B. B. King

[Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes to you via my good friend Brian Gorman, who works for an accounting firm, but is also one of my favorite writers on the entire planet (his letters to customer service are the stuff of legend). I hope you enjoy his heartwarming story as you finish up the work week and get ready for the holiday weekend.]  


Ok bear with me YHT readers, like the opening to a Rush song I’m afraid this post requires a rambling introduction before it gets to the point and rocks out.

If you’ve seen Gorman in the last five weeks or so you may have noticed a pathetic and (and yes occasionally comical) limp- I have a busted knee. The origins of this are mysterious and painful so let’s skip that and flash forward to yesterday when I pulled into the parking lot of a VCU Medical Center lab for my scheduled MRI, wincing every time I applied the clutch with my left foot. I was late of course, and in an ironic twist I was so focused on keeping this knee locked and angled correctly while climbing out of the car that I slammed the other one squarely into the door panel and thus ended up shuffling my way into Radiology on two throbbing joints by making little kicks with straightened legs and swinging my arms like a middle-aged power walker. The lady behind the desk watched me come in and blinked wordlessly at me about seven or eight times before handing me the clipboard.

Twenty minutes later I was allowed to limp into the magnetic MRI room. For anyone that has never been in an MRI machine, it’s basically the lamest, most annoying roller coaster ride ever. They lay you down on a little plastic platform and slowly ramp you into this huge machine with a narrow tunnel that makes you feel like Spock’s corpse being rolled through the torpedo bay at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. These things cost like three million dollars each and take high-tech pictures of your flesh using of all things sound waves; as a result the most remarkable thing about them is the horrific noise they surround you with during the 35 minutes or so the imaging takes. Allow me to briefly describe this noise- it’s sort of a turbulent whir accompanied by an uneven ear-splitting clacking sound so it kind of sounds like an amped up combination of a vacuum cleaner on its last legs and a careless garbage truck crew, all of this interrupted intermittently by terrible sounds I can only describe as “screech- beeps.”

Or so I’ve been told. In actuality I only got a faint taste of all this because, as luck would have it, I was busy listening to something else.

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Taj Mahal

The Real Thing

Frankie and Johnnie (sometimes called Frankie and Albert) is a good ol’ fashioned traditional song about killing your sweetheart for cheating on you. All the greats have covered it. Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, ElvisLindsay Lohan. But it was Jack Johnson’s version that led me to Taj Mahal. Jack mentioned he styled his version after Taj Mahal’s, and it was the first I’d heard of the legendary, influential blues musician. That’s the amazing thing about covers – they form an endless chain, leading from one band to the next, cluing you into who influences who and who to check out next. My father-in-law recently clued me into The Real Thing, a high energy live album Taj Mahal recorded with a sizable backing band in 1971. It’s some of the most uplifting blues you’ll ever hear, with ENOUGH TUBA TO KILL A HIPPO!