Isaac Hayes (1942-2008)

To Isaac Hayes,

Does Soul or R&B even have a chance at survival? Obviously, it's too late for you to answer that now. I'd like to think that this new generation of R&B Popsters can even come close to anything as remotely influential or meaningful as what you and your fellow STAX labelmates put out there so many years ago. What an amazing time that must've been: Sam & Dave, Booker T & The MGs, Otis Redding, The Bar-Kays, The Staple Singers...unstoppable!

I guess, without coming off like the slew of music writers and reporters that've been regurgitating the same old shit about Shaft-this and Shaft-that, I'm thankful that you tried to give Pop music depth. Taking Pop standards and Middle-Of-the-Road moneymakers that otherwise just sizzled in the pan long enough to generate some moderate interest, turning those songs into long, complex and orchestrated things of beauty...why don't musicians love music anymore? Does it feel that way? Does it feel like Pop musicians don't want to challenge their audience?

I guess I'm generalizing. I know they're out there: Those wand-twirling madmen and songwriting scientists. I know they're trying. We can only hope that they hit a nerve at some point, turn a few heads and blow a few minds.

I don't think there will be another era that will know the likes of anyone like you. There certainly won't be a repeat of the kind of creative success that a label like STAX knew so many years ago. Tragic, I know. But, at least those recordings are alive and available to be enjoyed for years to come. At least you've earned yourself SOME immortality, even if you have left us in the physical world.

If I'm grateful for anything, it's for your rendition of "Walk On By." Covers usually fail to live up to the originals. Your covers seemed to beat the originals all to hell.

Rest in peace.

Letters From A Tapehead


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