|Numinous The Music of Joseph C. Phillips Jr.
The Numinosum Blog
This post is the sixth in a series profiling some of the inspirations and thoughts behind the six movements of my composition Changing Same premiering March 16th, 2013 at the Ecstatic Music Festival in New York City. Previous posts in the series featured:
“…we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.” 1
In January 2009 I stood freezing on the National Mall in Washington D.C. with two million others witnessing Barack Obama become President of the United States. Standing there with faces black, brown, and beige there was a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation that the truly unlimited opportunity the original “promise of America” represented, seemed finally reachable to not only someone like me, but seemly anyone and everyone with ability, a dream, temerity, perseverance, and luck. That day felt like a beginning, where the phrase “one nation” took on renewed resonance and meaning. And while the realities of governance since then have tempered the fires of hope, they have not extinguished them. No matter her ultimate direction America is forever changed, not only for the now but for the “unborn millions to come” in the long now.
Producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff with their “Philly Sound”—an often energetic and richly orchestrated dance music—are sometimes credited with laying the foundations for disco in the 1970s. In my ancient early days growing up, before I had any idea of who Gamble and Huff were or exactly what disco was, the songs they produced—such as “Me and Mrs. Jones,” “Back Stabbers,” “Now that We Found Love,” “Love Train,” “For the Love of Money,” “When Will I See You Again,” and “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” (also known as the Soul Train theme song)—formed an indelible imprint on an impressionable little kid. Often I was less interested about what the singers actually sang about (was too young to understand much anyway). Rather, I enjoyed the mood, atmosphere, and energy those songs created; the sophisticated way they moved you or made you want to move, “it like put a bow tie on the funk. It made it elegant." 2
Echoes from “The Love I Lost” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring the incredible lead singing of Teddy Pendergrass and “Love’s Theme” by Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra (an artist influenced by Gamble and Huff) can be heard throughout “Unlimited.”
(note: the YouTube video of the 1994 documentary Rock & Roll is from the BBC version, and NOT the version that aired on PBS and that I recorded on my VCR back then; among some slight, but noticeable differences between the two versions are the PBS version was narrated by Liev Schreiber and also featured some different musical acts shown. The opening part on the above video clip features the song "The Love I Lost" and is in both versions)
From Barack Obama’s “Speech on Race” in Philadelphia, March 18, 2008. (Transcript, New York Times
Quote from Fred Wesley, trombonist in James Brown Band. From "Making it Funky" episode of PBS/BBC documentary by David Espar Rock & Roll (1995).
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 10:00 AM
To all things that create a sense of wonder and beauty that inspires and enlightens.