As I write this comes the news that Etta James is seriously ill.
Etta James – Something’s Got A Hold Of Me (1962)
Etta? One of the most emotive voices in soul ever, a volcano of passion and raw feelings of love and hurt and desire stripped to the bone, no messin’, no dressin’, just pure and naked and beautiful.
I was lucky enough to meet Etta in London in 1989, the time of her pounding Seven Year Itch album for Island Records. Meeting her in her hotel room, I interviewed this regal queen of soul as she sat there on the sofa, larger than life and humble and kind. Oh, she’d been through the mill, junkie blues and all that, for years and years and years, was still healing and thus still wounded. There was something majestic about her, something noble. Perfection is sometimes being able to cope with being who you are.
And then she went on stage and bellowed and howled and bled and burnt and opened the very heavens with this voice both raw and intimate. For twenty-five minutes she prowled the stage, this goddess of feral soul, an angel who’s tripped, stumbled and fallen crying out joyfully from the brightened shadows of redemption, triumphant in her glory, sweat pouring off her like holy water. This is it, this is the real thing.
Etta James, I love you. You are in my prayers.
-BP Fallon, Dublin Dec 17th 2011
Etta James & Chuck Berry & Keith Richards & band – Rock’n’Roll Music (1986)