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"(If You Want My Love) Put Something Down On It"
Composed by Bobby & Cecil Womack
FROM DADDY B. NICE'S CORNER:
Friday, June 27, 2014: OBITUARY
BOBBY WOMACK: SOUL HEAVEN BOUND
Listen to Bobby Womack singing "I'm Looking For A Love" Live Onstage on Soul Train on YouTube.
Beginning as a guitarist for Sam Cooke (whose widow he married) and soul diva Aretha Franklin, the Cleveland, Ohio native Bobby Womack went on to forge one of the greatest careers in soul music, including induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2009.
Womack toured with and wrote for The Rolling Stones. His early seventies hit "Across 110th Street" became the thematic center of Quentin Tarentino's movie "Jackie Brown" starring Pam Grier. Rod Stewart sampled "Put Something Down On It" for his disco mega-hit, "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"
Womack was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2013. He had also long battled pneumonia and colon cancer. He was seventy years old.
Bobby Womack was a forerunner and heavy influence upon contemporary southern soul musicians, blazing a path between deep-soul grit and pop/rock-and-roll accessibility that illuminated the careers of such southern soul stars as Marvin Sease, Mel Waiters, William Bell and Latimore, to cite only a handful.
Among the younger generation of southern soul artists, Sir Charles Jones, Willie Clayton and O.B. Buchana covered "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much," Vick Allen recorded "Put Something Down On It," and Calvin Richardson devoted an entire album: Facts Of Life: The Soul Of Bobby Womack.
Among Bobby Womack's most cherished, covered and imitated songs are:
"If You Think You're Lonely Now"
"I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much"
"Across 110th Street"
"That's The Way I Feel About 'Cha"
"Woman's Gotta Have It.
"Put Something Down On It."
--Daddy B. Nice
See Daddy B. Nice's complete Artist Guide to Bobby Womack.
Corrections, comments, information or questions for Daddy B. Nice?
July 27, 2014: BOBBY WOMACK PASSES ON TO SOUL HEAVEN
See Daddy B. Nice's Corner
To instantly link to all the awards, citations and other references to Bobby Womack on the website, go to "Womack, Bobby," in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique
Like many another artist, he was always the coolest guy around--the hippest guy on the block. How cool? Cool enough to have the masters of cool, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, into his stuff from the earliest get-go, the dawn of the age of rock and roll. How hip? Hip enough to play the unforgettable (even now) guitar part on the most unique song ("Family Affair") recorded by Sly Stone--himself the hippest crossover black artist ever.
But Bobby Womack's unique combination of talent and charisma went even beyond that. In the earliest years of rock and roll, when R&B singers were as coveted (and considered as naturally belonging) on the mainstream radio air waves as their white counterparts, Bobby Womack was Sir Lancelot to the great Sam Cooke's King Arthur, a member of that "Round Table" of fabled singers that included the young James Brown and Johnnie Taylor.
And like Sir Lancelot, Bobby Womack was in love with Camelot's queen, Barbara Campbell, the king Sam Cooke's beloved wife. It was a triangle like the more famous one to come years later, when Eric Clapton worshipped the ground Beatle George Harrison's wife Patti walked upon. Clapton eventually married her.
But in Womack's case the transition was replete with the direst consequences. Sam Cooke, the titular head of R&B's Camelot, was murdered, and Womack's marriage to his widow before a proper mourning period had passed would forever reek more of Shakespeare's Macbeth than of Excalibur.
And then, as the intense and idealistic sixties musical scene wound ever tighter and tighter, spiralling out of control and finally self-imploding in the brilliant chaos of the early seventies, things--as they say--got real.
In this new, more "real" time there was no black music Camelot of the popular mainstream. Artists like Bobby Bland and Johnnie Taylor did not become the household names that Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson had in the days of R&B glory. A few performers-- Clarence Carter, B. B. King, Al Green, Brook Benton--scored isolated successes, but their triumphs were more accurately viewed as the exceptions that proved the rule: the rule being that black music's "Camelot" was gone for good.
Today, if you ask the average white music fan--or even nineteen out of twenty black music fans--who Bobby Womack is, you'll get a blank stare. But that's not to say Bobby Womack is forgotten. As a matter of fact, the best years of Bobby Womack's artistic life have transpired over the musically-fragmented decades since that now-faraway Camelot, and no one--literally no one--knows and appreciates this more than the musicians of today's Southern Soul music movement. And like a good lawyer, your Daddy B. Nice would now like to lay out his case.
Let's start with the CEO of contemporary Southern Soul himself-- Mel Waiters--and listen to what he has to say on the subject.
From his "golden" period, Mel's song "How Can I Get Next To You" is one of those give-the-audience-all-it-wants tunes that have made Waiters arguably the most popular recording act in Southern Soul.
Not only does "How Can I Get Next To You" contain a great melody and theme on its own terms. It also delivers layer upon layer of added satisfaction due to the musical references to other classic artists embedded in the lyrics of the song.
And first and foremost among those references is "That's The Way I Feel About Cha" from Bobby Womack's first CD, Communication, the chords--in fact--on which the Waiters song is loosely based.
Here's what Mel says in "How Can I Get Next To You":
"I heard Bobby Womack
On the telephone line.
And he said that, Girl,
You were running out of time.
And he said,
'That's the way I feel about you.
That's the way I feel about you."
Here Mel inserts his own chorus line:
"How can I get next to you?
When everyone else is trying
To get next to you?"
Then Mel continues:
"But just after Bobby Womack
Had split the scene,
I thought I had it made,
But then I heard about you from Al Green. . . "
Mel pays Al Green some equal time, and goes on to quickly mention Johnnie Taylor, Rufus Thomas, and Clarence Carter. But it's obvious that Bobby Womack is the R&B champion uppermost in Mel's mind.
Now let's hear some testimony from David Brinston, in a lot of ways very much a "poet" in the way Bobby Womack was. The song is "Somebody's Cuttin' My Cake" from the Brinston album of the same name, coincidentally recently released (and brought back into "print") by Ecko Records. In this song, the musical references come at the end of the song, also another tried and true routine in Southern Soul.
This song (which hails back to Bobby Womack's "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much") is so full of amatory pain it's a wonder David Brinston was ever able to record it. The long, detailed and anguished lyrics surround a chorus that says:
"Somebody's cuttin' my cake
Somebody's got their hand on my plate."
. . .In which the "cake" is a metaphor for the singer's cheating love interest. For instance, Brinston sings:
"Just the other night,
I wanted a bite to eat.
And you fed the dog,
Better than you fed me."
Then, at the end of the song, Brinston refers to two classic masters: Johnnie Taylor ("Jody's got your girl and gone") and Bobby Womack. But it's Bobby Womack to whom he gives the more significant nod, and just like Mel Waiters in "How Can I Get Next To You," Brinston sets up Womack as one of his rivals--one of the thorns in his side:
"I believe old Bobby Womack
Is cuttin' my cake.
You know, he said,
'I wish he didn't trust me so much.'"
Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, consider Theodis Ealey's "Stand Up In It," which has become one of the true contemporary classics of Southern Soul music. One doesn't think of any references to other artists or songs in its lyrics (I wouldn't have remembered any until recently), just the straight-ahead message ("stand up in it") that has captured the imaginations of the fans since it was first recorded.
But it does have a musical reference, it is embedded in the last verse of the record, and it is a reference to Bobby Womack's classic, "A Woman's Gotta Have It."
"A woman's gotta have it" (Theodis sings),
"She's got to feel it every time.
That's what old Bobby Womack says.
I wanna tell you something.
And he was right, too."
The thing all these musical references have in common is a history--a common bond and heritage. These younger-generation performers--Mel Waiters, David Brinston and Theodis Ealey--all share a total immersion in the work of Bobby Womack.
And in the same way a college humanities professor couldn't talk about the great ideas of western civilization without mentioning Aristotle or Homer, these artists have so absorbed (and "gone to school" on) the Womack catalog that making analogies to one or another Womack songs is as natural for them as the Humanities prof mentioning Socrates.
We the fans might not notice it, but that merely points to our own ignorance and inattention. What's really amazing at this point in time (2008--still sounds like science fiction and "2001 Space Odyssey," doesn't it?) is how the Southern Soul movement and its return to a verse-and-chorus way of telling a musical story is revitalizing the Bobby Womack legend.
Not only is it evident in the kinds of musical references I've quoted above. Southern Soul music is bringing out facets of the Bobby Womack catalog which even longtime Womack connoisseurs have long overlooked. Which brings your Daddy B. Nice back to his own long and winding musical road to Bobby Womack.
For your Daddy B. Nice, it all started with Vick Allen, of all people. Hardly anyone that follows Vick Allen nowadays knows that he put out a song called "Put Something Down On It" on his first CD.
This was a Bobby Womack song--something I had no idea of at the time. And in my view, Vick has been trying to recapture the subtle magic of that obscure cut for quite awhile now, most recently and successfully on his new EP.
But before I came to know "Put Something Down On It" as a Bobby Womack classic, I next discovered the song in the Millie Jackson catalog. That was the point when I really began to get enthused. As an eighties' disco maven, I'd danced 'till I dropped to Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy/"
The Millie Jackson version of "Put Something Down On It" (and also the Vick Allen vehicle, but to a lesser extent) contained the same high-flying, anthemic hook as the Stewart dance classic, albeit within a broader musical framework.
Finally, after much more time had washed under the proverbial bridge, I at last made it back to the original version--the "daddy" of them all--Bobby Womack's "(If You Want My Love) Put Something Down On It," which not only contains the Carmine Appice-lifted dance hook from Womack's "Put Something Down On It" that made the Rod Stewart anthem so exhilarating but much, much more.
Today, listening to the Bobby Womack original (contained in his Anthology CD and little else), with his almost indescribably beautiful baritone, and other-worldly chorus, in which said gravelly baritone mingles with the choicest female voices, one is instantly transported to Soul Heaven. The song is quite literally the purest essence of soul music, and the only disappointment to be associated with the pleasures it gives the listener is how such a masterpiece of melody and theme could go so unappreciated for so long.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Bobby Womack
Bobby Dwayne Womack was born in Cleveland, Ohio on March 4, 1944. Bobby was onstage from his earliest years, joining his brothers Cecil, Curtis, Harry and Friendly, Jr. (after their father) in a gospel group--the Womack Brothers--that opened for the Soul Stirrers (Sam Cooke's gospel group) in 1953. Soon they were touring the country with other gospel acts.
According to accounts, the elder Womack, a strict and religious man, was so angry when the sons told him they had signed a recording contract with Sam Cooke's secular R&B label SAR, he disowned them. Cooke, of course, promptly stepped in--but the intertwining of Cooke's and Bobby Womack's career had just begun.
Cooke renamed the Womack Brothers the Valentinos--a dubious decision in retrospect but one which fit the temper of the times and the intertwining of early soul, doo-wop and rock--and the Valentinos scored with a Top 10 R&B hit, "Lookin' For A Love" in 1962. The Valentinos toured with James Brown during this time, and Bobby eventually joined Cooke's own band as guitarist.
The Valentinos' single "It's All Over Now," was covered by the Rolling Stones, then just a fledgling after-thought to the phenomenal Beatles, in 1964. The Stones' early discs were little more than white covers of American R&B, yet their steadfast enthusiasm for the genre was already influencing mainstream tastes, and "It's All Over Now" became the Stones' first number-one single on the English pop charts. The royalties alone made Womack a success, and he came to be regarded as Cooke's right-hand man and potential successor.
The murder of Sam Cooke in a California motel in 1964, just after the recording (and before the actual release) of Cooke's classic "A Change Is Gonna Come," marked the end of that heady period of Womack's musical innocence. Before a satisfactory mourning period had transpired, Bobby Womack married Sam Cooke's widow--many years his elder--incurring the wrath of his R&B peers, who condemned the union as crass and opportunistic.
Suddenly Womack, the heir-apparent to the King Of Soul, was anathema in the African-American community, and the black audience wanted nothing to do with his records, whether issued as a solo artist or under the auspices of the Valentinos (the Womack Brothers). Bobby Womack was forced to start all over again, with greatly reduced expectations.
The only avenue open to him was studio work, and Womack caught on with with Ray Charles (always an objective and efficacious connoisseur of talent) and then with producer Chips Moman. The latter brought him south to Memphis and Muscle Shoals, and slowly but surely Bobby Womack reinvented himself as a behind-the-scenes songwriter and studio musician, contributing backing tracks and dozens of songs for the likes of Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Joe Tex and King Curtis in the mid-to-late sixties.
But (perhaps to the surprise of latter-day black purists), Bobby Womack did not stop there. Buoyed by increasing recognition for his behind-the-scenes work, and despite repeated failures to launch his own solo career, Womack plunged whole-heartedly into covering the popular (white) music of the day, recycling sentimental favorites like "Fly Me To The Moon," composing jazzy hits like "Breezin'" (later to become one of jazz guitarist George Benson's signature songs), and working with rock icons like Janis Joplin, J. Geils and--perhaps most notably--psychedelic-crossover artist Sly Stone on his seminal album, There's A Riot Goin' On.
Finally, in 1971, Bobby Womack broke through as a solo artist with the aptly-titled album Communication (United Artists), and the song many consider (after "Looking For A Love") to be his first bona fide hit single: "That's The Way I Feel About You." 1972's Understanding spawned the hit singles, "Woman's Gotta Have It" and "Harry Hippie." And subsequent albums (the soundtrack Across 110th Street, The Facts Of Life and Lookin' For A Love Again made Womack a full-fledged star nearly twenty years after he began performing.
Many of these early-seventies' hits have taken on additional significance over time as movie directors like Spike Lee (whose first film, "She's Gotta Have It," paid homage to "Woman's Gotta Have It") and Quentin Tarantino (whose Pam Grier vehicle "Jackie Brown" eulogized "Across 110th Street") shed renewed light on the decade.
Womack divorced Barbara Campbell (the late Mrs. Sam Cooke) in 1971 (his step-daughter Linda was a co-writer of "Woman's Gotta Have It)." Womack's brother Harry (the inspiration for "Harry Hippie") was murdered in 1974, and Womack's own son (by new wife Regina Burks) died in 1979. In between, a disastrous crossover-country album and a couple of subsequent R&B releases failed to register much success.
After a recording hiatus, Womack eventually reappeared on small label Beverly Glen with one of his most durable hits, "If You Think You're Lonely Now" (The Poet, 1981). Again switching labels, Womack scored a memorable hit: "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much" (MCA, 1985).
Through it all, Womack "lived the life," hanging out with rock stars like The Rolling Stones, who have remained lifelong friends. In 1985 he appeared with Bruce Springsteen, Miles Davis, Pete Townshend and many other international celebrities on Little Stevie Van Zandt's "Sun City" anti-apartheid charity-concert compilation.
Womack's songs have aged well, covered by innumerable stars over the last three decades including K-Ci & JoJo ("If You Think You're Lonely Now," "Woman's Gotta Have It"), Millie Jackson and Vick Allen ("Put Something Down On It"), "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much" (Sir Charles Jones and Willie Clayton), "Across 110th Street" (the movies "Jackie Brown" and "American Gangster"), Jodeci ("If You Think You're Lonely Now"), the J. Geils Band ("Looking For A Love") and The Rolling Stones ("It's All Over Now"), to name only a few.
Today Bobby Womack's reputation is one of the most secure in the R&B constellation. He is generally considered to be the legitimate successor to Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye as an unparallelled purveyor of lyrically-gifted soul music.
1. Books that fans of Bobby Womack will not want to miss:
Bobby Womack : Midnight Mover: The True Story of the Greatest Soul Singer in the World
Sly and the Family Stone: An Oral History, Vol. 4
2. February 23, 2008. Here is a letter received from an alert reader and Bobby Womack fan:
RE: BOBBY WOMACK'S "PUT SOMETHING DOWN ON IT"
Daddy B. Nice:
I read your article on Millie Jackson on your excellent site. This is the type of stuff I've been looking for! A definite thank you & kudos to you. There was only one thing that stood out and it has irked me to no end for years, so I have to let this off my chest and hope that you can help to straighten out this travesty.
The original "Put Something Down On It" was actually robbed of its string section by whomever it was that produced &/or arranged "Do You Think I'm Sexy." If you listen to Bobby Womack's version, that very riff that you find in Rod Stewart's song (& subsequent remakes) is in the intro of Bobby's song. I don't know if even Mr. Womack knows it (I've never seen or heard him address it) or if there was some special arrangement made, but Bob was robbed!
I've wanted for years for someone else to pick up on this because I didn't know who to "complain" to, but maybe you & your site will help me put this thing to rest & at least in my own head!
Thanks for listening to my ramblings &
Daddy B. Nice replies:
I really apreciate this letter. This is why I muck around, asking questions and poking my nose into things and often making a fool of myself trying to explore the connections between records. Sooner or later someone like you pops out of the woodwork with the real details.
I can remember New York City disco days in the 80's, dancing our butts off to the Carmine Appice-written Rod Stewart song "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy," going absolute ecstatic over that string-section hook, as if we were just a couple of dance moves away from heaven's gates, never having an inkling that (as has repeatedly been the case in popular music) it was lifted from Bobby Womack's orginal R&B version of "Put Something Down On It."
Again, many thanks. DBN
3. January 30, 2009.
Bobby Womack will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, according to "Rolling Stone" Magazine. The ceremony will unfold April 4th in the Rock & Roll Museum, which just happens to be in Womack's home town, Cleveland, Ohio. "Having this happen in my home town is really icing on the cake," Womack said. "My very first thought was, 'I wish I could call Sam Cooke and share this moment with him.'"
Daddy B. Nice's Update, January 1, 2010.
Calvin Richardson, along with Anthony Hamilton, was a serious contender for Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 Southern Soul Artists chart for many years, although he was never a part of that core group of artists that make up the genre.
Then, in August of 2009, with little fanfare, Richardson released Facts Of Life: The Soul Of Bobby Womack.
By the end of the year the song "Harry Hippie," which had never been one of Bobby Womack's strongest classics, began playing on Southern Soul radio stations in the Delta. To the inattentive, it was easy to believe it was actually a deejay playing Womack's original, but as the song garnered more and more airplay, it became obvious this was a cover, sumptiously recreated, by an artist who had tapped into the mainline soul of the composition.
The artist was Calvin Richardson, and it was from his tribute album to Womack, which comes highly recommended. Coincidentally, Richardson began appearing in chitlin' circuit venues, most notably a New Year's Day concert with Southern Soul notable Willie Clayton at the Central City Complex in Jackson, Mississippi.
The coming together of these various elements has not only raised Calvin Richardson's profile in the Southern Soul world--a welcome and fortuitous event--but reinforced the legacy of one of Southern Soul's most soulful and essential forefathers, Bobby Womack.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced Facts Of Life: The Soul Of Bobby Womack
5. July 28, 2014:
Vick Allen first came to your Daddy B. Nice's attention with his cover of Bobby Womack's "Put Something Down On It," from the album LET'S DANCE.
Listen to Vick Allen singing "Put Something Down On It" on YouTube.
The song marked Vick Allen's first entry into Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 Southern Soul Songs (90's-00's).
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
In the late nineties, when I first began to visualize a charting of Southern Soul music, my overriding motive was to correct what I perceived to be a grievous wrong. When I searched the Internet for information on the great musicians I heard on radio stations on my trips through the South, I could find nothing about them. I was able to find information on blues and soul artists up to about the 1980's, but anything more contemporary was still a "dark continent"--unknown, unexplored and unmemorialized. Even "southern soul" was a suspect and tentative term, used mainly as an adjective to describe older artists geographically tied to the Deep South.
To help right that wrong, I went about constructing a Top 100 chart of the best Southern Soul artists from the 90's to the present, and I profiled those performers in "artist guides." But when I had finished that chart (Daddy B. Nice's Top 100), I again found myself faced with a wrong. This time the oversight was my lack of attention to the artists whose best material had been recorded prior to the 90's and 00's, artists without whom the Southern Soul phenomenon would never have occurred. Yes, one could find information on these performers on the Internet, but not up-to-date information, and not in the context of contemporary Southern Soul.
That is what brought me to formulate the chart you are reading: "Forerunners." Rhythm & Blues as it's played, appreciated and revered in the Deep South. The Golden Oldies of the Chitlin' Circuit. The artists who "count" and the songs that "matter" to the artists, deejays and producers who understand and create the Southern Soul sound. And that's different--although not altogether different--from the soul music many of us grew up listening to outside the Deep South. Although fans may be coming to this music long after it was first recorded, I believe it will only whet their appetite for Southern Soul music all the more. DBN.
Honorary "B" Side
"If You Think You're Lonely Now"
(If You Want My Love) Put Something Down On It
Label: The Right Stuff
If You Think You're Lonely Now
CD: The Poet
Label: Razor & Tie
I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much
CD: Only Survivor: The MCA Years
Lookin' For A Love
Label: The Right Stuff
Across 110th Street
CD: Across 110th Street
Label: Snapper UK
CD: Back To My Roots
Label: The Right Stuff
Nobody Wants You When You're Down and Out
CD: The Facts of Life
Label: The Right Stuff
That's The Way I Feel About 'Cha
CD: Back to Back Hits
That's Where It's At
CD: Only Survivor: The MCA Years
Woman's Gotta Have It
Label: The Right Stuff
|Sample or Buy
Label: The Right Stuff
|Sample or Buy