VARIOUS ARTISTS / “You Send Me Mixtape”
You Send Me
if i minutely describe
dark supple mountains
and supine warm valleys,
someone might think
i was way out west
or unhurriedly murmur
about the pleasant
tugging strength of the ebb
and ocean flow,
it would be easy to imagine
or satiately sing
of the soft sensual sway
at the top of trees,
beige trunks pliantly bending,
a person could say
ain't it funny
how far you
even as i stay
in the geography
of your embrace
* * *
So this Mixtape happens by happenstance. What had happened was… I was looking for something else, thinking about what song or artist to cover. I forget exactly what I had in mind but it wasn’t “You Send Me.”
Besides, we have already written extensively about Sam Cooke (here
). I didn’t feel a need to do another Sam Cooke feature except some kind of way I thought about Pharoah Sanders and his version of “You Send Me”
and I was pretty certain there was a reggae version. How ironic is it that the reggae version is by a man named (Max) Romeo? And then there was that great Roy Ayers version—so I said, check it out, see what it sounds like.
Boy, I was blown away! Man, I could hardly believe all the beauty invested in a double handful of covers. What impresses me most is the diversity of approaches, especially how each of the signature vocalists retains their sound while covering Sam. I mean, you heard Jerry Butler as soon as he opens his mouth and sooner than that with Otis Redding.
Son, Otis ain’t no joke. That man could sing anything, everything and sound like the stone truth. Every tone he pours forth is so full of sincerity that his sound surrounds him with an afterglow, an aura of sincerity that seems spiritual. Otis’ sound is so profound that when you hear him, he makes you go to seeing spiritual stuff.
And Aretha, shucks, Aretha is beautiful, just plain beautiful, if there is indeed such a thing as “plain” beauty—or maybe the deal is, Aretha’s singing is so beautiful that it’s plain enough to see even with your eyes closed in the dark of midnight. And so forth and so on.
I sure wish Pharoah Sanders had unloaded on an R&B album in a stripped down format like this duet with pianist Ed Kelly is. The spiritual sweep of his huge horn, roaring like a tender storm—you know, one of those bad-ass nights when the rain whipping the window pane is the perfect counterpoint to horizontal intimacy. Pharoah got that kind of sound, like when you lift up with your arms in a push up position, arch your back, be breathing thru your mouth cause even with you big black nose you can’t take in enough air through you nostrils, and in the back of your consciousness your lover is urging you on like you Usin or one of them Jamaican runners about to break another world record. Pharoah sound like that, like the pounding love noise you make, be almost louder than the thunder outside. But still, despite the loudness and maybe because of the intensity, still it be some of the most tender moments you ever experienced.
Mica Paris out of London (I always wanted to drop that descriptive phrase) goes for understatement, singing the song real straight, like a public display of affection. Or maybe a kiss in the cathedral when you got married and were pledging…(it’s not a particularly sexy meeting of the lips but it thrills you nevertheless, so moving perhaps because it is so sincere, a way of saying: hey, God, look, I really, really dig this man/woman/lover, whatever, I mean this with all of me... you know what I’m saying! (That’s a definitive statement, not a question.) And if Mica is the wedding, Aaron Neville is the dance at the reception. Still public but a bit more carnal. The prelude to the honeymoon.
It’s interesting how intimate is this song despite its PG lyrics. The sexiness of the song is not in the words. The X-factor is all them damn oohhhs—those long tones, when the sound expresses where you at and what you intend to do.
And you know, Jose with that guitar is a whole other kind of trip. That Spanish tinge and all that, especially how Jose Feliciano hooks up the guitar runs after he done bore down hard on the opening chorus. Hard out the gate and then going tender as he gets close—womens likes that kind of carrying on (and to complete the equation, mens be liking the inverse, she be all sweet and demure until she grabs you).
I know I said I hate smooth jazz but there is always, always an exception to every rule and Roy Ayers is the exception; like Jose, Roy got that rough/smooth dialectic move going on between him and the lead singer Carla Vaughn. One minute they are cooing and oohhing and the next thing you know they damn near screaming. (I guess you know what kind of love making that was.) And speaking of smooth, back up a second and notice that Jerry Butler put an interesting arrangement together, sort of like a fake-out cause at first you don’t hear no “You Send Me”
in the intro. I wonder what it would have sounded like if Roy Ayers and Jerry Butler had hooked up—course, that’s just like a brother, when the stuff get good, he go to fantasizing on a whole other level—baby, what would happen if you…
Oh, the power of song… you send me, you send me… Roy is doing that slick, two-step doo-wooing: do-da-due-dip-doooo. Oh this shit is good.
All these deeply different versions is freaking me out. (I was just hearing Otis doing that “I know/I know/I know” break in the song. And then Pharoah follows Otis, and it’s perfect. Pharoah’s horn sound is the instrumental deeptitude of Otis’ throat.) One song, so many different cycles. This is damn near a George Washington Carver textbook on a dozen different ways to do the sacred nasty.
Especially, considering that we end up with that wild chile Rachelle Ferrell on whom the creator placed no limits when it comes to what she can do with her voice. Plus, she play that piano too. Saw her one time up in New York, George Benson was on the program but the show was hers. Check out how she ends this bad boy.
Tight grip on the buttocks, fingernails indenting flesh, and oh baby you just want to keep going til you can’t go no more except you already exhausted and instead of speeding up you have fallen to almost a dead stop, almost dead, almost stopped, but you still twitching, tremors shaking your body from hair-tip to toe-nails.
Notice how Rachell cues the band, and they switch to half fast while she is still wailing and then they all fall out together. You got to pay attention, cause it happens real slick like, catches you off guard. And before you know it, the song is done, you are done, gone. Fini. Kaput.
After you catch your breath, you can roll over and hit that rewind button if you are of a mind to, or you can just lay there and listen to the echoes in your head. Darling, you send me. My sentiments exactly.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
“You Send Me” Mixtape Playlist
Some of the sources for a couple or three of these tracks are suspect. Where I know for sure the track is commercially available I’ve included a hot-link, otherwise just consider it some BoL lagniappe (i.e. a little something extra given free)—turns out only the Jerry Butler is unavailable.
01 Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964
- Sam Cooke
02 Soul Classics
- Mica Paris
03 The Soul Goes On
- Jerry Butler
04 Aretha's Gold
- Aretha Franklin
05 Pain in My Heart
- Otis Redding
06 Ed Kelly And Pharoah Sanders
- Ed Kelly And Pharoah Sanders
07 Bring It On Home... The Soul Classics
- Aaron Neville
08 Reggae Legends: Max Romeo & Roman Stewart
09 You Send Me
- Roy Ayers
10 Live At The Blue Note New York
- Jose Feliciano
11 Live in Montreux 91-97
- Rachelle Ferrell
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on Monday, September 28th, 2009 at 3:03 am and is filed under Cover.
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