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What It Was: The Top Ten

“In the Rain,” by The Dramatics

Played on the bar juke in the novel’s intro as Strange thinks back on “that thrilling time” (1972, the year of the song’s release), this is the haunting, effects-heavy single that went to number 1 on the soul charts.


“I Wanna Know If It’s Good to You,” by Funkadelic
Red Jones pays Bobby Odum a dark visit at his apartment as Funkadelic’s mindblower, from Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow, comes from the stereo.  That’s Eddie Hazel on guitar.


“Mr. Big Stuff,”  by Jean Knight
Jean Knight, out of New Orleans, recorded this for legendary producer Wardell Quezergue at the Malaco/Chimneyville studios, Stax single #0088, #1 soul, #2 pop.  “All groove, no melody,” says Strange to his new client, Maybelline Walker.  “But what a groove.”


“The World is a Ghetto,” (album version), by War
War’s masterpiece is playing in The Experience, a neighborhood bar in D.C., when Strange returns to his seat after blowing a joint in the alley with friends.  It’s the album version, with “its instrumental middle, building emotionally, almost violently, taking him up.”  Time: 10:17.


“Are You Lonely For Me Baby,” by Al Green
Strange puts some Al Green on the box when he wants to get next to his girlfriend Carmen.  Appropriately, it’s a track off of Al Green Gets Next To You, his deep soul record “full of grit and fire.”


“People Make The World Go Round,” by The Sylistics
From the classic Stylistics debut, produced by Thom Bell, this is the track that plays inside Strange’s Monte Carlo as he watches the tableau of the street.  Also, it runs over the opening credits of Crooklyn, one of my favorite Spike Lee films.


“No Name Bar,” by Isaac Hayes
Symphonic gem from the Shaft soundtrack, a perfect car-cruise tune, also a favorite of Red Jones’s sidekick, Alfonzo Jefferson, who plays it in his Burrville lair.


“Just a Little Overcome,” by Ollie and the Nightingales
Southern soul at its finest, played in the Soul House bar on Roland Williams’ last night on earth. Vocals by Tommy Tate.


Complete Playlist
“Your Turn to Cry,” by Bettye LaVette
“In the Rain,” by The Dramatics
“Baby Sitter,” by Betty Wright
“I Wanna Know If It’s Good To You,” by Funkadelic
“Family Affair,” by Sly Stone
“Mr. Big Stuff,” by Jean Knight
“Jody’s Got Your Girl and Gone,” by Johnnie Taylor
“Get Down,” by Curtis Mayfield
“You Hit the Nail on the Head,” by Funkadelic
“The World is a Ghetto” (album version), by War
“Are You Lonely For Me Baby,” by Al Green
“People Make the World Go Round,” by The Sylistics
“Soul Vibrations,” by Kool and the Gang
“Love the One You’re With,” by The Isley Brothers
“Reeling in the Years,” by Steely Dan
“This Old Town,” by The Staple Singers
(“If Loving You is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right,” by Luther Ingram
“Walk from Regio’s,” by Isaac Hayes
“No Name Bar,” by Isaac Hayes
“Just a Little Overcome,” by Ollie and the Nightingales
“Alone Again, Naturally,” by Gilbert O. Sullivan
“The Ghetto,” by Donny Hathaway
“Too Late to Turn Back Now,” by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose
“Little Child Runnin’ Wild,” by Curtis Mayfield
“Give Me Your Love,’ by Curtis Mayfield


Listen to the playlist on Spotify.