Steve Cropper and the Transcendent Joy of Team Play

As a teenager in the late 70’s, I grew up on a steady aural diet of pre-formatted FM radio. I didn’t mind–I didn’t know better. Until I saw The Blues Brothers. Sitting in my seat at the Harrisburg East Mall theaters, Sam Moore and Dave Prater reached off that soundtrack and shook me by my (oversized) lapels. Thankfully, John Landis included a rather gratuitous close-up of Elwood plugging “The Best of Sam and Dave” into the Bluesmobile’s 8-track. The next day, I rode to the local record store and asked them to mail order it. Three weeks later, the LP was on heavy rotation on my Radio Shack Realistic turntable.

“Play your part, play it simple, listen to what the other guys are doing, and complement them. Make them look good, too. If you do that enough times, they’ll turn around and make you look good when it’s your turn. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it.”

Steve Cropper

All of which is a long way of saying, I fell in love with soul music, particularly the Stax sound. So when a friend posted an interview with Steve Cropper on his Facebook wall, I clicked.

If you like music, or even if you just like people, read this interview with a guitarist Rolling Stone puts at 39th in history’s Top 100. Steve’s led a charmed life working with musical legends, always as the consummate team player. In these times of divisive, unchecked neoliberalism, when society seems hellbent on sacrificing community for self, this 75 year old’s anecdotes are a wonderful reminder of the power of great teamwork, the reward of collaborating on something bigger than yourself.

And if working together leads to “Soul Man,” “Midnight Hour,” and “Dock of the Bay,” who could possibly argue against it?


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