Just sing: Hall of Fame edition

Though you wouldn’t know from the website, GMA Hall of Fame announced this year’s class of inductees, among them Aretha Franklin and The Hoppers (others are Rex Humbard, Ricky Skaggs and Dallas Holm … you’re not alone in that achy, artistic whiplashy feeling in your neck induced by the variance in these choices):

So let’s hear from my favorites of this group. First up, a young Franklin covering “Never Grow Old.”

The sheer gobsmackery of this clip still floors me. Here’s me raving on about it years ago:

Franklin was 14 years old when this recording was made, and though I expected that familiarity with the project over time would domesticate the novelty of her youth on this project, the more I listen to it the more difficult it becomes for me to comprehend the fact of her age when this was recorded. Fourteen. What’s more, she’s doing all her own piano accompaniment (every teenage artist in every genre ought to be required to listen to this recording every day for a month before ever setting foot on a stage). Anyway, near the middle of the recording she covers “Never Grow Old.” The critic Tony Heilbut has called this her greatest single gospel recording ever, and I think I know what he means. It’s not that the song is flawlessly or even expertly sang. In fact, it’s a messy, gigantic enormous performance of proportions that would give pause to the most seasoned and daring adult. But the song absolutely pulsates with Franklin’s raw spiritual energy and naturally (at the time) unpolished talent. She does things in the song that only the “don’t-know-any-better” audacity of youth makes possible: elongating the first “old” of the chorus until the tension of that single straight tone becomes nearly overbearing in its unrelenting brightness. Or later, when she tags the chorus and returns to the same place (”old”), this time she lurches up at the note three times, each time successively higher until she lands on an unimaginably high, full-voice F (unimaginable beacuse she’s not a soprano). I want to cringe and shout, to smile and cry all at once, but then at the last moment she embellishes the phrase with such spontaneous ease and descends into a more earthly range, so that every time I listen to it I find myself wanting to clap and stomp and hoot and carry on like the live audience, which comes completely undone when she belts out that F. Like so many irresistible unlooked-for moments of spiritual force, this is not primarily pleasing, though I derive a great deal of pleasure from the slightly unpleasant tension Franklin’s audaciousness builds into the song. Rather, it’s main quality is unavoidability. Like Mavis Staples’ voice, Franklin’s here demands a response, an account from everyone within its range, draws a hard line and burns away all obstructions to spiritual insight for a few moments, and though what we discover in such moments is not always entirely pleasing, it’s impossible to deny the centrality of the experience. Not bad, for a fourteen-year-old.

Full thing is here. I still agree with me.

Next up, the Hoppers.  Hard to choose here (I could have gone with this or this or this, among many others), but the last few bars alone earn this one pride of place:

God bless Connie Hopper’s sense of an ending.

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  1. Videoguy wrote:

    Makes me thirsty for a glass of meeeeeyulk.

  2. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    I like the Aretha clip. Paul Simon said her version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was his favorite. Funny, I saw an interview with Garfunkel where he said, “I’ve heard Aretha’s version, sorry, I still like mine better.” LOL.

  3. KC wrote:

    God bless Dean for marrying Kim, is more like it. :)

  4. BUICK wrote:

    R.I.P. AVFL
    This “thread” has been up a week and has had 3 comments. The previous has been up 8 days and has had 12 comments. The one before that has been up 9 days and has 1 comment. The previous one to that has also been up 9 days and has received 4 comments. Prior to that, the next previous thread is 10 days old and has 12 comments. That’s 5 threads begun in the last week and a half and they have received a TOTAL of 32 comments. There was a time when a good topic might get that many in a single day. Looks to me like AVFL has run its course and should be given a decent burial.

  5. ng wrote:

    It’s true the most recent posts have not produced many comments but that doesn’t mean folks are not reading the site. The previous posts to the ones you mentioned had a good number of comments and the last open post had 183. Doug recently listed the number of daily readers here which indicates the overwhelming majority probably never post. Check out all the other SGM blogs (I read them all) and you’ll see that they rarely reach Doug’s number even counting the blogger’s own comments.

  6. irishlad wrote:

    4.. That’s because under the new agreement Wade got 50 posts deleted,Ode 30 and me 20. :)

  7. quartet-man wrote:

    It’s funny how something simple like a cool ending can make a song so much better. Tracks have made it harder to improvise and we are worse off for it. It isn’t impossible though and little moments like that get played over and over again by me. This particular one, to me, isn’t as cool as several others, but it is still nice. There is a song (I believe by the Cathedrals) where they change up the ending quite a bit (the entire group). It is different than the recording, and I think better. I just can’t remember which song offhand.

    This isn’t it, but I thought of a cool moment by the Cathedrals that has a great ending. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YuN3YmF568

    As far as the posts not getting as many comments, I think part might be the particular posts (although good) don’t inspire people to post. Secondly, it might be because many have said what there is to say before. I do wish there were more discussion, but if the audience is reading and coming back, at least part of the purpose of the site is being done. When there are no more readers is when the site has died.

  8. quartet-man wrote:

    Here’s another one with a cool ending. I prefer this version to the recorded one not just because of the ending, but the band. I especially like the guitar riff in the middle.

  9. quartet-man wrote:

    This one has a good ending, but there is so much more. George’s going an octave lower, having only piano and bass, and just the entertainment factor all make this a fun cut. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPDjqWOCIYE

  10. cynical one wrote:

    Maybe these most recent threads don’t have many posts, because there was nothing to argue about.

  11. David wrote:

    IMO, Connie has been a long overlooked contributor to the incredible, powerful sound of the Hoppers (especially the endings) I also love the little “salute” thing she does when she holds an ending. Thanks for honoring her with this clip and your comments. Love that lady!

  12. ITF wrote:

    I hate commenting off topic, but this is getting annoying.

    This isn’t a forum, it’s a blog. The vast majority of those who rarely/never post a comment couldn’t care less about a declining comment count.

    R.I.P.? Hardly. More like, R.I.P. asinine comments.

  13. Wade wrote:

    Amen — ITF #12…cynical #10… Q-Man #7 & ng #5!!!

    ng, makes a point I have talked about several times about the ADMIN or blogger talking with 4-5 of their whopperjawed lame[edit]friends on the other blog spots!!!

    The Hoppers clip on this thread I have probably played 30+ times since it was posted…and reposted it on my Sunday AM tunes on my fb page and I am at my 5000 limit!!! So it is getting out!!

    Thanks Dr. DH for slangin’ it out there… bunch more from that same concert on youtube and the funny thing is I was THERE that night and it was like I was hearing it for the first time!!! Loved see Denice (however she spelled it) playing the keys!!!

    The good Dr. has been keeping us busy with much to read and after so many complained about him not dropping enough threads and some of the content of posters like ode, irish dude and CVH!!! lolol now they will complain about not enough comments and too many threads!!!

    Haters will always be Haters!!!

    irishdude… ya really think I have had more deleted than you and ode combined!?!?? Say it Ain’t So!!!! ;-) :-)

  14. irishlad wrote:

    this is a combo of a blog and a forum from now on it shall be known as a Blorum :)
    Btw..there’s a r w/circle round that ;)

  15. Ode wrote:

    12~ It’s a blog, not a static website. Doug pays for a domain, but specifically choses to use it as a blog. He often said in his academ. publications, presentations and the book that interaction with readers and their comments are it’s lifeblood; blog’s worth is determined by how it affects/interests people.

    Sure, its not the number of comments, but their content that matters, yet commentless blog is like a song that insipired no clapping or any reaction at the end - nobody cared enough…

    I do agree with you that we all read only what we want. Having rss feed of 3 other sg blogs (DM,YGG,DBM) I am deeply grateful to the owners for posting about new cds, videos, otherwise I wouldnt know what’s out there; but do skip the irrelevant to music posts and don’t have the comments feeds at all.

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