|The producer for these sessions was Robin Hemingway, a singular character whose pedigree deserves a mention. Born in Boston where he got his start in the Fifties by doo-wopping on street-corners in the ghetto district of Roxbury, this militant poet enjoyed many creative experiences from New York to Paris, London and Berlin, from the Beat Generation era to that of hip-hop; but through-out his career, the blues always remained the unwavering passion of this self-proclaimed iconoclast.
Feared for his radical stances, Hemingway managed to make enemies wherever he lay his hat, and this album was no exception. Among T-Bone’s entourage the reigning attitude was prudently apolitical — no doubt thanks to the events that had marked the spring of 1968 in Paris — and everyone mistrusted this anti-establishment character who made no secret of his revolutionary dreams. Walker’s attitude was quite the contrary, and he fell under the spell of this feverish idealist who suggested he introduce and close these sessions, alone at the piano.
Even though he tickled the ivories with flair, T-Bone was a guitarist first and foremost. Hemingway clearly knew that this was where his strength lay, and he set out to expose Walker’s flashy picking in a setting suite different from that of his older record-ings.The best example of this transfiguration is given by Everyday I Have the Blues, the Memphis Slim classic that allows Walker’s voice and guitar to shine in a musical context suggestive of the Stax sound. Sensing that he was on the right path, Hemingway allowed T-Bone to pursue the thread in a luxuriant décor throughout this anthology, whether he was remaining faithful to the most lowdown blues (such as Woman You Must Be Crazy, I Wonder Why, econsider, Shake It Baby), or expressing himself in a funky register (Vacation, Sail On Little Girl, or Poontang, an evocatively-named jerky instrumental).
Much to the chagrin of Hemingway’s detractors, the passage of time showed him to have been right, for this album remains an oasis of freshness and invention in the discography of an artist whose career had clearly come to a dead end. Tackling the fundamental truths that make up the real-ism of the blues, Good Feelin’ bears a vitality that had escaped Walker for a long time.
Yet the merit of this collection doesn’t stop there. In the United States, where the name of T-
Bone Walker was in danger of falling into oblivion, the release of this recording stirred people’s
consciences. When the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) awarded Good Feelin’ its Grammy for “Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording” in 1970, it also gave T-Bone an official recognition in which he’d stopped believing. “Here come a day I never thought to see,” he told his biographer Helen Oakley Dance shortly before he died in 1975, adding proudly: “With that album they done such a great job.” Who would dare to contradict him after listening to these sides?