“I feel just like a baby boy…
On a Christmas morning with a brand new toy.
I’m in love.”
The Wicked Pickett is what they called him, but on this cut he is anything but. The romantic sould ode was penned by famed soul writer Bobby Womack especially for Wilson, as were other later Atlantic singles “Im a Midnight Mover” and “I Found A True Love”. The song was released on Atlantic Records in 1967 as an A Side single and became a minor hit for him in the fall of that year.
Womack wrote this sensitive song, some say, as a response to his then-recent marriage to Sam Cooke’s widow only 3 months after her husbands murder. The marriage lasted several years, but Womack felt some fallout from this scandal in the R&B community. Working with famed producers Tom Dowd and Tommy Cogbill, Womack and Pickett created a string of hits for Pickett’s record label Atlantic Records. Pickett had been a star of the Stax records roster for most of the 1960’s, achieving his greatest hits and success under their umbrella with songs like “In the Midnight Hour” and “634-5789”. He is mostly associated with the Stax sound thanks to a house band consisting of Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn and Booker T. Jones. Isaac Hayes also started his career playing on Pickett releases.
Even with the fabulous songwriting team and producers guiding this song, the true star is the voice behind it. Wilson Pickett will forever be known as a dynamic frontman and bandleader uncompromising in his artistic integrity…and that meant combining the best elements of both gospel and R&B influences. After his 1960’s heyday Wilson Pickett continued to tour, closing out that decade working with another classic soul lineup with Gamble and Huff in Philadelphia on the album “Live In Philadelphia”. While touring into the 1990s, Pickett’s well documented wild streak was never far behind, causing controversy both on and off the stage. His last release, 1999’s “It’s Harder Now” was seen as a return to form for the classic soul man with a memorable appearance at his induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame coming that same year. He ultimately passed away in 2006 of natural causes, appropriately, still in the throws of yet another touring stint bringing his joyful noise to the people who truly always appreciated his sweet soul music.
(While I suggest picking up the studio version, I have included a video of Wilson doing his thing at a concert in the early 70’s. It is a revealing look at a soul legend.)
(I have included the Bruce Springsteen and Wilson Pickett duet from the 1999 Rock N Roll Hall of Fame induction. There are no words to explain the charisma of Pickett, blowing the roof off of the Waldorf Astoria. It is a must see!)