The Guardian's Alexis Petridis had a date to interview singer Bobby Womack about his new album. So why let a little trip to the hospital get in the way. Excerpt:
The nurse attending Bobby Womack wears an expression for which the phrase "long-suffering" was invented. "Can I give you your meds?" she asks, proffering a handful of tablets. "Potassium, magnesium, something for blood sugar," she explains. Seated in his hospital bed, naked from the waist up save for a pair of immense bejewelled sunglasses, monitors attached to his chest, his thinning hair dyed yellow and what seems to be a tattoo of himself in full song on his right bicep, the singer makes a grunting noise that could well indicate assent but could equally herald the start of what would clearly be the umpteenth argument of the day. "Potassium, magnesium, something for blood sugar," she repeats firmly. "Take them. Be a good boy," she adds, before hurriedly exiting the room.
You get the feeling that dealing with the man some people call The Greatest Soul Singer In The World constitutes the short straw for the staff of Encino Medical Centre in Los Angeles. Already suffering from a tumour on his colon – it is later removed and found to be non-cancerous – he was admitted this morning with breathing difficulties, apparently much against his will. Apparently much against the medical staff's will, he has insisted our interview go ahead regardless: for the first time in 12 years, Bobby Womack has a new album, The Bravest Man In The Universe, recorded in London last year....
Being rushed to hospital because you're suffering from potential fatal pneumonia doesn't seem much like being tricked, but then the interview doesn't seem much like an interview either. Indeed, it resembles one only in so far as I'm an interviewer and I'm in the same room as Womack. I haven't said anything to him yet, beyond hello, at which point he embarks upon a monologue that continues unabated for an hour. It leaps without warning from topic to topic: during one particularly head-spinning section we go from Muhammad Ali's unerring ability to find racist undercurrents in innocuous adverts, to Aretha Franklin's love of soap operas to Martin Luther King in the space of about two minutes.
Lana Del Rey makes a guest appearance on the album, apparently.