How the Booker T. theme came to be
A year or two after I joined Stef Chatman as TSS co-host, our station hosted a film viewing on the history of Stax Records. It just so happened that in one of the weekends leading up, Stef was out, leaving me to pilot the show. I think I played “Hang ‘Em High” by Booker T. to begin the episode and to promote the event at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. A listener commented later that it was a cool song to start TSS.
Separately, I recall that one of WYEP’s directors commented in passing that there was always a dip in listenership between The Saturday Mix and TSS. Upon becoming solo host in ‘09, I set out to close that gap. To hold onto the Mix demographic, it seemed like “Hang ‘Em High,” the theme to a Clint Eastwood movie, would grab folks subliminally before they turned the dial away from R&B at 2pm on Saturdays. And so it happened.
First encounter (2009)
Booker T. played Three Rivers Arts Festival shortly after his Drive-By Truckers and Potato Hole projects,. Rosemary Welsch of WYEP was slated to introduce him, but she graciously let me step in. I whispered a request to BT to play the theme. He smiled, but it wasn’t in his repertoire for the day. He did sign my only Booker T. & the M.G.’s vinyl, “McLemore Avenue,” the play on Abbey Road.
A TSS listener invited me to join him for an Otis Redding tribute at the Apollo. Booker T. AND his band partner Steve Cropper were part of the ensemble lineup. Amazing show, but I still needed to hear the song live. Between that show and 4/14/23, I picked up a copy of BTMG’s “Soul Limbo,” from The Attic in Millvale.
Lost opportunity (2016)
Booker T. played Hartwood, but I was out of town. He performed the theme.
On 4/14/23, he played at Ardmore Music Hall near Philly. I finally got to hear Hang ‘Em High live, AND he signed “Soul Limbo” for me. Yayyyy….