Monday, August 11, 2008

Isaac Hayes 1942 - 2008

Now this is going to be pretty hard for me to write about. Isaac Hayes died on Sunday at his home in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 65.

For decades now, a week hasn't passed in my life without me listening to the music of Isaac Hayes. To some people, he is the Oscar-winning composer of the score from Shaft. To others, he will always be South Park's Chef.

To me, he is a giant. One of my very few personal heroes. I've written such a vast amount about my life-long love affair with Shaft - the movies, the books, the music - that you can just mess about in the blog archive here and find reams of stuff about John Shaft and Isaac Hayes. It's one of my enduring obsessions, and today that obsession is tinged with just a little bit more sadness than before.

I've listened to the Theme from Shaft more often than any other piece of music by a massive margin. I never, ever tire of it. And I never, ever cease to get a little tingle of excitement when Isaac Hayes opens his mouth for the first time and the words start rumbling out.

Who's the black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks?

There will never be another Isaac Hayes. The list of his achievements is dizzying in its breadth and scope. Here's just a teeny, tiny sampling:

He was the Duke in John Carpenter's Escape from New York.

He was Truck Turner.

He was the co-composer (along with David Porter) of Sam & Dave's Soul Man.

He created the Isaac Hayes Foundation to promote literacy and music education around the world.

I've been trying to write about Isaac Hayes for hours, and the words I grab hold of are never the right ones. So I'll let the music speak for me. Here's the moment that I fell in love with Isaac Hayes for the first time. John Shaft strides out of a Times Square subway opening as the guitar kicks in, and I'm losing my heart to a piece of music forever...

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