A new subject category –
Gratitude in Popular Music – has been added in order to allow the opportunity each year around this time to shine a musical spotlight on thankfulness.
Zero to 180 has observed this tradition in the past via populist anthems that promote unity, such as “
We the People” by Allan Toussiant, “ Time to Get It Together” by Tom Jones, and “ This Old Town” by Wilson Pickett.
This year’s featured selection, “
I’m Thankful” — originally produced by and recorded for the 1961 album Sam Cooke Jesus Be a Fence Around Me by The Soul Stirrers – was once performed live on television, and a tape of that broadcast (thankfully) still exists: “I’m Thankful” The Soul Stirrers c. early 1960s
Billboard, in its July 3, 1961 edition, would describe the flip side of “ I Love the Lord” thusly:
“A slow spiritual with a higher voice taking over the lead. The feeling of the side is in a quiet groove. Simple backing assists the lead and the rest of the group”
In Wilson Pickett’s town, universal respect for the humanity common to us all allows for an enlightened self-governance to rule the day.
This track from Pickett’s 1970 Atlantic album,
Right On, was never to appear on a 45, which is a shame, since I think it’s a classic.
The people in this town ain’t got no faces – they just got love between the races.
The people in this town don’t do no cryin’ – don’t have to rob and steal for survivin’.
The heart that should be speaking out just won’t stay silent – and everybody knows that no man is an island.
I saw a father and his son walking down the street – they walked hand in hand, what a beautiful sight to see (that makes me know)
The people in this town don’t need no soldiers – they don’t go around looking over their shoulders.
Everyone’s going around shaking hands, loving everybody and their fellow man – ain’t got no room for aggravation, what they love is communication.
Now open up your heart to harmony – give a little love, it will set you free.
You don’t have to go round searching for this town – right in your heart is where it’s found.
Song written by William Stevenson, Don Covay & Wilson Pickett. Produced by Jerry Wexler & Tom Dowd.
Musicianship provided by The Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section=
Roger Hawkins: drums
David Hood: bass
Eddie Hinton: lead guitar
Jimmy Johnson: rhythm guitar
Barry Beckett: keyboards
Backing vocals: Cissy Houston, Judy Clay, Jackie Vercell & Jerome Gasper