Songs Of The Day 6/14/2014: Isaac Hayes - "Ike's Rap I" + "Our Day Will Come"


Black Music Month/Memphis Week: There are very few orators who ever had the murmured gravitas of Isaac Hayes doing one of his "Ike's Raps." They were the spoken-word prologues delivered over restrained, lento musical passages, recited in a voice that comprehends the ultra-seriousness of the situation at hand but never allows panic, hyperextension or alarm to intrude. After Ike had taken very sober inventory of the issues and sturm und drang befalling him and his subject, almost always a woman in the state of crying or departing, then he'd slip into a song, most often a cover of something by a titan of '60s songwriting like Burt Bacharach or Jimmy Webb, that summarized his talking points and often went on for 10 minutes or whenever he was damn well finished.

The first time he tried this alchemy was on "I Stand Accused" from The Isaac Hayes Movement. On his second solo album ...To Be Continued, he broke the monologue and the song in two with the pieces before us today, which were a little shorter, but still almost ten minutes long taken together. "Ike's Rap I" was hella ambitious, starting off as commiseration between two teenage lovers whose parents just don't understand, a la "Wouldn't It Be Nice" or "Town Without Pity." But Ike gets even deeper and right quick too: Not only are everybody's parents being total killjoys, but Ike is about to be shipped off to war by Uncle Sam. This all happens in the space of four minutes. Then he slips into a deeply resonant cover of Ruby & The Romantics' "Our Day Will Come," which was originally a happy, offbeat anthem of reassurance, but is now a lingering note of uncertainty, military dread and pathos. That still works. I don't know what else to tell you.

And now we shove off from Memphis, fill up the thermos and head about 1,000 miles northeast...


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