Daddy B. Nice's #11 ranked Southern Soul Forerunner
"(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
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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.
1. Books that fans of Bobby Womack will not want to miss:
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
Honorary "B" Side
"If You Think You're Lonely Now"
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