In the great George Jones documentary Still the Same Old Me, Johnny Cash, near tears, recalls raising a toast with Nick Lowe to The Possum: “To the best damn country singer in the world.” I get that feeling when I listen to Louis Jordan, as I did today while making tamales with Nicole. Jordan wasn’t exactly the best at anything, but his sly singing, ripping alto playing, sharp bandleading, and sterling songwriting and -picking touched almost everybody within earshot who was anybody in the next generation–by their own admission. Ray Charles (think of his boisterous version of Jordan’s “Let the Good Times Roll”), Sonny Rollins (think of Newk’s grabbing tone and mischievous wit), Bo Diddley (think of his “Say Man” series), and Leiber and Stoller (can you really imagine The Coasters’ 45 RPM comic slices of black life without Louis’ example?)–they were all touched. Further support for Jordan as a holy conduit from swing to rock and roll is that all roads to the matchless American landscape that flowed from Chuck Berry’s mind must travel through songs like “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens,” and that’s not even to mention Tympani 5 guitarist Carl Hogan’s riffwise influence on Berry. In short, this was patriotic listening today, and it wasn’t even that facile, as Louis still had a little toe inside the minstrel tent (listen to “What’s the Use of Getting Sober?”). He tears me up ’cause he had a vision that was fruitful beyond his own realization.
As long as Strut Records keeps sending me their subscription-only reissues, I’m gonna rep ’em. Vox kinda corny, rhythms and guitar not AT ALL.
Aaron’s never been better than on these gospel classics, sharpened and deepened by Joe Henry’s production and studio aces, augmented by none other than Allen Toussaint’s subtle, elegant touch.
For the house 4th of July activity, we watched one of the great rock and roll movies of all-time: Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel. If you haven’t ever, you might do it now for resonance’s sake: