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The Year's Best Books: Mystery and Nonfiction

Our book critic continues her list of the year's best in books. This time, she tells us about her favorites in mysteries and nonfiction.

06:52

Other segments from the episode on December 11, 2006

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, December 11, 2006: Interview with Sam Moore; Review of the best mystery books of the year.

Transcript

DATE December 11, 2006 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
NETWORK NPR
PROGRAM Fresh Air

Interview: Performer Sam Moore discusses his career and new
solo album "Sam Moore: Overnight Sensational"

TERRY GROSS, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

My guest, Sam Moore, is best known as the Sam in Sam & Dave, the soul music
duo of the '60's that had the hits "Soul Man," "Hold On, I'm Comin'," "When
Something Is Wrong with My Baby" and "I Thank You." Sam & Dave were also
famous as one of the acts that inspired the John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd duo
The Blues Brothers. The Blues Brothers' signature song was the Sam & Dave hit
"Soul Man." Sam Moore and Dave Prater broke up in 1970, although they reunited
several times. Dave died in a car accident in 1988. Sam Moore has been
performing solo but he has a new album of collaborations with such singers as
Bruce Springsteen, Sting, and Fantasia. One track has received a Grammy
nomination. The album was produced by Randy Jackson, who's famous as one of
the judges on "American Idol." Moore really sounds great. Let's hear a track
before we meet him. This is his duet with Wynonna, "I Can't Stand the Rain."

(Soundbite of "I Can't Stand the Rain")

Mr. SAM MOORE: (Singing)
I can't stand the rain against my window
brings back sweet memories
I can't stand the rain against my window
because she's not here with me.

WYNONNA: (Singing)
When we were together
everything was so good

Mr. MOORE: (Singing)
Everything was so grand

WYNONNA: (Singing)
Now that we parted
there's just one sound that I just can't stand

Mr. MOORE: (Singing)
I can't stand the rain...

WYNONNA: (Singing)
Rain.

Unidentified Singers: (Singing)
Rain.

Mr. MOORE: (Singing)

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: That's Sam Moore from his new CD "Overnight Sensational."

Sam Moore, what a pleasure to have you here on FRESH AIR. Thank you so much
for coming. I have to say, you are still in great voice. Have you been
singing straight through the years that you weren't recording?

Mr. MOORE: Yes. Well, you know, you have to make a living, Terry. And
whether you have a record or you're recording or whatever, you still have to
pay those bills at home. I had been working in different capacities from the
oldies market to the ships and all these good things. So the answer to the
question, I have been singing.

GROSS: Now you started to sing in church. Would you describe the church that
you first sang in?

Mr. MOORE: Ah, the church I first sang in. The church I first sang in, I
think the first solo I may have had, I was about nine. I remember the first
time I was given a solo to sing with the adult choir, I forgot the words.

GROSS: Oh no.

Mr. MOORE: I did. I did. I did. I mean, it was a most embarrassing
situation because here's this little guy standing before the big choir, and I
have this solo to sing and they're going to be singing behind me, and I forgot
the words to the song. That was the most interesting part of my church. And
before that, when I was a little boy, my parents were so happy to start
grooming me to be this minister, you know, of gospel, and that was fine until
I started taking up a collection from the people in the streets. And my
mother caught me one day, and she was standing in the doorway in Miami,
Florida, and she was standing--she--got--coming from school and she came
through the back, and I was repeating my Lord's Prayer over and over and over
and over and over and again, and I was also singing as the choir, and then I
would say the Lord's prayer over and over and over again. So I had a cup that
I'd gotten out of the house and I put it down on the side and I was asking for
a collection after the service, and she said, `I don't think that's funny. I
think you'd better stop.' And that's the beginning and the ending of my church
experience.

GROSS: So you sang gospel and then you met Dave Prater, who was the Dave in
Sam & Dave. How did you and Dave Prater meet?

Mr. MOORE: It was a fluke. I was working at this club in Miami called the
King of Hearts, and I had heard about this young man that was doing the
amateur hour in Miami, and eventually he got out to where I was singing,
emcee, comedian--whatever you want to call it, I wasn't good at any of it--but
it was a good job. It was a job to do. And he came out there, and I got his
name and I said, `Oh, you're the young man that's doing Sam Cooke songs and
whatnot.' And he said, `Yeah, but I'm not doing--I don't want to do that this
time. I'm going to do a Jackie Wilson.' And I said, `What song would that
be?' And he said, `Dogging Me Around.' And I said, `OK. OK.' And he did. He
was OK until he got to the verses, and when he got to the verses he had a
meltdown. And I'm--being a professional and knowing this young fellow by the
name of Jackie Leroy Wilson, I knew him well enough, I knew all his songs, I
knew everything that he'd been doing. So I said, `Look, you know, I'll try
and help you out.' Which I shouldn't have been doing, but, like I said, it was
a fluke because I stayed up there, and there was some mistakes and some things
done, Dave being nervous and my being a klutz. It caused Sam & Dave, behind
the nervousness and the klutzness, to be together for almost 21 years.

GROSS: Now was the way that you kind of bailed him out of the verses that he
didn't know, was that how you developed your way of duetting and alternating
with each other?

Mr. MOORE: No, no, no, that came later on in the studio when we started
recording because they never could--at the time we started recording in
Memphis at Studio Stax, they were trying to get us to harmonize and that
wasn't working, so we started doing like a call and response sort of thing. I
think the closest we ever came to harmonizing with any song for the time we
recorded there was like "Something Is Wrong with My Baby."

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MOORE: "You don't know her like I know her." "I take what I want." But
that was the closest of harmonizing that Dave and I came. But most of our
songs, if you hear the older things that we did, was a call and response.

GROSS: Well, when you started singing together, you were assigned first to
Roulette Records. But then you were assigned by Jerry Wexler to Atlantic
Records and that's when things really took off. He wanted you to record in
Memphis at the Stax Records Studio, and Atlantic had some kind of tie-in with
Stax. Why did he want to take you down to Memphis?

Mr. MOORE: I don't think they were looking for these two guys to be, you
know, that big, or whatever. I don't know. I know they couldn't--I figured
they could make money with us, or whatever. But when we got down there, I was
so disappointed because I didn't like any of the songs that they introduced to
us because I was, you know, I was into that Clyde McPhatter, The Drifters, Big
Joe Turner, Ray Charles, I was into that mode and I wanted to, you know, do,
you know, songs like Jackie and Clyde and all this stuff, but it didn't work
out that way. And when they started giving us the songs with the titles of
"Jody Rider" and...(unintelligible)..."Get Your Gun" and all this stuff, I
said, `Oh, my God, our career's dead.' Show you how much I knew.

GROSS: My guest is Sam Moore. His new CD is called "Overnight Sensational."
We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Announcements)

GROSS: My guest is Sam Moore, best known as half of the '60's soul music duo
Sam & Dave. Moore has a new CD called "Overnight Sensational."

Isaac Hayes and David Porter wrote most of your hits, like "Soul Man," "Hold
On, I'm Comin'," "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby," "I Thank You." When
you first met Isaac Hayes, did he give you a sense of the sound that he heard
you doing?

Mr. MOORE: No. When I first met Isaac coming down the street, I thought he
was the most strangest looking person I had ever seen. But you must
understand at that time Isaac had hair on his head.

GROSS: That's hard to imagine.

Mr. MOORE: Yeah, I know. You know, he had hair, Terry. He had on a pink
shirt and green--I think they were green pants. I'm color blind so I could be
wrong, it could have been another color, but I think he had on green pants
with a white belt, and pink socks with white shoes. And I went `Oh, my God,
what is this coming down the street dressed like that?' And I basically
started crying because I went, `Oh, my God, what is, you know, what is
happening here? Why, why, why, why would they do this to me?' But again, show
you how much I knew, soon after I met David, and he was an insurance runner at
the time in Memphis and working at a store in the corner of Stax. He was
dressed with pants that looked like petal pushers, you know, and a little
short hat and this sweater. Well, what are you doing with a sweater on that
time of hot summer day? I mean, it was hot. And the pants were real high,
and he had on these funny looking socks with rivets in it. And I said, `Oh,
boy.' And that's how I met those two. So...

GROSS: And did you feel different when they started giving you songs?

Mr. MOORE: I did. I felt like I wanted to go home. `Please send me back
home,' you know.

GROSS: Even after they gave you the songs?

Mr. MOORE: Well, when they started playing them and saying, `These are songs
we've come up, you know, we're writing for you and Dave.' And I'm standing
there, `Can't you find another way of doing it?' It was sort of like a take
off on a country song. And I, actually, if you go back and play it, I
actually interpreted it that way. I sang it that way. You know, I was so
dissatisfied with this, I didn't try to do anything with it. I just sang it
like they, you know, they were playing it for me and they recorded it like
that.

GROSS: OK, so when they gave you "Hold On, I'm Comin'," which was a huge hit
for you, your first really big hit, did you like that?

Mr. MOORE: No.

GROSS: But it's such a great record. What did you do to make it more to your
liking?

Mr. MOORE: Nothing. I think it was more--I didn't do anything, Terry. I,
you know, up to that point, I was just singing the song. I sang the song as
straight as I could because, you know, I wasn't familiar with that kind of,
you know, with what they were trying to do, and I was trying to feel my way
through.

GROSS: Well, let's hear it. This is Sam & Dave, their first really big hit,
`Hold On, I'm Comin'."

(Soundbite of "Hold On, I'm Comin'")

Unidentified Singer #1: (Singing)
Don't you ever feel sad
Lean on me when times are bad
When the day comes and you're down
In a river of trouble and about to drown

Singer #1 and Unidentified Singer #2: (Singing)
Just hold on, I'm comin'
Hold on, I'm comin'

Singer #2: (Singing)
I'm goin' my way, your lover
If you get cold, yeah, I'll be your cover
Don't have to worry 'cause I'm here

Singer #1: (Singing)
(Unintelligible)

Singer #2: (Singing)
No need to suffer baby, because I'm here

Singer #1: (Singing)
Yeah

Singer #1 and Singer #2: (Singing)
Just hold on, I'm comin'
Hold on, I'm comin'
Just hold on, I'm comin'

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: That's Sam & Dave, recorded in 1966, and my guest is the Sam of Sam &
Dave, Sam Moore, and he has a new CD which is called "Overnight Sensational."

Now you were saying that you didn't like this song when Isaac Hayes and David
Porter, the writers of the song, gave it to you. But did you imagine this
song, not only like with your voices in it but also with like the Memphis
Horns behind you?

Mr. MOORE: Hmm, you know, to move on with the Sam & Dave thing, I was
comfortable after--believe this or not--after Dave and I were split up the
first time, and I had a problem because--it's not that I felt that I was
better than Dave or better than what was being given to me. I knew that I
could sing other songs other than "Hold On, I'm Comin'," "Soul Man," you
know...

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MOORE: I knew, and I wanted to stretch my wings. But with what was
happening in our career and our personal lives, I actually took advantage of
that and I walked away in 1969, you know, the first time I walked away. But
it was not that I wanted to break up the act. I just wanted to do other
material because I felt myself being pigeonholed into something that was going
to come back and bite me, which it did. You know, it did.

GROSS: Mm-hmm. How did it come back and bite you? You mean like you
couldn't get out of that? You always had to do it with him.

Mr. MOORE: Right. Absolutely. And, you know what? I tell you the truth,
Terry. It's still happening today.

GROSS: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Mr. MOORE: You know. It still happens today. I mean, you know, all over
the country, people still say, `Well, I like that. I like what you're doing,
Sam. I like your voice singing, but why you don't have another guy? Why you
don't have another guy? Just get a guy and call him Dave.' And I'm going,
`What?' You know? And it was actually Sam & Dave became an albatross around
my neck for a long, even as you and I are speaking now, you know. So it
bothered me for a long time.

GROSS: Well because Sam & Dave was such an important part of soul music
history, I want to ask you a few more questions about that. Is that all
right?

Mr. MOORE: Sure. Sure.

GROSS: Great. Now I've got to play "Soul Man" because it's such a well known
recording of yours. What did you think of this song when you were given it
and was it a song you wanted to do?

Mr. MOORE: Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, yes and--well. No. Let's be honest.

GROSS: Sure.

Mr. MOORE: No. I didn't want to do "Soul Man," you know, because I felt,
you know, I felt it was putting us in a--you must understand, it was a
critical part of coming out of segregation, and it was a message there but I
didn't feel it that way. I felt like it was more bluesy kind of thing. I had
no idea the song was going to get as big as it did. Had no idea.

GROSS: Did it seem like a novelty song to you?

Mr. MOORE: Well, no, it was not like that. It was--I don't know. There was
something about it. You know, I think it was, to me, it was just too many...

(Singing) "I'm a soul man, I'm a soul..."

Mr. MOORE: I got sick of that. And I tell you, over the years I've turned
the song around. over, flipped it around, I've done it all kind of ways not
to become so boring, because I know I have to do it, you know.

GROSS: Right.

Mr. MOORE: People love the song. And so if they love it, you know, you have
to shut your mouth and just get on up there and do it, you know, stop
complaining. But, no, I didn't like it when I first got the song.

GROSS: You can put your hands over your ears because we're going to play it
now.

Mr. MOORE: OK. Oh, Terry.

GROSS: This is Sam & Dave, one of their really big hits, "Soul Man."

(Soundbite of "Soul Man")

Singer #1: (Singing)
Comin' to you on a dusty road
Good lovin', I got a truckload
And when ya get it, ha
You got somethin'
So don't worry, cos I'm comin'

Singer #1 and Singer #2: (Singing)
I'm a soul man, yeow!
I'm a soul man
I'm a soul man, whoa!
I'm a soul man

Singer #1: (Singing)
I've got it all

Got what I got the hard way

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: That's Sam & Dave, recording in 1967, "Soul Man," another song
that was written for them by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. Well, it's a
great record, I--you know, no matter what you say.

Mr. MOORE: Yes. I mean, listen, everybody overrules me because they all
look at me when I say, `No.' They say, `Well, you know what? You don't like
it, but
we're going to still play it because we like to hear you sing it.' So you
know what I do, Terry? I sing it.

GROSS: Right, right.

Mr. MOORE: But I've been able to now, of late, to do it and put in my--it's
done
much differently at the end that I basically wouldn't have done it
in the past, so it takes away all the...(sighs)...you know, the stuff, I use
the audience as my choir and we go have church with it now.

GROSS: Sam Moore will be back in the second half of the show. His new CD is
called "Overnight Sensational." I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of "Soul Man")

Singer #1 and Singer #2: (Singing)
I'm a soul man, yeah!
I'm a soul man, (unintelligible)
I'm a soul man, ha!
I'm a soul man, oh!

Singer #1: (Singing)
I was brought up on a side street

(End of soundbite)

(Announcements)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR.

I'm Terry Gross, back with Sam Moore. He's best known as half of the '60's
soul music duo Sam & Dave, who had the hits "Soul Man," "Hold On, I'm Comin',"
"I Thank You," and "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby." Sam & Dave were
also an inspiration behind John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd's Blues Brothers.
Their signature song was Sam & Dave's "Soul Man." When I mentioned to Moore
that Aykroyd had once been a guest on our show, Moore spoke of him with great
affection.

Now when John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd created The Blues Brothers and they
started singing "Soul Man," how did you first find out about it?

Mr. MOORE: The first time I saw Danny and John do the song, yeah, I was
watching "Saturday Night Live" and they were doing it on their show. I'm not
sure whether they were calling themselves The Blues Brothers then or not. I'm
not sure. But I saw them do it and I said, `Oh, that's hip, you know. It's a
parody. It's OK. You know, it's fine.' But then when they recorded it, that
was fine also. I took issue in their doing the song after we played a couple
of dates in New York City, I remember so well. And the kids walked up and
they were saying, `You know that song "Soul Man"?' `Yes.' `That you guys just
finished doing?' `Yeah.' `You know the song that The Blues Brothers did? I
know you covered it.' I'm telling you, Terry, they did.

GROSS: That's sad. That's really sad.

Mr. MOORE: And now what you're doing, you're trying to explain to them, `No,
they covered Sam & Dave's "Soul Man." And they say, `Yeah, right. But anyway,
we liked the way you guys--you all do it better than them.' And I went, oh
man, no one, no one, at that time would believe that we were the original
artists on the song.

GROSS: It sounds like you had a pretty volatile relationship with Dave when
you were performing, and it sounds like maybe he was a pretty volatile guy. I
mean, he shot his wife. Do you know what happened?

Mr. MOORE: How did you know that? How did you know that?

GROSS: About him shooting his wife? I read about it

Mr. MOORE: You did, huh? Well, that was part of it, but, you know, it--you
know, we also had a drug problem...

GROSS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Both of you.

Mr. MOORE: Yeah. Yeah. And after a while it started telling on what, you
know, the act was not dynamic. The act--sometimes Dave would show up, I
didn't. Sometime I would show, he didn't. And it started telling on us on
stage to the point that there's some footage that we were trying to upstage
one another, we were being insulting to one another, and that spilled over
into the audience. So it put a--it was not--after other part of 12 and a half
years that we were together, it didn't look very good at all. It was very,
very, very bad.

GROSS: Do you think drugs had to do with him shooting his wife?

Mr. MOORE: Not--no, not that.

GROSS: OK.

Mr. MOORE: They was just one of those, you know, he was--I don't know what
they call it. I don't know. Because I wasn't there.

GROSS: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Mr. MOORE: And when he did it, I was--we had a concert to do in Atlanta,
Georgia, I remember so well. And when he showed up, it was--I remember saying
to him--trying to talk to him, and he didn't want to hear what I had to say.
And this is what caused the relationship to really get, you know,
quieter--that's the only word I can find to say, because the relationship was
not wherein he and I socialized. We never socialized together. The only time
we did, unfortunately, was when we were doing dope. You know, other than that
we didn't see each other. He had his friends. I had mine, or whatever you
want to call it. But I don't know. I remember saying to him at the end, `I
will sing with you if I must. I'll even record with you if I must. But I'll
never talk to you again.' So for the next 12 years, Terry, I had nothing to
say to Dave Prater Jr. He had his dressing room, I had mine. And when we
entered the stage, most of the times I didn't listen to him. Now you wouldn't
believe that but the next 12 years, I didn't hear Dave. Whatever Dave was
doing onstage, I tuned it out. That's how bad it was.

GROSS: My guest is Sam Moore. His new CD is called "Overnight Sensational."
We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Announcements)

GROSS: My guest is Sam Moore, best known as half of the '60's soul music duo
Sam & Dave. Moore has a new CD called "Overnight Sensational."

Well, Sam & Dave broke up in 1970, although you did get back together again...

Mr. MOORE: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: ...a couple of times. But I guess it was after you broke up in 1970,
you recorded a solo album for Atlantic Records...

Mr. MOORE: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: ...that was never released until, I think, it was 2002 it was actually
released. And there's some incredible stuff on that, as we'll hear in a
moment. But what was the story behind this album and what was it like for
you? You know, you were telling us about your frustrations recording material
as half of Sam & Dave that you didn't really like that much and that you
didn't think showed off your range as a singer. So what was it like for you
to record this solo album?

Mr. MOORE: I guess it was OK. You got to understand, Terry, I, you
know--and I'm glad you asked that because there are people that have asked me
about that. You know, I was getting high at that time. I was still
influenced with the drug scene and whatnot, and when I was resigned back as a
solo performer with Atlantic I was getting high, and they put--the producer
turned out to be King Curtis.

GROSS: The saxophonist.

Mr. MOORE: Yeah.

GROSS: Who's also featured on that album.

Mr. MOORE: Yes. And also a musical director for Aretha Franklin...

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MOORE: ...you know, and also for the Coasters and whatnot. A very good
producer. And I think, I tell you, Terry, if he had been alive today, I'm not
sure so we would have still been together, but working with him, he was--if
you listen to the different songs that he--that I was doing and performing,
recordingwise, he was looking for a place for Sam Moore, and not a Sam & Dave
revisited or anything like that. He was looking for a place to put Sam Moore,
to give him a place in the industry as far as recording to get me out of that
Sam & Dave mode.

GROSS: Well, we'll talk about this more, but let's stop here and hear some
music.

Mr. MOORE: OK.

GROSS: And this is a track from that album. The album's called "Plenty Good
Lovin'" and it was released about four years ago. It's still available. So
it was recorded in 1970, released about four years ago. And this track is
called "Part Time Love." And you mentioned that King Curtis was, among other
things, Aretha Franklin's music director. Aretha's featured on piano on this,
right?

Mr. MOORE: Yes. Yes.

GROSS: Yeah.

Mr. MOORE: I, you know, I said something to her the other night in
Washington, DC, at the honors of--and she was there honoring--also to honor
and introduce Smokey Robinson. And I walked over and I said, her assistant,
to him I said--he said, `Do you hear "Part Time Love"?' He said, `Sound like I
hear Aretha.' I said, `It is Aretha.' So when he went over and he said
something. So when I went over to her and I said something, she said, `That's
me?' She said, `Is that me or is that Billy Preston?' I said, `No, that's
you.' She said, `Oh, OK.' And then when they played it after the, you know, in
the hotel or whatever, she came over and she said, `You know what? I was
pretty good then, wasn't I?' I said, `Yeah, you were good. You're still good,
Aretha.' So yeah, that's Aretha on that.

GROSS: Yeah, she was OK.

Mr. MOORE: Yeah. She was all--as they say in the hip-hop world, she was all
right.

GROSS: OK. So this is Sam Moore, from his 1970 recording. The album's
called "Plenty Good Lovin'" and this track is "Part Time Love," with Aretha
Franklin on piano.

(Soundbite of "Part Time Love")

Mr. MOORE: (Singing)
And listen
If you've got the will
I'll make a way
You pick the time, baby
I'll set the pace

You won't ever have to worry

Unidentified Group of Singers #1: (Singing)
Ever have to worry

Mr. MOORE: (Singing)
You won't ever have to wonder

Group of Singers #1: (Singing)
Never have to wonder

Mr. MOORE: (Singing)
And never never never
(Unintelligible)

Mr. MOORE and Group of Singers #1: (Singing)
Plenty good lovin', baby
Plenty good lovin', baby
Plenty good lovin', baby
A whole lot of lovin', baby
Yeah.

Mr. MOORE: (Singing)
Take your troubles,
Put them in a package
And I'll throw them all away, yeah
Look, I...(unintelligible)

Mr. MOORE and Group of Singers #1: (Singing)
Plenty good lovin', baby
Plenty good lovin', baby

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: Now before we heard that track, you said that had King Curtis lived,
you think maybe you would have continued to work together. You really liked
working with him.

Mr. MOORE: Yeah.

GROSS: But he didn't live, he was actually murdered. Would you tell us about
the last time you saw him?

Mr. MOORE: That was the last time. I was going up to his apartment, his
townhouse, and I remember going to see him because there was one more song
that had to be done to finish the album up. And as I was coming up the
street, Aretha was across the street and she was also having a visit with him
because she was getting ready to go into the studio also to record. And as I
was walking up the street, they saw me, and they saw this young man and King
Curtis get into it. And that was, as you well know, that was an altercation
wherein King got stabbed, you know. And I saw her jump out of the car and she
was screaming, `Somebody get the police!' And I stopped. Now why did I stop?
I'm glad you asked. I had paraphernalia on me.

GROSS: You were afraid you'd get busted.

Mr. MOORE: I could have gotten busted. So I backed up and I turned around
and went back and caught the train, and went back to my house down on 54th
Street. And by the time I got there, my girlfriend ask me did I hear about
it. And I said yes. But that was the last time I saw and heard from King.

GROSS: Do you know what that fight was about?

Mr. MOORE: No. I have no idea. There were different stories told that I've
heard. And, you know, there's a lot of hearsay about this happened, or that
happened, but I personally I have no idea what it was all about.

GROSS: Now you were telling us earlier that you sang in the church when you
were young.

Mr. MOORE: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: But it sounds like you had a pretty rough and maybe street-oriented
life as a teenager. You were shot twice in your teens.

MOORE: Ah yeah. Well, yeah. You know, my mother and my grandmother
did--they were wonderful, wonderful, caring, loving. They loved their son and
their grandson. But, you know, when you're a little guy, a little boy, you've
got a "little man" syndrome. You know you want to be seen, you want to be
heard, you want to be accepted. So--and you're watching things and watching
people and you want to emulate. The people you want to emulate is not the way
to go in life. So, yeah, I started out really young being a little, as they
said, a little thug, and I got in a lot of trouble in those times, and it made
the relationship between my mother and I sort of strained. My grandmother, I
could do no wrong, you know?

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MOORE: And I played two against the other. You know those conditions.
You play--if mom said no, you go to grandma, and grandma said OK. And you
know, she'd slip me something, give me something, knowing, you know, I done
wrong

GROSS: Did music save you from that kind of life? I mean, once you actually
started performing professionally, were you still in that kind of--were you
still trying to be a thug and were you still in a thuggish world?

Mr. MOORE: Yeah. Yeah. I was still doing that. I mean, come on. I was
still doing thuggish things and still going, working at night in the
nightclubs, and, you know, and hanging with the thuggish and things of that
nature. Oh, God, yeah. I was a little gangster. Are you sorry you asked me
now?

GROSS: No. No. So how did--was it just like age that got you out of that?

Mr. MOORE: No, what it was, you know, I never got out of it, you know. I
didn't get out of it. If I did, I wouldn't have never got into drugs.

GROSS: Right. Oh, I see your point.

Mr. MOORE: Right!

GROSS: I see your point. I see your point.

Mr. MOORE: I never did get out of it. I was always into something, you
know. I was always doing something. I was always running from one place to
another. I was always ducking and hiding. And I enjoyed it, because I
didn't--it was not a game. It was the way of life as far as I could see it,
you know. Everybody...

GROSS: Things pretty calm now in your life?

Mr. MOORE: Ah well, yeah. What am I going to do with these bad knees? No,
I'm pretty quiet now as I've gotten older.

GROSS: And you gave up drugs in what '82, was it? Do I have that right?

Mr. MOORE: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: Yeah.

Mr. MOORE: It was '81, about '82, yeah.

GROSS: Yeah. Well, I'm really glad you're still singing and that your voice
still sounds so good.

Mr. MOORE: Thank you.

GROSS: Thank you so much for talking with us. It's really been special to
have you. Thank you.

Mr. MOORE: Why, thank you so much. And don't be a stranger.

GROSS: Sam Moore's new CD is called "Overnight Sensational." Here's his duet
with Bruce Springsteen "Better to Have and Not Need."

(Soundbite of "Better to Have and Not Need")

Mr. MOORE: (Singing)
Oh somebody
the sermon today is about
a song I love so much

You know, I can't get no more

Unidentified Group of Singers #2: (Singing)
Satisfaction

Mr. MOORE: (Singing)
Girl, you just don't give me no more

Group of Singers #2: (Singing)
Inspiration

Mr. MOORE: (Singing)
Listen to me
You gone and lost that...

Group of Singers #2: (Singing)
Lovin' feeling

Mr. MOORE: (Singing)
But a, but a you won't see me packin' up my clothes

Group of Singers #2: (Singing)
Goin' leavin'

Mr. MOORE: (Singing)
You better believe it when I tell you, uh-huh,

Mr. MOORE, Mr. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, and Group of Singers #2: (Singing)
It's better to have and don't need
Than to need and don't have
It's better to have and don't need
Than to need and don't have

You know that a man without a woman
Is sure gonna feel bad

Mr. SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing)
Brother man, brother man, listen

Girl you cause me so much...

Group of Singers #2: (Singing)
Pain and sorrow

Mr. SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing)
But you haven't now more money momma it is

Group of Singers #2: (Singing)
So much harder

Mr. SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing)
You better know it, yeah

Friends stop by...

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: Coming up, our book critic Maureen Corrigan chooses the year's best
mysteries and nonfiction books. This is FRESH AIR.

(Announcements)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: Book critic Maureen Corrigan on the best mysteries
and nonfiction works of 2006

TERRY GROSS, host:

Last week our book critic Maureen Corrigan talked about her selections for the
year's best novels and short story collections. She's back with her list of
the year's best mysteries and nonfiction books.

Ms. MAUREEN CORRIGAN: Recently I talked about the best fiction of 2006.
There was such an abundance of marvelous literary novels and short story
collections that I wasn't able to squeeze in a mention of genre fiction,
specifically mystery and suspense. So since this is my list and I get to do
what I want, I'm beginning my rundown of best nonfiction books of 2006 with a
quick but deferential nod to two terrific mysteries. Morag Joss's "Puccini's
Ghosts" is a world-class creeper in the Ruth Rendell psychological suspense
tradition. Set in a damp village in Scotland in the early 1960s, it's main
character is a young girl disastrously besotted by art and the wrong man.

Far removed in location and style, George Pelecanos's latest edgy outing "The
Night Gardener" continues to extend the possibilities of the form, using the
crime novel to ruminate on the politics of race and class in urban America.
"The Night Gardener" was inspired by a true-life cold case, a decades-old
series of murders of young African-American women in Washington, DC, that
remains unsolved.

The spellbinding memoir "Girls of Tender Age," by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, also
memorializes the murder of a young girl. Growing up in working-class
Connecticut, Tirone Smith attended Catholic grammar school with a classmate
named Irene, who was snatched from a neighborhood street one evening in 1953
and murdered by a convicted sex offender. The next day at school, Tirone
Smith recalls her teacher announced the class there will be no speaking of
Irene. Then the maintenance man came in and carried Irene's desk out of the
classroom and all the kids moved up a space. Tirone Smith, without a trace of
opportunism, uses her memoir to break that silence. She memorializes her
classmate and resurrects, with anger but also with nostalgia, her particular
corner of 1950's America.

Another book that makes the point that the good old days also have a lot to
answer for is "Impounded," a collection of photographs taken by Dorothea Lange
of Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. Lange was commissioned by
the government to record the internment of some 110,000 Japanese-Americans
after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She took over 700 photographs: stark and
moving images of soon to be interned kids dutifully saluting the flag; the
abandoned horse stalls in California where families had to set up house for
the duration; an interned mother and her son standing together in a field, him
straight and stiff in a US Army uniform. The historian-editors of "Impounded"
are Gary Y. Okihiro and Linda Gordon, whose prize-winning book "The Great
Arizona Orphan Abduction" appeared on my best books list of 1999.

In its own very different fashion, Daniel Mendelsohn's magnificent book "The
Lost" also investigates the long legacy of World War II. "The Lost" is
Mendelsohn's frantic, utterly engrossing attempt to find out the truth of what
happened to, as he says, "six of the six million." That is to six of his
relatives who died in the Holocaust. Mendelsohn is a renowned literary
critic, and here he mingles readings of the Bible and the classics with
autobiography and a detective narrative, all in the effort to try to get to
the heart of his relatives' vanished stories.

Another big, idiosyncratic and altogether fascinating work of nonfiction that
came out this year was Ron Rosenbaum's book "The Shakespeare Wars." In it,
Rosenbaum dives into the thick of controversies that continue to bedevil the
bard and his works. Throughout his many world spanning travels and
conversations, Rosenbaum makes a stirring case that not only the arguments
about, say, original spelling and folio dating of the plays matter, but that
Shakespeare himself vitally matters.

Finally, two biographies about men who themselves once mattered in America but
who have since been largely forgotten make my nonfiction best list this year.
Historian Debby Applegate calls her account of the life of the Reverend Henry
Ward Beecher "The Most Famous Man in America." In the course of this
biography, she convinces readers of the truth of that swaggering title. What
exactly made Beecher the signal man of the Victorian age in America? As
Applegate describes, Beecher ushered in a new era of reckless optimism by
replacing the wrathful God worshipped by the Puritans with a sunshiny God of
love who showered upon Americans the blessings of leisure and
self-fulfillment. Well, perhaps too much self-fulfillment. In 1874, Beecher
was publicly accused of "criminal conversation" with his best friend's wife.
A sensational trial ensured and Beecher's star dimmed.

Another great man who publicly walked hand in hand with his God was William
Jennings Bryan, the subject of historian's Michael Kazin's biography "A Godly
Hero." As Kazin details, Bryan is a politically ambivalent figure, a champion
of labor unions and government regulation of big business, as well as the
ill-starred prosecutor in the Scopes trial, famously ridiculed by H. L.
Mencken as "a poor clod, deluded by a childish theology." Maybe ambivalence
rather than adoration is an inspired stance for a biographer to take because
Kazin's biography is extraordinarily rich and revealing.

Both Beecher and Bryan were optimistic men, and in the course of reading about
them, some of their positive thinking has rubbed off on me. In 2007 I'm
looking forward to more enlightening memoirs, biographies and works of
cultural criticism and, as always, some great dark mysteries to cast a cloud
over the sun.

GROSS: Maureen Corrigan teaches literature at Georgetown University. A
complete list of her best books of 2006, fiction and nonfiction, will be on
our Web site freshair.npr.org.

(Credits)

GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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