Five Things: Wednesday 15th May

Bowie Walk

Bowie
Having helped the V&A with a photo of Dobell’s, they’re kind enough to send me this Jonathan Barnbrook-designed pamphlet, David Bowie Is Walking In Soho. The tour starts here.

Riders Of The Stars
FRANK SINATRA: One bottle each: Absolute, Jack Daniel’s, Chivas Regal, Courvoisier, Beefeater Gin, white wine, red wine. Twenty-four chilled jumbo shrimp, Life Savers, cough drops. No mixers?
BRITNEY SPEARS: Fish and chips, McDonald’s cheeseburgers without the buns, 100 prunes and figs, a framed photo of Princess Diana. Britney, as always, touched by genius!
AL GREEN: Twenty-four long-stem (dethorned) red roses. Having seen Rev. Green present these in the flesh to his adoring audience, I’m touched by the thoughtfulness.

Cat Power, Bathrooms & Bullies
On Woman’s Hour I catch Chan Marshall talking about the best places she found to sing as a teenager and she talks of school bathrooms when no-one was in them, singing to the walls and the echo – and when she’s on Later that night you can see how her voice now has those reflections and deflections built into it. With a haircut borrowed from Nick Lowe and her hands jerking in and out of her jean shirt, her performance of “Bully” was twitchy and vulnerable, but beautifully her – she doesn’t sound much like anybody else (the same is true of Laura Mvula, also on the show, who – making a nod to Nina Simone – is refreshingly different from her peer group).

Found on the website bestofneworleans.com while googling “who wrote Walkin’ to New Orleans.”
Well Composed: Bobby Charles tells how he wrote three of his classic songs.

Walking to New Orleans
“I had sent Fats a copy of ‘Before I Grow Too Old,’ and he had recorded it, but I didn’t know. The next night he was playing in Lafayette, and I went to see him play. He told me, ‘I cut your song last night – I wish I’d brought a copy of it for you to listen to.’ And he said, ‘You gotta come to New Orleans to see me and hang out with me.’ I said, ‘I’d love to, but right now I’m really on my butt and got no money and no way to get over there.’ He said, ‘Take a bus or something.’ I told him, ‘The only way I’d be able to get there would be to walk to New Orleans.’ As soon as I said that, I said, ‘I gotta go.’ I jumped in the car and wrote the song on the way back home from Lafayette to Abbeville.”
See You Later Alligator
“I used to say to the band or friends, ‘See you later, alligator.’ One night after a dance, I was walking out the door, and my piano player was sitting down in a back booth, and there were two drunk couples in the booths in front of him. I said, ‘See you later alligator’ to him as I was walking out, and it was one of those doors that closed real slow. I heard a girl say something about ‘crocodile.’ I walked back in and said, ‘I don’t mean to bother you, but I just told him, “See you later, alligator.” What did you say?’ She said, ‘After a while, crocodile.’ I said, ‘Thank you,’ and went home and wrote the song in 20 minutes. My daddy was screaming at me to turn out the lights, because he had to get up and go to work at 5 o’clock in the morning. I said, ‘Give me five more minutes.’ I had to sing it to myself over and over so I wouldn’t forget it.”
The Jealous Kind
“I was married at the time, and I was in the bathtub. My wife was fussing and hollering at me while I was taking a bath. I said, ‘Why don’t you bring me paper and a pencil and just leave me alone for 30 minutes.’ She said, ‘You and your damn paper and pencil.’ I wrote it right there in the bathtub. Same thing with ‘Before I Grow Too Old.’ She said, ‘You gonna be like this for the rest of your life?’ I said, ‘I’m gonna try and hurry up and do as much as I can before I get too old.’ Bam! Bring me a paper and pencil!”

I’m appalled that I’d never known that Bobby Charles wrote one of my all-time favourite songs.

And more from The Big Easy…
…in the shape of another Hugh Laurie documentary. He’s dry and funny, and has great taste in producers and musicians, and plays pretty good piano. I just never want to hear him sing again, if that can be arranged. Best bit: the amazing Jon Cleary, an Englishman in New Orleans, doing a staggering take on James Booker and Professor Longhair. He rips through a sonic wonderworld of rhumba rhythms and tumbling blues, then turns to Laurie and says, “New Orleans comes into fashion, goes out of fashion. They don’t stop playing here just because no-one’s looking.”

Professor Longhair’s House, 2010

Professor Longhair’s House, 2010

Longhair had my favourite band name ever: Professor Longhair and The Shuffling Hungarians [called that, as Wikepedia says, for reasons lost to time. As far as I can ascertain, there were no Hungarians in the band]. I do remember going with Mark to see James Booker at the 100 Club. As we came down the stairs to the basement room we heard the sound of a New Orleans band pounding out “Junco Partner”, the bass shaking the walls, what sounded like a horn section high-stepping the accents. We stepped through the door to find Booker alone at the piano, committing his mischief, conjuring up an orchestra’s worth of accompaniment with just two hands…

Comments

  1. Oh, that little Zigaboo Modeliste drum fill just before the horns come in on the Coke ad… bliss! And I was at that 100 Club gig, too. James Booker: magnificent.

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