Monday, November 24, 2008


In honor of the mood this month, on axes that speak to me individually and from the global framework--all the Clinton era appointments notwithstanding. Obama clearly knows his weaknesses, and is aware of the successes of the Clinton team, it would be foolhardy not to

Afro-German soul vocalist Joy Denalane with a little help from Lupe Fiasco singing about "Change."

I realize that youtubers are linking Seal's rendition of "A Change Gonna Come" with the Obama presidential election, but from that first line "I was born by the river," you have to commit to the song not just as a conceptual performance for a soul album collection as Seal's new release is being touted. The other rendition that speaks to me is Aretha Franklin's rendition which was more tribute to her lost friend, Sam Cooke, than cover recording and the piano and organ work is heartbreaking, as is Franklin's vocal. Of course Otis Redding can't be ignored, the way he lands on a note hard and wrenches everything out of it in just a quarter note in a common time meter--and melisma wouldn't be so painful to hear all the time if some people had the skill to give it texture the way Redding did. Tina Turner's live performance from the late 80s (from the Break Every Rule video, initially backed up by a synth sample choir of "ah's" until someone realized continuing that throughout the song would sound rather soulless, though it unfortunately returns after the break) is worth a listen as well. Though there's something almost incongruent in the performance. She seems so much the Tina Turner of the Ike & Tina Turner review, or Annie Mae Bullock/Nutbush City Limits in the performance, while most of her musicians (except for the young Robert Cray-look-alike, or wait, that's actually Robert Cray: Turner says, "Take it Robert" at the start of the break, and I recognize his gestures, plus she shouts him out at the end) are doing back up for the re-designed, and re-branded Tina Turner (enough with the sax already!). I felt like I was watching two different, yet simultaneous performances. I have to give it up for Leela James' version which opts for understated, restrained delivery with her cracked honey tones that remind me of Toni Childs, but with more flexibility and range in the vocal instrument.

Ultimately, this one I have to give to the original songwriter and interpreter, Mr. Sam Cooke.

This is another one of my favorite renditions, by the Neville Brothers off their Yellow Moon album (another fav).

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