Like a fool I thought
That it could be

Dream on
Dream on
Surely someone
Will understand me

Embattled with struggle and strife from the day she was ripped into this world, Etta James was knocked down time and again, but she never stopped fighting. She wore her battle scars with pride, for each one would bring her closer to the life she wanted.

The title track from her final album, The Dreamer, was a forgotten Bobby “Blue” Bland original before Etta dusted it off and gave it her own spin over a slithering, hypnotic groove. The whole album is a deep blue experience, with Etta fully exploring the darker hues of her voice, and her soulful performance on “Dreamer” deserves to be ranked among the finest recordings of her career.

Down the wrong way
On a one-way street
You’d think by now
I would have learned

I saw a little
Oh, but I learned even less
I only learned
I only learned to regret

By the time The Dreamer was released at the end of 2011, amid almost daily reports of Etta’s failing health, it had already been announced that it would be her final album; hearing a woman in her seventies, who would surely be leaving us within months, belt from deep within about looking back on a life of mistakes while still retaining a glimmer of hope for the future… The emotional power of that experience cannot be denied. It’s as though Etta recognized that depth herself—her vocals on this song are stronger, bluesier, more haunting than they had been in years.

The mighty Etta James was laid to rest yesterday. As fans around the globe mourn her passing, her music is reaching new audiences and longtime listeners are rediscovering her catalog. Since her death nine days ago, sales of her music have skyrocketed, launching three of her albums into the Billboard Top 100 and “At Last” into the Top 30 Digital Downloads as the most downloaded song of the week. Let’s hope The Dreamer doesn’t get overlooked in the shuffle. A fitting bookend to over 50 years of incredible music, it plays like a surprisingly intimate farewell letter from an old friend.

I’m going…
Oh, Lord, Lord, I’m gone…