Back in the day someone would buy a new album, a dime bag and adult beverages. There would be food and friends all converging to relax and listen, our version of music appreciation. Most often the sounds were instrumental—jazz, and R&B from popular singing groups that also wrote and played their own music, like War. I remember once the celebration centered on the soundtrack from a movie scored by Quincy Jones. Some of the pieces were short bursts of musical energy that probably represented some lively thing happening on the screen. Other pieces were longer. Quincy took no shortcuts. Each piece, whether brief or extensive, was a fully realized composition. I don’t remember the name of the movie. I do remember the fun we had that night, partaking and listening to Quincy’s creativity.
If you are still a partaker of adult stimulants, or if your mind is sufficiently stimulated without help, sit back and enjoy this version of music appreciation.
This morning on Pandora, the first song played was Aretha singing Today I Sing The Blues, recorded in 1960. Aretha was 18. Today I Sing The Blues is an old standard, but I’d never heard Aretha’s rendition. A lot of her songs have a Blues foundation, like Dr. Feelgood and many others. But this is clearly the Blues, straight, no chaser.
As one thing often leads to another, my mind took a turn from Aretha and met up with Pharaoh Sanders. Here’s The Creator Has a Master Plan, recorded live in Leverkusen, Germany, October 19, 1999. Prayer, revolution, lust, sensuality, a spiritual convocation. The piano sounds like a waterfall, the bass is both thunder and rain, the drums punch heart beats, and Pharaoh is the echo between two mountains, wa guitar, and percussion. Pretty music.
“This is what he said,” is Jennifer Hudson’s introduction to her live interpretation of Al Green’s Simply Beautiful at Kennedy Center Honors. Just listen…
For Eddie and the Cruisers fans. This is one of my favorite love songs ever. Sung here by the real “Cruisers,” writer and singer of all the movie’s original songs, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band. Tender Years.
Next is a cut from the video and film, Take Me To The River, featuring Bobby Blue Bland and Yo Gotti, on Ain’t No Sunshine, a little old and new fusion, “built for bad weather.”
I mentioned War in the introduction. This next cut, City Country City, is from their album The World is a Ghetto. I remember precisely the time and place of this musical appreciation session. I was living in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Gold was good, and War produced a multi-layered sound, all instruments speaking beautiful music together. When you concentrate, you hear the conversation, the push, the pull back: rhythm guitar, bass, organ, horn, trap drums, congas and other percussive instruments. Never get tired of this one.
It's funny how language transcends, is borrowed and shared. For instance, when I was in Ireland in 2010, I noticed people saying “ta,” to mean thank you. It reminded me of my mother saying “ta ta,” to the little ones when she was teaching “thank you.”
We began this post with the Blues and will end with Johnny Guitar Watson singing I Want To Ta Ta You Baby.
Happy listening! Hope this post inspires you to create something wonderful today.
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