Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s I lived in Chicago. Popular music, whether created in Nashville or Los Angeles, wasn’t capturing my ears or heart. Fortunately, I could go down to North Halsted any night of the week and hear blues from some of the greats; Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Sugar Blue. After a couple of years, a funny thing happened. I heard Tony Joe White for the first time. Here was a guy taking those talking–well–mumbling vocals and putting them over a dirty, fuzzy, reverbed-up electric guitar and a rhythm section like the proverbial brick shithouse. Just like those tiny clubs on the north side. Except the songs were closer to Nashville than Chicago. It was a mind opening experience for me.
Turns out, it was like that for a lot of people. Check out this video: nobody else gets the Foo Fighters as their backup band. As you’ve no doubt heard, Tony Joe White passed away today and the world is a poorer place for it.
About the author: I've actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I've seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.