Friday, January 20, 2012

I PREFER YOU/ALL NIGHT LONG: As you probably know, Etta James died this morning. She had been sick for some time, and had seemed to be in poor health for years, so it may not be a surprise, but it's sad all the same. Most of the headlines seem to mention "At Last," but I remember her less for that song, soulful classic though it deservedly is, and more for her bouncy, proto-funky R&B stuff, like I Prefer You. Rest in peace.


  1. Maret6:40 PM

    I grew up in Monterey and my parents had season tickets to the Monterey Jazz Festival, so they saw her a lot. And when I was 12 or 13 my dad couldn't go one day so my mom brought me with her and Etta James played. I didn't really have much knowledge of jazz or blues but I knew a voice like no other when I heard it. R.I.P. Etta.

  2. I first fell under her spell with her "comeback" album Seven-Year Ache, which, while not her best, was quite good enough.  There was a radio station that would play albums beginning to end, late at night, and I can still remember stumbling on it, hearing "Damn Your Eyes" and being swept away by all that gorgeous sultry yearning.

    Also, her cover of Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On" is the hottest thing ever.

  3. Joseph Finn8:57 PM

    I had no knowledge of this album before today, but someone at Metafilter pointed out "Etta James Rocks The House," her live album from 1963, and I've been rocking it all day.  It's freaking fantastic.

  4. Thanks -- just ordered it.

  5. Anonymous11:05 PM

    Seven Year Ache was also the album that made me a Jamesian.  I'd picked up her early sixties album At Last years earlier in a used record shop but never appreciated it (what can I say, even Homer nods), but I was blown away when I heard "Damn Your Eyes" and "How Strong Is a Woman" on a Boston-area public radio station in the early nineties.  While I share Watts' love for "Tell Mama" and "Something's Got a Hold on Me," my favorite James' song is probably the ballad "I'd Rather Go Blind" (which was the B-side to "Tell Mama").  I learned today from Wikipedia that James co-wrote it, although she's not listed as an author.  Although Wikipedia doesn't mention it, I've read elsewhere that when James recorded it, she was deep in the throes of a heroin addiction, which I always hear reflected in the hopeless feeling that oozes from the track, the sound of a woman in love with her own pain." type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="170" height="140

  6. J.O'Connor11:05 PM

    I am the Guest.

  7. J. Bowman11:46 AM

    According to the CNN article, she "suspected her father was Minnesota Fats."
    1) I think that's awesome.
    2) The w's reply to this was, "Who's that?" Five minutes later, he was playing Eddie Felson for $100 a game on our TV.

  8. Marsha10:12 PM

    At Last was our wedding song. Thankfully, it is also the wedding song of approximately 42% of all couples, so my husband is forced to dance with me at least once at most weddings. I chose the song (yes, I) not only for its lyrics, which still make my heart go pit-a-pat, but also for that amazing, sultry, incredible voice. No one could bend a jazz note like Etta James. Thanks for all the memories, Etta, and all the dances.