Have you ever listened to gospel music in a different form? If not then take look at the Staples Singers’ song “I’ll Take You There” lyrics meaning. America in the 60s and 70s was adorned by numerous great musicians making The Staple Singers one of the kind. The Staple Singers is considered one of the most dynamic American gospel and R&B vocal groups from Chicago. The father, leader, and founder of the group is Roebuck ‘Pops’ Staples. He founded the group along with his children Cleotha, Pervis, Mavis, and later Yvonne. Yvonne joined the group in place of Pervis, who left for the military in the early 1970s.
In the early days of their career, the group used to sing gospel-folk-style songs for United Records, Vee-Jay Records, Riverside Records, Epic Records, and many more. You can see this singing style in “I’ll Take You There” lyrics meaning. The Staples Singers first reached the charts with two songs recorded with the Epic: “Why (Am I Treated So Bad)” and a cover of the song “For What It’s Worth” by Stephen Stills. There are several versions of “Uncloudy Day” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” that were considered bestsellers.
The group became more prominent in the secular market after signing a contract with Stax Records in 1968. Their first hit with Stax was “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom)”. Their recording in 1971 “Respect Yourself” reached number 2 on the Billboard R&B chart and charted number 12 on Billboard Hot 100. Both “Heavy Makes You Happy” and “Respect Yourself” sold over one million copies and were awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America. “I’ll Take You There” in 1972 and “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)” in 1973, both topped the Billboard 100 and R&B charts.
After leaving Stax Records, the Staples Singers signed a contract with Custom Records, a label by Curtis Mayfield. Their song “Let’s Do It” produced by Mayfield became a top pop hit in the U.S. The group performed the song “The Weight” by The Band, a Canadian-American rock band, for their movie The Last Waltz.
In 1994, Roebuck’s solo album Father Father won a Grammy Award in the category of Best Contemporary Blues. Mavis’s solo album You Are Not Alone won a Grammy Award in 2010. Roebuck died on 19th December 2000. Cleotha suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and died in 2013 at the age of 78. Yvonne died in April 2018 and Pervis died in May 2021. The documentary film Mavis! released in 2015, portrays the story of the group and life of Mavis Staples and his solo career. The group got included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy in 2005.
What does the title of the song mean?
Let’s take a glance at the title of the song and its formation before gaining knowledge about the song’s “I’ll Take You There” lyrics meaning. “I’ll Take You There” by The Staples Singers was written by the vice-president of Stax Records Al Bell (real name Alvertis Bell). The song came out first as a part of The Staples Singers’ album in 1972 Be Altitude: Respect Yourself. The song became number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and 1972’s 19th biggest American hit. A cover version of “I’ll Take You There” got released in 1991 by BeBe & CeCe Winans with Mavis Staples as a guest artist. It became number 1 on the R&B chart, and number 90 on the Hot 100. The British band General Public released a cover of the song which peaked at number 22 on the Hot 100 chart.
The songwriter Bell wrote “I’ll Take You There” while grieving his murdered brother. The song is an influence of the reggae hit of 1969 “The Liquidator” by Harry Johnson. The song features Mavis Staples tempting the listeners to seek Heaven. The lyrics of the song are of call-and-response that repeat the title of the song which shows an optimistic view. It is elemental and has one verse sung by Mavis and two chords.
The song “I’ll Tale You There” lyrics and its meaning is made up of the solos of the singers along with the musicians playing their respective instruments. Pops is seen playing guitar which is originally played by Eddie Hinton. David Hood provides the bass line, Barry Beckett plays the keyboard, and Mavis just ad-libbing by whooping and grunting with the flow. All the music in the song was recorded by Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
[Verse/ Intro]- What does the verse/intro of the song mean?
Oh, mmm, I know a place
Ain’t nobody cryin’
Ain’t nobody worried
Ain’t no smilin’ faces, mmm, no no
Lyin’ to the races
Help me, come on, come on
Somebody, help me now (I’ll take you there)
Help me, ya’all (I’ll take you there)
Help me now (I’ll take you there)
Oh! (I’ll take you there)
Oh! Oh! Mercy! (I’ll take you there)
Oh, let me take you there (I’ll take you there)
Oh-oh! Let me take you there! (I’ll take you there)
As mentioned before, the intro of the song is taken from the song “The Liquidator”. The verse of the song continues with the voice of Mavis. Here Mavis is singing about a place, probably imaginary, where her listeners will find comfort. She’s singing about the evil people who hid lies and false promises behind their smiling faces. Then the title of the song “I’ll Take You There” is repeated by her sisters revealing the singers’ intentions of taking their listeners to a comfortable place free of all those evils.
[Ad-Libs] – What does it mean?
Play your, play your piano now
All right, ah, do it, do it, come on now
Play on it, play on it, make daddy now
Daddy, daddy, daddy, play your
The song is formed of little verses and ad-libs on Mavis telling the musicians to play their instruments. She says the lines ‘play on it, big Daddy now’ which show Pops Staples playing guitar. However, the guitar part was not played by Pops but by Eddie Hinton.
Ooh, Lord, all right now
Baby, little Davey, easy now
Now, come on, little Davey, all right
Sock it, sock it, ah, oh, oh
Mavis then moves her attention and says ‘little Davey’ referring to David Hood, the bass player in the song. She asks him to strike the bass hard.
I know a place, y’all (I’ll take you there)
Ain’t nobody cryin’ (I’ll take you there)
Ain’t nobody worried (I’ll take you there)
No smilin’ faces (I’ll take you there)
Uh, uh (Lyin’ to the races) (I’ll take you there)
Oh, no Oh! (I’ll take you there)
Oh, oh, oh! (I’ll take you there)
Mercy now! (I’ll take you there)
I’m callin’, callin’, callin’ for mercy (I’ll take you there)
Mercy, mercy! (I’ll take you there)
You oughta, you gotta gotta, let me, let me (I’ll take you there)
Take you, take you, take you over there (I’ll take you there)
Mavis again repeats the first verses with other singers repeating the title line ‘I’ll take you there’ after every line she sings. Here they are simply referring to the biblical idea of Heaven. The comfortable place that Mavis refers to that has no evils, no worries, and is peaceful is a reference to Heaven. People who follow God or believe in Christianity, wish to go to heaven after their demise. Mavis asks her listeners to hold her hand and follow her while she leads toward the peaceful place she knows. She repeats her lines to let her lead the way and assures her audience that they don’t have to pay anything to reach the place where she’s taking them. The place that is free of all worldly worries.
The song came out while the Civil Rights Movement in America was at its peak. “I’ll Take You There” lyrics meaning make some people consider the song to be an escape to an imaginary world. The fictional world is something like Heaven where there are no fake people to play with their emotions and rights. The song makes Mavis the center of attention where she provides her voice in a way that makes the song “I’ll Take You There” lyrics and meaning oddly unique to listen to.