Black Folks Essentials: 10 songs every Black person grew up on in the Postwar era (Part 1)

This post came out of this conversation:

Me:every black family, when they get married …need to get the society classics…on a CD
Miss Fina: gotta have a mix tape of them, though. Only on tape
Me: I might have to make a mix/playlist….OH YES
the memorex 90 minute!
Miss Fina: long as u remember
me: starting with Bill Withers Grandma’s Hands!

bill withers grandma%2527s hands Pictures, Images and Photos


1) Bill Withers “Grandma’s Hands” (1971)

For almost every African American experience, the bedrock of one’s existance is due to Big Mama, the maternal loving influence that was the glue, seemingly to every existance.

2) Gladys Knight & The Pips “On & On” (1974)

With the daily suffering and strife, there’ll always be another day, wash, rinse and repeat, and something that will always be the bedrock, sticking like glue, just loving you.

3) “Hit The Road Jack” Ray Charles (featuring Margie Hendrix) (1961)

But sometimes the demands aren’t enough, especially when you ain’t payin them bills and holding up your end of the bargain, sometimes you gotta hit the road, and not come back no ‘mo…

4) “Only The Strong Survive” Jerry Butler (1969)

One (of many cases) when I think the title says it all. And also the importance of parental advice of how to negotiate adult life.

5) “Mama Said” The Shirelles (1961)

The first in many “Young girl will find true love someday” songs that assures the listeners that the virtues of traditional romance, though skipping over them, will actually find them someday

6) Aretha Franklin “Respect” (1967)

I personally have always prefered Otis Redding’s quite sexist original, but when it comes to leveling the gender wars in Black Culture, nothing shoots between the eyes like ReRe’s powerhouse #1 Cover

7) “My Girl” The Temptations (1964)

Much as I think this song should just roll over and die… yeah…

8) “Ooh Child” The 5 Stair Steps (1971)
Because we always need a little bit of encouraging

9) “Don’t Mess With Bill” The Marvelettes (1965)

Essentially the original “take your hands of my man you skank ho” classic. Well not “the” original, but the most sassy and biggest hit to that point that made the point, or remains the province of electric sliding to at every 4th of July BBQ

10) “You’re Still a Young Man” Tower of Power (1972)
Their first hit, and a lesson on growing up from boyhood to manhood.

Not that I necessarily like all of these songs. Many of them slip into camp and cliche in my book. But, to understand the soul song, the soul performance as culture and moral, you have to at least respect these (and countless other songs) impact on a segment of society



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2 responses to “Black Folks Essentials: 10 songs every Black person grew up on in the Postwar era (Part 1)

  1. another reason to drink at the saddle room at least once in your life: there’s a guy who hangs out there who claims to have invented the “tower of power” in which the rhythm guitarist and bassist kneel down facing each other, and the lead guitarist stands on their knees for a rockin’ 3 axe interlude. solid list, though. i do prefer ball of confusion for my temptations post-war commentary, however.

  2. 1) I would need to see dude’s patent license 2) I’m willing to see that any night this week except Tuesday 3) I should subtitle this the Black Folks Morals list and Move “My Girl” to the black folks romantic list but 4) I’d have to replace “Ball of Confusion” with “What’s Goin’ On” or something Whoopi Goldberg didn’t deface with Kathy Najimy in the Sister Act movies. We’re totally ignoring that I bought a VHS copy of Sister Act taped off of Showtime all through 6th grade for Ms. Donovan to play.

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