Something a little different today peoples…..
A year ago (July 30th) a good friend of mine passed away. I probably should have posted this then, but I figured I would still remember everything I wanted to say a year later.
I do, and here goes:
I worked with B at Streetside Records (Columbia, Missouri) for bit in the mid 90’s. We became pretty good friends and often ran about getting in trouble or just listening to music, ALL kinds of music. I only really hung out with B for a short time, relatively speaking, but we had a pretty intense friendship. For that bit of time it seemed like we spent most of our days together. I would pick him up in the morning, we’d go to work, eat lunch at the Broadway diner, and then hang out at night. B obviously knew more than most about the blues, but he really knew and dug a ton of different music. He turned me on to so much great music, and the cool thing was he always wanted to know what I was listening to, and why I liked it.
Here’s 5 albums I probably wouldn’t own if I didn’t hang out with B:
Not much I can say here except if you don’t own this record, fix that. When people from another country ask what America is good at, play them this…..
I knew I liked Al Green, but didn’t know how much I liked Willie Mitchell, Ann Peebles, etc. I thought Stax was all I needed to know, silly me.
From the stable of mid-90’s Fat Possum real-dealers, this album is cruddy and majestic. Also the best version of “Goodnight Irene” I know. B once told me about Cage clearing a room in about 2 minutes at a blues festival….too raw, too real.
Possibly perfect album? Pretty close. The night Curtis died, B and I wept like babies…
“Boogie on Reggae Woman” was B’s favorite Stevie Wonder song, and one of the few that would elicit spontaneous dancing.
B had that most envious of gifts: naturalness. I remember at night we would go to a show or a bar, and everywhere we went, B knew everybody. And everybody knew him. Dudes would rush up to shake his hand, and talk about music. And the ladies were always wrapping their arms around that guy. So I would just sit back and think “damn, who is this guy that everybody loves so much“, and “why the hell does he spend so much time with me?” But that was it! B made everyone feel special, you felt like you knew a star. Not a “star” in the sense of someone famous for nothing, but someone who had such a natural presence he made everyone feel great about themselves for simply knowing and having a connection with someone so real, so natural….. There was not one iota of pretension in B’s body and he had one of the best bullshit detectors I’ve ever seen.
Here’s my one of my favorite B stories:
We were going out one night, and we were gonna get a drink at the that little bar that used to be in the parking lot across the street from Ernie’s. I said: “B, I can’t go in there” (it was known as pretty much an African-American bar), and he said “yes you can, you’re with me.” So once my cultural okay-ness was accepted, I was in. We had some drinks, and towards the end of the night some very tipsy older ladies came in. They must have been at a bachelorette party or something because they were ready to tear it up! Long story short, I wound up slow dancing to Luther Vandross with a rather large and beautiful woman who was probably the same age as my mother? When I close my eyes and see B in my head, I see him that night, sitting on a barstool (he was far too cagey to get roped onto that dance floor), smiling at me, and laughing his ass off…….
Life is so crazy, it all seems so limitless, but it’s really just moments. I’m glad to have had them will B.