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This one had me rockin’ in the car, keeping time with her phrasing, the rise and fall of her emotions, just about bustin’ out of myself, which can be a little dangerous while driving.

Makes me think of Etta James. Few singers ever could match her for diving for her own depths. Few could match her for drilling down into the worst of the self and pulling up the greatest heartbreak, channeling it, bringing it back up to the surface to purge and shout out to the world:


“You need me!! No one can love you like I do!! Don’t forget me!! Don’t forget me!!”


Not just expressing the self, or even transforming it. Etta James and all the great soul singers destroy themselves again and again and recreate the body miraculously, impossibly. They rise from the dead, bring us fire, bring us the light.


For some, this heroic, Promethean struggle and recall simply overwhelms them. Instead of recreating their mind/body after each plunge into the cold waters of the self, they leave more and more behind, until one day they have nothing left to bring back to the surface. Drugs and booze take over. Their song becomes fainter, more distant. The label drops them, forgets them, as do their fans. They’re goddesses of dead religions, and we’ve moved on.


Adele has many paths to choose from. She can become a pop star and let her managers and corporations wrap her up, put her in a box, and tame her. Or she can fight for her own space in the world, and never let others control her art. Here’s hoping she can do the latter, and always rise back up from her trips below the surface.


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