…and, yes, they were known to pick a song or two.

But the reason the Swampers, and the little Alabama hole in the wall recording studio where they shook the world, were in Muscle Shoals was because Rick Hall, trying to make his mark outside of Memphis, without resorting to Nashville, fetched up there and set up the third point of American music’s great Southern triangle. Rick Hall was Fame Studios and Fame Studios was Rick Hall.

They both ended up being a lot of other things. A whole lot of people contributed. Mostly black artists and mostly white session men with a mix of songwriters, all trying to prove each other to each other in the classic Southern style while George Wallace’s Alabama (where Hall made a point of frequenting local diners in the company of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett) tried to turn back the clock all around them.

But it was Hall’s vision and once he took hold of it Southern Soul and the world it was born to save were never quite the same.

It was from Hall’s place that the careers of Arthur Alexander and Percy Sledge and Clarence Carter and Joe Tex and Candi Staton were launched and those of Etta James and Aretha Franklin (specifically chasing Sledge’s success) were reborn. And that was just the tip of a mighty iceberg. Shamefully, he died without entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (can’t blame the voters for that one–nods to visionary producers and label owners are in the hands of the Hall’s own committee).

Doesn’t matter. I just got the playlist from the Entrance Commission at the Pearly Gates.

I’m hearing it’s the greatest night ever. Smoked Jerry Wexler’s entry party and they’re swearing even Berry Gordy’s gonna have to run to keep up…(The Wilson Pickett cut is live and not to be missed).

Hope your vision comes all the way true where you are now brother….Because it sure is lying in tatters down here.


Wish I knew the song in question but it’s worth noting anyway.

On my way home from my friend MG’s lovely Christmas brunch, I stopped at my local convenience store…Walking out, I heard the thump of a rap song–loud but not abusively so–coming from a white kid’s pickup. The white-haired black man walking towards me was humming along–almost as loudly–to the blues sample underneath.

Smiles all around.

Reminded me that it isn’t all gloom and doom in this world and somehow–maybe just as a measure of how much farther we really have come down the weary highway that seems to have no end–put me in mind of this week’s great discovery…from that Fame box again and 1971. Merry Christmas ya’ll…and a big thanks to all who stopped by and let me reach all my yearly goals for the blog several weeks early and coast into the new year: