Saturday, April 16, 2016

Jerry Butler Only the Strong Survive

Back when all of this stuff was new I loved the sound of guitars. Crashing guitars, lots of crunch, wailing guitars, rockin' guitars, bluesy guitars, GUITARS. I liked the white guys, the usual suspects and some guys over in the corner, and I liked the black guys, mostly the blues guys, but including Wes Mongomery and Kenny Burrell, maybe Mickey Baker. I loved me some guitars.

But other than Curtis Mayfield, I totally neglected the soul musicians. It was too subtle for me; my ear was not that developed. Right now I couldn't tell you the name of James Brown's guitar player, even though later in life I did learn to appreciate his playing. Most of the soul guitar guys seemed to be in the background. They let the horn players take the front of the stage. That's just the way it was. Look at Jimi Hendrix's experience (to coin a phrase). It reminds me of of that Russian proverb: the nail that stands up will be hammered down. Jimi couldn't get arrested in the black musical community.

The fellow playing on this cut is just great. Smooth, clean and perfect. There was a great art to this kind of soul guitar. I'm sorry that I spent so many years missing the point.

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