I would describe Bobby as a “Soul Folk Singer”. What I mean by that is that where other great Soul songs might include deep-rooted religious lyrics, whether to do with despair, hope or celebration, or they might be super smooth love stories/serenades, Bobby’s take and delivery is his very own. Of course he is a teacher preacher. He does that very well, but his delivery is very much his own. His frequent talking in the intro section of songs and his subsequent “stream of consciousness” style content is more conversational than other artists’ “carefully crafted lyrics”. What can appear as ramblings are always confirmed as his most heartfelt feelings. This makes his experience more plausible, more believable. His words often echo a heart-to-heart one might have with a loved one. He is lyrically personable. One cannot help like and trust the man.
Musically his songs are never stagnant. Whatever he’s singing about, his story is real. We know that from the manner in which his vocals can go from sweet melancholy, to simmering frustration, right to that Womack (Brown-like) eruption in the space of a line.
In “Nobody Wants You When You’re Down and Out” you can hear the intricate play between voice and guitar within possibly one of the most cooking grooves. It’s like he can’t wait to sing those lyrics. Bobby tells it how it is. His style thankfully doesn’t allow for second thoughts and lyrical changes. What he’s saying is always personal and often in the first person. Tunes like “That’s the Way I Feel About Cha” and “If You Want My Love, Put Something Down On It” demonstrate Bobby’s amazing musical range and skill in the softer register as well as on the James brown metre. He encompasses the falsetto traits of Al Green, the despairing vulnerability of Marvin Gaye and the screaming sensation of James Brown. All these men are geniuses and really Bobby is right up there with them, in them and they are in him. Bobby Womack is not simply one artist. Like all giants he is beyond genre. The fact that he has written for and been covered by so many is testament to that fact.
When you put on a Bobby Womack CD, you ‘re never alone. You have Bobby talking to you, giving you advice, roaring at you to make you understand what he’s been through. Bobby was probably the most under-rated music artist during his career. God bless Bobby. We thank him for being Bobby Womack and being there for us. Bobby Womack died in Los Angeles on 27th June 2014.
Songs written by Bobby Womack:
The Rolling Stones achieved their first UK Pop number one on 16th July 1964 with a song entitled “ It’s All Over Now”, co-written by Bobby with his sister Shirley Womack, extracted from the Stones’ classic hit album 12 x 5 recorded at the famous Chess recording studios in Chicago on 10th June 1964.
The second song was the title track “Breezin’” performed by George Benson, which was number one on the Billboard Album chart listings under three separate genres: Jazz, Pop and R&B. By 22nd October 1984, the “Breezin'” album achieved triple platinum status for over three million copies sold in North America.
The third song to demonstrate his song-writing talent is “Across 110th Street” on the platinum selling soundtrack to the “Jackie Brown” film released in 1997. These songs clearly demonstrate the creative power and appeal of Bobby Womack over the last forty years and his enduring legacy for other artists, listening to and studying his brilliant compositions that have stood the test of time.
Blog written by Harpreet Singh
Additional information compiled by Kevin Tomlin