Knock! Knock! Knock! On Wood: My Life in Soul
by Eddie Floyd with Tony Fletcher
Eddie Floyd is a survivor. Floyd toured the world, performed for two Presidents and wrote or co-wrote a handful of soul classics as a performer and writer at Stax Records. And there’s a very good chance none of that would have happened had he not been sent to reform school at 13 for three years on trumped-up charges.
Floyd was obsessed with music from an early age, but credits his stint as “the greatest thing that could have happened to me.” After getting out, he had a focus and drive which led him to pursue music as a career in the early R&B scene, leading to his career at Stax Records where he truly thrived. Hell, if “Knock on Wood” was the only song he wrote, he’d have had a full career.
But Floyd persevered and continued writing and touring (especially in Europe), only semi-retiring a few years ago. He seems satisfied with his life and contribution to music, and happy with life in general.
Floyd writes in a relaxed, conversational style, giving the impression of talking with grandpa on the porch. Of course, this grandpa was friends with Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Bill Wyman, among just a handful, so his stories of touring and performing will probably be more entertaining than yours. Favorite line in the book might be “Sweet single. If you’ve never heard it, do yourself the favor.”
Floyd specifically states he will not get into politics and you’re not going to get any scandals here. Floyd seems to get along with just about everyone, even a crazed Wilson Pickett. His friendships and working relationships with Otis Redding, Booker T. Jones, and Isaac Hayes paint a picture of the creative environment that produced so much great music at Stax and although he doesn’t get too technical about songwriting, the section on creating “Knock on Wood” is a fly on the wall portrait of talented musicians sharing and reaching to create a classic song. Incidentally, I’m somewhat obsessed with musician memoirs, and I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone with a bad word about Otis Redding.
Floyd’s positivity and storytelling abilities make this an entertaining read, and well worth it for fans of soul music.