You might not know Luther Russell by name, but you’ve probably heard music he’s made with the likes of Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers), Jody Stephens (Big Star), Brian Bell (Weezer), Ethan Johns (Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams) and countless others. Selective Memories: An Anthology, out February 23 on Hanky Panky, is a two-CD compilation of Russell’s material that’s a stellar introduction for newcomers to this musician’s musician. Russell will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.
Russell: This is my meditation. This is how I recharge. Rocky, Beth Davenport, Angel, Sergeant Becker. Maybe it’s something to do with growing up in Los Angeles in the ’70s. I got used to recognizing all of the innocuous locations on these kind of shows: parts of Burbank, the Valley, downtown. Same locations you see on Emergency and Adam 12. And it’s all very standard, not stagey, and always gritty: a quality one could not accuse L.A. of much anymore. Then, of course, there is “Rockfish” himself: James Garner. A man with so much goodness in him it makes you want to break down and weep openly. He was such a natural at playing the good guy because he was one. It’s something one doesn’t need to prove about Garner, one just knows. Sure there’s an occasional clunker—like practically the whole fourth season. But it still does what it’s supposed to do—suspend your disbelief and quietly reset your clock. The best ones are the infuriating ones that just stick in a McGuffin early on and circuitously volley the plot back and forth until a reasonable human being could not follow anymore … usually within the first scene. And it’s all downhill from there. But then Rockford takes his dad fishing and all is right in the world. And who can forget the greatest TV theme in history??