There have been a lot of changes in my life over the last two years. The primary one took place when I left New Jersey, where I had lived for nearly my entire life, and moved to Rhode Island. It’s been an adjustment, but after about a year and a half I feel like I’m beginning to fit in here.
Fortunately there have also been a few constants to keep me sane during this crazy time in my life. Today this column celebrates its second birthday. Yes, for two years now, Soul Serenade has appeared on Popdose every Thursday morning, like clockwork. I’m really proud of the work I’ve done, and really grateful to you for reading it.
Trying to decide what music to feature for this auspicious occasion has not been easy. For the column’s first birthday I posted a massive zip file with all of the songs from the first year. It’s been done. So I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to mark this occasion.
What I’ve decided to do is to keep on doing what I’ve been doing all along. I’ve said many times that Soul Serenade is a labor of love for me because the music that I write about here has meant so much to me over the years. I owe my love of classic soul music to the Philly kids that I used to hang with in Atlantic City back in the day. So today I’m going to celebrate them with one of the great tracks to emerge from their fair city, a true soul capitol.
It’s a close call, but my favorite Philadelphia vocal group was the Delfonics. There is just something about William Hart’s soaring falsetto on those great songs that he wrote with producer Thom Bell that gets me every time. The group got together at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia in the ’60s. They went on to have hits like “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time),” “Ready Or Not Here I Come (You Can’t Hide From Love),” and of course the immortal “La-La (Means I Love You).”
I love all of those records, but one of the great joys of perusing old singles is finding a great B-side, and it’s one of those songs that I want you to hear this week. “When You Get Right Down To It” is a great Barry Mann song, but it wasn’t one of the Delfonics biggest hits. It only made it to #53 on the US pop chart, although it did reach #12 on the R&B chart. But Philly Groove Records 163 had a great B-side too. “I Gave To You” is a record that you don’t hear often enough on the radio, but some kind DJ was good enough to turn me on to it a number of years ago. The William Hart song is a perfect example of what makes the Delfonics sound instantly identifiable.
So here’s to the childhood friends who I’ve never forgotten. I owe a lot to you, but nothing more than the love of this music. And here’s to all of you who have read Soul Serenade for the last two years, and to my colleagues at Popdose for indulging me as I continue down this road.
Year three of Soul Serenade begins next week. Stay tuned.