There is a musical genre known as ‘blue-eyed soul’. What that actually means is soul music made by white people. Let’s not beat around the bush. If you’re a person of colour, you can’t make this music! It’s the only genre defined by race.
These days, lots of white people make black music (or music of black origin) and would never describe themselves as ‘blue-eyed soul’ acts. In fact, these white people would have us believe they are making authentic ‘black music’ and take great umbrage at anyone questioning their credentials.
At this point, it must also be stated that there are some white people who are SO GOOD, black music fans don’t even bother labelling them as blue-eyed soul: people that fall into this category include Teena Marie, Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Robin Thicke and Jon B.
Ironically, ‘pop music’ the genre has never – in its entire history – been so black music-orientated. The Beatles used to cover Motown songs, The Rolling Stones first UK No.1 ‘It’s All Over Now’ was written by Bobby Womack, while Cilla Black and Dusty Springfield covered songs made famous in America by Dionne Warwick, but those were isolated incidents compared to the current state of British pop music.
Many of today’s top pop acts could be described as ‘blue eyed soul’: Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, Jessie J, Paolo Nutini, James Morrison, James Arthur, Iggy Azalea and Adele, not to mention Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone and Mariah Carey.
And there is some wonderful music from down the years that is so old and so classic, people don’t even describe it as blue-eyed soul anymore, but that’s what it is!
I present to you my own (and very personal)
All-Time Top 40 Blue-Eyed Soul Anthems (in alphabetical order):
Click on song to play
- Ace: ‘How Long’
- Alessi Brothers: ‘Oh Lori’
- Ambrosia: ‘Biggest Part Of Me’
- Average White Band: ‘Pick Up The Pieces’
- Average White Band: ‘Schoolboy Crush’
- The Bee Gees: ‘Love You Inside Out’
- Blue Zone: ‘Big Thing’
- Bobby Caldwell: ‘Down For The Third Time’
- Bobby Caldwell: ‘What You Won’t Do For Love’
- Boz Scaggs: ‘Lowdown’
- Daley: ‘Game Over’
- David Bowie: ‘Fame’
- David Bowie: ‘Young Americans’
- The Doobie Brothers: ‘What A Fool Believes’
- Elton John: ‘Bennie And The Jets’
- Hall & Oates: ‘I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)
- Hall & Oates: ‘Sara Smile’
- Hall & Oates: ‘She’s Gone’
- Rupert Holmes: ‘Escape (The Pina Colada Song)’
- Rickie Lee Jones: ‘Chuck E’s In Love’
- Linda Lyndell: ‘What A Man’
- Manhattan Transfer: ‘Spice Of Life’
- Michael McDonald: ‘I Keep Forgettin’’
- Van Morrison: ‘Brown Eyed Girl’
- Maria Muldaur: ‘Midnight At The Oasis’
- Laura Nyro: ‘Stoned Soul Picnic’
- Robert Palmer: ‘Sneaking Sally Through The Alley’
- Rare Earth: ‘I Just Want To Celebrate’
- Mark Ronson Ft. Amy Winehouse: ‘Valerie’
- Samantha Sang: ‘Emotion’
- Dusty Springfield: ‘I Wish That Love Would Last’
- Dusty Springfield: ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’
- Lisa Stansfield: ‘All Around The World’
- Steely Dan: ‘Black Cow’
- Joss Stone: ‘Fell In Love With A Boy’
- Barbra Streisand: ‘Guilty’
- Lewis Taylor: ‘Whoever’
- Toto: ‘Waiting For Your Love’
- Amy Winehouse: ‘Rehab’
- Stevie Winwood: ‘Higher Love’
Having digested that set of 40 songs, you’d be forgiven for thinking that ‘blue-eyed soul’ was actually the most wonderful genre in the world, but it still gets a bad rap!
Fortunately, salvation is at hand! There is a new kid on the block and he’s gonna take 2015 by storm. If you like any of the above list, let me introduce you to Jarrod Lawson.
Actually, he’s not a kid! He’s 37-years-old from Portland, Oregon, and his debut album has taken a while to percolate, but it’s been well worth the wait. That album came out in Spring of this year, he’s already been to the UK to play live shows and he’s coming back next year. I’ve got my ticket!
With just a casual listen to his music, you will hear the influences that make him so special: R&B dons such as D’Angelo and Maxwell, jazz legends such as Jon Lucien and Al Jarreau, soul greats such as Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, mixed with the music wizardry of Weather Report and, more recently, the awesome Snarky Puppy.
Why do we create genres? In order to identify, compare and analyse. No one creates genres for musical reasons. Jarrod Lawson would be mortified if you tried to place his new album in some kind of convenient genre. So, we won’t. I would just advise you to buy it!
Listen to our “Don’t it make my brown eyes blue” playlist below – Just press play and enjoy!