I just finished James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues and couldn't help but think of Ben Harper.
First, the obvious - the folks outside the narrator's house singing If I Could Only Hear My Mother Pray Again. Mr. Harper sand that song on his Grammy-winning album There Will Be A Light.
Then, the narrator talks about the ice in his belly while describing his brother Sonny's fire inside - "Fire & Ice" - the great Ben Harper song.
Then, of course, Sonny plays the blues at the club and speaks and listens - communicates - through his music.
Last, and most important, Mr. Baldwin's work is obviously in the African-American literary cannon. One of the most significant common threads throughout these works is the idea of "double-consciousness" - or what Dunbar calls the mask, or what is referred to as the veil. Mr. Harper has obviously tapped into this same brilliance with his work - Glory & Consequence, Pleasure & Pain, Both Sides of the Gun, and many if his other songs.
If these facts don't lend any credence to the argument that Mr. Harper is one of the all-time greats, I don't know what does. more»