Friday, February 29, 2008

Lyrics of the Day

Chicago-born Curtis Mayfield is a tragic figure in the world of R&B and funk. As a member of the Impressions, he practically created a soundtrack for the civil rights movement. After going solo, he continued to stand for equality and peace. He was a funk pioneer, and his brilliant songwriting made social consciousness an integral part of his music. On 1972's Superfly soundtrack, Mayfield sang in his trademark falsetto about the drug scene in the top-ten hits "Freddie's Dead" and "Superfly." Unlike many hip-hop artists today, he did not glamorize dealing or using. In 1990, a stage lighting rig fell on Mayfield, paralyzing him. He managed to record one more album with great difficulty, but by the end of the decade, he was dead at age 57.

For the past few days, "We Got To Have Peace" has been going through my head

And the people in our neighborhood
They would if they only could
Meet and shake the other's hand
Work together for the good of the land

Give us all an equal chance
It could be such a sweet romance
And the soldiers who are dead and gone
If only we could bring back one

He'd say, "We got to have peace
To keep the world alive
And war to cease"

We got to have joy
True in our hearts
With strength we can't destroy
No record collection is complete without at least a best-of collection from Mayfield. Other songs you may have heard include "Move On Up," "Future Shock," "Pusherman," "Kung Fu," and from the Impressions, "People Get Ready" and "Amen." The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield is a great place to start with his solo material, while the 2-disc The Anthology 1961-1977 has mostly Impressions songs (surprisingly omiting "We Got To Have Peace"). "We Got To Have Peace" originally appeared on Roots (no connection with the novel and TV miniseries), and Superfly was Mayfield's most popular album, hitting number one on the Billboard charts.

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