Will It Ever Change
Updated: May 27, 2020
By Luther Allison (RIP 1939-1997). Chicago style blues from one of the great masters. And a song here that is pure blues with it's aching, but still defiant call for racial and social justice for all. The blues having been born of grief, loneliness and betrayal remains a strong source of inspiration for millions today as it has for millions through the past 200 years. However unlike the folk music that lyrically is tied to the blues, with blues you get that beat that can make you want to smile and dance. So the genius is in the pairing of real life pain with real life hope found in the music and in the hearing and responding to the music by a group or community. That's the blues to me. But Luther Allison is unique for me. I got to hear him live once. Then by coincidence I was in Chicago when he passed away and a wake was held at Buddy Guy's Legend's Blues Club and my friend Doug Olson and I were able to attend this event for Luther's family and friends where some patrons were able to be seated in the back. What a gift being there that night was. But even more interesting is my same friend Doug and I were latter in Dallas to attend the Stanley Cup playoffs and we were staying in the cheapest near downtown hotel we could find. We were just sitting at the pool watching the rock band 38 special swim with a few, lets just say interesting blond women, which was weird enough. When a nice looking young black man asks if he can join us in the shade and we of course invited him to have a seat. He introduced himself and said " hello, I'm Bernard Allison." Well Doug and I had planned to go to the hockey game then hit the local live blues scene around 10:00 on that Saturday night (we were much younger then), and Bernard Allison was just the act we hoped to see! Bernard is the son of Luther and he grew up much of his life and his early musical career in France where Luther lived a long while, as American Blues music has often been more appreciated in Europe than in the USA (and racism was sometimes less).
We were able to share with him how much his fathers music meant to us and of our plans to see Bernard's show later that evening at Blue Cat Blues in Dallas's Deep Ellum. He visited with us an hour or more, bought us a round of beers and could not have been nicer. But, Bernard was and has become a chip off the old block of his father and is a fantastic and internationally respected blues musician and preservationist today. He came out in the audience that night and played a guitar solo just for us. We saw him at checkout in the hotel the next morning and he invited us to walk across the street to have breakfast with him at Denny's! I had to get Doug to the airport, but what a nice guy to get to meet! Blues music still speaks to me and moves me and though it may not be in the American spotlight very often these days, it remains one of our true American musical forms and brings comfort, hope and liberation to us all if we will at least feel the music even if we do not fully hear it. This entire album - Reckless, is full of music to both hear and feel. Sadly though the refrain of "When Will It Ever Change" is as needed, unfulfilled and in our dreams still today, over 20 years after this song was released. Perhaps this is the question we humans might always have to ask? To me it's the core of the question Jesus asks us in our "Christian America". When will it ever change?