Wednesday, September 14, 2005:

Billy Preston

Ladies and gents, we're having a short 'train' mix.
Billy Preston -- How Long Has the Train Been Gone
Billy Preston -- Sunday Morning
Billy Preston, on Everybody Likes Some Kind of Music, tries on quite a few genres--jazz, blues, rock, classical--and, in my opinion, succeeds at them all.

"How Long Has the Train Been Gone" is a gospel tune, this one with horns, pianos, organs, and lyrics about a narrator who's been left behind by a train and wonders why and about another man who didn't believe but wanted to. The lyrics are a bit anguished but delivered as if exuberant; it's an approach that usually works and this time is no exception. It's hard to take issue with it when you want to sing along.

"Sunday Morning" has a lazy, affable banjo line with a summery vocal about a failing love: "Won't you stay a little longer? Must you leave me right away? Don't you like me any more; what do you want to hear me say?" The song sounds reminds me of bluegrass in its banjo and its lyrical themes, though it's much calmer than a lot of the bluegrass I've heard, more relaxed and welcoming. It's like a gentleman salesman who makes his case quietly and goes on his way with a tip of his hat, and you stand at the screen door feeling a bit guilty you couldn't afford what he was selling--such a nice man.

I'm endlessly puzzled why Preston doesn't have more in print; he's got a lot of gems in his catalogue.

I seem to remember this LP from childhood; a lot of the songs sound familiar. My mother disagrees; she says she doesn't know who Billy Preston is. Fer shame--with all the Beatles LPs she had (yes, even the one with "Don't Let Me Down," with the four of them on the front outside the door to somebody's mansion, a bust nearby wearing a hat).

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