VARIOUS ARTISTS / “Let’s Stay Together” Mixtape
The Reverend Al Green wrote this one. A while back on a morning network news program, someone asked him about the song. Al Green said it grew out of the general mood of the late sixties that we as a people needed to stick together. In the early seventies in Brick City, then known as New Ark (Amiri Baraka had re-named his home town) and set up the headquarters of CFUN (Committee For a Unified New Ark) and CAP (Congress of African People), and called for volunteers to come to New Ark to help elect a black mayor.
Those were the days of glorious optimism and boundless, youthful energy. On Sundays CFUN used to hold “soul sessions” (sort of a combination meeting, rally and fellowship gathering) and they would be playing music of the day. The sisters wore these silver bangles that jangled when they clapped. One song that always elicited vigorous clapping, foot-stomping, and sing-a-longs was “Let’s Stay Together.”
Whether times are good or bad, happy or sad… let’s stay together! You got that right Al Green.
That was one of the enduring strengths of the late sixties & early seventies: everything was literally everything. Popular culture in particular was on point even when the language was coded. Double-entendre referred not to just sex and dancing but also to politics and consciousness raising. Like I said, everything was everything and consciousness permeated all levels of culture, thus the music of that era still evokes a strength and forwardness that even a half century removed still instantly leaps forth and grabs your attention.
So, when I was putting this week’s playlist together and thought about “Let’s Stay Together” initially it was a selfish selection but then when I actually gathered up the different versions I was knocked out by the variety and beauty—some of the selections are of recent vintage yet fit right in alongside versions from the seventies.
As always each person will have their own favorite version. Me, I’m greedy, I like a bunch of them. If you push me, I might have to lean slightly toward the Roberta Flack, but you would have to push me really, really hard. Here are a dozen different ways "to stay together." There is some incredibly beautiful music making going down on this Mixtape.
So there it is. Enjoy yourself, make your own choices but whatever you do, let’s try really hard to stay together.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
Let’s Stay Together Mixtape Playlist
01 Tokyo... Live - Al Green
02 Root Down - Live! - Jimmy Smith
03 Sweet Soul Music - Aaradhna
04 Salsa Con Soul - Alex Wilson
05 Agent 00 Soul: The Ultimate Live Performance - Edwin Starr
06 Together Again - Rev. Robert Lowe
07 Private Dancer - Tina Turner
08 Bring It On Home... The Soul Classics - Aaron Neville (featuring Chaka Khan)
09 Paradise Found – Tuck & Patti
10 360 Degrees of Billy Paul - Billy Paul
11 Prototype - Wallace Roney
12 Roberta - Roberta Flack
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