“People get ready. There’s a train a-comin’.”
My last post, “[Sur]passing Thoughts,” had a song by The Byrds, and my good friend Joe told me that at first glance he thought it was going to be about Jeff Beck the blues/rock/jazz/soul guitar god who just recently passed away . . . which proved, of course, that as great as Beck was, he was no “god.” Huh?
This post, “People Get Ready,” is going to be a little about Jeff Beck, at least tangentially. Mostly it’s going to be about me, of course, and my possibly imaginary Friend, whose Real Name scares the hell out of people . . . but THAT’s a good thing!
I remember the first time I’d ever heard Jeff Beck play guitar, something he’d been doing for probably ten to twenty years before I ever heard him play. We teenaged young dudes were smoking pot in our guitar player friend Mark Crawford’s bedroom in his parents’ home when Mark put on an album and said, “Listen to this!”
Even in our drug induced haze, it was clear we were listening to greatness.
Mark’s father was a preacher who had a congregation at the Methodist chapel on what would later become my college alma mater, Arizona State University, in Tempe, Arizona. Why he let his eldest son smoke pot with his friends and listen to loud music in the son’s bedroom in his own house I don’t know.
My friend Mark went on to mainline heroin and may be dead now for all I know. All I know is that he never did achieve his teenage dream of becoming a rock guitar god himself.
Mark knew the Gospel his father preached, had once professed it himself, fell away, and maybe never made it back . . . but I hope he did . . . somewhere . . . somehow. Maybe we’ll meet again in Glory and compare notes. I sure hope so.
Jeff Beck went on to have an amazing life in and out of various famous blues/rock and jazz/rock bands, some of which he joined, some he started, some on which he just guest played his guitar.
One of the first of Beck’s bands was “The Yardbirds” in the 1960s, which is what my friend Joe had confused when he saw my last post that had “The Byrds” from that same musical era, a common mistake, even back then.
The Yardbirds included Beck, fellow blues/rock legends Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, as well as other great musicians who passed through the band’s ranks.
Later in his early career, Beck would form The Jeff Beck Group and bring along to fame rhythm guitarist Ronnie Wood and vocalist Rod Stewart.
Forty years ago, Beck and Stewart had a big hit with the old Curtis Mayfield Gospel / Civil Rights anthem, “People Get Ready.”
Did they know what they were singing? Did Mayfield?
Curtis Mayfield died in 1999. Jeff Beck died this month. Rod Stewart will die soon enough.
And if nobody has told you this yet . . . so will you.
I hope you’re ready.
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