Monday, February 17, 2014

Twisted Mix-Tape Tuesday: Respect the Soul and the Person

In the middle of a conversation with a young man a couple of days ago, he found it necessary to express to me how members of the black race never got any respect until they started the RAP movement.

"You might already have guessed that he was in his very early 20's, and very naive."

Not wanting it to turn into a race vs. race conversation, nor to sound like an old fart by telling him how I had marched against the KKK and for Civil Rights in Indiana back in the 60's and 70's, I decided to ask him a more direct question.

"What is respect?"

He proceeded to tell me that having money got you respect.  Being able to afford to buy big cars, fancy jewelry, take out models, and do whatever you wanted because you could buy your way out of it gained you respect.

So, I asked him if he respected Justin Bieber.

Of course, he didn't respect him was his general response (in language I'd prefer to use here).  Justin was what he called a rich "wigger", or a white that pretended he was black.  That didn't gain him any respect.  In fact, it made him a sorrier "cracker" than most, because the folks he "hangs" with only let him stick with them because he pays for everything.  He was a sucker that was being used by the "players."

Not the actual language I'd use, but my feelings exactly!

The conversation ended quickly as we got busy at work.  Still, it had started over a conversation about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' statement, "My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference conscious than I was in the 1960's when I went to school"  

I began to wonder, "What type of person really looks at the color of another's skin in determining if they're a person of quality or not?"  That, of course, led to, "Is the constant usage of race as an issue in the courts and justice arenas being used as an excuse, and if so, what would it take to end it being a reason for anything?"

I have no answers.  Nor, do I expect any miracle revelations to shower me from above and enlighten the human race.  That's why we were given common sense!  Unfortunately, there are many in our world that have forgotten that's something they have, as they fail to ever call on it for a solution to a problem.

Most of the people I deal with are not racists.  I'm not comfortable with them, don't appreciate their viewpoints, and look at them as extremely narrow minded.  But, they are not something new in the world.  As I marched, decades ago, the narrow minded lined the streets, yelling obscenities and throwing an occasional bottle or rock.  They couldn't understand why I would march.  They looked at me as a traitor to my race.  They couldn't understand then, nor can they now.  

They couldn't hear the music!

See, the music was what proved we were all equal.  Say what you will about the words of the leaders of the cause.  The music was what pulled us all together.  And, it wasn't protest music for the most part.  No, it was music of love and life and heartbreak and hope.  It was the sound of a human being (regardless of their color) having the same hopes and feelings and emotions as any other color human being would have.  

Respect?  Respect was in the love of the music and those that performed it.  The beat, the words, the flavor ... it got you movin'!  And, one of the best to get you movin' was Archie Bell & The Drells with their song, "Tighten Up."
My feet are still movin'!  Aren't yours?  

The music was called all sorts of things, Rhythm & Blues, Dance, Ghetto, Motown, and most of all, the one that fit it best, Soul.  And, who better to bring the Soul sound to life than the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin?
Tell me you can't respect her deep rooted soul sound and powerful voice and I'll tell you to get a hearing aid and a new life!  

Before his days of bearded face and stocking caps, there was a young man demonstrating that he could put forth the sounds of life as well as Aretha could.  Be it a solo affair, or a duet with one of many, Marvin Gaye listened to the sounds of the night, and brought forth the sounds of the mind.  Here's Marvin Gaye and "I Heard It Through The Grapevine."
Creedence Clearwater Revival and Gladys Knight and the Pips were two other groups to later perform Marvin's hit song.  However, neither of them had the success he did with it.  Why?  Well, he'd earned the respect of the masses with his performances of it.  Just like Al Green did with "Let's Stay Together."
One you may not have heard of is our next entry, Gil Scott-Heron, who just died last year.  Gil was called by some the black man's Bob Dylan.  His theme, one that many of the majority race had a hard time dealing with, was to stand up and not be cattle.  Don't take what you're given and be satisfied.  Get out there and get all you can by earning it.  I'm sure if Gil were still around today, he'd probably be against using anything as an excuse.  Excuses for failure are for losers.  Reasons for success are for winners.  Here's Gil Scott-Heron with "Ain't No Such Thing As Superman"
And, yes, there were one hit wonders that earned respect, too.  Why?  Because they gave it their all and produced something so viable, so intimate, so giving of themselves, you could only return the favor by loving what they did.  Just like this one.  This is Barbara Mason with "Yes, I'm Ready"
Then, there were the anthems of the day.  Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" was a classic beyond classics.  His music stretched the imagination as he drew from deep within on every note to pull you into his story telling.  Here's a song, later done by Three Dog Night and numerous others, that still holds that power to even this day.  It's Otis Redding and "Try A Little Tenderness."
And, who could forget this anthem of love?  It's the classic lovesong from Percy Sledge,  "When A Man Loves A Woman."
Even Al Wilson had his own chart blaster in 1973 with "Show And Tell."
If you're looking for a song that goes for the grit and reaches down in the soul for a plea of hopelessness, there is no better offering than Bill Withers  "Ain't No Sunshine."
No, some of these folks never had millions of dollars to waste away on bling and drugs.  They really didn't need to.  They had their music.  Oh, drugs will always be a part of the entertainment industry.  Some will enjoy them, some will allow them to rule their lives, and some will die from them.  Yet, isn't it that way with society in general?

Every artist I've presented deserved the respect of the generation they catered to, and all the generations that followed.  They blazed trails, sacrificed dearly, and fought battles that many today have no idea ever existed.  They were human beings of the nth degree, bringing beauty to the world in their music and words.  Human beings that knew beauty didn't lie in the diamonds in the teeth, but in the words they sang and the meanings they presented.  If you can't respect the above artists for what they did and the music they created, then maybe it's time to take a look at yourself.  Perhaps, instead of being as deep as you believe you are, you might just be a little shallow.  

If you'd listen to the words of those who fought the battles, you might find that respect is always earned, not given because of the size of one's wallet.  

Besides, don't we all use either credit or debit cards anyway?

How thick does your wallet need to be?