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February 11, 2011 / John Sieger

The Why And The What For

Click: The Why And The What For

This essay could be long, but I will try not to ramble. I’ll start with this statement, which I intend to back up: “Solomon Burke was the godfather of punk music.” That may not sound outrageous if you don’t know who Solomon Burke was. A massively gifted soul singer on an epic scale, he stood head and shoulders with Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, James Brown and Wilson Pickett. He was the last of that group to leave us and possibly the least celebrated. Like many of them, he came out of the gospel church—one of his nicknames was “The Preacher.” In the early ’60s he had a lot of songs on the R&B charts. One of them, Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, was covered by the Rolling Stones, who were listening closely to American soul and blues. Now, I love the Stones, but if you listen to these two songs back to back, you will see the difference between a giant of soul ((literally and figuratively) and a young band on the make that featured a singer with, let’s say, a smaller instrument. Things happened quickly after the Stones cut that song (and I have to admit, quite a few other covers of R&B and blues). Because of their massive influence, it was only a matter of a few months before every band in the U.S.A. was imitating Mick, Keith and the rest. So now, young garage bands in our country who, relatively speaking, lived down the block from the artists the Stones were paying tribute to, were paying tribute to the Stones and other British invasion bands. Funny way to listen to our own music, but that’s another story. This particular song we’re addressing, Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, does a peculiar thing musically—it changes chords two times every bar and that creates a propulsive force in the groove. The DNA of this song was picked up (really, who could resist?) by a lot of garage bands. If you follow the thread to the punk era, their DIY attitude was inspired by these garage acts—a refreshing change from the bloated prog-rockers who were killing the ’70s. Convoluted, but true. My song was made to fit that template and if it makes anyone go out and listen to King Solomon, then good. By the way, the drumming on this one?… it’s me. Talk about DIY.

© 2011 John Seger


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