I am a lover of music. I love nearly something from every genre; it doesn’t matter. I enjoy hard rock and metal. Rap and oldies. Blues and jazz. Afrobeat and classical. You get the point. But there is one style that suits me perfectly. It is a sound that has been extremely influential since it began and is absolutely timeless and should not be forgotten or ignored.
I’m talkin’ ’bout SOUL MUSIC!
What can I say about soul music? There is so much to love. The rhythms, the beats, the vocal harmonies, that fucking bass, those swirling, dramatic strings. I can’t get enough. I am saddened, though, by the lack of interest in this type of music these days. It seems that most everyone enjoys it to some degree, but nobody is listening to it. Today, I hope to change that.
This is the first part of a series I am doing to both honor the incredible musicians who have made (and still make) the soundtrack to my life, as well as hopefully educate some people and possibly make a few new fans for this fantastic sound. This series isn’t about writing essays on music history or talking technical B.S. This is just about listening to great music and celebrating song. That is it.
I’m going to have this broken up into categories, but first I think we should start with a simple introduction. Right here is just a few of my favorite songs. You’ll notice throughout the series that I’m not going to focus on the Marvin Gayes and the Aretha Franklins or James Browns, though I’m sure they’ll turn up. We know these artists well and we all agree they are great. I’m digging a little deeper to really explore the greatness and variety that is available to everyone. Here are some of my favorite songs. I hope you enjoy.
Bill Withers – “World Keeps Going Around and Around”
Hands down, this is my favorite song, ever. Bill Withers is a great singer with a very strong voice. Just listen to this song about an old man looking back on life and wait for the two-minute mark where shit really gets down. THAT BASS.
Curtis Mayfield – “Move On Up”
Curtis was a genius songwriter, musician, and producer. This song challenges you not to feel goddamn great while listening to it. It’s one of those songs that will make you want to conquer everything around you.
Shuggie Otis – “Strawberry Letter 23″
Shuggie Otis is a badass guitar player whose songs covered funk, blues, and rock. “Strawberry Letter 23″ was made famous by The Brothers Johnson, but this version is still my go-to.
Parliament – “Unfunky UFO”
Parliament were unbelievable when they first hit the scene. They frightened everyone with their crazy costumes and live show. Their music was a funk assault unlike anything else happening at the time. This song is one of my favorites for how it just gets the fuck down. The late Glen Goins sings lead and has a great voice to go with that badass bassline by Bootsy Collins.
Otis Clay – “Trying To Live My Life Without You”
This is just a great radio song. Solid hook, great vocals, smooth horn section. That’s really all you need.
Darondo – “Let My People Go”
AHHHHHHHHHHHH…this song! Darondo is virtually unknown by most people but is a pretty big deal with soul music enthusiasts. There is a lot of mystery surrounding this guy and he’s got a fascinating story. Anyway, just listen to this goddamn song. The groove is fucking relentless and Darondo’s vocals are haunting.
Syl Johnson – “Concrete Reservation”
One of the things that makes soul music so unique is where it comes from. Early on, this music was made mostly by people who grew up in poor black families and lived through not only poverty, but extreme racism and segregation. This song by Syl Johnson reflects life in the projects and is not only poignant and still relevant, but gets the fuck down.
Rasputin’s Stash – “Mr. Cool”
This is the song I want playing as my personal soundtrack every time I walk into a bar.
That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed. If so, purchase these albums and keep the music alive.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 coming soon where we’ll cover Baadassss Women In Soul and Psychedelic Soul!