No tags :(

Share it




With a catalog that’s now more than seven decades old and wasn’t all that voluminous to begin with, let alone popular enough at the time to be widely remembered since, it’s endlessly frustrating to reduce someone’s legacy to one, maybe two, groundbreaking records rather than explore their entire output with the kind of focus it requires to best be appreciated.

This song would likely not be anyone’s choice for the best record that Goree Carter put out in his all-too brief career, nor is it the most typical sounding material that he produced, but in many ways it’s the relative obscurity of the release combined with the change of pace approach that makes this all the more rewarding to uncover when trying to piece together the long overlooked story of an artist who deserved much better than he ever got.


Searched All Over Town
Without knowing too much about Goree Carter personally, other than what can be gathered from a scant number of interviews he did, it’s safe to say that he did not cotton to doing what was expected of him.

You’d think that for a teenager seeking to use music as a way to get something substantial out of life that he’d take one of the two “easy” routes sitting before him. That would mean either continually repeating his most distinctive record – Rock Awhile – in a desperate attempt at catching people’s ear, or – after becoming resigned to his lack of headway as a rocker as time went on – that he’d retreat to the somewhat safer and more reliable blues idiom that would at least have the chance to provide him with consistent club work locally for a decade or more, even without a hit to his credit.

Carter did neither of those. Instead, while he did give us a fair share of scorching uptempo rockers, he also kept expanding his palette with interesting experiments that revealed the extent of his creativity if nothing else.

Case in point is My Love Is Coming Down, which sounds precisely like the kind of tentative exploration of a new sound that was stirring in his mind and he wanted to hear on tape. It might not be fully worked out yet, the rough idea not quite smoothed out with every facet completely in place, but the concept itself and the loose confidence it’s performed with is more than enough to make up for any uncertainty in execution.

Every Time The Moon Starts Risin’
On the surface this is not altogether radically different than a lot of slower contemplative ballads in rock to date. The vocal pacing, the sparse arrangement, the lyrical sentiments have all been firmly established by Roy Brown and a host of others over the past two years. It’s not the most common avenue for rock success mind you, but it’s not completely alien to listeners either.

Yet on My Love Is Coming Down there’s a sense that Goree Carter is trying to find a way to shade it differently and that makes it stand out in the big scheme of things.

Part of this of course is due to the nature of his skill-set, namely the fact that unlike most rock artists of this era Carter’s instrument of choice is the guitar and while there certainly are others who also feature that instrument, most records tended to either downplay that sound or confine it to selected moments while emphasizing more commercially reliable horns and piano.

Carter however, despite having tremendous horn players and pianist in the house band for Freedom Records, always keeps his guitar in the forefront and now he’s seeing how he can tweak expectations by offering something slightly different when he plays.

The opening is intentionally harsh and direct, a slightly distorted chording that is designed to capture your focus right off the bat while still somehow remaining true to the thematic narrative which follows, that of a meditative look at the travails of finding love.

His playing perfectly establishes that feeling of uncertainty that his lyrics will soon expound upon and in these twelve seconds you can almost get a sense of how he worked this song out in its earliest stages, trying to let his imagination have the room to come up with a story worth telling. Then once he got his thoughts together and took it to the studio to record he kept that same tentative opening because that was what inspired everything that was to follow.

Though the sound is so stark as to be unconventional its effect is sublime… you’re immediately in the right mindset to hear what he has to tell you.


After Midnight Baby
At times it seems that those whose most notable aspect of their talents is a virtuosity on their particular instrument, there comes with it a tendency to overlook some other noteworthy aspect of those talents, which in Goree Carter’s case are – respectively – his guitar playing overshadows his songwriting, particularly as a lyricist.

On My Love Is Coming Down he’s working within a standard structure, both melodically and thematically, but his wordplay is a step above what most songs of this nature possess.

The gist of the story is that it’s late at night and Goree is horny – though he’s more discreet about it than that, telling us “my heart is overflowing” before making his confession “but my love is not around”.

So this rather blatantly sets up the moral dilemma, or at least the logistical one, requiring him to look elsewhere for satisfaction.

Naturally he’s saddened about his lack of nightly companionship, though he doesn’t specify where his woman might be that makes her unavailable for the kind of… umm… “service” he’s seeking. It could be he’s in jail, certainly the bleak accompaniment would fit that plot twist, but he soon tells us he’s calling her and visiting her place in search of her, so unless that prison has an unusual open door policy then it’s more than likely she’s simply up and left him and he’s still in denial that she’s moved on to greener pastures.

All of that paints a really vivid picture for us, but unfortunately the song packs it biggest lyrical punch early on and so rather than lead to anything revelatory as we might hope, it sort of goes around in circles, leaving Goree – and us – unfulfilled to a degree.

Again, that fact would help to confirm the rougher sketched out nature of this idea, but as we know any time Carter is in doubt as to where to take this, he’s always got his guitar close at hand to pass the time of day.

Makes Me Think
Carter may not go to any great lengths to show off his ability with a wild solo on this track, but he’s hardly lacking for ingenuity either. That coarser quality that he kicked this off with remains the primary backing on his vocals to emphasize the despondent nature of his character, yet it trades off nicely with a far more fluid tone he switches to in between those lines to give it a slight melodic bent as well as to alleviate some of the gloom caused by that more unsympathetic bristly sound he’s featuring behind the verses.

The mood he’s seeking to establish on My Love Is Coming Down though remains pretty grim and so the arrangement is intentionally skimpy. The horns quietly bleat in the background, their notes purposefully indistinct so as to only provide a distant din, while Lonnie Lyons plays just a jittery piano to keep the musical flow… err… musical trickle(?) from ever completely abating.

Carter DOES get a solo, but as stated it’s with the intent on keeping things on edge to match his increasingly desperate outlook. Yet within that run he manages to bring all sorts of elements to the forefront, each one representative of his shifting mindset – from impatience to anguish to defeated resignation, a brief flurry of unwarranted hope before settling into quiet despair.

Everything ties together well, the shift from vocals to instrumental break and back is natural and unassuming, something not always valued when someone is anxious to show off their guitar work, and while none of this might be the kind of thing designed to turn your head at first listen, the understated power of the full package will stay on your mind long after it stops playing, making you want to revisit it and hear what other perceived truths you might uncover.

Brings Back All My Years
The first year of Goree Carter’s career has brought countless artistic highs and surprising commercial lows… or at least consistent indifference.

We can speculate endlessly on the reasons for this, placing blame on everything from Freedom Record’s limited distribution and promotional ability to Carter’s sound being still something of an outlier in a rock world that was still most associated with different instrumental highlights.

Yet in spite of the disappointing returns on his records there can’t be any disappointment in the quality of the work… especially how broadly disparate his efforts have been in a creative sense, constantly exploring slightly different musical approaches with a sense of curiosity and genuine wonder.

My Love Is Coming Down wasn’t going to change the results of his pursuit of a hit, but for those astute enough to be listening it provided additional hope that for someone this restless and talented it was just a matter of time before his ambition started paying off.


(Visit the Artist page of Goree Carter for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)