Bobby Womack passed away two years ago this year. Cancer and the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease had begun to erode away his body and mind. In light of artists whose creative output might’ve faded from their own minds such as this one,it seems all the more vital that their admirers keep their art close to their own hearts,minds and souls. Hearing Womack’s faltering voice and the somewhat dour music of his final album The Bravest Man In The World wasn’t the easiest thing for me to hear. Even on that, the man hadn’t skipped a beat as a songwriter and guitar player. And that alone reminded me of what kept him going as a soul survivor over the years.
In order to hear the man still in full command of his musical presentation,all I had to do was go back to the mid 1980’s. And my own family playing 45’s around the household. During the mid/late part of the 80’s decade,many soul/funk icons of the 60’s and 70’s were making hugely successful comebacks. Aretha Franklin,James Brown and Earth Wind & Fire being among them. Womack was somewhat unique in that he never went away during the 80’s. In fact his 1981 album The Poet was a huge critical and commercial success during the post disco radio freeze out. His 1985 release So Many Roads produced one such 45 RPM record played by my family called “I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much”.
A phased pedal drum roll literally fades into the song. Rhythmically it’s a 72 BPM mid tempo number that starts out with a pulsing snare-along with a high pitched lead synth and a Japanese Koto-like one underneath. Womack’s bluesy,soulful guitar wails in the back round as that musical stranger in the dark. Once the actual beat kicks in, a throbbing synth bass comes in as accompaniment-as Womack’s distant guitar plays a more rhythmic role. The difference between the refrain the chorus and refrain comes from the use of notes. And later on with the additions of more orchestral synthesizers. The song continues with this basic musical throb until it fades out.
The addition of mid 80’s synths and urban contemporary production values actually give way to the fact that this is still a classic Bobby Womack soul slow jam underneath any instrumental sweeteners on top. In that case it’s rather like Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald’s “On The Own”,if actually quite a bit rootsier with people such as Merry Clayton as the gospel/soul backup choruses. The probing musical vibe Womack sets here goes well with the concept. He’s weighing the pros and cons of being attracted to his best friends wife on this song. And the stripped down,adult contemporary variation of soulful rhythm & blues really makes this stand out for me as a somewhat latter day Womack classic.