Words By Jesse H.
Solomon Burke’s catalog has long been one of the most mined in Hip-Hop production history. But it’s this recent tune that stands as my favorite Burke song. I was introduced to “Fast Train” when it was used in a particularly poignant manner to conclude season 3 of The Wire.
Like the great songwriters who weren’t blessed with the textbook definition of a great voice, Burke has a phenomenally emotive delivery that fits the mood of his instrumentals so assuredly, that it sounds perfect beyond description. On “Fast Train” He bends his notes with the utmost melancholy, whines “waaaay back” with painfully harsh vowel pronunciation, and alliterates the “f” on “fast” to make the listener instantly relate to his pathos, regardless of whether they catch all of the lyrics on the first listen through.
Oddly enough, “Fast Train” wasn’t even Burke’s song. It was written by Van Morrison and given to Burke to cover in 2002. But what a testament it is to Burke’s abilities as a performer and musical arranger to be able to take someone else’s writing and put his personal stamp on it to the point that it would sound completely wrong being sung by another singer. Like Dylan, Lennon, Stevie and Prince, Burke has that indispensable quality of making any song undeniably his own.[audio:http://www.snapdrive.net/files/591135/15_Fast_Train.mp3%5D