Respect Yourself

RESPECT YOURSELF                                ROBERT GORDON
Posted: Sept. 7, 2013

15793499The story of Stax Records unfolds like a Greek tragedy. A white brother and sister build a monument to racial harmony in blighted south Memphis during the civil rights movement. Their success soon pits the siblings against each other, and the brother abandons his sister for a visionary African-American partner. Under integrated leadership, Stax explodes as a national player until, Icarus-like, the heights they achieve result in their tragic demise. They fall, losing everything, and the sanctuary they created is torn to the ground. A generation later, Stax is rebuilt brick by brick and is once again transforming disenfranchised youth into stellar young musicians.

Set in the world of 1960s and ‘70s soul music, Respect Yourself is a character-driven story of racial integration, and then of black power and economic independence. It’s about music and musicians—Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, and Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Stax’s interracial house band. It’s about a small independent company’s struggle to survive in an increasingly conglomerate-oriented world. And always at the center of the story is Memphis, Tennessee, an explosive city struggling through volatile years. Told by one of our leading music chroniclers, Respect Yourself will be the book to own about one of our most treasured cultural institutions and the city that created it.


I really enjoyed this book. This book does not just deal with the music but also what was going on in Memphis at the same time. You find out about the people who started Stax for the love of the music and a different sound. They were looking for a heart beat inside of their soul. That was one of the statements. This small record company was being run by both black & white. Together inside the Stax building musics and everyone the owners as well worked side by side. When they walk out of the building the laws of the time was they could not be together or go to the same places. That is why it was different and the sound was real. The story about Stax like Memphis is sad. Other record companies came in and took advantage of the owners through different contracts. This eventuality lead to there collapse. The music that was made there was great, for it is still popular today. Having gone to Memphis, they are proud of Stax. There is a museum there all about Stax records. There are a lot of music museums in Memphis, and at one at they all helped each other or have some other connection with each one. This a good book and you don't have to be a music fan. there is a lot of information about the history of Memphis and the U.S. inside this book. A very good book.

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