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December 15, 2014 / thackersam

December 14 – Gladys Knight and the Pips – Greatest Hits

GladysLong ago, when the Pips were still together, I had a really great cat named Bubba. All my cats have been special, but Bubba was especially special. He was one good-looking guy who would have led you to believe he was pure Russian blue until you looked closely at the faint rings of a tabby on his tail. And smart, cleverly smart; sociable with both feline and human; sweet, cuddly and playful; a great personality tempered with a dark side that included a good bit of attitude. For all these traits, even the Bubbattude, if you will, everyone loved him. Except for the family that had abandoned him. The story I was told by the neighborhood kids was that they were moving, put Bubba, or whatever his name was at the time, in the car, he jumped out, they looked for him for a short time before driving off and never coming back. This beautiful, sleek, determined, dark grey cat basically muscled his way into my ground floor Queens garden apartment by continuously picking at my window screen. He didn’t look like a Bubba, but that was what I wanted to call him, after Gladys Knights’ brother Merald, better known as Bubba, both Bubbas being pips. We had a happy life together, Bubba and I, and I’m sure he had no problem with the name I chose for him.

I actually have a bad cassette tape of this best of CD that someone with whom I worked at a music conservatory made for me more than 15 years ago. I was manning the front desk one Monday evening as everyone filed into the auditorium for adult chorus and to wait for the chorus leader to arrive. He was always running late. Jazz musicians. I was listening to one of the songs on this tape and blurted out something like – geez I wish I could sing like Gladys. Then a voice behind me said “then join my chorus.” I eventually did join the chorus and also started taking singing lessons with the chorus leader with the idea of having a cabaret act. I was getting pretty good. My range stretched quickly in a short time. But then you know, things got complicated. Jazz musicians. And I had something to do with it. So Gladys and her Pips started my short-lived show-biz ambitions, and now provides a pretty decent workout along with memories.

Before you ask, I do like all three of the best-known versions of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” Marvin Gaye’s and Creedance Clearwater Revival’s are both very good, but when Gladys sings “take a good look at these tears in my eyes,” it’s a command that must be obeyed. She’s pissed. The song has force and comes from the gut the way Gladys Knight does it and is my favorite of the three.

I also have a fondness for “Midnight Train to Georgia,” but my favorite Pips song is “Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)” for kind of the same reason.

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