"Ain't Too Proud to Beg"
"And You Know It"
Sitting in the Memphis office of his longtime producer Willie Mitchell one day, Al Green talked about the key requirement of soul—how a singer has to make every last plea seem not simply plausible, but urgent in that all-consuming live-or-die way. It's a quality Green (see p. 323), one of the best baby-take-me-back singers of all time, has brought to a long list of great songs. And, to be sure, his peers—Otis Redding, Ray Charles—have etched equally personal entries in the book of love. But to Green, one of the all-time great examples was sung by David Ruffin of the Temptations: "Ain't Too Proud to Beg."
"It doesn't take but two lines and you feel that this man is torn up," Green said, talking about the 1966 recording, which is essentially a Ruffin solo feature. "He says, 'I got a looooove so deep, in the pit of my heart,' and from then on, there is just no question about it. He's all the way in this thing. He's not ashamed to come and plead to you, baby. He's going to do whatever it takes. . .. By the time he gets to the line we all know—'Ain't too proud to beg and you know it'—well damn right you know it. That's meat, man. That kind of singing turns people around. They go, 'He means that, don't he?' That's soul singing right there."
Released: 1966, Motown
Appears On: Gettin' Ready
Catalog Choice: David Ruffin: David, the Unreleased Album
Next Stop: Al Green: Let's Stay Together
After That: Eddie Kendricks: Eddie Kendricks
Book Page: 770