Merry Clayton – Southern Man (mp4 link cause that’s what I like)
You’ll probably recognize her voice – Merry sang with Ray Charles as a Raelette, with Leonard Skinnard on “Sweet Home Alabama”, with Neil Young on his first album, and, probably most notably, with Mick Jagger on “Gimme Shelter.”
This is off her 1971 self-titled solo album, which includes a song (or two) by Carole King and Billy Preston. I’ll post more when I get around to recording the rest of the LP.
Clearly, she’s not afraid to let it all out. Although I find it interesting that, in this song, there’s so much pent up energy being released, so much depth to the voice, and yet every time she runs up against the most emotionally charged word in Neil’s lyric – “black” – she shies away from it, changes it to some other phrase. Maybe, because this recording is charged enough, she was scared that, by singing The Word, she might accidentally electrocute her listening audience.
I heard this on KEXP a couple years ago, and the subsequent search to find my own copy lead me to eBay, where a signed LP was the only option (this has *looooong* been out of print). I ponied up the $20, thinking to myself, a) awesome!, and b) you know how people collect things? Well, I don’t collect anything really. Maybe I should start collecting stuff. Maybe I’ll collect old soul records, that seems an appropriately cool and hipster-ish thing to collect. And, two years later, this one album, one, represents the sum total of my old soul record collection, wedged in there between my dad’s old Steve Martin records and the Thrift Store records I amassed back in college, when people still did things like go down to the Ithaca Salvation Army to stock up on old man pants, ironic tshirts, and records celebrating the victorious season of the 1973 Miami Dolphins, to be used in lieu of lyrics on a ROVER 78* song.
* Yes, I did just namedrop “ROVER 78” – if only for it to have one, single solitary reference on google.