Etta James

Etta James

*It was 50 years ago in 1964 when I first heard ‘Bobby Is His Name’ by Etta James.

It was the ‘B’ side to ‘Mellow Fellow’ where James mentioned the newly introduced Ford ‘Mustang’ – that was before Wilson Pickett’s ‘Mustang Sally.’

I remember riding down the streets of Los Angeles and seeing billboards of the Billy Wilder movie ‘Kiss Me Stupid’ starring Dean Martin and Kim Novak.

My uncle Nate McKalpain came by to visit us – he was the then road manager for The Supremes who were just out of the starting gate with their hit ‘Where Did Our Love Go.’ Martha & The Vandellas’ ‘Dancin’ In The Street was on the airwaves along with Mary Wells’ ‘My Guy.’ It was an exciting time!!

It was months before Sam Cooke died; months before the Motown classic ‘My Girl’ was released.

Singer Bobby Womack could not have been happier – signed to Cooke’s SAR record label, the song he co-wrote ‘It’s All Over Now’ was covered by The Rolling Stones, and he reportedly received a royalty check for thirty thousand dollars.

bobby womack

All this was happening at the height of the civil rights movement – as America and the world were finally seeing those horrid images in the media coming from the Jim Crow southern states.

As Charles Dickens wrote in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ – it was like two different worlds, but thanks to soul music and the soul singers of that era, we were encouraged.

I’ll pause here to allow you to add your own comments as you listen to Etta James sing ‘Bobby Is His Name.’ I don’t know what ‘Bobby’ she was singing about; I won’t speculate as I listen to the guitar on the tune; but I think it’s a fitting song as we say goodbye to who has become known as ‘the last soul man,’ Bobby Womack.