Certain Songs #1117: Mavis Staples – “I Like The Things About Me”

Album: One True Vine
Year: 2013

It reflects poorly upon me, I know, that — outside of her contributions to her family band — I don’t know much about Mavis Staples’ career prior to her collaborations with Jeff Tweedy. Which — given since she’s been singing professionally for almost 70 years — have come near the end of her career.

But that also means that there is a potential treasure trove of discovery still to be had: not just her albums with Prince, or her early solo albums, but the entire history of her family band, The Staple Singers, outside of the handful of hit singles they had in the late 1960s / early 1970s

And so this song goes right back to that history: written in late 1960s by her father, Roebuck “Pops” Staples, as a Black pride anthem, but featuring lyrics that if you weren’t listening too hard, or didn’t know the history, could apply to just about anybody.

Makes no difference now y’all
How you may feel
I’ve done reached the point
Where I wanna be real
I’m tired of living, living in disguise

I like the things about me
I like the things about me
I like the things about me
I like the things about me that I once despised

With Tweedy providing a deep, roaring bass, and chickenscratch guitar licks, while his son Spencer plays a simple, spare beat, “I Like The Things About Me” is cut from the same cloth as the cover of Funkadelic’s “Can You Get To That” it shares the album with.

It goes without saying that Staples undersings the hell out of it, her voice cracking in the appropriate places and staying on top of the plethora of background singers who support her on the chorus. In the end, Tweedy swoops in with some noisy lead guitar for just a few bars, and it doesn’t feel out of place as it takes the song to its fade.

“I Like The Things About Me”

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