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Posts Tagged ‘CKLW THE MOTOR CITY’

Before the year is over, I want to give a shout out to Sharon Jones. She meant a lot to me. I meant to post a tribute shortly after her death, but oh, that fucking election and trying to fight the DAPL going through and a new chemo regimen for me—it was all too much. I know tributes are needed though because every time someone lists the celebrity deaths of 2016 I generally have to look pretty hard to find Sharon Jones. Well fuck that.

I loved Sharon Jones’ music the first time I heard her on the radio. WHAT? I could hardly believe my ears–was this a song from the golden age of funk and soul that I’d missed? (and my mind’s ear always rings with the call letters and jingle from Detroit’s AM radio station: CKLW, The Motor City)

Her voice, her words, her power. She was funk, soul, political; old school.

When I found out she had cancer, I was concerned, angry, and sad. My cancer, her cancer, though different, put us into a club we never asked to be in, but I watched; I watched and waited. She performed like a BOSS without hair, in heels, in sequins, in fringed dresses, sweating and twisting and leading her own band, singing songs of the oppressed and of Black women’s struggles in the US. I know how awful chemo is but she was able to summon something from deep inside to continue to share and preach and tell a truth in a proud line of Black American soul artists. 

Her version of “This Land is Your Land” is best version of Woody’s song, hands down, I’ve ever heard (any time she sings it, it’s the best version). Back in the earlier days of my blog, I could link to a song from youtube, but this feature, no doubt due to copyright issues, has been taken away. So you do it. Go to youtube and look up Sharon Jones singing Woody Guthrie’s hymn to America.

We need her now, we need her fire and passion and intelligence and rhythm. Another great one gone. DO NOT FORGET her message, the heritage she calls on. This is political. Dang we need her. And for fuck’s sake stop omitting black women from the pantheon. Erasure is unacceptable.

Ciao, babies. Still a few more days of this year left. Let’s hope for a little peace before we say goodbye.

 

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The sounds and songs of my childhood weren’t always on CKLW. Sometimes it was what the grown-ups listened to. Cocktails. James Bond. The 4 o’clock Movie on Channel 7 (Detroit).

Side burns, wide lapels, the dry look, Herb Alpert.

Bouffant hair-dos, platinum blond. Mini skirts, fringe, go go boots. String bikinis. Long breezy unkempt hair, parted down the middle. Playboy centerfolds, green, red, and yellow hues, a hazy patina on the pages. Penthouse, much dirtier.

I had no idea Dusty Springfield was English because, you know, people named “Dusty” come out of the Old West and “Springfield” is also decidedly American.

Guys, you want to get lucky tonight? Put on your cotton flannel pajamas, dim the lights, fire up a smoke (Lucky Strike? Winston?), and spin this on the turntable.

Okay, so smoking is no longer sexy. Do you think these are made of flame retardant fabric?

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The Who’s album Tommy was one of the first rock ‘n’ roll experiences of my young life.

Growing up in Detroit, we all listened to CKLW, sure, but that was Motown and all the pop hits of the day. I doubt there was much hardcore British Invasion. I specifically remember the song Winchester Cathedral and thinking it was cool, very cool. I would stand on my bed and play my tiny suitcase like a guitar and sing that song. At least I think that really happened.

I remember being a young girl when I first saw the album Tommy and paging through its mind-blowing, well, pages. When I was about 4 years old, an English woman, named Linda, who must have been in her 20s, came to live with our family. We sort of sponsored her, as she was a nursing student at the same school in Detroit where my mother was also studying to become an LPN. Linda had a cache of albums, 2 of which I can still picture in my mind. The album I am sure about is Tommy, but I couldn’t tell you without some research what the other one was. It must have been 1969 or 1970.

Say what you will, but no one writes rock lyrics like this any more (as if anyone ever really did; by which I mean, very few bands were able. The Beatles come to mind for pure poetry though….)

waking up on Christmas morning, hours before the winter sun’s ignited

it’s sort of beautiful, you know?

Fast Forward: 2011. Daltry is 67 years old in this video, which is amazing in and of itself. He’s accompanied by Pete Townshends’s [much younger] brother Simon who does a DAMN FINE job on this song. He looks and sounds so much like Pete.

What a bod on that Simon. Where has he been all my life? Oh, right, I’m almost as old as he.

I get a little weak in my knees (and I’m sitting down) when I watch him, which I seem compelled to do over and over and over…..

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