In yesterday's entry, I gave thanks for the voice of Etta James. Today, I'm going to give thanks for the voice and guitar of Otis Rush.
Some of you might be wondering if I have any family or friends to give thanks for with this sudden surge of music-oriented gratitude and I do, but it misses the point. I don't relegate music to some inanimate object of no tangible worth. It is and always has been a constant presence and companion in my life. I don't give thanks for every artist or song in equal measure and in this Christmas season, I'm only lifting my glass to a few of the special artists whose contributions to my life and universe are of special distinction. Otis Rush and Etta James haven't been with me the longest but the power of their singular gifts have made lasting marks on me.
I've been a blues student for just a few years now and I've heard many of the icons and masters of the idiom as well as some of the lesser known artists. To this point in my education, Otis Rush's Right Place, Wrong Time stands as my favorite electric blues album of all time.
Every song is a great moment, but "Your Turn To Cry" might be the finest. Rush's vocal is nuanced and rich and his guitar leads add the perfect punctuation. Add to that the unexpected directions the melody takes when notes go up when you think they'll go down and vice versa. So many riffs, rhythms, and patterns in the blues are so predictable and so deeply ingrained in even the most casual listener's memory that our ears start hearing the music before the notes are played. "Your Turn To Cry" uses that against us and it's thrilling to be surprised by the music.
This may not feel personal to you, but the music of Otis Rush is deeply personal to me. I can't entirely explain it but it's formed a bond with me that's even come to me in dreams. That's a lot deeper than anything you find in a stocking or underneath a tree. That's something you give thanks for.