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Green Onions

February 19, 2010

So as I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m going to highlight the records that always stay in the jukebox. I thought about putting them in some kind of order, but that means nothing. These are the records that stay. There is no order, only personal reasons.

Green Onions

That being said, I’m going to contradict myself right away and say this is the number one record that will always stay in the jukebox. “Green Onions” by Booker T and the MG’s. There. Done.

Just kidding. There’s more to it.

My record is a reissue. I can’t find any documentation as to when it was pressed. It’s in VG condition. I can’t remember where I bought this one. It was probably at the record show that is held periodically at the American Legion Hall around the corner. When Joe (remember him?) comes over to adjust the jukebox and make it happy again, what song does he pick to test his work? Yup, “Green Onions.”

“Green Onions” was first released in 1962. The year my parents graduated from high school. Just a few years before my time. According to biographies on the internet, Booker T. Jones was only 17 when working in the Stax studios as a “house” player with guitarist Steve Cropper, bass player Lewie Steinberg, and drummer Al Jackson, Jr. On a break during a recording session they messed around with some riffs they thought were reminiscent of Ray Charles and “Green Onions” was born. It went straight to number one on the R&B charts and number three on the pop charts. (For those of you saying wait a minute, what about Donald “Duck” Dunn? He replaced Lewie Steinberg in 1965)

There is something about the groove of the song. YouTube – Booker T & the M G ‘s Green Onions (HQ audio) Is it naughty? Not particularly, but there’s movement to it that I just can’t explain. It begs for a stroll or a Soul Train dance line. That melodic bass line layered over and under Booker T’s expert organ riff. Throw on top some white-boy lead guitar twang and pow! It’s a party.

If you have a favorite Stax release from the 60s, chances are Booker T played on it. Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, everyone’s backing band was Booker T and the MG’s  (By the way, even though it is an incorrect use of that apostrophe, that’s how they spell the name. Yeah, it bugs me too.)

Warped Sister 45 cover art

Meanwhile, I was happy to find out that Booker T is still at it. Last year he released a new album called Potato Hole. Why Potato Hole? I don’t know. Why “Green Onions?” I haven’t heard it yet, but I do have a Record Store Day score of Warped Sister/Reunion Time. I found it at Spin-More Records in Kent last summer. YouTube – 06 Warped Sister-Booker T Featuring The Drive By Truckers & Neil Young This one may end up a keeper in the juke as well.

“Green Onions.” Because it is a true American soul classic, it stays in the jukebox.

Soul Train line anyone?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2010 6:07 pm

    I can’t say all that much about this, but one of my internet passwords for roughly half of my log-ins has something to do with this song.

    This is one of those songs that I seemed to have always known…not sure where or when I heard it as a kid, but when I heard it again a few years ago it felt like an old friend was back in my life.

    • jukebox1965 permalink*
      February 19, 2010 6:43 pm

      Like it’s always been there. And always right on!

  2. March 13, 2010 3:32 pm

    I am a Stax freak. I own all of their collections (all the big multi-CD sets). I named my dog Booker T. Steve Cropper never, ever played a bum note in his whole life.

    Listen to the way Al Jackson holds that beat…oh man, he is solid granite. I agree with you…this is a bow-down record that always needs to be in the Juke!

    I saw Booker play with the Drive-By Truckers in Sydney, Australia. I found this video of Booker & The DBTs playing “Onions”. That person screaming to Booker T, in the green shirt in the right hand corner of the screen, in the front row, fist-pumping…that’d be me.

    • jukebox1965 permalink*
      March 13, 2010 3:58 pm

      That’s fantastic. The best part of the video, (besides your awesomeness) is that the person filming finally gives in and starts to dance at the end.

    • March 15, 2010 11:18 am

      hahaha, at first I thought you named your dog “Booker T. Steve Cropper.” About as good as Sammy Davis Junior Jr.

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