Monday, June 1, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/31/15: Sleeping In, Rest in Peace, *Muscle Shoals*

1.  Since I was not in our apartment home tonight, maybe it was not having the corgis wake me up at the break of dawn to eat; maybe it was the quiet of the empty Diaz townhouse;  maybe it was being pretty tired after Saturday's travels between Greenbelt and Groveton; whatever the reason, for the first time, maybe ever, since moving to the eastern U.S.A., I slept until 9:00 a.m. this morning.

2.  Refreshed after such a long night's sleep, I spent much of the day doing next to nothing, a luxury. I interrupted my do nothing afternoon and called Mom.  She is saddened, as am I, by the death of Ted Turnbow, and, if I'm not mistaken, he is the last of the Turnbow brothers to pass on -- he's definitely the last of the ones our family spent time with regularly -- Bob, Gerry, and Ted. Our family has always owed a great deal of gratitude to these Turnbow brothers for great holiday gatherings and, especially in my father's case, being among the best friends he ever had. After my dad's passing on June 1, 1996, these three Turnbow brothers helped bear his casket to to his grave.

3.  Late in the afternoon, I discovered that the documentary movie Muscle Shoals is streaming on Netflix and I loved watching it, and even more so, listening to it. It's a great story about Rick Hall, the founder of FAME studios and a great story about his studio musicians (known as the Swampers -- referred to in Lynyrd Skinner's "Sweet Home Alabama in these lines:  "Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers/And they've been known to pick a song or two") who broke off from Rich Hall and started their own studio, The Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.  It's remarkable what a magnet this small Alabama town and its two studios became for performers ranging from Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Wilson Pickett to Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers, and Alicia Keys among countless others. I often wonder and think about how the historical moment was just right in the late 16th and early 17th century for William Shakespeare to write and bring his plays into being -- would he have flourished at any other time?  This movie added to my wonder at the flourishing of rock and roll, Southern rock, rhythm and blues, and other music that emerged between about 1965 and 1975 -- and this movie helps us see how the freedom these small studios enjoyed was just what Aretha Franklin needed, what inspired a sliver of the Rolling Stones' recordings, and what helped launch Percy Sledge and reinvigorate Etta James, and many others.  Yes, I know this time period also gave us the Ohio Express and the Archies and some real crap.  But down on the  singing Tennessee River in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a significant body of U.S.A. and a sound, unique to this country, was being created.  Two music documentaries in the last few years have deeply moved me:  Muscle Shoals and Twenty Feet from Stardom.

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