Although the saga of the family legend is often exaggerated,through generations of tavern discourse,the origin of the story is never modified.
It is said that a boy came from out of the wilderness and wandered into a recruiting camp for the Union Army in October of 1861. When asked his name for the roster he responded by stating he was "just Ben's son." He was enlisted and given the slave name of Justin Benson. No one knew at the time that the blond haired kid, who would one day fight on the Battlefield of Gettysburg, would become one of the pioneering promoters and producers of the music that became Rock 'n' Roll.
It is the music that spoke to the generations of a hundred years, with meanings cultivated thought a lineage derived from three dominate philosophies. They are the songs of our lives; the songs of our ancestors; the songs of our children. The birth of the Blues was the beginning of pop music and provided the soundtrack on a journey towards the spirited acceptance of freedom.
From the Age of Enlightenment came the idea that reason was the bases of authority. The acceptance of this tenant was adamant among its followers. It spurred universal revolution and became the incentive to the principles of America's Declaration of Independence. Enlightenment transcended the boundaries of authoritative restraint and challenged the conventions of political power. It also served the thinking of rationalists who saw slavery as a violation of the rights of man. Quakers in this country took a stand against this practice and the Abolitionist Movement was formed. The songs of freedom were given life.
A second philosophy, which also took a disobedient stance against authority, was forged in New England as a protest against the doctrines of the Unitarian Church. Transcendentalism argued that spiritual intuition transcended empirical data. Its findings challenged the formulas of science and took Enlightenment one step further. It proclaimed reason as a instinctive intuition held common with everyman. A conviction to the common sense was acknowledged. The songs of freedom began to speak to the mutually held emotions of mankind.
The music led the masses in believing that the common sense could direct mankind, and that the institutions of authority were unnecessary. The question was raised and the answer seemed prevalent- authority was not necessary for the good of the people; authority was necessary for the control of the people. Civil Disobedience began, and a power struggle was created that continues today. Music and art have always been in the forefront of this controversy because of their universal acceptance by our common sense. the songs and images speak to the struggles for equality and fair treatment of everyman.
The final philosophy contributing to this paradigm was seen in the works of William Blake. He not only believed institutional authority was unnecessary, he believed it deliberately destroyed the foundations of creative thinking. He believed imagination was where the common sense was cultivated, and was cognisant of the liberating powers of the creative process. Through the generations, institutions of power, fearful of losing their grips on public sentiment, have always condemned creativity as a contributing element to heresy.
Blake recognized how this authoritative phobia was crippling the intellectual expansion of his kinsman. He saw them as being enslaved by pungency's that repressed the reactors of consciousness. Authority was controlling the masses by subverting the common sense. An example is heard in the second verse of London from Songs of Experience:
In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:
These relevant principals moved the direction of creative thinking in the mid 1860's.
In defiance of Victorian etiquette, a young woman artist became the rage of New York's society.
It was thought the promotion was used to merely hype the aspiring artistic talents of the wife of Justin Benson. Her agent endorsed her art as having the ability to transform images of pastoral innocence into the corrupted urban settings of New York City. The concept grew and became a movement known as Urban Romanticism. Its disciples soon adopted the guitar music they heard while frequenting the basement tavern of Benson's house. They celebrated the music as a contributing element to the Urban Romantic Movement. The guitar styling was provided by a elderly emancipated slave, and was seen as a symbol of a genuine pastoral transformation into the urban setting of Greenwich Village. The genesis of modern music began. The rebellion against conventional authority started.