The characters that skilled soul singers interpret and temporarily em-
body come to life in and as part of intimate sonic tapestries, address-
ing current, former, or potential lovers to whom they communicate their
innermost thoughts in graphic detail. The musical sounds and verbal tex-
tures used to register these thoughts then become objects of evaluation—
appreciation, sympathy, recognition, comprehension, befuddlement, and
derision—for eagerly solicited eavesdroppers, for whom evaluation com-
prises a crucial feature of the bountiful entertainment that soul provides.
Whatever their authors, professional and layperson alike, say about these
acts of address and reception, I have long suspected that theyare less likely
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