Monday, August 11, 2008

Goodbye, Soul Man

I was saddened to hear yesterday of the passing of soul music legend Isaac Hayes. Isaac was a key player in the Memphis soul music scene of the early 1970's. I will forever recall the first time I heard "Theme from Shaft", sitting in a Lamar Avenue grocery store parking lot eating my lunch while on break from my minimum-wage cashier job. For a time during my teenage years in Memphis, you couldn't turn around without hearing the name Isaac Hayes.

My father's friend Perry Allen was Isaac's business manager during the glory days of Hot Buttered Soul and Black Moses. Perry hosted his own jazz/blues radio show on WDIA and was a local authority on the Memphis soul and R&B music community. He would bring me promo copies of Isaac's albums in big yellow envelopes. In those days, it was a bit unusual for a white kid to listen to Isaac Hayes albums, but I guess I was hooked on Isaac from the beginning. His music, lyrics, and unique sound could only have been born in Memphis.

Some of Isaac Hayes' best vocals can be heard on the Black Moses album, a double set released in 1971, in the heyday of the "Memphis Sound". Isaac's deep baritone voice had a way of working its way into your psyche and staying there. Years later, I could still hear in my mind the languorous line in "Ike's Rap" that goes, "If some chap would rip you off me, I wouldn't be responsible for my actions thereafter."

Ah, Isaac. You were truly one of a kind. We will miss you.