Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Sound Of Philadelphia

The other day, I met Gamble & Huff. This was a HUGE deal for me, because these guys are totally GENIUS.

I'm sure the names sound familiar, but you may not be sure why. Or perhaps I am completely underestimating my readers, in which case, I apologize. It's just that as the day progressed, and I mentioned to people here and there that I had met Gamble & Huff, they usually looked at me funny.

Gamble & Huff wrote some of the best souls songs, ever. They are the leaders of the Philadelphia sound, something which was countering Motown and dominating R&B in the early 70's. Artists who performed their songs include the Supremes, the Temptations, The Three Degrees, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the O'Jays, Aretha Franklin, and Lou Rawls.

Not enough for you? You know their songs whether you want to or not... "Back Stabbers," "For the Love of Money," "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "Expressway To Your Heart," "Don't Leave Me This Way," "Love Train," "When Will I See You Again," and what probably is my guiltiest favorite... "T.S.O.P. - The Sound of Philadelphia." You may know it as the theme for Soul Train. (Or is that... Sooooooooouuuuuuuuuulllllll Trrraaaaaiiiiiiinnnn!)

Some songs were sugary sweet, others sexy and funky. They weren't afraid to get political and preached peace. Their record label, Philadelphia International Records (which they founded in 1971) became the second largest African American owned company two years after its start.

The two men I met were kind, stylin' gentlemen, in town because they were being honored with an American Idol episode themed around their music. I told them I wasn't a fan of the show, and Mr. Gamble said to me, "Well, I appreciate that it's bringing back the singer, and also bringing back a face to the songwriters. I appreciate their spirit." What could I say? I felt like a dork. Then Mr. Huff pointed at my t-shirt and said, "Sharon Jones? [whom I had seen in a fabulous performance the night before] She's really good!" "Have you seen her?" I responded. "No, but I dig her version of 'This Land Is Your Land.'" I told them I was honored to meet them, and thanked them for the music. They shook my hand and Mr. Gamble tipped his hat to me.

I nearly swooned. Now that's class.