to Khatoum, but then her father died of the operation.

Her mother just wanted her children to wake up every morning safe and be able to go to school. So she got Alek to London where one of her older daughters lived. Alek arrived in London in 1991 at age 14.

Soon after she got to London her psoriasis went away.

Four years later while shopping in south London she was discovered by Fiona Ellis, a scout for Model One. She did not take it seriously and, besides, her mother said she should complete her schooling first. She was going to the London College of Fashion at the time.

But Model One kept calling and Wek saw that they were serious.  She had some pictures taken and then offers started coming in. It changed her idea about herself. She talked her mother into it.

She signed with Ford in 1996 and became a fashion model. Whenever someone asked for black models she never went. She found that sort of thinking backwards and disrespectful.

Her big break came when she appeared on the cover of Elle in November 1997. The rest is history. That year MTV named her model of the year. I-D magazine went further and named her model of the decade.

Oprah said of Alek Wek:

If you’d been on the cover of a magazine when I was growing up, I would have had a different concept of who I was.

Although I am glad she is out there helping to stretch people’s idea of beauty, I do not think she is beautiful myself. She is striking  and hard to forget, has a great smile and looks like a work of art, but I would not call her beautiful: No, I honestly do not think it is her dark skin, but her eyes. They seem too squinty or something and for me eyes makes the difference between pretty and beautiful.

See also:

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Kelis_7Kelis Rogers (1979- ), better known as just Kelis, is an American R&B singer. She is best known for “Milkshake” (2003): “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and they’re like, it’s better than yours. Damn right, it’s better than yours. I can teach you, but I have to charge.”

Her two other top ten hits on the American R&B charts are: “Caught Out There” (1999), the one where she says “I hate you so much right now!” over and over, and “Bossy” (2006).

No one knows why, but her music does way better in Britain than in America. Maybe it is her hair. I first heard her on Virgin Radio from London (the same is true for Macy Gray). Not only did “Milkshake” and “Caught Out There”  make the top ten in Britain, so did “Trick Me” (2004),  “Millionaire” (2004) with Andre 3000 and “Lil Star” (2007) with Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley, songs  largely unknown in the States.

Kelis Trick meKelis ft. Andre 3000 - MillionaireKelis - Lil Star

Her next album comes out later this year (2009).

She has been married to rapper Nas since 2005, but separated from him in May 2009 and filed for divorce. This came just two months before she is expected to give birth to their son! She suspects him of seeing other women. They met in 2002 at a party after the MTV Video Music Awards. Before that she was just a fan of his.

She grew up in Harlem in New York. Her father was a jazz musician and her mother a fashion designer. Her father is black, her mother is Puerto Rican and Chinese. Her name comes from putting their two names together: Kenneth + Eveliss = Kelis. It rhymes with “police”.

She went to a private school in Manhattan where most people were white and did not understand her. At 13 she cut off her hair and when it grew back she started colouring it blue, green, platinum and pink, something she is known for even now. Her natural hair is Type 3 (pictured above).

Growing up she sang at church and learned to play the piano, violin and saxophone. At 16 she got in to the La Guardia High School for the Arts, a magnet high school in New York. But just then she was kicked out of the house for reasons unclear and had to support herself.

At high school she formed a singing trio, BLU (Black Ladies United). It did not go anywhere but one thing led to another and it brought her to the attention of the Neptunes – Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. With them she was able to land a recording contract with Virgin in 1998. They wrote and produced her first two hits, “Caught Out There” and “Milkshake” and much of her early music.

Kelis about her music:

Am I R&B because I’m Black? Am I pop because I have a song called “Milkshake”? Or can I just be who the hell I am? Good Lord, people make it seem like we’re doing heart transplants here, but we’re just making music!


See also:

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Don’t look back into the sun
Now you know that the time has come
And they said it would never come for you oh oh oh oh

Oh my friend you haven’t changed
You’re looking rough and living strange
And I know you got a taste for it too oh oh oh

They’ll never forgive you but they wont let you go, oh no
She’ll never forgive you but she won’t let you go, oh no

Don’t look back into the sun
You’ve cast your pearls but now you’re on the run
And all the lies you said, who did you save?

But when they played that song at the Death Disco
It started fast but it ends so slow
And all the time it just reminded me of you

They’ll never forgive you but they wont let you go (LET ME GO!)
She’ll never forgive you but she wont let you go, oh no.

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Sheila Ferguson (1947- ) is an American R&B and disco singer, better known in Britain than in her home country. She is the one who sang “When Will I See You Again” (1974) as the lead singer of the Three Degrees. She is also the first black woman to have her own sitcom in Britain, “Land of Hope and Gloria” (1992).

She was with the Three Degrees for 20 years, from 1966 to 1986, being the lead singer for most of it. They were a Philadelphia copy of the Supremes, the creation of doo-wop producer Richard Barrett, who also brought the world Frankie Lymon, the Chantels and Little Anthony.

At first the Three Degrees had no big hit songs. They were in Las Vegas opening for the likes of Engelbert Humperdinck and Wayne Newton. There they perfected their act.

Then one day Gamble and Huff saw them perform. They were songwriters and music producers from Philadelphia who gave us such songs as “Me and Mrs Jones” (1972), “If  You Don’t Know Me By Now” (1972) and “Love Train” (1973). They wanted to write a song for the Three Degrees: “When Will I See You Again”.

It was a hit first in Britain, where it went to number one, and then in America, where it reached number two. They had another hit that year in both countries: “T.S.O.P”, where they sang little more than “Doo-doo-doo-dah-doo, doo-doo, it’s time to get down”.

In America they pretty much sank out of sight after that, but in Britain they became the biggest girl group since the Supremes! They went on to have a string of hits there in the late 1970s, like “Take Good Care of Yourself” (1975), “Woman in Love” (1979) and “My Simple Heart” (1979).

Britain had never seen black women quite like them before: the big hair, the nails, the big red lips. They performed in towns that had never seen anything so Hollywood before except on television. Their years in Vegas were paying off. And their most famous fan, as it turned out, was Prince Charles himself. He even invited them to the palace to perform. Being a prince has its advantages.

But then the glory days came to an end: Ferguson was having an affair with Barrett, who was still managing them. It was tearing the group apart: she had to choose between  the Three Degrees or Barrett. She chose the Three Degrees and in 1981 they fired Barrett. It proved to be a huge blow. Ferguson turned to drink. In 1986 she left the Three Degrees and they went on without her. The Three Degrees are still together today.

Ferguson married an Englishman, settled down in Britain and brought up her twin daughters. To help them know their roots she wrote a cook book about soul food. In the 1990s she got into acting, both on the London stage and on British television. In 2007 she came out with her first album since her Three Degrees days, “New Kind of Medicine”.

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“I had not been long back from Hiroshima when I heard someone say, in Szilard’s presence, that it was the tragedy of scientists that their discoveries were used for destruction. Szilard replied, as he more than anyone else had the right to reply, that it was not the tragedy of scientists: it is the tragedy of mankind.

“There are two parts to the human dilemma. One is the belief that the end justifies the means. That push-button philosophy, that deliberate deafness to suffering, has become the monster in the war machine. The other is the betrayal of the human spirit: the assertion of dogma that closes the mind, and turns a nation, a civilization, into a regiment of ghosts – obedient ghosts, or tortured ghosts.

“It’s said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That’s false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance, it was done by dogma, it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

“Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgement in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken.”

“I owe it as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard, I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died here, to stand here as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.”

– Jacob Bronowski, 1973.

See also:


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Apple MacWorld CAPS125-jpgJonathan Ive (1967- ) is a British industrial designer at Apple Computers. He designed the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone, helping to change Apple’s fortunes. He designed the computer that I write this on. He should be a household name, an icon of our age, but few know who he is.

He does not design the computer parts themselves – the chips and programs and so on – but how they are put together into something that people can use.

The best example of this is the iPod. It was hardly the first music player or even MP3 player. But not only has the iPod taken over that market, it has made that market: it made music players a part of everyday life. And that is because of Ive’s design and the way he thinks about design.

Ive is driven by two ideas:

  1. Make it simpler: Take out anything that does not absolutely have to be there, in how it looks and in how it works. In designing the iPod he was able to get it down to five buttons and a scroll wheel. What is more, from the way it looks you do not even know about four of the buttons at first. That is no accident.
  2. Make it better: Make it not only better – simpler and cooler looking – than what is currently being sold but make it better than itself: do not stop, keep going, keep pushing. That is why when the iPod first appeared in the marketplace it was not just somewhat better than other players, it was on a whole other level.

You also need the courage throw away designs that you feel deep down are no good and start all over again.

One of the main things that have kept computers and things made out of computers, like music players and mobile phones, from being more widely accepted is that they are not simple: there are too many choices of what to do next, some of them leading to bad outcomes!

The fault lies not in computers or in people but in the lack of good design in between. Most companies do not give it enough attention.

So Ive’s aim is not only to make things simpler to use but to make them more inviting by the way they look. He does that partly by giving them a clean look and by his use of colour.

Ive grew up in Chingford in London, the son of a silversmith. He studied design at Northumbria University and worked for Tangerine, a London design company. One of their customers was Apple. He felt he could have more say in Apple’s designs if he worked for them, so in 1992 he joined Apple. By 1998 he had become the head of design.

Ive likes to dress in black. He drives an Aston Martin, often works 70 hours a week and makes about $2,000,000 a year (150,000 crowns). He is worth every penny.

– Abagond, 2009, 2016.

See also:

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sade21Sade Adu (1959- ), a British R & B singer from the 1980s, turns 50 today! Happy birthday, Sade! May you live to see many more and live to a ripe old age!

In America she is best remembered for singing two songs that came out there in 1985: “Smooth Operator” and “The Sweetest Taboo”. In Britain she is better remembered for “Your Love is King” (1984). She has sold nearly 40 million records worldwide and has won four Grammy Awards.

She is the ninth most beautiful black woman in the world according to this blog. She has an otherworldly look, like a princess from a storybook. That she got married in a castle in Spain does not seem out of place one bit. She has dark brown eyes, light brown skin and long black hair. Her face reminds me of the moon and its beauty for some reason.

She is not just a pretty face that can sing, she also writes songs. She wrote “Smooth Operator” with guitarist Ray St James, who was in her old band, Pride.

She was born Helen Folasade Adu. Her stage name is Sade Adu. Sade, said as “shah-day” or, as Epic Records likes to say, “shar-day”, comes from her middle name. Sade is also the name of her band.

She was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, not far from Lagos. Her father, a professor, is black African – Yoruba, in fact – and her mother, a nurse, is white British. They split up when she was four and her mother took her and her older brother back to England to live.

She grew up in the North End of London. She loved fashion, books, dancing, singing and American R & B: she listened to Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, Ray Charles, Al Green, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye. She also liked jazz singers Billie Holiday and Nina Simone.

In 1977 she went to St Martin’s College in London to study fashion design and designed men’s clothes for a time in London’s Chalk Farm. She designed the outfits that the band Spandau Ballet wore on their first American tour. She also got some work as a model.

sade29In 1982 she joined Ray St James’s Latin funk band, Pride, as a backing singer. They sang at nightclubs in London. One of their songs was “Smooth Operator”.

In 1983 she signed a recording contract with Epic and took two of her band mates with her and formed the band Sade. They sometimes record under the name Sweetback. Their last record came out in 2004.

“Smooth Operator” has been covered many times, once as a bossa nova song (not hard to imagine) but even as a death metal song (by Ten Masked Men in 1999).  The full video for the song is eight minutes long, showing the story the song tells.

The songs of hers I like the best are “Paradise” (1988 ) and “Feel No Pain” (1992).

She has one daughter, Ila Morgan, born in 1996 to her and Bob Morgan. She was married for a time to Spanish filmmaker Carlos Scola.

– Abagond, 2009.

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shakespeareHere is the Lord’s Prayer in Early Modern English (from the Geneva Bible of 1587):

Our father which art in heauen,
halowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdome come.
Thy will be done
euen in earth, as it is in heauen.
Giue vs this day our dayly bread.
And forgiue vs our dettes,
as we also forgiue our detters.
And leade vs not into tentation,
but deliuer vs from euill:

Early Modern English (1474-1660) is English from about the time of Caxton in the late 1400s, when he printed the first book in English, to Milton in the middle 1600s. It is the English of Shakespeare and the Authorized King James Bible, of Hobbes, Bunyan,  Marlowe, Spenser, Bacon and Donne. It was considerably different from the English of Chaucer in the late 1300s, yet it was easily understood up until the late 1800s.

It was when English had become a respectable language, like French. It was taking in huge numbers of Latin words. Shakespeare showed its beauty and power. Even so, it was not the giant world language it is now – only about 5 million people in a corner of Europe spoke it. English was just beginning to spread its wings.

It was the English that was brought to America. The American use of –ize instead of -ise and mad in the sense of angry, for example, go back to this time.

It was during this period that English spelling became more or less fixed. This started with Caxton in the late 1400s, who pretty much wrote words the way they sounded. Most of what makes English hard to spell comes from the Great Vowel Shift that came soon after in the 1500s: that was when the silent e became silent, as did the k in knife, the w in wrong, the t in listen, the l in half and so on. It is when words like food and good or sweat and meat stopped rhyming in spite of how they were spelled.

The most noticeable difference between our English and theirs are all those thous and -eths. But even in the early 1600s they were already falling out of use. They are more common, for instance, in the King James Bible, which preserves an older English from the middle 1500s, than they are in Shakespeare. By the 1600s -eth was probably said as -es regardless of how it was spelled.

Some notes:

  • My became mine before a vowel: “mine apple”.
  • Is could still sometimes take the place of has in the perfect tense: “He is come”.
  • Its was just coming into use in the 1600s: before then his and whereof were used instead: “the weight whereof was an 130 shekels.”
  • Ye was used instead you when it was the subject of a sentence: “But be ye doers of the word.”
  • Thou was the familiar form of “ye”, but it was falling out of use.
  • Instead of using do to make a question you could just put the main verb first: “Have ye three apples?”

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Free Nelson Mandela
Free free
Free free free Nelson Mandela

Free Nelson Mandela

Twenty-one years in captivity
His shoes too small to fit his feet
His body abused but his mind is still free
Are you so blind that you cannot see I say

Free Nelson Mandela
I’m begging you
Free Nelson Mandela

He pleaded the causes of the ANC
Only one man in a large army
Are you so blind that you cannot see
Are you so deaf that you cannot hear his plea


Twenty-one years in captivity
Are you so blind that you cannot see
Are you so deaf that you cannot hear
Are you so dumb that you cannot speak I say

Free Nelson Mandela
Oh I’m begging you
Free Nelson Mandela

Free Nelson Mandela
I’m begging you begging you please
Free (you’ve got to you’ve got to) Nelson Mandela
You’ve got to free you’ve got to free you’ve got to free yeah
(Free) Nelson Mandela (x2)
(Free) I’m telling you I’m telling you I’m telling you
You’ve got to free (free) yeah you’ve got to free yeah
You’ve got to free (free) yeah you’ve got to free Nelson Mandela
(Free free free)
I’m telling you telling you (free)
You’d better free him now
You’ve got to free him now (free)
I’m telling you (free)
I’m telling you (free)

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Thandie Newton (1972- ) is a British film actress. She starred opposite Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible 2″ (2000) and was Will Smith’s hateful wife in “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006).

Born in London to a white father (English) and a black African mother (Shona), she grew up in England and later came to Hollywood. She was shocked at how much her skin colour mattered there – more than in Africa or England. Tom Cruise had to fight for her to star opposite him.

She says that both whites and blacks in Hollywood thought she could only play a black woman and, not say, just a woman. It would be like limiting Lauren Bacall to parts for Jewish women.

But it gets worse.

For some parts she is seen as not being “black enough”. And yet in at least one case a white actress got a part that she would have been great for: in 2006 in “A Mighty Heart” the half-black wife of Daniel Pearl was played by Angelina Jolie (white) and not by herself (half-black).  (On the other hand, Newton did get to play Sally Hemings, who was only one-fourth black).

Her beauty and sex appeal:

  • In 2008 she was one of the most beautiful black women according to white people. In the lists that white English-speaking people make of the most beautiful women and put up on the Web, only Beyonce, Mariah, Halle and Tyra make more lists than she does.
  • In 2002 Stuff magazine ranked her as the 48th sexiest woman in the world.
  • In 2000 the readers of Black Men magazine picked her as one of “The 10 Sexiest Women of the Year”.

Some say she was born in Africa, but she says she was in fact born in London when her parents were there for two weeks. Her mother comes from Africa, from a country now known as Zimbabwe, but then called Rhodesia.  Newton says her mother was a Shona princess.”Thandie” comes from thandiwe, which means “beloved”.

She grew up in Zambia in Africa and in Cornwall in England. Growing up watching her mother dress as an African taught Newton to be proud to be black.

At 11 she went to London to study dance, but hurt her back and went into acting instead. While pursuing her acting, she got a degree in anthropology at Cambridge University.

When she first came to Hollywood she had a hard time getting parts in film – not only was she black, she had a British accent. But in time she got noticed.

Some of her films:

  • 2008: W (out now – she plays Condi Rice)
  • 2007: Norbit
  • 2006: The Pursuit of Happyness
  • 2004: The Chronicles of Riddick
  • 2002: The Truth about Charlie
  • 2000: Mission Impossible II
  • 1998: Beloved
  • 1995: Jefferson in Paris (plays Sally Hemings)
  • 1991: Flirting

Doing “Mission impossible II” meant giving up a lead in “Charlie’s Angels” (2000) to Lucy Liu.

In 1994 she dated Brad Pitt.

In 1998 she married a British television writer and director, Ol Parker. They have two daughters, Ripley (2000) and Nico (2004). Ripley is named after Sigourney Weaver’s character in “Alien” and Nico after the German singer who was once part of the Velvet Underground.

See also:

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“I Can’t Quit You Baby” is a song done by the British rock band Led Zeppelin in 1969. It appeared on their first album.

When I first heard the song I could tell Led Zeppelin did not write it, that it came from somewhere else. Led Zeppelin was white but the words to the song sounded like a black man in love with a black woman.

As far as I knew, white men did not talk about the women they love this way:

I-hi, I can’t quit you, babe
So I’m gonna put you down for a while
I said, I can’t quit you babe
I guess I got to put you down for a while
Said you messed-up my happy home
Made me mistreat my only child
Yes, you did, babe, oh

Said, you know I love you, baby
My love for you I could never hide
Oh, you know I love you, babe
My love for you I could never hide
A-when I feel you near me, little girl
I know you are my one desire,

whoa-oh, oh-oh, yeah
Oh, that’s wonderful, whoa
Alright, oh, now, that’s wonderful

When ya hear me moanin’ and groanin’, baby
You know it hurts me deep down inside
Oh, when ya hear me moanin’ and groanin’, babe
Y-you know it hurts me deep down inside
Oh, a-when you hear me holler, baby
You know you’re my one desire, yes, you are, alright

In their songs, white American men rarely get so twisted apart by their love and desire for a woman. Certainly not to the point where they mistreat their only child. They do not let a woman have that much power over them, to become that dangerous to their self-interest.

But that does not seem true to life. After all, how many marriages of white men have been broken up by women they just can’t quit, ones who mess up their happy homes?

Love makes no sense. It brings joy and pain, beauty and destruction. Just like in this song. But you rarely hear about that in white songs. White American art tends to see the world with rose-coloured glasses, at least more so than Black American art. It is more like that world where Hallmark cards come from, wherever that is. Certainly not the same place this song came from, not from any place I ever knew.

Maybe all this is just stereotype on my part, but in this case I turned out to be right: the song was in fact written by a black man, Willie Dixon. He wrote another song that appears on the same Led Zeppelin album: “You Shook Me”. Many of his blues songs were covered by rock bands in the 1960s.

In 1956 “I Can’t Quit You Baby”  was sung by Otis Rush and became a top ten hit on the Black American charts.

In the 1960s it was covered by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, to which Eric Clapton belonged.

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Eric Clapton is a British rock guitarist, one of the best ever. He is white, not black. As far as I know no one has ever thought he was black, not even when they heard him on the radio and did not know what he looked like.

And yet, like Elvis and Madonna, he was one of the main white musicians through which black music has affected white music in the English-speaking world.

He grew up in a white town in the middle of England, so how in the world did that come about?

When he was little he felt there was something different about him. By piecing together things he overheard his aunts say he found out the truth: his parents were his grandparents and his sister was his mother!

His mother had him in 1945 by a Canadian airman who was passing through England on the way to war. They never married. So Clapton was born in secret and in shame. His mother left town.

When he found out the truth he withdrew into himself. When his mother came to town he asked, “Can I call you Mummy now?” She said no. His own mother did not want him!

He turned to music to deal with the pain:

Music became a healer for me, and I learned to listen with all my being, I found that it could wipe away all the emotions of fear and confusion relating to my family.

The music that spoke to his heart the most was the blues:

It’s very difficult to explain the effect the first blues record I heard had on me, except to say that I recognized it immediately. It was as if I were being reintroduced to something that I already knew, maybe from another, earlier life. For me there is something primitively soothing about this music, and it went straight to my nervous system, making me feel ten feet tall.

He especially loved the electric guitar blues of Chicago. People like Otis Rush, Muddy Waters and Freddie King were his heroes. But above them all was the Delta bluesman Robert Johnson.

He taught himself guitar by listening to his blues records and copying them till he got it right. But it seems he copied the form – in his own way – more than he did the substance.

In time playing the blues on his guitar became the only thing he cared about:

  • So much so that he got kicked out of art school.
  • So much so that when the pop music of Beatlemania took hold he still stuck to the blues.
  • So much so that he quit the Yardbirds just when they had their first hit song: because they had turned their back on the blues.

By the late 1960s he had become one of the great guitar players of rock music along with Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and others who also loved the blues. Together they changed the course of rock music.

See also:

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Children, I wanna warn ya, ‘cos I’ve been to California
Where Mickey Mouse is such a demon,
where Mickey Mouse is as big as a house
Life is wasted on illusions,
Tom and Jerry’s no solution
Evil gains for cartoon demons,
Pinnochio’s a real boy,look around

And I cry all night, do you wanna hold me, hold me tight
Do you wanna hold me, oh yeah, do you wanna hold me, hold me there

Children, you got to hear me, you just got to understand me
Love and death ain’t no physical thing
‘Cos Mickey Mous he don’t wanna know

And I cry all night, do you wanna hold me, hold me tight
Do you wanna hold me, oh yeah, do you wanna hold me, hold me there
Do you wanna
And I cry all night, do you wanna hold me, hold me tight
Do you wanna hold me, oh yeah, do you wanna hold me, hold me there
And I cry all night, there ain’t no more confusion in the night
There’s someone there to tell me what is right
Do you wanna hold me, hold me tight
And I cry all night, there’s only one solution to this life
There’s someone there to tell me what it’s like
Do you wanna hold me, oh yeah, do you wanna hold me, oh yeah
Do you wanna hold me, hold me there
Do you wanna hold me, oh yeah…
(repeats out)

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The Received Pronunciation (1830s- ), or RP, was the accent or way of saying words of the top people in Britain for most of the 1800s and 1900s. It is what Americans mean when they say someone has a “British accent” and what people in Britain mean when they say someone has a “posh” accent or “no accent”. It is an accent that is readily understood everywhere in the English-speaking world.

Those who use RP, among others:

  • Actors: Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, David Niven, John Cleese, Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard), etc,
  • The BBC from the 1920s to the 1970s,
  • Top schools and universities, like Oxford and Cambridge,
  • Tory MPs.

Patrick Stewart’s accent is not native but part of his theatre training.

About 2 million people in Britain speak RP. For them it is the natural way of speaking. For many who learned English as a foreign language it is the right way to say words, the way you see in British dictionaries, like the Oxford English Dictionary.

RP was the voice of power and authority in the 1930s, but by the 1990s it had become the voice of the stuck-up.

Tony Blair, for example, still spoke RP in the 1980s but by the 1990s he was speaking in Estuary English, an everyman’s London English which is halfway between RP and working-class Cockney.

RP was never the accent of the masses. That was kind of the idea. But for most of the 1900s it was how the top people in all parts of the country spoke. It was how you learned to speak if you went to the top schools and universities, like Eton, Oxford and Cambridge. Eton was said to have the purest RP accent.

RP only tells people that you have a very good education, but not where you are from. You cannot even say an RP speaker is from Britain since most are from overseas.

There was no RP in the 1700s. We know that from Samuel Johnson’s dictionary. There was not even a single accent among the rich and powerful back then. That arose in the 1800s with the rise of English public schools (meaning the private schools of the rich).

Lord Reith based BBC English on RP. He saw it as the right way of speaking and wanted the BBC to set an example. It was also the accent that everyone, rich or poor, north or south, native or foreign, understood. That was true before the BBC, but the BBC made it even more true.

You can still hear RP on the BBC, especially on the news, but it started to move away from it in the 1970s.

RP has changed over time. We know that from hearing the old news broadcasts of the BBC. You can also hear it in Angelina Jolie’s character in “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” (2004), who speaks in an RP from the 1930s. So RP is not some timeless accent. It changes like everything else.

See also:

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