Turntable

Five Songs On My Turntable Now

Wedding Song
Wedding Song

I’ve loved music even longer than I’ve loved words. I think most of us have. We don’t need to learn anything to listen to music it could be reasoned. But… you actually do need to learn to listen. The world around us is filled with music. The sound of the breeze rustling trees, a city’s traffic, a lone saxophone player heard from an unseen window. These things could escape us if we didn’t open our ears and minds to it. Walt Whitman opened me up in more conscious ways to the sounds of the world in his poems. I started playing music with friends in bands around my hometown when I was about 19. But even long before that we sang in our home. It was me, my maternal grandmother, mother and two sisters there. The women and girls sang with open abandon and it gave me the freedom to join in. We had a stereo. It might have come from Sears. My mom had a stack of records that went from Hank Williams to Nat King Cole. Nana loved opera. We went to a church that sang at least four songs each and every service and we sang along with great energy, smiling at each other and our beloved Reverend Fletcher at especially loved passages. To grow up with music is to grow up with hope. To grow old with music is to not grow old … in your heart.

Here is what I’m listening to on my turntable these days.

Note: If you hit the links you might have to put up with a short commercial. That’s is what the ‘off volume’ switch is for.

“Come On In My Kitchen” / Robert Johnson

“You better come on in my kitchen
Well, it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors
Ah, the woman I love, took from my best friend
Some joker got lucky, stole her back again
You better come on in my kitchen
It’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors”

This song just cheers me up. As a person who’s done some fair amount of ‘kitchen time’ … it’s one of my long standing lyrics to love. And additionally… this was written by a man who’s said to have sold his soul at ‘the crossroads’.

“The Weight” / Aretha Franklin

Oh to have been in that recording studio when the great Aretha Franklin sang as the also great Duane Allman accompanied the ‘Queen of Soul’ on his masterful slide guitar! The location was Muscle Shoals. The year was 1970. Aretha sat at the piano as Duane worked his slide like few who have ever picked up that instrument. The song written by Robbie Robertson and made famous already by ‘The Band’ was given true love the night those two… and some amazing sidemen lifted ‘the weight’ and flung into the cosmos.

“Rebels” / Tom Petty

Tom Petty’s death had a resounding wake up effect on me. I did enjoy the music he made. I bought a tape of perhaps the earliest album Tom and the Heartbreakers released from the record shop in Key West I was going to in 1978. But truthfully I didn’t really know his catalog of work during his lifetime. Of course I loved the songs that burst through the charts and were (and are) played on the radio. But after he passed I started to listen to his work via the Tom Petty Radio Station on ‘Sirius XM’. And I have not stopped listening to that station yet. I am blown away by the depth and range of the man’s work. And let’s not forget his band. Jesus! What a fucking load of talent that gathered around Tom. In the song ‘Rebels’…. one which I never heard until after his passing.

The lyrics to ‘Rebels’ begin like this. What’s not to love?

“Honey don’t walk out,
I’m too drunk to follow.
You know you won’t
feel this way tomorrow.
Well, maybe a little rough around the edges
Or inside a little hollow.
I get face with some things sometimes
That are so hard to swallow.”

“Ring of Fire” / Johnny Cash

In the mesmerizing Netflix series “Sharp Objects” music lovers get some of the best integrated into any series I’ve ever sunk into a chair to watch on television. At one point the lead character “Camille” played pitch perfectly by the luminescent Amy Adams is asked what her favorite karaoke song to sing would be. If you follow the show you know it would unlikely that the scarred soul Ms. Adams inhabits would not step up on a stage to let it all hang out.

“Please Send Me Someone to Love” / Paul Butterfield’s Better Days

Paul Butterfield was The Man as far as I was concerned back then when I first fell in love with the instrument he was a master of. When it came to the most impassioned harmonica playing to be experienced Paul’s sound was superb. When he teamed up with the gifted vocalist Geoff Muldaur they created a shimmering, ascending re-make of the 1950 hit lament written and recorded by Percy Mayfield, “Please Send Me Someone To Love”. When you open up the cover of Butterfield’s album and hold the whole thing in front you with both arms wide you see a magnificent 1923 Hohner ‘Trumpet Call’ Harmonica adorned with solid brass cover plates which feature intricate designs of cherubs and trumpets. There was a bonus poster of that same cover within and it hung over my bed for a long time. I would hang it again if I could find it.

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