I really enjoyed interviewing blues legend Taj Mahal and writing the story that ran in the latest Straight. I loved hearing his recollections of playing with Eric Clapton back in the Cream days, and his impressions of his old guitarist, the criminally underrated Jesse Ed Davis.
At the end of the interview I asked the 70-year-old artist what was in his CD player at the moment, and he told me it was John Coltrane's 1957 hard bop album Blue Train. He wasn't too impressed with the fact that I wasn't really up on Trane, though.
"I'm tellin' ya man," he scolded, "you're missin' out on life.
"I can tell you as a guy who really gets around in music: you could live a thousand lifetimes consecutively on planet Earth and listen to music 24 hours a day in all those consecutive lifetimes, and would not even scratch the surface of the music of this universe. This solar system. And the music of these continents of planet Earth. It's incredible!
"And that's what's out there without them having recorded anything. They recorded a lotta stuff because their focus was to see what was commercial--and oftentimes, just academic--but there's a lotta stuff that just hangs out there. Lots of ghosts in the machine."
I told Taj that I would keep my ears open for some of those ghosts, and that seemed to satiate him some. "Yeah, well," he replied, "ya gotta go for it."
In the meantime, Davis's slide playing on "Statesboro Blues" is haunting enough for the likes of me.