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"Tunes"

Dick Lourie: Pick of the Week [ed. Terence Winch]

Dick Lourie  web

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Justice

It’s been reported that when the Beatles

were introduced to Steve Cropper—white genius

of Black Memphis music—the four of them

all stood as one and bowed from the waist: an

 

appropriate homage I’d say     displaying their

good sense—and making me wish that those who buy

records were that astute     instead     as we know

Steve Cropper’s name is not yet a household word

 

except when compared with that of Lowman Pauling

his own acknowledged inspiration now

forgotten     who all through the forties and

fifties played guitar and sang with The 5 Royales

 

Black musicians making Black people’s music

in the USA of lynching and Jim

Crow     colored water fountains and early

death for Negroes who didn’t know their place

 

in a better world we would all stand up

you and I     John     Paul     George     Ringo     and Steve

“The Five Royales” we’d say     as if we were

up on stage proudly introducing them

 

before a huge enthusiastic crowd

“Johnny Tanner and Eugene Tanner on

lead vocals” we’d say     “Jimmy Moore     Otto

Jeffries     Obadiah Carter singing

 

harmony    and on bass harmony and

guitar: Lowman Pauling     Ladies and

Gentlemen” we’d say “this is like gospel

sweetness caught and held by the sting of that

 

guitar—soul starts here” we’d say “and doo-wop

starts here     so will you please welcome The 5

Royales”     and then we would all kneel and kiss

their shiny shoes

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Dick Lourie’s new book, Jam Session and Other Poems (Hanging Loose), reflects his half-century of engagement with two professions: he’s both a poet and a professional blues sax player. In the book’s title poem, Jazz and Blues are two old friends sitting in a café.  A previous book of poems, If the Delta Was the Sea, was inspired by his twenty years of visiting and playing music in the Mississippi Delta. In 1966 he co-founded Hanging Loose Press with Bob Hershon, Emmett Jarrett, and Ron Schreiber. He is still active as co-publisher and co-editor.

[Click for more information on Steve Cropper, Lowman Pauling, and the 5 Royales.]

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5 royales LPs

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly

Radio

I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark


from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

ThisWayOut
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