Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Kernel of Truth...

Most stories begin with a kernel of truth, and this is true in my collection, Like a Flower in the Field. The kernel can be an old man playing saxophone on the streets of San Francisco, or a hard fall from the steps in my home, or a visit to a bar in Laguna Beach. But sometimes the kernel is a song.

        I keep goin' back to Joe's
        To that table in the corner
        Sippin' wine and starin' at the door...

"I Keep Going Back to Joe's" was a hit for Nat King Cole in 1963. Ah, but the definitive version is by Bobby Scott, from a tribute album to Nat recorded in 1990. The album is titled For Sentimental Reasons and you can find it online at your favorite music site (I found it on Spotify).

        Our old waiter knows we're through
        Still he sets a place for you
        Everything the way it was before...

It is a long track, more than nine minutes, with an extended piano solo set between the vocals. Scott was a great jazz pianist and his gift is on full display in this recording.

        I keep goin' back to Joe's
        But the guy who plays piano
        Never plays your favorite melody...

The piano solo is terrific, but it's Scott's vocals that make this the ultimate torch song. His voice "...speaks of whiskey and cigarettes," and this song is a perfect fit.

        Joe keeps busy at the bar
        Never asks me where you are
        He was there when you walked out on me...

One of the chapters in my book is a one-act play titled, "Closure." When you read it, I suggest you have Bobby Scott's rendition of "I Keep Going Back to Joe's" playing softly in the background.

A song can be a great kernel.


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