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.

And me?

Andalay, Andalay.

Arriba, Arriba!

33 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Onward, upward. With speed.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Speed is of he essence! :)

Donnetta Lee said...

I've been doing the same thing over and over again for a long, long time now. No wonder I am mad! Nuttier than a March Hare. But I kinda like being a bit crazy. Perhaps repetitive. But never dull. D

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Donnetta,

Never a dull moment indeed.

I had a friend. She said, "I just want to be home. I want to be crazy, but there's so much to do." :)

eric1313 said...

Love Booker T. Great mention, my friend.

I might be doing the same thing over again, and I have been warned what that is a sign of... and to confirm such a diagnosis, I simply do not care to believe in the respected Mr. Einstein's theory, at least not in all cases. If a man has a job he works for 30 years and gets a paycheck every week, 3 or 4 weeks paid vacation every year and retires to a pension that goes bankrupt a year later and falls back onto social security that is on the level of a practical joke, is he somehow any less insane than one who beats their head on the proverbial brickwall?

Life is indeed a journey, to personally confirm a cliche. And each step must be taken, even if that specific path has been tread many times over... The steps you took still got you where you are.

And if you don't mind, let me know the good dumpsters so i can try to avoid the real sh*tholes, if you please. :)

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Eric,

Yes, we also serve who f*ck- up.
In the words of the Moody Blues,
"Wherever you're goin' to
You'll be in the end."

As for Dumpsters, I don't know what your biggest grocery chain is. Here, it's Montreal outfit called Metro.
In Florida, I used the check out the back of the Winn-Dixie.

Dumpsters are no longer open. They are self-contained compacters. You need to find a "relief hole" or a slot where the compactingt has spit out some not yet stale dated chicken or pastry.
Heh. All things come to those who wait. Sproing! a five pound roast discarded long before its best-before date...I mean come on. A steak isn't any good until it's half-green. Tender.
Fok. What a way to go.
I think I've taken on the look of a loser.But I try to shave, shower and dress well. But what the hell. I don't panhandle, and those hobo f*ckers are all around me, especially when I come back from the dumpster. They think I'm rich.

Paying dues. Paying dues. Even now.
Well, I've been rich, really rich once or twice by default. This time, I'm trying to make it my way.

Frank Sinatra notwithstanding, does anybydy really ever do it his/her way?
Hope all well with you. The Quarks are showing a motherly concern.

Take care

eric1313 said...

No joke. A bad situation, for certain, but no joke was intended... I'll be writing for a long time, so it strikes me as a possibility that I will be another one in a long line of people who suffer for art, as well as the poor saving/spending habits that I have accrued over time.

Let the Quarks know that I am OK! (thank you, Quarks!) This last disappearance was me getting back together with my high school love. More than a few poems about her on my blog, some of my best were about my feelings for her. No desire for me to jinx it, but I'll just say we picked up on the good part of leaving off and are suddenly as close or closer than ever.

Anonymous said...

ahhh...green onions...kinda reminds me of those days,and especially that marathon night, when we did our demo-tape for Quality records in the local tv/radio studio...we never heard the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks,somehow telling us that perhaps we might not have quite made it to shore safe and sound with our music...congrats on your "release"...perhaps this time it will be the soothing and gentle warmth of an ocean breeze,over tropical sands, bringing good fortune to you,compadre...riders on the storm...

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Tony,

Yes we made the demo tape and that was the last we heard...But we made so much money on gigs...When you think of it in today's money,and our amount of exposure all over Ontario, hell, we were stars.
Older people, usually from the Air Force, still remember as they meet me on the street.

Anonymous said...

hey...I don't remember exposing myself...

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Tony,

Remember the other guitar player, who, seeing me looking too serious in front of the TV camera--goosed me from behind?...He was expecting a smile?
We eventually fired him, but not for his direcing skills.

Anonymous said...

Ivan...here's a late up-date...he got both of us...just as the camera/light came on...damned near broke out in hysterical laughter...totally and insanely hilarious...betcha Lightfoot was even chuckling...thanx for reminding me...had misplaced that moment in "frozen time"...

Middle Ditch said...

Well done Ivan with your novel and keep the green onions going too. You never know what is going to happen. I too do things over and over again and therefore must be slightly mad but having seen the animated version of MD made me elated too!

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Tony,

Peter Mansbridge has a pretty good interview with Gordon Lightfoot on CBC TV, but as the CBC will do, it'll run the same inerview over and over again until you've seen it so often, it almost becomes spam.
Yes, it was exciting to be on the same program as Mr. Lightfoot, while he was still a very young man.
It was even more exciting when I saw him play again at old Steele's Tavern on Young Street. I said hi and he showed me some chords!
Geez. Getting your chops from the Master!

JR's Thumbprints said...

Hey Ivan, I live Ground Hogs Day 365.24219 days a year. As for music, whenever Neil Young contributes it's got to be good. Gotta break that cycle too: ebook, ebook, ebook. Less overhead, more money in your pocket.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Monique,

I have had just a brief glimpse of the animated version of you "Middle Ditch" episode. The new art is great, and also the dialogue, but my damn media player seems busted. There are snaps, and too- long pauses, the pauses getting in the way of the story.

I shall try again.
Zeus and IO?
The infection! The infection! :)

eric1313 said...

Ebook! Jim is totally right. Wave of the future... I would prefer to have a classic print on paper, and I know you probably would as well, but this is one of those cases where I would bet that tradition is the Cygnus X-1 that will not allow us to to escape it's grasp, especially the light that shine from your work... inescapable black hole and beyond it the artist's grave...

Yep woke up cheerful on a sunday morning! Off to Detroit later (speaking of inescapable singularities...), got family visits then a special stop tonight.

eric1313 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eric1313 said...

as for the media player let the episode load all the way for about 20 minutes, then start it playing... sometimes that helps (I have returned from the south to find that my once OK computer is now an IBMasaurus, from the Greek meaning "glorified junk")

TomCat said...

Einstein says that if you do the same thing over and over again with the same results, you are probably mad.

Although that may be the best reason to keep Republicans permanently out of power, it certainly does not apply to music.

You date yourself. The music that tracks my life is just a few years newer,

ivan said...

TomCat,

Oh the anals of Republicanism.

It will take Glen Beck at least a year to realize he has made an ass of himself with that huge recent demonstration at Washington DC the must surely be a demonstration of White Power.
...Or maybe he'll never get it.

As for dating mysel, yes, I guess I'm something of a dinosaur.

--Did you read National Lampoon in the Sixties?

They had this exotic cartoon animal from the Jurassic age. It was sort of reptilian, but had pink spots and carried a purse. It had a cry. "You're showing your age, you bitch. :)

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

JR,

Less overehead indeed!

Like you, I've been underground so long with trying to sell my printed books that I am starting to feel like Punxutawney Phil.

...Will try ebooks, thought I've got a lot of personalized "Ivan" books right up on the header in my site.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Eric,

I'll have to try that with the media player. Middle Ditch is too good to miss half of it.

Yes, that big Google in the sky snaps up everything. I am positive it is hurting the traditional print authors.

...Maybe we came just in time.
...Ignore me, will ya, Houghton-Miflin? :)

the walking man said...

I know who Booker T is but who is that Neal Young guy?

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

:)

benjibopper said...

Add me to the list of crazies here. Gotta love Booker T, and the Drive-by Truckers, and now together. But the Leafs, not so much. I fear they may actually outperform my Habs this season.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Ah the durable Montreal Canadiens.

24 Stanley Cups.

...But those durn Yanks from Philadelphia!

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

PS to Benji:


Strange accident of nomenclature.

The musical group is Drive-by Truckers.

And your novel, to be launched next month, is Drive-by Saviours

Erik Donald France said...

Hey, man, fantastic~~~ I love that sound, those tracks. My sister and bro-in-love gave me a Drive-by Truckers CD recently. Here's to Stax, the blues, jazz, your success, good feelings, staying alive, keepin on keepin on . . . with Bessie Smith in the background and Stax in line for a new spin~~~

benjibopper said...

Indeed. And strangely, I never heard of the DB Truckers until after I named my novel.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Benji,


So many Drive-by references, going back as far as three hundred years. Men on horseback would go to "off" somebody they hated, shoot off their wheellock pistols, sometimes hit innocent bystanders, as long as they get their man.

Then up to present times the gangbangers after their prey
Usually in a moving car, or a temporaritly stopped car.

And then onto the musical scene.

From Wiki:

Drive by Shooting is a hardcore punk solo E.P. by Henry Rollins, credited to "Henrietta Collins & The Wife-Beating Child-Haters", which served as a pre-cursor to the Rollins Band. This recording features a Wire cover, a re-vision of a Queen song and a parody of a Beach Boys style song. It is exclusively available now in a double CD package with Hot Animal .

And, of course, the Drive-by Truckers.

And now onto literature and and Drive-by Saviours.

Your book. And congratulations on its publishing success.

ivan said...

Erik Donald France,

Drive-by Truckers have a love for Booker T. Jones and he for them.

And what funky player doesn't love Bessie Smith... that pause before hitting the actual note.Booker T. knows it, Even Oklahoma's J.J. Cale knows it...and copies it.

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