Ok, I don’t expect anyone reading this to understand just how great it is, but this song, written by Gamble and Huff and recorded in 1972, sung by Billy Paul for Phillly International records, holds a special significance for me. It’s just a transcendent piece of art that’s very much a snapshot of the culture from which it came. I was 15 years old when it was a hit, and like most things you experience at that age, it’s forever indelibly imprinted on my brain. As a 15 year old, I really shouldn’t have understood it, but somehow I did. I was an old 15.
It’s just a magical recording, from an era long gone. I guess this is what it feels like to be old, but I wouldn’t trade this memory for all the money in the world. I’ve kind of got a lifetime of memories like this, but like I said, I’m fucking old. It is what it is, and somehow I’ve got to come to peace with that.
I know this trip is time limited and there’s no going back, and I’m trying to be ok with that. At my age, the end is coming whether you’re ready for it or not. It’s best to understand that so you can appreciate the time you’ve got left. I can’t live in the past though – I’m not quite ready for that. There’s too much left to do.
So RIP Billy Paul, your contribution to the world is unfortunately already culturally irrelevant – but for it’s moment, it was a glorious thing, and it’s still out there for people who are so inclined to enjoy. Great art is timeless, it will always be relevant to those who open themselves up to its riches. For those of us still alive who remember what you gave us, thank you.
We’re all heading for the great beyond, whatever that may or may not be, but for your brief moment here, you made something timelessly special.
And that’s not nothing.