by Hudson Hornick
“Konichiwa!” greets the Reverend Al Green. Definitively one of the best soul and R&B singers of the early ’70s, Green pays a visit to the Chumash Casino on July 27 to salve the souls of Santa Barbara County. A lot of mystery has surrounded the legend since he was ordained a Baptist pastor at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis and started singing gospel. I recently had the privilege to attend a phone sermon.
You had your biggest success in the ’70s with R&B hits like “Let’s Stay Together” and “Tired of Being Alone,” and then you switched to gospel. Do you find it hard to transcend genres or does it stem from one source of inspiration? Hey, man. I’m just one person, you know? I’m just the Reverend Green, I can’t be nobody else. There’s no coming back or going forward. I’ve always been religious, I just gravitated toward Baptist and my inspiration comes from the Tabernacle, you know? There’s really only one love. Man finds woman, falls in love. Man finds God, falls in love. How do you feel about the direction popular music is heading? I’m digging the rap and hip-hop thing. Some things I don’t agree with, the cursing and swearing thing, the power-gesturing thing. I don’t like how the girls are booty-shaking — they got more than is being represented. How do you feel about playing Santa Barbara? I love it, man! I was out there last year and they were all like, “Reverend Al, here try this syrah, it’s a 2002.” Or, “Hey Rev, try this, this is a chardonnay from some hills over here!” By the time I got on stage I was like, “I’m tired of being aloonnee. …”