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sweet soul queen

October 9th, 2008     by Anna Leventhal     Comments

Nobody (except maybe Roy Orbison) knows crying like Irma Thomas. If you wanted, you could make a mixtape exclusively of songs she’s recorded that are about crying or tears - Cry On, In Between Tears, Cry Cry Cry, Hold Me While I Cry. And, you know, it would still make me happier than most bubblegum pop. Okay, Aretha has a bigger voice, and Otis Redding is more enjoyably melodramatic, but for my money Irma is the soul singer I want with me when the chips are down. Her songs are heartfelt, but also complex - heartbreak isn’t the only danger in Irma’s world… or, okay, it is, but leading to heartbreak are things like gossip, long-distance relationships, forgiveness, and too much rain. It makes ya think, and it rhymes. Plus, she’s been at it for about five decades, so you know she means it. Fun fact: She, and not the Rolling Stones, was the first to record the I’ll-get-you-yet classic Time Is On My Side.

Irma recently played the Pop Montreal festival, and my co-conspirator Angie Wilson caught up with her and interviewed her for our radio show. You can download the Venus podcast and hear her chat about getting older, hurricane Katrina, and bein’ a sweet soul queen here; just click on Venus and follow the download instructions. The interview is in hour 2.

After the cut is one of the most awkward fan videos of all time featuring my favorite Irma Thomas song, Two Winters Long. There are better quality recordings out there, but the hand! The awkward hand! You know you love it.

Tags: picks from planet venus, playlist

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