Joe Tex — “We Can’t Sit Down Now”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — October 14, 2022


609) Joe Tex — “We Can’t Sit Down Now”

I’ve featured my two favorite Joe Tex songs (see #42, 455). Here’s another classic, also off Tex’s magnificent ‘69 album Buying a Book. RDTEN1 says that “[e]ven before he converted to Islam and changed his name, Tex was one of soul’s most activist practioneers. With Tex adopting his best gospel preacher stance, ‘We Can’t Sit Down . . .’ was a perfect example of his willingness to stand up and make a statement – this one seemed to focus on black empowerment.” ( The one and only Dave Marsh calls the whole album “[f]unny, funky, and as deep as it wants to be.” (–mw0001958358)

As to the album and Joe circa ‘69, World of Joe Tex tells us that:

Back in Memphis he recorded enough new material at American Sound for his . . . [’69] album [Buying a Book]. . . . The [title] song took Joe back into the R&B Top 10 and he appeared on several national TV shows in the wake of its success. In an interview to promote his appearance on the Johnny Cash Show, Joe expounded his views on soul and not surprisingly got in another dig at his arch enemy. He declared “You don’t have to be a singer or a musician to have soul. Soul…is performing with pride in your performance. A housewife who keeps a neat home and cooks a delectable meal has soul… Why, even some politicians have soul. Ray Charles has soul. James Brown – and you can quote me on this – doesn’t. James Brown is called the King of Soul but he is all visual. Another thing – soul isn’t confined to one race, color or creed.” . . . The Buying a book album was no less strong than the single. . . . Still the hits were harder to come by. . . . [T]he civil rights anthem We can’t sit down now failed to chart.

As to why Joe Tex is not in the Rock & Hall of Fame, Roy laments:

Of all of the 60’s soul kingdom in rock Tex is the one name who was as consistent, popular and innovative as virtually any, yet who’s been left behind in recognition ever since. His track record more than holds up against most from that era who are already in, with more than two dozen hits to his name over 15 years, including 6 that went to either #1 or #2 on the R&B Charts, spanning southern soul to pure funk. A prolific writer and extremely influential performer with the oft-imitated microphone trick as his lasting legacy. . . . he remains one of the Hall’s most inexplicable omissions. . . . His influence is vast, as he invented the famed microphone trick on stage that many have imitated, was one of the originators of the country-soul style that was among the 60’s most enduring sounds, and as shown with his nickname, The Dapper Rapper, his vocal style was one of the prototypes for rap with his semi-spoken delivery in many songs. In addition, he wrote all of his own material, which was renown for its smart, humorous, down-home advice and storytelling ability. His candidacy would seem to be bolstered by the fact that many of his contemporaries with appreciably less success than Tex have already gotten in. . . . His early death in 1982 meant that he was not around long enough to become a well-respected elder statesman, and his lack of one massive universally known song to keep his name in the casual listener’s mind relegated him to a second tier act historically when in fact he was on par with almost any of his competitors and made the transition from soul to funk that defined black rock ‘n’ roll in the 60’s and 70’s better than most.


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