Sunday, 13 December 2015

Maureen Tucker

Jackson Heights. Population, as of  2013 -133,000

{as of 2013.}

Jackson Heights. Slightly North West in the New York City borough. Kissing Queens.

{Les Paul was born here}

John .C. Jackson's name is the one used to name Jackson Avenue. It is from this that Jackson Heights gets its name. It is a thing of modernity lacking credible historical value.

The land Jackson Heights stands on was purchased in 1910. Purchased from whom? Surely not the native Indians who first lived there?

I have searched the internet, researched books but found very little in the way of a pre-white history of Jackson Heights. I cannot conceive that American's think that the area in which Jackson Heights has no deeper history. So I dug deeper.

'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee' is a book that made me weep when I read it. Not so much as by way of laying blame on the white settlers, upon American's in general but more for the implicit cruelty described therein which is part of our human psyche. Humankind is capable of gross atrocities. And yes, there were American Indians there, of course, there were.

{Montgomery Clift lived there}

The nascent U.S Government, keen to have the land for themselves, seeing the tribes as the self governing, politically independent with a strong cultural identity, began to coerce then, when coercion failed, forced the Indian from their land. It was 1824. It was history repeating itself. Now the glib response following the same defeats.

Stories were spread, largely fictionalised accounts, of the Indian's cruelty and his warlike ways. Pre-Murdoch, pre-Stalin, propaganda was readily swallowed. The burgeoning American state used it well.  The Cheyenne , Sioux, Crow, Arapaho, Assiniboine, Mandan, Gros Ventre and Arikara were trades people who willingly worked with the whites helping them when help was required. Still that irrational American fear remained.  They mistrusted the Red Man. This was a case of the migrants fearing the indigenous peoples. Donald Trump's thoughts in reverse.

Indians were democrats; true democrats. Sadly by the time they had made their collective minds up the white man had acted. All they could do was live on reservations, keep their old ways and play the drums.

Maureen Ann Tucker was born in Jackson Heights in 1944. Her family was middle-class Catholics. They were nice people. Inspired by Rock and Roll, the likes of Bo Diddley then the Rolling Stones but specifically Babatunde Olatunji, she took up drumming. As fortune would have it her brother was friends with a guy called Sterling Morrison which just goes to show how the quirks of fate sometimes appear to work. 

Her drumming was Ringo Like and by that I mean she dealt with rhythms in as straightforward a manner as possible. Not that she was incapable of complex multi-rhythms but preferred driving the music along lines that delivered it in the direct way the music demanded . 'Waiting For My Man' being a typical example.

Her style, with its lack of cymbals, was pure drumming. She got to the point by the fastest route. She was minimalist bearing none of the flash and whizz of traditional Rock drummers. No twirling of sticks; no crashing of cymbals; no heavy foot on the bass pedal - she stood up for goodness sake how uncool/cool was that? If punk needed a priestess apart from Patti and one who played the drums then Mo Tucker was she.




She will, naturally enough, if a little unfairly, always be associated with The Velvet Underground. People tend to forget she also sang as well as played the guitar. She was, much like that Shakespearean chap..."A Man for All Seasons" or, as in her case, a woman.

In light of the likes of Lou Reed, Nico, and John Cale she tends to get overlooked when people review The Velvet Underground. Well kids, listen again. Listen to the hydraulic, piston pounding of the drums sitting right behind the songs driving them down the melodic journey they are taking. That is no slouch on them Tom Tom's that Is Maureen 'MO' Tucker. The propulsive force behind one of the world's most innovative bands.

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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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