Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Eartha & Delaney

Well, I didn't expect it, but I ended up taking a bit of a blogging break for Christmahanakwanzaka. We had people in for the holiday starting on Christmas Eve, and they all left yesterday. During that time, I was cooking up a storm (unfortunately, though, I didn't take many pictures). It was great to have a full house (and then also great to get the house back!), but it didn't leave any time for reading or posting to the internet.

In the meantime, the music world has lost a couple of truly wonderful performers. On Christmas Eve, we were relaxing to some random music when a song came on with a familiar voice. We tossed around a few possibilities while trying to identify the singer, and the consensus in the room was that it must be Eartha Kitt. That then led to a discussion of Kitt's great and varied body of work. She really did have an incredible life, and we were sad to hear of her death the next day.

And I was also sorry to hear of the death, two days later, of Delaney Bramlett. I still have a very clear memory of the first time I ever heard his music. Back in the days before the CD, there was a used record store up in Buffalo, not far from the small town where I spent my college breaks, that was famous all over western New York. I brought G-Dog home with me at some point and the two of us made the pilgrimage up to the north side of the Queen City, where we stopped for wings and skins, along with some Genny Cream -- all tasty delights with local origins -- and then went on to spend the afternoon perusing the selection at the legendary Play It Again Sam on Elmwood.

Now, back in the days before file sharing and sampling and YouTube, we kids used to discover new music by turning on the radio or listening to each other's collections -- or by hanging out in hip shops, flipping through the racks and stacks of records. It was especially enlightening to do so with G-Dog, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of music -- he's one of those people who pays close attention to the liner notes, finding out what session musicians appeared on which tracks, what sort of process led to the final product, and so on. And when he peeked over my shoulder and saw me inspecting a vinyl copy of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends on Tour, the ensuing discussion prompted me to take it home, where I was properly blown away -- not just by Delaney and Bonnie's virtuosity, but also by their impressive array of friends.

Both Delaney and Eartha were great institutions in the music world, and it's a shame we'll have to move into the new year without them.


A Free Man said...

I'll miss Eartha. One of my favorite women singers ever.

Digital Flower said...

I hadn't heard about Delaney. I too loved that album. Bonnie has sort of a recent cd out. The parts I heard were pretty good.