Two Titans: Curtis Mayfield and Bobby Womack

Here are a couple of documentaries sketching out the genius of these two musicians. Much of what they wrote and sang about is as salient now as it ever was. Of course, the “intelligentsia” or the “guardians of free speech” would not approve of their “ghetto talk” that eventually went onto influence hip-hop and rap, something that they definitely don’t approve of.

Bobby Womack. Yes, a complicated and controversial private life to say the least. I recall being transfixed, listening to a late interview with him in a Saskatoon supermarket carpark late one night when he was plugging The Bravest Man in the Universe.

There is such mixture of heaven and hell coming at you. You can’t but hear the church and the streets . . .

It was BW songs that gave the Stones their early “attitude”, did left-handed things on the guitar before Hendrix, and to my mind defined the gritty 70s with “Across 110th Street”:

Curtis Mayfield. That voice and that funk makes the hair stand up on the back of one’s neck, sheer beauty and depressing corrosiveness all intwined. A man of great intelligence and principle and so articulate without being heavy-handed as is the likes of the Rev. Bono. Percy would assent to Mayfield’s lyrics:

We’re all built up with progress
But sometimes I must confess
We can deal with rockets and dreams
But reality, what does it mean

Play over and over and crank up the volume: