My mother loves slow jams. She has always loved them. So much so, I’ve had to make CDs for her of her favorites. She even gave me lists, y’all! She also had a neighbor, who we called an Aunt (I guess it’s a neighborhood thing to call people you aren’t related to by blood aunts and uncles) who loved them too. It was nothing for the two of them to either listen to the radio or ask me to play them some Luther, Teddy or Marvin. One of their favorites by far was Barry White, the Maestro of Love.
While my mom and the neighbor loved Barry’s songs unequivocally, there were two covers that my mom requested be on her CDs. The first was made famous by Billy Joel, and is one of his signature songs. “Just The Way You Are” is now something of a pop standard, as beloved now as it was when it first came out. There are probably so many covers of the song available, I couldn’t list them all. Barry’s cover of course begins with a rap by him, as seemingly a lot of his ballads had some kind of rap on them. While I won’t say his is better than the original, this is the one my mom loved.
I can see the both of them—drinks on the table, eyes closed with hands raised in the air. That was mom’s go-to move when she heard a slow jam she loved. The hand goes up in the air and sways to the music. Kind of like when people in church raise their hands when a hymn or song plays that they love. Except this was the church of the Maestro.
Another cover that my mom loved by White was Jesse Belvin’s song “Beware.” This song probably held a special place in Barry’s heart—his first recording session reportedly was as an 11-year-old piano player on a Jesse Belvin’s song “Goodnight My Love.” I’m pretty sure that Barry is playing the piano on this one too. This cover also has a rap in the beginning as well, and it’s one of my favorite songs of Barry’s. I remember my mom actually getting the 45 (yes they were still making those back then) and having me play it for her.
This was another one that had my mom with her hands up in the air. I’ll admit, I love seeing my mom enjoy her slow jams. These are just two of many, from the man many equate with love in music. Barry White may be gone, but his music lives on for so many. Especially the slow songs.
Every now and then, mom still listens to those songs, those great songs that are pillars of Quiet Storm radio shows from coast to coast. While I’m not at home to see it, I bet she still sways and raises her hand in the air. I hope you enjoy today’s Morning Grooves, and as always, thanks for reading and listening.