With Valentine’s Day falling this week, whether you’re in a relationship, situationship* or were just planning to grab discounted chocolate at the store the day after, you were aware of what was going on. For me, this is just a good time of year to listen to some R&B and soul music, without getting roasted by the mandem*. It’s also a great time to listen to the late Charles Bradley. If you’re looking for music you can feel or music with a message, he’s an artist you should check out. He made music with so much raw emotion and truly brought attention back to Soul music in an era when it wasn’t as popular.
I think the best part about me finding out about Charles Bradley was that it was entirely by accident. I say that because it showed me how far the reach of his music was when he was living. At some point in 2012, I was listening to Stalley‘s “Petrin Hills Peonies” and fell in love with the sample. Turns out the song sampled was Charles Bradley’s “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)”. It’s not a love song like a lot of his other music but in case you haven’t heard it, I have the video below. Listen to how this man sings yo. Tell me you don’t feel genuine pain in his voice when you hear these records.
I watched the Charles Bradley: Soul of America documentary, which was the lead-up to his debut album and it gave me so much more appreciation for this song and all of his music. “The World” to be the lead single on his first album titled, No Time For Dreaming says a lot to me as a listener. The man had such a tough life. He didn’t even get his real break until he was in his 60s and that was still after living in far from ideal conditions. The only thing he lived for besides his mom was music and he poured his heart into it. On a complete side note, fight for your dreams yo because sometimes big things happen when you least expect them to.
One of my few regrets in life is not going out of my way to see Charles Bradley perform live. I mean look at my guy sweating away his whole soul singing that song yo. The man looks like he just did ball runs for 4 hours straight. The man’s a performer yo. Another random fact for you is his song “Changes” is the theme song to the Netflix series Big Mouth. So ask yourself, can you really deny this kind of talent fam?
The thing I admired so much about Charles Bradley is that even though he lived such a hard life the man had a lot of love in his heart. He could have chosen to only make songs about the pain and misery that exists in this world, but he chose to make a lot more of them about love. In a sense, you can argue that it’s the factor that enabled his music to live long after he passed. This Black History Month (and whenever you’re in the mood for it really) let’s remember Charles Bradley and thank him for reminding us what a little love can do.
Situationship – you’re definitely not dating but you’re acting like it
Mandem – your bredren, your friends, your social circle