Jerry Butler iced the competition in Round 16 of The Ultimate Mississippi Playlist.
The Sunflower native, whose 1968 soul album The Ice Man Cometh captured three Grammy nominations, received 41% of the votes over the past two weeks for his 1965 ballad I’ve Been Loving You Too Long. Left to melt were I Met a Girl by William Michael Morgan, 28% of votes; Goin’ Down South by North Mississippi Allstars, 20%; and Bridging the Gap by Nas featuring Olu Dara, 11%.
The Playlist salutes the significance of Mississippi music during our state’s bicentennial celebration. Songs selected in previous rounds include Cross Road Blues by Robert Johnson, Ode to Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry, Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis and Misty Blue by Dorothy Moore. The complete list will be announced in November.
In new voting beginning today we will revisit some classic runners-up from earlier rounds: Roll On Mississippi by Charley Pride, I’ll Take You There by The Staple Singers, Proud Mary by Ike and Tina Turner and Shake ‘Em on Down by Mississippi Fred McDowell. Second time will be the charm for one of them.
To be nominated, songs must be about Mississippi or performed by Mississippi artists. All of the contenders were selected by Mississippi music experts, Mississippi Today and The ‘Sip magazine.
• I’ll Take You There, written by Al Bell and originally performed by soul/gospel family band The Staple Singers, was released on Stax Records in February 1972. It spent 15 weeks on the charts and reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Roebuck “Pops” Staples, born in Winona, was the patriarch of the family and formed the group with his children, Cleotha, Pervis and Mavis, after moving his family to Chicago. I’ll Take You There, which begins with lead singer Mavis inviting listeners to seek heaven, remains the most successful and recognizable single of the Staples’ half-century-long career.
• Proud Mary was written by John Fogerty and first recorded by his band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, in 1969. A year later, Ike and Tina Turner recorded quite a different version arranged by Soko Richardson and Ike Turner. The song starts off with a slow, sultry tone in which Tina warns the audience that she and the band are going to start it off “nice and easy” but finish it “nice and rough.” After the lyrics are first sung softly by the Turners, the song turns into a funk-rock vamp by Tina and the Ikettes. It took only one performance to know it would become one of Tina Turner’s signature songs. Ike and Tina’s Proud Mary reached No. 4 on the pop charts on March 27, 1971, two years to the week after Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version was at its peak. Ike, a native of Clarksdale, and Tina won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group in 1972 for their version.
• Roll On Mississippi, written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan, was released in February 1981 as the second single and title track from Charlie Pride’s album Roll On Mississippi. Pride, born in Sledge in 1934, is one of the few African Americans to have considerable success in the country music industry. During the peak years of his recording career (1966–87), he garnered 52 top-10 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, 29 of which made it to No. 1. Pride was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
• Early blues singer Bukka White recorded Shake ‘Em On Down in Chicago in 1937 just before his incarceration at the infamous Parchman Prison Farm in Mississippi. Many musicians have re-recorded the song, including Mississippi Fred McDowell, who offered several renditions, using both acoustic and electric slide guitars. Born in Rossville, Tenn., McDowell moved in 1928 to Mississippi to pick cotton and finally settled in Como. His playing and singing styles became internationally known through recordings Alan Lomax made of his music in 1959. His life and music have recently been documented in a film, Shake ‘Em on Down, by Joe York and Scott Barretta.