Here’s my Solomon Burke tribute, as posted on Mapcidy:
Speaking of Dan Aykroyd, one great thing that he did for the world, along with John Belushi, was to re-introduce the world in the early 1980s to the scores of brilliant American soul music artists and their songs. One of those was Solomon Burke, whose buoyant single “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” became a signature tune of Belushi and Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers act.
Solomon Burke died yesterday, en route to a concert overseas. He was 70.
Solomon Burke was a preacher in his other life, who saw his musical career as spreading the word. All you have to do is listen to his records to hear the spiritual potency of his music. There’s true joy in it.
“King Solomon” was the subject of a terrific piece in Rolling Stone a few months back, where his outsized and controversial personality was considered honestly but affectionately. (I really recommend reading it.) On the merits of his music alone, there’s no doubt that he deserved a bigger career, and certainly deserves to be remembered as one of soul music’s greatest voices.
In 2002, Solomon Burke got the Johnny Cash treatment, teaming up with younger songwriters and fans to deliver a triumphant re-introduction, Don’t Give Up On Me. This is where my personal appreciation of Solomon Burke kicked up to a newer level, and with Solomon singing songs written for him by Tom Waits, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, and Bob Dylan (!), it remains a great gateway to his discography. Many of you will remember “Fast Train” from the season-ending montage scene from Season Three of The Wire. If you liked that, please believe me, there’s more where that came from.