"Sweet Soul Music" is a soul song, first released by Arthur Conley in 1967. Written by Conley and Otis Redding, it is based on the Sam Cooke song "Yeah Man" from his posthumous album Shake; the opening riff is a quote from Elmer Bernstein's score for the 1960 movie The Magnificent Seven.
It reached the number two spot on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard R&B chart, and #7 on the UK Singles Chart. J. W. Alexander, Sam Cooke's business partner, sued both Redding and Conley for plagiarizing the melody. A settlement was reached in which Cooke's name was added to the writer credits, and Otis Redding agreed to record some songs in the future from Kags Music, a Cooke – JW Alexander enterprise.
The song is an homage to soul music. The following songs are mentioned in the lyrics:
- "Going to a Go-Go" by The Miracles; the band is not explicitly mentioned.
- "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing" by Lou Rawls
- "Hold On, I'm Comin' " by Sam and Dave
- "Mustang Sally" by Wilson Pickett
- "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa" by Otis Redding. A brief instrumental version of the chorus for the song is quoted, after Conley says the words "Hit it Otis".
At the end of the song, Arthur Conley sings the lyrics: "Otis Redding got the feeling."
"Sweet Soul Music" has been covered by the following groups and artists:
- Johnny Hallyday on his 1967 album Johnny 67, in French under the title "La seule vraie musique"
- James Brown on his 1968 album Live at the Apollo, Volume II
- The Mohawks on their 1968 album The Champ
- Dusty Springfield performed the song to close Show 4 of her ATV series It Must Be Dusty on May 29, 1968. She sang slightly altered lyrics, also giving "spotlight" to The Supremes and Aretha Franklin.
- Ike and Tina Turner, on their 1971 album What You Hear Is What You Get: Live At Carnegie Hall, with vocals by Tina. A cover of this song by Ike and Tina Turner also appears on the 2009 reissue ofThe Rolling Stones album Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert
- José Feliciano on his 1977 album Sweet Soul Music
- The Jam on the b-side of their 1977 single "The Modern World"
- Sam and Dave on their 1978 album The Original Soul Man
- Hall & Oates performed the song live on tour between 1979 and 1983.
- Rod Stewart (live) on the b-side of his 1991 single "The Motown Song"
- Keith Frank on his 1996 album Only the Strong Survive
- Jimmy Barnes on the 2004 re-issue of his album Soul Deep
- John Farnham and Tom Jones on their 2005 concert John Farnham & Tom Jones – Together in Concert
- The song is part of the final medley in the 1967 live album Martha and the Vandellas Live!
- Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (Live- Madison Square Garden November 8, 2009)