Etta Gonna Kick Yo Ass

The mini–dustup over Etta James saying she “can’t stand” Beyonce and was gonna “whip” or “whoop” her ass is a hoot. First of all, Etta’s legacy is in no danger. No one will ever top her rendition of “At Last.” That performance, her greatest single track, is in no danger of being superseded.

The other thing is that anyone who’s surprised by Etta’s pugnacious response to all this hasn’t been watching for the past 30 years. Etta has always been an asskicker. I’ve seen her almost unable to walk because she’s so heavy come out, sit on a chair and wail. This woman has lived the kind of life that should have killed her years ago. Yet here she is looking remarkably well, telling Beyonce, in essence, to kiss her ass. What’s not to love?

For a little photographic evidence of Miss Etta’s nature, there’s the record above that I’d vote as her all time classic. Notice that she’s standing on stage, singing with a broken arm. I'm thinking someone's face was on the other end of that arm when it broke. Etta and beyonce wouldn’t be a fight: a whoopin’ doesn’t begin to tell the story of the kind of hurtin’ Etta would put on glamour girl. Etta James is a genuine legend. Beyonce…well, we’ll see.

The Cramps. Lux Interior’s passing. It means something but I’m not sure exactly what. The Cramps were the kind of camp/kitsch band every comic book collecting kid at one time or another thought was god. On record, they come off as a quirky, rockabilly/garage act with a monster movie fixation. Having listened to two of their best, Flamejob and Psychedelic Jungle since Lux’s death, I was struck by the slow tempos and how much surf guitar I’d forgotten is in their stuff. And what a jittery, yip-prone vocalist Lux was. Live, they were a kick. Poison Ivy, all curly hair and big guitar, and Lux, doing his best Iggy Pop, stalking the stage in some kind of skin tight plastic looking thing, looking for any reason to get naked or crawl on the floor. It was always a show! RIP Erick Purkhiser

Yet another music death to mourn: Blossom Dearie. I’m always amazed that that's her real name. What a singer and piano player she was. That little girl voice was unforgettable. Her fast, often very funny version of “I’m Hip,” from a Blossom Time at Ronnie Scott’s record from 1966 is my favorite. Jazz has lost yet another irreplaceable voice. And comedian. She had a killer sense of comic timing Also Greenwich Village, rapidly becoming another part of that tourist trap known as Manhattan, has lost another musical personality. Today, most producers or labels would want to auto tune her voice into blandness instead of celebrating its unforgettable qualities.

Trey's picture

Thanks for the background info on Etta! Your writing made me smile. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Keep it up!Trey

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