Nov 2009: There’s a wonderful live recording of Linda Ronstadt singing ‘RESCUE ME’, a song written by W.C. Smith and R. Miner (whoever they are) and made famous by Aretha Franklin. When Linda sings it, she sounds so desperate, and so insatiable. You get the impression that she’s singling out a few men from the audience and singing it pointedly to them; her hard-working manager then rounds up Linda’s selection, and rosters them on, one after the other, to wait their turn outside Linda’s hotel-room door. I’ve always loved singing along to it, and recently thought, “Well, why don’t I try to learn it?” It seemed hard! It IS hard! If you don’t completely let go, then you may as well not bother singing it at all – it’s one of those songs. I saw the Maladies play at their record launch last week, and Daniel, their singer, is a shining example of allowing himself to be completely possessed by the act of singing – it’s great to watch. But you can’t do it by halves!
So I sing at top volume, “Rescue me! Love me, baby, squeeze me, baby! ‘Cause I’m lonely, and I’m blue. I need you, and your love, too – rescue me!” I want to tell my flatmates, “That song’s not one of mine. It’s an old classic. It’s just a song. It’s an exercise. I don’t really mean what I’m singing.” But I do, I do!
Correction: Chris informs me that it was Fontella Bass, not Aretha, who made this song famous. “But didn’t Aretha do it, too?” I lamely protested, stopping short of saying, “I read it on the internet!” Chris said, “I’d know.”