Obituaries are difficult things, because they're at once final and transitional: final for the person who has died, transitional for the rest of us, who get a chance to remember, reflect, and reassess. When artists die, this effect is especially pronounced. Isaac Hayes, who died over the weekend at the age of 65, had such a broad and eclectic career that reabsorbing it will be a sad joy. As a songwriter and arranger, he (along with David Porter) helped build Stax Records into the undisputed powerhouse of Southern soul; as a solo artist, he tended to set aside originals in favor of jazzy, extended remakes of other people's songs. At once behind-the-scenes and aggressively out front, he created some of the most haunting and strange soul music of the seventies, as well as some of the most canonical blaxploitation soundtracks, all the while building a second career as a campy actor and, ultimately, voice actor. It's impossible to sum up his talent, his influence, and his soul, so we'll just point into it with this heartfelt cover of the Jackson 5's "Never Can Say Goodbye," which takes the young Michael Jackson's most adult love song and repatriates it to the land of actual adults.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Saying goodbye to Isaac Hayes
The great Isaac Hayes has left us. Obituaries are difficult, so I'll recommend you visit Moistworks, which does a pretty good job: