Learning the Blues Ch. 02

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“Thank y’all for coming out tonight,” Tommy muttered into the mic, his deep voice rumbling through the P.A.

I closed my eyes and absorbed the warmth of his drawl, that Southern twang that was so iconically…Tommy.

“It’s always good to be playing at home. We were playing in Louisville last week. They was good people, but I just couldn’t wait to get back to Alabama.”

Tommy smirked and played the opening riff to “Sweet Home Alabama” on his guitar, much to the delight of the crowd.

“Thank you, you’re good people,” he chuckled as his drummer rolled his eyes and played a rim-shot for effect, “We got a good show for you tonight. We gonna get things started tonight with a tune by Mr. John D. Loudermilk, covered by everybody from Miss Nina Simone to Norah Jones, ‘Turn Me On.'”

With that, the drummer clicked the tempo on his sticks and the three of them slammed into a bluesy riff of a song I thought I’d heard before. I had to admit that they were good…amazingly good. I never knew that three instruments could make a sound so big and full. It was a little disconcerting. Then Tommy opened his mouth to sing and I nearly fell out of my chair.

I had never once in my life bothered listening to Tommy sing. To me, it was a stupid hobby that he always kept hidden from me, which had been, I assumed, because he wasn’t very good at it. Jesus Christ, was a I wrong. Listening to him sing…Jesus, I had to cross my legs to hide the boner. It was like he was making love to me with his voice. I can’t explain the quality, the texture of his voice. In one moment, it was like being dragged through a quarry full of jagged rocks, the next it was like being wrapped up in warm liquid velvet..

Every now and then, he’d back away from the microphone and this sound, this unbelievably mournful wail would pour out of his guitar amp. I never knew he was that good. I honestly never paid attention. It was like being transported back in time sixty or seventy years to the Mississippi delta or to the streets of New Orleans or to the hills of Kentucky. It was like he had taken three different regions of the country, added angst and depression, mixed it up with anger, then added some hard liquor, and poured it down my throat. It burned so fucking good.

The club was stone-quiet aside from the sound of Tommy and his band. People were watching him like…hell, like he was their lifeline, their only hold on reality. I watched a woman squirm in her seat, her chest heaving as Tommy’s guitar continued to wail. She was sweating, and from the looks of it, panting too. Her nipples were so hard, they were practically digging a hole through her blouse. I even practically whimpered myself as the song came to an end.

Tommy nodded at the drummer, who “clicked” them in for the next song, tapping out the tempo on the hi-hat cymbals next to the snare. The next song was faster than the first, a classic eight-bar blues tune. altyazılı porno

“This here’s a song I wronte about a broken heart,” Tommy half-muttered into the mic so softly I almost didn’t hear him.

I can’t love you baby, can’t love you though I’ve tried.

He bellowed the line again, pure grit and angst dripping out of his voice.

I said I can’t love you, baby. No matter how hard I tried.

I gulped as he brought the third line home.

So I’m walking out that door, baby, a man’s gotta have his pride.

I felt myself go pale. It was like he was singing about us.

You done me wrong, darlin’, ripped my heart out of my chest

You have done me wrong, sugar, ripped my heart up out my chest

Now my nights are so long without you baby, without the one who loved me best.

The room began to get smaller, my head lighter. I couldn’t stay any longer, not like that. Not with him pouring his guts out on the stage so I could hear him. I couldn’t take the pain in his voice. I thought it would be easier when he backed off the mic and started into his guitar solo, but it turned out to be a derivative of the melody, and each note was a slap in the face.

Then something happened, and it was like he just came…uncorked. His fingers flew down the neck of the guitar, working some unholy voodoo magic on the frets. The sounds that came out of his amp…

“Oh my God,” I heard someone whisper in awe, “are you hearing this?”

Even his bass player was watching him in disbelief. It’s hard to put into words when someone does something like that. There’s an energy that comes out of them, and if you’ve never heard the blues, well…I just don’t think you would understand. Let’s just say that Tommy didn’t belong in some smoky club in Birmingham, Alabama. He belonged on a stage in front of thousands of people, sharing this incredible gift.

He soloed for about three straight minutes before his face inched towards the mic.

I tried so hard to love you baby, to hold you in my arms.

I swear, I tried to love you baby, to keep you safe in my arms.

But you killed me with your eyes, darlin. Pushed me out into the storm.

He looked out into the crowd, his unruly curls hanging down into his eyes as he rasped out that last line one more time.

But you killed me with your eyes, darlin. Pushed me out into the storm.

He and his bass player played an intricate outro, and then the song was over. The crowd visibly relaxed, the raw tension in the air dissipated…for now.

For what seemed like hours, Tommy and his band took everyone in that room on an emotional roller coaster. It was exhausting and I couldn’t believe how much his music was affecting me. He didn’t always play slow, mournful songs. Occasionally, he’d play classics from Journey or Boston or CCR, the kind of music that patrons of a bar in the South would go crazy for. türkçe altyazılı porno He was a god on that stage, and true to Tommy form, he didn’t even realize it. Most of the time, he looked so lost in the music that it was as if he didn’t even realize where he was.

Finally, after three songs of nearly frantic pace and tempo, Tommy pulled up a stool and adjusted his microphone as he sat down. He reached down and picked up a towel on the floor and wiped the sweat from his face with it.

“Sometimes,” Tommy said, the southern accent in his voice much more pronounced than the last time I’d seen him He twisted the tuning knobs on the neck of his guitar casually, then adjusting his amp he continued, “sometimes loving somebody ain’t enough, you know? You…you try to save somebody…”

He trailed off, his eyes looking into the crowd. I sank down deep in my chair, my heart pounding in my chest.

“…and they don’t want saving.”

He pushed the hair out of his eyes, tucking it behind his ear. Christ, it looked good long, and he looked unbelievably sexy with his scruffy shadow of a beard.

“This next song is about that. It’s about losing yourself in the…in the music of someone,” he explained, the passion in his voice pulling me in, “it’s about getting so caught up in their…well, their song, that you can’t hear the world crashing down around you. It’s a tune by Mr. Leonard Cohen, a fantastic songwriter, but it was made popular by one of my musical icons, Mr. Jeff Buckley. You may know it. Sing along if you do.”

Tommy played the opening chords to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and my eyes began to burn. The song had been a favorite of mine for a while, though the haunting chords and melody did nothing to sooth my melancholy. By the time he began the third verse, the lady at the table next to mine was crying openly.

Baby, I’ve been here before. I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor

You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya.

The drummer began rolling on the cymbals with a pair of mallets, causing me to rise up to the edge of my seat with the coming crescendo.

But I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch, and love is not a victory march.

It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.

Tommy’s voice cracked on the last note, as he tumbled into the chorus, the slow, haunting repetition of the word hallelujah. His voice, previously all velvet and gravel, became something very different. It was shaky, unsure, pliant. Where his voice before had wrapped around you, seducing you, caressing you…his voice now was a little boy, shivering naked in some back corner somewhere, begging you to save him.

“Jesus Christ,” I whispered as the waves of emotion washed over me.

As the song ended, Tommy shuddered. It made me intensely sad.

I watched as he collected himself and grinned at everyone.

“My name is Tommy Templeton,” hd altyazılı porno he said, pulling his worn red baseball cap back on so that the shadow covered his eyes, “and that there’s Mr. Jimmy Schute on the bass, and my main man Tyrone “Sweet Tea” Johnson back there on the drums. We are the Tommy Templeton Trio. We’ll be here all night and we’ll be back in 30. See Sue in the back and check out our merch table.”

I sat in stunned silence for the next ten minutes, just processing the music. Part of me wanted to find Tommy, to talk to him, to show him I still existed. Part of me wanted to just leave, to find some bar somewhere and drown myself in booze. I was still staring at the stage when the waitress who tried to offer me a drink earlier put a glass of water in front of me.

“I told you, didn’t I?”

I looked up into her plump face and I felt a tear roll down my cheek. Embarrassed, I wiped it away.

“You’re not the first person to cry when Tommy sings,” she smiled, patting me on the shoulder.

“Is it…always like that?” I asked, wiping another stray tear away quickly and trying to pull myself together.

I took a sip of the glass of water as the waitress paused for a moment, clearly thinking about her words.

“Yeah,” she nodded, after a while, “Tommy’s just got that…something, you know?

I frowned for a moment, then tossed a few singles on the table as a tip for her.

“Yeah, he sure does, doesn’t he?”

I shoved my hands in my pocket and headed toward the door, trying to ignore the look she was giving me. I sort of get that look from people sometimes. You know the one I mean, all hungry and smoky and picturing you naked? These days, I try to ignore it. It makes me nervous.

As I pushed my way out of the double doors of the Red Carpet Lounge, I took a deep breath. The air was thick, but cool in a way that only those who have lived in the South can understand. I pulled my jacket closer around me because, well…like I said earlier: I’m always cold. That’s when I noticed him. Him.

I froze, not daring to move. He was talking on his cellphone, smiling, laughing. He ran his fingers through his long hair, which was a little damp with sweat. He rubbed the back of his neck and my stomach began to churn. I was about to turn when his eyes locked with mine. He smiled, nodding at me in that way Southerners do when they acknowledge a stranger, but I was too frozen with terror to return the gesture.

Then, I could see the flash in his eyes when he figured out I wasn’t a stranger. He recognized me. Shit.

Author’s note:

I encourage you to check out the songs featured in this chapter on YouTube or another streaming site. I wont’ include links as that would likely violate this site’s rules:

-Turn Me On: I prefer Norah Jones’ cover

-Out in the Storm: For a musical analogue to the song Tommy wrote, check out the Allman Brother’s version of “Stormy Morning.” Tommy’s song has a similar feel and tempo. His solo would have been similar to the one in the Allman Bros. performance of “Stormy Morning” at Filmore East.

-Hallelujah: There are many covers. Jeff Buckley’s is the best.

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