While unintentional, Soul Train’s biggest Jewish fan chose a book by the show’s ultimate devotee to end her reviewing adventure. Time’s up, but not before I share a few words on the genius of Questlove.
When I picture Questlove behind his drum kit, with that ever-present Afro pick, cool as a cucumber, I see an encyclopedia (look it up, kids) in the flesh. It’s no wonder he’s written a book entitled Music Is History; he’s got to put all that knowledge somewhere and lucky us, he’s pouring it right into our heads.
In some strange way, because our life experiences are fairly dissimilar (he’s famous and I’m not), I relate to this giant of a man, and not just because we co-founded the Don Cornelius fan club (not really). We seem to view the world through the same kaleidoscopic lens. We grew up listening to radio stations that played every genre of music. We were surrounded by people from all walks of life, embracing cultural differences rather than rejecting them. Post hippie world was a great place for about a decade and then something shifted, and all that love turned into dislike, sometimes hate. And 2022, well, it sure isn’t 1972.
With that background in mind, jump into Questlove’s mind. Take a chronological journey with him, from 1971, the year he was born, to the present. It will make you laugh, cry, and most importantly, think. Dedicated to all the scientists of sound (the perfect choice of words), each chapter is preceded by a list of the major historical events from that year. Each chapter begins with a question about history that is answered with a reflection on whatever artist(s) was making a contribution to our ears at that time. Many chapters end with a list of songs that tie the whole thing together. Heady, fascinating stuff.
This is much more than commentary. It’s a glimpse into the brilliance that is Questlove. Remember, this is the guy who made the award-winning documentary Summer of Soul, about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which exposed many Americans to something they didn’t know about (including me, but I was 6, so I get a hall pass). Same dude who wrote Soul Train: The Music, Dance, And Style of a Generation.
Yes, it DOES all come back to “the line.” Why? Because that’s where history was made, my personal history. And that’s where it ends for me, pretending I’m friends with this crazy smart, funny, loving musician, only we’re kids sitting in front of the TV on a Saturday morning, trying to guess the name of the band on the scramble board. The best of times. Thanks for being you, Questlove.