Saturday, May 19, 2007

Etta James

The first time I can remember hearing Etta James is during a commercial break while watching the movie Fried Green tomatoes. I remember it was an ad for a car commercial and the song was At Last. From that point on I have been an Etta James fan.

After that movie (great move great book by the way) I began my search to get that song. The problem is I didnt know the name of the song or the Artist so I had to wait until I heard the song again either on the radio, or in one of the bookstores I haunted. A time after that I heard the song again and although I found out the artist was Etta James I didnt the name of the song. Anyway the next time I went to Tower records I copped a tape called Etta James greatest and hoped the song I was looking for was on that tape.

I started on side a and went throught sides such as such as Sunday Kind Of Love and I Just Make Love To You" eventually I camed to the track I had heard on the car commercial ad which happen to be At Last.

Shortly after that Etta James would put out an album in tribute to billie holiday which was absolutely terric. My favorite tune from that album is " The Very Thought Of You". As much as I love Etta James I had know idea how enormously gifted baby doll was until I happened upon a 2006 recording of At Last with the Count Basie Orchestra was absolutely magnifecent.

Etta James was 68 when this version of at last was recorded and after hearing it I am convinced that I have never heard singing by a 68 year old women or man anywhere near as good. The closest anyone of her age has come at such excellence in singing that I can think of is the great Ella Fitzgerald, if you can think of any others please share them with us in the comment section. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.


Hathor said...

To think of a few; Nancy Wilson, Della Reese, Aretha Franklin (Hard to believe that she is getting up there with me), Tina Turner, Billy Eckstine, Joe Williams and all the other good signers who aged along with me. Voices can usually last if they aren't abused and singers in my youth were not supported by technology. Falsettos don't last very long, so a voice like Smoky Robinson's has faded.
I was trying to think of some other male singers of my generation, everyone I thought of has died. Most never made it to old age.

mark said...

"To think of a few; Nancy Wilson, Della Reese, Aretha Franklin (Hard to believe that she is getting up there with me), Tina Turner, Billy Eckstine"

mark bey: You are probably correct. But although aretha is my baby (my pocket book confirms this) I think aretha has long since been in decline. And although she still great she is of no comparison to her former self. Although that could be because she hasnt put out any really good albums in a while. Pernally I think Aretha needs to go Jazz with a small combo and her playing piano.

" But I have a question for you. I have been studying Etta James life for a while now and although she had a few hits from what I understand she was not tearing up the charts either pop or R and B charts.

How popular was Etta James in the Black community and why do you think she didnt enjoy more success relative to her talent?

Hathor said...

You have to remember there was so much talent then. Even then we were trendy. This was the beginning of the top forty. I guess there would be a dispute here, but black teenagers were transitioning from R & B to Rock n Roll. Or course some years later Rock and Roll would become all white.

Most R & B singers sort of faded if they didn't transition. It also depended on the locale. I think the South and Midwest still liked music that was more bluesy. I know that Motown was not my favorite music.

I can really say about Etta James, she seem to be popular, but longevity had more to do with marketing than talent. If you didn't hear radio play, you didn't hear an artist unless they had a concert. By the 60's you could no longer go to a record shop and listen to the album before you bought it. So you were a little hesitant about buying something unknown. For a while when CD's came out you could listen before you bought, but that didn't last long.

One other thing, before CD's, a lot of old music was hard to get, so other generations did not get a chance to discover older artist.

mark said...

Thank you hathor I find your life intriguing as I find space absolutely fascinating.

JustMeWriting said...

WHAT... not you'd betta stop it Mark...Etta is my girl... in fact I should have used her for my sountrack...cause I'm a W-O-M-A-N... and not to mention my wedding song (At Last) because that's surely how I'll feel...LOL. yes...I love her...she went through so much with and for love...

mark said...

"Etta is my girl... "

mark bey: This is something I can feel you on, At Last is a great song the original and her recent live version baby girl is tight with her skills.

JustMeWriting said...