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Bobby Charles by Bobby Charles []



No album better represents the sound of a bunch of guys hanging out, having good times and recording music than Bobby Charles’s  self-titled album.  Charles, celebrated for writing “See You Later Alligator” for Bill Haley and “Walking To New Orleans” for Fats Domino, found himself relaxing with The Band in Woodstock, New York in ’71.  The circumstances for his east coast residence have something to do with a divorce and hiding out from a Nashville marijuana bust.
The Band (with Dr. John in tow) back Charles through a set of lazy melodies with New Orleans influence and a loose, country bounce.  With this all-star line-up, it’s really not a shocker that the backing is as cool as can be.  However, it’s Charles’s voice that shines brightest.  There is a exceptional fullness and soul in each word that Charles projects and yet he sometimes gives the listener the impression that he’s singing softly, almost narrating a local tale.
The feeling of living out in the country, slowing down and finding peace are intertwining themes throughout Bobby Charles.  On “Small Town Talk”, after a whistled intro, Charles croons “and it’s small town talk, you know how people are/they can’t stand to see someone else doing what they want to”.  “Tennessee Blues”, the album’s closer, is also no exception to this sensibility.  The song is so perfect and timeless, one might imagine Charles ripped it from a book of standards at least 25 years earlier.  With one of my all time favorite vocal performances (Doug Sahm’s version is definitely worth hearing as well), Charles sings:
Find me a spot on some mountain top
With lakes all around me
With valley and streams and birds in the trees
And lakes that surround me
A place I feel loose
A place I could lose these Tennessee Blues

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