Monday, October 01, 2007

Tonight's the night (gonna be alright)

Visited the Shoals-area for the first time this weekend, well known to music fans as the home of both Muscle Shoals and F(lorence) A(labama) M(usic) E(nterprises) Recording Studios, which feature large in any history of American popular music of the 1960s, the 1970s, and even the 1980s. When Rod Stewart went solo and moved to the U.S., he recorded a lot of his famous hits here, including 1976's U.S. #1/U.K. #5/Worldwide #3 pop single "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)."

Why do I mention this song? Because during the fall of 1976 in our 8th grade music class this girl who sat next to me daydreamed and doodled for two plus months. But it was all only one thing again and again and again and again: the lyrics to the Rod Stewart song which provides us with our essay title. Obsessively over and over she wrote the following words on her denim notebook, on her desk, on loose leaf piece of paper after loose leaf piece of paper, on our Gordon Lightfoot sheet music—about which more anon, and even on her palms:

(Rod Stewart)

Stay away from my window
Stay away from my back door too
Disconnect the telephone line
Relax baby and draw that blind

Kick off your shoes and sit right down
Loosen off that pretty French gown
Let me pour you a good long drink
Ooh baby don't you hesitate cause

Tonights the night
It's gonna be alright
Cause I love you girl
Ain't nobody gonna stop us now

C'mon angel my hearts on fire
Don't deny your man's desire
You'd be a fool to stop this tide
Spread your wings and let me come inside

Tonights the night
It's gonna be alright
Cause I love you girl
Ain't nobody gonna stop us now

Don't say a word my virgin child
Just let your inhibitions run wild
The secret is about to unfold
Upstairs before the night's too old

Tonights the night
It's gonna be alright
Cause I love you woman
Ain't nobody gonna stop us now

It doesn't take a Freud or a Lacan or even a close reader of any skill ("Spread your wings and let me come inside") to know what was on her mind. I guess she thought he, his androgynous looks, his girlish hair, his jaunty straw bowler, and his black and white polka-dotted ascot WERE sexy.

Well she apparently wasn't alone . . . . Hey, Ben Elton even called his Rod Stewart Musical, Tonight's The Night! Not Maggie May, not Sailing, not The First Cut Is The Deepest, not Do Ya Think I'm Sexy.

At some level I can't blame her no matter how hard I try because the alternative was paying attention in a class where the desperate, recent-FSU College of Music grad attempted to be "cool" and "relevant" by playing a classical guitar rendition of the opening of "Stairway to Heaven" (yawn!) and then by making us study one "pop" song for an entire six weeks period. I unfortunately PAID ATTENTION. His stirring choice, Gordon Lighhtfoot's epic "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

As Patterson Hood once intoned, "You know it's a very very long song." At 24 fifty minute class sessions, that's roughly 85 minutes per stanza. We discussed the instrumentation, we discussed the lyrics, we examined its use of chords, rhythm, harmony and syncopation, hell we even threw "perfume on a violet." Not surprisingly, those classes were about as successful as the SS Edmund Fitzgerald's Lake Superior voyage of November 9-10, 1975.

Enough ancient musical history, why exactly was I in Florence, Alabama? Well, a local friend who originally hails from Florence was marrying his long time girlfriend Stephanie at St. Michael's Catholic Church in the German Catholic burg of St. Florian, AL, which was founded in the 1872 by émigrés on the site of the former Wilson plantation.

Their-post ceremony ride looked suspiciously like a similar model that Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman famously rode in after their nuptials at Marylebone Registry Office.

The "ring bearers" were adorable.

Here Dr. Dunaway reads from the Good Book.

A few snaps of the bride and groom's parties respectively.

Soon enough we were presented with Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Purser. Then they left the church headed for the cool Roller . . . .

The post-wedding reception was held under a tent on a nearly perfect evening weather-wise at Kasmeier Pond. This is the unofficial MSU Sociology mafia table.

The next day we had lunch at Sidelines Sports Deli and suffered through Mississippi State's loss at South Carolina.

Now that I know the way, I'll have to head back for some extended tourist fun, including the aforementioned recording studios, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, the W. C. Handy Birthplace, Museum & Library, Ivy Green, the Helen Keller House, Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian

Rosenbaum House, Belle Mont, Pope's Tavern, the Renaissance Tower, and of course the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard!

PS To Gorjus:

That was payback for the travesty of a game in 1974 (8-7 Bama wins at home with copious help from the refs). Send those side bet CDs at your leisure.

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