Bobby Womack: Home Is Where The Heart Is
December 1976 interview
By David Nathan
Bobby Womack is brim full of confidence and out to conquer the world……
"Home Is Where The Heart Is" is the name of Bobby Womack's latest album. How does it differ from any of Bobby's last five or six albums? Very simple. Bobby is now with Columbia Records and he's happy 'bout the whole thing! Without dwelling too much into the past, the fact is that Mr. Womack spent eight years with United Artists Records. Not that those eight years were in any way wasted. But as far as a whole lot of people were concerned, Bobby Womack should have happened on a much bigger scale quite a long time ago. He points out that the album "Understanding" bore three gold singles, including "I Can Understand It", and was not a gold album itself! Not exactly inspiring when you're as talented as Bobby.
But brood? No way: "Joining. CBS is like a shot in the arm and that's always rewarding. Maybe I could have happened before — but I didn't — at least not the way I figured I could have! But it's taken time for me to mellow myself. Maybe five years ago, my mind wasn't in the right place, maybe I wasn't ready. Everything in its time and I'm ready now."
Admittedly, there were many, frustrating times during that eight years. "U.A. changed presidency five times whilst I was there and each time, that meant getting to know new people. And that takes time. Meanwhile, you have a record out and it's dying because the whole personnel changes! The most you can do is your best through your music. It's like I say — if you want to get to it, you've got to go through it."
But it's a new day. "This new album symbolizes how I feel. Check out the songs — "A Change Is Gonna Come" that's a timeless song and I dedicated it to myself — because I needed that change. And "We've Only Just Begun". Basically, the album's concept is one of me coming into my own. And I credit a lot of that to my wife — that's on the personal side of things. And now, I feel I'm coming into my own as a performer and an artist with CBS."
There's the inevitable question about getting lost in amongst the many folk at CBS. "As long as you keep presenting good material, there's no reason for anyone to get lost. It keeps you on your toes, knowing you've got to constantly come up with something. And knowing now that I have the advantage of good promotion and marketing behind me makes a whole lot of difference. It's like the song "Safety Zone" which was the title cut for one of my last albums with U.A. I held the song back because I knew it would get lost there. Like "Daylight" — that had to go in there but I knew the company would lose it as a hit single. "Now Vicki Sue Robinson has it out as a record. Which makes me glad but just shows me that the company just didn't have that foresight. Sure you can get mad but all that will happen when you get mad is that you'll end up writing mad songs!"
The new album contains only a few of Bobby's own compositions. "That's because U.A. still have another year to run on my publishing — so when that time is up, you'll be seeing more of my songs." His writing talents have already been responsible for providing many other artists with some big hits. "I Can Understand It" became a big hit for Kokomo: "and I think they had the best version because the track was real good. But of course, the writer of any song usually comes through with the best version of it because he can deal with it best."
Yet another facet of Mr. Womack's talent that is definitely going to be coming more to the fore is his excellent guitar work. "I guess being in Europe made me more aware of myself as a musician — in terms of the fact that people were into that aspect of me. So now I intend to spotlight that more in the studio. Before I used to use the guitar as a crutch and you become lazy. You go through phases but I intend to stress it more on stage."
All of which leads on to a discussion about Bobby's crossover appeal. "Crossover? Television's the answer to that to a large extent. And I believe it can happen for me. Yes, it's important and maybe now through CBS we can start to look for it to happen. U.A. used to be frightened to even take my records to pop radio stations!"
With his mind less clouded by those kind of problems, Bobby feels confident he can conquer the world. "I'm concerned now with being consistent. On building myself in all areas. I need all the energy I can muster to do all the things I want to do. I've spent quite a little bit of time at home recently — more time than I've ever spent at home sine I was 17! I guess I've been here for six months now. So it's time to go back out. But I never see the point of going out there just to go out there. You should have a good reason. After all, it's expensive keeping people working out there — and even if you're not going to make money, you shouldn't be losing it! So, we'll be starting to do some promotional work soon. And then, I want to get back to Europe in February because I really dug it last time. And I want to start producing Peggy Young — the lady who duets with me on "We've Only Just Begun" on the new album."
Bobby's happy with the new album — "there are a lot of things on there I like. "How Long" — when I first heard the song I wanted to do it. And "Something For My Head" — one of the two songs Philip Mitchell wrote on the album. And the next one? Whenever the spirit hits me, I guess I'll start into it. But I sure am glad I don't have to do more than two albums a year — that would be too much! Right now, I really believe in what I'm doing and I believe you get your just rewards when you put the right ingredients together. I feel like I'm in full force now. An artist has to be respected and you have to be free — how else can you create? Now, I feel better than ever!"
It's always a pleasure speaking with someone as warm and talented as Bobby Womack.