Nile Rodgers on 'A Love Supreme': 'It Felt Like I Was Getting a Look Into Coltrane's Soul'

Nile Rodgers still remembers the first time he heard what would become his favorite album of all time: John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. The guitarist grew up in what he describes as a “jazz household” in New York’s Greenwich Village, and one day, his stepfather came home with the deeply spiritual 1965 suite, which is now considered the saxophonist’s defining work. While playing the album start to finish, Rodgers says he had an epiphany.

“I remember hearing [opening track ‘Acknowledgement’] and that was awesome, of course. But when the composition ‘Resolution’ came on … It starts with upright bass, and then when Trane comes in, it actually almost blew me out of my seat,” the Chic leader says via Zoom. “I had never heard anything quite so dynamic and so emotional. I almost want to start crying now just remembering what it made me feel like.”

Rodgers’ high opinion of the album has never wavered. When he was asked to cast a ballot recently in a survey of hundreds of artists, writers, and industry figures to help determine Rolling Stone’s newly updated 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, he placed A Love Supreme at Number One. You can see him reflect on the LP in the video above.

“It was everything,” Rodgers says of Coltrane’s album. “It was spiritual; it was artistic; the level of virtuosity of the playing; the polyrhythms of [drummer] Elvin Jones while they’re playing these sort of straight-ahead melodies and heads. … I was totally immersed in that record.”

Rodgers says he was particularly struck by the way Coltrane and the other musicians sing the album title during “Acknowledgement.” “To hear them singing and chanting, that was amazing to me, because it felt like I was getting a look into Coltrane’s soul,” he says. “Which obviously I’d always felt that all my life from his playing, but to hear the person speak was like, ‘Whoa, what is this?’ It’s a magical thing.”

Rodgers says that of all the albums he owns, there’s not much question as to which one would be his so-called desert-island pick. “I have a pretty substantial record collection,” he says. “But if all of those records somehow managed to disappear, and [I only had one] left to listen to for the rest of my life, it would be A Love Supreme.”

See where the Coltrane classic ranks on Rolling Stone’s list here.

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