"It's really a very simple story. What happened was this: I met this girl and did a very stupid thing. I fell in love. Hard. I know that to some people that makes me an idiot and a loser. What can I say? They're right. I did some extremely foolish things; I'm the first to say it. And they've left me in jail and alone."
So begins one of the most compelling, emotionally charged, and affecting novels you are likely to read this year.
My daughter – The Flower – loves soul music. I know that she knows Motown and Aretha and Al Green, but I wonder if she knows these favorites of mine:
One of the most neglected soul masters – and one of my favorite soul artists -- is Johnnie Taylor, "The Philosopher of Soul." He had several careers – young gospel star, gritty soul shouter, master of the slow grind, balladeer, disco king, blues traveler – but they were all compromised in some way. Sam Cooke outshone everybody in the gospel arena, his name was often confused with Little Johnny Taylor, and Otis Redding was clearly the #1 male singer for Stax Records, Johnnie's label. Even his biggest record – "Disco Lady" – is kind of a joke, though it was the first-ever platinum single.
But for a several years, Johnnie released a series of powerful, trenchant soul records, distinguished not only for wonderful, passionate singing, sophisticated arrangements, expert playing, and songwriting, but for their insight and commentary about the African-American experience. He wasn't "the Philosopher of Soul" for nothing.
His songs talk about cheating ("Steal Away," "Who's Making Love," "Woman Across the River," "We're Getting Careless With Our Love") ... striving ("Toe Hold," "Take Care of Your Homework") ... feelings of inadequacy and conscience ("Mr. Nobody Is Somebody Now," "I'm Not the Same Person") ... and fears of being cuckolded by the legendary woman-stealer "Jody" ("Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone," "Standing In For Jody.")
Unlike a lot of soul music, his music didn't sugarcoat life for black people in white America; it revealed it.
Watch my award-winning short film Lunch With Louie
everyday THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, and THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ... Tolstoy ... the new New Yorker and the new New York Review of Books
Deezer! ...Howard Stern and Thom Hartmann always... lots of COSI, lots of KEITH JARRETT ... ... too much Pandora (but I made a new Children's Indiestation) ... and tons of Van the Man ... and more BRUUUUUUCE than usual!!!
MSNBC and Fox ... Rick Steves' Europe and SEINFELD(comfort watching) ... Turner Classic Movies... and the struggles of the Lakers and the Clippers