Thursday, August 26, 2010
How you like them (Green) Onions?
Booker T and MG's were always good news, even back in 1961, when I got a promotion in the Air Force. I was elated, feeling somehow American, certainly American oriented because of all the Amerians I met in the Service, mostly black, jazz fans, and Green Onions on the juke box was elating me all the more. Who could ignore the head-nodding sound, organ, guitar and bass of that "Stax" band whom everybody (maybe even the Beatles started copying).It was the sound of success, their success and somehow, therefore mine-- an introduction of an unusual harmony, a new syncopation, of people loving--each other, years and years before Woodstock. The music was certainly from Louisiana, from the Missisippi Delta where all those great blues come from. It was a twelve bar sound, but raunchy, ..Dwayne Eddy with an organ and a jazz education.
Well, I am elated once again. My latest novel, The Fire in Bradford-- actually a redo from an earlier one-- is just now out. Feel good. Green Onions still somehow on the brain, Watching Booker T. Jones backed now by the Drive-by Truckers, on PBS-- doing it again, much like the now famous Norway tour in the Seventies where Oslo kids were wowed by the best concert by Stax--or anybody- ever. And the great Otis Redding before he passed away.
And how is it that fifty years later, Stax Records and Green Onions somehow seems to continue to spice my life. Maybe because I used to be a musician, with a love of the blues.
Or mayby I somehow identify with Booker T. Jones, who has somehow kept Stax together through bankruptsy, hostile takovers and record company war.
For the last thirty years, I have been very nearly bankrupt, living out of dumpsters and putting on a pretty good performance as a homeless prof, today the butt of jokes, but it didn's seem funny at the time to have been Oscar in the garbage can, wanting to argue. Damn, as in the old joke, sometimes it's your turn in the barrel!
So it was a delight to see on PBS, Booker T. Jones with some new personnel from Drive By Truckers backing, certainly Shonna Tucker, who so enthusiascically seems to copy the movements of Booker's former male bassist, Bill (Donald Duck) Dunn as he showed himself so enraptured by the band, making duck-like movements to the sound of the band he loved, and all the Norwegians knew it. All Stax band member had a love for each other, certainly Otis Redding and the other singer on the Norway tour, the final leg of the European exposure.
So now, for me, it's Green Onions on the brain.
And how is it that Stax seems the soundtrack of my life?
Like still being alive after forty years of difficulty?
Well, the Toronto Maple Leafs are like that.
Einstein says that if you do the same thing over and over again with the same results, you are probably mad.
Not so with Stax records, though for Booker, it has been a hell of an uphill fight.
Booker T. of the legendary Stax group Booker T. & the MG's is still making music. His new solo album, Potato Hole, features the Drive-By Truckers as his backing band, with Neil Young contributing guitar to nine of its 10 tracks, and includes a cover of "Hey Ya" (!). The record comes out on Anti- April 21
As for the Toronto Maple Leafs, I fear they are damned.