Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Chart Song Cinema: Bobby Womack - "Acoss 110th Street" (1973)

Bobby Womack - "Across 110th Street" (Billboard #59, entered 3/25/73; soul #19). Written by Bobby Womack and J.J. Johnson. Produced by J.J. Johnson. 45: "Across 110th Street"/"Hang On In There" (United Artists 1973). LP: Across 110th Street (United Artists 1973).

Bobby Womack's title song for the ultra-violent blaxploitation film Across 110th Street is a reminder that music is the more powerful medium. Although a song can expand in meaning through its association with a film, never does a film live up to the possibilities one can conjure up mentally when a piece of music plays. Womack's recording is one of the truly potent blaxploitation themes, with its opening organ mimicking flashing city lights and its first-person lyrics ("I was the third brother of five/doing whatever I had to survive").

Quentin Tarrantino's usage of "Across 110th Street" as an intro for Jackie Brown (1997) removes it from its original source and assigns it to his own images. Like with all of the music Tarrantino has poured into his earlier films from his song-licensing shopping bag, the song suffers damage from its association with the movie's images, while the film benefits from the song's evocative power.

Bobby Womack - "Across 110th Street"

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