Tiny Desk

Booker T. Jones

Booker T. Jones: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/135840639/135901410" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

I'm pretty sure this is the coolest thing we've ever done behind the Tiny Desk. There was a bit of furniture-moving and finagling, but when all the heavy lifting was done, there it was: A Hammond B3 organ and its sturdy wooden Leslie speaker cabinet sat waiting for its star performer, Booker T. Jones.

Jones is synonymous with the Hammond B3. At 17, he recorded the instrument's anthem, "Green Onions," with his band Booker T & The MG's. On this day at NPR, he played the song all alone — and with such joy, you'd swear he just discovered it. I was standing just a few feet from him shooting video, watching his beaming face and his hands as he flipped switches, making that Leslie speaker spin and creating that swirling sound.

I asked what it's been like to perform that song so many times since its creation at Stax Studios in the summer of 1962. Jones said he's never grown tired of his signature song, and then told us his story of hearing the organ for the first time at the home of his piano teacher in Alabama.

There's more to Booker T. Jones, of course, than "Green Onions." His collaboration with William Bell down at Stax also gave us "Born Under a Bad Sign," a song he also performed behind the Tiny Desk. And now, all these years later, Jones has a new album, The Road From Memphis, with new friends like Lou Reed, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Sharon Jones and Matt Berninger from The National. Jones closed his Tiny Desk Concert with a song from that record, "Down in Memphis," and it's great to hear him not only playing the Hammond, but also singing. After all these years, he remains so soulful, and so good.

Set List
  • "Green Onions"
  • "Born Under A Bad Sign"
  • "Down In Memphis"
Credits

Michael Katzif and Bob Boilen (cameras); edited by Bob Boilen; audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Erin Schwartz

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Ben Folds

Performing solo, Folds performs three songs from his new album and two old favorites.

Tiny Desk Concert with Chelsea Wolfe. Ariel Zambelich/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Tiny Desk

Chelsea Wolfe

Wolfe takes three songs from the metallic Abyss and makes them howl by their lonesome.

Tiny Desk Concert with Car Seat Headrest. Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Car Seat Headrest

Will Toledo is a wordsmith with a vision, as well as a DIY sound that's still finely crafted.

Tiny Desk Concert with EL VY. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Tiny Desk

EL VY

The National's Matt Berninger and Menomena's Brent Knopf team up in an intimate setting.

Tiny Desk Concert with The Arcs. Jessica Mowery/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jessica Mowery/NPR

Tiny Desk

The Arcs

It's our 500th show at the Tiny Desk, featuring The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and his new band.

Tiny Desk Concert with Wolf Alice. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Tiny Desk

Wolf Alice

The band's music can be noisy and primal, but at the Tiny Desk it showed a different side.

Tiny Desk Concert with River Whyless. Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

River Whyless

The North Carolina band fills its rootsy music with unexpected instruments and clever ideas.

Tiny Desk Concert with Benny Sings. Morgan Walker/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Morgan Walker/NPR

Tiny Desk

Benny Sings

The Dutch singer layers R&B, jazz and pop over hip-hop beats in his first-ever U.S. appearance.

Tiny Desk Concert with Natalie Merchant Jun Tsuboike /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike /NPR

Tiny Desk

Natalie Merchant

The singer-songwriter gives a warmhearted performance of two new songs, an old favorite and a hymn.

Tiny Desk Concert with Mariachi Flor De Toloache Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Mariachi Flor De Toloache

While on tour with The Arcs, the powerhouse mariachi band performs live in the NPR Music offices.

Back To Top