Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What's the Sweetest Song You Ever Heard?

Note: Beginning today, and throughout the week, the daddy will be posting about music. He will begin with the first of two music pieces he was asked to repost: about singer/pianist Nina Simone and Chicago guitarist Lurrie Bell. Holla at the daddy and let him know what you think.
What's the Sweetest Song You Ever Heard?
by the daddy

Listen up. The daddy's got a question for you:
what’s the loveliest, sweetest song you ever heard? The daddy’s got two nominees for you.

In a CD called “Aretha Franklin’s Gospel Greats,” recorded in a black church in Cleveland, with the famous Rev. James Cleveland and the Southern Community Choir, Aretha sang “Amazing Grace” with such passion and with such power that she left no doubt who the greatest soul singer is ever, man or woman. The sister moaned to the floor, preached to the congregation, and, with head up and hands outstretched, testified to the lawd above, saying, "Yes, I once/ was lost. But now/ now I'm found/ My savior/I know he leads/ leads me on."

On the CD "Pain in my heart,", the late Otis Redding sang “You send me,” a Sam Cooke hit. And, yes, Cooke had the smoother voice, but Otis had a more powerful, more soulful voice. And Otis had something else: a tighter band of southern studio musicians who played with such soul that it made you feel guilty for not attending church as much as you should. Duck Dunn on bass, Booker T from Booker T and the MGS, Steve Cropper on guitar, and the Memphis Horns, the baadest group of horn players around at the time. With this tight group, Otis gospel voice, and the song's sweet, honest lyrics, “You send me” couldn’t miss. Though overlooked by critics, it is one of the sweetest ballads ever recorded.

But the daddy heard his sweetest song ever at a house party. You know this type of party: The party where a couple of your male friends invite you because they want you to get married, have children and live in the suburbs like they do;where one of your male friend's girlfriend wants you to date her sister or cousin so you'll settle down and stop taking her boyfriend around clubs where single, attractive, and available sisters are in abundance; the kind of party where you walk in the door with very dim lights and five or so couples dancing so close you’re sure that at least one of the women is going to get pregnant right on that dance floor (if she isn’t already); the kind of party where singer Marvin Gay welcomes you by saying “Let’s Get it on” makes it plain as a country black preacher that he wants him some "Sexual healing."

This is the kind of party where Junior Walker of Junior Walker and the All Stars raps hard and long and, getting a little frustrated, asks:

“What does it take/
to win your love for me/
How can I make/
this dream come true for me/
I just got to know/
Ooh, baby cause I love you so/
I’m gonna blow for you/"

It's the kind of party where the Isley Brothers ask, “Who’s that lady” and, after a sips of wine, whisper into ear, confessing, “I want to groove with you... between the sheets."

It's the kind of party where two females show up unaccompanied, where even Ray Charles on heroin could see that they are there with an agenda of their own. No, no one's eyes are closed at this kind of party; and every thing comes at a price.

This is why the daddy never stays at these parties longer than to say hello, have a drink, and eat up the appetizers (Note: the daddy has been known to stuff cheese and grapes in his pockets on the way out); and this is why the daddy was heading toward the door when he heard this song that made him stop in his tracks, the one song that wasn't about making out so much as making time; that wasn't about manipulating a woman into bed but consciously hearing her gentle plea to be rescued from an abusive relationship.

The daddy knew this voice. It was Nina: The Nina who played piano as a child to support her family, the Nina ,who, after finishing Juliard, was denied entrance into another music school solely because she was black, the Nina who got so fed with American racism that she left the country and moved to France; the Nina who told us we were "young, gifted and black;" the Nina who, from distant shores, decried American racism, shouting "Mississippi Goddamn;" the Nina who, through concerts in America and around the world, supported Dr. King so his organization, the Southern Christian Conference (SCLC), would have the funds to get peaceful protesters out of jail, pay staff and travel; the Nina who--wherever she went-- never left us. That’s why, even at a make out house party, everyone stopped to hear her melancholy plea to Porgy:

I loves you, Porgy,
Don' let him take me,
Don' let him handle me an' drive me mad.
If you kin keep me,
I wants to stay here wid you forever,
An' I'd be glad.

I loves you, Porgy,
Don' let him take me
Don' let him handle me
With his hot han'
If you kin keep me
I wants to stay here wid you forever.
I got my man.

That's why you could hear a pin drop when she soloed on the piano, her long, dark fingers gently sliding across white ivories, transferring voice to fingers and moving us in a way no vodka or "available" companion ever could.

That's why the daddy whispered to the host to put the song on repeat and promptly grabbed a woman's hand and began dancing.

Shortly afterwards, the daddy left the party. But he wasn’t alone. Nina was still with him.

What's the sweetest song you ever heard?


Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to your music series.

Anonymous said...

daddy, that will be nice. I'm so sick of hearing about McCain and Bush.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

still stuck of key largo nina simone

mittie collier HAD A TALK WITH MY MAN

rainywalker said...

I think you may have me on this one. A friend of mine in the 60's had beautiful green eyes and red hair and we danced many times. But she was an accomplished singer and "Send Me Your Address From Heaven," has always stuck in my mind after all these years.

MacDaddy said...

Torrance: I had forgotten about Mittie Collier. That was a great one.
Rainywalker: It sounds like a real memorable one that brings back sweet memories. Love them songs from the 60's.
anon: I hear you about the politics. I already have friends who have stopped coming to my block, because I started out writing about Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and Obama. I'm still trying to win them back. Don't you go anywhere.

pt said...

I have to think about the sweetest song I ever heard... I haven't thought about that before... I do like this piece you wrote (and letting go of politics for a bit) and I like the fact that you left that house party by yourself...well you left with Nina Simone on your mind...but that's okay.

sdg1844 said...

"Summertime" by Ella Fitzgerald. She just changed the game completely with her rendition.

MacDaddy said...

pt: Yes, I left with Nina; and I've been with her ever since.
sdg: You and Rainywalker got me checking the internet like crazy. I've never heard her rendition of "Summertime." I'll check it out.

MountainLaurel said...

I have to say that the sweetest song I ever heard was when my Honey sang Elton John's "Your Song" to me. I have tears in my eyes remembering it.

MacDaddy said...

Mountain: Yes! I think that song was one he co-wrote with his lyricist whose name escapes me (Bernie Tappin?)... I don't think Elton John has been the same since that musical partnership ended. But that's a sweet one. said...

Nina, Nina, Nina...

I can not even tell you how that woman's voice STILL stirs my soul...

Anonymous said...

albert king - the very thought of you xo

MacDaddy said...

anon: The very thought of you is very sweet. And it seems very different from all the other songs he's done. Unforgetable.