George Jackson is a likely to be a name that will only really be recognised by those soul aficionados who typically favour the gritty Southern soul sound over the more pop-orientated soul of Motown. This distinction aside, whilst Motown may have had more chart success, those making soul in the South of America in the sixties and seventies created some equally brilliant records, many of which have slipped into obscurity. This can certainly be said about ‘Aretha, Sing One For Me’.
Jackson was a soul singer-songwriter, who was not only taken under the wing of Ike Turner, but also rejected by Stax Records, yet managed to record for a short period of time on the Memphis Hi Record label, most famous for soul from Ann Peebles and the Reverend Al Green. However, Hi had much more talent than just these two artists, and although Jackson would only briefly be signed to Hi, he created this delightfully devastating song.
In 1962 Aretha Franklin was on her way to becoming the Queen of Soul, and released a cover of the Ben E. King song, ‘Don’t Play That Song’. In response to the Aretha version, Jackson penned an ‘answer song’ to it, writing one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.
Jackson sings of his girl leaving him, and that she has been spotted going to ‘an Aretha Franklin show’, and that in order to show her how much he loves her, Jackson pleads to Aretha to sing a song that ‘will let her know I’m as miserable as a man could be’. In part, the lyrics are also a tribute to the Queen – Jackson sings, probably quite rightly, that
Many romances have been saved through your sound
Your records have touched so many lovers, so many times
Jackson goes one step further, cleverly linking in the work of the Queen in a desperate attempt to rescue his romance:
Play the song I could never love in anyone loved like I love you
Respect since you been gone call me tonight
Baby baby baby
A Bridge Over Troubled Water too
I can’t see myself leaving you
George Jackson never reached success as Aretha did; indeed, few will know his name. Yet, this song deserves to be known by all soul music lovers: it’s stunning, and reflects the impact that music – particular Aretha’s music – has upon our lives, and our memories. We develop quasi-relations with our favourite singers, and for most, Aretha is one of the top favourites. I think we would all love for Aretha to sing one for us.