Despite all the rites and wrongs that have been done to us (some of which, unfortunately, we did to ourselves), we march on. Some how, we keep pressing on.
In a similar sort of way, some subconscious kind of way, D. J. Rogers ran across my mind. Like many of us do now days, when I wanted to get more info beyond my years-old memory and the limited info available as liner notes on old recordings, I googled DeWayne Julius Rogers. Born May 9, 1948, in Los Angeles, he was roughly a little under one year younger than me.
For no particular reason, right then and there, I knew that something was happening that triggered my thinking about him. So, even though I’m not sure what that something was, I decided: why not listen to yourself and share some of his music? So here it be.
I don’t even know much about the man. Knew he was never a mega-star, never somebody that everybody listened to or talked about. Never cracked the Billboard Top 10. Nevertheless, his music was deep to me.
Not all of it, but, the parts of it I dug, well, I really dug those songs. Perhaps it was the sincerity of his singing. Maybe it was the joy inside the pain, I mean often he was singing as though this was his last go round (sort of remind me of that Bobby Womack interpretation of “Close To You” where Bobby be singing about trying to convince some record company people to sign him up, and he’s getting rejected–but that’s another story).
Far as I know the commercial availability of D. J. Rogers albums is limited. A life time of making music, most all of your seventy-some earth years spent pursuing a dream. And toward the end there are only a paltry seven or so albums. Moreover, on a national level, not many people know his music.
But that, in a nutshell, is the story of most of us. We spend our earthly allotment toiling on the wine press, and at the conclusion, only close friends and widely scattered followers even know who who we were, what we did, our efforts, our dreams, our dedications. It’s rough to be us.
Via videos and the internet people around the world be knowing America’s negroes. Our music, our athletes, the glamor of some of our stars, but on an quotidian level, like Jimmy Baldwin said: nobody knows our name(s). Paradoxical as it may be, given that one of us was recently president of the United States, and his wife, Michelle, is widely recognized as America’s most popular woman, all of that notwithstanding, on an individual personal level we are mostly unknown. Half the time not even our next of kin scattered across the countryside be fully aware of who we individually are. Damn.
So anyway, here are a handful of D. J. Rogers songs. they could serve as the soundtrack when you reminisce about your best friend from high school, the lover from your college years, a colleague or work-mate you toiled beside for most of your adult life, and that guy you call on the phone from time to time, you know, the last one left of your crew, a gathering of friends that used to bond so strongly. D. J.’s tunes have that same weight, ranging from his best known single “Say You Love Me” and the poignant track “Bula Jean“, to one of my favorites, “Haven’t You“, with its full out pleading insistence on being heard, recorded over strings and tender harp arpeggios. Then there is the galloping dance track “Trust Me” and D. J.’s deep-throated moaning and groaning–you can tell the man spent a bunch of Sundays in church. He even has some quiet storm evocations that are meditations on the deeper meanings of life. Consider “Love Brought Me Back” with it’s funky bass line and then contrast that with the angelic “He’ll Be Your All And All“. Rogers clearly is a deeply spiritual man.
Indeed, Hope Songs, his last commercially available recordings that I am aware of, featured gospel and gospel-influenced music. His style of singing makes it plain that he resides on both the secular and the sacred side of the street, or at least be situated right around the corner from each other. Indeed, he has even taken to recasting his earlier music in a gospel context, such as he does with his best known “Say You Love Me“.
D. J. Rogers, listen to his music, remember his name. As the ancients and the ancestors constantly remind us, as long as we are remembered, we will never be truly gone. Never. Always remember.