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Posts by Greg Kot

Staples of American Music: Mavis Staples and "I'll Take You There"

Tuesday, April 29: 1 p.m.
Posted by Greg Kot
Author Greg Kot will present and do a short reading from his most recent book, I’ll Take You There.

The song was there amid the highs and lows of the top 40, tucked among "Kung Fu Fighting," "Me and Mrs. Jones," "Maggie May," and countless other 70s one-offs, novelties and classics. The Staple Singers’ "I’ll Take You There" was in the air, like oxygen. Years after I first heard it in my parents’ kitchen on a transistor radio, it always seemed to be part of my life – I would find myself humming the bass line while waiting for an elevator or muttering "Ain’t no smiling faces" as I walked down a downtown Chicago street at rush hour. A few decades later, after hearing the song dozens if not hundreds of times, it dawned on me: There are only about five lines of verse in the entire song, spanning more than 4 minutes. The rest is just a magic act between the band (the Muscle Shoals rhythm section) and Mavis Staples, backed by her family.

In interviewing the people in the studio when "I’ll Take You There" was recorded, they all still sound in awe of what happened that day.

"The ‘I’ll Take You There’ session rates as high as any we ever did," guitarist Jimmie ...


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