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Saturday, September 10

Old School Music Saturday: The Four Tops

The Four Tops have had so many hits that to highlight just one of their songs is bound to ruffle some feathers, but I picked the one that's also among my all-time favorite songs.

How the Wikipedia author got the idea that Still Water (Love) is a "socially conscious" song is beyond me. It's about a person who doesn't wear his feelings on his sleeve but whose ability to love is steady and deep. If you're loved by someone like that you are fortunate indeed, and there are those who believe that we shouldn't look for that kind of love except from Divinity.

From all I've seen humans are capable of this kind of love, but I suspect it's not so much rooted in temperament or even character as in family influence. If you're raised in a household where you see steady love between your parents through even the most trying circumstances, then you know how to do it; you know what it takes to give that kind of love.

But it ain't easy; in fact it's a great accomplishment. A disciple once asked George Gurdjeff to give him advice on learning to love people more. Mr G replied that this was a very big thing, to love a person, so first practice on loving a dog; if the disciple could manage to care well for a dog and not beat it, then he could think about trying to love people.

Like everything else steadiness in love comes down to practice but that's hard if one doesn't know how it's done, if there aren't referents, examples to follow.

And frankly I think that people who've had the guidewires are able to spot others who are capable of steady love. They tend to find mates who can reciprocate steady love. Which is to say that just because one is capable of steady love doesn't mean one has to be a chump. 

Maybe that's the secret of many happy marriages, a happy village, a happy town, a happy city, and a happy nation: a lot of people who know how to spot the right mate for an enduring marriage. If that happens then a society's traditions would have as much to do with the phenomenon of steady love as family influence.    

So by a long way around Still Water might be considered a socially conscious song after all, although I never thought of it that way before.

Where was I? Old School music.  

The Four Tops started singing together in high school then sang together for more than 40 years, and they sang across a wide range of music genres that included soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, doo-wop, jazz, and show tunes, according to Wikipedia. So no one should wonder why there was so much depth to their singing and how they were able to harmonize so well. Only death and illness eventually forced changes in the group's personnel, but The Four Tops are still singing.

"Still Water (Love)" - 1970 - The Four Tops
With backup vocals by The Andantes
Written by
  Smokey Robinson and Frank Wilson

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