100 Days Project

Ben: 100 Writings / 100 Opening Guitar Hooks

various, random creative expressions / writings, inspired partially by 100 popular songs (songs that somewhat begin with a leading hook of a guitar.)

Day 72:

“Always Alright” (2012) by Alabama Shakes

“Always Alright” (2012) by Alabama Shakes


Just heard this song on the radio last night.  And I’m unable to get it outta my head.  But unlike most songs, I don’t mind.  Because – this song is Bangin’!  So, let me rant!  While I dance!

I discovered this band, like most people, playing on Letterman around April 2012.  And like such performances, a music act is given this great opportunity to play to an audience of billions.  They got one chance to make an impression, especially to an audience that’s half asleep, ready to go to bed.  Last late show performance I remember incredibly well was Andre 3000’s Hey Ya, which was not only one of the great songs of the new millennium but made an impression on everyone that night in 2003.  Luckily, the Alabama Shakes woke me up – their performance was confident and spectacular.

These sounds are what we used to love about Kings of Leon – God!, what a disappointment they turned out to be!  That Kings of Leon debut rejuvenated Country Rock for the millennium, without losing that good ole’ Kentucky fried, thigh slapping rhythm that was reminiscent of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Eagles.  But after 2007, the Kings hung around the New York scene far too long and ended up wasting away with middle of the road efforts and lethargic sounds.  Once the creepy barman starts singing Kings of Leons songs, I’m afraid it’s over.  And what the hell happened to their facial hair?!  They used to look so cool!  Now, they look like absolute fucking pansies.  Too bad.

But thankfully Alabama Shakes came to the rescue for the genre – a genre which in the modern era can be viewed as archaic, but thankfully Alabama Shakes have rejuvenated it further, sassily adding hip hop rhythm and grungy energy, without adding any needed computerized elements whatsoever.  Solid.

But above all else, I think I fell in love with her, the first time I saw Brittany Howard.  Letterman showcased their debut album cover and introduced the band by their name.  Now, such a name would mean that they were proud of their Southern roots, meaning I was expecting some form of Southern music.  But when I saw a black girl standing AT THE MIC, rather than where she would usually stand, at the mic on the side with the other black girls, I thought this could go incredibly brilliantly or fail in a mess of generic rockabilly crap.

Okay, sure they stole the riff off “Down on the Corner.”  And, sure, the fat bassist looks like the coolest cat evah.  And, sure, the organist looked like a new office temp.  But without doubt, when Aretha opened up her huge jaw – sorry, I meant, when Brittany opened up her huge jaw, I heard the most stunning voice.  It was Janis Joplin again – creaky yet powerful.  The most beautiful raspy voice come out of a woman with hair like Kelis and wearing glasses like Lisa Loeb’s.  And she plays guitar too!  Fuck yeah!

Now that Brittany’s got my attention – let’s see how the rest of the actual song would play out.  And yip!  That was the good ole’ Kentucky fried, thigh slapping rhythm I remember from ten years ago.  Top stuff.  Letterman agreed also at the end of their performance.

I’m still dancing.