The day’s music began as Nicole and I rode in my truck to go pick up her car after a seven-mile hike. She hadn’t heard Willie King, so (yeah–after 26 years of marriage) I was trying to impress her. She digs North Mississippi Hill Country blues and juke joint music in general, but King’s an Alabaman with a more locked-in backbeat and few more musical tricks in his bag that do not hamper the boogie or over-polish the attack. She quietly dug it, as did I, as I hope the reader will.
Speaking of vehicles, Trio Da Kali’s spectacularly good 2017 album Ladilikan has been rocking in Nicole’s for a week, and we didn’t change the selection when we motored to and from breakfast. I liked it a year ago when I first heard it; on my two most recent reps, it has deepened its hold on me. Powered by a tremendous Malian singer, Hawa ‘Kassé Mady’ Diabate, traditional balafon and bass ngoni to lift her higher, and the Kronos Quartet’s striking strings to dramatize and (fruitfully) complicate the ascension, it’d be in my top 10 for last year if I could vote again. Tranquil–but not a sedative.
After a much-needed shower and a news peruse, I set out to finish Tracey Thorn’s great 2010 memoir, Bedsit Disco Queen. I don’t like reading in silence, but Thorn’s sharp, funny, and often caustic voice brooks no “cross-talk,” so I needed something…easy. I didn’t intend to “stay” in Mali (honestly, in terms of listening, I reside there much more frequently than the average American music buff), but dude-who-listens-to-twice-the-music-I-do Tom Hull, via a Tweet, apprised me of a new album by another desert chanteuse, the great Fatoumata Diawara. He’d given it a moderately positive review, which I inferred might mean it probably goes down a little too easily to trust (Diawara is very seductive). That turned out to be the case, though Fenfo has some surprises in store midway, and that was just what I needed: I read nearly 200 pages like drinking a cold glass of water after mowing a midsummer lawn.
Finally, just before I headed down here to knock out this post, after reading about it in Bedsit Disco Queen, I laid ears on Todd Terry’s 1995 (or was it 1994?) remix of Everything But the Girl’s “Missing” for the first time in my life! Yes, embarrassing–especially since, besides being an aural force to be reckoned with, it’s just a damn great piece of writing, as great as any in Tracey’s impressive repertoire (which I am just learning about, but I already discern that fact). I wasn’t clubbing then–Nicole and I preferred honky tonks and house parties–but had I been, I hope I would have been driven willy-nilly to the dance floor, though it’s probably more likely I’d have been distracted by the lyrics.