Pete Townshend, Willie Mitchell, Robert Parker : Barefootin’

My Uncle Joe was, in the hierarchy of his own mind, first a Kerryman, next a Gaelic Football fanatic, then an Irishman and finally a Farmer.

He was at once; very strong and gentle, full of strong opinions and quietly spoken.

He was not much given to offering advice – least of all to his bookish, non stop talking, citified nephew over from London for the Summer Holidays.

So, on the very rare ocassions when he did offer advice I listened closely.

As we were companionably going to The Creamery one August morning, our conversation proceeding at the steady pace of the donkey pulling the cart we rode, I told Joe I wanted a new pair of shoes, nay Beatle Boots!, for my 9th Birthday.

Joe was not a devotee of the four lads from Liverpool but it turned out to my surprise that he was very interested in the subject of Boots and the necessity, nay the duty, to purchase the very best Boots you could afford (and maybe those that were more expensive than you could truly afford) as a ‘Proper pair of Boots was an investment, an Investment, that would repay you many times over as the years passed by’.

He went further, ‘If you’re not going to wear a proper pair of Boots you might as well go barefoot. Barefoot!’

Accepting his argument a fine strong pair of countryman’s Boots we’re wrapped up before the week was out and once opened I barely took them off for the next year.

Joe died tragically young when he was not yet fifty.

I think of him every time I buy a new pair of Boots ; mentally composing a letter :

’Joe, I spent the money I got for my college scholarship on a pair of Tricker’s Boots – a pure investment!’

’Joe, you’ll never believe it! I found a pair of Redwing Boots  (the ones from Minnesota) in a  charity shop for £15!’

‘Joe, there’s twenty guys in this office and I’m the only one who had invested in a decent pair of Boots – sure they might as well be barefoot!’

‘Joe, if I get that pay rise I’m going to invest in a pair of New and Lingwood Chukka Boots (actually I’ve bought them already – bound to get that rise!)

Of course, in the right circumstances, being barefoot is just the thing.

If you ask people to supply an image of being carefree I’ll guarantee you a healthy percentage will paint a picture of walking barefoot along a sun kissed sandy beach.

Sure works for me.

I’m also reminded of a lovely (though possibly apocryphal) about two Irish athletes lining up at the start of the 1960 Rome Olympics Marathon.

Looking around at the assembled greats of the long distance running world they were startled to see a rail thin African runner who seemingly had neglected to bring his running shoes with him.

They agreed that whoever else they had to worry about they would surely have no trouble in outpacing this competitor!

As it turned out the mystery runner was none other than Abebe Bikele from Ethiopia who would run barefoot every step of the 26 miles through the glorious rubble of Rome before cruising to the Gold Medal!

Sometimes barefoot is just the thing.

Come on … Everybody get on your feet … you make me nervous when you in your seat … take off your shoes!

Barefootin’ … Barefootin’ …. Barefootin’

Doin’ a dance that cant be beat!

Barefootin’!

No word of a lie – can’t be beat, can’t be beat!

Robert Parker from 1966 with yet another classic from New Orleans which became a huge R&B and Pop Chart Hit.

Brilliantly arranged by the great Wardell Quezergue, ‘Barefootin” showcases the superb rhythmic sense of Crescent City musicians.

Robert’s vocal is graced by ambrosial guitar and a horn section that demands you dance and keep dancing as long as your feet hold out!

Take off your shoes and Dance Now!

Take off your Shoes!

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Robert Parker was already a veteran of the New Orleans music scene in 1966 when his name briefly hit the headlines.

Growing up with Huey Smith and Sugar Boy Crawford he haunted the Caldonia Inn to watch the legendary Professor Longhair strut his stuff,

By 1949 Robert was playing with The Shuffling Hungarians (got to get that T Shirt!) and recording Mardi Gras in New Orleans with the great man.

He moved on to lead his own band at The Tijuana where he backed up Bobby Marchan, Guitar Slim and Little Richard.

Taking his band, The Royals, on the road he laid down the groove for R&B stars like Roy Brown, Big Joe Turner and Solomon Burke – what I wouldn’t give to time travel back to those days to catch them burning the house down in a club in Florida or Texas!

Robert’s recording highlights before ‘Barefootin;’ include appearing in 1959 on the wonderful, ‘Don’t You Know Yockomo’ with Huey Smith  and on Irma Thomas’ characteristically smouldering, ‘Don’t Mess with My Man’.

The same year he also made his solo record debut with, ‘All Night Long’.

All this time Robert was primarily a Sax Man and Bandleader who could handle a vocal when required.

Though Robert was well known around New Orleans and on the southern touring circuit I doubt anyone was expecting him to write and record an R&B classic that would sell a million copies and have a continuing afterlife in cover versions both in America and the UK.

Strange things happening everyday!

One day Robert fetched up at Tuskegee University in Alabama and he noted that as he began to play the college girls all took off their shoes in front of the bandstand.

This incident was filed away and when about to start a show in Miami he heard the Comic/MC announce – everybody get on your feet; you make me nervous when you’re in your seat’ the creative tumblers turned and clicked and Voila! a song was born.

Now when Robert took the song to Wardell at NOLA Records it was swiftly recorded … but.. but .. the other powers at NOLA didn’t hear a Hit so it languished in the tape vaults for a year until sharp earned local DJ Hank Sample heard it and persuaded NOLA to issue some copies to his Record Store.

They promptly sold like hot cakes and Robert had a great big fat Hit on his hands!

The crowd at New York’s Apollo Theatre went wild when Robert kicked off his shoes and kickstarted the band into, Barefootin’’.

Robert never had another Smash but he remained a much loved figure in The Crescent City and he was properly inducted into the Lousiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

Regular readers will know that I would take some persuading that any other city can truly rival New Orleans for the accolade of being dubbed the premier Music City.

However, one of the few cities that might be considered a genuine rival is Nashville.

And, from there comes the next version of, ‘Barefootin’’ featured today courtesy of some of the finest players ever to record there – Barefoot Jerry.

Key members Wayne Moss and Charlie McCoy had been part of an A Team that gathered around Bob Dylan when he brought his kaleidoscopic imagination to Nashville in yet another of his artistic rebirths.

Take off your Shoes!

We got ourselves a Hootenany and a Hoedown!

 

 

Next we move downriver to Memphis which cedes to no City in musical eminence.

So many great singers, songwriters, musicians and producers!

And, right at the very top of that tree undoubtedly one Willie Mitchell who is one of the all time great exponents of finding the secret alchemy for making classic records.

Find a great band of musicians and find the songs and the arrangements and groove!

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It worked countless times with Al Green and Ann Peebles in particular.

Less well known are the addictive sides Willie made under his own name.

Once the band locks into the groove here even Zombies would be getting Barefoot with some despatch!

Take off your shoes and throw them away!

 

I was born far, far away from the fabled Music CIties above yet it turns out that London, the home of some of the most knowledgeable and fanatical music devotes on the entire globe, was just the place to imbibe the sounds of all those great American conurbations.

Whatever kind of music you groove to someone in London knows all about it in exhaustive detail.

Growing up in London, one Pete Townhend fed the creative muse that would make him one of the most gifted and celebrated songwriters of his age through deep immersion in the traditions of R&B, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Soul Music.

And, that love of the drive of those 40s and 50s sounds fed into the astounding attack of his records and live shows.

Wonderful to see him celebrating his musical heritage in the  joyous performance below.

Surely Pete has been Barefootin’ ever since he was Two!

Anyone sitting in their seat as this one plays must have a serious back problem!

Doesn’t he cut a mean rug!

I like to Mambo.

I like to Samba.

Never go too long without Twisting the Night Away.

Always ready for The Locomotion.

I’m partial to a Polka and never weary of The Waltz.

But, today ain’t no other Dance will do.

Everybody get on your feet!

Let’s do a Dance that can’t be beat!

Come on!

We Barefootin ‘

Barefootin’

Barefootin’!

 

Note :

This Post written wearing Redwing Boots.

Playback dancing strictly Barefoot!

Tom Waits : Kentucky Avenue

St Paul tells us when we are grown to adulthood that it’s time to put away childish things.

As a guide to moral conduct that may well be sage advice.

There are choices to be weighed in the balance.

There are responsibilties to be shouldered.

There are strengths and weaknesss to be acknowledged.

There are trials, torments and traumas to be survived.

Yes, you need to look at the spinning world with a cool appraising adult eye if you are to navigate it safely.

And yet … we all carry the child we once were within our skins and deep in our psyche.

There is a knowing, an untutored first poetic knowing, known and retained by that child, we would all do well to tap into throughout all our adult days.

You should never be so old not to want to fly away on a magpie’s wings and hop that freight train in the hall all the way down to New Orleans in the fall.

All the way to New Orleans in the fall.

 

 

Tom Waits tells crazy stories blazing with drunken truths.

Tom Waits tells crazy stories blazing with sober, artful lies.

Tom Waits tells crazy stories that make perfect sense to the labouring adult crying out for rest and the blithe bubble blowing child within you.

Tom Waits tells the best damn stories you ever heard and Kentucky Avenue is one of his very best.

The song is brilliantly composed and sung in the continuous present we live in during our childhood days.

The characters who populate the story are ordinary figures and at the same time shadow thrown giants looming on the young mind’s eye.

Eddie Grace’s old Buick is rusting on his drive and Eddie don’t drive no more but Wow! you know those holes in the side … they’re bullet holes! (From the time when Eddie ran with the mob – how do ya think he got that limp?).

Mrs Storm looks at at the world from behind fly blown curtains and she don’t talk to no one not even the mail man since that son of hers went missing in the war.

He used to keep that lawn of hers so perfect it was greener and truer than Augusta.

Sshhh …  don’t put a toe on that lawn – she will stab you with a steak knife if you do!

When you are a child you haven’t exhausted your capacity for pleasure and your sense of wonder is acute.

Man, half a  pack of Lucky Strikes and a packet of macadamia nuts is more treasure than Long John Silver ever dreamed of.

When you’re a child you don’t have to be told you’ll live forever you just know – let’s go ever to Bobby Goodmanson’s and jump off the roof!

And .. oh oh .. the secrets. The secrets.

Hilda plays strip poker when her mama’s across the street and (he told me and he don’t ever lie) Joey Navinsky says she put her tongue in his mouth.

And … oh oh … when you got just one friend, a blood brother … you own the world. The world them others don’t even see … seems like they walking around stone blind.

Let me tie you up with kite string, I’ll show you the scabs on my knee!

Fabled adventures are born every new Dawn – watch  out for the broken glass, put your shoes and socks on,and come along with me

Let’s follow that fire truck, I think your house is burning down!

Let’s  go down to the hobo jungle and kill some rattlesnakes with a trowel (It ain’t dangerous at all ..).

And, oh oh … when you’re having adventures you don’t calculate repercussions – don’t you just love the sound of breaking glass?

We’ll break all the windows in the old Anderson place!

We’ll steal a bunch of boysenberrys and smear ’em on your face .. how great we’ll look!

And, ah ah .. when you give and get presents as a child they are like no presents you’ll ever get again:

‘I’ll get a dollar from my mama’s purse, buy that skull and crossbones ring
and you can wear it round your neck on an old piece of string.’

The things we did and the things we nearly, nearly did!

Remember that time we spit on Ronnie Arnold and flipped him the bird or the day we would have slashed the tires on the school bus if the janitor hadn’t woken up!

That’s the kind of thing you do when you’re Blood Brothers (funny how you’re much closer to your Blood Brother than the brothers in your house – you don’t share your dreams and secrets with them!)

I’ll take a rusty nail, scratch your initials in my arm and show you how to sneak up on the roof of the drugstore.

And … oh oh .. when you see with the eyes of a child you see with a clarity .. a vision it’s so easy to lose as your eyes grow accustomed to the adult world:

I’ll take the spokes from your wheelchair, and a magpie’s wings
And I’ll tie ’em to your shoulders and your feet
I’ll steal a hacksaw from my dad, cut the braces off your legs
And we’ll bury them tonight out in the cornfield

Just put a church key in your pocket
We’ll hop that freight train in the hall
We’ll slide all the way down the drain
To New Orleans in the fall

 

 

Thank you Tom for reminding me of how a Magpie’s wings can take you places a 747 never could.

And for letting me keep looking out for that freight train in the Hall.

Let you into a secret … one day I’m gonna ride it all the way down to New Orleans.

Planning to do it in the fall.

In the fall.

The Meters : Mardi Gras Magic – They All Asked For You

This week it’s been school holiday time here.

So, you hope for blue skies, warm winds and sun kissed picnic afternoons.

Dream on!

From dark and glowering daytime skies fell apocalyptic rain.

Scouring winds shook the trees which at night stood spectrally shrouded in deep mist.

Though we had never heard him before a mournful dog, let’s properly call him a Hound, assaulted our ears with low moans interspersed with window rattling barks.

Nothing for it but to dream of a different clime filled with balmy magnolia scented breezes and the appetising aroma of crawfish boils.

Nothing for it but to dream of a City, The Music City, filed with rambling musicians and revelling crowds all in thrall to the rhythm.

The Rhythm.

Time to reside in the City of Dreams.

Time to take a Streetcar named Desire.

Time to sing and dance abondonly in the streets and on the corners.

Time to get in the Groove.

Time to join a people who have syncopation, swing, funk, soul and the blues in their very bones.

Time to Meet De Boys on the Battlefront.

Come on, Come on!  let’s go, courtesy of the mighty Meters, to The Mardi Gras!

 

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Eh, la-bas!

Crawfish etouffee!

Red Beans and Rice!

Creole Gumbo!

And, in case you’re wondering – They All Asked For You.

They even enquired about You.

They All Asked For You.

 

 

Whatever ails you I’m Hear to tell you that’ll heal you!

There are many classic Mardi Gras songs (see my playlist in Notes below) but the one that always does it for me is the one that was the sensation of the 1976 Mardi Gras – They All Asked For You by the Meters.

Why?

Well, because it makes me smile until my face aches.

Because it makes me laugh right out loud.

Because it makes me happy in a gloriously goofy way.

Because it makes me dance and want to dance right out the door into the street grabbing passers by as I go!

Because it makes me want to lead a chant of Crawfish Etouffee! Creole Gumbo!

Because I want to hear it on a loop and dance until I fall down with exhaustion.

The Meters are guardians of The Rhythm.

They live inside it.

On Drums and Vocals – (Joseph)  Zigaboo Modeliste!

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Drummer is to modest a term for Ziggy.

He is an artist in Rhythm.

They All Asked For You works it’s hypnotic way with you through his mastery of the irresistible second line rhythm.

And, if there’s a better name anywhere on this planet than Zigaboo Modeliste let me know.

On Bass and Vocals and production smarts – George Porter Jr.

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When George plays the Earth sighs … now that’s a grounded rhythm.

You can hear the Spanish Tinge and the Creole, Native American and African American rhythmic heritage on every note George plays.

More than that you can feel it in the soles of your feet and deep in your guts.

On Guitar and Vocals – Leo Nocentelli.

Now the story goes that it was Leo who brought, ‘They All Asked For You’ to the Band – though he may have sung them a somewhat more bawdy version than the one you hear here!

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Leo’s lazy, back bayou licks thread generous joy all through the song.

On Keyboards and Vocals – Art Neville.

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Art is of course one of the dynasty of great musicians named Neville.

It’s his rolling, rhapsodic piano that gives the tune its sweep you away to paradise flow.

On Congas, percussion and Vocals – Cyril Neville.

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Cyril has much, much Mojo.

When I’ve seen him in concert he throws out a force field of rhythm and bonhomie that grabs you – uplifting every molecule of your being.

We should also credit the Producer of this Mardi Gras Classic – none other than the peerless Alan Toussaint (whose Mother was Naomi Neville).

When a song is as popular as They All Asked For You it is bound to generate a ton of cover versions.

Given the centrality of the marching band tradition to Mardi Gras I’ve chosen a take featuring a gallery of New Orleans Jazzers.

Leading the Band is Big Bill Bissonnette – trombonist and drummer and crusader for classic New Orleans Jazz.

 

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Prominently features on Trumpet – Milton Batiste.

Milton was a light up the room as soon as he walked in ball of energy.

His pedigree included being one of the original Shuffling Hungarians backing up the quintessential New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair.

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Are you ready to get grooving in the second line?

Aw do it !

Do it!

Eh la- bas!

Crawfish Etouffee!

Creole Gumbo!

You know what – Praise Be! As I look out the window now the rain has stopped.

The mist has cleared.

The Hound has howled his last howl.

Skies are blue.

The winds are warm.

Where’s that picnic basket!

Make sure to pack the King Cake and the Absinthe Frappe.

It’s Mardi Gras time!

Notes :

Immortal Jukebox Mardi Gras Playlist :

Professor Longhair – Go To The Mardi Gras & Big Chief

Earl King – Street Parade

Al Johnson – Carnival Time

Sugar Boy Crawford – Jock -A – Mo

The Hawkettes – Mardi Gras Mambo

Bill Sinigal – Second Line

Smokey Johnson – It Ain’t My Fault

The Wild Tchoupitoulas – Meet De Boys on the Battlefront.

The Wild Magnolias – Handa Wanda & New Suit.

i guarantee you’ll have a hell of a Party!

The Meters ‘Funkify Your Life’ Anthology CD will do exactly what it says!

Opening for The Beatles Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry : Ain’t Got No Home!

In New Orleans, America’s greatest music city, they sure know how to throw a party.

Mardi Gras might just be the greatest and most joyous greatest civic celebration on the entire planet.

Mardi Gras rolls around every year.

But, on September 16 1964 New Orleans was en fete for a very different occassion. The Beatles were coming to City Park as part of their very first American tour.

The Beatles! A year earlier few had heard of them.

Now, following their historic appearances on Ed Sullivan and their subsequent colonisation of the Hot 100 they were famous at a level only previously approached by Elvis himself.

The whole city virtually levitated with anticipation and not just the crazed teenage Beatles fans.

No, even the Crescent City’s Mayor, Victor H Schiro, thought it only mete and proper to declare Wednesday September 16 1964 to be officialy, ‘Beatles Day In New Orleans’.

He welcomed the arriving, ‘English Storm’ in the Hurricane Month and, correctly, noted that what The Beatles did and sang was based on a cousin ship with Jazz – the jumping, danceable historic art form which was New Orleans inestimable gift to World Culture.

And, wonder of wonders, as the lights went down, who should be first on the Bill at this epochal show?

Why, none other than one of New Orleans most favoured sons, Clarence Frogman Henry, who could make a dead man rise out of his grave to dance and shout with Joy.

You want Joy? Joy, raining down in torrents?

Ecouter le cri de la grenouille! Ecouter! Ecouter!

Now, in my book, one of the primary purposes of music is to provide good cheer – to lift the burdensome cares of the day and remind you that to be alive is a glorious gift.

And, I can think of few records that fulfill that purpose to better effect than, ‘Aint Got No Home’.

It was a substantial R&B and Pop hit in 1956 as all over the nation people fell in love with the voice that could sound like a lonely boy, a lonely girl, a treetop bird and, best of all – A Frog!

What’s not to like!

There’s the trademark rolling on the river rhythm New Orleans sound that carries you securely along with the drums, bass and sax meshing perfectly together.

Clarence brings all his patent piano and vocal charm, honed in clubs like The Chicken Shack, to produce a record that is both a novelty and a Rock ‘n’ Roll classic.

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Clarence, born and raised in the Crescent City, had clearly been listening to Fats Domino, Professor Longhair and Shirley and Lee. The delightful Frog impression was his own boyhood invention.

Ooo .. ooooo …. ooooo … ooooo … ooooo .. oooooo!

Yes indeed. Yes Indeed.

I’m here to tell you that there’s no Jukebox in the whole wide World that wouldn’t be improved by having a copy of, ‘Aint Got No Home’ in its racks!

The success of Aint Got No Home brought appearances at the premier Black Theatres of the day – The Apollo in New York, The Howard in D.C and The Royal in Baltimore sharing the stage with luminaries like Clyde McPhatter and Chuck Berry.

But, there was no immediate hit follow up so Clarence went back home to the Boubon Street clubs where he always drew a loyal and enthusiastic hometown crowd.

Clarence’s next smash came courtesy of two fellow Louisianians Paul Gayten and Bobby Charles.

Paul Gayten, a prodigiously talented musician, arranger and Bandleader, acting as a talent scout for Chess Records had spotted the potential of Clarence and hustled him into Cosimo Matassa’s Studio to record his initial hit.

Paul had recorded Bobby Charles immortal, ‘See You Later Alligator’ later popularised by Bill Haley, and the two combined their talents to write, ‘(I Don’t Know Why) But I Do’ which gave Clarence a big, fat, International hit in 1961.

Bobby Charles, a secret hero of Rock ‘n Roll, will feature here later. He had the priceless gift of writing songs which sounded as if you’ve always known them yet which never lose their playability through the years.

I chose to feature the live version above for the thrill of seeing and listening to a gold plated N’Awlins Band (with back up Dancers!) and the oratorical tones of legendary WLAC DJ Bill ‘Hoss’ Allen.

Wonderful to hear the exchange between ‘Frog’ and ‘Hoss’, to briefly glimpse Robert ‘Barefootin” Parker and to realise that Frog’s accent is so thick you could near cut slices off it!

Clarence’s final appearance on the Charts also in ’61 was with a revival of the standard, ‘You Always Hurt the One You Love’ written by Allan Roberts and Doris Fisher.

There are countless versions by everyone from The Mills Brothers to Peggy Lee and on to Ringo Starr.

Still, for my money, if you have a few drinks taken and fancy a whirl around a hardwood floor you can’t do better than call up the Frog!

Clarence has recorded extensively, toured Europe and played with many of the greats besides The Beatles but he has always returned home to the bosom of Bourbon Street.

If you’re lucky, even though he’s now in his ninth decade, you might see him there still.

Be assured you’re guaranteed a real find time and without doubt you’ll find yourself crooning along to his classic tunes.

As The Mayor of Jukeboxville I’m issuing my own Proclamation:

Whereas, in order to increase the wellbeing and mirth of all it devolves upon myself to officially proclaim today, June 5 2017, to be officially Clarence Frogman Henry Day.

Encore, ecouter le cri de la grenouille!

Irma Thomas : Deep Soul – Through trial and tribulation Wishing someone would care

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Mama said:-

‘Child, when you’re born a woman you gonna have to get used to the taste of the salt in your tears.’

‘Now I ain’t telling you every man’s a devil but believe me everyone of them has some of the devil in him and you better be ready for that’

‘Of course, some sweet men got a touch of the angel about them – if you find one of those girl you better hang on tight!’

‘But, beware! Some of them are full of love and smiles one day (specially when you young) but the next they can curl their lip and leave you all alone (specially when you older)’

‘Why your own Daddy didn’t stay around long enough to see you crawl before he was chasing some other dream somewhere down the road. And, he never looked back’.

‘Lookin’ the way you do girl you never gonna be short of suitors. Likely, you gonna meet some good and some bad. Get your share of sunshine.

And, Lord knows, you gonna get your share of rain. Sometimes, it’s really gonna come down, really gonna come down.’

‘Sometimes all you can do is wait it out til the sun comes rolling round heaven again.’

‘And, I guarantee it wont be too long before you be prayin’ for someone new to make it right again.’

‘Because, darlin’ girl, aint no woman alive, no matter how bad the last man treated her don’t wish, really wish, that out there in the night, somewhere along the road – there’s someone who will really care.’

‘Don’t ever give up on that’

‘Now girl, sometimes a man you want gonna need some persuading – you think you can do that?’

‘Mama – I know I can, I know I can!’

‘And, I gotta tell you mama any man who leaves me behind gonna rue the day.

He wont be very far down the road before he realises he never gonna find one like me gain.

Oh, then, he’ll be thinkin’ of running all the way back to beg me on his knees to take him back.

He gonna find I need a lot of persuading. A lot.

He gonna find time is on my side. My side.’

Need I say more?

Notes:

The above dialogue is of course, fiction.

Yet, it can’t hope to come close to the drama of Irma Thomas’ own life.

Born 1941 in rural Ponchatoula, La she was raised in New Orleans and by the age of 19 was twice married and the mother of four children.

Working as a 16 year old cocktail waitress she shared a stage with Tommy Ridgley at the Pimlico Club.

Tommy and anyone with half an ear could tell that this girl could really sing! Joe Ruffino at Ron Records was persuaded too leading to the release in May 1960 of the deliriously fiesty, ‘(You can have my husband, But please) Don’t mess with my man’.

She soon moved to the larger Minit label where she was fortunate to work with the great Alan Toussaint. Her records also benefited from the superb arranging and production skills of H B Barnum.

Together this team produced a series of heart shredding classics which will always burn deep before the dark altar of deep soul.

The four sides featured above showcase a singer who emerges, bruised, from the shadows to share the secrets of a heart that has known joy and pain.

Yet, that battered heart beats on, beats on, beats on – encouraging ours to do the same whatever trials beset us.

Her vocal performance in her own, ‘Wish Someone would Care’ must set some kind of benchmark in soul balladry.

Indeed, before she has sung a word her opening tear choked moans crack the heart wide open.

Then, we can only surrender to the swooning majesty of her superbly paced vocal which is immeasurably assisted by the downriver flow of the organ and the dread and doom insistence of the drums.

Here, by an act of creative faith, Irma Thomas has encapsulated a lifetime of feeling in less than 150 seconds.

This record can never die. There will always be trial and tribulation in this vale of tears.

And, as the night ends and the dawn is about to break all you can say as you ready yourself to face another day is:

Mmmmm, Mmmmmm, Mmmmmm, Mmmmm.

The best compilation of Irma’s magnificent early 60s recordings is, ‘Time is on my side’ on the Kent label.

From her later work I recommend investigation of the excellent series she made for Rounder Records – especially, ‘The New Rules’