"I was not born in Alabama in the 1890s. You may as well know this now. I've never eaten grits, cropped a share, or ridden a boxcar. No gypsy woman attended my birth and there's no hellhound on my trail, as far as I'm aware Let this record show that I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south.If that weren't bad enough, I'm also an actor: one of those pampered ninnies who can't find his way through an airport without a babysitter....Worst of all, I've broken an important rule of art, music and career paths: actors are supposed to act, and musicians are supposed to music. That's how it works. You don't buy fish from a dentist, or ask a plumber for financial advice, so why listen to an actor's music?The answer is - there is no answer. If you care about pedigree then you should try elsewhere, because I have nothing in your size....These great and beautiful artists lived it as they played it. All of them knew the price of a loaf of bread and most had times in their lives when they couldn't scrape it together. They had credentials, in other words, and I respect those as much as the next man, possibly more.But at the same time, I could never bear to see this music confined to a glass cabinet, under the heading Culture: Only To Be Handled By Elderly Black Men. That way lies the grave, for the blues and just about everything else: Shakespeare only performed at The Globe, Bach only played by Germans in tights. It's formaldehyde...So that's my only credential - my one dog-eared ID card that I hope will get me through the velvet ropes. I love this music, as authentically as I know how, and I want you to love it, too. If you get a thousandth of the pleasure from it that I've had, we're ahead of the game."
Monday, September 19, 2011