Delbert & Steve
June 16, 2020
I have two stories -- one about Delbert McClinton and one about Steve Bassett -- that demonstrate there are good people out there.
I love the way Delbert and Steve sing. You might call it blue-eyed soul. For sure you would say they don't have classic voices. A bit of gravel in both of them, which gives their voices a texture you need to sing the soul/blues songs they sing. Little-known fact that Steve played organ in Delbert's band back in the day, and as he does for many artists, Delbert has sung backup on several of Steve's albums. If you check out Delbert on "Austin City Limits," you will see Steve on the organ on the left-side of your screen.
I'm writing like I know them. I should probably refer to them as Mr. McClinton and Mr. Bassett out of respect.
Sometime last year I was listening to 94.9 The Surf from Myrtle Beach on my computer. I should have been working on something for DOE, but since there was nothing to do (a common problem), I was poking around my desk bopping to the music. (Can you picture that?) On came this song with a wonderful hook - "she sure got a way/away with my heart." You hear a lyric like that, and it draws you in. I'd never heard the song, but I thought I recognized the voice. Delbert McClinton! And it was Delbert in awesome form with horns and the whole-nine yards. Now I had spent the better part of two months buying, downloading, ripping every Delbert McClinton song I could find - I had well over 200 songs of his songs in my collection. How the heck had I missed this one? So I went searching (aka, Googling). Nothing. I search used records sites, Youtube, his discography -- I spent the rest of that day and the next searching for the the song (your tax dollars at work). Finally, I gave up and emailed 94.9 The Surf and asked them if they could tell me on what record I could find the song. The station's morning DJ, Jim Morgan, emailed me back a photo of the CD cover - "Her Place" on a label I had never heard of. Great! I'll go online and order it, I thought. I went back on line - the CD wasn't available anyplace. My go-to used record outlets had no record (pun intended) of the album. Another two days wasted.
I spent the weekend trying to put the song out of my mind. "Come on Lucian, it is just like when you were a kid and heard a song on the radio - you didn't go out and buy it." My rational self fought a losing battle. I had one of those "in-the-shower" thoughts though on Monday morning -- I'll write to Mr. McClinton and ask "his team" where I can find the song. Off to his website I went and there was a "Contact Us" section; I wrote to someone who I hoped would read my plea.
His "team" turned out to a woman in Dallas who wrote me back almost immediately. She had written a book on Mr. McClinton but had never heard of such a song. I was devastated. I knew he had sung the song -- how could she not have known of it. She wrote me a second email saying that I had made her curious and that she would call Mr. McClinton and ask him about the song.
Is this story getting long?
A couple of hours later she sent me a third email saying that she had spoken with Delbert. He remembered singing the song as a demo for Johnny Sandlin in Muscle Shoals. The demo was for Sandlin to pitch the song to a country artist named John Anderson. BUT, he said the song was never on an album. (BTW, Sandlin was THE producer in Muscle Shoals, basically producing all the records coming out of there - including the Allman Brothers.)
My head was spinning. Ok, he sang the song but as far as he knows it was never on an album. But there is a station in Myrtle Beach playing his song from an album that I have seen a photo of. And somehow THE MAN from Muscle Shoals is involved in all this?
I was like Ralphie in A Christmas Story. My desire for a copy of this song was now approaching a fevered pitch. I only had one option left, one that I knew would violate copyright laws and probably lead me to a lifetime of hard labor in prison. I wrote Jim Morgan at The Surf and told him my tale of woe. I asked him if there were anyway he could send me an mp3 of the song. Within an hour, I had an email back from him from his personal email. Attached was an mp3 of "She Sure Got A Way/Away With My Heart" sung by Delbert McClinton. To this day, I get goose bumps when I play that song. It is such an awesome tune.
And by the way, John Anderson's version of the song sucks!
Onto my Steve Bassett story. Given my obsession with collecting tunes, I realized I did not have a digital version of one of Mr. Bassett's albums - "Live From The North Pole." (The North Pole was a restaurant in Crozier, Virginia.)
I went to Mr. Bassett's website where he has all of his albums for purchase (download), but no "Live From The North Pole." Bummed, I thought I was out of luck. But I took a flyer and wrote Mr. Bassett a note on his "Contact Me" on his webpage saying how much I have enjoyed his music over the years and how bummed I was not to find a digital version of "Live From The North Pole." I never really expected a response.
What did he do, he sent me the enclosed email with all the songs from the album attached. Wait! What? How cool is that?
Before I clicked "publish" for this post, I Googled "Her Place CD." Guess what? Somebody has an unopened copy of the CD for sale on Discogs for $50.00. I offered them $30. Even though I have the song I want, there would be something special about having a physical copy of the CD. I'm glad there wasn't one for sale when I really needed it. It wouldn't have made for a good story!
Another "before I click publish" story. I Googled "Steve Bassett at the North Pole" to see if I could find a photo of him playing there. I didn't find a photo, but I did find that he released two more albums recorded at the North Pole - "To The North Pole And Back" and "Merry Christmas From The North Pole." The Merry Christmas one is available on his website; the other, not. Another search begins!
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