Eighinger: Let that soulful sound take you higher and higher


My addiction started at a relatively young age.

While most of my friends were busy listening to and buying records from the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Beach Boys, my tastes tended to drift more toward Jackie Wilson, David Ruffin and the Four Tops. I would be asked if I had seen such-and-such group or singer on “American Bandstand,” but I would often have to say I missed the program. Instead, I was watching “Soul Train.”

I absolutely loved soul music from the mid-1960s through the early 1970s. I even named my first pet dog “Bernadette,” the title of a hit song at the time from the Four Tops. The acts who owned that soul sound at the time included such artists as Diana Ross and the Supremes, Jackie Wilson, Jimmy Ruffin, the Temptations (David Ruffin was the lead singer who later went solo), the Commodores, Jackson 5, the Spinners, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Junior Walker and the All Stars, the Marvelletes, Martha and the Vandellas, the Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, Four Tops, Aretha Franklin and numerous others.

During the mid-to-late 1960s, soul music served as a mix ofrhythm and blues, gospel and even white pop music. It was next to impossible not to feel good after listening to the Supremes belt out “You Can’t Hurry Love,” or when we had the tempting Temptations told us “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” was not a bad thing. And we can never forget that Jackie Wilson’s love for a woman took him “Higher and Higher.”

With all of this glorious music in mind, here are my top 10 soul favorites from that marvelous period of time when I was coming of age, much like this particular musical genre:

1. “Higher and Higher,” Jackie Wilson (1967): Whenever I hear the beginning of this song, I get just as excited today as I did all of those years ago. The late, great Jackie Wilson left us in 1984 — he was only 49 — but his cache of hits will keep his memory alive forever.

2. “You Can’t Hurry Love,” Diana Ross and the Supremes (1966): The mighty, mighty Supremes hooked me for life with this song late in the summer of ’66.

3. “Respect,” Aretha Franklin (1967): The Queen of Soul had dozens of hits, but this was No. 1 in my book.

4. “What Does It Take to Win Your Love,” Junior Walker and the All Stars (1969): I cannot tell you how many times I played this record in the summer of 1969.

5. “It’s the Same Old Song,” Four Tops (1965): Legend has it that this monster hit was created — from concept to commercial release — in a span of 24 hours.

6. “Love Train,” O’Jays (1972): Providing the musical backing on this No. 1 hit was MFSB, which had its own hit, “TSOP,” the eventual theme for the “Soul Train” television program.

7. “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” Temptations (1966): Since 1960, there have been 25 different members of the Temptations.

8. “The Happening,” Diana Ross and the Supremes (1967): Actually, not a supernova hit for the group, but one that caught my near from day one.

9. “Mama’s Pearl,” Jackson 5 (1970): Sure the Jackson 5 had bigger commercial successes, but this is one of the songs I always call up first when I’m in a Motown mood.

10. “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” Marvin Gaye (1968)

Honorable mention: “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday,” Stevie Wonder (1969): Stevie had some great, great songs at this point in his career, but this one’s my favorite.

If I Had My Way …

I would eliminate all artificial playing surfaces in football and baseball.

“If a horse won’t eat it, I don’t want to play on it,” Phillies third baseman Richie Allen once said.

I would introduce double features to all movie theaters, offering a first-run film and an older movie for one price. What the theater operators might lose on overall admissions they would more than make up through concessions.

I would make auto mechanics a required high school course, so that every student who graduates could at least change a flat tire and change the oil in their vehicle. (For the record, I can do neither.)

Speaking of high school courses, I would make home economics mandatory for both boys and girls, the same as Understanding Sports 101. There’s no reason a boy graduating high school cannot cook a hamburger, or a girl graduating high school has no clue what the infield fly rule is.

Senior citizens would receive a free piece of pie with all meals $10 or more at all restaurants offering such dessert items.

Top 5

The five best zombie movies:

1. “Dawn of the Dead” (1978): Legendary horror director George A. Romero set the bar extremely high with with this classic, although much credit should also go to famed special effects maestro Tom Savini, whose nicknames “Godfather or Gore” and “Sultan of Splatter” is well deserved. To this day, “Dawn of the Dead” remains one of the scariest films I have ever seen. I still remember the Friday evening I saw it in Ashland, Ohio — with two friends, who were equally unnerved — 43 years ago. The end of the film is both unexpected and alarming.

2. “Day of the Dead” (1985): This effort from Romero, the much anticipated sequel to “Dawn of the Dead,” was once categorized as the “Gone with the Wind” of zombie films. That was a bit much, of course, but the movie was still a credible follow-up that not only featured the work of Savini, but also Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger, who would later become known for their efforts on the “The Walking Dead” television series.3. “28 Days Later” (2002): It is the only film from the zombie genre where the undead are fast-moving, which throws an entirely new wrinkle into the survivors’ dilemma.

4. “Shawn of the Dead” (2004): Much of the film is almost comical (with some great one-liners), but there are plenty of frightening sidelights to make for some enjoyable viewing. The ending is guaranteed to bring a smile, too.

5. “Night of the Living Dead” (1968): The black-and-white film that kickstarted our fascination with the undead remains a must-see for anyone interested in this style of filmmaking. It’s a more esoteric approach to the zombies. The film was not fully appreciated until a decade or more after its initial release.

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