With B. B. gone from the stage we’ve lost a big part of our collective human soul. A man whose life exemplified simplicity, hard work, passion and resilience. Day in day out doing the thing you’re on the earth to do.
In the past weeks tens of thousands of words have been penned in his honour and remembrance. Here is a link to documentary about his life that you may not be aware of as it is fairly recent .
This particular album is a sweet one in which he hooks up with some pop stars of the day (Leon Russell, Carole King) to produce a slick but still soulful stew of Kingly blues. Named after the small delta town where he picked cotton and worked as an agricultural hand before finally making it as working bluesman the record is full of wonderful piano (with his co stars you couldn’t expect less), some nice horn charts but most of all BB singing and playing in his unique style. The atmosphere in the studio is one of respect and camaraderie.
BB’s speaking voice (and sometimes his singing one too) has often been a window to his sensitive side; his human vulnerability. Though he never spoke out strongly against the racism he and his fellow African American citizens faced so unrelentingly for so long, B.B’s life was not an easy thing. When you listen to him speak his voice has a fragility. I detect a certain reticence and discomfort there. Perhaps it is its higher than average pitch. Perhaps I’m imagining things. I don’t know. But in his vocal chords I do hear a certain choking cadence. The shyness of the sharecropper. But whatever it is described as, it is belied by his cutting, snapping and plucking way with the guitar strings. As if what was missing from his voice was channeled through his fingers.
Love ya B.B.!
01 Nobody Loves Me But My Mother
02 You’re Still My Woman
03 Ask Me No Questions
04 Until I’m Dead and Cold
05 King’s Special
06 Ain’t Gonna Worry My Life Anymore
07 Chains and Things
08 Go Underground