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Have You Been Good To Yourself
Have You Been Good To Yourself will come as a surprise to anyone expecting more of the beat-driven R&B Johnnie that he and his sibling produced – including that compilation’s much-sampled title track. A mix of spoken word and gospel songs laid down direct to cassette, these ultra-rare home recordings draw from Johnnie’s religious upbringing and his history in the music business, which was interrupted in 1970 when he was sent to fight in Vietnam.
Crate digger Jameson Sweiger found Have You Been Good To Yourself and a companion album, Real Education, released under the name Khafele Ojore Ajanaku in a Memphis thrift store, but it was noticeably Frierson’s work. They hadn’t made it far – they would originally have been sold at corner stores and music festivals in the Memphis area where Frierson continued to perform and host a gospel radio show, all the while working as a mechanic, laborer and teacher.
The seven songs on Have You Been Good To Yourself are overtly religious; some, such as “Out Here On Your Word,” are strident and faithful; others, like the self-questioning “Have You Been Good To Yourself,” are more meditative. They reflect the difficult situation that Frierson was in when recording, shell-shocked from his time in the military and grieving the untimely death of his son. “He was really trying to find his way,” remembers Frierson’s daughter in Andrea Lisle’s liner notes. “And writing and making music were a way out for him.”