2) “Chicken Shack:” Considering that we’re talking about a 97-year old man who continues to tour, I wonder how many thousands of times Pinetop Perkins has played “Chicken Shack” in his career. As I mentioned earlier, it is one of the great and profound thrills and honors of my life that I saw Perkins in person. In fact, you can check out the same performance I witnessed:
3) “Kansas City:” I’m sure Perkins knew this song before he did the impossible, replacing the irreplaceable Otis Spann in Muddy Waters’ band. He played this song with Muddy countless times and this one continues to be part of his live repertoire. He played it on the Grammy-winning blues album Live in Dallas with The Last Of The Great Delta Bluesmen (which included Robert Lockwood Jr., Henry James Townsend, (both since deceased) and Honeyboy Edwards) but I’m partial to the version he did with Waters on Muddy’s latter-day live album.
4) “Take My Hand, Precious Lord:” This hymn was written by Rev. Thomas Dorsey and adapted by Perkins for the album he and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith released last month, Joined At The Hip. Listening to this reminds me of something I wrote about listening to Johnny Cash's American V, released shortly after his death, “Hearing what is left of that voice and knowing what it was communicates more powerfully than the words of any poet or lyricist. He could have easily stopped recording when his health and voice began to fail him and no one would have blamed him. Instead, he left us one more gift. The distance from life to death is more tangible.” Listening to the 96-year old Perkins singing about being tired, weak, and worn and reaching for the hand of his savior should reduce everyone who hears it to tears. It had that effect on everyone present when the song was recorded, according to the wonderful liner notes by noted historian Bill Dahl.
*Photo by Amy Brat, (2010).