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A Radio Mistake Made Booker T. Jones’ “Green Onions” an Accidental Hit


-Thank you for
coming on the show. What is this? What is this? -Someone left it in
the dressing room. Is it Emilia’s? -Oh, my God. Yeah.
Yeah, I’ll make sure — [ Cheers and applause ] I’ll make sure —
We’ll CGI that out. Thank you so much
for coming on the show. You look great, buddy.
I want to talk about this book. Because here you are —
you started out as a studio musician, went
on to become Booker T. & the M.G.’s, went on to produce
so many songs and music. What made you want to write
this book now, this memoir? -The honest answer is —
I was practicing writing lyrics for songs at an
old, cheap hotel in Chicago, and I came up with about
10 or 12 of them. Book said write about
what you know about, so I was writing about my life. -Yeah. -I came home from Chicago,
and my wife saw them. “What’s this?”
“Well, it’s just some essays.” She said, “You know, you should
make these into a book.” So, I thought,
“Well, maybe I should.” But then I realized, “I don’t
know how to write a book.” So, I went to church.
Can you believe that? -Yeah. They let you in there?
-In Mill Valley. And sitting behind me,
there’s these noisy kids, you know, making —
jumping all over everybody. And it was the child of
Anne Lamott. And I discovered
she had written a book about how to write a book
and how you live your life. -She wrote a book about
how to write a book. -And I thought,
“Well, maybe I could. Maybe I could.” -Like, let’s just talk about
“Green Onions.” You guys know “Green Onions”?
You know the song? If you don’t know the name,
but give a little bit. [ “Green Onions” playing ] -Well, I mean, so,
let’s talk about that. So, that song was
not even, like — You weren’t even a major —
That wasn’t supposed to be the A-side. That was the B-side, right?
-Supposed to be the B-side. And James played it correct.
Thank you, James. -Oh.
-Thank you. [ Cheers and applause ]
That’s not very often. -No.
-Yeah, we got the studio. And we were the house band. And we were just messing around
because the studio was down. Played a blues, and the owner of
the record company just said, “You know, that’s pretty good. Let’s record that and put it out
and make a record out of it.” And then, so —
But you have to have a — You can’t put out
a one-sided record. You need something for
the B-side. -Yeah. -So, there was this little thing
I was playing on piano that ended up being
“Green Onions.” And, so, my buddy Steve Cropper took it down to
the radio station. They played the blues
a little bit, and the disc jockey played
the wrong side, turned it over. That was the
“Green Onions” side. Phones starting lighting up. And so they had to re-release
the record as “Green Onions” with the A-side. -No way.
-As the A-side, yeah. -I love those stories.
That’s the best stories. [ Cheers and applause ] You also released a companion
album to go along with the book. And this is a must-have.
Oh, my gosh. “Havana Moon,” “Stardust.” “Time is Tight” was what
you heard on the way out. “Born Under a Bad Sign.”
I mean, oh, my gosh. And, again, thank you for the
gift you gave my baby, my first baby. I appreciate that.
You got me a nice blanket. -Well, I saw that on eBay.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you can get it for cheap —
If it’s overpriced — Yeah. -I had to chose whether to bring
this or the blanket. -No, this is a good call.
Yeah, that was a good call. You’ve collaborated with so many
people over the years — Otis Redding, Ray Charles,
Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Tom Waits,
Sharon Jones, and The Roots. If you could sum up what you’ve
lived and experienced and took away from all of this,
is there one or two sentences that you can sum it all up in? -Well, I was fortunate enough
to become a member of a brotherhood of musicians
and people with purpose, and our purpose was to provide
a soundtrack for life. I’m still the 17-year-old kid
that’s excited about making music, you know? But the thing that it does that
I’m happy about is that it keeps people
from feeling alone. It connects us, you know, and a
lot of people have told me, “I’ve used your music to get
through my studies” or “I got married to that song” or “My child was born
to that song” or for whatever life purposes —
you know, wedding or — -Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Music is universal,
and if you ever feel like if you’re lost out there or
lonely, just pick up a Booker T. & the M.G.’s record,
and you got a friend for life. We love you, buddy.
I’m so happy. I love it. Booker T. Jones! “Time is Tight”
is available now.

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