Music Interlude – Soul Music and My Youth

When I was a kid, I was absolutely mad about dancing. It took a while – somewhere around my 14th birthday or so – but I discovered dancing with a girl was nearly as cool as making the throw across the baseball diamond. I recall sitting in Barbara Brackett’s living room, listening to Aretha Franklin, “Shotgun” and Sam and Dave, then going crackers on Friday and Saturday nights, doing our version of the “Disco” of the era. More than just one girl were responsible for helping me in this sweaty and satisfying endeavor! But her potato chips were dam good and she was beautiful.

Back then, Soul Music landed with all four feet and a loud, upbeat rhythmical thump. It took us all by storm. Fr0m Bo Diddly to the elegant Marvin Gaye, I spent years dancing and listening to Soul Music. It remains to this day a virtual Fountain of Inspiration to me. Here’s Bo – inventor of the guitar sound which he pioneered as well as the guitar itself. Funky man, that Bo:

I had an exceptionally eye-opening experience as a sophomore in high school, when three of us traveled to Evansville, Indiana from my home town of Owensboro to attend a James Brown concert. We got there real early, because we were afraid we wouldn’t get good seats, so we were easily an hour ahead of the concert start. As the crowd filed in, we began to realize we were pretty much the onliest white people in the entire small arena.

There we were, 3 young dumb white kids  in “O” jackets, with “State Baseball Champions” engraved across the letters – which we had just won. Well, as people filed in behind us (we were in about the third row), they engaged us. They were quietly thrilled we were interested in Brown but what blew our minds was that they knew who we were. Huge sports fans. “You boys have a sweet team. That Jim Howes will be throwing in the Big Leagues. Our boys gonna get you all!, ha ha ha.”

And, as always: “You came to the right concert, boys. James Brown is The Man.”

Well, he was. For all sorts of reasons, it may have been the greatest concert I’ve ever seen. Big Mama Thornton led things off, with Brown’s incredibly tight band behind her and our local men were going stark-raving crazy. She was amazingly talented, with a gorgeous voice and a passion I’ve never forgotten. She sang the blues – and she got upbeat – but her blues were the stunner. I wonder if I ever saw it done better.

We left the place on a cloud. It was a unique and enhancing experience for us all. It was, of course, during a time when racial issues became extremely important as an American social phenomenon. In a way, for me it was easier, owing to my athletics. Playing with the guys had me visit their homes, listen to them gab – for better or for worse, lol – have a darn good time and appreciate pure talent and performance. The good old bottom line in both the athletics and military experiences I had back then acquainted me with a race of people who were about as ‘different’ from me as “I am from me”.  😉

So I danced – and danced. Let’s face it. If you can’t move to this, you may be dead:

Musical Interlude – John McLaughlin Then and Now

I began a project this past Monday – nothing huge, but a serious renovation of a back yard involving a massive cleanup. For once, I decided to attack it myself – sans help – because I should be able to nurse the project quite selfishly and simply because I get total control over every aspect, along with the input from the client.

Well, was I ever bowled over by the 100 degree heat – good lord, that was hideous. In Kentucky, the “Heat Index” actually means something. When they say “Temperture: 94, Feels Like: 101”, they happen to be correct. Today was a far more bearable 93, lol. Humidity like this can make sweat come from outside a man.

It beat me up pretty good, lol. I’ve lost 8 pounds and I’m only partially-plump.

So, as much as I want to share more here, I think I’ll devolve into an easier task of presenting just a little more from my favorite Youtube musical choices, nurse a Coke laden with ice, sit back and watch some baseball.  😉

John McLaughlin is a timeless hero for me. I’ve sat, mesmerized by the chops of  his Mahavishnu Orchestra in the ’70’s and have followed him as closely as i could over the years. This piece below is from a concert just a couple years ago, in Chicago. Always the jazzist, he borders on some lyrical, near rock and roll-like licks and, as always is such a huge presence as a guitarist. I also like the MC at this concert……..

For anyone curious as to what his Mahavishnu Orchestra was all about, I’m including this below – the taping was done in the 70’s, so it will be less than perfect but the super group of Billy Cobham on drums, Steve Goodman (Benny’s son) on violin, Jan Hammer on piano and Rick Baird on bass here represent very much their stunning musicianship and their wildly unique musical method.

Musical Interlude – Nadia, The Song

The weather has conspired to be what has to be considered a complete pain in the butt here in dreary, cold Louisville, Kentucky. Flirtations with Springtime turned out be be shallow affairs – enough to entice blooms but then followed by literal snow. Snow and the pain that accompanies once-enthusiastic working in good weather with that of freezing hands mixing and slurrying cement in a hostile world have worked me into a mild frenzy of total nihilism. Here’s how bad it is: It’s enough to make someone send off a nasty letter.

I often take solace in music, as is evidenced by this blog. These diversions are fun and helpful. Today’s diversion deals with a song I watched modern guitarist Jeff Beck perform live one sunny Summer Day in Vancouver, all those years ago, as Beck morphed in to a near-jazzy style which he has stayed with since, making just the best music. I had to admit at the time, I had no idea as to the origins of this tune which evidently goes back into a Hindu past, resurrected by Beck in entertaining fashion.

Then I heard the actual words to the music in a cut by another – far newer name in the guitar world – Nitin Sawhney – which I might even like more. particularly owing to the wonderful lightness of the female singer’s style.

Here they are, in order – first Jeff Beck, secondly Nitin’s version: