Bell has a new album out this year and the title song “This is Where I Live” is a kind of autobiographical story of his life. He sings of growing up and hearing Sam Cooke and then writing songs of his own that have taken him around the world.
I love the idea of “The Three of Me”: “Last night I had a dream and there were three of me. There was the man I was, the man I am, and the man I want to be.”
The first two songs sound great–classic soul with horns and lots of bass and backing vocalists.
Bell’s voice sounds great as well. He sounds like a veteran soulmaker. And although he sounds timeless, I’d never guess he was 77 years old. And yet, he co-wrote “Born Under a Bad Sign,” which I thought was older than 70 years.
Either way, he plays it here. I think his is the version I know least well (he mentions that even Homer Simpson has done a cover of it). Bell’s version is, of course, great.
And here I have to mention his backing band There are about 12 people all wearing bright yellow shirts. And just about every person with an instrument gets to do a solo during “Bad Sign” which is why the song clocks in at about 10 minutes.
It starts with a great bluesy guitar solo, and then in turn we get to hear bars from saxophone, bass, organ, piano, bass sax, soprano sax and trombone. The backing band is called The Total Package Band. And they sound perfect for Bell’s music.
[READ: March 1, 2016] “Gorse is Not People”
Here’s another case of the same author being published just a few months after their previous story (June).
This story had a date at the end of the story–1954. I had to look up some details about Janet Frame. Turns out that she is an author from New Zealand and she began writing in the 1950s.
I don’t know if that’s what makes her stories seem so alien to me or what. I found her previous story to be pretty inaccessible. And this one is also pretty out there. It also seemed very un-PC–which makes sense if it was written 60 years ago. But the previous story was all about someone in a psychiatric home. And this one is also about someone who is in a special place “in the yard where they put people who were strange in shape and ways”
Naida is a dwarf. The narrator says that we see many dwarves in our lives and we think, “It must be strange, how strange it must be, such tiny folk, and us out of reach, like tall trees.” And she has lived in the mental hospital since her tenth birthday.
The story opens with a quote that on your 21st birthday you get the key of the door. So she assumes that she will get a key, be free of the hospital and be off on her own to get married. She believes that this day will be a majorly important day for her. She says she will marry the pig man and they will go to Hollywood or Mexico City.
None of the nurses or doctors will acknowledge what she is saying. But they tell her that she will be leaving the facility that day.
On the way to the city they see a field of gorse. She says she wants to go out into the sweetness of the gorse. And that gives us the title, although I don’t exactly see why.
Frame’s other story was pretty much a downer, and I’m afraid so is this one. Although, on the positive side, I really liked the way it was written.