One of my favorite soul singers, Bobby Womack, has died at age 70. I wrote a bit about him in this old piece for The University Bookman, so if you want to see me try to put his work into a cultural context you should look at that. If you'd rather just listen to the music—or if you want a soundtrack while you read—here's the Womack track that modern audiences are most likely to recognize, since Quentin Tarantino stuck it at the beginning of a movie:
That's "Across 110th Street," one of the best songs ever recorded for a blaxploitation soundtrack; Tarantino showed good taste when he recycled it. And here, less well-known, is an item from the other end of the funk/twang spectrum: a duet with his dad on "Tarnished Rings," from Womack's criminally underappreciated stab at a country record, B.W. Goes C&W:
The All Music Guide gives that album just one star. What the hell are you guys thinking?
Womack's life was decadent even by pop-star standards, with plenty of sex, drugs, violence, and scandal. Amid all that, he managed to make some tremendously good music. He reportedly recorded one more CD before he died, and I can't wait to hear it.