According to this document made available by the University of Michigan called, “What Is Soul?” and “What Is Soul Music;” “The word soul found its way into the discourse of American popular culture initially through music and spread out from there. African American essayist and playwright Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) notes that in the 1950s the word was used by jazz musicians and critics alike to characterize a movement within jazz to reclaim and revitalize a musical tradition that had been repeatedly co-opted by mainstream and corporate culture.”
“If I Ruled The World (1968),” was brilliantly performed and recorded by James Brown and his long-time band, The Famous Flames. The beautiful song was composed by Leslie Bricusse and Cyril Ornadel. The song was originally from a Broadway musical, turned TV movie called “Pickwick (1969).” I guess no one saw it, because IMDB has zero ratings!
James Really Poured His Heart
Many artists performed this song throughout the years. However, with the exception of Stevie Wonder, in my opinion, I don’t think there were any vocal artist that performed this song as well as James Brown. James really poured his heart in to this song. When I think of James’s tireless contribution to the civil rights movement, and I listen to him sing this song, be it live or in a recording, I know he meant every word sung in this song.
Both Black & Whites Owed James Thanks
If I’m not mistaken, I think “Living In America (1986)” was James’s last hit song before he died. The song shot up to #4 on the Top 100 Charts. I remembered seeing that live performance on TV. I’m thinking to myself; everyone is watching a great old performer that “still got it.” Or maybe you’ve made fun of him like many people did when his incarceration photo showed up all over the internet. But few people knew that if it were not for James Brown, we could have had a blood massacre the world has never seen!
James Brown Prevented A Blood Massacre
“What Do You Mean, When You Say Blood Massacre?” Well, I’m glad you’ve asked! In 1968, the same year “If I Ruled The World” was released. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Also keep in mind that this is now 50 years after the fact, which from my perspective was not long ago. When MLK was assassinated, 100s of cities turned to rioting. Neighborhoods were destroyed and many casualties. Despite the cries for a peaceful protest by the late MLK’s colleagues, it went on deaf ears.
It Was James’s Love For His People
James Pleaded with the Black community to stop the rioting. More and more people were getting hurt, killed, and communities were being destroyed by their own. Our then, 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson, called a state of emergency, and ordered armed guards throughout the city to try and take control in order to reduce the violence. Long story short, James held an unforgettable concert performance in Boston. The concert was so powerful and moving, it literally shifted the mindset of the Black community. Now, this is not to say other Black leaders were not, or could not do anything; but James’s music and presence was a very very powerful influence.
Tommie Young is another one of many forgotten soul artists in the industry. Damn! Even today, when I listen to er voice, I would have sworn to you, all up and down that this was Aretha Franklin. Other than Aretha’s sister, Erma Franklin, I can’t remember hearing anyone that sounded so much like Aretha. Tommie, now in her 70’s, performed at a time when soul music was REAL soul music. I mean, it was soul because artists actually wrote more of their own songs from personal experience. Back then, artists didn’t need an arsenal of people to write one song, to a single artists, who can’t relate to what they were singing about. “Do You Still Feel The Same Way,” was not a chart topper, and it should have been. The song only peaked at #28, and this woman tore this song to shreds in my humble opinion. Also, on this same album, check out “Hit and Run Lover.” It’s a pretty decent album I think.
Damn, Chuck Jackson was gorgeous when he was young, wasn’t he? It’s unfortunate that Chuck never had a number one hit (according to what I was able to find on Billboard). However, the one song I remember hearing all over the radio growing up (even though I wasn’t born yet, it was still popular long after its release, I still heard it a lot on the radio, and my grandpa used to play it a lot too), it was called “Any Day Now (My Wild Beautiful Bird),” released in 1962. The song only peaked at #23, but it still was a very, very popular song, and it has remained one of my favorites all these years. It’s a beautiful song, asking the one he loves not to leave him in the form of a poem. This music I would put in the category of true soul music! Hardly anybody knows about this kind of music, unfortunately.