Posted tagged ‘Doo-Wop’

My True Story – Aaron Neville

March 18, 2013

My True Story – Aaron Neville

Blue Note Records, January 2013



My True Story, released in January of 2013, is Aaron Neville’s foray into the doo-wop songs of his youth.  Having tackled virtually every other musical venue, it is somewhat surprising that this recording was so long in coming.  As Mr. Neville said, these songs “rode with me, in my bones, through all these years.”  The recording is co-produced by Grammy-Award winning producer Don Was and Rolling Stone Keith Richards.  Mr. Neville and Mr. Richards had crossed paths many times over the years and become good friends.  Much of their conversations centered on the classic doo- wop songs of their youth.  When Mr. Neville called Mr. Richards and said he was ready to record these songs, Mr. Richards was on the next plane out.

The next phase was putting together a band, and they assembled a veritable who’s who of veteran session musicians. Mr. Richards shares guitar duties with George Leisz, (Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, Brian Wilson).  Benmont Tench, a founding and current member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers handles the keyboards.  Mr. Tench has also done session work with Elvis Costello, the Indigo Girls, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and many others. .  Acoustic bass player Tony Scherr has recorded with Norah Jones, Bill Friesell and John Scofield. Drummer George G. Receli’s resume includes James Brown, Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan.  Mr. Neville’s brothers from the Neville Brothers band lend a hand, with Charles on saxophone and Art on the organ. Mr. Neville and Mr. Richards wanted to put their own touch on the songs without losing the integrity and feel of the originals. Just by happenstance, Mr. Richards saw the Jive Five, the band that had recorded the title track in 1961, was appearing somewhere and Mr. Richards was able to reach Eugene Pitt, the co-writer of My True Story.  Mr. Pitt was able to round up Bobby Jay from Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, and Dickie Harmon of the Dell Vikings and the three of them lend an authenticity of the period to the backup vocals. 

The music of your adolescence is more than just songs.  This is the period of your first crushes, first rejections, first experiences with sex. The songs of your teenage years are the soundtrack of your coming of age, and hearing them evokes faces, places, smells and tastes that were brand new.  It is an exciting, scary and thoroughly unique period in your life. Both Mr. Neville and Mr. Richards had worried that these wonderful songs would be forgotten.  Thus, My True Story was born.  And you can hear the musicians really had fun.  Originally intended to be just a song of ballads, they had so much fun with the up-tempo numbers that there are quite a few included.  All involved agreed that this was the fastest, least stressful album recording they had ever worked on.  And the band came together from the outset. Mr. Richards had never played with Mr. Leisz before, but from the first session, their guitar interplay is remarkable.  Most songs required one take, so what you hear is essentially a “live” album done in a studio.


Left to Right…Tony Scherr, Benmont Tench, Don Was, Keith Richards, Aaron Neville, Greg Leisz, George G. Recelli.
Photo by Sarah A. Friedman

The album kicks off with Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters 1953 recording of “Money Honey”, followed by the Jive Fives 1953 title track. I’ll post the songs later in this piece, but classics by the Ronettes, the Drifters, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Thurston Harris, and the Impressions with Curtis Mayfield are all represented here.  And it would seem inevitable that there will be a follow-up album, since My True Story has twelve tracks and they recorded more than twice that. I look forward to the next release.


Keith Richard and Eugene Pitt of the Jive Five


Aaron Neville, Keith Richards and Don Was


The Songlist


Keith Richards


Aaron Neville, Don Was and Keith Richards

Mr. Neville’s voice is not universally loved. It is unique to the point of alienating some listeners. His lilting falsetto is startling, particularly if you see a picture of the hulking man it is coming from.  For the people who like his voice, like me, this album is a must own.  Likewise for anyone who grew up with these songs.  And for those who have never really cared for his voice, this kind of music may fit his unique sound better than any other musical style he has performed.  This record is worth a listen.  You might just find you love it.




Mr. Neville is more than ten years my senior and Mr. Richards is seven years older than I am.

One might wonder how I could be so intimate with all these songs.  I owe my early music education to my cousin, Blues Guitarist /singer Doug MacLeod. As an elementary school kid, I spent my afternoons at my Aunt’s home listening to Doug’s band, the Fliptones, practice. Though just a local dance band, the Fliptones had some kids who went on to very successful musical careers. Jimmy Ryan, lead guitarist, had a Billboard Top Ten hit with the Critters recording of John Sebastian’s “Younger Girl” in 1964.  My cousin Doug, seven years older than me, is a prominent and respected blues musician whose compositions have been recorded by Albert King., Papa John Creach and Albert Collins. See his discography at:

I owe my introduction to music to Doug.  He was the catalyst for my lifelong love of all kinds of music.

When my peers were buying toy soldiers, I was buying 45 rpm singles.