Just flew round trip to NYC this week and used it as an opportunity to read a great new book by my friend Aaron Cohen, the associate editor of Downbeat. His book is part of a series by Continuum Books. Each book dissects the making of a classic album. Aaron picked “Amazing Grace” by Aretha Franklin, the best selling gospel album of all time. A lot of people who write these books are fans who write about the album as a fan. But Aaron incorporates into the narrative not only the making of an album and the coming together of a group of people at the height of their careers, but also includes an examination of race and religion! He packed a ton into 150 or so pages and wrote in a manner that makes it impossible to put down.

This book reminded me of an Aretha experience that I had in the late 1980’s. I was assigned by InStyle magazine to cover a Christmas party at Aretha’s house outside of Detroit. The details were: Aretha cooks a Christmas meal for 20 or so of her closest friends, including many members of the Detroit Pistons. After dinner, the Temptations play in her living room! Sounds like a great time.

Went out to the airport to catch the short flight to Detroit. At the gate, I picked up the USA Today sports section. First thing I noticed was the headline about the great matchup in Los Angeles that night between the Lakers and the Pistons. Oh well, no Pistons at the party. Got to Detroit in the late afternoon so I could take pictures of Aretha cooking, rented a car and headed to Aretha’s house in the suburbs of Detroit. First thing I saw when I got to her house were two giant catering trucks parked in the driveway! Oh well. No Aretha cooking pictures! During the party, guests sat around and ate catered food! The biggest stars were some local Detroit TV anchors. Then came the entertainment- one Temptation (not an original member) singing with a karaoke machine!

Oh well, at least the plane trip was uneventful.

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