One For The Road

Pops Staples – ‘Somebody Was Watching’

"Don't Lose This" is a posthumous album from Pops Staples, taken from his final recording sessions with his daughter Mavis in 1999. The songs are now being released for the first time, featuring production and guitar work by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy.

Duke Ellington famously said that Pops Staples “played gospel in a blues key.” Born on a plantation in 1914 and reared in the Southern music traditions, Mr. Staples moved to Chicago in 1935 to become a professional gospel singer. Soon he enlisted his wife and children to create The Staples Singers. By the 1960s, the band had found a home at the famed Stax Records label and had found their signature style combining traditional gospel with contemporary pop and blues music, creating politically-aware anthems of the Civil Rights era. In 1972, they would top the pop charts with their hit “I’ll Take You There.” Mr. Staples continued to make music until 1998, when, at the age of 85, he recorded his final songs, in collaboration with his daughter Mavis Staples. This week, there are two celebrations of the Staples legacy: “Freedom Highway: Complete,” a newly remixed, remastered, and expanded version of the 1965 recording of a powerful concert performed at Chicago’s New Nazareth Church in solidarity with the marchers in Selma, and also “Don’t Lose This” the newly-released album taken from those 1999 sessions with his daughter, which now feature production and guitar work by Mavis’ collaborator of recent years, Jeff Tweedy. This week’s one for the road is from the latter album; a new song from a giant of 20th century music.