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Thursday, March 19, 2009

GMVW # 63 "Letting it all Hang Out"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 63:  Letting it all Hang Out
Song: Try a Little Tenderness by “Irving King” and Harry Woods
Covered Here by: Otis Redding
(Songwriter: “Irving King” {James Campbell and Reginald Connelly} and Harry M. Woods)
March 19, 2009

Not much competes with emotion to get a point across.  Nakita Kruschev had it figured out when he pounded his shoe at the UN in 1959.  So too did Marilyn Monroe when she wished JFK a happy birthday on the stage in 1962.  Johnny Most had it down most game nights, particularly in the late 80’s when the Celtics faced the Pistons during the Larry Bird era (with Most dubbing Bill Lambier and Rick Mahorn “McFilthy and McNasty!”).  A little emotion can help at the right times, as when responding to the question “Why do you want this job”?  It can also hurt at the wrong times, like when a football coach is at the podium after a tough loss (“Playoffs? Are you kidding! Playoffs?”).  Emotion usually works in small doses, but if overdone, it can tear someone down quickly. 

For musicians, emotion has its drawing power too, from the foot-stomping gospel singer to the baton-wielding maestro to the face-contorting blues guitarist.  Thinking back on the shows I’ve been to, emotion was the number one factor that separated a great time from disappointment.  Emotion connects the crowd to the event.  It brings out the best in a concert, often with innovative results. When musicians are in the moment, it shows one way or another.

Emotion should not be confused with simple physical expression, as the two can be hard to distinguish.  Prancing around on stage does not necessarily mean there is deep emotion there. On the flip side, standing still does not mean lack-thereof.  On any given night, B.B. King can express more emotion sitting on a chair than all the dancing and strobe lights of a major production.  I relate this somewhat to those Celtics games of the 80’s vs today’s NBA full-senses-barrage fiasco.  There’s only so much in-your-face a good patron can stand.  More importantly, the more in-your-face there is, the less the crowd can participate and be part of the event.  Just ask the Bruin’s Gallery Gods.

Now granted, B.B. King can be off his game some nights.  So can anyone.  If you are going to see your favorite band it does not always mean you are in for a great show.  Unfortunately you can’t expect it either.  How can you expect a musician to rise to the occasion every night?  Ultimately, it is a risk you have to take.  For some of the best live acts, this can be a Catch 22.  Neil Young is a prime example.  As mentioned for an earlier Gem, his great shows are phenomenal, filled with emotion, but his off-nights can be truly off target. 

Emotion can be expressed in many ways.  It can be seen on Eric Clapton’s face; Eddie Vedder leaping into the crowd; Pete Townshend pole-axing his guitar; Bob Weir climbing on to speakers; a Lou Reed stare; Natalie Merchant spinning like a top; Jonathan Richman’s all-knowing nod to the crowd; Mick Jagger’s domination of the big stage; Keith Moon’s demolition of his drum kit; Judy Garland’s on-the-edge persona; Johnny Cash’s humble style. 

And when it comes to emotion on stage, few could express it quite like Otis Redding.  This week’s Gem Video ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ says it all.  George Harrison, not one for showing emotion, stated as much in a mid-80’s television interview with Rolling Stone Magazine.  Reflecting on Redding’s talents, Harrison beamed when recalling that he had recently (at the time) found an old record he dug up autographed “To John, Paul, George and Ringo, You’ve go my RESPECT! ….Otis Redding”. 

The Gem video doesn’t get as loud as I want (not bad, though), so I include an extra live version for more volume if needed (which I think is a bit lower on the emotion scale). 

-              Pete




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About the Video: This live clip was also shown on the Rolling Stone Magazine’s 20th anniversary special.

Video Rating: 1
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Best feedback: Tom

Thanks Pete - that was yet another great write-up ... love his music forever too!

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