Soul Man (song)
|Single by Sam & Dave|
|from the album Soul Men|
|B-side||"May I Baby"|
|Sam & Dave singles chronology|
Song history and background
Co-author Isaac Hayes found the inspiration for "Soul Man" in the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In July 1967, watching a television newscast of the aftermath of the 12th Street riot in Detroit, Michigan, Hayes noted that black residents had marked buildings that had not been destroyed during the riots – mostly African-American owned and operated institutions – with the word "soul". Relating this occurrence to the biblical story of the Passover, Hayes and songwriting partner David Porter came up with the idea, in Hayes' words, of "a story about one's struggle to rise above his present conditions. It's almost a tune [where it's] kind of like boasting 'I'm a soul man'. It's a pride thing."
Sam sings the first verse, with Dave joining in the chorus. Dave sings the second verse, with Sam joining in the chorus. Sam sings the third verse, with Dave joining in the chorus. This is followed by a brief bridge section by Dave and then a coda, in which both Sam and Dave repeat the title phrase a half-step up, before the song's fade.
Issued on the Atlantic-distributed Stax label for which Hayes and Porter worked, Sam and Dave's "Soul Man" was the most successful Stax single to date upon its release. The single peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart, number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States during the autumn of 1967, and number two in Canada. "Soul Man" was awarded the 1968 Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Group Performance, Vocal or Instrumental.
The exclamation "Play it, Steve" heard in the song refers to guitarist Steve Cropper of Booker T. & the M.G.'s, the house band who provided the instrumentation for this and many other Sam and Dave singles. Cropper provided guitar for both the original Sam and Dave recording as well as the live and studio covers by the Blues Brothers.
Original and alternative recordings
During the same session, two versions of "Soul Man" were recorded, and both were subsequently released. The distinct difference between the two versions can be found within the first 30 seconds of the song. One version opens the tune with a trilling roll[clarification needed], an emphatic drum kick and a more enthusiastic Sam Moore singing the words "Comin' to you...," whereas the other version goes straight in from the intro with no roll, and the drum kick and opening lyrical line are not as enthusiastic. The latter rendition is the more readily available version in all formats; the former rendition, on original 45-rpm vinyl pressings, tends to be harder to find but is the version most often played on the radio. The different versions were recorded for the mono (single) and stereo (album) releases of the song.
- Vocals by Sam Moore and Dave Prater
- Instrumentation by Booker T. & the M.G.'s and the Mar-Keys Horns
|Single by The Blues Brothers|
|from the album Briefcase Full of Blues|
|B-side||"Excusez Moi Mon Cherie"|
|Writer(s)||Isaac Hayes & David Porter|
|The Blues Brothers singles chronology|
Los Quando's a Spanish vocal group, released the first version with Spanish lyrics, written by Jose Manuel Vidal and included in a compilation by Marfer record label titled Marfer Parade, published in 1968.
The Blues Brothers performed the song on an episode of the NBC comedy/variety show Saturday Night Live in late November 1978, and later released the song as a single, which reached number 14 in February 1979 and number 19 in Canada in February 1979.
In 2004, the song was performed by the comedy duo Drake Bell and Josh Peck on their sitcom, Drake & Josh, in the episode "Blues Brothers". The song appeared on the show's soundtrack, released in 2005.
In 2007, Australian singer Guy Sebastian covered the song for his fourth album, The Memphis Album, which featured Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn, both of whom performed on the original recording of "Soul Man" 40 years earlier and were also members of the Blues Brothers' band.
Paul Revere & the Raiders covered "Soul Man" on their album Goin' To Memphis.
Howard Hewett covered "Soul Man" as a placeholder theme song for Season 2 of the ABC television series Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, starring Mark Curry. The song was a temporary replacement for the original theme song, which was performed by cast members Holly Robinson and Dawnn Lewis, who left the cast after the end of Season 1 and was ultimately a result of Lewis' departure.
The American alternative band Three Penny Ride recorded it in their song "R&B Triple Play" in 2010.
In 2012, Jermaine Paul, winner of the second season of The Voice, released it as a single in which he was joined by his mentor and winning coach Blake Shelton. The single reached number 108, appearing in the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles.
- Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 51 - The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 7] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
- Bowman, Rob (1997). Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records. New York: Schirmer Trade. ISBN 0-8256-7284-8. Pg. 128
- Morgan Neville, Robert Gordon, and Mark Crosby [directors, writers, producers] (2007). Great Performances - Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story (TV documentary). New York City: Tremolo Productions, Concord Music Group, Thirteen/WNET New York.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 510.
- "Bubbling Under Hot 100 Week of May 26, 2012". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
"(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" by Jackie Wilson
|Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single (Sam & Dave version)
October 7, 1967
"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Gladys Knight & the Pips