ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969.
This is Chapter 19 (day 29):
THE ROAD OF LOVE
Written by Clarence Carter
Performed by Clarence Carter with Duane “Skydog” Allman
Recorded at FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals, Alabama 1969
Drummer: Roger Hawkins
“Hey! Come in! Come in! All of you, come in!” said Rick Hall as Norman, Molly, and Ray stepped into the lobby. “We got collards and sweet potatoes, sliced tomatoes, fried chicken. You hungry?” They were.
Introductions were made all around. “These gentlemen are my house band, the Swampers,” said Rick. “Roger Hawkins on drums, Jimmy Johnson on gee-tar, Barry Becket on keyboards and David Hood on bass. Say hey, boys! And Spooner! Get in here, Spooner!”
FAME! The mythology that surrounds FAME Studios and the Muscle Shoals sound is romantically linked with some of the most southern of southern rock. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Clarence Carter, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and of course Rick Hall himself.
When I discovered that Duane Allman had recorded at FAME with Clarence Carter (that’s Duane, above), I knew I had a vital connection for Norman and Molly, to help propel them across the country; now I just had to make the narrative make sense, to get them there.
It was so much fun to research FAME and Rick Hall and the Swampers (here’s Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” where the Swampers are named — the song was recorded at the rival Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, when the band split from Rick Hall and opened their own studio), and to get into Roger Hawkins’ drumming style, for Norman, as the two of them play along with Wilson Pickett’s “Land of 1000 Dances,” which was recorded at FAME:
“Cymbals!” shouted Roger. Norman jumped in his chair but hit the crash cymbal. “Now straight-ahead,” hollered Roger as he played along with himself on the recording and with Norman in the studio. “It don’t get much simpler than this! Fours on the snare, a little help from the cymbals, don’t forget the kick drum.”
A red light glowed in the control booth and colored dials on the sound board twinkled.
“Recording!” Rick announced. “Take one. Rolling.”
“What?” Norman panicked.
“Keep playing,” said Roger. “You’re doing fine.”