“Etta James” by Brian Fallon
from the Album, Sleepwalkers (2018)
“Etta James” is Track four from Brian Fallon’s 2018 Album, Sleepwalkers, one of my Favorite Album Releases so far this year. This Song was my First Listen Favorite, standing out to me initially because of Etta James, who I am a huge fan of. Also, I have a longstanding love of Songs that mention other Singers/Artists.
Also this Lyric right here: “We sold our souls on the fantasies we found in records and black-and-white movies.” Um, yes, deeply, completely, absolutely yes. I feel like I’ve attached my soul to so many records and movies that I love. That Lyric hits me right in the heart, the gut, and yes, the soul.
The Song and the entire Album harkens back to what I fell in love with the first time I heard The Gaslight Anthem. Springsteen songwriting yes, but more than that. I feel more connected to Brian’s Lyrics, to the way the Songs unfold, the way he unpacks his sung stories. “Etta James” is like that for me. The more I Listen, the more I Press Play, the more I feel until the threat of tears stings my eyes.
Brian said of the Album and Song, to Rolling Stone Magazine:
“I feel like all these characters carry a trail behind them. They leave a legacy,” he says. “I got [the idea of referencing] from hip-hop. If you look at the Seventies and especially the Eighties, New York and East Coast hip-hop was always referencing the culture. With that song, I was saying I’ve got this feeling about this person and the best way I’ve heard it conveyed is through Etta James. Those references are bigger than my writing and bigger than the audience, but they’re ingrained in the memory.”
I feel this way about Fallon’s Music, and about all my Favorite Artists. That my feelings are conveyed through them, sometimes in bigger ways that I can ever express them myself. That’s part of the Magic of Music, a big piece of why I love Music so much.
The quote above I can feel in my own writing, too. Sometimes the characters that take shape on the page become something that has so much story and connection, and yes legacy, behind them. Parts of them are parts of me, but there are moments and molecules of every person I’ve ever known in them, as well as all the Songs I’ve loved, all the movies and books and shows I’ve consumed, the places I’ve been, and the Art that I’ve carried with me. When we create we also bring forward everything created that has touched us/our lives. That is some amazing Magic right there, don’t you think?