Belle Adair. Photo: Ashton Lance
Name: Matthew Green
Band: Belle Adair
Instrument(s) you play: Guitar and bass
Place of Birth/Hometown: Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Presently residing: Tuscumbia, Alabama
AC: How did you get into music?
MG: Music never played a leading role in my family’s home, so I learned via my second family of friends. I was lucky enough to find myself surrounded by a group of friends who, for a time, lived and breathed music. Some of us became a little more obsessive than others, and I’m one of those obsessives (for better or for worse). Music engulfs my daily experience: I play it, collect it, read about it, and listen to it. For me, it’s like the Heraclitean stream–constant and ever-changing.
AC: What are some of your proudest moments as a musician (or in your life)?
MG: I’m not sure that I have a proudest moment. I see our accomplishments as small steps in the right direction. In my mind, it’s cumulative, so it’s hard for me to isolate individual moments. But I’m not really one to get overly excited or nostalgic either. Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you that I’m about as even-keeled as they come.
AC: What do you do when you’re not playing music?
MG: Reading, fishing, and running. Those are my three favorite activities, though I must admit they don’t get the time they deserve. I also enjoy cooking with my fiancé and walking my dog.
AC: What makes your heart sing?
MG: Searching for and eventually finding a record that has eluded me for years.
AC: Tell us about your playlist.
MG: Gonna do a little twist on the Muscle Shoals thing. All the songs were written by songwriters from the area, and I chose my favorite versions of those songs. You may have heard a few of these songs as performed by other artists.
Tammy Wynette – “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” (Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad)
Phil Campbell native Billy Sherrill wrote this hit. Generally, he’s regarded as one of the brains behind “Countrypolitan,” a smoothing over, if you will, of country music with a more refined popular sound. This cut, though, predates Countrypolitan by a few years, before it really took hold of Nashville. That Telecaster doused in slapback sounds heavenly.
Bobby Womack – “Just a Little Bit Salty” (At Home in Muscle Shoals)
Eddie Hinton wrote this track. Womack gives him a shout out at the beginning and proceeds to own the tune. I imagine him just walking up to the mic, ad-libbing the intro, and letting it rip. The groove is deep, and the background singers are bold, to say the least.
Booker T. & the MG’s – “You Left the Water Running” (Soul Men)
An Oscar Frank/Rick Hall/Dan Penn cut. This instrumental version from the Stax house band takes its cue from the organ part on Penn’s original cut and embellishes from there. It doesn’t hew too closely to the original melody, but it’s still a singular take on a great Muscle Shoals tune.
Flying Burrito Brothers – “Do Right Woman” (The Definitive Collection)
A Chips Moman/Dan Penn cut made famous by Aretha Franklin. It’s interesting to hear a song wrested from its most popular context. Hearing a man sing, “They say that it’s a man’s world, but you can’t prove that by me” turns the song on its head in a brilliant way.
Bill Brandon – “It’s All Wrong, but It’s All Right” (Full Time Groovers – Hotlanta Soul)
Another Eddie Hinton tune, though since it’s in a minor key, this one differs from most versions. The minor key lends a certain foreboding quality to the track, and I love the obligatory seventies wah and fuzz guitars as well as the strings and creepy backing vocals. It gets kind of manic at the end, but if you listen to the lyric closely enough, you understand why.
John Prine – “I Hate It When That Happens to Me” (Fair & Square)
A Donnie Fritts co-write with John Prine. It’s a dark comedy with a touch of denial and self-loathing, exactly the kind of country song we’re missing these days. What’s going on in Nashville?
Yo La Tengo – “I’m Your Puppet” (B-Side of “Mr. Tough” single)
A well-known Spooner Oldham/Dan Penn cut. Sung as a duet like the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, this version has a certain sweetness and playfulness that most of the R&B cuts of the sixties are missing. It also sounds like Muscle Shoals filtered through The Velvet Underground, which is fine with me.
Johnny Paycheck – “11 Months and 29 Days” (16 Biggest Hits)
An Earl “Peanut” Montgomery cut. I’m a huge Paycheck fan and he had a fruitful recording relationship with Peanut as well as Billy Sherrill. Something about the timbre of Paycheck’s voice sticks with me. One of my favorite country singers.
Barton Carroll — “The Dark End of the Street” (Love & War)
A Chips Moman/Dan Penn cut. We share a booking agent with Barton and we’ve shared the stage with him once before. His dry, sincere take, aided by a simple tremolo guitar line, gets straight to the heart of the song.
Belle Adair is on the homestretch of a weeks-long tour. Catch them live in Nashville tonight, or in Florence tomorrow night for their homecoming show.
10/11 | Nashville, TN – The High Watt with Andrew Leahey
10/12 | Florence, AL – Pegasus Records with Gnarly Charlies + Medicine Man