It would have been my father’s 77th birthday today. He is gone almost 10 years now. I wrote this piece after BB King passed away and it is as much about my dad as it is about him.
When I was a kid we listened to a lot of music in my house. My dad had a vast record collection and introduced me to countless great artists from the world of jazz and blues. BB King was one of those. I can still picture the yellow gatefold double vinyl with BB King on the cover, caught in the spotlight, sweat on his brow, wearing a full suit, eyes closed in enchantment as he played Lucille, his beloved guitar. I still remember the first time the needle hit the groove on that record. Energy. Emotion. Everything.
“Every day I have the blues”
As the years went by my music tastes broadened, narrowed and changed. I remember the strange joy of hearing BB King appear on an album by my beloved U2. Two favourite worlds colliding in real harmony. My friends shrugging their shoulders at it. Me knowing it was the height of cool.
“As the music played I saw my life turn around
That was the day before love came to town”
But the reason BB King always sits in my heart is because of what his music meant to my dad. Whenever we had a big gathering or party at our home, you knew how good it was going to be based on the records he picked out to play. For the really special, really rare out-of-this-world parties, he would put on BB King to close the party. That was the sign that everything was really cooking and there was only one way to close out the night. No one follows BB King. No one.
“Oh I’m free, free, free now
I’m free from your spell
And now that it’s all over
All I can do is wish you well”