JOE TEX / “Joe Tex Mixtape”
A lot of ups and downs, the way life is, but I’ve enjoyed this life. I was glad that I was able to come up out of creation and look all around and see a little bit, grass and trees and cars, fish and steaks, potatoes…And I thank God for that. I’m thankful that he let me get up and walk around and take a look around here. ‘Cause this is nice. —Joe TexHe spit on the bible and then hurled the book across the stage. Dramatic? Yes, very, especially since the stage was a high school auditorium in Central City New Orleans. I knew that he was then a minister in the Nation of Islam under Elijah Muhammad and I knew they were at war with dominant Christians for the hearts and minds of black Americans. I chuckled quietly to myself. Minister Yusuf Hazziez was almost as entertaining as when he was singing about "Skinny Legs And All." East Texas born (August 8, 1933 in Baytown), Joe Tex was a consummate showman with a gift of gab that wouldn’t quit. Some say he was born to be a preacher. Others argue that hustling was his real calling. A few of us knew that there was very little difference—the question wasn’t what you were selling, but how well you laid it down. I know that sounds like heresy to many, but the truth is you will find "confidence" men (i.e. swindlers) everywhere you find believers, regardless of what the belief is. And Joe Tex was always mighty good at selling whatever he happened to be selling at the moment. His music was also mighty entertaining. His anger was always delivered with a smile. He could make you weep with the story of Vietnam veteran on the battle field and then fall out your chair laughing about a man trying to avoid child support. Mr. Tex seemed to have a knack for delineating the ups and downs, ins and outs of everyday stories. He could make the mundane seem profound. I especially enjoyed his energy. The songs were vibrant. They made you feel alive because his music was full of zaniness, wonder and surprise, but always couched in terms even an idiot could understand. Looking backward, I can see also see the foibles and failures of some of his philosophical positions, especially vis-à-vis women. On the one hand he called for respect, on the other he made fun of the feminine half of our species. Actually, I think he was a product of being raised in the forties and fifties, so even at his most progressive there was something old-fashioned, out-moded, and occasionally flat-out wrong about his gender positions. On the other hand he was outspoken and willing to tackle tough issues of the day. His songs may not have won you over to his way of thinking but Joe Tex sure did make you think about things. Actually, what more could be asked of a popular artist? As I listen now, I enjoy the mirth of his music (as well as cringe from time to time at some of his chauvinist outbursts). His mix of hardcore rhythm&blues, flashing stage presence, and ebullient delivery was a prime example of southern soul. Indeed, on a few songs he could be mistaken for Otis Reddings’ first cousin or was he Wilson Pickett’s older brother? It’s working class music from a proud black man, music for men who labored hard every day and partied hard every night, who greeted hard times with a smile, and slapped the ugly off the face of life’s inevitable contradictions. Joe always had a joke and a way of making even the most unbearable burden seem light enough to tote, or if not tote at least chuck to the side of the road. Plus, as his conversion to the Nation of Islam at the height of his career demonstrated, Joe Tex was a serious man. In his life and his music Joe was a bundle of contradictions, just like we all are. The difference is, when Joe was good he was very, very good. He liked to sing but he also loved to talk. Indeed, he could out-rap Isaac Hayes and Barry White put together. He was a soul man who liked country and western music. He could just as easily moan a down and out blues as leave you in stitches behind a satiric routine about domestic dilemmas. Joe Tex. He exemplifies a comedic strain of black music that will never die as long as our people live and breathe. He’s a stylistic son of Louis Jordan and a genre grandfather to Lil Wayne. He died of a heart attack on his farm in Navasota, Texas in August of 1982. Join me in patting a foot and cracking a smile as we remember the amazing Mr. Joe Tex. —Kalamu ya Salaam Joe Tex Mixtape Playlist Joe Tex - 25 All time Greatest Hits 01 “I Gotcha” 02 “I Want To (Do Everything For You)” 03 “Show Me” 04 “I Believe I’m Gonna Make It” 05 “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show” 06 “The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)” 07 “You Got What It Takes” 08 “Hold What You’ve Got” 09 “A Sweet Woman Like You” 10 “S.Y.S.L.J.F.M. (The Letter Song)” 11 “Skinny Legs And All” 12 “Men Are Getting’ Scarce” 13 “Papa Was Too” 14 “Buying A Book” 15 “That's Your Baby” - Singles As & Bs Vol.2: 1967-1968 16 “Ain't Gonna Bump No More” - Bumps & Bruises 17 “I'll Never Fall In Love Again” - From The Roots…Came The Rapper
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