(If All Men Are Truly Brothers)
I originally started out writing this song to my band members, whom I’d taken from a group of starving musicians, to the Pinnacle of popularity. But for some suicidal reason, they decided to self destruct, so this was an effort to appeal to their lack of common sense. In fact, the guy upon the hill, which I refer to in the epilogue is none other than me, myself and I.
My band members were afraid, I was going to up and leave them, which was the absolute last thing on my mind. Yet, they were doing practically everything they could in an effort to hold me hostage.
But while I was writing the song I came to realize, it didn’t simply address the issues concerning my band. The scenario was also a perfect fit for the American society as well. And though I wrote it years ago, it is still as relevant today, as it was back in the late 60’s and the early 70′.
Just expressing myself, that’s all.
Can you think of a way to Bring us All Together?
“Answer to My Prayers” is a simmering R&B song with an emphasis on the blues. The lyrical turns embrace a familiar theme, but Wright spins them into something signature with his charismatic performance. His rhythm section is stellar throughout the release and they lay down the first of many impressively solid, yet elastic, outings on the album. He burrows deeper into the blues with the lightly comedic “Looking for an Ugly Woman”, but it’s the particularly nuanced vocal that pushes this tune over the top. The vocal varies between moments of smirking amusement and lightly rueful passages. Moody brass section work distinguishes “I Got Feelings Too”, but it’s Wright who shines brightest thanks to a painfully intimate vocal that rises and falls well with the music. “She Don’t Believe In Love” will jolt listeners to life with its high octane funk stride cutting through the speakers with the visceral physicality of a blade. Wright’s performance has the same urgency he brings to bear on every preceding song.
Wright describes his childhood in the cotton fields of Mississippi in this debut memoir.
The author, who fronted the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band, is best known for his hit 1970 funk song “Express Yourself,” which has been widely featured in movies and ad campaigns and provided the signature sample for the 1988 NWA song of the same name. Yet in this book, the first in a series of planned memoirs covering the entire course of his life, there’s almost no talk of music. Rather, it concerns his earliest years as one of 12 children born to an impoverished sharecropping couple in the Mississippi Delta. As a child in the 1940s, Wright worked beside his parents in the fields, “picking and chopping cotton sunup ’til sundown—WITHOUT ANY PAY!” The author claims that his memory stretches back to three months before he was born, and he displays a preternatural maturity in depicting the complex, often combative relationships between members of his family and the neighbors, fellow sharecroppers, and landowners that made up their hardscrabble community. The exploitative extremes of sharecropping are so troubling—and so reminiscent of depictions of slavery—that readers will find it almost inconceivable that such practices represented the status quo in some parts of the country as recently as the 1950s. This volume ends with Wright’s escape to Los Angeles, with a future of music and self-expression yet to come. Although the conclusion finds the author still in elementary school, readers will be left with the sense that the young Wright has already lived a lifetime. The book’s presentation is a little odd, with awkward formatting and a lot of stock photos. However, Wright is a highly adept storyteller with an excellent sense of detail and momentum. The overall reading experience is almost akin to sitting on the porch of a small, rickety farmhouse listening to the author spin yarn after yarn. “This is my story and most of it is one hundred percent true,” writes Wright, and in so doing he summons a whole host of American memoirists who’ve managed to transmute tragedy and fear.
A remarkable, well-told story of youth.