Recently, I’ve been having a kick of listening to classic R&B, soul, and blues. There were so many artists that I have ignored after listening to so much music that was released when I was alive. After researching music plagiarism and how so many forms of Black music were stolen and appropriated without credit (contrary to semi-popular belief, I’m not just talking about “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” or the documentary The Lion’s Share). I underestimated how bad it was in America, but that’s a story for another time.
This is a ballad from the singer Joe Tex which dates back to 1966 called “The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)”. I had never heard of Joe Tex or his music until just a few weeks ago, and this was the first song I heard from him. I stumbled across it when I researched how rock, blues, soul, and R&B were stolen en masse and this song was mentioned. This sound is haunting with the waltz time, orchestration, and Tex’s mournful vocals. The part of the song that really hit me hard was the second verse. Here are the lyrics that stood out to me:
“I’ve been pushed around
I’ve been lost and found
I’ve been given til sundown
To get out of town
I’ve been taken outside
And I’ve been brutalized
And I’ve had to always be the one to smile and apologize”
WOW! Those are tremendous words and it shows how so many musicians in multiple genres are such sheltered cowards while also being extremely relatable even though this came out decades before I was born. The sundown line is brutal since he’s clearly talking about sundown towns. Those were towns where Black people had to leave before night lest they be slaughtered by the white population during the Jim Crow era. The line that really hit me in the feels was the last one in that quote. I have a bad habit of apologizing too much and there were times where I was coerced to do so even when I didn’t do anything wrong. I HATE being treated like the bad guy when others are exalted for worse things! A song like that could ONLY be written by someone like him, but even I could relate to those lyrics even if it’s not entirely for the exact same reasons. How did I not know about Joe Tex or his music until now?
I hope you enjoy the song.