I can’t say I really like how fast the time goes by, but anyway, it does. I had to look back in my email to find that it’s been over a year since that nice message you sent me about my ACL appearance (which you saw something like three years after it happened — I know you’ve been busy). Austin City Limits was a nice thing for me. I was just big enough to get invited… doubt that’ll ever happen again, but they made me feel like I belonged there, and I was grateful for it.
You floated by in my stream of consciousness now because — well, who knows the deep reasons why, but for the moment, because you found my show on Youtube. In certain moods I, too, stay up at night and surf live music on Youtube. So I thought I’d offer you my confession (though I know you’re not officially Catholic) in the form of a few video clips. These are ones I keep coming back to. They tap into a certain kind of blues I feel now and again.
First there’s this. Do yourself a favor, old Robinson: find a quiet hour with some headphones on and watch this all the way through. Al Jarreau has earned one hundred percent of the delight that everyone in this amazing band feels about being part of this concert. Marcus Miller is such a sweetheart, the way he extols musical listening, which I’ve always loved more than anything else, but at which I’ve never been more than a neophyte:
You and I would have been better off if we’d just parted company when you dropped me off in New York City, all those years ago. But we hung on: I was lonely in New York, and you were lonely in Indiana, we traded our angst in the car for angst over long distance. I regret that a little. Emotional courage isn’t the commonest thing. I don’t have very many regrets. I think my biggest one is naming that album Lindy Mac. It was my stupid boneheaded fucktard idea! And I didn’t know what it would mean, I just really didn’t know what it would mean. But enough blubbering: I mean, the record had a top ten song on it. I’ve been lucky. I think I may possibly have sung like this, maybe, two or three times in my life. Had I done so more often, I could easily have ended up as she did:
You see, you go on, and you go on, and if people have heard you on the radio, why, they’re so glad to see you, you try to make something a little bit real out of the same old stuff, you can’t remember how you got here, and you can’t imagine what will come next. And this happens repeatedly: It’s not the easiest thing to keep together, but when poor little me is feeling world-weary, I tune in this guy, who went to more crossroads than he could possibly count. By this time, he had no requirement to be virtuosic, or hit the highest notes or not make false starts, not even to silently tell the audience to shut the fuck up, just now, I’m not done yet. And I love the way he drops it in Scofield’s lap, and Scofield is like, “Holy shit!” but handles it manfully:
That one almost always leads me to this one — the two are inevitably tied together in my queue. Here are two old friends who are so delighted to be on this stage together in the middle of who-knows-where, playing an old standard in a new way that brings out huge smiles from each. My foolish heart:
Here’s a singer in whose footsteps I’ve sort of followed, without managing to anywhere-near fill them. Not many people get to have it all, y’know, but I don’t begrudge Susan Tedeschi the all she seems to have gotten: she fell in love with one of the world’s best guitar players, had two kids and founded an eleven-piece band with him, and they won a grammy! I have to say, I like the way she fronts her big gang of well-armed music men like it’s no problem, like she knows which one she’s going home with, but can’t quite tell which one has the biggest crush on her:
I’ll end with this one. I love Van Morrison, that chubby leprechaun who simmers and bubbles with soul. I’ve never sung any of his songs, because, what is there to add, you know? I don’t think I feel that way about any other singer. Now, I don’t want you to think I think this is Van at his best. He’s gotten older, as you and I have, and he’s mellowed. (He’s been through so many styles & modes, but if you want to hear my favorite Van, look up Van Morrison Candy Dulfer Rockpalast to see a mother fucking band leader leading a mother fucking band — and note the special moment at 1:31:23.) But for now: I have a feeling that if you’re still a reverend, this song will make you cry like a little girl, just like it did me.
Still married… a kid in college… a grateful flock…? Looks like you got a little bit of it all, too. Enjoy it. There’s a world, y’know. There’s a ways to go.