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Category: Memphis

Wednesday, April 12th

timeless

Old recordings, where everyone involved is long dead, don’t just appeal to the ears—they’re springboards for the imagination. Here’s one made in Memphis nearly 90 years ago.

Close your eyes.

Open your imagination.

They’re just about ready to record.

What’s the room look like?

What’s the last thing said before they start?

Tommy Johnson (1896-1956), “Cool Drink of Water Blues” (1928)


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lagniappe

art beat

Robert Frank (1924-), Funeral—St. Helena, South Carolina, 1955/56

Sunday, April 9th

another take

Rev. Al Green, “The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow” (T.A. Dorsey), live, Memphis (Full Gospel Tabernacle Church), 1983

 

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lagniappe

art beat

Robert Frank (1924-), Santa Fe, 1955

 

Thursday, January 19th

timeless

Sleepy John Estes (1899-1977), “Diving Duck Blues” (with James “Yank” Rachell, mandolin; Jab Jones, piano), recorded September 24, 1929 (Memphis)


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lagniappe

art beat: other day, Whitney Museum of American Art (Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905-2016, through February 5th)

Edwin S. Porter, Coney Island at Night (1905)

 

Monday, May 30th

Vancouver folkie + iconic Memphis rhythm section.

This should never have worked.

But it does, wonderfully.

Frazey Ford, “September Fields” (Indian Ocean), 2014


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lagniappe

reading table

The climate is pretty.
I wrote everything on it.
That’s the activity where it
gets relatively inauspicious.

***

And you were sitting there
in the night of life. It sure was good.
My favorite desserts were there.
And when they invite you, it’s like an important document
goes missing. I’ll give you an example:
a twelve-year struggle upstate, in
the slick atmosphere of the breakfast room.
It might have gotten stuck in her farthingale.

Otherwise no reply.

—John Ashbery (1927-), “As Someone Who Likes Travel,” fragments (New Yorker, 5/30/16)

To read Ashbery is to read English as a foreign language—which I mean as a compliment.

Sunday, June 22nd

sounds of Memphis

The Gospel Four, “One More Blessing,” live

Wednesday, May 7th

basement jukebox

Howlin’ Wolf, “Moanin’ at Midnight,” 1951*


Who needs chord changes?

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lagniappe

musical thoughts

Wolf’s harmonica playing was always the right amount. He would never do anything on the harmonica that would detract from you waiting to get back to Wolf’s voice. . . . There is a certain lonesomeness about the harmonica that just fit the Wolf’s character in voice, in song, in lyric; and he just played that just enough to titillate things he was going to do next with his voice. 

Sam Phillips

***

*HW (AKA Chester Burnett [1910-1976], vocals, harmonica), Willie Johnson (guitar), Willie Steel, drums.

 

Sunday, March 23rd

back to church

Bishop G. E. Patterson (1939-2007) Live, Temple of Deliverance (COGIC), Memphis


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lagniappe

reading table

The Soul should always stand ajar

—Emily Dickinson (1830-1886; Franklin #1017, fragment)

Sunday, September 29th

back to church

Rev. Al Green, “The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow,” live, Memphis (Full Gospel Tabernacle Church), 1984


*****

A big birthday shout-out to my son Alex: where would I be without my guys?

Tuesday, 11/6/12

A reader writes:

Have you seen these films?

Furry Lewis, guitar
William Eggleston, Stranded in Canton (1973-74)

***

More?

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lagniappe

reading table

“Election Day”
By William Carlos Williams (1940)

Warm sun, quiet air
an old man sits

in the doorway of
a broken house—

boards for windows
plaster falling

from between the stones
and strokes the head

of a spotted dog

Sunday, 5/6/12

back to church

The Canton Spirituals
Live, Memphis, 1993

“Heavenly Choir”

***

“Fix It Jesus”

***

Gospel groups are hard to beat when it comes to longevity. This one got started, in Canton, Mississippi, in 1943. One of the founding members, Harvey Watkins, Sr., is featured here. He passed away in 1994; his son, lead singer Harvey Watkins, Jr., carries on today.

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lagniappe

reading table

my child’s rice cakes
my child’s rice cakes . . .
all in a row

—Kobayashi Issa, 1813 (translated from Japanese by David G. Lanoue)

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