Muscle Shoals (2013) Movie Script

Magic is the word
that comes to mind for me
when I think of Muscle Shoals.
It's about alchemy,
it's about turning metal,
the iron in the ground,
the rust, into gold.
You just have to listen.
And you will be transported.
You will be changed.
You're gonna hear
some of the greatest voices
that ever were.
One, two, three!
One, two, three.
All right!
Got to know how to Pony
Like Bony Moronie
Mash Potato
Do the Alligator
Put your hand on your hips,
Let your backbone slip
Do the Watusi
Like my little Lucy
You know, I feel all right.
Feel pretty good, y'all.
Na, na-na na-na, na-na na-na,
na-na na-na na-na
Na-na na-na
Come on, y'all,
let's say it one more time.
Na, na-na na-na, na-na na-na,
na-na na-na na-na
Na-na na-na
Dancin' in the alley
With Long Tall Sally
Twistin' with Lucy
Doin' the Watusi
Roll over on your back
I like it like that
Ohh, help me
Ohh, help me
We started to hear
this sound coming out.
There was an amazing feel.
Kind of, uh, magnetic,
I suppose in a way, sound wise.
And then after a while,
this word, "Muscle Shoals"
comes into the picture,
and you put two and two together
and that was when I said,
"If we get the chance,
we got to go down there,"
you know.
People now still ask me,
"What is it about
Muscle Shoals?"
It's just a little village
on the Alabama border.
Why does that music
come out of there?
It's an enigma.
How did so much music
take place
in such an undescript
little town?
There was just something
about that place,
something that still
to this day nobody can explain.
At different points in time,
on this planet,
there are certain places
where there is a field
of energy.
At this certain point in time
for this number of years,
there was Muscle Shoals.
It's a unique thing,
rooms and record-making
like that, it doesn't happen
very often.
It's usually somebody like
Rick Hall that's like
a type of maniac.
With the drive and the foresight
to do it, you know,
and he's a tough guy.
This area here is where
my roots are.
And it's helped me develop
into whatever I am today.
My father was a sawmiller
and we lived way out
in the Freedom Hills.
No houses, no neighbors.
No kids to play with.
The floor in our house
was dirt.
The heater was made
out of an oil drum.
We slept on straw beds
made out of straw
that we pulled up
in the fields.
We had no bathing facilities,
no toilets, nothing.
And we just kind of grew up
like animals.
That made me a little bitter.
Somewhat driven.
I wanted to be special.
I wanted to be somebody.
Can you slip away,
slip away
Slip away, yeah
Oh, I need you so
The first record I cut
in this studio
was a record called
"Steal Away" by Jimmy Hughes.
Brand new building.
And I was hoping it had
the magic.
I didn't know.
So I brought my band in,
and I went up
in the control room
and sat down.
Okay, all set?
I turned on the microphones
and nervously hit
the talk-back button
to the musicians
and said with a slight crackle
in my voice, "Rolling."
One, two, one, two,
three, four.
When they kicked off
"Steal Away,"
I sat behind the console
and wept.
I just had huge chill bumps
come up on my arms.
And the hair on the back
of my neck actually stood up.
And of course,
this was the birth
of the Muscle Shoals sound.
I've got to see you
Not tomorrow
Right now
I know it's late, whoa,
I can't wait
So come on and steal away
I've heard entertainers
and producers tell me
that we got some kind
of sound here
that they can't get
anywhere else.
They have to come here.
It's that oh, deep down
into your stomach,
coming up out of your gut,
coming up out of your heart.
There's that
Muscle Shoals sound.
I won't tell
Anybody else
I'll keep it to myself
I know it's late, whoa,
I can't wait
So come on and steal away
That sound made it through
to even Ireland
and Britain.
And we felt the blood in that.
We felt the...
the sort of pulse of it.
And we wanted some, you know?
You gotta understand
that Muscle Shoals
had its own kind of R&B.
Different from Memphis,
different from Detroit,
different from New York,
different from L.A.
How did it happen
in this little town
of 8,000 people,
to start this whole style
of music?
It always seems
to come out of the river.
You know, even in Liverpool,
you know, the Mersey sound.
And then of course,
And here you have
the Tennessee River.
It's like the songs
come out of the mud.
We're at a place
called Ishatae.
It means it's a special place,
a holy place.
It's a place of music.
And it's a place of people.
I've been working on it
for 32 years.
There's over eight million
pounds of stones here.
It's a memorial to
my great-great-grandmother.
She was an American Indian,
and her people were Euchee.
My grandmother's people
called this river
that we call the Tennessee
today, they called it
Nunnuhsae, the river
that sings.
They believed a young woman
lived in the river,
sang songs to 'em,
and protected 'em.
In the year 1839,
my great-great-grandmother
was removed from right here
in Muscle Shoals.
She was taken to
the Indian Nations,
what is now present-day
Muskogee, Oklahoma.
When Grandmother got out there
to Oklahoma,
she said there were no songs.
She went and listened to all
the streams she could find
and there were no songs.
They couldn't sing,
they couldn't dance.
They couldn't hold
their ceremonies.
And they got to be
very sad people.
So, she started
to come back home.
She walked all the way back.
It took her roughly five years.
She had to come back
to this river.
The river that sings.
The great dams have softened
the woman in the river's songs,
but if you go to very quiet
places and listen,
you can still hear her songs.
I know; I hear her songs
nearly every day.
When I was a young man, starting
out in the music business,
Billy Sherrill and I,
who were writing partners,
got a phone call from
a guy that wanted
to start a publishing
company with us,
and had the sum of $500
to spend on us,
which we thought was
a gold mine.
So, Tom Stafford
was a dream come true.
We went in business
and we had a little bitty studio
over Tom's father's drugstore.
We got a few cuts,
made a few bucks,
and one day, I was called in
to a meeting with Billy and Tom
and they advised me that
they were not happy
with the way things
were going and thought
that I was a little too much
of a workaholic.
And said that they wanted
to have fun
while they were having
hit records,
and that I was just too adamant
and too, uh,
and too pushy.
So, they decided to...
to let me go.
So, I obviously went home,
began to lick my wounds,
and was very bitter.
During this time,
I worked at a place called
Reynolds Metals Company
in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
And I married my first wife,
Faye Marie, there.
She and I had been married
about 18 months
and we went to Hamilton
to see Benny Martin in concert.
It was about sundown,
and I met a car
who was traveling very fast.
I swerved to go around
that car.
I hit some loose gravels
on the side of the road
and went into a spin,
a tailspin.
The car turned end over end
a couple, three times,
and landed on its top.
I didn't know if she was out
or in, but couldn't find her
in the car, it was
total darkness.
I began to yell for her
and couldn't hear any noise,
except I could hear
gasoline running out
of the gas tank
into the car somewhere.
And I thought, of course,
it's gonna be my death
because the car's
gonna catch fire
and I can't get out.
I got out of the car
and searched around
in kudzu vines up to here.
Finally, some people stopped
with a flashlight
and we found her.
I nursed her on the way
to Hamilton Hospital.
About two o'clock
in the morning,
the doctor came to me and said,
"Your wife has passed on."
And, of course, I freaked out.
I became a drunk, a vagabond.
A tramp.
That changed my whole life.
It was hard times
and all I had to cling to
was my music.
I slept in my car.
I ate in my car.
And I wrote songs in my car.
But I continued playing music
and it was the only love I had
at that time, and, so...
I joined a little
local band in Hamilton.
From that time on,
for five years,
I wrote songs, played music,
and chased the women.
Somebody loan me a dime
I need to call my
old time, used to be
All this gravitated towards,
what am I gonna do
with the rest of my life
and I decided
to come back to Muscle Shoals,
but this time I came back
with a vengeance.
I came back with a determination
that I was gonna
kick some ass
and take some names.
And I was going to make it
in the music business.
And so I set up shop in a little
candy and tobacco warehouse.
I closed the doors,
I hid my car.
I didn't talk to girls,
I didn't make dates,
I didn't do anything
except write songs
and I was totally obsessed
with the business.
And so shortly after that,
I ran into Arthur Alexander,
who was a local bellhop
at the Sheffield Hotel.
And he played me a song
and said, "What do you think?"
And I said,
"I think it's a hit."
So he said, "What are we gonna
do about it?"
And I said, "We're gonna
cut it."
He said, "When,"
I said, "Tomorrow."
I brought my band in.
Norbert Putnam, David Briggs,
Jerry Carrigan,
Peanut Montgomery,
and Terry Thompson were
the first rhythm section
to be in the studio
and to cut a hit record.
Now, you gotta realize
Rick Hall is this older man.
We're all 18, 19 years old.
Rick's what, 28, 29?
He had the vision
for the recording.
Rick made records with
a group of teenage kids, okay,
that became hit records,
world-class records.
You asked me to give up
the hand of the girl I love
You tell me I'm not the man
she's worthy of
The very first record,
"You Better Move On"
by Arthur Alexander
that I produced,
I had anything to do
with was a hit.
Not the second or third,
but the first session we cut
was a hit record.
I know Rick was determined
to cut that hit
and he did it,
but if he hadn't,
I'm of the opinion
that none of this
Muscle Shoals movement
would have ever happened.
That's up to her
Yes, and the Lord above
You better move on
Rest of the world started
looking at Muscle Shoals.
Thank you very much.
We're gonna do a slow one now,
it's called, uh,
"You Better Move On."
It was the only thing
we did like that.
And the girls really adored
this song.
It was a big hit for us
in England.
It was our
number-one record.
If you ask me
to give up the hand
Of the girl I love
I think the Beatles beat us
to Arthur Alexander
by, like, a couple of weeks.
You know, they cut "Anna"
and I think we cut
"Better Move On"
maybe a month later.
There's, uh,
a love of Arthur Alexander.
You ask me
to give up the only love
I've ever had
At that time, we had
no idea where this was recorded,
but it's interesting to know
one of the first things
that we cut was
a Muscle Shoals production,
you know.
Better move on
This original Muscle Shoals
rhythm section
opened for the Beatles in 1964,
their first American concert.
And, of course,
a year later, in '65,
we all go to Nashville.
The guys went on to become
great pickers and producers
and learned from experience
here at FAME,
man, we can do it.
When they left,
there was nobody else.
We were the only game
in town for him to get.
They took the ball
that we started rolling,
and they rolled it
and made it bigger.
Individually, I never really
thought we were great players.
But together, we were
great players.
We had the magic together.
We liked playing funky.
All funky was was that
we didn't know
how to make it smooth.
We're rock 'n' roll
players, okay?
You just didn't expect them
to be as funky
or as greasy as they were.
I know a place
Ain't nobody cryin'
The grooves that we set up
came from
rhythm and blues music.
I remember when Paul Simon
called Stax Records,
talked to Al Bell.
And said, "Hey, man,
I want those same black players"
that played on
'I'll Take You There.'"
He said, "That can happen,
but these guys"
are mighty pale."
Let me take you there
I'll take you there
You got to, got to,
gotta let me
A lot of people could not
that my whole band
was white guys that played
behind me.
People have arrived
at Muscle Shoals
expecting to meet
these black dudes,
and they're a bunch
of white guys
that look like they worked
in the supermarket
around the corner.
Muscle Shoals rhythm section:
David Hood, bass player.
Jimmy Johnson, guitar.
Roger Hawkins, drums.
Barry Beckett, keyboard player.
Later on, became known
as the Swampers.
A strong rhythm section
made the difference
when you went in the studio
every day with the same pickers
and the same players,
and they became a team,
and it was hard to beat that.
We began to bring in
songwriters and musicians,
anybody that wanted
to be in the music business.
I guess during high school,
I started going over
to FAME studio.
That was like a melting pot
for songwriters, musicians.
I was, as a teenager,
really impressed with all that.
I came up here
and I'm just a kid, really.
And all these people here
were kids, too.
I mean, nobody knew anything.
We're just doing our best
to learn how to make records
and learn how to write songs
and learn how to play music.
Most of these guys
around here, including myself,
are country people.
We come from the country.
Arthur Alexander, Jimmy Hughes,
they were the pioneers
as far as the artist goes
down here, Percy Sledge.
These are just local people.
I'm from a small town
called Leighton, right outside
of Muscle Shoals.
I was a little guy
working in the field,
choppin' cotton,
singing to the older people
in the field that always said
that one day,
my voice would be heard
all over the world,
but I never thought
that would happen.
Percy worked at
the local hospital.
I was a orderly working
with the sick people.
I'd sing a song for 'em,
you know,
and they'd go to sleep.
I got such a big kick
out of that, you know,
and I could see my patient
layin' up there,
smilin', you know,
and feelin' better.
So one day I was invited to
sing at the Elks Club
here in Sheffield.
And it just so happened
Quin Ivy,
who was a disc jockey at WLAY,
and he heard me sing this song.
He loved the melody
and the feel.
He said, "Percy Sledge,
have you ever been interested"
in cuttin' a record?"
I remember the day
I got the call.
"Will you come do keyboards
on this recording session?
Be the first recording
this artist has ever done."
When I came in to the studio,
I was shakin' like a leaf.
I was scared.
When a man loves a woman
Can't keep his mind
on nothin' else
He'll trade the world
for the good thing he's found
Every time that he sang
the song,
he had different levels
for different parts
of the song.
And everything had to be
in your wrist.
Bring the level up and down.
All I had was a voice,
I didn't know anything
about no singing, you know.
Somehow, I got one down,
and Percy was on time with me
with a great vocal.
He'd give up all
his comforts
And sleep out in the rain
If she said that's the way
it ought to be
All this was just so new
to me and these guys
made me feel like hey, man,
you can do it,
you've got it, you know.
I used to call them my family.
Donna Thatcher,
all of them, you know.
My first wonderful experience
was singing on
"When a Man Loves a Woman"
with Percy Sledge
and you'd never know
when you're making history.
Baby, please don't
treat me bad
Quin called me
one Sunday afternoon
and said, "Do you know
of a place we can get a deal?"
And I said, "I think so,"
and I picked up the phone
and called Jerry Wexler
in New York.
Jerry Wexler was probably
the biggest record company guru
in the world.
It was a man named Rick Hall
who had a studio
in Muscle Shoals.
I said, "You told me
if I've heard something"
I thought was a big hit
"to call you,
and I'm callin' you."
Play a little bit
of this thing here.
And I heard some music
coming from there,
and it was fabulous.
What do you think?
We pressed and distributed
the record,
and that was a big hit.
When a man loves a woman
That began a great relationship
between Jerry Wexler,
Atlantic Records,
and Rick Hall.
And of course, the record's
still one of the most
classic records
in the business.
If she's played him
for a fool
He's the last one to know
Same melody that I sang
when I'm in the field.
I just wails out in the woods
and let the echo
come back to me.
When a man loves a woman
He can do her no wrong
I, George C. Wallace...
During that era of recording
basically all-black acts,
you gotta remember that
George Wallace
was standing in
the schoolhouse door
at the University of Alabama,
making sure that no black people
came to school there.
And I say segregation now,
segregation tomorrow,
and segregation forever.
This was a politics
that could not see
past the color of your skin.
It's the kind of thing
that I know people
of this era, they wouldn't want
to believe what it used to be.
I think of all the times
when we used to take a break
from the studio
to go out and to eat.
I was somewhat frightened
from time to time
when we'd go and buy dinner
for half a dozen black people.
That's where you saw,
like, what are you...
what are y'all doin'
sitting there?
Even though the civil rights
movement was already
in effect, it still hadn't
dawned on people
that this is the new era.
I have a dream that one day,
down in Alabama
with its vicious racists,
one day right there in Alabama,
little black boys
and black girls
will be able to join hands
with little white boys
and white girls
as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
When I was a young boy,
it was always, uh,
if I met a white boy,
I had to say,
"This is Mr. Robert
or, uh, Mr. Jimmy."
But... but in the studio,
we got away from that,
it was Jimmy, it was Robert,
it was Clarence, you know.
Go that way.
On the go
Or something like, you know.
Do it one more time.
You just work together,
you never thought about
who was white
and who was black.
You thought about
the common thing
and it was the music.
We were color blind.
There was never
any situation that came up
in the studio here ever
about, "You're black
and I'm white."
And you think about the South.
They didn't believe
that black and white people
could live together.
And here are vinyl records
that prove that not only
can they live together,
you might not know
who's black and who's white.
At the time,
this was revolutionary stuff.
Music played a big part
in changing the thoughts
of people, especially
in the South, about race.
By us being in Muscle Shoals
and puttin'
music together,
I think it went a long ways
to help people understand
that we all were just humans.
My stock went sky-high
with Wexler after
the Percy Sledge single went
number one worldwide,
and he said, "Rick,
I have a little bit of a dispute"
with Jim Stewart at Stax
and he don't want me to cut
"any more records over
at his studio."
The welcoming mat for me
at Memphis was cold.
So I got the idea
of calling Rick Hall
and saying, "Hey, can I bring
Wilson Pickett down here"
and, uh, make some records
with you guys?"
Which we did.
I gets off the plane,
southern airlines,
and here, this long, tall
white man,
we call 'em peckerwoods.
I met Wilson Pickett,
picked him up at the airport.
He looked like, to me,
a dangerous man.
He walked up like
he'd known me for 500 years.
"Hey, Wilson, come on, come on.
We gon' cut
some fuckin' records."
Why, we gon' really cut
some records.
Come on, Wilson, come on,"
I said, "Wait, wait,"
I'm nervous,
you know what I mean?
Now what this white man know
about producin'
a Wilson Pickett?
And on the way to the studio,
I'll look at him
and he'll look at me,
and I could see it
in his eyes, he was thinkin',
"What am I doin'
with this cracker
down here in Alabama?"
We went through
the cotton patch,
people still pickin' cotton.
I said, "Is that what
I think it is?"
"Yeah, Wilson, they're still
picking cotton down here."
You can see his studio
from the cotton patch.
Pickett had a very
quick temper.
I was there to make it work,
You know what I mean?
On session, if he didn't like
what was goin' on
and didn't like the attitude,
he's just liable
to whip the drummer.
Say, "Come out, son,
I'm gonna beat your ass."
I was nervous,
I was sittin' behind the drums
and I was gettin' things
together, like drummers do,
checkin' things.
Our band was super nervous
the first time we worked
for Jerry Wexler.
We had this feeling that
if we couldn't play
what he asked us to play,
we'd probably be fired
on the spot.
I was apprehensive, very leery,
because it was
entirely different
from what we had been
doing in New York,
which was recording
with written arrangements,
arrangers, and studio players
who read the charts.
We would get in the studio
and would add a little bit
of this, a little bit of that,
and then we'll go to lunch,
come back,
and we didn't like that,
take it away,
you know, that kind of stuff.
We would sit there and we'd
make that record together.
Those guys are sittin' there
in the studio,
and just find the groove,
you know?
And I'd be right there
with 'em, singing along
and we'd all
work it out together.
Rick Hall, he stood there
every minute.
Rick Hall was his own engineer.
He built the studio.
He knew all the electrical
wiring in there.
And that drummer they had
was fantastic.
He was a funky drummer,
but he wasn't
wearing himself out
all over the place.
He was just...
he was just there.
We was cookin' away
on the thing
and Wexler was in
the control room.
He said, "Baby, it's working."
Hey, baby,
it's funky."
Rick Hall had a rhythm section
of exceptional players.
This was very inspirational
to me.
Jerry came out
at the end of the first day,
we had just cut
"Land of 1,000 Dances,"
and he walks out
in front of Roger,
and Roger's ears had never heard
anything like this.
He said, "Roger."
I said, "Yes, sir?"
He said, "Roger,
you're a great drummer."
And all of a sudden,
it just-
I just kind of relaxed
and became a great drummer,
just like he said I was.
After my first night
in that studio with them,
I was convinced that that could
be a recording home for me.
Mustang Sally
We cut "Mustang Sally"
all that, "Funky Broadway,"
"The Land of 1,000
Whole Dances."
Boy, these dirty slickers
chewin' the...
"How do you like that,
Pickett and I were
soul brothers, we were.
We was nitty gritty.
Down in the cold nitty gritty.
Oh, guess I have to put your
flat feet on the ground now
Everything was just roses
with me, with Jerry Wexler.
Jerry took a liking to us
from the very beginning.
There's just something
that leaps out of a record,
I call it the sonority
of the record.
It's the way the sound
of the record impacts
on the ear, instantly.
And to me, that's
the magic ingredient
in a phonograph record.
Oh, I got to put your flat
feet on the ground
The Rolling Stones had it,
the Beatles had it,
and they had it,
and so from then on,
Muscle Shoals became the place
that I preferred to go
and loved to go.
I grew up north of Florence.
It really wasn't a town,
just a dirt road.
The only way to get
to Florence, at that time,
we had no car.
My mom and I would walk
from the dirt road down
to the highway
to catch a bus
to go into Florence,
which was five miles away.
I was born in Sheffield,
and graduated from
Sheffield High School.
While in high school,
I would see
Hollis Dixon and the Keynotes.
Was the first rock 'n' roll
band around here,
and I just fell in love
with that.
I thought, "I've gotta learn
how to do that."
You got Roger Hawkins
in a group called
The Del Rays.
Jimmy Johnson was playing
I remember hearing the Del Rays
when I was going to
University of Alabama.
And I remember,
I could not get into
the fraternity house.
So I had to stay outside
and listen to it.
I mean, the ground
was rumbling, okay?
It was such a great band.
We met each other
when we started playing
at the Tuscumbia
National Guard Armory
at the square dance.
Half the night
was rock 'n' roll,
and then after that
it was all square dance.
We made $10 each for that.
After Wilson Pickett, I became
Jerry's right hand man.
And so he said, "I'm thinkin'
about signing a new act",
her name is Aretha Franklin.
She's on CBS Records
and it's not happening,
they can't sell records on her.
I'm only one step
ahead of heartbreak
I had heard her
real smooth records
on Columbia.
You couldn't really
get your teeth into 'em.
One step is
all I have to take
These lush arrangements
that she was doing at CBS,
which weren't
successful either.
No one knew
what to do with her,
she had this great voice,
but lots of people
have a great voice.
I've still got to find out
who and what I really am.
I don't know yet.
I'm trying to find the answer.
I wasn't exactly hoping
that she wouldn't have
any hits on Columbia Records,
but the way it went, they
dropped her after five years.
A week later we were in
my office in New York,
we signed her up.
He said, "You know, I've got
this great little studio"
down in Muscle Shoals,
and these cats... these cats
are really greasy.
"You gonna love it."
She walks in,
right over there.
And she's got this aura
around her pretty thick.
I mean, the girl was special.
I remember watchin' the guys
bein' good southern boys,
and they'd carry on
with anything
except looking
or dealing with her.
So she walked right over
to the piano.
She sat there a moment.
And then she just hit this
unknown chord, I would say.
Didn't anybody have to say,
"We're about to cut."
We did what we called head
sessions at that time,
and there was no real music
written for it.
The musicians would just listen
to what it was I was doing,
and then they would decide what
they were gonna do around that.
I think we heard a little demo
of this song,
"Never Loved a Man
the Way I Loved You."
To me it sounded
pretty much like junk.
I'm thinkin', "That's the song
they gonna cut?"
There was discussions.
Jerry Wexler and Rick.
There was a little confusion
and there was a little turmoil.
Everybody was a little uptight.
We can't find a groove, a beat,
a place to start.
They were... just had
all these gears workin',
but finally
it just came to a...
And suddenly
it was really quiet.
They had a song,
they had an artist,
but nobody knew what to do.
Not even all these geniuses.
But out of that quietness
came Spooner with...
And I said,
"Hey, Spooner's got it!
That's it."
Aretha jumped right on it.
You're a no good
You're a liar
and you're a cheat
It was cut within
15 to 20 minutes.
You didn't have to ask,
"What do you think?"
Everybody knew it was a hit.
I think everything came together
for Aretha in Muscle Shoals.
They got Aretha to record
a much more funky kind of style
in Muscle Shoals.
It was really
the essence of her.
'Cause I ain't never
I ain't never
I ain't never, no, no
Loved a man the way that I
I love you
Coming to Muscle Shoals
was the turning point.
That's where I recorded
"I Never Loved a Man,"
which became my first
million-selling record.
So absolutely
it was a milestone
and the turning point
in my career.
Oh oh oh
I ain't never loved a man
We cut "I Never Loved a Man,"
which people to this day
still regard as being
maybe her most soulful
and really funkiest record.
Well, this is what
I'm gonna do about it
That's one of those songs,
the ones that give you
the chills,
the ones that give you
the goose bumps,
the ones that you're like,
"I wish I sang a record
like that."
We had a whole week planned
to cut tracks, a whole week,
but at the end of the session
we found out
that there was a problem.
There was a ruckus.
One of the horn players,
and Aretha's then husband,
Ted White,
got into it.
This new horn player started
saying things like,
"Aretha, baby,"
and it was just enough
that Ted White got offended.
They'd been drinkin'
from the same jug,
and now this camaraderie
and great palship
turned into some kind
of alcoholic hostility.
Ted comes into the control room
with Wexler and I and says,
"I want the trumpet player
I looked at Wexler and I said,
"What do you think?"
He said, "Go fire him."
So I went and fired him.
That later caused a big argument
and caused the session to end.
I got a hold
of the bottle of vodka
and I took a couple...
three drinks of it.
And I said, "Wexler,
I'm gonna go over to the hotel"
and get with Ted and them
and we'll work this thing out."
He said, "No,
I don't want you to go."
And I said, "Yeah, well, I'm
not gonna start any trouble,"
I said, "I'll go over
and work it out."
We'll become buddies
"and I'll work
everything out."
He said, "No, Rick, don't go,
please don't go."
So anyhow, I had had
a couple more drinks
and I went over then.
Banged on Ted and Aretha's door
and Ted came to the door.
And he started pointing his
finger in my face and so forth.
And we fought
and fought and fought.
He was trying to throw me
over the balcony
and I was trying to throw him.
It was downtown, and we was up
on about the fourth floor.
My former husband
never came back that night
and I decided
that I was leaving.
I had never been
to Muscle Shoals before,
or away from home,
really, by myself.
And so I just said,
"I'm going to the airport."
And when I got to the airport,
I saw him with the bell captain.
I said, "Whoa, this son of a gun
was gonna leave me down here."
They left town
the next day, early.
So Wexler came and said to me,
"I will never set foot in this
studio as long as I live again.
I will bury you."
And I said,
"You can't bury me."
He said, "Why can't I?"
I said,
"Because you're too old.
I'll be around
after you're gone."
So the next day I showed up
and on the board it says,
"Session Cancelled."
And I thought, "Oh, man,
it's over, we've had it."
But a few days later
Jerry Wexler calls
and asks if we can
go to New York
and finish the album there.
He didn't have to ask us twice.
On that album was
"R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Respect."
What you want
Baby I got
To be a part
of something like that
is unbelievable.
It was milestone stuff.
Is for a little respect
when you come home
- Just a little bit
- Hey, baby
- When you get home
- Just a little bit
- Mister
- Just a little bit
The Swampers went on
and recorded with Aretha
on many hit records.
"Sweet, Sweet Baby,"
"Natural Woman,"
"The House that Jack Built,"
"Call Me,"
"Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,"
"Chain of Fools,"
and so many, many others.
Of course it worked out
And it's been one
of the anomalies, I think,
of the era that
Aretha's greatest work
came with a studio full
of Caucasian musicians.
How do you figure it?
This is the Queen of Soul
Here we have Roger Hawkins,
and David Hood, Jimmy Johnson,
Barry Beckett, Spooner Oldham
coming out with
probably the deepest
and most intense R&B
of the era.
R-E-S-P-E-C- find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C- take care T-C-B
Oh a little respect
Sock it to me, sock it to me,
sock it to me
Whoa, babe,
a little respect
Just a little bit
I get tired Keep on tryin'
You're running out of fools
and I ain't lyin'
So after my dispute
with Wexler,
he took Aretha away.
And on my part, I felt like
I had really screwed up,
so I went to Chicago
and I spoke to Leonard Chess
'cause he said,
"I wonder what I gotta do
to get you to do some sides
for Chess Records."
I said, "Who do you
want me to do?"
He said, "I'd like you
to do Etta James."
When I looked at him,
I says, "God, Rick Hall."
So this is fame,
recording studios,
and I'm in Alabama
and now this is gonna be,
you know, the real thing here.
"I'm gonna get some
of the Alabama mud,"
you know,
all of that kind of stuff.
Etta James is probably one of
my favorite chicks of all time.
Leonard said, "You know, Rick,
I built my company on her back."
When you think she's singing
as good as she can sing,
"if you'll kick her ass
and wind her up,"
he said, "She can rattle
the shingles on this studio."
You thought
you hadn't found a good girl
One to love you
and give you the world
Rick Hall was actually
the first white man
that I had seen that
had that kind of soul,
that was an engineer
and was soulful, you know?
We recorded
a Clarence Carter song.
With Clarence it was,
"Tell Daddy,"
but with Etta it was,
"Tell Mama."
She didn't want to do the song
because I think
she had a problem
with somebody suggesting to her
that she was gonna
take care of some man.
I would be so hardheaded
and, you know, just,
"Don't tell me nothin',"
you know?
She had a temper like a lion.
I said, "If you'll do it
for an hour",
and it's not happening,
we'll garbage it,
"we'll throw it
in the garbage."
I finally realized
everything that he used
to badger me about,
he was always right.
Tell mama all about it
Tell mama what you need
Tell mama
And, of course, the record was
to become a big, big hit on her.
Everybody said that that song
raised her from the grave,
you know, and brought her
back to prominence.
Each time a person
went to Muscle Shoals,
they came out of there
with a hit record.
You had to know that
there was something magic
in Muscle Shoals.
The spirit of Muscle Shoals
permeates not only
the city itself, physically,
but I think the people
who came through there.
The place has a soul.
W.C. Handy was from
the Muscle Shoals area
and everyone that knows
about the blues
is familiar
with W.C. Handy.
Well, he's one of the great
popularizers of the blues.
Before it was
a kind of gutbucket music
that didn't have
a lot of respect.
He kind of legitimized
the music.
All the bands were playing
the same thing,
but no one had written it down.
Well, he was the first one
to write it down.
That made him
Father of the Blues
and made this area famous.
Sam Phillips was also from
the Muscle Shoals area.
And Sam was kind of my tutor
and I kind of looked upon him
as being the guy
I wanted to be.
Sam Phillips came out of there.
I mean, didn't he invent
rock and roll or something?
My dad, Sam Phillips,
was the first to record Elvis,
Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis,
Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison,
but a lot of people
don't realize
that he only worked specifically
with black artists
in the very beginning.
Well, the basic feeling
I had for black artists
of course originated
when I was very young
on a farm in Alabama.
I felt a certain spirituality
about the black man's music.
And hearin' it
in the cotton fields,
that made one hell
of an impression on me.
Mr. Phillips heard people
singing in the fields
and heard trains
rumbling through
and the river
roaring around the bend
down here in the shoals.
It's a subconscious rhythm
that gets in your head.
There's like a groove,
there's a pocket
that sticks in your gut.
It's connected all of us.
Helen Keller was
from Muscle Shoals,
and it was just
always amazing to me
the things she was able
to accomplish
being blind and deaf.
Helen Keller was deaf,
completely mute,
completely blind.
And her only way of
communicating with the world
is with gestures.
You can still go to her house
and see the well
where she learned
her first word,
which was "water."
There's obviously
an incredible connection
to water here.
So you can see why
that would be the first word
that Helen Keller
learned, "water."
There's such a power
in this place,
and you feel it whether
you can hear it and see it
or not.
I'm a great believer
that landscape
is always very important
in music,
and somehow music
can reflect landscapes.
Something told me
it was over
When I saw you
and her talking
People ask me always, "What
is the Muscle Shoals sound?"
You had a lot
of black musicians
playing with a lot
of white musicians,
and we all got
a different way of playing,
but it blends so well together.
There was this coming together
of styles.
And there was some hillbilly
background there,
there's some black music.
We were open minded
to be any genre.
I would rather I would rather
go blind, boy
Than to see you
walk away from me, child
The Muscle Shoals sound,
I think,
has a very heavy bass and drum
featured in the sound.
And it's just... that was
what sounded right to us.
"Turn up the bass,
turn up the drums."
This was, at the time,
cutting edge technology.
The fact that a drum kit
could be close-mic'd
meant that they could
turn up the bass drum.
That's what created that blacker
sound, that African sound,
that allowed you
to be sweet on the topsoil
but knowing that deep down
in the ground
there was some fierceness.
I was just I was just
I was just
sittin' here thinkin'
Of your kiss
and your warm embrace yeah
Woo, come on, there.
Woo! Woo!
When I was a young boy,
my mother was washing clothes
out in the yard
with a wash pot.
And the pot had
boiling hot water in it.
My brother,
who was three years old,
was playing in the backyard
with my first cousin,
and they were
pulling on a stick.
My brother ran backwards
and fell into the pot
of scalding water.
So my mother took him
in her arms
and went screaming
across the field
hunting my father.
He came running
and they took him to the doctor
in Red Bay, Alabama.
And they took his clothes off
and all of his skin came off
inside of his clothes.
He died three days later.
That was the start
of the decline
between my father's
and my mother's relationship.
He kind of blamed her
for the accident,
and she probably blamed him
for not being at home.
She left us and said,
"I'll never live
with you again,"
and, "Forget about me."
She moved in with Aunt Ess
who ran a red-light district.
So my father asked people
what she was doing up here.
And they said, "Well, Herman",
do you know what
the other girls are doing?"
And he said, "Yes, I do."
And they said, "Dolly
is doing the same thing."
It was earth shattering for me.
Even after all these years
and being away from her
and not spending much time
with her in my life,
not a day goes by that I don't
really miss my mother.
More acoustic guitar.
I ain't easy to love
Scars have made me
black and blue
But I feel
a lot less broken
Okay, all right, hold on.
There's too much happening.
I just need the intro and
everybody needs to cool it
a little bit and back off.
If everybody comes in
from the top,
where are you gonna
go from there?
If you get a chance or two
to cut a record,
produce a record and
get a budget to do it with
and you don't have a hit,
you will never get another call.
So I was always aware of that.
I always felt
that every record,
my life depended on it.
Time is like, "time."
It's like you're
whispering that part.
All right, you know,
I can always do mine over.
I know we can, honey,
but I'd like to do it this way.
All right.
Rick is so meticulous.
Oh, it's just a joy and pain
to work with Rick.
'Cause he won't stop
until he gets what he wants.
If it takes three days
on one song,
Rick's gonna get what he wants.
We're doing just what we just
got through doing.
We're doing the same thing
over again,
and I just want to perfect it
a little better.
We've changed a couple
of things, so you gotta listen.
Rick was a very demanding boss.
He would take
a thousand takes of something
till he was satisfied.
And sometimes he would not know
what he was looking for,
but he would keep
working until he got it.
I'm talking about...
it's too bright.
Oh, okay, I thought you were...
wanted it to be bright.
Well, I did want it bright
until I heard it,
when you hear it with the track
it's a whole different thing.
You gotta listen
to it in perspective.
That was very frustrating
and hard on the musicians
because you think,
"Well, I already did that."
Nobody ever worked
in the music business
without getting
their ass kicked.
If they did, they're out
on the street somewhere
pushin' a wheelbarrow
of concrete.
He was kind of like
a task master,
and I don't fault him for that
because he is
an imperfect perfectionist.
That's what made him
great though.
Oh, please forgive me,
I ain't easy to love
Duane Allman, of course,
came into Muscle Shoals
and wanted a gig.
So he put up his pup tent
on my parking lot
at the studio and found me.
I gave him his shot.
When Duane showed up,
he was probably
one of the first guys
with long hair
and kind of the hippie look,
but what really
made him stand out was
that he was
a wonderful guitar player.
I had never heard
a slide guitar
played like Duane Allman
could play it.
Duane had been in Los Angeles,
had a group
called The Hourglass
with his brother Gregg.
They signed us
on this big contract,
and they wouldn't
let us play anywhere.
I think the first year
we were there
we played like three concerts.
So he finally said, "Hey,
I've had it with this place."
I'm leavin'."
And he wound up
in Muscle Shoals.
But right before he left,
I talked him into going
horseback riding with me
'cause we weren't
doing anything.
Finally went out there
and I said,
"Listen, we go from
the barn out to the field.
We gotta cross
a paved road."
I said, "The horse is shod."
He says, "What?"
"It's got shoes on, you know?"
And if he slips,
he'll bust both of yous' butts,
"so don't give him
any reigns."
And guess what happened?
And he hit right here.
He couldn't play.
And he wouldn't let me in
his house for about six weeks.
And, I mean, that was...
that was terrible
'cause, I mean, you know,
growin' up without a father,
he was somewhat
of a father figure to me
even though he was only
a year and 18 days older.
So it came his birthday,
November the 20th,
and I went out and bought
the first Taj Mahal record
and a bottle
of Coricidin pills.
He had this cold
and he had his arm in a sling,
he was pissed off at the world,
and I did what I could do.
I put it down
in front of his door,
I had it wrapped up
and everything.
And I knocked on the door
and ran.
I guess about two
and a half hours later
my phone rings and it's him.
He says, "Get over here,
baybrah, quick!"
And baybrah, he called me that,
"baby brother,"
endearing handle he had for me.
He said, "Man, check this out."
He had been listening
to Jesse Ed Davis
play Taj Mahal
and he's playing slide.
He said, "Man, I dumped out
all of them pills",
and I washed the label
off the bottle."
He said,
"Check this out."
And he's got his hand
still in the sling
and he's going,
"do-do-n-do", you know,
and he's just already
killin' it, you know?
I've still got that bottle,
by the way, somehow.
When Duane came here,
he was on the Wilson Pickett
session that we did.
There was always a slight
problem when we would go out
all of us white boys
with a black artist
that we would get looks, okay?
But there was nothin'
as bad as going out
with a long-haired hippie
with us white boys.
They couldn't
stand that, right?
And so both of them
stayed back.
So, they went on lunch break
and my brother went up
to Wilson and he said,
"Man, why don't you
cut 'Hey Jude, '
you know,
the Beatles song?"
And at that point I was
mostly trying to create
an original career
Wilson Pickett, right?
My songs.
Pickett and I,
in unison, both said,
"Look, are you crazy?
We're gonna cover
the Beatles?"
And of course Duane said,
While we were gone,
Duane changed our whole session.
Just remember
to let her under your skin
When you get to the vamp,
it goes into just
an unbelievable groove.
Oh oh ooh
Hey Jude
Duane Allman was playing
such great guitar fields
that somethin' happened
in that vamp.
Ahh hey
And all of a sudden,
there was southern rock.
Gonna be all right
That was the beginnings
of The Allman Brothers Band.
Jaimoe met my brother first.
The two of them got together.
When I met Duane,
he had a cabin he lived in
down on the river
in Muscle Shoals.
And it was like... well,
it was a nice place down there.
In his spare time,
he would do a lot of fishin'.
Muscle Shoals seemed to be
the place for him
to be at that time.
He would do sessions.
And I would sit over
with them at practice.
And when he would
get through the session,
he'd roll his amplifier
over there
and the two of us would play.
And then when
Berry Oakley came down,
boy, the three of us had never
played music like that.
But that was pretty much the
base of what turned out to be
The Allman Brothers Band.
Duane said, "Well, Rick,
this is the kind of music"
that's coming in,
this is gonna be big again.
"The kids are really
liking this stuff."
And I said, "Yeah, yeah,
don't breathe on me, Duane",
back off."
I never believed him
and I told Phil Walden,
"I don't understand this."
They're sleeping
in the studio all day
under quilts and things,
and I wake up Duane
and he says,
"Man, you know,
the stars and the moon
are not quite
lined up right."
I'm not into all that.
He said,
"Well, hang in there, man."
Turn on the machines
and let 'em run
"and eventually you're gonna
make a billion dollars."
I said, "Ah, I can't do that,
it's not me."
So I missed the boat
on that one.
Time, old time.
Things change it, you know.
I never will forget
when Jimi Hendrix
played behind me on Broadway.
He was playing the band
with King Curtis.
And I told King,
"I think I'm gonna steal
that guitar player
you got."
He said, "Percy Sledge,
that guy there"
is gonna be so big
in the next year or two,"
he said, "I can't keep him"
and you won't be able
to keep him either."
When Jimi came out
with his style of music,
well, our style of music
kind of slacked back.
Time always changes
and things that
you're doin' in life.
Things happened in our world
that changed everything.
We decided
to become entrepreneurs
and become studio owners.
So we had to tell Rick,
who was our mentor and friend
and who had gave us our chance.
We elected Roger
to go break the news to him.
I had gone to LA to try to make
a new deal with Capitol Records.
We made a great deal
and things were really exciting,
and I came back and had a
meeting with the Swampers.
We were supposed to come up
and sign the contract
and be exclusive to Rick.
Rick's office is upstairs
and we're just kind of
looking at each other like,
"Oh, my God,
we gotta go up those stairs."
Up the stairs we go,
knock on the door.
Everybody's quiet.
I began to tell them
of this great new deal
we've made with Capitol.
I'm lookin' at them like,
"Come on, guys, help me."
And they're just like...
One of the guys
stopped me and said,
"We've already made a deal
with Jerry Wexler"
and he is going to build us
a studio across town.
"We'll be leaving here,
going with him."
And when Roger dropped that bomb
in that office,
we were expecting
a huge explosion.
I felt like the whole bottom
of my life had fell out.
It's like we have thrown
shit on his dreams.
Do you remember what he said?
He said, "You're never
gonna make it."
It was war.
Total war.
Oh ooh oh, baby
There's gonna be judgment
in the morning
When we bought the studio,
we were very nervous
about whether or not
we would have any hits.
And you have to have to hits
to keep recording.
Jerry came to record at our
place, and he brought Cher in,
and that was our first client.
Nothin' happened,
it wasn't any good.
Six months went by,
seven months,
almost eight months.
I think we would have killed
for the hit record.
We always wanted to own
a studio and it was like,
"What the hell
have we done?"
And then all of a sudden
the English rock and roll guys
started wantin' to come
to Muscle Shoals.
When we went to record
in Muscle Shoals,
it was a really
lightning visit.
You know, we just
went in there, set up,
and, you know, played our stuff
for a couple of days.
The sound was in my head
before I even got there.
And then, of course,
when that actually
lives up to it and beyond,
you know, then you're in
rock and roll heaven, man.
You got to move
You got to move
You got to move, child
You got to move
Oh, when the Lord
gets ready
You got to move
The first thing we did
was a blues tune,
"You've Gotta Move."
We're down in Alabama,
you know, in Muscle Shoals,
we've gotta cut
some Fred McDowell stuff.
If ever I'm gonna do it,
it's gotta be here, you know,
and we're probably soaking up
a little Indian maiden,
too, you know?
Get ready
You got to move
We don't come from here,
but we know quite a bit
about the deep south.
From here.
Their producer did not show.
And it wound up
I became the engineer.
And I was thinkin', "Oh, man,
can you believe this?" You know?
Because right when they
come in, you know, you're...
Yeah, but that's there, it
doesn't come in till the solo.
No, I know, I know.
But I must point
something out here,
that nobody was drinkin'
and nobody was druggin'.
You got to move
I think we were drinking
quite a lot.
I'm sure there were
lots of drinking
and smoking marijuana
and so on.
Well, you know, I mean,
you put it on a scale
of what, you know?
That was recording
in those days,
that was part of it.
But otherwise it was a lot
of serious work as well.
And once we knew
the room was tuned to us
and we were tuned to the room,
then it became, you know,
"Right, let's get as much
done here as we possibly can,"
you know?
Keith had this tune
"Wild Horses,"
but I don't think
that was really finished.
He had the chorus,
but that was about it.
So that was all written
on the spot.
It was just an idea
and it had to go to the
bathroom for a little while
just to sort of figure it out.
And then say,
"Okay, I'm ready,"
back in, and then take,
you know?
Childhood living
Is easy to do
The things you wanted
Muscle Shoals Studio is in this
rather interesting place.
Being there does inspire you
to do it slightly differently.
"Wild Horses" is a sort
of country song,
and I remember
we used Jim Dickinson,
he played tack piano.
A sin and a lie
I have my freedom
But I don't have much time
Wild horses
Couldn't drag me away
Wild, wild horses
We'll ride them someday
I thought it was
one of the easiest
and rockingest sessions
that we'd ever done.
I don't think we'd been
quite so prolific ever.
I mean, we cut three
or four tracks in two days,
and that, for the Stones,
is going some...
We left on a high
with "Brown Sugar."
We knew we had one of the best
things we'd ever done.
The thing about "Brown Sugar,"
it had this sound,
it was quite distorted.
It was pretty funky, you know.
That was the whole idea of it.
I always wanted to go
back there and cut more,
then shit happened,
so we ended up in France
in a basement doing
"Exile on Main St." there,
but otherwise, "Exile"
would probably have been cut
in Muscle Shoals,
but politically,
it wasn't possible.
I wasn't allowed
in the country at the time.
So, there's that, you know.
Brown sugar
How come you taste so good
Brown sugar
Just like
a young girl should
Those sessions
were as vital to me
as any I ever done.
I mean, all this other stuff,
"Beggars Banquet"
and the other stuff we did,
"Gimme Shelter,"
"Street Fighting Man,"
"Jumpin' Jack Flash," you know,
but I've always wondered
that if we'd have cut
them in Muscle Shoals,
if they might not have
been a little bit funkier.
Drums beatin',
cold English blood runs hot
Lady of the house wonderin'
where it's gonna stop
House boy knows that
he's doing all right
You shoulda heard him
just around midnight
So, I got this great new
deal with Capitol Records,
but I've had this
feud with Wexler,
and he's taking my musicians
and going across town
and going to put me
out of business, so he says.
I imagine Rick was pissed.
Hey, I got this deal,
and I don't have
a rhythm section.
But if Jerry thinks
these are the only guys
left in the world that you
can cut hit records on,
then he's mistaken
because I believed
that I could cut hit records
with any group of musicians.
We began to call
every musician we knew
and put them under contract.
So, that's why he calls me,
get me up there real quick,
and he said,
"Do you know a bass player?"
I said, "I know
a great bass player."
So, I started playing,
and he said,
"Do you know of any
other rhythm guys?"
I said, "Yeah, Freeman Brown,"
who became one of the best
fat back drummers
for Muscle Shoals.
He said, "And I also
need a horn section,"
and I said, "Yeah,
there's some guys"
that I met
out of Nashville."
Rick Hall wanted
to put a band together
and called it the "Fame Gang,"
and I ended up
being part of that.
For me to surround myself with
the strongest people I could
made me a better producer.
Now, here's what we're going
to do, we're going to let him
play back the tape
four or five times
in succession, I want
to work with the horns.
This is a sad song,
you know, so don't
jazz it up too much...
and take away from the lyrics
so it sounds
like a dance record.
The truth is
after Barry Beckett
and Jimmy Johnson,
Roger Hawkins, David Hood
left and bought
their own studio,
we come in here with this
new rhythm section
who was not a real
studio band yet,
but 1971, Rick Hall's
the producer of the year.
He didn't have that
with the other guys.
I started over again,
and I believed I was
as good as anybody.
Here's Candi Staton
to sing her big,
big hit on FAME.
At FAME, we experienced
a lot of great artists,
starting with Candi Staton.
We started to explode.
The world was coming
to Muscle Shoals.
You may think I'm silly
To love a man twice my age
But I know from
experience, girls
Sometime, it pays
I did Bobbie Gentry
for Capitol Records,
I did King Curtis,
I did Lou Rawls.
Little Richard,
Willie Hightower,
Mac Davis, Joe Tex.
I'd rather be
an old man's sweetheart
Than to be
a young man's fool
And we cut all those records
when Donny Osmond,
the Osmond Brothers, in 1971,
I think they sold something
in the neighborhood
of 23 million records
in one year.
Joe Simon, the group Alabama,
Paul Anka, and Tom Jones.
Clarence Carter,
Wilson Pickett, Bobby Womack.
I had one of the biggest
record companies
in the world behind me,
I was getting twice
the quality rate
that I was getting
from Atlantic and Chess.
So I was shitting
in high cotton.
I'd rather be
an old man's sweetheart
Than to be
a young man's fool
Don't want to be your fool
We were forming
a production company
in about '69 or '70,
and our friend, Alan Walden,
found this band in Jacksonville
called Lynyrd Skynyrd.
I was a sucker to want
to cut that band immediately,
so we signed them.
When I first joined
Lynyrd Skynyrd,
Ronnie had always talked
about the guys in Muscle Shoals.
Apparently they had
gone up there and recorded
an entire album
with Jimmy Johnson producing.
They had no money,
and I remember they
would come up here
and they'd check
in a truck stop
where they'd get in fights
with the truckers
'cause their long hair,
and basically,
all they had to eat
was peanut butter sandwiches
the whole time,
but I loved this band.
I didn't know if it'd be a hit,
but I'll tell you one thing,
if you listen to those songs,
some of the best
rock and roll songs
I've ever heard,
especially one.
At the time we were
cutting "Free Bird,"
we took a little lunch break,
we walk in, the engineer
had started playing the tape.
Billy Powell, who's the roadie,
he was sitting there
playing this concert piano
that was so unbelievable
that we walked in
just in, like... awe,
with our mouth open.
And I look at Ronnie
and he looks at me,
and I say, "I gotta go
and record with that."
I don't know
about you."
And he said,
"You got it."
We put him on the record,
and then he became
a band member
within a few months.
He was a concert pianist,
and nobody knew it,
not anybody.
I think he thought
they wouldn't like that,
you know, that he had studied,
but what a great thing
he added to their records.
But there was something
different about this band.
I mean, on this album,
I had a nine-minute single,
and I'm gonna go and try
to sell it to a record company
that's never had a single
over three and a half minutes.
I mean, I got problems.
If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me
But there started to be
a lot of interest,
and they said,
"We want you to cut it down
to 3:45
on this one."
I said, "Nope,
can't do it."
And I knew that if I did that,
I'd destroy the integrity
of the band.
I said, "Go listen to 'em live",
and then you'll know
what to do."
If I stay here with you now
Things just couldn't
be the same
Not one A&R department
would go listen to 'em,
so it wound up, I lost a band.
And here, I had
all these great cuts,
I cut the first "Free Bird,"
"Simple Man,"
I mean, all this
stuff, you know?
And I wasted almost
two years of my life,
and it's very
depressing for me,
and I'm sure it was for them.
And this bird
you cannot change
But the Skynyrd boys
had one thing
in their favor going for them:
that guy, Alan Walden,
that I talked to about,
he got 'em on a Who tour.
World tour with The Who.
When they came off
of that Who tour,
they were a hit band.
Lord, I can't change
Won't you fly high
Free bird, yeah
And then the crash happened.
And Gary and Allen got
well enough from the crash,
they come to me and say,
"We want 11 songs
of your 17 to be
the next album,"
and it was called,
"First and... Last."
My father raised me,
he cooked the meals,
he got us off to school.
I spent hours and hours
in the woods with him
cutting timber.
He preached to me constantly,
"You got to be the best
at whatever you do,"
and good is not good enough,
you've got to be
the best in the world,
"not just the best
in this county."
He had worked hard,
and I'd worked hard
with him all of our lives,
and so I wanted to do something
to make life easier for him,
so I bought him a new
John Deere tractor.
He'd always wanted a tractor.
We never could
afford a tractor.
During this time,
my dad was plying
on the little tractor
about a quarter of a mile
from our house.
My stepmother went out
to look for my father,
and she saw the tractor wheels
turned up in the air,
and she knew something
bad had happened.
He was pinned
under the tractor.
He had tried to get away
and had pawed in the ground
trying to free himself.
Of course, after his death,
I went into a deep stupor.
I mean, it's just overwhelming.
I was playing in Texas,
and Rick Hall
called me and told me
he had a song he wanted me
to come up there and do.
I was born and raised
down in Alabama
On a farm way back
up in the woods
I was so ragged that folks
used to call me Patches
Papa used to tease
me about it
Of course, deep down
inside, he was hurt
'Cause he'd done
all he could
When Rick played
the song to me,
I said, "We're going
the wrong direction."
He didn't like the song
because he thought
it was a downer
for his people,
the black people.
My papa was a great old man
"My papa was a great old man,"
I can see him with
a shovel in his hand.
Education he never had,
"but he did wonders
when times got bad."
The little money
from the crops he raised
And it was my story
about me and my father.
Oh, life had kicked him
down to the ground
When he tried to get up,
life would kick him back down
One day Papa called
me to his dying bed
Put his hands on my shoulders
and in tears he said
He said, Patches,
I'm depending on you, son
To pull the family through
My son, it's all
left up to you
All the things
went through my mind
of how he killed himself
working for his son
and had lived
vicariously through me
thinking, "I couldn't make it",
but maybe my son,
Rick, can make it."
Sometimes I felt
that I couldn't go on
I wanted to leave,
just run away from home
But I would remember
what my daddy said
With tears in his eyes
on his dying bed
So, I was so taken by the story
that I wanted to do a special
production on it with strings,
and I wanted to go to L.A.
and do it, and I did.
...To do the rest
I was a believer in Rick Hall
knowing what to do,
and if he said
that was a good song,
okay, let's sing the song.
Patches, I'm depending
on you, son
To pull the family through
When it came out,
it was going up
the charts in a hurry.
That was a number one record.
Patches, I'm depending
on you, son
I tried to do my best
It's up to you
to do the rest
The artists who come here,
they come to get
away from it all.
They can rest,
stay away from the telephone,
hustle and bustle,
and people bugging them
regarding autographs
or what have you.
Nobody knows them here,
in other words.
People like to go to places
that had a kind of magical
kind of vibe about them,
but they also liked
to get out of New York
or out of L.A.
or out of London sometimes
to do these sessions.
I mean, that was really
the first of its kind
that attracted music people
from all over the world.
Sure, people go
to New York to record.
You know, big deal.
You know,
go to Muscle Shoals where
you can actually get
lunch at a meat and three
and really experience
the Southern way of life.
I mean, there's
nothing like it.
When I went
to Muscle Shoals to record,
for me, it was more
like going to my village
in Somerton in Jamaica.
I did actually
feel I'm at home.
Sitting here in limbo
But I know it won't be long
Jimmy had a very definite
Jamaican songwriting style,
and this was
pre-Bob Marley,
so nobody was really hip
to the Jamaican sound that much.
Here I am, going there
with a different
brand of feeling,
and they were readily
adaptable to it.
When an artist would come in,
what our job was to us
is to become their band.
They were able
to change who they were
depending on the artist
that walked in the door.
That was the true genius of it.
I can't say what
life will show me
But I know what I've seen
I can't say where
life will leave me
But I know where I've been
Tried my hand
at love and friendship
But all that
is past and gone
This little boy
is moving on
The song, "Sitting in Limbo,"
was such a fresh piece of music
that you couldn't
help but notice it.
Sitting in limbo
And so, definitely
the Swampers,
all white guys,
played their role
in bringing reggae
to the forefront of the public.
Sitting in limbo,
limbo, limbo
It was after those sessions
that Chris Blackwell
had the idea
to link them up
with Steve Winwood.
When we were going
through our formative years,
I started hearing
this Southern soul music,
and of course, I didn't
really have any concept
of Muscle Shoals
or the musicians
or their background
when I was first
hearing this music,
I just knew that the music had
something very special for me,
so when we actually
got to work with them,
it was an amazing
experience for us.
Sometimes I feel
so uninspired
Recording with Traffic
was a very strange thing.
It was... to me,
it was strange.
Of course, Traffic weren't
a mainstream band at all.
We would try and take elements
of rock, jazz, folk music,
all sorts of different
ethnic music.
Our own particular name for it
was Headless Horseman music.
But don't let
it get you down
They didn't go about recording
the way that we were used to.
At that time, I was
trying to be real precise.
Traffic was the exact opposite.
It sounds terrible,
let's play it anyway.
It might not ever sound
good, but let's play it.
It wasn't an immediate,
easy marriage.
But as time went on, I started,
I guess you might say,
opening up a little bit.
I was forced to learn
how to jam again.
The song that stands out
for me off that album
is "(Sometimes I Feel So)
What Muscle Shoals
did to that song
was truly spectacular,
they brought
these rhythmic elements
and harmonic elements
that we could
never have reached.
And then, Chris Blackwell says,
"Well, we'd like for you guys
to go on the road
with us."
And so, we'd go out
and play with Traffic
at these big venues
and 20,000 people.
We were just thrilled
that they agreed,
but of course,
they'd actually never
been on the road with anyone.
There were times
when Jim and I and Chris
would get together
and sort of worry,
say, "Are we corrupting
these guys' minds?"
and that their music
possibly came out
of some sort of innocence.
We suffered a certain
amount of guilt for that.
Musicians are pretty noted
for the gypsy life,
moving around and playing
a different venue every night,
but we really liked
our family life.
When I first started in music,
I had visions of New York
and Los Angeles and travel,
different places,
and the more I've done that,
the more I've realized
that this is the best place.
It is my home
and I love it here.
We had many opportunities
to move our operation.
We thought,
"People would come to us."
Why would we have to go to them
"when they'll
come to us?"
Sometimes even now
When I'm feeling
lonely and beat
I drift back in time
and I find my feet
Down on Mainstreet
I'm gonna tell you,
working with Bob Seger
was just magnificent,
it really was.
He was the kind of guy
that he had no ego.
Down on Mainstreet
And "Mainstreet" is one
of my really favorite cuts.
Seger really put
his heart in that one.
Most of the people in Detroit
and the Muscle Shoals people
thought they were talking
about the Main Street
of their town.
We had a ten-year
run with him
that we were at least
doing half the album
each time he put out an album.
The studio just started
taking a life of its own.
Stars fell on Alabama,
and everybody who was anybody
came to record at that studio.
When I think back
on all the crap
I learned in high school
It's a wonder
I can think at all
When we really got
moving in the '70s,
we were doing like,
50 albums a year.
It was one of the best rooms
I've ever worked in.
The sound was like
the perfect sound.
It was the sound that
you'd been going for
everywhere else,
but couldn't get,
and that's why
it became the place
where everybody
wanted to record.
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So Mama, don't take
my Kodachrome away
We were very fortunate
to get to work
with a lot of the big stars.
Bob Dylan, Paul Simon,
Boz Scaggs, Staple Singers.
Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker.
I mean, I just
named you a list.
Johnnie Taylor.
Glenn Frey.
Leon Russell.
Willie Nelson.
Levon Helm.
Donnie Fritts.
Carlos Santana.
John Prine.
Millie Jackson.
R.B. Greaves.
JJ Cale.
Dire Straits.
Simon and Garfunkel.
Mama, don't take
my Kodachrome
Mama, don't take
my Kodachrome
Mama, don't take
my Kodachrome away
Still amazes me today
that all that music
was played by us guys,
a lot of the music was hits.
You look back,
you see the discography,
we're as amazed as anybody.
My whole life
has been based on...
a lot of rejection,
and to be honest with you,
I think rejection
played a big role
in my life because
I thrived on it.
I wanted to prove the world
was wrong and I was right.
I was rejected by my mother.
I was rejected by schoolmates
because I was
As I grew older, I was rejected
by Atlantic Records
with Jerry Wexler.
I don't think I've
ever been more angry
than I was at Jerry Wexler
and the Swampers who
left me at that time.
It was bitter.
But that all passes with time.
Those things change.
My respect for Rick Hall
is never-ending.
He was our mentor.
He gave all of us
an opportunity
that we would have
never gotten without him.
We all got our start
working with Rick Hall.
Rick is really the founder
of the music business
in Muscle Shoals.
These are guys that I love
with all my heart,
and we'd worked
together for years,
who wanted, like I did,
to become special
in the music business.
Because they played on so many
of these wonderful hit records,
they will take their place
in the history
of American music.
That's the great thing
about recording.
From there on, you're immortal
because it's in
the grooves, right?
Everything that
everybody's done here,
it came from their heart,
and that's what makes
Muscle Shoals so powerful.
What music built there
is not something
that you can see with your eye.
In fact, if you look
at the recording studios,
they were humble shells,
but what they contained
was an empire
that crossed race
and creed, ethnicity.
It was revolutionary.
I'm honored to step
in the place of people
who I wish I could have met.
You know, there's still
a piece of Etta here,
there's still a piece
of Aretha here,
there's a piece of everybody
who walked through these doors.
There's a perfect storm here.
Everybody needs to know
all the different nuances
that went into making
this thing happen
and all the stars aligning
and exploding the way it did.
I'm just so proud
to be from this area
and to see everything
that is to come
out of this incredible
singing river.
I am honored.
Well, I'm pressing on
Yeah, I'm pressing on
And I'm pressing on
To the higher calling
of my Lord
Can't you see
that I'm pressing on
I'm pressing on
I'm pressing on
To the higher calling
of my Lord
Shake the dust
off your feet
Don't look back
Nothing gonna hold you down
There's nothing you lack
not an easy thing
Adam gave the devil reigns
And because he sinned,
I got no choice
It runs in my veins
But I gotta
keep pressing on
On and on and on and on
I gotta keep pressing on
I'm gonna keep
pressing, pressing on
To the higher,
higher calling of my Lord
I gotta go higher
On and on and on and on
I gotta go higher
I'm gonna go higher
To the higher
To the higher calling
of my Lord
I know somebody,
somebody feels what I'm saying
Somebody knows what
I'm going through
Who knows I want
to go higher
I know you want to keep
pressing on, yeah
To the highest calling
of the Lord
Turn it up.
Ronnie had always talked about
the guys in Muscle Shoals,
then when we wrote
"Sweet Home Alabama,"
the last verse says,
"Muscle Shoals has
got the Swampers."
I went, "Ronnie,
what is that, Swampers?"
He goes, "Oh, that's...
that's Jimmy and Roger"
and the guys
at Muscle Shoals."
Now Muscle Shoals
has got the Swampers
And they've been known
to pick a song or two
We were given that name
by Denny Cordell
who was the producer
with Leon Russell.
I think he just thought
it sounded good,
'cause Muscle Shoals
has a lot of water here.
You gotta have a name.
Swampers is a good nickname.
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming
home to you
There's two guitar solos
in that song,
one short one
and one very long one,
and they both came
to me in a dream,
absolutely note for note,
all the transition points,
the fingering,
the chord voicings.
I woke up out of the dream,
picked up the guitar,
and it was done.
Here I come
Alabama home
Alabama home
Alabama home
Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs
about the Southland
I miss Alabamy once again
And I think it's a sin, yes
Well, I heard Mr. Young
sing about her
Well, I heard ole Neil
put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young
will remember
A Southern man don't
need him around anyhow
Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming
home to you
In Birmingham,
they love the governor
Boo, boo, boo
Now we all did
what we could do
Now Watergate
does not bother me
Does your conscience
bother you
Tell the truth
Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming
home to you
Here I come
Alabama home
Alabama home
Alabama home
Now, Muscle Shoals
has got the Swampers
And they've been known
to pick a song or two
Lord, they get
me off so much
They pick me up
when I'm feeling blue
Now how about you
Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming
home to you
Sweet home Alabama
Oh, sweet home
Where the skies are so blue
And the governor's true
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming
home to you
Sweet home Alabama
Oh, sweet home
Where the skies are so blue
And the governor's true
When you hear musicians,
five or six of 'em in a room,
and you hear the imperfections,
that's the human element.
If a guy falls off of the stool
who's playing the drums,
I really don't give a shit,
as long as he don't
miss a beat.
He can get back up
and climb back up,
and most people,
including myself,
think that's great.
That's the human element,
there's faults.
So, the imperfections
gives it the human element,
which I believe is what
we need today more of,
and that's how you make
magic and great records.
That's my sermon
for the day, by the way.