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, August 10, 2008

When You Think of Isaac Hayes, What Do You Remember?

"By 1969, black artists were following rock's lead and recording extended epics. At the forefront of such experimentation was big bad Isaac Hayes, coauthor of countless Stax classics and an artist in his own right. On this, his second album, Hayes takes two pop benchmarks, Burt Bacharach's "Walk On By" and Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," and spins them out into slow-building sermons lasting 12 and 18.5 minutes apiece. Heavily romantic, they predate by two years Barry White's symphonic adventures in the same style, revolutionizing soul music in the process."
--Barney Hoskyns, from

Isaac Hayes, whose simmering voice, singing-rap style, and chains draped over his otherwise naked chest, made him a commercial success and an R&B icon in the late sixties and early seventies, die today in his home.

When you think of Isaac Hayes, what do you remember?

The daddy remembers going to his show in Atlanta, Georgia and witnessing fans applauding and cheering him as if he were a God. He remembers Hayes striding on stage to the sound of the Shaft movie theme in white pants and a white and golden robe draped around his shoulders. He remembers Hayes, in showmanship fashion, finally tossing the robe away to reveal his naked chest. He remembers Hayes not only singing, but playing the piano and saxophone as well.

Besides the showman, I remember Isaac Hayes the studio musician. I remember Hayes, Booker T (of Booker T and the MGS fame), Steve Cropper, a fantastic rhythm guitarist, and David Porter, a very good songwriter, sitting around the Stax studio, working out songs. Most of all, I remember Hayes playing a pivotal role in the orchestration of "Born Under a Bad Sign," the historic blues album by guitarist Albert King. Hayes played piano and Booker T. played organ. Haye's soulful piano runs around King's velvety voice and gut-bucket blues guitar, especially on the hit "As the Years Go Passing By," sound soulfully haunting, bittersweet...priceless.

Because of Hayes and Booker T, "Born Under a Bad Sign" was successful in creating a synthesis between blues and R&B that helped save the blues as a genre, making it more relevant to the coming generation.

When you think of Isaac Hayes, what do you remember?


Anonymous said...

I was in college. So young. He was so cool! "Walk on by" was my favorite.

Anonymous said...

I'm old enough to remember his music and movies, and young enough to remember him as "Chef" on South Park. I'm going to miss him and Bernie Mac a lot.

sdg1844 said...

I think of his amazing rendition of "Walk On By" from the "Dead Presidents" sdtrk. He was a brilliant composer and musician. I'll miss him.

MacDaddy said...

anon: Oh, that wonderful college experience, hanging out, drinking a few cold ones, sipping some cheap wine, checking people on the dance floor and listening to Isaac Hayes...ah...memories.
r.j.: Me too
sdg: Yes, he was brilliant composer. Haven't heard from you for a while. Miss you.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

I think of Isaac Hayes as actually being Shaft. He was big bad and all black. His music was serious, strong and way big and powerful. To an impressionable young teen white boy he was some sort of super human. . . that's how I think of Mr. Hayes.
What a sad, sad thing to see someone like him go so young.
And yea, Barry White, while a great musician and composer owes it all to Mr Hayes.

rainywalker said...

I will remember him for his voice, unusual, but fantastic and not something you will ever forget.

MountainLaurel said...

Like rainywalker, it's not a particular song that I remember. It's the voice. Smooth. Rich. Strong. Like really good chocolate. Inimitable. Incredible. And still very much too soon.

Anonymous said...

By the time I get to Phoenix got to me.

MacDaddy said...

sagacious: Yes, sad to see both Isaac and Bernie go on the same week. We're all here for just a moment. That's why I like Dr. Martin Luther King's notion that we do something meaningful while we're here. Are you still in Florida?
mountain: You and rainywalker got it right: the smooth but strong voice helped to present a cool, soulful persona.
anon: I love "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" too. That song is mostly him telling a story to complement the words to the song. Barry White definitely "borrowed" that part of Hayes' act. But he couldn't quite tell a story like Hayes.

Anonymous said...

Daddy, I liked him, but remember him as a performer, doing songs from his Black Moses and Shaft album.

MacDaddy said...

anon: I'm glad I get to respond to you before I go to sleep. If you think of Hayes principally as a performer, you miss the most important thing he did, which was the songwriting and composing. Hayes played with Booker T and the MGS and co-wrote some of their songs. I mentioned him playing and helping out with the famous blues album "Born Under a Bad Sign" by Albert King. You may recall the music he did for the shaft movie, including the theme.

But he also worked with guitarists Steve Cropper, songwriter David Porter and Booker T to write and arange songs for a number of Stax artists, including Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, Irma Thomas, Carla Thomas, Don Covey, Johnny Taylor, the Bar Kays, the Staple Singers, Sam and Dave and a host of R&B artists I can no longer remember.

Speaking of Sam and Dave, they did a song called "I'm a Soul Man," which was song by Belushi and Akroyd in the movie the Blues Brothers. It was written by Isaac Hayes, one of many he wrote and arranged for them.

As a songwriter/arranger/composer, Hayes helped artist to bring out the soul in their music, something that spread far beyond the artists at Stax Records.

rainywalker said...

When you get a chance check out my poor attempt to write a poem for Isaac.