PERFORMING ARTS

Time Is Tight: My Life, Note by Note

Little, Brown. Oct. 2019. 336p. notes. index. ISBN 9780316485609. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780316485609. MUSIC
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Though this memoir from Jones (b. 1944) offers few revelations, it’s nonetheless an engaging, insider’s view of an influential force in American music. To refer to the R&B/funk band Booker T. and the M.G.’s as the Stax Records house band is an accurate description that also misses the point; the band’s role in shaping Memphis soul, and thereby everything that emerged from and came after it, is immeasurable. Anyone who has listened to Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, or countless other artists of the 1960s has heard Jones’s organ or piano. Indeed, the book is at its best when Jones is talking music. Whether citing childhood influences from a family who encouraged his musical endeavors or describing the recording of the iconic “Green Onions,” Jones has clearly honed his considerable innate talent over the years. The anecdotes, which take on everything from touring to juggling recording sessions and college to dealing with racism, become a framework for a text structured more around theme than chronology. This works better than one might expect; still, the effect is more akin to hearing stories over coffee than reading a straightforward memoir.
VERDICT An enjoyable and insightful read. For fans of Booker T. and the M.G.’s, the Stax era, and soul music.

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