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Al Green gets back to his roots

Al Green gets back to his roots — The soul legend explains why his new CD sounds so magnificently old.

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Al Green’s just-released Lay It Down is a startling return to form for the soul great; its fluid grooves (co-produced by the Roots’ Ahmir ”?uestlove” Thompson) could pass a blindfold test next to such seminal Green recordings as 1973’s Call Me. EW talked to the singer about recapturing the magic.

You’ve been working on this record for two years?
AG: We [Green and his producing team] had been going back and forth to New York City. When we finally got together, the vibe was so good, we wrote eight songs in one night, man [including tracks with guest vocalists Anthony Hamilton and John Legend]. We wrote right on the floor, in the studio. I went back to the hotel, ordered room service, and people said they were knockin’ on the door, but I never did open it, man, ’cause I was too tired.

Songs like ”Lay It Down” still effortlessly ooze romantic confidence. Are you like that, or writing ”in character”?
AG: How can you write about something…unless you [know] about it? I [couldn’t] write about something else, because I’d be lying. I just have what God gave me, see. And I’ve used my little talent, little Al Green from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

You’ve recorded dozens of albums. What do you hope your latest release will prove about you as an artist?
AG: This is a designer original…this puts the nectar inside the flower, and the honeybees can come and have it. I don’t know what God is doing; I’m just a vessel…. For me to still have value in the music industry is incredible, man. But look, I’m 62 years old. If I don’t have it by now, I never had it, you get it?