Tunesday: Richard “Groove” Holmes – “Living Soul”

It’s Tuesday so that means at, it’s Tunesday! Every Tuesday, we will share a song with you that we love and hope you will too.

If you haven’t yet read Amanda’s excellent piece from last week, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Give It To Me: The Trade-Offs Of Music Convenience,” please go do so now. It’ll only take you two to three minutes. I’ll wait.

(I’m serious. Go.)

Ready? No?? I said I was serious. I’ll wait some more.

(This is me, waiting.)

Ok, you’ve had your chance. I love this piece because it gave me a lot to ponder, about the ever-changing ways we can consume music and about my own music consumption habits. I was intrigued by Amanda’s personal challenge to avoid music she’d already heard for a week and use new ways of finding new music, though I decided the challenge wasn’t for me (i.e., I wimped out).

Instead, without making a conscious decision to do so, I double-downed on the opposite approach this week, burrowing into my own music at first. I knew I was due up this Tunesday, and I had nothing in the bag, so nearly every time I wanted to listen to some music this week, I opened up my full songs list on iTunes and shuffled all. I skipped songs when I wasn’t in the mood for them or when I was in the mood for skipping. I didn’t know what I was looking for. Often I forgot I was even looking. So I shuffled, and played, and skipped. And I waited.

(Like this, remember?)

And then yesterday while I was at work, a groovy tune came on that I immediately recognized as a song I liked by the Beastie Boys, but I didn’t know the name of it, or even what album it was from. My only thought as I perked up was, “Yeah! I love their instrumentals. I need to check the name and start differentiating them.” The song was “Groove Holmes” off of Check Your Head.

Okay, I thought, I dig this song, but what can I write about this random Beastie Boys instrumental of which I can never remember the name? On a cheeky whim, I googled “a review of groove holmes.” Seeing no results relevant to the Beastie Boys song, I clicked on the suggested search “groove holmes beastie boys” at the bottom, which lead to this Genius page and this description:

Richard Arnold “Groove” Holmes was an American organist who performed in the genres of hard bop and soul jazz. His most notable recording is “Misty” (1965). With virtuoso groove and technique evident in “rapid, punctuating, and pulsating basslines,” Holmes’s work is regarded as antecedent of acid jazz. One year following his death, Beastie Boys paid tribute to Holmes by adding this track, #15, to Check Your Head.

Well, well! Now I was getting somewhere. Somewhere new (for me) and uncharted (for me). It was time to enter the streaming Napster of our times, YouTube. I started with “Misty,” to which I responded, “Damn, this is funky! What else you got?” I went to “Living Soul” next. Expletive-laden excitement. I listened to some others. Delirium. I could see sliding these tunes straight into my jam/concentrate/motivate rotation of work music.

And this is where I bring up basketball. If you’re not a fellow NBA League Passer, you may not know that the Atlanta Hawks employ an arena organist named Sir Foster. Who is awesome. He plays traditional arena organ music (for which I’m pretty sure most arenas just use recorded tracks), but he also covers lots and lots of pop, rap, and rock songs (every arena these days plays “Seven Nation Army” to rouse the crowd; only Sir Foster plays it on the organ). I even noticed this season that whenever reserve forward Mike Scott scores a basket, Sir Foster does a quick riff of the theme music from The Office (US). I mean, can you even? I can’t.

So perhaps in these jazzy days of the NBA playoffs, my mind was already primed for enjoying organ music. I only know that I’m glad to have discovered Groove Holmes, whom one YouTube commenter described as “GROOVING THE LEFT HAND & TALKING GOOD SMACK WITH THE RIGHT HAND.” And perhaps I know this as well: I’m glad to have rediscovered a tactic of the creative process, which is to wade into a stream of randomness and look for something new or interesting. Rather than pounding my head onto the empty walls of the ether, jump into the unknown and be on the lookout for “oh cool” without thinking too much about what I’m doing. To go fishing, basically. I might pull up a boot, maybe three or four or ninety boots in a row, but eventually on the end of the line will be a glass slipper.

While you simmer on that metaphor, I’m jamming out to my pick for the week, my favorite Richard Holmes groove so far, “Living Soul”:


Read more from Jeremy here and on Twitter: @jereminate.