Friday, April 21, 2006

The Good Reverend

Oooooh baby, listen to this weekend's rockin' tune.

Thats right, it's the good reverend, Al Green singing "Lets Stay Together".

One question: Can you dig it?

I know I can. I remember the first time I heard the Rev, or at least the first time I noticed him. It was back in the early '70's, probably around 1972. Back then all we had to listen to was AM radio, but since we didn't know any better, it was good enough. If you were a kid growing up in Chicago, then you had two choices, WLS or WCFL. Me? I was an 'LS sort of guy.

It was during this time that Mr. Green entered into my life and changed it forever. Every night I'd go to bed with my little transistor radio on. Permanently tuned to WLS, I was introduced to the greats; The Stones, Creedence, The Doors, The Staple Singers, The Jackson Five, and of course Al Green. Man, Al was the coolest. I don't remember the first song that I heard him perform, but it probably was this weekend's selection. Smooth, sexy, and soulfull, Al Green defined what it meant to not only sing a song, but to feel it, and make others feel it too.

Of course, Al is best remembered for his sexy tunes, but anything the man crooned had the power to move your soul. Don't believe me? Listen to him sing "Take me to the River" sometime and try to tell me he was only about lovin'

Still, lovin was where he excelled and man he set the standard. I heard an NPR interview with him a few years back and he related how this talent of his was a source of trouble and confusion in his life. Al, apparently, grew up in a fairly strict family and so when he made his name singing songs that people made love to, he thought perhaps that this was wrong, maybe even sinful. So he stopped for several years and just sang gospel. Then one day it occurred to him that perhaps he had it all wrong. Perhaps, God gave him a talent that brought people together and what was wrong was not using it in the way it moved people the most.

And so he is back, and we my friends are better for it. Have a listen and tell me I'm wrong. While you're at it, try to pick out sounds that other musicians have tried to mimic over time. It's stunning once you realize how many have taken bits and pieces of Al Green's sound. Michael Jackson? Yup. Prince, you'll hear what influenced him too. I could go on, but why spoil the fun for you? After you put your own list together consider this one thing;

Al is the only one with the total package. Enjoy.

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