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Soul song pick of the week: Stand on the Word (Larry Levan mix)

May 31, 2013


Jerry Coyne’s been posting on some amazing! Soul music recently, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to play one of my all-time favourites: Stand on the Word (Larry Levan mix) — Joubert Singers. I’ve always thought that the way the term ‘Soul Music’ is used is far too narrow — lotta music got soul. This one by Larry Levan and the Joubert Singers from 1982 is one example of soul music that isn’t Soul Music.

I thought it would be fun to play a blatantly religious tune, given that this is kind of a response to Jerry Coyne. I’m not a believer but I have to say that so much of the music I really love is anything but secular.

Another wonderful thing about this tune is its significance for the history of gay culture, and ‘unity culture’ (don’t know if that’s a thing) in general. Larry Levan used to play at a club in NYC called the Paradise Garage that played a very important role in giving gay people and other ‘deviants’ a place to feel welcome.

Musically I love how its not over produced at all and how the singing at the most emotional part of the song is really out of key (1:57). Singing on key takes training (boring!), singing with soul takes soul. Actually I’m not sure you can pin down *the* most emotional part. Could be 1:30 when when the choir sings “that’s how the good lord works!” Could be at 1:48 for “we must not question the good lord…”. Oh but 1:13 is so amazing too, when the bass line comes in for “that’s how he works, that’s how, the good lord, he works.” Oh and the tempo…what a tempo. Blah I love it!

If you have trouble feeling this one, just try to put yourself in the position of the people who were a part of this scene ( Many of them were outsiders who only felt like they belonged when they were at the Garage.

Saturday Night Fever sucks, but disco is a powerful force — its a historical fact. Think ‘I will Survive’ kinda stuff.

Here it is:

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