We all have those songs that hold the key to our brain's secret serotonin stash, right? You press play and BANG – instant happiness. This is one of those songs for me:
Isn't that a beauty? I was listening to Solomon Burke's much loved, but little talked about 1964 album, "Rock 'n' Soul" one day last year and this track stood up, jumped out of my earholes, and slapped me right in the face. Now, it's a go-to.
Why do I love it so much?
Is it the fact that Burke's voice is an unparralled instrument? Possibly the greatest, most human, R&B voice of all time? (Lots of debate there, but I like to throw Solomon into the conversation because most people don't.) Is it the vaguely latin rhythm, pushed along by that presumably 12 string guitar panned almost completely to the left? (Talk about making a choice!)
Or is it the story?
"Just let me prove that my love is real
And baby won't you let me show you how I feel."
This begging for forgiveness makes for a great song and a great story because it implies that something bad has already happened. What was it? We don't know. We've been introduced to this guy mid-story. (Or, for you latin freaks, In media res) The listener's subconscious imagery fills in the rest. I know mine does, when I hear the backup singers wail:
"All he wants is one, justa one more night
That's all he needs to make things right."
Sounds like they're talking from experience! This fella is trying to win back his girl, and to do so, he's enlisted the help of a spicy hot trio of ladies!? That's like holding up a glass of bourbon and saying, "Here's to never drinking again!"
It's a rich song, man. Lots to be mined here. Recklessness and Soulfulness and everything between.
So I started thinking – who else has tackled this topic in song form? Turns out "One More Chance" is one of the most singable lines in music history, evidenced by the following playlist, hand picked and embedded by yours truly. Enjoy:
I love that opening line:
"Everybody loves a star,
When he's on the top.
But no one ever comes around
When he starts to drop."
MJ revisited the subject later in his career (with the help of R. Kelly, who wrote this one):
I think Derek and The Dominoes Clapton might be my favorite Clapton. Here he is, singing through our topic of the day:
And how could we leave out Dylan and his rusty old harmonica?
You think Dylan would mind being a lead-in for the Pet Shop Boys?
"Girls pee pee when they see me." Now that's a lyric. (Interestingly, R.Kelly did not write that one.)
We'll leave it there for today. I'm sure there are more. Because one thing we can learn from music is that, whether you're a soul singer from Philly or a 12 year old Motown super-star, or a guitar player from England, or a folk singer in Greenwich Village or an electronic pop duo, or the King of East Coast Hip Hop, there are certain themes we all like to sing about.