Song of the Week – Brickyard Blues, Frankie Miller


If you’re even a casual music fan (and you’re more than that if you’re reading this) you already heard that Allen Toussaint died last Monday, November 9th.

Toussaint, the legendary New Orleans musician, songwriter and producer, was responsible for many of the most important songs in the canon of rock and soul.

The list goes on and on. Here are a few of the most important and memorable.

Mother-in-Law – Ernie K-Doe
Working on a Coal Mine – Lee Dorsey, Devo
Ooh Poo Pah Doo – Jesse Hill
Southern Nights – Glen Campbell
Java – Al Hirt
Fortune Teller – The Who, The Rolling Stones and many others
What Do You Want the Girl (Boy) To Do – Boz Scaggs, Lowell George, Bonnie Raitt
A Certain Girl – The Yardbirds, Warren Zevon
Yes We Can Can – The Pointer Sisters

… and there are so many more.

Today’s SotW is another one of his great compositions – “Brickyard Blues.” This is another song that’s been recorded by many groups. “Brickyard Blues” was covered by Maria Muldaur, Levon Helm, B.J. Thomas and Three Dog Night (as “Play Something Sweet”). But my favorite is by the Scottish, white soul singer, Frankie Miller.

Maybe I’m partial to Miller’s version because it came from the album High Life (1974) that was produced by Toussaint and included renditions of seven of his songs. My first exposure to it came from the Warner Brothers “Loss Leader” album, Deep Ear. (Remember? You could send a couple bucks into Warner’s marketing department and they’d send you back a two disc sampler.)

Miller was a musician’s musician. His songs were covered from everyone from Etta James to Johnny Cash. Heck, Ray Charles recorded Miller’s “I Can’t Change It!” Otis Redding’s widow Zelma said of Miller “That little ole white boy has the blackest voice since Otis.”

Unfortunately Miller never had the level of success he deserved. In 1994, as he was planning a comeback with Joe Walsh, he suffered a brain aneurysm in New York. He was in a coma for five months, lost his speech and some ability to move, and racked up huge medical expenses (he was uninsured).

But we can still have his work with Toussaint to enjoy.

Enjoy… until next week.

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