This has been one of those mornings: a cup of coffee, a few white caps on the lake, and some quiet time before I start my day. What goes better with that than a little Arthur Alexander? So I went over to YouTube to browse around and see what was new. I’ve been waiting for someone to put up a video on Arthur’s hit song, “Where Have You Been” so we can enjoy it here. I got excited to see that one was finally there, but alas, it’s only a homemade cover. It may be a nice cover – I didn’t really listen to more than the opening bars, because today I wanted the real thing. While looking at what else was there, I found something unexpected: Arthur’s cover of the Neil Diamond song, Solitary Man. And it’s wonderful. If you don’t know Arthur’s voice, you’re in for a real treat.
Well, of course right away I wanted to know more about this song, especially where I could get my hands on it. Apparently, while I wasn’t looking, the CD (which I have) titled Arthur Alexander – Lonely Just Like Me, with a 12-song tracklist, has been reissued with 21 tracks, including some interviews (it's called Lonely Just Like Me - The Final Chapter, if you go looking for it) I wasted no time ordering it from Amazon already, and will be counting the days and hours til it gets here. Arthur Alexander never had the career and recognition he should have. Today he is best remembered for writing songs covered by the Beatles, The Stones, Dusty Springfield, and other 60s giants. He was a prolific singer/songwriter, and that’s what makes his cover of Solitary Man such a find. I also really like Neil Diamond; I’ve always liked his upbeat treatment of Solitary Man. But Arthur put the hurt into it as only he can.
Here's the Amazon notes: Amazon.com Admired as a songwriter but overlooked as soul singer, Alabama-born Arthur Alexander was in the early stages of a career revival in 1993 (the year he released Lonely Just Like Me on Nonesuch Records) when he died unexpectedly, aged 53, shortly after a performance. Believed to be the only songwriter whose songs have been covered by the Rolling Stones ("You Better Move On"), the Beatles ("Anna"), Bob Dylan, and Elvis Presley, Alexander abandoned music at age 40 after he grew disillusioned with the music industry after publishing deals yielded little return for him. He worked in Cleveland at a center for disadvantaged kids and drove a bus, which explains the disc's cover art. Musician/producer Ben Vaughn coaxed Alexander to record again and served as producer for Lonely Just Like Me, a warm, understated collection of storytelling tunes, mostly hard-luck tales of upright men struggling to find a niche in an unfair word. This disc includes the entire '93 Nonesuch recording plus an enlightening interview/live performance (tracks 13-20) originally broadcast on NPR's Fresh Air. Here, Alexander's genuineness and sincerity are memorably chronicled, and for Alexander devotees its inclusion makes this recording an especially inviting package. Alexander's voice did not have the broadest range, he rarely used backup vocalists, and he kept his instrumentation (often accented with a subtle country lilt) quite simple. His most endearing quality as a vocalist was the earnestness, clarity, and dignity of his singing, which deepened the poignancy of his songs' prevailing theme of heartbreak. Also included are five lo-fi hotel-room demos, a live version of "Anna," and liner notes from Vaughn. --Terry Wood
Video from YT member boogie2w Photo from www.rhapsody.com
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.