Spirit in the Dark
I came for the book. I stayed for the album.
I like to read fictional books about music. Sometimes this can be a dangerous proposition because some of these books can be too maudlin (see: Every Note Played). I feel the same about The Music Shop. It was a decent read, but there was too much drama for me to just enjoy it. The premise: record shop owner, Frank, has a magical gift to know what type of music you need to hear. He doesn’t discriminate by genre and he knows everything.
One of the first visitors to his shop was depressed because his wife was cheating on him. He only liked Chopin and he’d listened to all the Chopin he had but it wasn’t making him feel better. Frank thought for a minute and then offered him Aretha Franklin’s 1970 album, Spirit in the Dark, specifically track #10, “Oh No, Not My Baby.” I’d never heard of this album, so I pulled it up and listened to that track. When that was enjoyable, I went back and listened to the whole album.
And now I am totally OBSESSED.
No. Seriously. I have listened to this album every day since I first heard it. There’s no reason why I should love it. It was created 10 years before I was born. It’s 12 seemingly nondescript blues tunes that lasts 39 minutes. There’s not really an underlying theme. It doesn’t contain any of her huge hits.
BUT I LOVE THIS ALBUM. I can’t stop listening to it.
There have been several ILL dance parties in the office to this album while packing mail. I can’t decide which track is my favorite. I love the slow jam of “The Thrill is Gone” (#2) and you can’t go wrong with the original draw of “Oh No, Not My Baby.” It took me a few listens to figure it out, but I also love “Try Matty’s” about the local hangout. It kind of reminds me of the Soul Food Café in The Blues Brothers where Elwood and Jake go to kidnap Blue Lou and Matt “Guitar” Murphy.
The library sadly doesn’t have the vinyl version because it’s now 2019, not 1970, but you can check it out on hoopla. Then find a friend with an old basement that still has gold shag carpet (they are out there, trust me), get out your headphones and lava lamp, lay on that beautiful rug and have a good listen.
Whatever you do, just give Spirit in the Dark a chance. Frank’s right. This one is a winner.
PS The Music Shop also reminded me of that Nick Offerman movie I mentioned not to long ago, Hearts Beat Loud. I kept picturing Nick as Frank, which is not a bad thing.
PS Spotify has a playlist for The Music Shop that contains all the songs. This would have been more helpful at the beginning of the book, but maybe I wouldn’t have listened to the whole album here. Anyway, check it out if you’re interested: bit.ly/TheMusicShopPlaylist.