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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In Which Don Cornelius Makes His Last Stop On The Soul Train 

Okay, so way back in the stone age, circa 1970, a Chicago DJ with a voice as lush as velvet launched the iconic, weekly music/dance show, Soul Train. Every week Cornelius would spin the latest and greatest in the soul genre, as well as feature live performances from up and coming notables such as Aretha Franklin, Sly Stone, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and the O'Jays. 

His was the cool cousin to Dick Clark's white-bread, American Bandstand. There was nothing wrong with AB. It was a fun dance party, but once Soul Train hit the airwaves, it was all I wanted to watch. It was hip and happening and had THE BEST dancers strutting down the train line. 

That line dance at the end was my absolute favorite part of the entire show. I learned how to dance by watching those couples work their magnificent moves across the studio in their outrageous tight pants, platforms and elephant bell bottoms. Bad Luck by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (featuring Theodore Pendergast) was da bomb, yo! That song shot me out of my chair and into embarrassing-white-chick-dance-mode faster than anything. I waited for it each week. I still have the urge to jump up when I hear that tune. Although now, you know, I might break a hip.

OHMIGODJESUS! Seriously. They wore the most crazy, fab 70s outfits! And how about that one dude's fro? Epic mass. Extra points for that one, my friend.  

The New Yorker columnist, Ben Greenman spoke eloquently of the Don Cornelius legacy here. It's well worth the read and gives a bit of the back story. 

I was saddened to read The Don took his own life today. It's difficult to understand how someone comes to the conclusion that he would be better off dead. Life and death are full of mysteries.

One thing is for certain, Mr. Cool will always inhabit a special spot in my heart for introducing the unfettered joy of Soul music to a shy, awkward, white girl and inspiring her to get up and busta move with abandon every Saturday afternoon. I will be forever grateful to you for that.

You were the epitome of smooth, Sir.

We wish you Love, Peace and Soul. 

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