At the risk of seeming to pander to my friends who say they can’t take the whole “grief thing” of my blog (which by the way is only 34.682 % grief), I’d like to pay tribute this Monday morning to legendary record producer Jerry Wexler. This is NOT a grief post, even though death is involved, since Wexler died on Friday at the age on 91 in Florida. The thing is, I keep hearing his music being played in tribute on the radio, and let’s face it, the man essentially INVENTED “rhythm and blues” as well as “blue-eyed soul” and produced some of the greatest music EVER, including: The Drifters, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Picket, Sonny and Cher, Dusty Springfield, Led Zepplin, Dr. John, Willie Nelson, Dire Straits, Bob Dylan , Carlos Santana, and Etta James.
Oh, how we grooved back in high school to the rhythm and blues, songs the likes of which have never been heard again, such incredible songs as “Respect”, “In the Midnight Hour”, “Mustang Sally”, “Chain of Fools”, “Dock of the Bay”, and so many more? It makes me swoon with memory just thinking about it. How do you ever forget stacking the records on the turntable, blasting the music and dancing until you danced yourself into exhaustion? How do you ever forget the soulful, imagination-stirring magic of “When a Man Loves A Woman?” How do you forget hanging out in cars with the radio turned up, listening to “I Say a Little Prayer” or “Respect?” Or going down the shore to Atlantic City long before gambling came in, when the landscape was graced by wicker pushcarts on the Boardwalk, and great hotels like the Ambassador and the Ritz rose behind you as you watched the sun rise and listened on the radio to none other than the Drifters singing, “Under the Boardwalk, we’ll be falling in love”? And fell in love. Ooooohhhh. So great.
Thank you Jerry Wexler. I’m glad your Mama couldn’t corral her wayward son.