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Words To Live By

December 9, 2011

Another excellent soul singer has passed on. Howard Tate sang a couple of songs you might know, although the versions by others are much better known than his originals.

In 1966 Tate released a song called “Get It While You Can” that resonates now as then (not too far off from sentiments I’ve been known to express). But Janis Joplin’s version is the one most people know. The same year he released “Ain’t Nobody Home,” which, at least to me, is mostly associated with B.B. King (although it is Tate’s version that Dave Marsh calls “definitive”).

He is best known as the singer of Get It While You Can, an eloquent ballad cut in 1966 that failed to chart on release, but later became a hedonist anthem when Janis Joplin recorded it on her 1970 album Pearl. Tate never enjoyed much good fortune in the music industry and stopped performing for more than 20 years. Tate scored a moderate hit on the R&B charts with Look at Granny Run Run (1966), yet his third single, Get It While You Can, was a flop. Many listeners, including Joplin, acknowledged the recording as a masterpiece. Tate would later blame Verve, a jazz label, for failing to understand how to market R&B.

I don’t know much more about him, but the man was pretty damn good.

So here’s Howard:

And here’s Janis:

While we’re at it, Howard again:

And B.B.:

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