Tucker Crowe is Hornby’s best conceit, giving us the opportunity to fill in the name of any artist, dead or alive, who has ever been fussed over by a cult following, virtual or otherwise. And there’s a long list to choose from – Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, Joni Mitchell, Paul Westerberg, Jeff Buckley, Eva Cassidy, Alex Chilton, and on and on.
Which brings us to the previously referenced fat man, Lowell George. The closest I ever came to obsessing over a musical artist was back in high school (I’ll date myself by calling it the post-hippie, pre-punk Seventies), when I followed every move of George and his band Little Feat. Basically, Little Feat is what happens when a slightly deranged singer-songwriter from L.A. combines his love of Chess blues with the funky rhythms of New Orleans and the Meters.
Aside from being a great singer and slide guitarist (and a pretty mean harp player to boot), George was a true original as a lyricist. He didn’t write songs as much as come up with oddly memorable words and phrases that seemed to work perfectly with the music: "Lady in a turban, cocaine tree, does a dance so rhythmically... She's cryin' and a singin' and havin' a time... gee that cocaine tree look fine" (from Sailin' Shoes).
Little Feat’s high water mark was in the early 70s, when George was still firmly in charge of the band. On albums like “Sailin’ Shoes” and “Dixie Chicken,” all of George’s strengths are on display and undeniable – especially on the title songs and cuts like Fat Man in the Bathtub, Cold Cold Cold, Trouble, Willin’ and Allen Toussaint’s On Your Way Down. “Dixie Chicken” even features a pretty decent tune called Juliette… although it doesn’t hold up as well today as the others.