"It identifies what I believe from here": Sam Moore reflects on his hit "Soul Man"

Miami — At 83, Sam Moore is still recording. But good as his new stuff is, as the surviving half of the great R&B duo Sam and Dave, it will be tough for him to top what he did 52 years ago.

The Library of Congress just added their all-time classic "Soul Man" to its National Recording Registry.

Written by Isaac Hayes in the summer of 1967, as he watched the rioting in Detroit on TV and saw the word "soul" spray-painted on buildings to mark black-owned property to be spared, the song introduced a new phrase into the culture.

"It identifies what I believe from here," Moore said, pointing to his heart.

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Sam Moore CBS News

The song was recorded at the historic Stax studio in Memphis, and the first take delivered the song's iconic moment. He called out to guitarist Steve Cropper, at the urging of a recording engineer, to say something to break up a long guitar riff.

"There was Steve Cropper sitting in front of me. He turned around and I said, 'Play it Steve,'" Moore recalled. "They questioned me all afternoon about it."  

Moore had his own questions about the song that would become their signature. But Moore said he never would have believed the song would become a classic. Number 1 on the R&B charts and Number 2 on the pop charts, it would go on to win a Grammy.  

More than half a century later, the recording has given Moore an honor he never dreamed of and affirmation he always wanted. Fittingly, touching the original soul man deeply, just where you'd expect it to.

"There might be artists that can do more than I do. But they are not in the Library of Congress. I am," he said.

  • Jim Axelrod
    Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.