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Easter Music: Super Fly | Houston Press



It’s Easter, so as soon as once more it’s time to ponder painted eggs, popcorn bunny rabbits and the Seventies Blaxploitation traditional Super Fly. If you and your Peeps don’t rejoice the season by watching one of many twentieth century’s most commercially profitable Black American works of cinema – and, extra pointedly, by blasting the movie’s funky, soulful soundtrack at your loved ones gathering — possibly that is the yr so as to add these components to the vacation festivities.

It’s a great yr to take action because it’s the fiftieth anniversary of the movie and the pioneering music which helped make it well-known, songs written, composed and carried out by the late, nice Curtis Mayfield. Check any “best funk albums” listing in print or on the Web and it’ll have the Super Fly soundtrack at or close to the highest if it’s price a rattling. At the time of its launch, it was hailed for the social and political messages it delivered. Today, it’s revered in hip-hop as a vital affect on the style, with considered one of its most recognizable tunes,
“Pusherman,” having been sampled on greater than two dozen rap tracks through the years.

Super Fly has lived a few lives now, again within the Seventies initially, when director Gordon Parks Jr. first instructed the story after which only a few years in the past with Director X updating the story for brand new generations of followers. The model directed by Parks – whose father was the enduring American photographer and author Gordon Parks — chronicled the wrestle of cocaine supplier Youngblood Priest attempting to depart the drug commerce and go straight. Actor Ron O’Neal was the imaginative and prescient of cool in his pristine white swimsuit on the album cowl, standing appropriately within the shadow of Mayfield’s pensive profile.

In my childhood dwelling we had a replica of the album in our vinyl stacks and my of us seemingly had no qualms about their seven year-old son spinning the file at his whim. I beloved the sound of the music and Mayfield’s delicate, susceptible falsetto. I used to be a lot older after I realized he’d taken the stark material of the movie and translated it into one of many Seventies’ vital music commentaries on social points like medication, poverty and the so-called “American Dream.” It made me love the album all of the extra.

What on the earth does any of this must do with Easter, one would possibly marvel, notably since Super Fly wasn’t a spring debut however was launched later within the yr? It’s not blasphemy to notice that the movie and the Bible each are rife with hustlers, prostitutes, gangs and homicide. So, there’s that connection. And, at its core, Super Fly is basically a loss of life and resurrection story. It’s the story of a person attempting to remodel into a greater model of himself, towards all odds and with obstacles levied by Judas-like drug disciples and Pontius Pilate-like cops. For goodness’ sake, the protagonist is even named “Priest.”

But the film apart, the Easter season all the time jogs my memory of a trio of songs from the album, a trinity if you’ll, that recall the Easter story in some methods. Mayfield is considered one of rock and soul’s legends, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame act The Impressions and the person who wrote the anthem of the Civil Rights period, “People Get Ready,” which additionally has spiritual undertones. Surfing the ‘Net I can’t discover something that confirms he overtly supposed to infuse Super Fly’s music with spiritual themes. Maybe it’s simply coincidental that “Freddie’s Dead,” “Super Fly” and “Pusherman” appear to hook up with the Easter story the methods they do.

Without moving into the movie’s plot, and searching strictly on the lyrics of those songs, there are some Easter eggs to assemble. The logical place to begin is “Freddie’s Dead,” the album’s third observe, as a result of Easter begins with doubt and loss of life. “Everybody’s misused him/Ripped him up and abused him,” Mayfield sings. The strains “Let the man rap a plan, said he’d see him home/But his hope was a rope and he should’ve known,” are agony within the garden-type notions. Christian tenets about prophecy and sacrifice really feel evident in these phrases. When Mayfield sings, “It’s hard to understand/There was love in this man” it recollects the Bible’s centurion who proclaimed Christ’s righteousness following his crucifixion. This is mainly the “Christ has died” tune of this admittedly bizarre analogy.

“Super Fly” is the final tune on the album’s flipside. It’s noteworthy that “Freddie’s Dead” was the primary single launched from the album and “Super Fly” adopted. The tune’s acquired the texture of “Superstar,” from the Jesus Christ Superstar musical, exultant in tone and encompassing the hero’s story lyrically. From the “darkness of night with the moon shining bright,” comes “the man of the hour, has an air of great power.” Whatever was as soon as questioned as “dumb” or “weakness” in his life has been overcome by enduring the hardships and “gambling with the odds of fate.” Since he “plays for keeps,” he rises heroically. This is the “Christ has risen” tune of this admittedly bizarre analogy. It’s additionally one of the crucial beloved tunes from the soundtrack with homage paid through the years by a few of hip-hop’s greatest hitters, acts like Outkast, Notorious B.I.G. and Beastie Boys.

The most sampled observe of the album is “Pusherman,” (I can hear Ice-T’s “I’m Your Pusher” in my head as I kind this), the tune on this admittedly bizarre analogy which represents 2,000 years of preachers evangelizing that “Christ will come again.” These pushermen on the pulpit have the “heavy bread” (of life) that’ll “make your world what you want it to be.” Believers discover consolation and solace in these deliverers of the phrase, they’re “your friend, your main boy, thick and thin.” And, non-believers would possibly learn one thing into the tune lyric that proclaims the pusherman is “just a hustler in spite of myself.”

Whatever you make of this admittedly bizarre analogy, one plain fact is the music from Super Fly hits on a non secular stage immediately, similar because it ever has. The songs Mayfield created for the film contact on points nonetheless related to life within the United States, together with some issues all of the ideas and prayers of fifty years haven’t resolved. The soundtrack has surpassed the movie each when it comes to monetary success and cultural influence.

Super Fly has appeared on all three iterations of Rolling Stone’s oft-updated 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and was added to the Library of Congress’s National Registry for its cultural and historic significance. Its title observe was picked by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as considered one of 500 songs that formed rock and roll. Apart from any connections to Christianity’s Easter story, supposed or coincidental, the Super Fly soundtrack is a little bit of a faith all its personal.




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