|He lived up to his name: Big Joe Turner, the Boss of the Blues.|
|A good purchase.|
As I see it, there are three stars on "Sweet Sixteen": singer Big Joe Turner, songwriter Ahmet Ertegun (who is slyly credited as "Nugetre" on the label), and pianist and orchestra leader Vann "Piano Man" Walls (1918-1999). It is Walls we first hear on the record: a few pretty, sad, isolated chords which, to me, sound like the musical equivalent of gentle falling snowflakes. Then, he hits us with the powerful triplets we expect to hear from piano-based blues of this vintage, accompanied by mournful, sympathetic saxophones. After a few bars, Big Joe himself steps up to the microphone to tell us, as slowly as possible, about his failed relationship with an impressionable, restless younger woman: "When I first met you, baby/You were just sweet sixteen/You just left your home, baby/Sweetest thing I've ever seen." Later in the song, Joe lets us know his ex-paramour was a runaway. "Now," he says, "you're gonna run away from me, too." When I think about the couple in this song, I always think about the relationship between gangster Odell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) and naive young "country girl" Sheronda (LisaGay Hamilton) in Jackie Brown, except that the girl in this song seems to be a lot more impetuous and headstrong than the meek, misguided lass in the Tarantino film. The part of the song which really sticks with me, though, is when Big Joe Turner -- out of nowhere -- starts telling us about his family. "Well, my brother, he's in Korea/And my sister, down in New Orleans/Well, my mother's up in Heaven/Lord, what's gonna happen to me?"