Timmy Thomas Meets Chuck Edwards
The Mellow Yin and the Upbeat Yang
So, it’s Friday. It’s been a looooong week. Too much work, not enough fun. There’s apparently a lot of this going around these days. The world is a mess. The 2000th US soldier was killed this week. Things are so depressing that I ‘m finding little joy in the fact that one (or more) of the criminals in the White House is finally going to be indicted today (and that’s the kind of thing that would – on a normal day – make me get up and do a little jig, giggling all the while). Anyway, I had a couple of tracks lined up that I wanted to post today, and I was having a hard time choosing which one. Normally, I like to drop something lively and upbeat on a Friday, as a sort of symbolic kick start to the weekend. That’s the period when most of us are freed temporarily from our wage slavery so we can get reacquainted with our families, breath some of hat crisp fall air and watch the bloodshot in our eyes recede just enough to convince us that our battles with stress are not lost. Certainly, any weekend worth it’s salt – if it’s to have any restorative value – must be seasoned with music (at least in my house). Whether I’m recording some newly acquired 45s to CD, reading with the headphones to my IRiver on, or riding in the car singing along to one of my son’s “childrens” CDs, there’s usually music of some kind going most of the time. It is important to note – especially in times of trial – that music can be uplifting in many ways. When I’m down, I don’t necessarily reach first for an upbeat soul jam. My first choice is more likely going to be something deep, spiritual and maybe even melancholy, to remind me that feeling that way is not unreasonable, and that a lot of great music was born out of pain and lifts you up not because it’s happy, but because it reminds you that you are not alone, and that things will come around again. Whether you draw this feeling from John Coltrane, Nick Drake, James Carr or whoever, it makes for some of the deepest connections that music can make with your heart and mind. One of the songs I had ready to go, was actually a sizeable hit (#1 R&B, #3 Pop). Despite those numbers, it’s not a song you hear very much on “oldies stations”, and that’s a real shame. The tune I speak of is Timmy Thomas’s ‘Why Can’t We Live Together’. Thomas was an organist and singer who had previously released 45s on Goldwax. ‘Why Can’t We Live Together’, composed entirely of Thomas’s voice, organ and a beat-box is one of the most unique, intimate and truly soulful records of it’s time, with a message of reconciliation. Released when the issues of race and Vietnam were still raw in the American mind, it’s the kind of record you can’t help but stop and listen to. So stop and listen to it (a couple of times if you dig it). Breathe deep. Now....one of the other records I had set aside is in a whole different bag. As I said before I like to drop something hot on Fridays, because in addition to resting, getting your head back together and appreciating the finer (realer) things in life, some of us like to strap on our wig-hat, high-heeled sneakers and continental suits, throw back a couple of cocktails and hit the dance floor (literal or figurative) to work on a groovy thing to get the sweat going. This can be done from the safety of your couch, as long as your feet are tapping, and you’re smiling. One of my all-time favorite 45s is ‘Downtown Soulville’ by Chuck Edwards. For the deeper info on Mr. Edwards I will refer you to the story I wrote about him in the Funky16Corners web zine. That said, ‘Downtown Souville’ is nothing less that a masterpiece of 60’s soul. Featuring Edwards vocals and guitar, and his unusual garage-soul vibe, the record should have been a huge hit everywhere, instead of just in my mind where it rules the Hit Parade on a daily basis. So...after you soak up the Timmy Thomas, and are one with the universe, crank up the Chuck Edwards and go forth into the weekend with your head (and beer) held high.