Monday, February 09, 2009

Black Things I Love #6: Al Green

I've often thought I'd like to write a book about my grandmothers.

My father's mother, Dorothy Mae, aka Dot, was a loud, funny, crude woman who loved Atlanta Braves baseball, fishing, and cold beer. She lived in a big house with a man I only ever knew as Mr. Happy. (I also thought he was a white man until I was in graduate school. I probably would have thought my grandmother was a white woman had I not known she was my grandmother.) She used chamber pots because she didn't trust indoor plumbing and kept a compost heap so she could use the worms for fishing. She bought my sister and I an Atari game system when they first came out and she fed us pineapple juice and toast whenever we slept at her house. We used to love going there.

My mother's mother, Tina, is not loud or crude. She very much believes one needs to behave with a certain amount of decorum in the world. Yet, she is also a woman who wants to be cremated and have her ashes scattered beneath the floorboards of a nightclub she frequented until it burned down. I was thinking about her last night as I watched Justin Timberlake (who comes pretty close to being a black thing I love) sing "Let's Stay Together" with Al Green at last night's Grammys. My earliest memory of Al Green is living in my grandmother's house, before my parents were married, and of spending weekends there after they were married, and hearing my grandmother play Al Green records on Sunday morning. This was a woman who grew up in a traditionally black "holy ghost" church (as we called when I was little) and who married a devout Catholic. There was an awful lot of church in her life. She responded to it by listening to Al Green sing "Love and Happiness" on Sunday morning. My mother says she always played a James Cleveland record first, but I only remember the Al Green.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is Al Green at the Grammys.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Al Green has something going on that I don't think anybody else has ever duplicated.