Saturday, October 25, 2008

BOOKER T. & The M.G.'s

Anyone who has been reading this blog can tell that the focus of my interest in a song is usually the lyrics. Often, the words are my way into a song more the the music. Notice the subjects of these posts: Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Warren Zevon, and Robert Earl Keen. All are songwriters who write songs with great words. Trust me, it is not the melody of Poncho and Lefty that brings the tears to my eyes.

That said, here's a departure for me: Green Onions by Booker T. & The M.G.'s. I can remember hearing this song on the radio when it was released in 1962. A lady who worked for my family in those days was really into soul music. She turned me on to some great music including this song and Hit The Road Jack by Ray Charles.

For anyone who has been living under a musical rock for the last 40 years, Booker T. & The M.G.'s was the house band at Stax Records in Memphis during the 60's. The band consisted of Booker T. Jones on keyboards, Steve Cropper on guitar, Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass, and Steve Potts on drums. Isaac Hayes was on keyboards at times. They played on all of the best records by Stax artists like Otis Redding, Albert King, Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, and Eddie Floyd. Some of the hits included Try a Little Tenderness, I've Been Loving You Too Long, Walking the Dog, Hold On (I'm Coming), Soul Man and many more.

 In 1962, Booker T., Cropper, bass player Lewie Steinberg, and drummer Al Jackson Jr were in the studio backing a Stax artist. In an free moment, they began fooling around with an organ filled blues riff. When Stax president, Jim Stewart, heard what they were playing, he hit the record button. The rest is history. The song called Green Onions was released in October of 1962 and was an immediate hit. It went to number 1 on the R&B charts and number 3 on the Pop charts. It is one of the most recognizable instrumentals of all time.

After the success of the single, the band recorded this album which was released in October of 1962. It went to 33 on the Pop charts. The album is filled with the band's soulful take on some great songs.

Booker T. & The M.G.'s has had a long and successful career. Green Onions sounds as good today as it did in 1962. If you don't own it already, add it to your playlist. Available on iTunes and from Amazon.


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