The other day I was out stupid late at some after-party following the Blackwatch Christmas show, and this song came on out of nowhere and really touched my heart, and also sparked a conversation.

Shuggie Otis – Strawberry Letter 23

I first heard this song after Amber and Trent gave me Shuggie’s Inspiration Information album and I started digging deeper into his catalog (this song is actually on his previous album, Freedom Flight) and it’s always been one of my favorites of his.  I didn’t know until later that there was a much more famous cover version that came out a few years later.

The Brothers Johnson – Strawberry Letter 23

I gotta say, Shuggie really does it a little more to my liking, but there are many that would disagree (even some present at that way-too-late after-party didn’t feel the same as I did) and I still definitely dig what The Brothers Johnson did with it, it’s a badass song however you package it.

Now I swear I’m not trying to spark a bunch of arguments by talking about version preferences and shit, I’m not real interested in trying to talk anybody into liking something more than something else, but I think it’s also worth bringing up all the different re-interpretations of this song that have come out more recently, from DJ Quik’s straight sample of that Brothers Johnson version, to Beyoncé’s borrowing of the vocal melody and then reworking it into a whole new song, and everything else in between.  Pretty interesting, I think.

I wonder if Shuggie had any idea that his little song he wrote for his lady with strawberry scented perfume would become all of these different things.  I bet anybody would have told him he was nuts if he did.  Nice work Shug, and thanks to Amber and Trent for putting that song in my life in the first place.  I’m forever grateful.

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