In Higher Ground, considered one of our so much insightful track writers brilliantly reinterprets the lives of 3 pop geniuses and the soul revolution they launched.
Soul tune is one in all America's maximum cultural achievements, and Stevie ask yourself, Aretha Franklin, and Curtis Mayfield are 3 of its so much encouraged practitioners. In midcentury the United States it was once soul music--particularly the remarkable circulate of recordings made by means of those 3 stars--that helped carry the gospel imaginative and prescient of the black church into the mainstream, energizing the era’s social routine and defining a brand new American gospel the place the sacred and the secular met. What made this gospel the entire extra striking used to be that its such a lot influential articulators have been the little kids of sharecroppers, storefront preachers, and unmarried mom and dad within the initiatives, whose genius gave voice to a brand new imaginative and prescient of yankee possibility.
Higher Ground seamlessly weaves the explicit and extremely own narratives of Stevie, Aretha, and Curtis’s lives into the ancient cloth in their occasions. the 3 shared many similarities: They have been all young ones of the nice migration and of the black church. however the gospel impulse manifested itself in numerous methods in the dramas in their person lives and musical creations. In Stevie Wonder’s case, it was once a actually color-blind common feel of spirituality that expressed itself in his existence and tune as an urge towards transcendence, rather within the mid-seventies while albums like Innervisions and Songs within the Key of lifestyles considerably revised what a pop album should be. For Aretha Franklin, the conventional gospel imaginative and prescient of a cherished group anchored within the power of girls comforted her via a lifestyles affected by tragedy and located expression in propulsive pop songs like "Respect" in addition to in her mythical gospel albums. And for Curtis Mayfield, the gospel idea of awake dwelling encouraged him to create songs that served the needs of the Civil Rights move and the unconventional Black strength move alike, from the gritty road drama of Superfly to the transcendent name of "People Get Ready."
Werner does not simply supply a story of 3 interesting lives; he ties them including a provocative thesis approximately American historical past and tradition that compels us to re-examine either the tune and the days. And other than the personalities and the heritage, he writes fantastically approximately song itself, the nuts and bolts of its production and function, in a fashion that brings a brand new information and figuring out to the main widely used song, forcing readers to hear songs they have heard one thousand instances with clean ears. In Higher Ground, Werner illuminates the lives of 3 extraordinary American artists, reminding us why their track mattered then and nonetheless resonates with us today.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Extra info for Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of Americ an Soul
From the hole bars—a gospel hum carried alongside through bells, Pate’s attractive horn chart, and Mayfield’s delicately syncopated guitar chording—the music pours a therapeutic imaginative and prescient over a country poised on the point of chaos. at the same time it singles out “the hopeless sinner who could damage all mankind simply to retailer his own,” the tune welcomes someone prepared to do the appropriate factor onto the “train to Jordan. ” Casting his lot with “those whose probabilities develop thinner,” Mayfield warns that “there’s no hiding position opposed to the kingdom’s throne. ” inside months of the song’s unencumber, the Chicago stream used to be together with a transformed model within the songbooks it allotted at church buildings and local facilities through the urban. Proclaiming “there’s no hiding position while the circulate comes,” the hot model pushed aside the “Toms or any sorry Negroes, comin’ to me asserting they won’t cross. ” The Impressions ended the tune with the soothing promise, “You don’t want no price ticket, you simply thank the Lord. ” The move rephrased it, “Everybody desires freedom, this i do know. ” both method, whilst the ultimate lines of “People prepare” light to silence, you may nearly think that, regardless of what used to be taking place at the streets of Chicago and Detroit, the promise of the circulation will be fulfilled. bankruptcy 3 “Spirit in the dead of night” tune and the Powers of Blackness ARETHA FRANKLIN’S BAND chief King Curtis, a saxophonist who created probably the most memorable riffs in soul song background, glanced towards his crackerjack band, the Kingpins, and nodded to visitor organist Billy Preston. Decked out in a black leather-based jacket with an embroidered horseshoe and a white leather-based horse’s head at the again, King Curtis caressed his horn and seemed out over San Francisco’s Fillmore West Auditorium. It was once the eve of the epic Muhammad Ali–Joe Frazier struggle, and the multiracial crowd packing the West Coast counterculture’s musical Mecca buzzed with pleasure. Tie-dyed Fillmore regulars conversant in hallucinatory gentle indicates and the psychedelic blues of the thankful useless and the Jefferson aircraft now stumbled on themselves aspect by way of part with Black strength radicals who’d donned sharply creased slacks, African robes, and glistening leather-based jackets for his or her foray into unknown territory. King Curtis signaled Preston, the grizzled soul veterans within the Memphis Horns, and the angelic vocalists within the Sweethearts of Soul—and introduced the invocation. because the band punched out the hole riff of “Respect” and applause thundered in the course of the cavernous corridor, the highlight danced around the rainbow crowd and settled at the girl who’d referred to as the congregation jointly on that early spring Sunday in 1971. wearing a floor-length white dress with gold accents, Aretha Franklin appeared her absolute best. Poised and radiant along with her hair in a good Afro, she affirmed what the group already knew: “What you will have, child, I acquired it. ” Brimming with self belief for the final express in her three-night stand, Aretha swept the group up in a wave of affection, and it spoke back with long-stemmed crimson roses and Black strength salutes.