Let’s start with Wadsworth, Lou Reed, and Little Steven

6 Dec

When thinking of how to actually begin this blog, I never would have thought I’d begin with a 19th century poet, but here I am.  “What could 19th century poetry possibly have to do with Chicago Garage?” you might be thinking to yourself…and I don’t blame you.  There is, however one very large similarity between one of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s major themes in his poetry and the primitive delivery of garage rock.  Longfellow once said, “In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”  Not bad for an old dead white guy.  I wonder if Lou Reed was paraphrasing Henry when he said, “If it’s more than 3 chords, it’s jazz.”


The name Little Steven is synonymous with Garage, to me at least.  The two can never be separated.  I’ll never forget the day that I first heard that term “garage.”  I was 17, just bought my first Beatles record; I was unknowingly ripe and ready for what was about to happen to me.  I was sitting on my couch.  It was another dull school night and I was just about to call it a night when I found myself on MTV2.  The show was called Little Steven’s Underground Garage.  I had never heard of it; I figured it must be some sort of Pimp My Ride type of show.  I see this little Italian man talking about music and I was officially lost.

Luckily, however, I turned the program on just in time to hear the man define what “garage” meant.  He made two key points: garage is white guys butchering black blues and “Gloria” was much more difficult to write than Sgt. Pepper’s in its entirety.  There Little Steven goes, just like Lou Reed, ripping off Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Simplicity.  That’s what Wadsworth was harping about back in the 19th century and that’s what garage is.  Not only that, but if garage is white guys pulling a hack job on black blues than it must be chaotic.  Something about those two things blew my mind.

While this music may have been sparked by the Beatles and rest of the British Invasion, there were so many great bands doing it in Chicago: The Shadows of Night, The American Breed, and The Buckinghams to name a few.  It hasn’t gone away.  Chicago still has a great Garage scene that I intend to cover one band at a time.


One Response to “Let’s start with Wadsworth, Lou Reed, and Little Steven”

  1. ptz ip camera January 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    Hey, wonderful blog you got here! Keep up the good job

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