Every week Rich Terfry looks back in our Rear-View Mirror at a great song from the good ol’ days.
In 1972 Curtis Mayfield
did something astonishing. He pulled off a move creatively and philosophically subversive, that simultaneously changed minds, music and his own status as a musician.
Mayfield was given the task of creating a soundtrack to a film he didn't particularly like.
Super Fly is a blacksploitation film that takes an ambiguous view of drug dealers, street crime and their effect on the community, and Mayfield didn't like that.
While writing songs for the film he also went to war against it and its negative message. He wrote socially aware lyrics about poverty and drug abuse and spoke for the victims of crimes rather than the criminals committing them who were dipicted as heroes in the film. It was a huge risk, but not only Mayfield get away with it, it paid off in a big way.
The soundtrack for Super Fly is one of the only soundtracks to make more money than the film it accompanies. It was a huge hit, and Curtis Mayfield, who was already a well respected and successful musician, became a superstar.
It's an extremely rare case of biting the hand that feeds actually working out for the best. Here's what is sounds like.
"Freddy's Dead," from the Super Fly Soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield.
Listen to moments from the film and the full version of Rear-View Mirror.
Here are some other great editions of Rear-View Mirror:
Gang Starr, "Beyond Comprehension"
Bo Diddley, "Bo Diddley"
Aretha Franklin, "Rocksteady"
CCR, "Have You Ever Seen the Rain"
Howlin' Wolf, "Smokestack Lightning"
Bobby Womack, "Across 110th Street"
Roy Orbison, "In Dreams"
Foggy Hogtown Boys, "Man of Constant Sorrow"
Pink Floyd, "Wish You Were Here"
Neil Young, "Cortez The Killer"
Bob Dylan, "Subterraneon Homesick Blues"
Little Eva, "Loco-Motion"
Elvis Costello, "Watching the Detectives"
Jimmy Cliff, "The Harder They Come"
The Verve, "Bittersweet Symphony"
Roberta Flack, "Killing Me Softly with his Song"
R.E.M., "Radio Free Europe"
Radiohead, "No Surprises"
Led Zeppelin, "Ramble On"
Glen Campbell, "Wichita Lineman"
Rolling Stones, "Beast of Burden"
John Cougar Mellencamp, "Pink Houses"
on Jul 11, 2012