Stuck, Ch. 4. Outta Sight: Leon Russell, “Delta Lady”

Stuck is a weekly serial appearing at 3QD every Monday through early April. A Prologue can be found here. A table of contents with links to previous chapters can be found here.

by Akim Reinhardt

Leon Russell, The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, (2012.201.B1116.0281, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS)He released 33 albums and recorded over 400 of songs, earning two Grammys among seven nominations. Yet you probably don’t know who Leon Russell was. For some people he’s a vaguely familiar name they have trouble putting a face or a tune to. Many more have never even heard of him. Because despite his prodigious output, Russell also had a way of being there without letting you know. He was the front man whose real impact came behind the scenes. He was very present, but just out of sight.

In addition to recording his own music, Leon Russell was a prolific session musician who worked with hundreds of artists over six decades. His main instrument was piano, but he played everything from guitar to xylophone. Russell was also was a songwriter who contributed to other musicians’ oeuvres. His song “This Masquerade” has been recorded by over 75 artists. “A Song For You” has been recorded by over 200. Finally, he was a record producer, a mastermind behind the glass and in front of the mixing board who oversaw and orchestrated, literally and metaphorically, the artistry of others. Read more »

I Have a Concussion and Can’t Write 2,000 New Words, So Here’s an Old, Unpublished Essay About How Ridiculous it is that Bob Dylan Won a Nobel

by Akim Reinhardt

clip artSmacked my head on the pavement while jogging across campus in the rain. Had my hands on my stomach, holding documents in place underneath my shirt to keep them dry. So when my foot went out after skipping over a puddle, I couldn’t get my front paws down in time to brace my fall as I corkscrewed through the air, landing on my hip and shoulder, and whiplashing my head downward.  Consequently I don’t have the brain power to crank out 2,000 fresh words.  So here’s a dated piece about Baby Boomer navel gazing and ressentiment.

Perhaps I should just skip a week instead of peddling an old, cranky number that previously had not found the light of day. That would probably be the prudent, and certainly reasonable course. But vanity urges me onward. I have a bit of a streak running here at 3QD and don’t want to break it just cause I cracked my noggin. Alas, for better or worse then, I move forward by looking backwards.
*
Ugh. Bob Dylan.

Even though we’re well into the 21st century and half the Baby Boomers are collecting Social Security, they’re still determined to thumb their noses at their parents. Even the Swedish ones, apparently. So Bob Dylan gets a Nobel Prize in Literature.

I told you, daaaaaaaaad! My music is art toooo! Seeee?

You know what? You’re dad’s dead. Grow up. Find a new battle to fight. Go argue with your grandkids or something.

Bob Dylan. Jesus.

The guy plagiarized substantial portions of the only prose book he ever wrote, his 2005 memoir. You’d think that right there would disqualify a writer from winning the world’s most prestigious lifetime literary award. But this is the Age of Truthiness, so I guess all bets are off. Read more »

The nostalgic appeal of simplicity

by Emrys Westacott

Nostalgia is a fascinating and remarkably common phenomenon. We have all heard older people comparing the present unfavorably with the past in spite of–or even because of–obvious material improvements in the standard of living. Most of us over the age of twenty-five have probably done this ourselves. Often the fond remembrance involves some account of how we lived more cheaply, were closer to nature, were more self-sufficient, enjoyed uncomplicated daily routines, or contented themselves with humble pleasures. The underlying idea is that things were better because they were simpler. The_Golden_Age_(fresco_by_Pietro_da_Cortona)

But nostalgia for simplicity is not confined to individuals reminiscing; across cultures it is also a persistent motif in oral and written literary traditions. In religion, philosophy and literature, it has often taken the form of harking back to an unsullied past or a golden age of happiness and virtue. The biblical account of Adam and Eve in paradise is paradigmatic, but there are many other examples. The Greek poet Hesiod, writing over two and half thousand years ago, laments the sorry condition of the world he lives in compared to that inhabited by the first humans, a “golden race of men,” who lived “free from toil and grief…..for the fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly.”[1] The Roman poet Ovid similarly describes a Golden Age when

…..of her own accord the earth produced

A store of every fruit. The harrow touched her not,

Nor did the ploughshare wound her fields.

And man content with given food,

And none compelling, gathered arbute fruits

And wild strawberries on the mountain sides…..[2]

The lines underscore not just the absence of toil or tools but also the way people desired little and lived harmoniously with nature. In these idyllic circumstances there was no need for laws, since “rectitude spontaneous in the heart prevailed.”

Read more »