Crawling Over the Musical Tree

Mighty Mighty – Jesse Anderson from Mighty Mighty 7″

Awhile ago, as I was sitting on my morning busride to work in DC, the bus pulled up to a stop and I looked out the window at a tree along the sidewalk.  Crawling on the bark was a single ant.  I was struck by how enormous the tree must be for that ant, and wondered if in it’s ant-brain it was overwhelmed by the seemingly endless scope of the bark it was crawling over.

The reason I bring this up is as a listener of music, I sometimes feel like that ant.  There is so much music that is out there, and I have no hope of ever covering every inch of that musical tree.  But trying to see as much of it as possible has its rewards.  One of those is finding Jesse Anderson’s “Mighty Mighty.”  Anderson was a Chicago musician who put out this 7″ on Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom label in 1970.

I originally found this on the great Soul-Sides blog, and I generally download anything that I remotely like from his blog and come back to it later.  I stumbled across this again recently as I was wandering through my Itunes library.  I was immediately smacked by the hugeness of the guitar and drum groove.  That is funk.  The guitar is wah-wahhed to the hilt.  The drums are begging to be sampled by DJ Shadow.  The two are in lockstep.  And then on top of it comes a flute.  Yes, a flute.  And the mellowness of that flute compliments the richness of the drums and guitar.  It doesn’t attempt to overpower the song, like say this.  The flute gives way for a short drum fill and a guitar solo, but flits back in to the groove effortlessly.  Clocking in at a short 2:20, it definitely leaves you wanting more.

Anderson apparently never made it big, but when I hear this, I’m reminded of the Beastie’s Boy’s attempts at funk instrumental tracks on Check Your Head and Ill Communication, and I know if they’d been able to put together something this funky, it would have been much bigger than Anderson’s ever was.  I’m just glad I found it on my crossing of the musical tree and can enjoy it.

Sadly, I can’t find anywhere online that has the song, so let me know if you want a copy.  In searching for it, I came across a gem of a clip from Soul Train (apparently Earth Wind and Fire recorded a song by the same name that bears no resemblance to Anderson’s version).  Enjoy:


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