How Did I…

     Today, I found myself thinking…about how damned good Eric Clapton is. And why…which led , in turn, to why I actually like any of the stuff that I do…

     And realized, to my discredit, that I’ve never mentioned Maria McKee. After all the musical stuff that I’ve stuck up on the blogwall here…

     Explanation? Sure. I’m a bonehead. Just ask around a bit; people will generally concur, sometimes rather adamantly. Almost gleefully…

     I have a CD of Clapton doing covers of old Robert Johnson. It’s awfully good. Clapton has a way of really getting through to the spirit of things. Clinically precise, meticulously performed and perfectly recorded. Very impressive…almost all the way there.

     Almost. Because when Robert himself does the songs, there is a palpable difference. And it has not to do with recording quality at all. Robert was not just a talented blues guy who could write good songs and convey them to an audience effectively. He wasn’t just close to his source material.

     He was in it. He was inside those songs, looking out. He owned those songs, and they owned him right back. He probably would have liked to have a more normal and comfortable life, with two kids and a nice house in suburban Jackson. But there was a hellhound after him, and it finally caught up.

     And in spite of being recorded on a single-track monaural reel-to-reel in a wooden shack in Mississippi, you can hear that difference.

     It’s hard to pinpoint that quality, that ” inside” perspective. But it infuses what it touches with an authority that can’t be denied. And that is precisely what Robert Johnson, Diana Krall, Johhny Winter, Michael Schenker, JS Bach, Beethoven ( especially Beethoven ), Jeff Beck, and all the other stuff I gravitate towards has in common. It’s not just that I like it, it’s that it has that authority.

     And here’s another to add; Maria McKee.

     She was in an 80’s LA band called Lone Justice. They were called ” cowpunk”, presumably for lack of a better term. She was just 21 then, and managed to survive the entire thing. Now, she works occasionally on an independent label.

     She has the authority thing going. She sings songs from the inside out somehow. She owns them. I remember seeing Lone Justice at the old Lupo’s in Providence ( on Empire St.!! ), across from the old Living Room ( on Empire St.!! ). ( Aside; this is a peculiar Rhode Island oddity. We tend to describe things not by where they are, but by where they used to be.)

     I recall standing behind the mixing console, watching the sound guy constantly changing her levels, because her dynamics changed constantly. He couldn’t keep up, and should have known better than to even try it. At one point, she really increased her volume…spiked all the levels, and blew out the circuit breakers. She put Lupo’s in the dark for ten minutes. A very odd sensation…standing in the dark, and hoping that no one does anything stupid. No one did…and Maria was very apologetic. A few minutes later, she did it again.

     I’m surprised that there is so much of her on Youtube; I didn’t expect that there would be much at all. I have two Lone Justice albums that get regular rotation again when I bring them out now and then, and a few solo albums.

     This girl was like a demented Elvis in a female body. So much energy poured off her that she barely knew which direction to point it in.

     She’s always been on my list, and she ought to be on yours too. She’s got that authority thing.

     That’s provided, of course, that you keep a list…

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Published in: on January 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. […] How Did I… (rogercoyne.wordpress.com) -36.871510 174.811792 Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_bg", "111111"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_border", "515151"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_text", "eeeeee"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_link", "428ce7"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_url", "428ce7"); GA_googleAddAttr("LangId", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Autotag", "music"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "blues"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "jeff-beck"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "blues"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "eric-clapton"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "i-aint-superstitious"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "jeff-beck"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "london"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame"); GA_googleFillSlot("wpcom_sharethrough"); Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. Thanks for the post. I love her too. I’m a Roots Musician myself and we were kickin’ around L.A. at the same time. Thanks for the shout out for a great artist!


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