O.V. Wright - Without You (Hi 2315)
As you may know, I drove down to Memphis last week to attend Willie Mitchell's funeral. It was an experience I will never forget...
With the congregation swaying as one, Otis Clay sang When The Gates Swing Open as they wheeled Willie's body out into the East Memphis afternoon. As fate would have it, I got stuck at a light on Poplar Avenue, and lost the funeral procession in traffic. As I frantically tried to catch up, and figure out where they were headed, this incredible O.V. Wright song we have here came up on the car radio, and just filled it with light.
The B side of O.V.'s first Hi single, it was written by Willie and Earl Randle and never released on an LP. It is, in my opinion, a work of pure genius, and one of the greatest things to ever emanate from 1320 Willie Mitchell Boulevard. I just kind of melted there in the car...
By the time I made it out to the West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery, they were just about finished with the graveside ceremony and, as the crowd dispersed, I knew what I had to do. I picked up a flower that had fallen from Willie's casket, and took it with me.
As I drove the 15 miles out to the Galilee Memorial Gardens, I thought about the timeless body of work O.V. Wright and Willie Mitchell had created together. I thought about how blessed I was to have been able to speak with Willie and let him know there were people out here who appreciated what they had done. When it became apparent that his mounting health issues were going to prevent him from attending our Memorial Fund Benefit Concert and Monument Dedication in November of 2008, Willie grabbed my arm and said "Take care of O.V. for me."
As the sun set over Germantown, I laid Willie's flower there on O.V.'s grave.