Since women do most
of the work in the movement for social justice, the peace movement, the
environmental movement, human rights, and the rest of the progressive agenda,
including providing for the majority of the leadership, I often write
encouragement at Liberty Underground, to get women to take one more step, so
that our movement for a better world doesn�t crash and burn.
The dirty little
secret is that women have always done it, and without their work, the whole
damned system would fall apart. The hungry wouldn�t get fed, the sick wouldn�t
get healed, and the loneliness wouldn�t get loved away without the devotion of
women willing to work for nothing.
And if you do
progressive actions long enough, as this old man has, you learn that to do it
well you have to be willing to do it for nothing. Women have always done the
most important work in our society without pay -- the rearing of the children,
teaching of morality and being the feminine rock children see as the center of
the world. If there is a problem, any problem at all, every child knows that
mom can solve it.
In the meditation
classes I teach, a young woman once told me that women were unable to sing
blues music, to my astonishment. I asked her if she ever heard Bonnie Raitt
sing, and she said she hadn�t. Bessie Smith? No. Billie Holiday? No. I told her
there are a lot of great woman blues singers going back to the birth of the
A number of my
students have told me about being sexually molested by their fathers, being
raped, and other things that leave hatreds in them which eventually manifest in
physical problems that go away when I show them how to do emotional healing. It�s
easy to teach, I have taken knowledge from ancient Asian great masters and
simply pass it on, but it�s hard to listen to the stories, filled with pain as
young lady had been convinced by her boyfriend that women were not capable of
singing blues music as it is supposed to be performed. I suspected he beat her,
too, because she often had bruises. She needed a lot of healing.
No woman has ever
been president, vice president or chief justice of the Supreme Court. No woman
has ever headed the Defense Department, the CIA or the FBI. There is absolutely
no reason for this other than institutional sexism, but it is easy to see why a
young woman may get confused about feminine potential for doing things like
singing the blues.
Since most of my
meditation students are women, and most of my students come to me for physical
and emotional healing, I have become accustomed to this. I even changed the
name of my basic meditation course from an �Introduction to Meditation� to �Healing
Meditation,� when people started coming great distances to learn how to heal
come, and I give them the Harvard Medical School studies, because they seem to
want to get the information from that kind of source, although the knowledge
predates Western medicine by thousands of years. It healed people just as well
then, without Harvard�s blessing. The oldest human writing, the Sanskrit,
embraced meditation over 6 thousand years ago, as a thing to be worshipped.
In my meditation, I
imagine the blues was invented by a black man in Mississippi. I see him sitting
in a rocking chair on a sharecropper�s porch, picking a guitar with notes he
has ripped from the depth of his soul. He has been kicked in the teeth all his
life, denied an education, denied a decent job, but his brain is as good as
that of any genius or he wouldn�t have been able to come up with anything as
complex as the blues.
When you meditate
deeply enough, you see things through the mind clutter that usually gets in the
way of understanding. There, it is possible to find a clearing where you can
see the blues as the highest music form, extending into the heart as well as
the mind, feelings played on guitar strings, harmonicas and even lowly
Women know about
the feelings that bleed into the blues. Women have their hearts broken, watch
family members die, get robbed and raped. Women can sing the blues very well,
indeed, sometimes taking it to levels men do not sense in their experiences.
Bonnie Raitt says
you cannot play the blues with new guitar strings, because they don�t have funk
in them. You have to have funk in the strings, and a blues musician senses it
in the way the string vibrates. The black man on the Mississippi porch had very
old guitar strings, and no money for new ones. He had to make old ones work
into his pattern, and maybe did without a string at times.
It only costs a
dollar to download songs on the Internet. You don�t have to download the whole
album, just the song you like, which is amazing to an old man like me. Everyone
should download blues songs by women, some of the most beautiful music ever
have Janis Joplin�s �Piece a� My Heart,� which is really a piece of her heart.
A scientist may not be able to prove that it�s true, but a blues fan feels a
piece of her heart in it and knows it�s there.
�Didn�t I make you feel like you were the only man -YEAH!
And didn�t I give you nearly everything that a woman possibly can?
Honey, you know I did!
And each time I tell myself that I, well I think I�ve had enough,
But I�m gonna show you, baby, that a woman can be tough.
�I want you to come on, come on, come on, come on
And TAKE IT,
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby!
Oh, oh, BREAK IT!
Break another little bit of my heart now darlin.��
Everyone should have Bonnie Raitt�s �Wild for You Baby.� It should be
required by law that everyone who doesn�t have a dollar get it for free -- we
should tax the rich to pay for it. Hell, the working class does enough for
I could get carried away and do this all day, but will simply stop here
and go with two ladies who create beautiful blues. Nancy Wilson on lead guitar
and her sister Ann doing vocals, in a number of songs.
Like the old standard, �Tell it Like it Is,� which they have mastered,
this is a woman�s song anyhow. Stop what you are doing and buy it right now.
Or �Sweet Darlin,�� which should be played to little girls until they
all understand that women can indeed sing beautiful blues. They should not be
allowed to grow up thinking women have limitations.
Or my favorite of the Wilson sisters, which I encourage everyone who
reads this to download right now. Don�t take another breath until you do this.
And whatever you do, don�t die until you listen to it once more, no matter how
many times you have listened to it. �Down on Me�
(sample it) from the Bebe le Strange album. No man has ever done a blues song
better than this.
Chairman Mao of the People�s Republic said that �women hold up half the
sky.� In the progressive movement, they hold up a lot more than half. And they
sing damn pretty music while they hold it up there.
Balkwill does the web site Liberty Underground of
Virginia (LUV) and has written for publications
as varied as the little-read English Honor Society�s Rectangle to the millions
of readers USA Today. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.