April 3, 2012

Video: Ralph "Soul" Jackson - I Shot the Sheriff

Let's talk for a minute about DIY and lo-fi. It's not just for the young and unskilled. Case in point: Ralph "Soul" Jackson. He got his start in 1965, when he was 19 years old and lo-fi was the only fi there was. That's when he recorded his first song at his home in Phenix City, Alabama, and sent it to one of the famed Halls in Muscle Shoals. A couple days later Hall called back and said, “I'm crazy about your song.” Next thing Jackson knew, he was on a southbound bus, and when he arrived Hall told him, “I'm gonna make you a big star. You’re Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson now. You'll never have to work no more the rest of your life.” That didn't happen. He cut a couple 45s, but Hall’s promise had never come true, and though Jackson had dipped below the poverty line many times over the years, bouncing from job to odd job, serving a couple stints in prison for running drugs in the 1980s, he’d never stopped writing music. Recording at the Ralph “Soul” Jackson Studio Shack on his farm in Phenix City, he’d amassed a catalog of “probably 150, 200” songs. Now 65, Jackson is poised to release his debut LP on Rabbit Factory in May. Dig the washed-out vocals on his cover of "I Shot the Sheriff." Jackson played all the instruments himself. Southern-fried DIY.

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