Monday, August 11, 2008

The Legendary Isaac Hayes

It seems that we keep losing the greats. Isaac Hayes, the mind and voice behind some of the best soul music of all time, died at his home on Sunday at age 65. He had been planning to record a new record.

Hayes exemplified the calm, cool sexiness that departed from most soul music. While his music retained the expressiveness and passion of soul, it did so in a unique, mellow way. Though he was most known for the wildly popular Shaft Soundtrack, he began his career as a songwriter and session musician for Stax Records.

Here, one of the many hit songs he co-wrote for the label, Hold On I'm Coming by Sam & Dave:

From there he began creating his own records and changed the sound of soul music. A perfect example of his sound is captured on my favorite Hayes' song, Walk on By:

Many of his songs stretched the conventions of the typical soul song (conventions shared by pop songs) with longer songs. Despite not taking the approach of James Brown, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, Hayes dramatic songs relied more on orchestration than overpowering vocal performances. He calmly dropped his baritone voice over lush sonic landscapes, allowing for intimate records with sweeping dynamics.

But he did not take himself too seriously. His film career included the blaxploitation parody film I'm Gonna Git You Sucka.

He later voiced Chef on South Park. The character even influenced a whole bunch of musicians from different genres!

Example Tracks
Hold On I'm Coming by Sam & Dave
Walk On By by Isaac Hayes

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