Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Listen to LOOK AT GRANDMA by Bo Diddley.

"I tell young musicians, 'Don't trust nobody but your mama,' " he says as we leave the hotel and slide into the back seat of a car. "And even then, look at her real good."

As we run errands in Manhattan -- combing the street stalls of Fourteenth Street for bargain clothing and B&H Photo for discount video-camera accessories -- Diddley never stops trying to keep me entertained. Whenever a silence looms, he will ask, "What do you want to know?" or he will start singing one of his hits, or he'll just chuckle and say, "Rock & roll." His manner is easygoing, and despite the fact that the credit and royalties he wants will probably not come in his lifetime, he has not stopped caring or turned into a money-motivated hack, like many musicians on the oldies circuit. Every performance is just as much a battle to him as it was fifty years ago.

"I had a woman in the audience the other night in Oklahoma, sitting all stiff while everyone around her was moving and clapping," he booms as we drive through midtown. "She looked like she was married to some dude who had her stuck in the house for years. I told her, 'No, no, no, you can't sit on the front row and look like you swallowed a liver. You've got to smile, baby, because you are pretty.' " He concludes, "She started grinning, and she started clapping along with the music, man. I got her." He beams and claps his hands together. "I got through."

Photo: Trip to Upper Manhattan (2).


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