I can remember the first time that I heard their butter soft vocals, floating from the speakers of my pops entertainment system. The words so simply, but yet so powerful and impactful, would forever leave a stain on my brain that have now become part of my soul. For many of you, listening to music on Saturday was a common occurrence. Wake up on Saturday, wash your face, brush your teeth, and commence to whole house cleaning for the girls and yard work for the boys. These choirs were done even before cartoons would ever dare flash across the television screen. But see living my pops was different. My pops was a gangster. Now before you guys go all rouge on me and say that I am glorifying that lifestyle, wait for a second, be patience, and listen to the story.
See my pops would often tell us that he and the legendary James Brown went to the same church together, though the God father of Soul was a little older, he most definitely left an impression on my young father. Because even though he was, what he was, my father loved all things soul. James Brown, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Bobby Blue Bland, B.B, King, and Kenny G. Yes, you read it correct, Kenny G. My father didn’t discriminate when it came to music, if it had soul then it would play. See my father was a gangster, but even gangsters have a soft side.
Ok, let’s address what I mean when I say gangster. No, not in the sense of the word as we know it today, well not entirely, well maybe the spelling was different back then. He did not run with a gang, he didn’t prey on the young or elderly, but to cross him once and you most definitely had a problem. I remember the first time that my pops came home from prison. He looked like Zeus, well at least Tony Atlas. I meant this is when the prison system still had weight sets in them. Pops was a deemed a monster by those who saw the physical side of him and what he ultimately created for himself. But when he walked through that door, after being released from prison the first time, my pops cried. See my father was a gangster, but even gangsters have a soft side.
There is nothing like waking up in the morning out of a wonderful dream, to hear the butter soft voice of Ronald Isley every morning before you go to school. Add that to the smell of fresh homemade biscuits, ham, grits, and toasts; I sometimes thought I was still dreaming. Grove with you, Brown Eye Girl, Voyage to Atlantis, and Make me Say it Again were my absolute favorites. But you know what I looked forward to the most, waking up knowing that my family would soon be gathered around the table listening to the Isley Brothers and eating food prepared by my pops, my father. See all of these stories of my pops being a gangster were things that I were told by others, never once glorified or verified by my father. On school days, my pops, my father was a DJ, a chef, and a chauffeur. As I got older, of course I wanted to know certain things about my pops on topics that I had formed my opinion of, but that’s for another post. I was just too nervous to ask. However there was this one time when I just had to know about the dynamics of being a father and a gangster and I worked up the nerves to ask. Pops, how did you ever keep all of that stuff from us as we grew up? My answer from my pops: Even gangsters have a soft side. Well that’s how my pops put it anyway.
Question: Do you agree with the saying: Every Saint has a past and Every sinner has a future? If so what would be the reason for being against or for it?