Thursday, June 24, 2010

For a Song: Long Tall Cool One

Bruce Hornsby: Long Tall Cool One


Man, it’s hot! I live in New Jersey. In a normal year, we might have five to ten days of 90+ degree weather, scattered through late July and August. This year, we’ve had at least that many already. Today was the topper, with temperatures threatening to top out over 100. As I tried to think of what to post for this feature, my brain boiled away. “Man, a long tall cool one would be good about now!” Well, at least that was easy.

In the song, a Long Tall Cool One may refer to a drink, a man, or even an exchange of money. Maybe it’s all of those. This is the kind of noir tale where the humidity is visible on the screen of the film version. The details are left to the listener’s imagination here. This song is all about mood. When Bruce Hornsby recorded this one, he had just come off the road as a part of the Grateful Dead. Long Tall Cool One, and indeed the entire Harbor Lights album, mark a major shift in Hornsby’s style. The music became jazzier, the structures looser. In short, Hornsby took what he had been doing, and added jamming. The result here is a song you may not be able to sit still to, but I hope its coolness will also reach you, and help you to get through the hot days.