No tags :(

Share it




It’s hardly being pessimistic to say that after being pleasantly surprised on one side of an artist’s debut release you need to prepare yourself for a let down when you turn that record over. That’s not unfair, it’s just simple statistical probability at play.

After all, the number of great two-sided records even from established stars is pretty low and so for an artist with no track record to go on you’d be bucking the odds to think they were going to match the unexpected magic of that first side already.

But every once in awhile you get to experience the utter joy of finding out you were completely wrong and they not only equal their initial offering, but even surpass it the second time around.


Things Would Be Convenient
Naturally if two sides of one record by an untested artist – especially one who we know (because we’re time travelers from the future in a sense) won’t ever become a superstar – are both really good, the next expectation we have is that they’ll be in much the same vein.

The chances that someone will master two different stylistic approaches right out of the gate is pretty far fetched, so knowing that we need to assume these two sides are cut from the same cloth and it’s THAT approach he’s really skilled at and simply doubling down on his mastery of it.

To an extent that’s true here. Both this and Gypsy Blues are slowly paced, both are sung with a semi-distracted tone and have lyrics that are vivid but require a good deal of imagination to fully picture in your mind’s eye.

But that’s just the surface similarities and even there we DO get some notable difference between that side and Millionaire Blues which make this one a little more accessible. For unlike the first song which focused on a specific colorful subject, today’s song comes to us straight from his daydreams… one that we’ve all shared at one point or another, making it eminently familiar to anyone who ever said…

“If I had a million dollars…”

After that common ground starting point the rest of the story may be a decidedly strange one, but it’s also a really good one.


Talk Trash To Me
The way this starts out, a beautiful saxophone lazily blowing a smoky late night melody while light drums twitch in the background, you are already in the right frame of mind… eyelids half closed, head drooping, staring out the window in the classroom or at an office desk, imagining something… anything… to distract you from your current situation.

It might be a girl or a guy you’ve had your mind on lately, it could be your upcoming lunch break or maybe you’re already pushing past daylight hours in your mind and heading right to the bed, daydreaming about a peaceful night’s rest when the lights go off and you can finally put your day behind you.

Not surprisingly considering the topic Millionaire Blues has a sleepy sound, but a sound that welcomes you into that slumber, giving you the comfort of letting your conscious mind go, free to roam where it wants as you drift away.

Before you quite reach that point though here comes James Waynes, his voice so soothing that it’s not going to rouse you from that state of mind altogether but will get you to focus on something as you reach that point of total relaxation. That opening line about if he had a million bucks is the hook and what follows – what he wants to do with that money – is something that only he would dream of.

He wants… a waitress?!?!?

Presumably he’s not having this fantasy while at a coffee shop or a diner while frustrated over his lack of a refill to his drink, but instead is imagining how it might seem to him that he were living in the lap of luxury if he had a waitress in his home to bring him his meals and drinks.

He doesn’t go into the menu details thankfully, but by the tone of his voice he’s already picturing the scene and sounds so blissfully content by his indulgent fantasy that it’s hard not to envy him. When he raises the sum total of his imaginary windfall to a billion dollars in the second stanza he informs us proudly that he’s gonna get MORE than one waitress… in fact, he’s gonna have one for each “shift”.

He’s thinking big!

All of this sounds perfectly ludicrous – and it is of course and he knows it too, even though he’s not cracking that serious façade. He doesn’t actually seem to want to be waited on hand and foot though, it’s just that he sounds really lonely and if his point of reference for friendly women happens to be those whose job it is to smile and ask to take your order then naturally having one in your home at your beck and call would seem pretty extravagant for someone who’s not very worldly.

He may have a little more on his mind than toast and jam though, as he’d like one of the waitresses to give him kisses, but he doesn’t seem as if he’s thought much beyond that even if he is letting his imagination run away with him otherwise.

To Me Belong
Now granted, while this is a good way to pass time in science class on a drizzly Tuesday afternoon, it’s hardly a good topic for a song… or so you’d think. But more often than not good topics are what singers make of them and the manner in which Waynes spins this tale is so charming that the subject – colorful as it is – simply becomes a stand in for almost any daydream you want to envision in its place.

In other words it’s not the specifics in this case that make Millionaire Blues so intoxicating, it’s the act of dreaming for a better situation in life itself, in whatever form that takes. Because he embodies that state of mind so perfectly here, you accept the explanation he gives you that this is the simple pleasure in life that will truly make him happy and since the musicians backing him have bought into his reverie so completely themselves, the spell is never broken.

The saxophone is so hauntingly distant, always within sight but never within reach, that you find yourself drawn to it even more. The drums are playing behind the beat, or since they ARE the beat, then playing behind where the beat should naturally fall, and that serves to keep you from trying to anticipate what’s to come and instead allows you to settle into a sort of contentment as you listen.

There’s a faint piano in there from time to time as well, and as with the flip side the audio quality, especially the vocals, is absolutely sterling allowing you to practically hear the dust float through the studio air giving this an all enveloping peacefulness which only adds to the record’s delicate ambiance.

Rock songs generally aren’t ever called tranquil, but this could be called nothing but that and as a complete change of pace from the norm it’s really hard to beat.

In My Home
Daydreams tend to be something most of us keep to ourselves, and for good reason. They generally aren’t well thought out, they’re usually based more on vague impressions than realistic fact and concrete evidence (would these waitresses be WORKING for him… I mean would he tip them… or in a fantasy does renumeration not really matter?) and they’re not meant to do much more than help you pass your idle time.

So I’m sure that for many who aren’t in a position to be doing so at the drop of a hat a song like Millionaire Blues might seem indulgent, pointless and even a waste of time.

Maybe it is in some circumstances. But for anyone who’s ever wished they were somewhere else, doing something else, no matter how silly that something was, the basic point of view will surely connect with you in those moments.

We know that anything this docile has got no chance to ever be a hit, but rock ‘n’ roll is built on dreams and if nothing else this song puts you in the right frame of mind to dream about those hits.


(Visit the Artist page of James Waynes for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)