Best Covers: I Put a Spell On You

Watching The Voice this evening.  The show is not engaging enough for me to simply watch without a distraction.

One of the performers (Rob Taylor) covered “I put a spell on you“.  He’s a capable performer but I’ve heard better version of the classic.  In our family, the Halloween classic Hocus Pocus with Bette Midler is a seasonal must-see. We all watch it together and because we’ve seen it so many times we can anticipate the actor’s lines.  Bette covers the song very well.  It’s a great Blue’s classic and like all songs in this genre – the best song connects emotionally through the vocals.

I decided to abuse my Spotify account and try to figure out who sang it best.  Pretty much everyone has covered this song.

I think Annie Lennox is a phenomenal performer – but hers is not the best version in my eyes.  Jesse Cook – one of my favorite (but more obscure performers) has  a great version.  Even Marilyn Manson has a version which I like it until the performer insists on singing.

David Gilmour (with Mica Paris) covers the song.  Because it’s David Gilmour, it’s hard not to focus on the guitar styling he brings to everything he does.  Buddy Guy and Carlos Santana create a similar experience – you just can’t escape a guitar virtuoso.  They own anything in which they are featured.  It becomes a guitar performance.

My three favorite performers are Manfred Mann, Joe Cocker, and Pete Townshend.  They all three approach the song as a Blues Standard.  Each adds a unique element.  Manfred Mann is a smooth blues singer.  Joe Cocker is raw and emotional.  Pete Townshend is a polished, nuanced blues singer.

Here’s my favorite:

P.S. I’m not a fan of the honky-tonk versions performed by Leon Russell and Sam Bush.  That just does not work.  People also want to perform this as a jazz standard.  And God save us all, there’s even a Disco version of the song by some obscure group called The Hershey Barr Band.  I’m good with artists re-interpreting songs, but I don’t think this song can be done better in a different style.  It’s a Blues standard and is done best in that style.

P.S.  While I appreciate that Jay Hawkins authored the classic and was the original performer – his performances haven’t matched those who have covered his original work.

Earick Family Photo

As you grow older, your role changes.  As a member of a younger generation, I tolerated the stories my parents shared with the family history.  The oldest generation feels they have an obligation to ensure their heritage is not lost.  As each year passes, I’m getting closer and closer to being that person.  I’m not there yet – but I can see the corner I’ll be turning when that’s true.

So here I am sharing a few stories from my Mother’s childhood.  I am fortunate both of my parents have preserved their respective family records. We closed my Mother’s house in Danville in March of this year.  I was able to save more pictures and have started digitizing here and on Flickr.

This photo is from Adalene’s collection.  The house in which she and Ray lived in 1942 did not have a back yard, so they are posing here in their neighbors yard.  It was a bright day with the sun at the photographer’s back – and in everyone’s eyes.  Marjorie is in the lower right with Tom looking over at her from the center of the photograph.  She appears to be four or five.  Tom is two years younger than Marjorie, so he is three years old (or less).

As I started putting this picture in historical context, I realized that it was very likely that my Grandfather would have been in, or entering the armed service around this time.  I brought the question to Mother. She explained that Ray worked in a munitions factory – or the Proving Grounds – near Sandusky (I believe it’s known as Bogurt, Ohio today) and was exempt from the draft for that reason.

As a side note, this is the only photo I can currently find of Joe (lower left corner).  Joe died of electrocution at a very young age – Mother doesn’t remember how old.  It was traumatic for her and resulted in Mark and I receiving constant directions to be careful around electricity.

Back Row: Uncle Lewis, Aunt Janet, Adalene, Ray. Front Row: Joe Earick, Adalene’s Mother, Tom Spielman, Adalene’s Father, Marjorie

European Adventure

Earlier this year while working at the Kenwood Mall in Cincinnati, a patron at the store where Michelle worked struck up a conversation with Michelle. The woman (Charlene) was purchasing apparel for her daughter (Grace) who had recently graduated from High School and who was planning on taking a tour of Europe in celebration of turning 18. Michelle and Charlene found that they got along very well. It turns out that only recently Grace’s parents had discussed the idea of finding a travel companion for her as she traveled. Although I’m compressing the conversations that ensued, Michelle agreed to be that travel companion.

What follows are the various pictures taken on that trip.

The Ashes Follow the Willow

After finally succumbing to the Emerald Ash Borer, we have had the two Ash trees removed.

If you live long enough in one home, you eventually outlast the trees you planted.  I’ve written before how barren of trees our property was when we first moved into the neighborhood.  We could look out our back window into the farm field across the two-lane state route 41.  We spent the first few years hauling small saplings in the trunk of my father-in-law’s LTD out to the house.  Our property has a healthy four inches of top soil covering (at least) two feet of clay (I’ve never been able to dig a hole deep enough to judge the depth of the clay).  Digging holes for each of those trees was not something I enjoyed.

But now those trees are dying off.  In the spring, the Corkscrew Willow came crashing down across our back yard.   The Ash trees we purchased as a set twenty years ago were our most recent departures.  Both trees have spent the past two years slowly eaten away by the Emerald Ash Borer.  It was obvious they were struggling.  Entire limbs were suddenly devoid of leaves and in the fall the leaves fell earlier than they had in any previous year.  This year, in a desperate attempt to stay alive, each tree had started sending out new shoots from the base of the tree.

We’ve been talking about having the tree removed almost a year now (we are at times a little deliberate in our decision-making).  We had a few companies in mind and planned on having a few out to give us quotes.  The plan was to be deliberate and get quotes from a variety of contractors and select the one with whom we were most comfortable.  So like many of our plans, the opposite happened.  The very first contractor showed up, gave us a great quote and said he’d have the trees out that same day.  Like any spontaneous couple (that’s sarcasm folks), we accepted his offer. Continue reading “The Ashes Follow the Willow”