Ernest And Tommy
Ranglin On Bond Street
Music takes its own time. You hear something, you forget it, you do some living, stuff happens, you hear new things, you get busy, you get older and then, when you least expect it, you hear the thing you heard years ago but in a new way, in a way that changes everything.
I bought this record thirty two years ago when I was living in London. This was the kind of record I loved then; produced by the great Duke Reid, featuring Tommy McCook and Ernest Ranglin, a magical slice of Jamaican rocksteady jazz. Fifteen years later I met Ernest Ranglin and we talked about this record. Strong ting, he called it.
Three days ago I went to the local village hall for a wedding party. My good friend Clovis Phillips had been married that afternoon and the village was out to celebrate. At the end of the evening Clovis’s brother-in-law took to the decks and played a reggae set – a great end to a great night. The next morning I pulled down a stack of singles and started playing them.
It was Ranglin On Bond Street that jumped out. I played it over and over. Each time I played it it felt like a different tune. The first play I was here, in the hills, watching black birds gather in the sycamore trees. The second play I was in Hackney in 1985, at a boot fair, buying a bag of records. The next play I was in Jamaica talking to Ernest Ranglin and he was telling me how much he loved country music and that even then, at the age of 65, the thing he most wanted to do was to make a record of country western songs. The next play I was in the village hall listening to dancehall records and eating wedding cake. The next play I was back here and the sky was white and the fields were flooded and the buds were on the willow.
Music takes its own route. It doesn’t do or feel or sound or behave like we want it to. It does what it does in its own mysterious way and it keeps on doing it until we listen.