Good morning, good people!
Happy first birthday to Sing! I’m going to celebrate with a slight change of format (just for today) and share two links. I’ve been thinking about soul music since listening to Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” last week. What is soul, anyway? In this film clip from The Sapphires, Dave Lovelace, a hard-drinking but entertaining Irishman tells four Australian aboriginal girls what he thinks it is. Sisters Gail, Cynthia, and Julie, and their cousin Kay have talent and want to sing, but prejudice against their color is holding them back. With Dave as their manager, they break that barrier and go on tour. However, instead of performing at the Apollo Theater in NYC–a venue Dave speaks of reverently–they begin their stage career singing for American soldiers in Vietnam. When this film (based on a true story) premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, the audience gave the cast and crew a 10-minute standing ovation.
now that I’ve shared a link claiming that soul is about struggle, I’ll share a soul number which is not about struggle but only about a girl named Sally who drives her car too fast. On the other hand, the fictional band singing this song is struggling to rise up. The story of TheCommitments is toldina 1991 film based on a novel by author Roddy Doyle. British director Alan Parker (Birdy, Angela’s Ashes) auditioned loads of young Irish musicians in Dublin before putting together the cast and then shot the footage in Dublin as well. Like Dave Lovelace in The Sapphires, would-be manager Jimmy Rabbitte must help a group of unruly but promising performers understand the meaning of soul. He shows them a clip of James Brown in the throes of a musical ecstasy on stage, and when sax man Dean Fay wonders if “maybe we’re a little white for that kind of thing,” Jimmy replies, “Do you not get it, lads, the Irish are the blacks of Europe…” Lead singer Declan “Deco” Cuffe is the most unruly member of the band, but he does get it. When he grabs the microphone and sings, he’s that volcano Dave Lovelace talked about. The excitement is electric, so electric that Derek’s bass guitar catches fire in one scene from the movie. Here are The Commitments with the song Bonny Rice wrote in 1965 and Wilson Pickett made famous in ’66.
Have an awesome Tuesday!
Silverback Alec (Ridge Road SBs) is a longtime Silverback and the author of a rip-snorting tale called Otter St. Onge and the Bootleggers. He sends out a music-themed newsletter called Sing!