Songs We Love: Donnie Fritts, 'Errol Flynn' : All Songs Considered With a reflective vocal and a veteran's touch on the keys, Fritts frames the tale of a wingman in a way only he can.
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01Errol Flynn

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Songs We Love: Donnie Fritts, 'Errol Flynn'

Songs We Love: Donnie Fritts, 'Errol Flynn'

Donnie Fritts knows what it's like to be held in the silver shimmer of celluloid, and he's had years of experience playing wingman to a heartthrob. That's why "Errol Flynn," a song written by the cabaret raconteur Amanda McBroom for her actor father, David Bruce, works perfectly as the lead single from Oh My Goodness, Fritts' new album. Contemplating the tattered poster she's tacked to her wall of her dad standing with the song's titular leading man, McBroom ponders fame and mortality and cautions listeners to treasure personal connections over Hollywood fantasies. The song's tenderness extends to the imaginary world, however: McBroom's dad returns to late-night cable, a benign spirit preserved by Hollywood, still fourth in the movie's credits but No. 1 in his daughter's heart.

Donnie Fritts. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Courtesy of the artist

Donnie Fritts.

Courtesy of the artist

Though he's immortalized in several Sam Peckinpah Westerns, appearing alongside his friend and most frequent musical collaborator, Kris Kristofferson, Donnie Fritts is no ghost. He's a charming, beloved presence in the music community of Muscle Shoals and Florence, Ala., where he was born in 1942 — and where, in the 1960s, he helped create the swampy sound that lent depth and fun to the rock and soul of that era. As Kristofferson's longtime keyboardist, he's essential to that country legend's rough but urbane sound. Fritts also wrote or co-wrote some indelible songs, including Dusty Springfield's sexiest number, "Breakfast In Bed."

Fritts has only recorded a few solo albums — his syrupy drawl is an esoteric pleasure — but those who love him know that few can frame a tale the way he can. He takes "Errol Flynn" to the intimate, slightly seedy place where it can really come alive. His touch on the Wurlitzer 200a piano is that of a veteran of many long nights in a carpeted cocktail lounge. His vocal is reflective; you can imagine him on a sofa, holding a cold one. When some murmured backing vocals come in along with John Paul White's delicate guitar twang and Ben Griner's mournful trombone, it's as if the picture in Fritts' mind went to Technicolor right before those credits rolled. He leaves listeners with a bit of advice, suited to our mixed-up world of projected realities: "Love one another, and stand close together / as close as my dad did to Errol Flynn."