guilty pleasure monday: rescue me (fontella bass)

what’s a fontella bass?

a) a treasured instrument used by the likes of bassists like mccartney and sting

b) a fish found in the depths of the mississippi

c) an amazing soul singer who went without writing credits for her biggest hit for decades

well, duh.

fontella bass is still around and singing her heart out, especially in gospel circles. but the lady is best known for a song you’ve probably heard on commercials, movie soundtracks, and if you’re like me, in your head on days when your kids fight over who is breathing whose air. rescue me, released in 1965, is a fun song, with a thumping horn and drum section. for years, i thought it was aretha singing it — at the time, i didn’t know there were others with heart-stoppingly huge voices out there. but there are.

rescue me is also a song that gave bass a share of heartache for a long, long time. was it because she was a woman? was it because she was african-american? hard to prove, of course, but for a long time, no one was willing to give her credit as a co-author of the song, which resulted in financial losses for her, not to mention the fact that she notes (on her website) that she was known as a troublemaker for demanding her rights. (bet that made it hard to get work.) finally, in 1990, she started to get paid for the song, only to have to file suit against American Express (and Ogilvy & Mather, the ad agency) when she heard the song used on an Amex commercial without her permission.

i hope someone invents a typeface named after her. it would be bold, sans serif, that’s for certain.

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One Response to “guilty pleasure monday: rescue me (fontella bass)”

  1. Thanks! Never knew about that!

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