As a shorty, I thought I was doing a good deed by trying to help sweep the kitchen. I couldn’t find a dustpan, so I used the next best thing, an album cover. I’d seen it done before and didn’t think it was a big deal. WRONG!
This particular album cover was the dude in the white suit, the white platform shoes, sitting with his legs crossed in the white wicker chair in a white room. An older cousin walked in and instead of complimenting me on the stellar sweeping, she saw the shape of the dustpan, and her words were, “Ooooh, yo mama gonna tear you up!”
I heard that phrase quite a bit when I was coming up. Hearing it last week, though, was surreal. I shared a childhood moment with one of the greatest artists ever about how I was introduced to his reverence in our household, and he laughingly said the same was true in his home. For many, that record was to be maintained in pristine condition, as it housed some of the most soulful songs ever committed to wax. “Love and Happiness.” “What a Wonderful Thing Love Is.” “Simply Beautiful.” “One of These Good Old Days.” Yeah, Al Green knew what time it was.
“That was the ‘I’m Still in Love with You’ album. That was me, Al Jackson and Willie Mitchell in the studio, writing stuff that we didn’t know would be around 35-40 years later,” the Rev. Green recalls. “That’s what we always did. Al Jackson would put down these incredible rhythms, and Willie Mitchell would play the melodies. I would try to tell the stories.”
Green continues, “Once Willie was playing, and I asked him what it was, and he said he didn’t know. I asked, ‘Well, what’s the name of it?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, pick up the paper and write something to it.’ Ten minutes later, we had ‘Let’s Stay Together.’ We didn’t think we had a hit, hit. We just thought it was something that we’d probably just forget about.”
The dozens of songs he churned out, which eventually led to a vaunted spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, have kept Green’s name in the public mind, but it’s the work ethic and talent that have kept him a still-relevant recording artist. His last project, “Lay It Down,” contained the track “Stand With Me (By the Sea),” winner of the 2009 Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group (he shared the trophy with John Legend). He still performs at high volume and with high impact.
Says Green, “What I am now is somebody who knows what the destiny is and what the journey is, and you mix in the tabernacle from the past 30 years, and you get a more seasoned, more polished, more refined version of what I used to be. When we’re performing ‘I’m So Tired of Being Alone’ and a see a man grab his lady by the hand and see them start smiling cause that was their song in college, that’s why I still do it. I still love what I do for what the music means to people.”
Green returns to the area at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury for one show only on Friday, Oct. 26, with special guest Lalah Hathaway.
“New York is New York. That’s always special. You can get anything there,” he says. “I remember I was doing some dates at the Apollo Theater, and I kept seeing this chubby kid asking me to listen to his songs. I was always rushing to get inside and never got a chance to hear his music, until he became Luther Vandross. So you never know what to expect in New York.”
Tickets are $49.50, $59.50 and $69.50 and are available at www.livenation.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the Westbury box office. Event date and time are subject to change. Tickets are subject to applicable service charges. For further information, visit www.thetheatreatwestbury.com
Got a chance to share along with 10,000 others the last stop of the King’s Men Tour, featuring Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Marvin Sapp and Israel Houghton at the Barclays Center. Gospel has come a long way. The show was straight fire, and the venue is top-notch as well. You got a winner, Brooklyn.
Signing out. I’ll holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.