Dominick Knowles

is a doctoral student in the Department of English at Brandeis University. His Twitter handle is @pastelcathedral.

Somethin’ Slick Goin’ On: The Proletarian Funk of Johnny “Guitar” Watson

Somethin’ Slick Goin’ On: The Proletarian Funk of Johnny “Guitar” Watson

John­ny “Gui­tar” Wat­son was a fas­ci­nat­ing con­tra­dic­tion: a man dressed like an icon of fame and wealth whose lyrics depict the strug­gle of work­ing peo­ple try­ing to make ends meet in an era of loom­ing eco­nom­ic des­ti­tu­tion. Though he dons a funky get­up, Watson’s bleak expres­sion of work­ing life under eco­nom­ic and social oppres­sion derives from the long blues tra­di­tion dat­ing back to slav­ery and the Recon­struc­tion era.