It is Saturday, June 28th as I write this. Last night, as I was beginning to prepare my dinner, I did my usual thing. I said my evening prayers while performing the task. When I got to the part about being thankful for all of the great musicians, past and present, I started having some really intense thoughts about Bobby Womack. Something kept telling me that he had died. I was taken aback that I would have this thought and I consciously told myself to knock it off and that he wasn’t dead. This went on for a minute or so before I was able to move on with the rest of my prayers.
And now it is Saturday. I was just over at my Mom’s house and was able to thumb through my local newspaper like I always do. Imagine how it scared me when I opened the front page section of the news to discover that Womack had indeed passed away.
Bobby Womack was one of the Soul guys who had his pulse on both the Soul Music scene and the Rock Music scene. He moved among both crowds with ease as he was known as a communicator. One of the enduring images of Womack that I will always carry with me is the one of his having spoken to Janis Joplin on the night that she died from her heroin overdose.
A ton of press reports are making light of the fact that Bobby greatly influenced the Brian Jones-Era Rolling Stones because of the Stones popularizing the old Valentinos number “It’s All Over Now” on the 12 X 5 album (U.S.). What some people will likely not know is that Ronnie Wood (the third guitar Era member of the Stones) and Bobby were very tight friends. Keith Richards was as well. Right now, I’m sure the both of them are hurting a great deal over this news.
As for myself, the song which always pops into my mind whenever I’ve thought about Womack over the years is “Lookin” For A Love”. When it came out back in 1974, it was during that time when I didn’t realize that it would be a part of the last full Summer when Soul Music was still the Soul Music I knew and things morphed into Disco. This song was a part of a long continuum of Soul singles that were so cool. It felt like I was being pointed towards a better way of living as a kid. Bobby was one of the guys taking me there. He was also instilling within me an optimisim about ‘lookin” for love that I was going to begin losing as I grew older.
Coming a close second for me was his very late 1971 single, “That’s The Way I Feel About Cha”.
Whenever one of my guys (or ladies) from the Soul scene passes on, it always hits me in a big way. They made such important music. But I sometimes get the impression that they get overlooked by the Rock crowd who grew up on Rock. The reason why I say that is because of how some of the Rock guys grew up back then. Some of them were taught to kind of put the accomplishments of Black people in the background. But those of us who had open minds and were given the better lessons by Top 40 radio knew better. We had it all and we knew to lay appreciation equally to both sides because we knew where it was all coming from.
Bobby, you were one of the great ambassadors to the fellow musicians who surrounded you. You shared their pain because you went through the ones they were going through as well – both personally and professionally. You felt it deeply because you had your own road to traverse. You made it out alive. You triumphed over the scars. I hope you will always know how much we all appreciated you – the musicians and the fans who really knew their stuff and knew where to listen.