One of my readers, Kim from the Peace, Love and Patchouli blog made a recent comment on my latest 80s Mania Monday post about Billy Joel suggesting that I needed to feature some Al Green. I’m not sure if that was the first request I’ve ever gotten for an artist (it probably isn’t), but whether it was or not, the Process has been very Al Green deficient. Uh, make that really Al Green deficient—as in there hasn’t been an Al Green song, and damn few mentions of the man many consider to be the last great soul singer. So Kim, I’m going to set that right. And by the way, stop on by Kim’s blog-some lovely poetry is being written and shared with her readers.
When it comes to Al Green, there are so many great songs I could have chosen. First, I had to narrow down the album I would take today’s song from. In a string of masterpieces, the one I remember best growing up was his 1972 release I’m Still In Love With You. I remember it so well because before you played cassette tapes until they popped, I believe my mom played the 8-track tape of this album until it could no longer stand the strain. You can best believe I probably snuck in a few plays of it too. Then it was a question of which of the album’s nine great tunes I would go with. If you haven’t already guessed from the lyric, I chose “Love And Happiness” as the Morning Groove for today.
Before the vodka brand Ciroc started using the song as backing for its commercials for apple vodka, today’s song had long been one of the most beloved in Green’s catalog. It is certainly one of my go-tos when I want or need to be in a good mood. Everything about it just feels right—the tempo, former Booker T. & The MG’s drummer Al Jackson keeping it real on the two and four. Green’s vocal, worldly wise and somewhat weary, but detailing the ups, downs, ins and outs of love. That groove, which has stood the test of time. Finally who among us, after having heard it a bunch of times, hasn’t helped count it off at the beginning after those first guitar notes?
Surprisingly, this song was not released as a single when the album was released. It received a very belated single release in 1977, some five years after it first appeared on an album. Amazingly, it only reached #92 on the R&B chart and only charted for three weeks. As well known as it is, I would have thought it would easily have been a top 10 hit. However, Rolling Stone magazine in its ranking of the 500 greatest singles of all time, placed “Love And Happiness” at #98. As many know, not too many years after this song, Green became a minister and switched to gospel music for much of the 1980s. He did make a return to secular music in 1988. Green has won just about every major award in the business; has been inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and received a Kennedy Center honor in 2014.
Kim, I hope when you read this, you are pleased with my choice. I also hope all of my readers enjoy today’s Morning Groove. As always, thanks for listening and reading.