Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Advice: Respect Yourself / Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

The Staple Singers: Respect Yourself


This advice song, written by James Ingram and Mark Rice over at Stax records in the chaotic aftermath of the civil rights movement, was intended to serve as a message of empowerment for the black community. As a sign of its success and its relevance, it peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Top 100 when it was first released by the Staple Singers in 1971.

This would be even more impressive, were it not for the fact that, sixteen years later, long after most folks would like to believe that the days of white singers stealing the songs of the black community for even bigger mass appeal and profit were long gone, Bruce Willis managed to get the same damn song to number five on the same damn chart.

I may be a cover blogger at home, but even I know how to follow good advice, folks; I've heard Bruce Willis sing, and let me tell you, even with June Pointer on backup vocals, he's no Pops Staples. Instead, you'll have to be satisfied with the original, plus this bonus advice song, a gut-wrenching blues take on a traditional civil rights anthem from Mavis Staples' absolutely stunning We'll Never Turn Back, released just last year -- that's sixteen years again after Bruce Willis mangled her family band's earlier work -- and therefore doubly poignant in this context.

Mavis Staples: Keep Your Eyes On The Prize [purchase]

You tell 'em, Mavis.


bwrice said...

Great songs. And you've done us all a great favor leaving the Bruce Willis version well enough alone. I've never heard it and I'd like to keep it that way.

Divinyl said...

We'll Never Turn Back was such a great album, wasn't it? I was supposed to go to see Mavis Staples earlier this year, but she was sick, which was a great shame.

I posted an excellent, but disturbing, video to Eyes On the Prize over at my blog back in April...well worth a look! :o)

jonder said...

I once saw Rodney Crowell in concert, and he performed a respectable version of this song. He said that as a piece of advice, it helped him a great deal while he was in rehab.