ISSUE DATE: June 28, 1968
Soul music is sincerity, a homely distillation of everybody’s daily portion of pain and joy. “It pulls the cover off,” explains Jim Stewart, a former banker and country fiddler who heads Memphis’ soul-oriented Stax Records. “It’s not the moon in June. It’s life. Sometimes it’s violence and sex. That’s the way it is in this world. Sometimes there’s animal in it; but let’s face it, we’ve got a lot of animal in us.” The difference between Tin Pan Alley and Soul is not hard to define. A conventional tunesmith might write: “You’re still near, my darling, though we’re apart/ I’ll hold you always in my heart.” The soul singer might put it: “Baby, since you split the scene the rent’s come due/ Without you or your money it’s hard, yeah, hard to be true.”
In all its power, lyricism and ecstatic anguish, soul is a chunky, 5-ft. 5-in. girl of 26 named Aretha Franklin singing from the stage of a packed Philharmonic Hall in Manhattan. She leans her head back, forehead gleaming with perspiration, features twisted by her intensity, and her voice—plangent and supple—pierces the hall.
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