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Thursday, September 22

The Poet

His father, a steel worker and part-time Baptist minister, musician and Gospel singer, always sternly told his sons never to touch his guitar while he was away. They always disobeyed. But one day eight-year old Bobby broke a string on the guitar and tried to repair it with a shoestring. 

When his father got home from work and saw that Bobby's shoe was missing its shoestring and the shoestring on the guitar, he told him that he could avoid a whipping if he'd play the guitar for him. Many years later he described what happened next:
Man, I played Andres Segovia, Elmore James and BB King. Even with one string short, I played classical music, soul, country and western, and rock’n’roll. I played my ass off. Every lick I knew and then some I didn’t. When I finished, Dad was in shock. He couldn’t believe how good I had got and he’d been real selfish holding onto that guitar for himself.
Wikipedia recounts that soon after his father bought guitars for all five sons.

Bobby's mother, who played organ at church, once told him he could sing his way out of the ghetto. Did he ever. He sang, composed, and played that guitar out of the ghetto and up, up, past the ranks of second acts and backup recording sessions and one-hit wonders, past the divisions of white and black music and this music genre and that one, past the limits of a single culture and into the stratosphere of global stardom. 

He died in 2014 at the age of 70. Some say soul music died with him. I think Bobby Womack would say no, as long as black Christian churches exist in America soul music won't die. Like a mighty underground river filling wells with the purest water, the church will continue to produce great singers, singers who learn in choir to plumb their hearts when they express themselves in music. 

All right; time to get out of the way and let the man sing.

"Where Do We Go From Here?"
Backup vocals: six members of the Womack family and 
The Waters Family Singers   


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