I just got back from a ten-day road trip through the South, and my favorite city by far was Memphis. That town has so much musical and political history, not to mention the best soul food I've had in, um, ever (fried catfish and candied sweet potatoes and corn bread and collard greens? After a sermon from Reverend Al Green
? Bring it on.).
I bring all this up because one of the many music related pit-stops you're practically required to hit in Memphis is the Stax Museum of American Soul Music,
a giant collection of sound clips, photos, clothing, records, film footage, and more housed at the site of the original Stax Records.
You hear the Stax influence in so many historical and modern artists (as well as more San Francisco soul music DJ nights that you can throw a fiver-admission fee to get into) and especially in a new CD comp that came out last week. The Soul of Hip Hop
is a collection of Stax originals by Booker T & the MGs, The Emotions, The Bar-Kays, and more, all of which were recorded in the '60s and '70s and sampled by modern hip-hop acts. This tune, "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" by Isaac Hays
, is particularly incredible, with its jazzy piano jams twinkling above a thick, swampy funk stomp. That unpronounceable little number is reason alone in my book to pick up a little bit of Stax history for yourself.