Eddie Floyd, “Oh How It Rained”

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Music, Technology
May 18th, 2006 • 1:41 pm

It’s funny how these things work…

Because you are a long-time Prince fan, you are subscribed to a couple of automatic Google Alerts that you get by e-mail letting you know whenever Google’s indexing engines have located new pages about musical princes.

“Prince” is obviously not the ideal keyword for an automated search, so the Google Alerts often contain pages that have absolutely nothing to do with Prince and very little to do with music, but on the whole the alerts do help you keep informed. They certainly include a number of references to pages that are not about Prince, but about articles in which Prince (the musician) is mention, if only in passing. And given Prince’s long career and major influence on all kinds of musicians and musical genres, this happens quite frequently.

You don’t always check out these articles, of course, but sometimes a headline grabs you and you are intrigued and bring the page up. And that’s how you stumbled upon a CD review of Marvin Gaye’s Midnight Love & the Sexual Healing Sessions at BlogCritics.

The review (only mentioning Prince in passing, of course) is rather well written, and you start exploring other articles by the same author on the site. And then you start reading other articles by other authors on the site. And then you decide that the site has a pretty extensive collection of music reviews, book reviews, TV/film reviews, etc., and that it might be worth subscribing to a few RSS feeds.

After that, from time to time you check out the feeds, and you see a series of reviews of CDs in the “Stax Profiles” series, featuring artists such as Rufus and Carla Thomas, Albert King, Eddie Floyd, etc. You are pretty familiar with Rufus Thomas and quite like his stuff, but you know very little about the other guys.

You know that, over the years, you’ve probably amassed a few tracks by those artists, ripped from various music magazine CDs that you haven’t had a chance to listen to but have always religiously added to your iTunes library before putting them on the shelf, or downloaded here and there on the web or through Napster (in the good old days) or via MP3 blogs and just stored somewhere on your hard drives, etc.

So you fire up Spotlight and you search for “Eddie Floyd” in all your hard drives. Sure enough, you find about half a dozen tracks, including the famous “Knock On Wood” that you remember listening to a few years back and putting on one of your CD compilations for the car. A good track, but nothing earth-shattering as far as you are concerned. You also see and remember another track that you had found through his occasional association with Mavis Staples, a soul legend with a strong connection with Prince in more recent times, of course.

And then you decide to just give a listen to the half dozen tracks that you have there on your hard drives. And you double-click on one called “Oh How It Rained.”

And then it just hits you.

What a fantastic song! It’s very simple, not necessarily very original—but it’s just perfect. (And anyway, I am at this stage in my life with music where originality has become a very obscure and rather unattractive concept.)

It is based on this slow guitar groove. The delivery is subdued, yet full of emotion, with plaintive background vocals and humming that you would just like to go on forever. Even the introduction of actual rain and thunder sounds towards the end doesn’t spoil the song. It’s just a pure soul gem. And I want to listen to it again and again and again.

What this little experience demonstrates is how unique and personal the experience of exploring music still is and will always remain. This was not a song that was mentioned in any of the articles I read on-line. I discovered it, to a certain extent, by chance.

On the other hand, it also illustrates how the “six degrees of separation” theory very much applies to the field of personal music knowledge. In your early years, you discover the world of music through a few key artists—and then it all branches out from them. Given the sheer amount of recorded music that exists out there, you’ll only ever be able to experience a tiny fraction of it.

This means that there is a very real risk that you’ll never get to hear tracks that might otherwise have had a huge impact on you. In that respect, we can at least be grateful that technological advances have made it easier to explore the world of music. Does anyone seriously believe that traditional broadcasting and music distribution, with lame radio stations playing the same Top 40 over and over again and traditional record stores with no opportunities to actually listen to the record were a better alternative?

This is not to say that record stores and radio are all bad. They are just a very inefficient way to actually explore music you don’t already know. But now that I’ve discovered this track by Eddie Floyd, I’ll probably end up buying some of his music on CD through a store. It is just a shame that somehow, at some point in the discovery process, I might actually have been doing something “illegal.” (This particular track is not on any CD I own.) If record company executives and the RIAA really think that what I have described here is bad and dishonest, then there is something seriously wrong with their view of the world.

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