Friday, January 20, 2006

Pickett's Ticket Punched

From CBS News:

Wilson Pickett, the soul pioneer best known for the fiery hits "Mustang Sally" and "In The Midnight Hour," died of a heart attack Thursday in a Reston, Va., hospital, according to his management company. He was 64.

When I was but a young lad, my family took me to see a film called The Commitments. I remember having absolutely zero interest in seeing the film, but I also remember being blown away by it.

Mostly, by the music.

Growing up as a white, suburban kid on Long Island with a father that listened to 8 Trak recordings of Johnny Mathis, and a mother who loved the Beatles, Lionel Ritchie, and 80's pop in general, my exposure to Soul music was....well....limited.

I still have a battered cassette tape of the Commitments soundtrack lying around, somewhere. And thanks to that ramshackle film, I have a deep and abiding respect for Wilson Pickett.

Watching the auditions for American Idol the other night with my girlfriend, I was struck by just how watered-down and passionless music has become. It's about how many notes you can hit - Mariah Carey style - not about the feeling of the song, or the artist's interpretation of the material. Given a song as iconic as "Mustang Sally," today's pop stars would, without deviation, over-sing, camp it up, or simply ape Pickett's singular style.

Pickett was an American original. He brought fire and passion to music that resonates somewhere deep down inside the soul and the nether-regions. He will be missed.

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