Do You Like Good Music?
Do you know where that line is from? Shout out, Arthur Conley, who released the song, Sweet Soul Music, in 1967. I turned 10 in August of that year, but music was already an important part of my life. There was a lot of music I liked on the radio, but at that age, I had no concept of the importance of Black musicians on so much of what I heard, directly and indirectly.
My earliest musical memory was having special permission to stay up much past my bedtime to see The Beatles on Ed Sullivan in February 1964. I’m not sure why that all hit me like it did, a 7 ir 8 year old who wanted to go see A Hard Day’s Night or Help. The energy? Rebellion of “long” hair? The reaction they got? The part I am most sure in my musical journey through the years is the influence of having an older brother, 5 years older, whom I latched on to and somehow put up with me.
That extended to music. So sure, there were all these British Invasion Bands, some American bands like the Beach Boys, there was also a lot of room for The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, Otis Redding and so many more. All these songs brought you to a place for 2–3 minutes that was different than what you were living in the moment. But back then I never made the connections. I would hear The Beatles play, Please Mr. Postman and not know about The Marvelettes. Even when they covered Smokey’s, You Really Got a Hold on Me, no one said, hey go hear the original version
The first time I saw this video, I’m just amazed. Sorry Lennon, this was the definitive version. And there are so many so songs, I could say the same thing about. Stay with The Beatles and Long Tall Sally. Great effort Paul, but give me Little Richard. By the time I was musically aware, there was not much talk about Little Richard or Chuck Berry. Hell Elvis was getting notoriety for Little Richard songs, Rip It Up or Tutti Frutti .
Knowing the history of music opens up so much for you. Anyone that knows me knows I am a huge Springsteen fan and he started covering Sweet Soul Music during the 80s. I heard it and popped, wait I know that song, I need to go find it again. And finding that brought me back to so many songs. Songs that still hold up so well. It’s such a great trip when you say, I wonder what influenced the people I listen to and go back to that, then go back to the people that influenced them.
You will that so many great Black musicians are responsible for so much of what you listen to now. Don’t just be thinking about someone like Darlene Love as doing that great vocal on, Christmas Baby Please Come Home that was on Letterman every year. Go listen to her sing, He’s a Rebel, one of my favorite songs ever.
I’ll leave you with one last connection. If you are unfamiliar with Sister Rosetta Tharpe, well correct that, please. I could go on about a lot of musicians, blues, gospel, early R&B. This song, this story, this idea should also be familiar to my Springsteen friends. There is a beauty in knowing and recognizing the greatness that came before, connecting things that we did not know and appreciating the full and beautiful history we may have missed.