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How would you interpret it? This is the opening line from a classified ad that ran on the back page of this very publication: "Co-create better life with info from soul records."

Instantly, I pictured myself consulting my soul LPs for spiritual and practical guidance. There's Curtis Mayfield counseling us to get ready because there's a train a coming; that is, get your act together because you never know when the end is just the other side of the tunnel. No question, that's solid advice. "You don't miss your water," William Bell explains, "'til your well runs dry," and you know he's right about that. Otis Redding suggests trying a little tenderness, which is just crazy enough to work.

After all, as Solomon Burke tells us, everybody needs somebody to love, a sentiment expanded on by Marvin Gaye when he offers: "You see, war is not the answer/For only love can conquer hate/You know we've got to find a way/To bring some lovin' here today." And on a less universal note, Bobby Patterson warns, "She don't have to see you to see through you." Translation: Your partner doesn't have to catch you in the act to know that you're stepping out. Then again, in another number from his catalog titled "If He Hadn't Slipped Up and Got Caught," Patterson (a long-standing and underappreciated artist from Texas; see Sundazed's Soul Is My Music!: The Best of Bobby Patterson for an excellent introduction) shows he's not shy about calling on some twisted logic. The song's narrator attempts to seduce his married neighbor by explaining that it's her cheating husband's fault. After all, "If he hadn't slipped up and got caught, I couldn't have helped you get even with him."

So there's the rub when looking to soul records for guidance, especially if a monogamous relationship is one of your goals. You could quite easily make the case that adultery was the ground--or, perhaps, quicksand--on which '60s and '70s soul music was built. (Of course, you could launch a similar campaign for country music.) In case you didn't know, those folks meeting at the dark end of the street weren't rendezvousing to play Parcheesi. An off-the-top-of-my-head run through some song titles backs this up: "Married, But Not to Each Other;" "Who Are You Gonna Love (Your Woman or Your Wife);" "I'll Be the Other Woman;" "Your Husband Is Cheatin' on Us;" and "If She's Your Wife (Who Am I?)."

Anyway, back to the classified ad. Curiosity prevailed, and I called the number listed. It turns out that "info from your soul records" involves a reader tapping into a part of you that captures all of your life experiences. In other words, it involves empirical impressions, not the Impressions. But just to be safe, I'm going to spin a couple of Aretha Franklin and O.V. Wright records backwards to make sure there are no hidden messages.

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