Got The Fever

Friday, March 07, 2008

Jeff Healey

I was saddened this past week to hear of the passing of Jeff Healey. As late as it might have been, my first exposure to the man came in 1989’s “Roadhouse”. As the cliché goes, I was ‘blown away’ by his sweaty, gritty version of “Roadhouse Blues” and also swept up in the voluminous rendition of “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man”. The latter has such visual representation for me taken from the scene in the film when it was played.

The Jeff Healy tracks, for me, were more than the sum of individual songs that appeared on the soundtrack, they were an equal to the film itself and gave the awesome sword the film was its mighty sharpened edge.

I feel that Jeff accomplished and proved his edge in many of his releases that include “See The Light”(1988), “Hell To Pay”(1990), "Get Me Some”(2000) and “Feel This”(1992). A man with many styles that encompassed rock, jazz and blues. Truly he’s a guitarist that could please most.

If I was to be forced to pick a favorite album though, you might find it curious that I choose one that’s comprised of all covers.

Stuck In The Middle With You
Picture a swell rising below you. You stand on the board and begin to rise up. Much too quickly you lose balance and tumble beneath the curling crush of the white crest of the wave. Misjudging due to loss of direction, you realize that you’re far too deep under to take a breath and that breath you need is pounding at your expelled lungs. You struggle, panic lurking beneath a pallid veneer. Finally, surface, air and sun came back all at once.

This could what you might feel like listening to this stupendous version originally done by “Steeler’s Wheel”. Playing a cover, you best be sure that it’s packed with original attitude, and built with presentation and presence. Could you pick a better cover to hear in an overcrowded dive, deep past midnight, swilling with no thought of consequence, gyrating no matter your style and shouting at the top of your now raw voice?

Stop Breaking Down
Do you realize that the man was not only blind and played guitar, but played guitar in an unnatural way? The guitar lied flat (yes, flat) on his lap and he placed his fingers on TOP of the fretboard! Sans palm around the neck of the guitar! I don’t know but one or two who could lay claim that they could play this well without Beck, Clapton, Blackmore or Cray themselves as personal instructors. And, this guy does it blind. Can I have an ‘Amen’?

I venture that Robert Johnson had to have been smiling when he heard how well manipulated his song had been covered. Totally engrossing and immensely entertaining this bedrock jewel gives us but a glimpse of the true artist behind it.

Let it be known that Jeff left behind not only many fine recordings for us all to remember him by, but more importantly, a wife and children who would trade in all the recordings and fame for just a little more time.

Like another cliché goes: tough act to follow. Look for his just completed album "Mess Of Blues" to be released within the month.

Jeff Healy Band: Stuck In The Middle With You
Jeff Healy Band: Stop Breaking Down
Cover To Cover [1995]


  • Nice post, guy -- and a good tip. I went and found the whole album! Thanks.

    By Blogger whiteray, at 6:41 PM  

  • Hi Kev! Nice to see this post. I have loved listed to JH since he first came on to the scene. Really the only reason to watch "Road House :-). Hope all is well.. drop me a line some time.

    Glen Mac

    By Blogger GlenMac, at 2:32 PM  

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