Sunday, November 8, 2009
When James Luther Dickinson departed this world in August, there was no funeral. Instead, three days after he died, his older son Luther gathered with members of Mudboy & the Neutrons, Jim's favorite band of them all, along with Steve Selvidge, Sid's son, and Shannon McNally, at Zebra Ranch in northern Mississippi, the Dickinsons' home ground, and made an album that Memphis International Records has now issued.
Jim produced the project in absentia, and wrote the liner notes, which say all that needs to be said about Jim, his life, his music, and his deep sense of place.
Listening brought a smile to my face and a few tears. Most of all, it made me appreciate the fact Jim was my friend. I miss him badly, but Onward and Upward let me know he's still around, still in the air.
Lean in close to the speaker and you can hear the fife of Otha Turner, the cacophony of the Memphis Jug Head, and the shouts of joy and cries of sorrow of the men, women, and children who worked the Delta dirt for centuries.
As good as the music is, Jim's liner notes are even better:
"I refuse to celebrate death. My life has been a miracle of more than I ever expected or deserved. I have gone farther and done more than I had any right to expect. I leave behind a beautiful family and many beloved friends. Take reassurance in the glory of the moment and the forever promise of tomorrow. Surely there is light beyond the darkness as there is dawn after the night. I will not be gone as long as the music lingers. I have gladly given my life to Memphis Music and it has given me back a hundredfold. It has been my fortune to know truly great men and hear the music of the sphere. May we all meet again at the end of the trail.
"May God bless and keep you.
World Boogie is coming.
James Luther Dickinson"
Do yourself a favor and order it now right here:
Completing the circle, Luther's significant other, Necha, gave birth to a sweet baby girl named Lucia. Mary Lindsay Dickinson wrote to tell me the news:
"It seems like Necha's been pregnant forever, yet I remember like yesterday when she and Luther told us the good news, over dinner in Oxford. I can't help feeling sorry Jim can't be with us, but I have faith he's smiling down on us from Heaven and feeling proud."
And doing so in perfect rhythm and melody.