May 22, 1914, that’s when America and the world got ahold of one Herman Blount—at least that’s what his parents thought his name was.
Sun Ra and America are the essential combination: Ra’s mythos is an utterly logical response to the insanity of being an African-American, building much of the greatness of a nation that despises you. And the greatness he did build spanned every aspect of American popular music.
Seriously, listen for yourself. The collection of his 45rpm singles (Yeah baby!) is one of the most important documents of American music, if you don’t have it, get it. There’s no “old, weird” America with Ra, it’s all America, and it makes such sense that the music that other people make sounds weird in comparison. Listening to Ra explains to me why I’ve been deaccessioning all my Dylan recordings. Dylan seems like such arch artifice compared to this: