Welcome to the Classic Cuts series on the Joe Bonamassa Official Blog! My intention in writing the Classic Cuts series is to write (probably and approximately) once a week on a classic recording from the blues or blues-rock, because I love writing about music and especially about the classics. If it’s a track you’re familiar with, and you may very well be, perhaps it will prompt you to go take another listen and maybe even hear it in a new light. If you aren’t familiar with it, consider this as my personal encouragement for you to get acquainted with it. Hopefully you’ll love it as much as I do!
For the first installment of the series, I had some trouble deciding between whether to choose a Paul Butterfield Blues Band tune or one by Robert Johnson, the great Delta blues giant who is one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. In the end, I went with the Butterfield Band, not for any other reason than I am particularly enjoying this recording right now and I just wanted to basically sing its praises. But don’t worry, a Johnson edition is bound to follow soon.
“Get Out of My Life, Woman,” a cover of the classic R&B song by New Orleans R&B artist Allen Toussaint is, to my ears, basically a note perfect recording of a simple yet fantastic blues song. The track was recorded for the band’s second LP East-West in 1966 and is the second song on the album. Now when this album gets discussed, its usually in reference to the classic final song, “East-West,” a thirteen-plus minute jazz-blues-and-Indian-influenced deep space exploration that did much to bridge these distinct genres and expose different audiences to them. But this album as a whole is a masterwork and every tune on it deserves its own place in the history books of blues and rock.
This Mark Abramson and Paul Rothchild produced track is a mid-tempo blues jam but the beat, kept admirably by Billy Davenport on the drums, is positively infectious. “Get out of my life, woman” is sung in pitch-perfect harmony, “You don’t love me no more.” This is a classic and ideal expression of the broken-hearted man, not sure whether to be more angry with his ex-lover or with himself for being vulnerable. “Get out of my eyes teardrops,” he continues, “I’ve got heartaches by the pound.”
Despite the presence of phenomenal guitarist Mike Bloomfield in the band, and there are great guitar fills on the track, the main solo is executed with subtle sophistication by pianist Mark Naftalin. Meticulously melodic and ruthlessly rhythmic, the solo-turn perfectly captures the conflicted but aggressive nature of the piece. For who is to blame when a relationship fails – our tendency is to lash out at the one who has scorned us, but oftentimes it is our own faults and weaknesses that cause our undoing with the person we love most.
The thing about great blues and blues rock music is that, so many times, it is infinitely effective in its simplicity, and effortlessly distills the powerful emotions we all experience at the apex and especially at the rock-bottom lows of our lives. But not only is this track a perfect expression of a sentiment we sometimes feel, it is simultaneously the manifestation of musical precision. While I have always tended to gravitate towards longer jam and solo oriented songs, with this track The Butterfield Blues Band accomplishes the highest excellence imaginable in the production of a three minute and fifteen second popular song.. Go give it a spin as soon as you can.
– Brian R.
For your further reading pleasure:
http://paulbutterfield.blogspot.com/ – This is very cool. A blog totally devoted to the various recorded performances of Mr. Butterfield.