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An observation in two parts.

1. Walter “Junie” Morrison is dead.

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2. So there was this guy, see, named Junie Morrison, who was either the coolest or the second-coolest Morrison of mainstream 20th-century popular music, depending on your tolerance for Wordsworth and Coleridge name-drops; and he sang and played mainly keyboards but maybe some other stuff as well (we’ll get back to that) … and he was so titanically, outstandingly funky that he managed to be a member of both the Ohio Players and Parliafunkadelicment, the two absolutely baddest, wildest and most wonderful funk bands of the American Seventies, which is to say at any time or place ever on Earth — and indeed, in the early days they shared a record label, and can you conceive of what the Westbound Records company Christmas party must have been like back then? — plus he cut some solo LPs that probably more people ought to have bought instead of buying, say, Styx records (but is that not so often the destiny of genius?) … but the real cream of the whole story in my humble opinion comes closer to the beginning than the end of Junie’s funky journey, specifically in anno domini 1973, when Junie wrote n’ waxed a two-minute-twenty-three-second slice of pure drooling turned-out lust (lingering rumor claims he played everything but the saxophone) (and you tell me – does it sound like he’s freestyling the words as he goes, or can you really imagine that he did something so square as to write them down on a piece of paper?) that swung so hard the Players made it the title track of their final album with Morrison on board and also managed to take it to No. 31 on the national hit parade, which presumably means the black R’n’B stations across our fine land must have been playing the piss out of it, because the honky stations probably weren’t finding much of a place to let po’ Junie get all het up in between having to spin all that Charlie Rich and Jim Croce and Seals & Crofts (and oh by the way, if you click only one link in this post, make it the one just north of here that says “black R’n’B stations,” and then turn that playlist over in your head, admiring its every line like the facets of a shining emerald, a Detroit emerald, to coin a phrase) … or maybe the Players cracked the Forty b/c friendly mellifluous ol’ Casey Kasem magically found a way to tap into and chart-track the most popular tunes Americans were spinning on the hi-fi while they got it on on the shag rug, or the waterbed, or the use-your-own-imagination-you-filthy-prevert … but whatever the explanation be, “Ecstasy” has always been and will always remain gorgeous and dialed-in and sweaty and delirious, while also being more than a little bit sanctified at the same time (listen to him preach, and tell me that piano doesn’t take you to church too), and thus represents that magic merging of Saturday night and Sunday morning that popular musicians have been shooting for since the first left hand found the first boogie-woogie rhythm … and if none of these words move you in the slightest, go a little further south and hit “play” (ignoring whatever corporate ad may precede the magic music) and get to the 0:38 point and listen to that falsetto note – that note – and tell me if it doesn’t hit the monkey nerve, the nerve that surpasseth conscious understanding, and maybe wonder to yourself why the pop-cultural presence and familiarity of this song isn’t about 100,000 times greater than it is (while also being thankful for that, ’cause who would want to hear po’ het-up Junie playing backdrop to a dog-food commercial, or a coitus interruptus scene in a bro-comedy movie?), and be thankful that a funk genius heard that sound in his head and got it down on vinyl for us all to enjoy forever, which is fortunate, because we will never quite hear it the same way live ever again, because, as I mentioned 665 words ago, Walter “Junie” Morrison is dead.

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2 responses »

  1. I am embarrassingly late getting to this, but holy smokes it’s fantastic. Well done/well said, sir.

    Reply

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