Friday, June 13, 2008

A conversation with Al Green

“I sing what I want to sing. ’Cause I’m Al.”

PhotobucketListening to Al Green’s fantastic new record, Lay It Down, brought back memories of the strange and wonderful interview I did with him for his last album.

It took place on March 3, 2005, at the Apollo Theater. He’s royalty there, of course, and he was all guffaws and handslaps when he arrived with his entourage. But sitting down with me in the orchestra, he turned suddenly, preacherly serious, sermonizing in long parables, Biblical allusions and imaginary dialogues (between him and God, him and other people, and him and himself). He was candid, funny, raunchy, vulnerable, nonsensical and endlessly self-referential. I felt the awe, brothers and sisters.

A technical glitch in my tape recorder rendered the interview frustratingly incomplete. Right near the end, as he wound up a long allegory about Moses in the desert, the tape flipped, and 10 or so critical seconds are missing in which he connected the Scripture to his own life. Rev. Green ended the story in tears. Which is pretty much the way I felt when I played back the tape. Is it OK to say “goddammit” in an Al Green story?

Nevertheless, this interview stands as a career highlight for me, not just because I felt lucky to get his full spiel, but because the experience was so moving and mystifying. Looking back, though, I’m not sure I buy it when he says that in his old hits he sang about romantic love only to sell records. I think he meant it.

Tell me about being on the road. Are you on the road a lot?

Well, I’ve been on the road 76 shows last year. I did 76 shows, I cut a CD called Everything’s OK in the midst of the 76 shows. A video with Queen Latifah in the midst of the 76 shows. I did the Ray Charles, honoring Ray Charles and his life and all of that* during the 76 shows.

Why are you working so hard?

Because we are the chosen generation to carry light and truth to the up-and-coming, and to the young kids that be born after them. Yeah.

What do you mean?

It’s “I got sunshine on a cloudy on day/When it’s cold outside I got the month of May.” — “My Girl.” It’s “Sugar pie, honey bunch, you know that I love you/Can’t help —” OK? This says a certain thing. You’ve got to be able to have something to offer, and we have it to offer, the nucleus of it. Now, you can get over it, you can get under it, but the nucleus is: I love you. And they said it can only the be the nucleus if you mean it. If you really mean it, then you got the core of the thing. You got the gold. But if you don’t mean it, it ain’t worth foolin’ with it. Now, my mom told me that, and my mom is 83. She said, “If you mean it, Al, you’ll be the million-dollar baby. If you don’t mean it, it ain’t worth a dime.”

So it’s like something you put value in if you really, really, really mean it, that means I’m going to stick it out whether times are good or bad. I have listened to my own song when I was in a love crisis myself. I had to listen to my own song to hear what I was saying. “I’m so in love with you/Whatever you want to do is all right with me.” Well, why don’t you let me alone, let me do what I want to do? If it’s not being with Al, then, I mean, maybe there’s a season for that too? I mean, you said it: “I’m so in love with you/Whatever you want to do is all right with me/You make me feel so brand new/I want to spend my life with you.” OK, great. Do what you said. “I’m so in love with you/Whatever you want to do is all right with me.” Is it? And I had to say, “Dang, that’s my own words.” So I had to eat ’em. I said, [gulp sound] “Yep.” And once you stop chasing the butterfly it comes and lands on your shoulder.

So Willie Mitchell and I have been chasing this thing and chasing this thing for 30 years — couldn’t catch it. Now we stop chasing it and everybody said, “Oh, so that’s what he means.” “Love and Happiness.” God is love. Christ is the happiness of the world because he’s the reconciliation back to God. “Be good to me, I’ll be good to you/We’ll see each other walk away with victory.” And everybody going, “Oh, I didn’t know that’s what he’s talking about. I thought he was talking about me and Billie Jean out at the Holiday Inn, you know, 3 o’clock in the morning, you know, and we getting it on. He isn’t talking about that all. No, he did that to sell records. That’s to win you over.”

Did you mean it the first time around?

Mm-mm, no. I did it to sell records. I did “Let’s Stay Together” to sell records, because I know how to win you. Now that I got you, now can we get to my meaning, what I really meant by “Simply Beautiful”? “I’m Still in Love With You”? So she finally asked me, “OK, what did you mean?” And the meaning was that I really — If I was in New York City alone by myself and there’s a million women here, I really, seriously don’t want to be with nobody else but you. I mean, if they were at my disposal I really kinda like don’t want to be with anyone else but you. What sense would it make? “What are you doing? Where are you going with this?” Yeah. So until you get to that point you’ll always be wondering why. I learned that 35 years ago.

You got to be satisfied with yourself. When you look in that mirror you’ve got to be satisfied with what you see in that mirror. If you’re not, well, you got some things to work out yet. I learned that from some people older than me. When you look in the mirror, are you satisfied with what you see? And I just — I asked them, “What am I supposed to do?” They said, “I’ll tell you what, boy, if you don’t thank — Tell him that you appreciate what he’s done for you.”

See, he brought me a mighty long way. He brought me all the way. You got to be able to — “I want you to stand up and stick it out. Things ain’t going to go your way all the time just because you’re Al Green. You’re going to catch hell like everybody else. I’m going to make sure you catch it.” And then I asked the Rev. Williams, “Why?” He said, “Because we love you and I love what you’re trying to do. I didn’t say what you’re doing, I said I love what you’re trying to do.” I said, “Man, I just didn’t know it was going be this graphic.” He said, “Well, life is graphic. You either get it right or you get it wrong.” And we’re trying to get it right.

So I go home, it’s the family, the three kids — Kala’s got this leg, she’s 3. Trevor’s got me around the waist, he’s 9. And Al Jr.’s got me around the neck, he’s 12. And I’m on the floor laughing and wrestling with the kids and the old lady says, “School is tomorrow, I’ll drop them off if you pick them up.” That’s sharing.

On your new records, are you returning to something — your old sound, old messages, old spirit — or is it different?

I think you have to remain true to yourself. To thine own self be true, see. I go to the mirror again. You got to look in that mirror and you got to be satisfied with what you see. If you ain’t satisfied, you got to get to changing some things to make you happy. See, because life ain’t worth living if you’re not happy. If you’re not happy in it, baby, you’re just spinning your wheels.

But I’m happy. You know why? Because I know something that a lot of folks don’t know. And then again that which I know is so simple that a baby could — It’s like the Word. Some of the Bible is so simple a little child could walk in it and play in it. And then some of it is so deep, you’ll drown yourself if you ain’t careful. So Solomon said, “Don’t be too smart, because a lot of reading and studying wearies a man. Don’t be too dumb. You know, why should you lose your character and everything you own by foolishness.” So he said, maybe somewhere in the middle.

Between smart and dumb.

Between smart and dumb, right. You want to be somewhere in the middle. Daddy said if you’re at the top there ain’t but one direction you can go. And Mama said if you at the bottom, there ain’t but one direction you can go. So I figured like, ah, put Al around 4 or 5 ’round in there and just let me have my little fun. Look, I got a pocketful of little songs. I’m a preacher. I’m from a country town. What do I got? Nothing. I got a pocketful of little songs and some ideas. [Sings] “I’m so tired of being alone.” See? “Tired of on my own.” You see? “Help me girl as soon as you can, da da...” And the band go, “People say...” And I say, man, if you can’t feel that, [groans] ohhh.

See, this is something that will move you. It not only move the people, it moves Al. I get the feeling of hair rise up on the back of my neck. I feel the — Make you say that you [sings] “love me, doo-doo-doo/But you didn’t go for that.” [Laughs.] I said, “Oh, boy — did I say that?” God said, “I gave you the songs, Al.” I didn’t sing my songs for eight years. He said, “I gave you the songs, they’re beautiful songs, Al. Don’t let people tell you you can’t sing about love and a relationship or whatever the case may be. Everybody have them. And if those people hadn’t heard them songs they wouldn’t be sitting there listening to you.

Did anybody tell you you can’t sing your songs?

Oh yeah. The church folk said, “Hey man, you can’t sing that, you’re a preacher now. You can’t be singin’ no ‘Tired of Being Alone,’ ‘Let’s Stay Together.’ What’s wrong with you?” I said, “Well, you see, the songs you want me to sing is for Sunday.” They said, “Yeah.” I said, “But, see, God made [sloooowly] Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.” God said, “Sing your songs. I gave you the songs. You sang ‘Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy).’ ‘I’m Still in Love With You.’ Come back home. Sing about people having hard-time relationships. Sing about a woman saying, ‘Hey man, I give up. I don’t want to deal with it. I’ll take the kids and move to an apartment.’ Sing about the breakup and then turn around and, you know the words, make up.”

What is the spiritual message in these songs?

You just felt it, and now you’re going to ask me the question. I just felt it when I sang “Tired of Being Alone.” I reached out to you just then and I pulled you in. There’s something hidden. Look at the photos now that they have now. It looks like this guy, he knows something. But I can’t really tell what it is. But he knows something. And on this album that’s just coming out March 15th, Everything’s OK, he knows something. But you can’t really put your finger on it. But he knows something. He’s got a look on his face, a certain sassiness on his face, but it’s so beautiful, it’s so magnificent. He knows something but I can’t really put my finger on what it is. [Inaudible whisper, then loud, hearty laughter.]

Are you preaching all the time?

I’m preaching all the time, man.

You can’t stop.

I tried to stop. And that’s another personal story. I tried to stop. But every time I get lonely I’d be in the — [sings] “Can’t get next to you, babe.” And that was in my heart. That was in my spirit. That was in my — [sings] “What about the way you love me?/Oh, simply beautiful.” That was just in your heart. How can you get away from your own heart? You can’t — [faint organ music in background] I like that music. Thank you. — But you can’t get away from your own heart. Your own heart says you’re tied to me and I’m tied to you. I am what you want to be or what you’re going to be. So when you start, you are THIIIIIS BIG. And the man is thiiiis big. And by the time you finish, trust me, you are THHIIS big, and the man is THHIIIIIS big.**

Who’s the man?

[Inaudible.] — He blesses. He says, “You can go any anywhere want to go. You can go to Harlem. You can go to Manhattan. Because I made not only this down here, I made heaven and earth. And ‘I am’ is my name.” I said, “Well, on that note we’d better be careful like how you behave yourself. You have to live a clean life. You had your time with that, you had your fun with that. You had fun with the girls and the Champagne and firing up a joint, you know. We had our fun with that. Now, can we get to the real deal? The real deal is that there’s love in the world. Tell the lonely people.” That’s it. [Laughs heartily.]

You see now, that sounds so simple — It’s like there’s a secret in the message. If you take a walnut or pecan, it’s got a hard shell around it. If you don’t dig at it you won’t never get the pecan or the walnut out. You have to dig; you have to work at it. You ain’t just going to walk into heaven grinning and not have any trouble getting there. You going to catch hell like everybody else. But if you work at that pecan and crack it, and get the walnut and get the pliers and crack the hull and peel it off and then get it out from between the — that grows between the veins of it and all that — get the shell off, and you put it in your mouth, you’ll say, “That was worth doing, I think I’m going to crack another one!” That’s life. That’s right.

But you have to crack the cases of life to be able to go to another one. Because if you don’t crack the first one, there’s no point in going to another one. Because I haven’t cracked this one yet. You have to live and grow. I see some people that I started with still doing the same thing they were doing when I met them. But I’m going like, “How are you going to continue? You got to grow with life. You got to change with life. You got to stop doing some things and start doing other things. You can’t stay the same. You’re not 21 no more.”

What kind of things do you mean?

I mean everythang. I’m talking about real people, real incidents. There are people who do everythang. I do that, and they will tell you I do it all. OK, great. But I’m saying, “Then you were 23. Now you’re 43. So you’re supposed to grow as you go along. You grow, some things you put away, you don’t do that no more.” Some things you learn better — I don’t need to do that now.

I’ve been told that when you tour you only tour through Saturday and then you go back to Memphis on Sunday.

I do that a lot.

To preach.

Right. I do that a lot. If I’m out too far and I can’t make it [back] they have five other preachers there. But still, those people at the Full Gospel Tabernacle, they’re used to having someone like Al that’s going to sit here and dig and dig and find out all the ins and outs of why God permitted Moses to marry an Ethiopian woman and God got mad at Aaron and Miriam for fussing at Moses’ [inaudible]. But when he called them out he never said nothing to Moses about the marriage at all. Or, God get angry with David about being with Bathsheba as long as she’s Uriah’s wife. But David said, “Well, I can think we can fix that. We’ll put Uriah in the battle, put him on the hottest line and withdraw from it.” Well, that’s committing murder. But here comes Absalom, and there you go.

Do you ever sing the Sunday songs on Saturday night? Do you sing gospel on the road?

Yeah. I sing what I want to sing. ’Cause I’m Al. And everybody think that’s what I should do. ’Cause he’s Al, he can sing what he want to sing. Sometimes I sing “Amazing Grace,” then sometimes I sing “Take Me to the River.” I may sing whatever I want to sing because I’ve been doing this 35 years. And then everybody say, “He’s Al anyway, he’s subject to do what ever he feels that’s right.”

I think that’s a good thing, because if you’re married your wife is going like, “Now when he comes home from the tour I don’t know if he’s going to make mad, passionate love to me or if he’s going to go to his room and I won’t see him for two days. Or if he’s going to play around on the floor with the kids. Or if he’s going to get on the computer. I don’t know what he’s going to do. He may pick up his guitar and write a song. I don’t know what he’s gong to do.” So that’s keeps her always going like, “Hello?” And I’m going like, “Hey, how you doing?” Or I may not say anything. And she’s going, “All right.”

And by the time you get in the door, well, there goes the first button. Because this lady has been waiting for you a whole month, while you’ve been to Poland and back. And when you have somebody actually, literally, really waiting for you, they kind of like don’t want to go through the greeting part and all that. [Laughter from women in back.] ’Cause by the time you say, “But baby, I’m trying to get the bags in” — there goes the second button. “Well really, honey, I’m just getting in, I’m trying to get” — there goes the third button. And you’re on your way back to the — [Laughs.] “ ’Cause hey man, I don’t have time for all that. I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. Come on, man.” And when you hear her say, “Yeah, that’s fine, come on” — When you know that I’ve actually waited-waited for you, and I’ve had nothing to do with anyone or anything else. And so when you get to that point in life when you’re playing all these clubs and people and Vegas and Reno and all these places and girls and beautiful women all over the place and they’re just, “Ooh, Al! Ooh!” But in Al’s mind, I’d rather be with the wife and the kids. And I love you, you’re wonderful, I hug them, and things are great, da-da-da-da-da — but my mind’s at home. Yeah.

I remember in a movie about you, you were talking about how you wrote the song “Tired of Being Alone.” You were playing the chords and you said that you were just obsessing over it —

Right, that’s true.

— and you kept playing it and playing it. Do you still write songs that way?

I write it because I get obsessed with what the song is, and I can’t control my behavior on how I feel about something. I just feel how I feel about it. I can’t — I don’t know how to stop. Like my little boy says, it never stops. I don’t know how to stop. Like my doctor says, “Al, please, go out on stage, do a good concert, but don’t just sing your heart out, man, just do a little bit and stop.” Well, that’s been seven, eight years ago and I ain’t stopped yet, because I don’t know how to just do a little bit and stop. If I’m going to do it I have to give it all, or I’d rather give none. You either get it all or you don’t get none. That’s just it. I can’t come and just do a little bit and do a cute little skit and then I’m ready to say, “Good night, good night!” Hell no. I’m going to say stuff like, [singing] “Spending my day thinking about you girl/Now being here with you and being near with you/I can’t explain myself.” I like that too, not being able to explain yourself, why you’re doing what you’re doing. I don’t know, it’s the way I feel. I like that.

And I think in Memphis, the reason I still stay there is because they’ve kind of gotten used to Al doing what he does. And I may drive an old Chevrolet truck, and everybody say, “I know that man got a better car than that.” I know it. But that’s the way I feel. Let me be me. So they don’t say nothing to me. They say, “Hey Al.” I say, “Hey!” The next day I may come in a Rolls-Royce and they say, “Uh-oh, that’s Al.” And they don’t say nothing. I says, “How y’all doing?” They say, “Oh yes, reverend, I’m quite fine, thank you.” It’s a different thing, man. You come up in an old raggedy car. “Oh hey Al, what’s going on?” But you come up in like a 2005 Benz, everybody go, “Oh, that’s Rev. Green.” But that’s when you have to reach out to them and say, “Hey, how you all doing, Mattie, brother Jones, how y’all doing?” They say, “Well, just fine, reverend, just fantastic.” But now if you’re in an old tore up truck like I’ve seen Morgan Freeman drive too, down in Clarksdale, he’s just driving because he just wants to drive. Morgan Freeman, you know he can drive anything he wants to drive. He ain’t interested in driving. He just get in that old truck and go down to his bar and open up his restaurant and act like normal people. Somebody say, “Hey Morgan.” He say, “Heeyyy, Mr. Jones,” keep on driving. Well, I was in Wal-Mart the other day and — “Hey Al, how you doing?” I say, “Hey, I’m trying to find a scarf — see, I found it, yeah.” [Laughs.] They say, “Al Green going to Wal-Mart, give me a break.” What’s wrong with going to Wal-Mart? I like Wal-Mart. In fact I can find everything I want there.

I’m not a big shot. I’m an average person. And I hurt like anybody else. I bleed like anybody else. I’m not a Mr. Superman type of guy. I’m just an average Joe Blow guy that has a little pocketful of little songs, and that’s all I got to my name. And that’s it. I’m not great, I’m not fantastic, I’m not a prince, I’m not a king, I’m not any of these things. In fact, if I get a meal tonight I’ll be happy. And then I’ll thank God for that too. Thank you, Jesus. And I’m happy about that.

You know how God has done me? He put me waaaaay up here where I was a superstar, blah blah blah. And then he brought me YAAAAAM! — way down to the valley. So low, son, I had to fast and pray for 21 days to try to understand who is Al, what is Al, and what are you doing to me? Said, “I gave you the songs, Al, aren’t they wonderful songs?” I said, “Yes, sir, but the people said I can’t sing these songs over here,” blah blah blah blah. He says, “Well Al, life dictates that you can sing what I give you to sing. People are good at being judges but I’m the only real judge. There’s a lot of judges in the world. But you listen to what they say and keep on singing.” I said, “What about the joy? And that unspeakable gift?” And he said, “I’ll give you that too, because you’re mine.” I said, “OK.” “You’re from the house of David, out of the house of David. And you’re the children of Solomon’s servants. And Solomon was the son of David.” I said, [whistle] “All righty.” You see but you have to — they call the son of man. Hey — son of man, son of David. And Jesus himself stopped and says, [inaudible] He said, “My eyes — that I might see.” Jesus says, “See.” [Snaps fingers.] He went in town with them, seeing.

Life becomes difficult when you try to put drama to it, you try to make it hard. Christ didn’t make it hard. He told him, “You want to see? See.” [Snaps.] You see. But you want to go through all this mumbo jumbo, and [laughs] chewing up a bunch of vines and stuff, and shaking a bunch of dust around. You probably won’t get much done. But if you trust in a thing you ought to be able to speak that thing, and immediately [snaps] the words go out of your mouth and they go out to accomplish that for which they were intended. Because you’re son of God. See? God called you a son. God said, “The servant don’t know what the master do. But I’ve told you and therefore you are no more servants but you’re now sons. But you got to act like it. And you got to live like it.”

I’ve been here for three days. I ain’t done nothing. I ain’t going nowhere. But doing this. ’Cause I don’t have a desire to be nowhere. I remember I used to come to New York. I didn’t even have a hotel and I was running over to people’s houses, trying to find out what’s happening and what’s going on and get into it. But you learn from that. You learn from your mistakes.

How many times have you played here at the Apollo?

I can’t count. I can’t, I really can’t. I started here, though, after my first song, “Back Up Train.” And when I first came here they wouldn’t allow me to sing but one song — that was “Back Up Train” and then get off. [Laughs.] I thought that was very rude. I said, “I got all these songs, you know, and they made me rehearse all these songs, I should be able to sing at least three of them.” They said, “No, you sing ‘Back Up Train,’ Al, and come off.” So I sang my “Back Up Train” and I came off. But I played on, I got a chance to do a whole show just like God said. “You just be patient. Trust me, not you. You’re not Mr. Great Great. You’re just flesh and blood. You ain’t nothing. You’re a ball of clay. I made you. And seeing that I made you, I love you and I want you to do good, Al. Try to do good. Because I want you to live with me. And I want you to live forever.”

I want to live forever. Don’t you want to live forever? I said, “God, I sure wish I could live forever.” And once I got that thought in my mind I went out to seek how I might live forever. Live forever. See, that’s important. ’Cause I heard it in a movie once. A guy in a movie, Lancaster, said, “I sure wish I could live forever.” That haunted me for three years. To live forever — wonder how would you do that? Just like I said of the house of David. Say well, “Jesus comes and makes this statement, ‘Who shall believeth in me shall never die.’ ” But if you look at the world, since the world began people have been dying all the time. Now you got to crack that nut and find out what that means so you can get into that. “Who shall believeth in me, he don’t die. Die for what? I’m light. I am light.” And we have to understand what Moses meant. “Who should I tell the people when I get down to Egypt, who should I tell them sent me?” He said, “Tell them ‘I am’ sent you.”

These are little nuggets of life that you know that you — you got it. [Laughs] I can see it in your...

Yeah, I got it.

Yeah, I think you got it.

They are riddles, you know.

You get little blushes, little red blushes in your face, too. You see, because these things, they’re little riddles but you got to work them out. And once you work them out you can be the happiest, freest man in the world. Because I know the secret to what — Life ain’t about richness and drunkenness and a bunch of women and a bunch of money stuffed somewhere. That ain’t happiness. I’ve had money, I’ve had richness, I’ve had a bunch of women and I had all that. That ain’t happiness. Do I look high to you? I’m afraid not. When I was child I acted like one. When I became a man I started acting like a man. I don’t need to be high to do no show. I thought I’d need to be high to do every show. So me and Johnnie Taylor was trying to get Eddie Kendricks to smoke a joint. And Eddie Kendricks said, “Oh no, I got to do my show!” And Johnnie Taylor fell out, said, “I don’t know how the damn fool can do a show without one!” [Laughs heartily.] I’m sorry, but — OK, but that actually is real life. And Johnnie Taylor said, “I don’t see that how that damn fool can do a show without one.” So we all cracked up because, you know, it was funny. But then again, as you come into that you see what that is. And say, “Well, I don’t want to be governed, I don’t want nothing to rule over me, over my spirit, over my activities, over my mind.” Crack and all this here. I don’t want none of — Be looking, says, “That curtain is moving over there.” And I’m going like — I’m into another high — Some guy doing his business — I’m going, I said, “That curtain moving over there?” He said, “That curtain is moving over there.” I’m going like, “OK. I’m going to get the hell out of there. ’Cause if that curtain is moving, I’m gone.” [Laughs heartily...]

[...then suddenly serious.] Because these people don’t know how to be happy. That’s why they own all these things. They don’t know how to be happy. Let’s go back the beginning now. Look in the mirror. And be satisfied with what you see. See?

Are you feeling satisfied?

I’m beginning to think I’m learning — I’m learning what it means, some of the secrets. It ain’t about a bunch of money.

That’s all, just beginning?

Yeah. I’m beginning after 35 years. I started with Willie in 1970. So I’m beginning now to learn to trust in God. I’m beginning to learn not to trust in Al. What’s Al? Little ball of clay. [Sings very fast] “Tired of being alone/Tiiiired of on own/Tiiiiiiired” — yeah, right. Now what else is Al? Lord, I thank you. You been so good to me. You helped me when I was waaaaaaaay down in the valley, all lost. [Getting agitated.] There was nobody to help us. There wasn’t but 12 of us. And the sand was so hot to your feet. No water. Tongue parched. Coming through the wilderness with — Somebody said, “I wonder, can God — you claim he’s so much of this and that — I wonder, can he provide us food, out here in the wilderness.” Somebody got down on their knees and prayed, and said, “Lord, I know you’re [inaudible]. But I just wonder if you...” — Quails come flying in. They wasn’t dead before they hit the ground. But man, after a while those people had two or three feet worth of quails. They had to stay up all day and all night. And then they came to the rock. They said, “We’ve been without water for three days.” And people started to talk about, “We need to stone Moses out there.” And Moses and Aaron fell on their faces, and God said, “Go speak to — tell the rock I said...” Oh shit. [Laughs.] Everybody had something to drink that day. Although Moses lost his opportunity to enter into the promised land, everybody still had something to drink. Because when Moses hit that thing water came out there to feed over 600,000 people, plus the animals and everything else.

[Tape flips.]

... lady come out of the store, says, “You had something to eat?” And I said, “No, ma’am.” [Long pause. Cries.] OK.

Are you all right?

Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

* Genius: A Night for Ray Charles.
** He was illustrating this with hand gestures. The idea, I think, was that when you’re young and proud, you think you’re hot shit (arms wide) and God is insignificant (a pinch), but when you get older and wiser and humbler, you’re decent-sized (I think he was measuring a foot or so between his bands) while God is huge (fully extended arms). Got it?

Old testaments: Lou Reed, M.I.A., Stew.

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