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Bobby Womack: 10 Essential Tracks

A tour of the soul man’s seven-decade career

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UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Bobby WOMACK; Posed studio portrait of Bobby Womack (Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns)

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Artistically, the late Bobby Womack inhaled rarefied air – coming up as Sam Cooke's protégé; recording as an innovative rhythm-groove guitarist with legendary peers (Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Sly Stone); exposing complicated, cutting emotions as a profilic, versatile songwriter and interpreting songs (his and others) with a wily, raspy soulfulness beyond compare. As a man, he stepped in it and fearlessly sang about it: lovesickness, betrayal, the heights and depths of partying, the fucking up in public, the family tragedies. His voice contained all of it.

Here are 10 essential songs from the Bobby Womack catalog that help to unwind the story of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who gave himself the tangled-in-meaning distinction of being "'the last soul man."' By Charles Aaron

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10. Bobby Womack, “Please Forgive My Heart,” 2012

It's fitting that Womack's last single, on his first album of original material since 1994, was a heart-rending request for forgiveness. "I'm a liar, I'm in a dream," he exclaims over fidgety electronic rhythms and minimal piano from producers Damon Albarn and XL Records' head Richard Russell. A sixtysomething genius and rogue whose life had been plagued by addiction, diabetes, pneumonia, colon cancer and dementia, had come full circle. Now, we were the ones crying.

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