Talent + Adversity = Excellence

I was watching a Chuck Berry Concert on TV the other evening – Hail, Hail, Rock and Roll! commemorating Chuck’s 60th Birthday in 1987. 

I am certainly no Music Historian, but to my limited experience it seems that Chuck single-handedly gave birth to Rock and Roll – or at the very least influenced it so profoundly that it would not exist in the same form without him. 

Watching and thinking about Chuck Berry and many much less known and appreciated Black artists of the 20th century set my mind to wondering: “What set them apart?” “Where did they come from?” “What recipe or cookbook could I use to create my own Chuck Berry?”

Lead Belly,  Ray Charles, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry – exactly how had some of the historically most oppressed people in the U.S. – Southern Blacks – transformed themselves into its most supreme talents and recreated American art and culture in their own image?

So I tried to come up with a formula for creating such a cultural phenomena:

Raw Talent + Adversity = (potential) Excellence

And I liked this simple, perfect formula/storyline – only one problem, some of these artists had not necessarily been directly oppressed but certainly were Middle Class children of those who had been oppressed.  So I tried another formula:

Raw Talent + Some Adversity + {Enough Economic Comforts To Support Arts} = (chance at) Excellence

No quite as compact perhaps but probably a little better model of reality.  Certainly the converse of the original formula is true:

Talent – Adversity = Mediocrity

For example:

John  Lennon – Climb to the Top = Julien Lennon

So here is my formula:

Child + Some Level of Creature Comforts & Leisure to think about Arts and Sciences + Adversity = next Cultural Phenom

So my plan is simple, move my family to San Dimas, CA, allow my son to fail a history exam, and then he can fulfill the prophecy foretold in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  Sounds “most righteous dude.”


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