From Doug Draper, NAL
Posted February 5th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
“That’s the way of the world,. Plant your flower and you grow a pearl. Child is born with a heart of gold. Way of the world makes his heart so cold”
The song ‘That’s the Way of the World’, co-written by Maurice White and performed by the group he founded, Earth, Wind & Fire, was near the top of the playlist of funky, soulful ballads during a decade of the 1970s that was rich with funky, soulful tunes.
Maurice White, who died this February 3rd following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, is yet another pop star to join a growing list of true musical pioneer, along with David Bowie, Glenn Fry, co-founder of The Eagles and Paul Kantner, founder of Jefferson Airplane and an architect of the San Francisco sound of the 1960s, who have come to the end of their song barely five weeks in to this 2016.
In Earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White put together a mega group, replete with super hot rhythm and horn sections, that blended the best of Motown, James Brown and Sly & the Family Stone with traditional gospel and blues, overlain with vocals, including his own, on par with the best of the O’Jays and Temptations.
“To see Earth, Wind & Fire on stage was to behold a gospel experience that was an existential bosanna guaranteed to heal your ills,” says Rolling Stone magazine’s official Record Guide.
“The band’s lyrics were rich, layered and thoughtful, with densely packed phrases sung in syncopation over a variety of choppy, rhythm breaks from the huge band,” writes musicologist Rickey Vincent in his award-winning book ‘Funk – The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of the One’. “Equally at home with sentimental ballads or the Funk Bomb, sultry settings or fantastical romps, Earth, Wind & Fire elevated the standards of ensemble music as the entire world watched in amazement.”
When I heard the news of Maurice White’s death on a cable news program shortly after my cats woke me for food around 6 a.m. this February 5th, I headed straight for some shelves where I house my old vinyl to discover with releaf that about half a dozen Earth, Wind & Fire albums I had picked up during the band’s groundbreaking years in the 1970s had survived a flood in our home a few summers ago.
Those albums contain such Maurice White composed gems as ‘That’s The Way of the World’, ‘Sing A Song’, ‘Getaway’, ‘September’, ‘Serpentine Fire’, ‘After The Love Is Gone’ and ‘Shining Star’.
Then there is Earth, Wind & Fire’s version of ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ that, along with Joe Cocker’s working of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’, remains one of the best covers of a Beatle song ever recorded.
“Shinning star for you to see. What your life can truly be. Shinning star for you to see. What your life can truly be. Shinning star for you to see. What your life can truly be.”
Hey Maurice. Next time I look up at a clear night sky and see the brightest shining star next to Venus, I’m going to whisper those words.
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