Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bettye LaVette

I would have gotten around to it sooner or later, but I should thank Mark for expediting my exposure to Bettye LaVette's "I've Got My Own Hell to Raise." It's excellent. I leant it to Alma tonight to listen to in the car while running errands, and when she came home she told me she hated it, even after (or especially after) I noted they were all gritty soul intepretations of the likes of Sinead O'Connor, Lucinda Williams, Aimee Mann and Fiona Apple. Maybe she'd be more receptive on a Sunday morning.

I'm also about 100 pages into Peter Guralnick's "Dream Boogie," the Sam Cooke bio. It's not as good as his Elvis books, but it's fine so far as a portrait of an ambitious and talented young kid on the South Side of Chicago. Interesting how so many stars apparently sense they're going to be stars at a young age. Then again, stars are the only people asked if they thought they were going to be stars when they were kids, and of course they say yes. But all kids probably dream of being famous someday, somehow, in some way. Maybe not Sam Cooke famous, but famous all the same - no doubt there's a great deal of projection going on with "American Idol." Yet the dashed dreams of all these millions of kids - bound for mediocrity and disappointment at best - are never part of the public record, just part of a shared mass consciousness marked by failure.

Depressing? Sure. But the American Dream wouldn't be what it is if it came true for everyone, would it? And Sam Cooke wouldn't be special if everyone could do what he did. If it takes the failure of millions to ensure only one singer like Cooke comes to light, then so be it.


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