Friday, January 20, 2006

Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You

About five minutes after uploading my last post (which has yet to be disputed by anyone whose answer isn't, "Dave Matthews makes my ears bleed"), I found the unfortunate news that Wilson Pickett died. At this point, I'm beginning to wonder if this page isn't becoming a big obituary column. Regardless, here's a brief opinion piece:

Wilson Pickett was best known for the songs, "In the Midnight Hour" and "Mustang Sally," both of which I've been known to do on drunken karaoke nights. One of these days, I'll get around to doing "Land of 1,000 Dances," which is just an awesome song in its own right; notably during the closing credits to the Aykroyd/Candy movie The Great Outdoors. All three of these songs were covered by The Commitments, provided you get both discs of that (particularly awesome) soundtrack.

But I still have to say that my favorite Wilson Pickett song of all time has got to be "Hey Jude." It's one of those covers where the person or act doing the cover didn't just try to get it to sound just like the original; Pickett's version is unmistakably Pickett, through and through. It's like the Bobby Womack cover of "Fly Me to the Moon," which is virtually unrecognizable if you listen to it after Sinatra, or particularly the Bobby Darin version, which will make you question whether someone's slipped you a mickey.

But Pickett had this howl to his voice (which is quite prominent on "Hey Jude") that you just don't find in soul singers anymore. Granted, there are no soul singers anymore, now that Wilson Pickett is dead, Otis went down in that plane crash back in '67, Marvin Gaye was shot by his father, Lou Rawls died last week or the week before, James Brown went nuts, and Dobie Gray traded in what respectability he had when he let Uncle Kracker commit the crime against music that was his cover of Gray's "Drift Away."

Okay, they're not all dead, actually. Etta's still alive, Solomon's still alive, and Smokey's doing gospel (and selling gumbo). But, for me, the holy trinity of great 60's soul singers were Redding, Pickett, and Gaye. I highly recommend checking out the iTunes Essentials list of '60's Soul Hits (this link, of course, requires iTunes), and you'll start to understand what I'm talking about.

AIM: therbmcc71

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