Tag Archives: Etta James

Cry Like a Rainy Day: Etta James, 73

By Bob Hicks

Something’s Got a Hold on Me. Etta James, that incredible American voice, died today from cancer at age 73, and although she urged us to “Don’t Cry Baby,” a few collective tears are going to tumble down.

Etta James performing in San Jose in 2000. Photo: Louis Ramirez, Flickr/Wikimedia CommonsEtta touched on blues and country and rhythm & blues and soul – pretty much most of the traditional popular song forms – and distinguished herself in all of them. She lived hard, on purpose, and sometimes fell over the edge, then scrambled back and added a little more of the scrape and grit she’d landed in to her already astonishing sound. “My mother always wanted me to be a jazz singer, but I always wanted to be raunchy,” she wrote in her memoir.

She was a walking, talking myth: She thought her daddy might have been the pool hustler Minnesota Fats, though she didn’t know for sure, and apparently, neither did he. She seemed to sing from some vital contradiction in the American spirit: how could a voice be at once so smudged and raw and pure? Johnny Otis, who died on Tuesday at age 90, discovered her, but no one could hold on to her. Dementia caught up with her in her final years. It couldn’t hold on, either. Today, Etta’s free.

At Last.


Photo: Louis Ramirez, 2000, Flickr/Wikimedia Commons; Etta in San Jose.

Piccalilli or pick a lot: The food of love

Behold. The finished Jars.

By Laura Grimes

The season’s pickle swaps are in full swing. These things sneak up and before you know it, you have hot peppers in the cupboard and elk meat in the freezer.

A few jars of piccalilli flew out the door the other night in return for promissory notes for bread-and-butter pickles and honey.

An email popped up the next day:

Your piccalilli is amazing. Can you send me the recipe? Thanks so much for sharing it.

So I typed up the recipe, mixing in all my adaptations, and then I kept typing. I was surprised to discover another story that attests to the Power of the Pickle.

Continue reading Piccalilli or pick a lot: The food of love