RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Wednesday, March 2

J.J. Krupert Top 13 Countdown - February '11 #2: "I've Got Dreams To Remember" by Otis Redding

I don't really even know how to wrap my head around how much this song means to me. I grew up with my folks not playing much black people music, but definitely some. Stevie Wonder's Innervisions always seemed to be on heavy rotation on dad's hungover weekend mornings. They also had some Rudy Ray Moore 8-tracks they kept hidden in the one compartment of the wind-up Victrola (really, we had one... my mom still has it) that you could never open because the door was tight. But every once in a while, they'd bust out an Otis Redding album, might've been Live at Monterey or something, I know it was a live album, and shit just felt good. My mom would be chill, my dad would be chill, the house would be chill, I'd be building spaceships with my off-brand generic Legos called Brix Blocks, and life was good. Otis's voice is unlike anybody else's, raspy with reality, yet still somehow smooth as fuck. Even if his life experiences didn't back it up, you could hear that in his DNA was some real life shit - dirt roads and houses where the wind blew through, scraping change together and reusing bottles that most people would throw away, cars that required working on to get running in the morning.
At some point after my folks split up when I was 15 or so, my dad moving into a trailer about half a mile from my mom's house, I used a fake name to get 15 tapes from Columbia House. One of the tapes was The Immortal Otis Redding, and it became the most played ass thing in the trailer a lot of times, because the turntable on that all-in-one cheap ass system my dad bought was busted after not much use. This bummed my dad out, because he used to love playing records and recording them on the cassette deck, even using some shitty headphones as a mic to act like he was a DJ in between songs. Almost every tape he made started with that Buffalo Springfield song, "there's something happening here, but what it is ain't exactly clear..."
So yeah, The Immortal Otis Redding was in heavy heavy rotation in the trailer back then, which made sense because usually about half the dudes hanging out at this point were black folks from up and down our road, which was called Cocaine Alley before roads had named, but when they got names finally, the county named it Poplar Springs Church Road or something like that, after the big hundred-year-old black baptist church at the end of the road. But most folks back then knew it as Cocaine Alley. There was a particular group of four who would be playing poker at my dad's trailer on the weekends - my dad, his old friend Gary whose name was usually slurred into a "Gurry" who had a bunch of bad tattoos from prison including a rip-off of the Guns-n-Roses skull cross thing, another old friend a black dude named Bobby who had lived in the trailer that got put in next to our house and had a funny yet comedically loud and angry wife and two chill ass kids that were my younger sisters' ages, and then this other crooked tooth black dude from the other end of the road named Floyd who somehow had one gold tooth in his crooked ass mouth. They would all cheat each other and the piles of quarters would shift around until they started doing dollar showdowns to end the night, which were seven cards face down, something called wild, dealer flips a card to beat, first guy flips his cards one at a time until he beats what's high, bets go around the table, high bet doubled from quarter to half dollar, and ante was upped from five cents to a dollar. This would go on for a few hands, usually choking one person out of the game, and put another on the brink of quitting, until they'd call out one final five-dollar showdown, in the same manner, with dollar bets. Usually that was it, one of those that that made it a night. I sat in sometimes, my dad being stoked because it was less obvious to deal from the bottom of the deck to your side than to yourself, so sometimes he'd get mad at me for not betting something and after everyone was gone, he'd say, "If I call threes wild and you have a three right away, always bet that hard." And all of this for change and dollar bills. But I tell you what, there was about a six-month period of my junior year of high school that I never had a job but never once had to borrow gas money to go to school. Of course I was selling weed too, but I didn't pay for gas with weed money. I bought more tapes with weed money. And more weed.
Anyways, "I've Got Dreams To Remember" is the most Otis Redding song Otis Redding ever made. A woman is not quite being straight, and this sucks because all he wants is to be straight with this woman, curled up forever in impoverished bliss, fuck the world, we got each other. But she's not straight with him, so he's got to fall back to what he ultimately wants in life. I have, over the years, co-opted this song as a personal mantra, that initial horn-heavy sound, and Otis busting in with a hound dog sounding, "I've got dreams... dreeeeaaaaams to rememberrrrrr." That shit is thick like cornbread, and it sops up my sadness at the world every time. It somehow all at the same time reminds me of what I came from, which is kinda fucked but also highly special and has made me what I am, but it also still keeps me hopeful, keeps me thinking that yeah, I'm not doomed, regardless of how doomed it looks when I do a 360 degree scan around myself. It is a beautiful song, and I know for many people, the first thing they think of is "Sitting (On The Dock Of The Bay)" when they hear the name Otis Redding. That is a good pop song, for sure, but doesn't come close to capturing the soul searching perfect imperfection that was Otis Redding when he was really getting down to it.
STEAL "I've Got Dreams To Remember"
Another instrumental hoedown by one Mr. Boogie Brown!


Anonymous said...

As a kid I got into my mom&dads 45s and found Otis Redding's single Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. Using the kids record player, I tried it at 33 speed instead of 45. I played it like that a couple of times because it was fascinating, almost trippy to my kid head. I liked singing it that day at 33 speed, but I think it scared my sister.

Raven Mack said...

you were a good kid. your sister probably couldn't handle the realness of it all.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to hear this song think I may have heard before. I didn't grow up with any black people music but it was always searching for me it seems. When I found it it hit me then stuck. I always feel like there's impressions of Arkansas old realities ingrained in my being from growing up there even though I can't remember. I remember cotton fields at like 5 or 6 and staring as they went by the window and feeling like they had stories. And mountains those ozark type and shacks yard full of kids and animals not a shoe around. And the structural leftovers of lives both personal and business tucked away here and there. So anyway I'm thinking that's where I got some of it but now I say all that I think I got it from louisiana and virginia more. Arkansas was different

Anonymous said...

I seem to have forgotten to remember that I remembered. For what its worth