Some people have a talent for driving fast cars some for cooking – me I can show people how to write music, not necessarily brilliant music but good enough to remedy certain problems like classical musicians who want to improvise or people who fear they are too old to start.
My brother Ronnie trained me – I was his left hand so he could solo in the treble clef. I spent hours as a little kid accompanying his blues fantasies and that’s how I start most new students jamming blues on a shared the piano bench. When I was a kid I saw three of these guys in concert – Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee but oh what I would give to see or talk to Otis Spann.
Sometimes journalists want to discuss my piano playing often asking the same questions about Keith Emerson, Garth Hudson or Jerry Lee Lewis but I never studied any of those people – I guess that reflects the journalist’s record collection (especially what’s missing from it). I studied Otis Spann, Keith Jarrett and Joni Mitchell, if I was lucky some of it rubbed off on me but first and foremost it’s the real blues style that informs everything.
This singer, Jacob (killer) Miller is an amazing singer. His style incorporates a delay in his singing and I bet it came about from enjoying how delays were an instrumental effect. I imagine he thought it’s cool so why not imitate the delay back but I don’t know for sure either way awesome singing.
But there’s something odd about this song – I’ve always thought it’s take 5 by Dave Brubeck – Isn’t it Take 5’s melody? Even the B section? Just like my theory of how his vocal style came about I have a theory about this – I think it’s like George Harrison and the Chiffons. I don’t think George or Jacob Miller set out to imitate these songs but forgot how the melodies got into their heads.
Sadly I started writing this post because even though I never saw the movie The Rose with Bette Midler and even though I totally couldn’t give a shit about that song, one day 15 years after the release of my first record, the song and comedy man David Deneen-Porter told me In Her Dream opens like The Rose and he was right. I’m so ashamed. Now I never open with those notes in that sequence when I sing it ..would rather hear Conway Twitty’s version, he just speaks it and then nobody can accuse me of copying 4 notes. damn.
I’ve taught kids a little but they don’t show up wanting to study as much as fulfilling an idea their parents have so it’s uncertain whether they do the work each week, embarrassing for all. I would rather work with people who want the gold than those who want to please someone else’s idea.
One of my piano students is a guy who started playing late in life, in his 20s but he’s on fire and being on fire is an asset. Each week his hands go from being uncertain to confident. I’m not familiar with this – maybe he’s not human.