C. Recommends: “To Be Treated Rite” by Terry Reid

Everyone needs to know Terry Reid. Robert Plant and Ian Gillian sure do.

Oh we are what we are when we’re praying
In our own way of seeking some light
May the mission bell still ring
Of the colourful dreams
In the faith that everyone will be treated right

I can say with absolute definiteness that no other song has affected me in the way “To Be Treated Rite” has done. A song masterful in its minimalistic instrumentation (two acoustics with countering strums, slight string instruments in the lower-mix, and a harmonica solo), it’s Reid’s voice that perforates your heart. When he bellows to climax, even the Sun dims in desperate reverence.

In fact, Reid’s voice was in such demand at a time, he was approached by Jimmy Page to sing in the New Yardbirds (who eventually became Led Zeppelin). But commitments kept him from accepting; that, and his desire to be a solo artist. He was also asked to succeed Rod Evans as vocalist for Deep Purple, which he also declined.

And with those decisions, rock and roll went about creating a different history from what could have been.

The true profession of man is to find his way to himself.
~ Herman Hesse

We all walk in labyrinths, down a corridor that meets another corridor. And that one has a door on each end. We choose which to open, realizing that the other becomes only an un-lived exploration that disappears immediately behind us:

Some of us are out to win
And some of us are out just to wane

And so we push to embrace what most moves us. For me, it’s music. Ever since I was four years old and helping my mother paint our guest room purple, and The Beatles were on the 8-track. It moved more than my chubby little legs: it moved my soul, my mind. And here I sit 40 years after then, drinking scotch and listening to Terry Reid.

There’s something about the timbre of his voice, about the way he reaches for notes, the cadence, the vibrato. Such a sweet inviting tone. Such a way he sings that it makes me believe his words, and to root for his wishes. Like you want to put him in your pocket and carry him ’round everywhere and punch in the throat anyone who challenges him.

Then comes the climax of the song, with Reid belting with indelible conviction. It’s truly shiver-inducing, bone-shaking:

Hell, I hope that everybody
Will be treated right, yeah
Will be treated right
On a cold, cold, cold, night

And you believe him. You want that for him. You want that for yourself. You want to know the decisions you’ve made were the right ones. And that humanity will not judge us poorly. That we will be able to stand on those choices as we searched for our true selves.

(Song recommendation by C. Aloysius Mariotti)