A sign in Memphis, not far from the homes of Stax and Hi Records. Which reminds me: Al Green’s ‘Simply Beautiful’ might be one of the most gorgeous songs ever recorded. Raw and vivid, with that reassuring voice pushed right up front and a dead simple arrangement until a steady backbeat kicks in at 3:30:
The lyrics don’t quite capture the grace of this song, but here’s a sampling:
What about the way you love me, aww
And the way you squeeze me, yeah
Yea, ya simply beautiful
Yeah, yeah, beautiful, yeah
When you get right down to it
Oh, ho, huh
Oh, ho, ho, huh
Mmh-hmm, hmm, hmm
Ay, hey, baby!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, ha, ha
Baby, yeah, when you need me
I’ll be right there
Beside you, girl, yeah
You know I care
Heeeyyy, yeah, yeah
After wild success in the early 1970s, Al Green turned his back on secular music. The back story is grim: in 1974, one of Green’s girlfriends assaulted him. She heaved a pan of boiling grits at the singer and killed herself in his bedroom with his .38-caliber pistol. Her suicide note said, “The more I trust you, the more you let me down.” After recovering in the hospital with third-degree burns, Green fully dedicated his life to God, becoming an ordained pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis.
Someday I’d like to make a list of all the dark episodes that drive us to God (they always seem to be dark moments, never upbeat). For another American classic with dark corners, see Tina Turner’s ‘River Deep, Mountain High‘.
As Friday night began to roll, he recalled Heraclitus’s warning about ‘night walkers, magicians, priests of Bacchus, and mystery-mongers.’
New Orleans is home to jazz and government neglect and other American traditions.
“A tantalizing 21st Century cross between Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and On the Road, this remarkable and utterly original memoir heralds the arrival of a new and important American voice. The Road to Somewhere will take you places you will not easily forget.”
A man believed his only chance at justice was to take a hostage and march him downtown. An idealistic dancer packed the theater yet the city cast her out. A search for their ghosts continues beneath the city.
You’ve seen her before. She’s the old woman with her eyes closed on the bus, the one who sits alone on a bench for hours. At night she listens to the exhausted air conditioners that sound like the sea, tuning in to the city’s static like an old radio show.
The Former Desk of the First Office of the Bureau of Manufactured History was unveiled at a ceremony on the third of May and continues to appear in unexpected locations throughout Indianapolis.