AIR

In my last post I mentioned my dude L.Dula‘s latest mix “The Need To Calm” (highly recommended, as I’ve already gushed… you should still be able to cop it over at my nephew Thermoshead’s favorite guilty pleasure, soulstrut.com)… one of the tunes on that disc that was really melting my mind was this joint called “Sister Bessie” by a group called AIR (not to be confused with the French duo that came out in the 90’s with stuff like “All I Need” and the Virgin Suicides OST… I dig that stuff too, but this ain’t that).
Air was actually Herbie Mann‘s backing band back in the late 60’s / early 70’s. So when Herbie launched Embryo Records in 1970, it wasn’t long before he gave his band a shot at their fifteen minutes of fame. I don’t know if they ever got any of that fifteen minutes, because lead singer Googie Coppola left the group to become a born again christian not much longer after their self titled debut album was released (I really love me some Googie, btw). But fame, schmame… they left behind a solid album for us crate diggin’ mofos to slobber over even now, 37 some odd years after the fact. And that, my friends, is all that matters… the group’s personal success is really neither here nor there.
Funny thing about this album for me is that I’d never really peeped it, even though I’ve known about it for at least a decade and a half and have had the mp3s gathering dust in my hard drive for years as well. Just one of those joints that I never got around to checking out thoroughly (I still have a ton of those in my mp3 collection). As for the “Sister Bessie” track, it just kinda haunted me from the first time I really listened to it. What in the hell is Googie singing about here? Something about a child, or is Bessie a lover maybe (lesbian themes in 1971)?

“Sister Bessie, don’t you say no prayer for me
a slow boat’s gonna lead me where I’m bound
I’m for to travel far across the distant seas
My destiny will lead me where I’m bound

just a child, and with a sweet child’s tender heart
waiting for someone to call you mine
how do you keep your faith, when you are always falling, yes, I’m falling
how do you find a way to keep from crying

Bessie don’t you weep, Bessie don’t you moan

you stole my heart in oh so many ways
but the woman who stole my soul has taken all I have
and left me here alone and in a daze
Bessie don’t you weep no more”

Well, I finally found the deal, as explained by the song’s writer Moogy Klingman: “Someone told me a true story about a nun, who took LSD after falling in love with a hippie, and then made love to him, deciding she would leave the church and the convent. Apparently, the hippie had different ideas and left town quickly. This song is about what he might say to her about his hasty exit, if he said anything at all.” Okay… safe to say I wouldn’t have ever guessed that one. NEXT LEVEL.
You can check out the “Sister Bessie” joint and / or you can DL the whole album, which is pretty great from start to finish. I think most people who ride for this album actually big up the “Mr. Man” track more than they do the Bessie song… me, I’m partial to Bessie, but that’s just me. I’m not like most people.

AIR – Sister Bessie RE-UPPED

AIR – self titled lp (rar file) RE-UPPED

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21 Comments

  1. this album is one of my favorites took me years to track down. I dig the whole LP from start to finish also. i didn’t know about that acid story nice post

  2. Bessie is one creepy track. The back story seals it, and as you stated, I would have never guessed that to be the story.

  3. This LP has lived with me for years. Trying to find a singer to redo Mr. Man and flipping the other tracks countless ways. Definitely a personal fave.

  4. Two of the songs, “Man is free” and “Realize”, from this LP has been covered by the Swedish proggressive singer Monica Sunnerberg on the LP called ‘Sunnerligen’ from -72. The songs was translated into Swedish (which many Swedish artists did at the time) and are called “Till Min Barndoms Ängar” and “Inser Du”.

  5. Damn… really sorry to hear that if that information is accurate. Couldn’t find anything online about it… if you have any other details on Googie’s passing, please share them if you can. I’m definitely a fan of her music, as I’m sure are many others out there.

  6. There are two new AIR, featuring Googie, album: In Need Of You, and Can't Let Go. They are both available from cd baby. Please check them out. Googie really came into her own on these cuts.

  7. Googie was also featured on Lenny White's Attitude album (WOU 232 listed at Carol Brooks) with a cut called Fala, which she co-wrote. She is also featured on Jeremy Stieg's Firefly album (CTI 7075), on which she also co-wrote the title cut. She is also featured on Herbie Mann's Fire Island (Atlantic SD 19112) and Hermeto Pascoal's Brazilian Adventure (Muse MCD 6006).

  8. To answer Anonymous, and Phil,
    Yes, Mom (Googie) died on 24 October, 2008. Her Memorial service was on 2 November, 2008.

    • I last corresponded with you mom via email on March 6, 2008. She was very sweet, I’m certain she’s Resting In Paradise!

  9. I worked at a Bay Area Free Form Station ( KOME ) when this LP came out and was transported by it.
    The entire record is w/ out weakness…( I was CONSTANTLY accused of ” over-playing it ” )
    Musically / Lyrically / as well as featuring , perhaps the most underrated singer of the period.
    Googie should have been seen as being on a par w/ Laura Nyro , whom she shared approach to song with.
    ” EMOTION…LET IT RUN ALL OVER YOU….” // TRANCENDANT MUSIC !
    THANK-YOU for your awareness…

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