The Tale Behind The Tune ... Hold On I’m Comin’ ... Memories Of The Brass Rail
Hold On I’m Comin’ was written by the songwriting team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter. The same guys who wrote most of the big hits for Sam And Dave ... including Soul Man.
The song reached #1 on the Billboard R’n B chart in 1966 and has been covered by many artists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AREppyQf5uw&ab_channel=Inconspicuos1
One evening while they were working on songs together David Porter took a washroom break. Apparently he was gone for longer than Isaac Hayes thought he should be so he went to the washroom door and yelled at Mr. Porter to come out and get back to work to which Porter apparently responded ... Hold on, I’m comin ... and so the idea for the tune was born.
However, when the song was first released the folks at the record company were concerned that the title was too “suggestive” so it was originally released as ... Hold On, I’m A Comin’. How that would have addressed their concerns about that issue is beyond me!? My late wife used to say that the song must have been written by a woman ... because it enunciated a chronic frustration women often encounter in those intimate moments with men who seem to care little whether their partner also reaches the summit of the mountain of love!
Our recording of this song started as a demo for a duo ... Burrows And Young. The duo didn’t have any luck landing gigs ... but we had a lot of fun recording the demo. And there was something about the recording that reminded me of the old days ... playing bars. As the tune starts one gets the feeling that the band isn’t really sure what song they are playing. Sort of like the beginning of Fingertips by Stevie Wonder ... What key, what key? Until Graham starts into the signature line that pretty well defines the song ... oh, that one!
I also love the way Graham approaches playing this tune ever since the first time we played it. And on this particular recording he does a wonderful job of singing the harmony ... Dave’s part. Every Sam needs a Dave, I certainly got one here ... he did a fine job and he doesn’t like singing! So I called in the rest of the band and we fattened out what we had done and finished the tune.
We played some nice bars in the city when I was a kid ... but The Brass Rail wasn’t one of them.
The Brass Rail was located on the east side of Yonge St just south of Bloor St.
Unlike some other rooms in town, like Le Coq D’Or and The Sapphire who started us at 9 PM and wanted 3 sets a night, the folks at The Brass Rail wanted us to start at 7 PM and then it was 45 min. on, 15 off all night long until 1 AM ... the time at which all bars had to close back then. And unlike today, that was six nights a week ... Mon to Sat ... with a Saturday afternoon matinee. Although a grind in many ways one thing very positive about that was the band played a lot. You really knew your stuff very well after all that playing and the band tended to get very tight.
However, at The Brass Rail the nights seemed to go on forever and the management spent a lot of time telling us to turn down ... as if they had expected to have a string quartet or something ... and chewing us out for not going on on time ... which I must admit was a problem sometimes. They didn’t pay us well either but would hire us for two months at a time ... we had bills to pay. So it was a classic trade off ... less money but a constant supply of it to endure the down side.
In order to endure the negative aspects of the deal some of us turned to things that would assist in making the experience more bearable ... like smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol! One of the guys used to frequent a wine store down the street and come back with 2 or 3 bottles of a red wine called Challenge ... very aptly named because it was indeed a challenge to drink it! Started with wisps of mustiness finishing off with notes of cough syrup, straight out of the bottle. You certainly couldn’t afford to pay for beer at the bar on our salary at that spot so wine it was. Unless you got lucky and some nice customer offered to buy you a beer ... just part of the job! And back then marijuana came from Mexico ... there were no grow ops around at the time. So it either came from there or some other exotic location or it didn’t come at all ... dry spells!
But when we had some it was a great way to get through the night ... we shared joints back then. Often in the alleyway outside the bar ... the smell was an issue so you couldn’t smoke it indoors. And we played and we played and we played ... but we weren’t actually the stars of the show. That would have been the topless Go Go Dancers ... well almost topless but not quite. Back in Toronto The Good they wouldn’t allow dancers to show their nipples for some reason. You could look at the rest of their breasts no problem ... but not their nipples. So the girls used to have to glue pasties over the forbidden area, many of which had tassels.
It always amazed me how those women could make the tassels twirl in time to the music. Also had considerable empathy for those ladies of the night having to take them off later! Ouch. They certainly were the centre of attention at that bar as it gradually evolved into a strip club. We were playing there at the early stages of that evolution ... eventually replaced the live music. In some ways it was a lot of fun playing those nights there ... but in many other ways, it wasn’t.
On this recording Burrows And Company are ...
Drums ... Al Cross
Bass ... Dennis Pendrith
Guitar ... Graham Young
Hammond B3 ... David Chester
Piano ... Bob Burrows
Harmony Vocals ... Graham Young
Lead Vocals ... Bob Burrows
The recording was made at Chalet Studio ... www.chalet.com
Recording Engineers ... David Chester, Drew Chester
Mixing Engineer ... Josh Bowman
Promo Image ... Mike Raines
Caricatures for the Promo Image ... David Flett
LISTEN TO HOLD ON I'M COMIN' HERE:
Thank you for taking the time to read this tale ... we hope you enjoy our music.