Tag Archive: 1970s soul music


Backstory: When I was at the University, my roomate made this verse, originally recorded by the Chicago soul music group,”The Chi-Lites”, famous with his stand-up (serious) rendition during our Oral Interpretation English class. Now, thirty-eight years later, as I sat on my front stoop trying to make sense of my finding a lovely, exotic, intelligent, lively, playful Slavic girl who loved me, I have rewritten it to fit a modern international romance situation.

“One year ago,
I was happy as a lark;
Two years ago this time,
Ignited our romantic spark.
I have the seat at our same ole Cafe` Skype,
Watching other internet couples play.
We were together,
Fighting to get my first U.S. Passport in those days;
Anticipating our togetherness.

Now I’m lucky if I hear from her,
Maybe twice a month!
Never wanting to disappoint her,
One so uniquely generous to me
That she got me out of tax trouble,
Which should have never been;

Now, fear of losing “the one” is all I see.
I might not look it to you,
yet, I am a sad face clown.
Sleeping less as my brain laments;
Tossing and turning,
An exercise that prevents rest!

“OH, I hear her voice everywhere I go,
In the words I read from people I don’t even know,
Have You Seen Her?
Tell Me have you gleaned Nina?
When I read a man’s magazine,
Or when old emails from her I see,
Have you seen her?
Baby, have you gleaned Nina? (“Pssst! look in Rome, Italy!!”)

Ohh, I’ve been used to satisfying my words with actions,
And suddenly I can’t…
It takes too long,
They seem like just promises or a rant.
[monologue]
“As I write these words,
I choke-back tears in my eyes.
I repaid her magnamimousity handsomely!
It seems that “the devil” holds me back,
Prayers and faith unanswered apparently;
But I will try anything at this point to get to her.”

Oh, I write an email to her,
Send flowers and a few dollars when I can;
I can see the love and smile when I do,
It is all over her heartfelt “Thank you”
Can you glean her?
Tell Me, Have you Seen Nina?

Well…I’m looking for a letter, email or something
Or anything she would send.
“I am here for you!”
Even though a civil war is near.
She sent me so many gifts one and four years ago,
Just because (I think) she grew to love me;
I never asked for anything like that,
I feel so blessed to have met her.
With all the people I know,
I’m still
a lonely middle-aged man!

I found a way to repay her kindness.
In money and attention,
But will she bore with this long distance and disallow me?
I really fear it is so.
May my wishes, hopes and prayers be answered,
Where our cultures combination will provide
Interesting fun for the rest of our lives!

People tell me, “If it is meant to be she will be there “.
I am not sure that is the security of thought that I need!

This love is not ‘unrequited,
As most of my encounters of the past;
We were very social media united,
Across the Atlantic ocean distance.

So If you see her,
Please tell her to get in-touch with me!!
My passport is still ready to be stamped again;
I am looking for some help,
Or any change that change can send.
You know, its funny,
I thought I had that lady in London;
In “the palm of my hand”!
But I didn’t do my homework beforehand,
And then had to help my eighty-nine year-old Mum,
Back at home.
And hers is ill also.
Have you seen Nina?
Tell me have u SEEN HER?

       I don’t want to wait until one of the members of this group dies or something similar to do this one. 

 I have avoided most R&B music ever since having a traumatic termination experience at the last R&B radio outlet I diligently performed on, and tirelessly worked for getting exceptional “ratings”, when I was literally “fired” as the individual who hired me, (the GM) used a load gun in-hand while he dismissed me. Seemy book, “He’s In A Meeting…” for how it played-out thereafter. However, today I shot a promotional video, where I had creative control, and in one of “those” moments, it came to me that this particular O’Jays song was the perfect background theme song.  “As luck would have it”, I have now pulled my whole O’Jays catalog from me library to me desk, Mon.  Let us see what we have here….

Hailing from Canton, Ohio, I believe and named after one of my favorite and much-missed radio disc jockey inspirations, the late Eddie O’Jay, these cats have been part of the fabric of my life since their first big album dropped in 1972 as I was a freshman in college.  I first listened to Eddie O’Jay on Newark, New Jersey’s WNJR AM where he scatted such cool gibberish as “So cool, docaroo; eh-tu, me and you, sabee-doo!” LOL as part of his daily sign-off the air.  For a long time I didn’t connect the group with the radio personality – “Duh??”  Just like I didn’t know they were originally a quartet that included Bobby Isles – my parents tried to keep my from what they described as the “gut-bucket music” R&B table; what can I say except, that I broke free in college, rapido-style, in order to catch-up.

Last I paid serious attention, The O’Jays are/were Eddie Lavert, William Powell and Walter Williams.  They came to hit status due to the writing prowess of Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble in the early 1970s and to me, their signature is the almost rough and churchy- energetic vamping of lead singer, Mr. Lavert.  He is the male standard for “bringing a song home”!  He knows how to put the “beg” on the woman in-song,  is smooth and soft; or “nice and rough” as Tina Turner once described their “Rolling On The River”.  Moreover, do not get it twisted, all three of the O’Jays can carry the lead.

  My oldest O’Jays vinyl is “Backstabbers” which featured the classics ‘Love Train”, “Sunshine”, “Time To Get Down”, and of course the title track that became a euphemism for me and my college mates back then when it became known that another man was after “your’ girl – he then dubbed was a “Backstabber (what they do!)”.

Thanks to the promotion people I remember at CBS Records (the “black rock building”  like Jackie Thomas, Elaine Valentine and T.C.  Tompkins, I own about seventeen O’Jays vinyls.  Of course, growing up in music within the sound of Frankie Crocker’s “total Black Experience In Sound, ” WBLS FM radio station did not hurt my O’Jay education nor catalog.  I remember him “running” the hit “For The Love Of Money” over and over again! This was an era prior to “remixed versions” that are just part of the music machine fabric nowadays. My second oldest  is “The O”Jays in Philadelphia” which includes “‘One Night Affair”, which was my first 45rpm by them from the local record shop on Neptune Records.

Then there is the classic (another one!) “Ship Ahoy”, where in addition to “Money”, I always dug “Put Your Hands Together”, “People Keep Telling Me” and “Now That We Found Love” which the reggae group Third World made a smash out of too!  Next is “The O’Jays Live In London” which, when released, was kind of a first.  A reverse Beatles moment when an American “soul” group went across the “pond” and “wowed” the Brits! (I couldn’t find any video for that appearance, sadly)

Next are my vinyls: “Family Reunion”, featuring the love classic “You and Me” as well as the sometimes over-played, IMHO, title track, the cool “Living For The Weekend”,  McFadden and Whitehead-written “She’s Only A Woman”, and a little ditty called “I Love Music” which became a disco classic upon remixes by the likes of yours truly and other selectors of the day.  Positioning that track last on that album was genius!  Next I have the “Survival” album featuring “Give The People What They Want” and my personal fave, “How Time Flies”; next 1976’s “Message In The Music” featuring the ultimate dance floor-filler classic of it’s time, “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby (Sweet, Tender, Love)” – I still have the 12″ versions separate from the rest, LOL. You just heard it here (and I dedicate it to my Ukrainian, Nina, by-the-way).

Following that platinum success the guys were ‘Travelin’ At The Speed Of Thought” (an interlude in their discography) until they discovered they were “So Full Of Love” which included their first real “crossover” sure shot into the mainstream of Pop music, “She Used Ta Be My Girl”.  I can name THAT tune in the first several guitar riff notes and it always reminds me of my first commercial radio riff on WFLB AM in 1978.  “Identify Yourself” took the stage on Philadelphia International/Mighty Three Music in 1979 where “Forever Mine’ was the star song.  In 1982 my collection features the non-descriptive “My Favorite Person” album, which was only saved by the title song and the  Womack connection on the first song, “I Just Want To Satisfy You” which played big in New York City radio because of Crocker and Sonny Taylor.  Play it again, “Sam”!  A rare dud for the group was the  vinyl, “When Will I See You Again”, and I knew that they should take a powder for a while after it.     Sure enough, the came back in 1984 and 1984 with “Love and More” and did  a little bit better on “Love Fever”, but still not up to their previous standards until the album that inspired this post, 1987’s “Let Me Touch You”.  This effort showcases all the styles, spectrums and signatures of  The O’Jays as exemplified by a Latin-funky “True Love Never Dies” on one  song and then a heartfelt “Still Missing” on the next.



So which one is my  favorite album or cut?  Well, there are way too many to mention!  I love “Darlin’ Baby” the same way I dig “Lovin’ You”  or “When The  World Is At Peace”.  I am sure , and at least HOPE that they are still making music and albums/CDs.  I am not in the “loop” anymore with their labels like it was easy “back in the day” to keep up, and I want to cry about it. 

 Not the “Old Jays” as I recently heard some young homies disrespectfully refer to them, but still the O’JOINTS!   Ya know, “True love” really “never dies”. We Love you Eddie Lavert! 

So what are your favorite O’Jays songs or concert moments?  Or had you ever even heard of them until you read this?



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