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THERE, I SAID IT: Play Al Green, And I Will Not Have Sex With You

[To celebrate this week's publication of THERE, I SAID IT: BOB DYLAN IS OVERRATED (and a few other carefully considered objections to the greatest musicians of all time), I'm excerpting a few chapters on my blog. The book is on sale now, and makes a perfect holiday gift for the music snob in your life.]

If you look past the pesky fact that it sabotaged the 2016 election by perverting the very concept of truth, Facebook can be a pretty awesome place. Without Facebook, there would be no THERE, I SAID IT. And without Facebook, I would not have a friend named Leslie DiNicola.

I have met Leslie only once in person. In 2009, Leslie came in as a voice actor on THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST, a feature film starring Neil Patrick Harris that I had the great fortune to direct. (More on that project down the road.) Leslie arrived at our mixing studio towards the end of our post-production process, and proceeded to blow my mind into a million pieces by effortlessly performing 7,532 wildly different and completly vivid characters in about an hour and a half. Then she walked out.

Thanks to Facebook, Leslie and I kept in touch, which is how I know that acting is merely one of the incredible things Leslie does with her voice: most notably, she is a drop-dead brilliant singer-songwriter. Her latest album, Love + Destruction, dropped this past week. Check it out here. IT IS AWESOME.

And of course, thanks once again to Facebook, when this whole THERE, I SAID IT creative madness began swirling back in 2014, Leslie happily raised her hand and volunteered to tell her Al Green story. What Al Green story, you ask? Who in God's name doesn't like Al Green? Read on.

* * *

As a professional musician - and a woman - I’m really not supposed to admit this. But in the spirit of coming clean, I can honestly say that from the depths of my (apparently) cold, hard soul, I just don’t get the obsession with Al Green.

It’s not that I’m heartless. Give me Marvin, Otis, Sam, or Solomon any day. But if you take me back to your place after a midnight stroll, pour a couple glasses of wine, and put on Al Green, all you’ll see when you turn around is a Road-Runner-esque puff of white smoke.

Over the years, I have tried to figure out the source of my inherent aversion to the undeniably smooth King of Soul. After a period of deep contemplation, I believe I can finally pin it down to one indisputable factor. A person, actually. Jared Harrington.

Oh, Jared Harrington. The mysterious, dark-haired, blue-eyed, new kid in school from the wrong side of town. There were two things I found instantly irresistible about Jared Harrington. One was the way he unassumingly grazed through the halls of our high school, observing everyone and everything with the quiet confidence and seductive grin of a young Christian Slater in Heathers.

Second, he had a car.

The day I found out Jared Harrington was “into me” was the single greatest day of my naïve adolescent life. After days of flirting and playing hard-to-get, in exact accordance with the rules of my November issue of Cosmo Girl, Jared Harrington Asked Me Out. He picked me up in his navy blue ’86 Ford Bronco (we lived in Texas), and, within the first hour of our first date, I knew this was no ordinary high school romance. We didn’t have dinner at Chili’s. We didn’t share Red Vines at the AMC while watching City Of Angels. No. Jared Harrington picked up tacos at a drive-thru, took me downtown to an underground rock concert, and snuck me into a seedy bar called The Slip Inn for a round of whiskey sours. It’s safe to say I was in love.

Jared Harrington’s mom worked late on weeknights. So, after that first romantic outing, most of our “dates” consisted of him throwing acorns at my bedroom window, helping me climb out and down via the roof over the garage, and heading over to his place. I’ll be writing another article later using this same exact story to explain when and how I learned the difference between true love and a booty call. In the meantime, let’s get back to the Reverend Al Green.

It was a Wednesday night. It was cold and raining. We had just arrived at his house and kicked off our shoes when he walked over to his turntable. As I shivered and casually tried to tousle my wet hair before he turned back around, I thought to myself: what was he going to put on? Was he about to fulfill my dreams of losing my virginity to Patrick Swayze under the sweet serenade of “These Arms Of Mine”? (No ‘90s girl can resist the killer combo of Swayze and Redding. The brainwashing starts at birth.)

And then, just like that, Jared Harrington did it. He dropped the needle and out from the crackling speakers came the unmistakable horn intro of “Let's Stay Together.” Maybe it was too obvious a move. Maybe it was the added cheesiness of the rain and boxed wine. Maybe it was his odd misjudgment of the situation: had we fallen madly in love, broken up, reconciled, and were about to have make-up sex, all within the time it took us to drive from Shakey’s to his house? Or do I just have freakishly steady knees, and a giant chunk of ice where my heart should be?

I’ll never really know. But one thing is certain: I walked out on Jared Harrington that night. And sixteen years later, I still can’t get into Al Green.

[THERE, I SAID IT: BOB DYLAN IS OVERRATED (and a few other carefully considered objections to the greatest musicians of all time) is on sale now, in paperback and Kindle formats. And to have future blog posts emailed to you directly, go ahead and subscribe below.]

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