Bobby Womack (March 4, 1944- June 27, 2014)
My mother’s Saturday morning ritual was to get up early, play music and clean the house from top to bottom. This, I believe, is where my affection for soul music and Bobby Womack in particular was born. One song I that played frequently was Harry Hippie by Bobby. I remember watching her folding clothes or washing dishes while singing along to this raspy, forceful voice coming through the speakers. My mother was the person to tell me that he’d passed and I couldn’t help but to feel a bit of sadness about it all.
Most of us take on the habits and inclinations of our parents. In some way we are brought into this life as a continuation of them. We are here as living testaments to their legacy and existence. For me, my love of music is the continuation of my mother’s thirst for melody and song. And when it is my turn to have children, I will undoubtedly wake up every Saturday morning to clean and play songs that they too will remember as they grow in life, songs that will later have greater meaning to them. I rediscovered Bobby Womack in my early twenties, when I found myself in the middle of a heartbreak. Bobby’s That’s the Way I Feel ‘Cha played a role in helping me sort and justify all the feelings I had within me. The song begins like a good amount of Womack’s songs do; a short monologue over the music before breaking out in song, “You’re pushing my love, just a little too far. I don’t think you know how blessed you are.” That line was so poignant to me. It was the line I needed to hear when I felt that perhaps my love was not good enough, when really my love was a blessing to a man who did not know how to receive love.
Bobby Womack and his writing spoke of life plainly. He did not shy away from speaking about his feelings about love or the social issues he witnessed. He came from an era of musicians whose background began in gospel music and took that particular musical delivery into the secular world. They were storytellers, musicians who created in order to release their emotions and perspectives out of themselves and into the world. “I feel that anytime I got something to say I’m going to say it. Maybe it might help you on your merry way.” (Fact of Life/He’ll Be There When the Sun Goes Down, Facts of Life, 1973). Bobby’s lyricism was simple and matter of fact and told stories of love from a black male perspective. He was what a younger generation would call real; unafraid to express his thoughts, aware of reality without blinded sentiment and a gritty and soulful delivery of it all. Bobby Womack did not entertain under the pretense of a gimmick, the lyrics and music came straight from his soul and straight into ours.
May he rest peacefully.
Song: That’s the Way I Feel About ‘Cha
Artist: Bobby Womack
Writers: Bobby Womack, Jim Grisby, Joe Hicks