There's something to be said for minimalism in a production. Whoever was responsible for the arrangement on this record knew that the best way to showcase Willie's heart-wrenching vocals was to quiet all instrumentation down to a smokey whisper, with the exception of the bluesy-jazz sax that shares a duet.
It starts out with a blues shout, loudly calling out from a distance "Somewhere, Somehow!" Then it quickly closes in on the listener, pulling right up to your ear drum, making you feel as if Willie is right there next to you confessing the blues. I don't know if it was intentional or if Willie just had to step back from the mic because his howl was so loud, but I think that little trick does a lot to make this performance sound all the more intimate than it already is. It draws you in and makes you feel as if you're witnessing his suffering first hand.
I remember the first time I heard this song, it felt devastating. The emotion is so real. It cut me to the core. I'm pretty sure I shed a tear or two upon that first listen. What's unbelievable is that all of that is coming from a singer who was then just 19 years old. Where did that depth of feeling come from in such a young person? Was he an old soul, or just naturally gifted? Or did he have an intuitive sense of how tragically his life would end?
Little Willie John is considered by many to be one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) male vocalists of all time. On this 77th anniversary of his birth, take a moment to appreciate his genius.
DJ Action Slacks
I'm excited to highlight some of my favorite records in a variety of genres (soul, R&B, classic country, rockabilly, oldies, garage rock, etc). These won't all necessarily be "dance" records per se. They will all be records that I believe deserve a special listen. I simply love good music, rare or not. Hopefully you will spend some time here and love music right along with me! Lets give this a shot!