There’s No Other Girl In The World (Like The Girl I Got)
I was sitting in an Indian restaurant in Nashville Tennessee when three things happened.
1. My dish of sag aloo arrived.
2. A woman whom I’d just met asked, are you a vegetarian? (As if naming some strange breed.) I said yes. How long, she asked, have you been one? About thirty-five years, I told her. To which she said: Lawd you must be hungry.
3. I felt very far from home.
I often feel very far from home.
When I’m in Nashville I tend to spend a lot of time in record shops.
Also driving from one record shop to the next.
Also talking about which record shop we’re going to visit.
Not to mention thrift stores and junk shops and flea markets.
I remember once buying a single by the great soul singer Clay Hammond and the owner of the shop telling me: my sister used to go out with his brother.
Your sister went out with Clay Hammond’s brother?
I ain’t proud of it, the shop owner said. My sister wasn’t what you might call moderate.
I nodded and he said, got a taste for musicians and it pretty near ruined her.
Not knowing what to say, I said nothing.
OK now though, the man said. Living in Franklin with six kids and a man who can’t carry a tune in a bucket.
I was in a flea market just south of Nashville when I found two records, both with blank labels and the words DEMO and TEST PRESSING on the sleeve.
One of them had the words Dottie Rich Please Go Now written on it.
On the other it said Mend A Broken Heart.
The records cost fifty cents each.
I played the Dottie Rich record first and it was exactly what I thought it’d be. Stand on any street in Nashville and ten of the next fifteen people who pass will have released records like this. Hoping to get lucky.
That’s what people in Nashville do.
The other record, from the opening notes, was something altogether different.
A sublime slice of southern soul.
The voice was unmistakable.
I held my breath and played it again, just to be sure.
George Jackson was one of the great Muscle Shoals songwriters, responsible for dozens of soul hits by Clarence Carter, Johnnie Taylor, Candi Staton, Wilson Pickett, and others. Never a star in his own right, he released a handful of records on small southern labels. He had a lovely, cracked, lazy voice; one of my favourites. The record I’d found, confusingly mislabelled Mend A Broken Heart, was something I’d never heard before.
I have no idea why the demo was pressed. Perhaps to send to someone in the hopes that they’d record it. Perhaps to try and interest a label or local DJ. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t, to the best of my knowledge, ever recorded again.
That’s why I go to record shops.
And junk stores and flea markets.
Boot fairs too.
Hoping to find some reason to keep going to junk stores and flea markets.
Boot fairs too.
Something like There’s No Other Girl In The World (Like The Girl I Got) by George Jackson.
Jeb is appearing as a guest of ours at the Dinefwr and Port Eliot festivals. ‘The Jeb Loy Nichols Special’, his fantastic new album, is out now on Decca. CDs are on sale from the Caught by the River shop, priced £10