There are certain voices that linger, stay with you long after a song or album ends. Such was the soulful voice of Percy Sledge.
His biggest hit, “When A Man Loves A Woman” came out in 1966, and would provide the backdrop for many a romantic evening, I’m sure. I know it was on the list this blog did called Music To Make Love To.
And yes, whenever I was trying to be suave and romantic, or just get a girl to stay in my college room, I would bust out songs like that… Soul and R&B being my go to music. Hey, I tried to be cool and hip and a bit sophisticated. I’m not saying it worked… but I tried.
The easiest go to was the soundtrack to The Big Chill, and it was always in steady rotation for me… and I’ll be honest, that is probably where I first heard Percy… and The Four Tops… and maybe even Marvin Gaye. I was a late bloomer… and it took college to open me up to a whole new musical world!
“According to Sledge, the song’s inspiration came when his girlfriend left him for a modelling career after he was laid off from a construction job in late 1965, and, because bassist Calvin Lewis and organist Andrew Wright helped him with the song, he gave all the songwriting credits to them.” (Wikipedia)
Famous rock writer Dave Marsh called his ballads “emotional classics for romantics of all ages.” (Wikipedia)
“When A Man Loves A Woman” hit No. 1 in the U.S. It “was a hit twice in the UK, reaching No. 4 in 1966 and, on reissue, peaked at No. 2 in 1987. The song was also the first gold record released by Atlantic Records. The soul anthem became the cornerstone of Sledge’s career, and was followed by “Warm and Tender Love” (covered by British singer Elkie Brooks in 1981), “It Tears Me Up”, “Take Time to Know Her” (his second biggest U.S. hit, reaching No. 11; the song’s lyric was written by Steve Davis), “Love Me Tender”, and “Cover Me”. (Wikipedia)
His version of “If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Right” (Written by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson) is so darn good. Mmm, mmm, mmm! And I can always listen to “Warm And Tender Love.”
Rock and music in general have been taking some hard hits lately… and at 73, though he has been quiet for a while, it is just too damn young. The Little Richard hair, the huge smile and that moving, soulful voice will be missed.