Played at the Boston Tea Party tonight, have two nights to go. Tired of this cold. So much work to stay warm, so much extra shit to pack, can’t even move in the van. It really drags down the band, and me, but I don’t let that show. The work it takes to keep the band’s and crew’s spirits high requires about three more people. Instead it’s just me, with some occasional help from Berry. Thank god for him. He’s as loyal as I am.
Our single, Black Hearted Woman, is getting played around Macon, and Wexler from Atlantic tells me they’re playing it in Atlanta and even Boston. I don’t believe him about the Boston thing, but I tell the band anyway and they like it. It’s a rough tune for a single, especially with Every Hungry Woman on the B side. I pushed that the single be an edited, shorter version of “Dreams.” I don't enjoy that I care and worry about this shit, because we’re not a band of singles, that’s not what I’m gunning for. Still, I know I care and if records don’t sell, well, then this all ain’t worth a lick.
Johnny Jenkin’s “Guilded Splinters,” with me on guitar, is also released this week. I don’t say a word to anyone in the band, even when it comes on the radio in the van, though I know a few of them recognize it, and I know they know I was down at Atlantic’s studios recording it last month or two months ago, who the hell can remember. I sound good, and I want to tell someone that it’s me on guitar, but that won’t help anything. I’ll whisper the news to Galadrielle next time I put her to bed.
Today I met John Hammond at the Muscle Shoals studio. Apparently the session wasn’t going that well for him. The Muscle Shoals guys weren’t letting Hammond into their scene. Another white man trying to play like a black man. They wanted the real thing. I knew of Hammond, and I know he can play. But it’s hard to play when the band is scowling at you. So I rambled in for a visit, all the Muscle Shoals studio boys giving me the red carpet treatment like always, welcoming me back. I’m like, where’s this Hammond cat? I know he can play like a son of a bitch. And they’re like, really Skydog, you know him? And as soon as I gave Hammond the big greenlight, the sessions fell into place. Afterwards Hammond and I fooled around with guitars together. He gave me some tips on slide right there and I did the same for him. Hammond and I became best buds instantly and swore to stay in touch and do a record together someday. I’d like that.
Finally heard the Blind Faith album. Not the Clapton I expect. Great songs, but disappointed about his straying from the blues, and the lack of Detroit-soul from Winwood. It doesn’t jump, doesn’t rock, doesn’t make you want to take off your clothes and run through the streets. It’s fucking good, intelligent shit. But it’s too smart for me. Music doesn’t need to be so smart. It’s supposed to rattle your bones. Heavy lyrics make me squirm. Music should feel first. All blues, particularly the kind that takes you down, always lifts me up. “Wake up mama, turn your lamp down low.” Those are the lyrics I’m talking about. Blind Willie McTell didn’t study Shakespeare to write that.
Just hope that’s not the end of Eric and his rock and roll blues, because he can play like no one white or black or English or southern or northern and he’s done a lot of paving the way for cats like me. Don’t leave us now Eric.
After saying all that, I kind of love the opening line that Winwood delivers on the song “Had to Cry Today” and how he always sounds like he's sounding the alarms to alert the world: “It’s already written that today will be a day to remember.”
Our album is out. It feels real good. We each bought a few. Then we bought some more. They’re all over the house. It’s a big day for us, everyone flying high. Privately I had hoped for a little more fanfare, some reviews in newspapers, a parade, a party, something. Instead, we are left to celebrate on our own, and it was a good day for us, our album is a great album. But it’d be nicer if the excitement extended beyond the band family.
But the gang was thrilled and we needed a nice boost and we got it today.
Spent last night right here in the Macon City Auditorium, down on First Street. Typically, on the road, our travel system is pretty simple. If it doesn’t fit in the van, it doesn’t come along. Two drum sets, Gregg’s bulky organ, all our amps and guitars, the soundboard, our own bodies, and whatever individual hang-ups we have that requires stuff—books, magazines, clothes, extra shoes, boots, hats, and all kinds of shit no one needs but can’t leave behind.
Playing last night right in town, we took several cars, brought whatever the hell we each wanted, the ladies came along, and we all went home to sleep in our own warm beds with our women. And I slept till noon, waking up with my beautiful daughter.