I was far too advanced for my up until now short life span. Realistically Isaac Hayes was not for my generation. We were getting down to the artistically creative sounds of Cyndi Lauper, Madonna and Milli Vanilli. That was my generation. That’s what we spawned. But for some reason I wandered into my dad’s room and glanced furtively at his stash of National Geographic thinking to myself, yuk, that was porn for him. My eyes darted back and forth there was limited time, he might come back at any given moment.
At the age of 12 I was underdeveloped physically; chalk it up to the new age parents and their love of all things organic. Girls in my class at the time left their training bras at the age of 9 and had graduated to the lacy frilly kind with the bows in the middle. They were now questioning what going all the way meant while I was wondering whether the boy a block down was interested in me because he looked at me and said hello. I was a jumble of sorts. I was intelligent, precocious, yet naive by the way of my parents.
They encouraged me to listen, learn and question, but protected me from sex by telling me all about it. Hippie parents sometimes take the fun out of the mystery. Kids my age were questioning all types of rumors and urban myths while my dad gave me the forensic version of sex by giving me an encyclopedia and telling me all I would ever want to know. At that point not only wanted to wait till I was married I was certain that I’d do it only because it was the most efficient way to breed.
While I was in his study nervously questioning whether he’d be back or not, while looking through his stuff, I landed on a music album photo of a black man’s bald head wearing shades and a gold chain. I thought to myself, this has got to be something bad. Growing up in all-white Newtown Connecticut and being exposed to soul music was a rarity so I had to figure out what this was about. There’s irony somewhere there now that I reflect and think, to rebel against my all too understanding parents, I listened to their music. I put the cassette in, (yes the cassette) and on came Walk on By, smooth, sultry with instrumentation that opened my eyes. The Hot Buttered Soul, was more than just a simple album, it was soul. In a time of electronic music, and a lack of that natural acoustic sound, Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul was a welcome addition to my ears.
The classic guitar riffs, electric piano, the mixture of funk and soul for which I could not equate with anything I was listening to at the time, opened this 12 year olds eyes and changed my world unlike anything at the time. Once I got to the 18 minute By the Time I get to Phoenix I was ready for anything. I had never heard of a record going more than 3 minutes and 30 seconds. That song set me up during the first 9 minutes and then peaked at the end with these soulful horns. I was sold. This little white girl, fell in love with Isaac Hayes and he opened my ears to classic rock and all the records off the beaten path.
Somehow in 1985 I fell in love with Isaac Hayes and it was my parents fault or I should say, thanks to my parents. My dad never caught me sneaking around in his den that day, but I’m sure he knew I had been in there. How else would a 12 year old end up listening to Curtis Mayfield records with her dad years later. I’ll miss Isaac but he left his gift of music and for that I will be eternally grateful.