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Monday, January 23, 2012

Reflections On The Life and Sound of Etta James


Loud and tender as a growling prayer, she was The Blues, embodied in fair skin and platinum hair.

She was a certified Blues traveler. The Blues were trapped inside the shoes she wore, and they wrapped themselves around her legs, her waistline, her vocal chords, and her Life, like indigo boa constrictors. She was so brilliantly bitter with a belly full of rage and those Blues were her Saving Grace; her calling card and her clarion call... But OH GOD! How she could release them from the trapdoor of her throat into the woozy skag and liquor filled night, sending them on a starry flight into our ears and our hearts!

Her life was hard, and so were some of her choices.

Her vocals were a cross, a mash-up between baptist church testimony and the sound of a broken heart; the stank of Saturday night's pool hall sin, and Sunday's wounded, skidmarked angel.

Such a soul-sangin' dame! She was the original Etta James. Yes. She was uniquely, bitter-sweetly Etta, damn it! And she will be missed.

Thank God for the music! That voice and those recordings will forever exist.


RIP, Jamesetta!



Anna Renee said...

My momma didn't listen to Etta James, so I'm not intimitely familiar with her music but that song At Last, sure sounds like I should be.

Reggie said...

She had a distinctive voice.

Mizrepresent said...

Yes, she was all this and more! Loved it!

Lovebabz said...

Miss Etta James brought you joy and pain. And sometimes you couldn't decide which one you liked better.

Curious said...

This was nice. I think I have 2 albums from her but I never knew much about her personally or career-wise. Reading your piece shows me that I should have paid more attention. Another mistake made by me; hopefully I can correct that.