Song Stories

“I'll Take You There”

The Staple Singers | 1972

After attending the funeral of his little brother -- the second of two Bell brothers that were murdered -- Stax vice-president Al Bell walked to a bus in his father's back yard and thought about heavenly ascent. "I sat on the hood of that bus, thinking about my brother's death, and all of a sudden, I started hearing in my head the bass lines of 'I'll Take You There,' and I started hearing the music, and all of the words came next." He gave the song to the Staple Singers, a former gospel act that went mainstream to reach a wider audience.

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Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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