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A review and reflection on Anthony Hamilton's moving R&B ballad.
CHARLENE--A LOVER'S SONG
"Woke up this morning and found a letter that she wrote." So begins Anthony Hamilton's moving ballad, Charlene. I heard it for the first time one night as the TV blared in the background. I was trying to get back to sleep, but Hamilton's rich baritone voice echoed in the dark, the words floating across the room. "She said she's tired, that I'm always on the road."
His voice is richer than those I'd grown tired of hearing on the radio and in music videos. "Promise I'll be there to the very end. By your side. To protect you and to love you and to be with you for life. Come on home to me, Charlene." Thinking that it was just another retro tune from the past, I curled up for more sleep. There was work tomorrow. The rhythmic song continued to fill the room, the only light coming from the television's blueish glare. The beat was heavy and behind it was melancoly music and Hamilton's Otis Redding-like voice.
I lifted my head from the pillow, giving in to the music. Who is this brother? I squinted to see the TV screen. Sitting on a bed, holding the letter, Hamilton begged for Charlene to come back. "Come on home, Charlene." I swore that the voice sounded like the old songs my brother Jimmy used to play in his mustard green '68 Mustang with the eight-track tape under the passenger seat. I sat up in the bed. The song's title and Hamilton's name flashed at the bottom of the screen. I took mental note, vowing to look up the song on the internet.
The next day I found the song on the internet--and played it over and over. Not since Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, and my recent fascination with Redding had I heard such a beautiful, soulful voice. Hamilton's gritty, baritone sound is remininscient of the great R&B ballad singers that I grew up listening to. Perhaps that's why the tune woke me up that night.
Charlene is a love song---even though spoken by a man who has made a huge mistake, ignoring the silent cries of his woman. Still, it has none of the female-bashing lyrics imbedded in songs you might hear on "urban" stations (exactly what do they mean?). The song makes one appreciate the love of their life. Anthony Hamilton deserves props for this song--and the rest of the album follows suit with equally touching tunes such as "I'm A Mess" and "I Tried." The album (Where I'm Coming From) is a good pick. I downloaded mine from I-tunes for .99 per song, well worth the duckets taken off my Visa-check card. I popped the CD in my car stereo and I was on my way, reveling in some inspiring throw-back R&B from a soulful brother.
Promise I can't live without her
God knows I need her loving
And it hurts so bad that's she gone
I pray that she'll come back one day
In my life