For the past seven years, soul legend Al Green has been on a touring hiatus while he focused on his ministry. Every Sunday, he mixes the word of the Lord with soulful singing from the pulpit of the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis.
But for his new tour, which kicks off with an April 24 show at Bass Concert Hall, he’ll put his late career gospel work aside to focus on his early soul hits. “There are 26 singles,” he said over the phone last week. “You’ve got to play what the people want to hear.”
“Let’s Stay Together” is one of the classics that has the most enduring resonance for Green’s fans. “People get married to it,” he said. “They play it at their weddings.”
But for the 73-year-old artist who spent decades reaching people’s hearts with his searing soul, “Tired of Being Alone,” rings true today in the same way it did when he wrote it in 1971. “I’m still a bachelor,” he said with a laugh.
Over the past few decades, there’s been a resurgence of interest in soul music and Green said he feels it’s partly in response to increasing amounts of senseless violence in our country. He’s shocked and saddened by rising murder rates in cities like Chicago and his hometown, Memphis, and he was horrified by the recent synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh that killed 11 people.
While he said he feels solving the overall problem of gun violence is the responsibility of politicians, he hopes his music can do a small part to amplify the frequency of love.
One song that will definitely be on his setlist is his “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” off of his 1987 album “Soul Survivor.” The song’s message seems crucial in our current times.
“Everything is going to be alright,” he said. “People need to know that.”