THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG
Fancying myself to be something of a scribbler, I had just finished two additions to my ‘My Special Music People’ series, which is my Raycollection of my careen working for Record Labels in Canada (The U.S. is different and the UK different again, the end goal always being the same however) and I find myself still IN the Music Business, just on a different level. I am no longer the Power behind the Throne, my current throne being porcelain and power, wilful.
The two pcs I’d written were about Otis Redding and Sam Cooke and a day or so after, some lyrics tumbled from my empty head, words really, I didn’t see them as lyrics at that point, I wrote them down then left them to one side.
A day or so later I came across them loitering on my desk, looking for attention, so I read the lines over and added a few more, then trickle turned to torrent and I had what I thought was a whole song, a melody now playing in my minds ear. The melody was a Classic early 60’s Atlantic/Stax R&B tracks that we so dearly loved, having cut our Musical teeth on that era’s R&B/Soul tunes. Sadly we heard little of them on Radio, we learned about them from reading Rolling Stones LP jackets to see who wrote the song and then tried to track it down at a Record shop. Mainly we got our new Music from Heart & Soul or Bill & Bobs but you’ll have to read ‘Rayquiem for a Soul Man’ for the rest of that story.
It didn’t dawn on me at the time of writing, that all the people in the song were Black: Otis, Sam, Jesse, Martin Luther King, but there it was. I’d like to say at this point that I have no problem with coloured people, two of my brothers are Brothers but its OK, Mom knows.
I had thought the song complete until I realized all the people were MEN and it didn’t feel right to not include a female, and I settled on the Venerable Rosa Parks as she made such a big contribution to the moving forward of the Civil Rights Movement as an Icon. While the characters are all colored the message is the same for EVERYONE…whatever your lot in life, whatever hand you’ve been dealt, no matter how tough things are, RISE above it, make adversity your greatest teacher and not your worst enemy, take something Good and make it GREAT!
My songwriting partner and co-conspirator in Music, Down Home Jerome took a minute to get into it and after a bit changed the melody (Why YOU!!!!) to what it is today. Compared to me, he’s Houdini on the guitar and as a guitarist I’m a pretty fair drummer but he put a lot of right Bastard acrobatic chords in that were painful for me to play and he’s never allowed to do that again, OW! Bm7th my left foot!
There’s a few people that were critical to the development of the song and I’d like to thank a few of them here; John Foster Pearson, Tom Lavin, Sully& Angus Ian Estabrooks and most specially Yogi Rose as he was our voice and emotion. Ray Ramsay