…written by Bobby Womack in the 1960s in response to some of the heat he’d been receiving after marrying the widow of the recently deceased Sam Cooke. The song was given to Wilson Pickett and his version became a top-ten R&B hit on Billboard’s chart in 1968.
Aretha did it, too, but nothing tops WP’s version.
…everything he says is fascinating, an endless stream of anecdotes with an impossibly starry cast drawn from what may be the most remarkable CV in music: he is, as Albarn notes, “like Zelig”. He formed his first gospel group with his five brothers before he had reached his teens. A few years later, their father kicked them out when they announced they wanted to play secular music. They were mentored by Sam Cooke, who moved them to LA and whose band Womack joined, touring a segregated America. “Sam used to tell me, whenever you got some money, you go get yourself a good ring and a good watch. Why would I need that? And Sam would say, you might have to get outta town quickly, before you get paid, and you can always hock that ring and that watch.”
He played with James Brown and Ray Charles and toured with a young Jimi Hendrix. He wrote It’s All Over Now, which the Rolling Stones turned into a global hit…
He spent time as a session guitarist in Memphis, where he played with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and on Dusty Springfield’s Dusty In Memphis. He also played on Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds, which didn’t impress him much either. “People say: ‘What did you think of Elvis Presley?’ I say: ‘He wasn’t shit. Everything he got he stole.’”
Record industry people don’t understand people who create. They’ll say “We’ve gotta get you a room and a piano and see how many songs you can turn out in a day”. But it doesn’t work like that. You can’t put your feelings on a time schedule.
Here is the first track from the new Bobby Womack album, “The Bravest
Man In The Universe”, which I co-produced with Damon Albarn at the end
of last year. We recorded 16 songs in 3 sessions, 10 of which will be on the final album.
It didn’t take us long to make, but it felt like all of our lifetimes of musical enthusiasm went into the record…
Bobbys musical history is so spectacular, from writing the Rolling Stones first number one hit, playing guitar for Sly Stone and Aretha Franklin, to making some of the best soul music ever as a solo artist, that it was hard to believe how free of ego he was, and how open to new ideas. But Bobby seemed to relish the opportunity to make something modern and original, and embraced and encouraged the use of unusual sounds
and techniques. We had a blast making this album; its a platform for one of the
greatest voices ever heard.
Bobby Womack, “If You Think You’re Lonely Now,” The Poet (1981)
Just finished the “Unsung” Bobby Womack documentary. It’s alright, but nothing compared to the music. At one point, Womack recalls the genesis of this song: his friend was arguing with his girlfriend on the phone, and said, “If you think you’re lonely now, wait until tonight!” and slammed down the phone. Womack went off and wrote the song.
Bobby Womack, “That’s The Way I Feel About Cha,” off Communication (1971)
A few things you don’t know about Bobby Womack from a description of a forthcoming episode of Unsung:
He’s been called the Poet, the Preacher, and the last Soul Man. By whatever name, there’s never been anyone quite like Bobby Womack, who has lived an eventful life that mirrors the painful dramas of his classic songs. He grew up as the middle child among the talented Womack brothers, later re-named the Valentinos, where they forged success as a pop group under the tutelage of soul icon Sam Cooke. Bobby became Cooke’s protégé, a guitar-playing and songwriting prodigy who penned his first number one hit, ‘It’s All over Now’, as a teenager. But his budding career took a wild turn when, within months of Cooke’s shocking murder in 1964, the 21-year-old married Sam’s widow, Barbara. He became a pariah among former fans, a target for violence by Cooke’s brothers, and was all but banned from the record industry. But talent persevered, and Womack emerged in the ’70s and ’80s as a singer-songwriter of uncommon range, penning soulful standards, from ‘That’s the Way I feel about Cha’ to ‘Across 100th Street,’ to ‘If You think You’re Lonely Now.’ Then an astonishing string of tragedies, including the death of Bobby’s brother Harry, and the loss of two of his sons, sent his life and career into a tailspin. Now, after five decades of making music, he’s a storied survivor, who tells it all – as only he can – in this riveting episode of ‘Unsung.’