Greatest Hits


I skipped the part about love…it seems so shallow.  Michael Stipe.

In the movie Pulp Fiction, the scene in which we are introduced to Butch and Marsellus Wallace is underscored by Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”.  In this scene, all we see is the back of Marsellus’ head (and the mysterious band-aid…was his soul really removed?  was that what in the briefcase?) as he bribes Butch to throw the upcoming fight.  This is also the scene where Marsellus offers this sage advice: “[The night of the fight] you might feel a slight sting: that’s pride fucking with you…pride only hurts, it never helps”.  Of course, Butch ignores Marsullus’ advice and double-crosses him by winning the fight, but as is foreshadowed by the Al Green song, they get their chance to “stay together” when they are eventually captured by redneck rapist hillbillies.  Hilarity ensues.  Bring out the gimp!

Well, other than that scene in Pulp Fiction, I really don’t have much to say about Al Green.  This is solid 70s soul music.  Unlike Marvin Gaye, there is nothing political at all here…it’s all love songs all the time.  Maybe that’s why I can’t quite get into it as much…I dig protest songs and songs that uncover social injustice, and well, love songs just seem so shallow. But the Reverend is a talented singer, and while he lacks the smoothness usually associated with R&B, he has that almost James Brownesque edge to his voice and a piercing falsetto.  And actually, I can kinda see the softness in this music that eventually led Al Green to pursue ministry, as unlike many of his R&B contemporaries, these songs are not overtly sexual at all.  These songs are more subtle lyrically, although I’m sure the intent was pretty much the same.  It’s also funny to me that Al Green decided to become a reverend after falling off the stage in Cincinnati…something about that town just makes people conservative.

This is the second greatest hits package on the list, after Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Legend”.  I bought it from Amazon for $4.98, which isn’t too bad considering $3.99 of that was the shipping cost.

Other lists: “Let’s Stay Together” is #60, “Love and Happiness” is #98, and “Tired of Being Alone” is #299 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Al Green is also ranked #14 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers and #66 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

My favorite track: “Let’s Stay Together”

Honorable mention: “Tired of Being Alone”

Quote: “Happiness is when you feel really good about somebody”