Saturday, April 25, 2009

Soundtrack: Bring It On Home

Some time ago on this blog I mentioned that my first cocktail (Irish Coffee) was at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manhattan in the Summer of 1986. That was an error. I only remembered tonight that I had a Gin & Tonic in December 1985 (I was 16) at the Limelight on Hollywood Beach, Florida. What prompted that memory was hearing the song Bring It On Home, while searching for another song.

My parents and I were in Hollywood celebrating Christmas with some friends in their manse on the Intercoastal Waterway, between Southlake and the the Hollywood Boulevard drawbridge. A girl my age, her name was Stephanie, was at the dinner and after a while, when the eating was done, we went for a walk over the drawbridge to Hollywood Beach. Well, it was hot, and salt water makes one thirsty, so we went to the Limelight, which was along our path from the ocean back to the drawbridge. (I don't think this was in any way associated with the famous Limelight, as the famous place burned down several years before I was in Florida.) The only cocktail I could think of ordering was a Gin & Tonic, probably because I had recently read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (I can't believe they bound it in leather and gave it gilt edges!).
("`... then I decided that I was a lemon for a couple of weeks. I kept myself amused all that time jumping in and out of a gin and tonic.'
Arthur cleared his throat, and then did it again.
`Where,' he said, `did you...?'
`Find a gin and tonic?' said Ford brightly. `I found a small lake that thought it was a gin and tonic, and jumped in and out of that. At least,I think it thought it was a gin and tonic.'
`I may,' he added with a grin which would have sent sane men scampering into the trees, `have been imagining it.
I ordered two and was stunned when the waitress served us. The lights were not even dim as the place hadn't even opened up yet (it was only 9 or 10 at night) so she had to have known we were underage. Later, I found out from my dinner host, who was on the city planning commission, that the Limelight was always in trouble with the law for various infractions. So back to the song. The version that was playing that night was by the Righteous Brothers, but Sam Cook is the one who wrote it and I was more familiar with his version as a DJ at Tampa's most poplar Top-40 radio station was partial to Sam Cook and would slip his songs into the playlist.

Here are two versions (The song has been recorded by dozens of people. My opinion: Duffy, who is Welsh, is better than the Animals.) of the song. The first is from Sam Cook's legendary Miami concert, during which he kind of works himself up, over the course of almost 3 minutes, into being able to sing the song; even singing a lines and phrases from others of his songs as part of his high-energy and barely contained rap, which is extremely different from the ultra-calm kind of opening raps done by Isaac Hayes. (Before you criticize that long sentence, I'd encourage you to read Kant's Prolegomena To Any Future Metaphysics. In that book you will find sentences 50, 60, even 70 words long, in which the main verb does not rear its head until the 30th or 40th.) Recorded before a live audience at the Harlem Square Club, this version is universally thought of as the quintessence of Sam Cook's musical vision.

The second version of the song is the one I heard that night at the Limelight drinking Gin and Tonic with a girl I barely knew. (Do you remember seeing that episode of Cheers in which everyone remembered Bill Medly's name but called Bobby Hatfield (d. 2003) "the other Righteous Brother"? Well, I never called him that. He was kind of a hero to me. I have a pretty high voice, though it has become lower with age, and would always sing his part when their songs were on the radio.) I don't think it is better than Sam Cook's Miami performance but it is, I think, more accessible.


dyanna said...

I lick your blog.I'm waiting for your new posts.

Matt said...

Hi, Dyanna. I'll try to post more frequently. Thanks for reading.