Jonathan Bernstein is a contributing writer at AMERICAN SONGWRITER and Consequence of Sound whose work has also been published by ROLLING STONE and the MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE. He currently lives in New York.
He began writing a sketch of an idea for a novel, to try something different. He wanted the novel to be a fictionalized account of a very rough period of his life in the early nineties, and he knew the title would be Slam Dancing In The Pews, the name of a forgotten song he once wrote for a forgotten band called Virgil Kane. A songwriter at heart, Hood started interspersing song lyrics in between chapters of the book, but predictably, the songs quickly became more central. He decided to abandon the book altogether.
So it was a summer night in Manhattan, and the City Winery, an upscale sit-down club that seats no more than 300, was hardly full. Moore sang the first verse from backstage, as if his tenor, now fragile and weathered but still unmistakably, shockingly powerful, was the legend, not Moore himself. When he finally did take the stage, the seventy-six-year-old took his time snatching the show back from his voice, from the idea of another era, a time long past.
Like many of Foster’s compositions, “Oh! Susanna” was a blackface minstrel song. It was his breakthrough hit as a songwriter, a song that surely would have been a number one single if such a measurement had existed in the mid-nineteenth-century. The song quickly spread all over the country through its many publications and permutations on sheet music and as traveling minstrel troupes all over the country thrilled crowds with the tale of long-distance, lost, confused love, others began adapting Foster’s irresistible melody for their own purposes.
"The Bravest Man In The Universe," Bobby Womack’s first album of original material since 1994, is already being heralded as a late-career triumph, a classic comeback tale of aging soul singer being rejuvenated by a younger producer.