Lana Austin

Aretha, who needs no last name,

             called their playing greasy. Not

                           something slithering

across a skillet, but the very

             fluid of life. Slick, sensuous, love-

                           making wetness. Primordially

pure rhythm, a pulse, a new

             song from a bunch of white boys

                          born by the Tennessee River

where Bono says, “The music

              comes out of the mud,” and people

                           like Paul Simon called producer

Al Bell, asking him, “Hey, man, I want

              those same black players

                           that played on ‘I’ll Take You There.’”

Bell, who wrote the 1972

             Staple Singers hit, replied,

                           “That can happen, except these guys

are mighty pale.” So the mighty pale

             Swampers—Barry, David, Roger

                           and Jimmy-- played greasy and grew

the Muscle Shoals sound along with Rick Hall, that crazy-

             like-a-fox white producer in Alabama.

                           Rick and the Swampers created

their own sound in that booth

             booth--not black, not white, but greasy,

                           color-blind and throbbing and they all came

to sing with them, not just Aretha,

            but Percy Sledge, Etta James, the Stones,

                           Arthur Alexander, Wilson Pickett and on and

on with the list of greats

            growing almost as long

                           as the story of life itself.