When I was a kid, all I wanted was for my big brother to like having me around.
But he didn’t.
I was the albatross – decked out in Wrangler jeans and a Dr. Kildare shirt – hanging around his neck that our parents insisted he bear. By the time we were in junior high and high school, he tolerated me, most likely because he had the hots for my girlfriends. I don’t think he ever noticed that his taste in music had become my taste in music.
To this day, I can’t listen to Sam & Dave: Hold On, I’m Comin’ without thinking of my brother. I used to sneak into his room for it – the old Stax album with the bright yellow cover and a photo of Sam Moore and Dave Prater sitting on a cartoon drawing of a big, green slow-movin’ turtle. The title cut, “Hold On, I’m Comin’” always got my juices flowing and I would play “Just Me,” track three on side two, over and over again.
Another of his albums that I loved (and still do) is Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the group’s self-titled debut album from 1965. It changed my life. It introduced me to the blues, and I became an instant fan of Paul Butterfield, Elvin Bishop and the rest of them.
The memories brought to mind by the music are especially poignant for me now because my brother died last week. He stayed up to watch a show on the History Channel and died. Just like that.
I tell you this in order to remind you that this go-round we have here is a short one. We need to use our time more wisely.
I don’t know about you, but I plan to walk on the beach more often, listen to more music, spend more time with the people I love, cook more meals, kiss more people, read more books, read more liner notes, write more stories, enjoy my camera, drink finer wine, visit my younger brother, brush up on my French, get my passport renewed, go to Italy, suffer fewer fools, declutter my house and my life, get the hot tub fixed and find a turntable so I can play Sam & Dave again.
Thanks for the music, Greg.