Clifton Chenier, aka “The King of Zydeco” aka “The King of the South”, appears with fellow Blues greats Lightnin’ Hopkins (left) and Honeyboy Edwards (right) in this 1979 photo by Harvey Wang
A wrinkle on a classic
The timeless Blues song “Going Down Slow” has been done by everyone who’s anyone, from Howlin’ Wolf to Pinetop Perkins to Ray Charles and…look, I could write an 1,000 word article just by listing the names of important artists who covered it. [but this article does it one better]
However, this version has an interesting difference from most others — the rhythm section is…well….‘missing.’
Or is it? Listen yourself:
Now here’s the thing…
That accordion (yes, an accordion is a legit instrument in the Louisiana Blues/Folk tradition) does. not. care. about providing rhythm; it’s ‘dancing’ ahead, behind, and over the meter of the tune.
So who could be expected to create that rhythm?
As shown in What is Pulse?, you can identify one central rhythm underneath this song even though there’s no overtly obvious instrument providing it for you. Listen again and clap or snap to it, you’ll find the clear base the music flows around.
The modern dance community loves to discuss ways to be “musical” and “become one with the music,” and guess what? That means you’re part of the music-making process too, which in this situation means you get to feel the rhythm out and provide it with your body.
Just one more reason to love Blues and Swing idiom dances.
Now, as a DJ my question is: would you dance to this tune?