If you put a steak in front of Lee Fields right now, he'd eat it. These days, the 62-year-old soul singer is trying to eat as healthy as possible, and that means very little red meat and lots of veggies. But sometimes a slab of meat is just too tempting.
"I love red meat, man. I ain't going tell you no lie," Fields says, laughing. "If you had a steak right now, pass it through the phone."
And not only does Fields watch what he eats, he tries to maintain a positive attitude. He even goes so far as to watch what he says when he steps up to the mic. After all, words have a way of casting a spell on those who hear them, especially when they're sung and put to music. They get stuck in our heads. They fill our thoughts. And sometimes, we even sing them out loud without being aware of it.
"The same way you feed the body good food, you have to feed your mind positive thoughts. I think what destroys a lot of individuals as time move on is their state of minds," Fields says. "I listen to good music. I talk good conversations with people. And when it starts getting too foolish, man, I got to get away."
He adds, "I take this music thing very seriously, man, because your melodies are going in people's minds. To me when you are in a situation where you are the melody maker, you're the singer, you have to be serious. You don't be playing with nothing like that."
As a veteran soul man with a 43-year career in the music biz — his most recent disc Faithful Man is a flashback to the glory days of Marvin Gaye and the Rev. Al Green — Fields feels it's his duty to elevate the spirit of his listeners and comfort the world-weary souls that come to hear him sing, night after night.
"We are just like pilgrims here on this earth traveling through for a certain period of time, but the spirit and the body are two different things," Fields says. "What we try to do — soul singers — is sing about things that we have to do on this earth. And when we get there in the afterlife, we'll deal with that then. We believe in the afterlife, but we sing about matters that concern this time, where we are right here, where we are now."
He adds, "I'm praying that I get to the other side and there's a place prepared for me when I go, but right now, while I'm here, I've got to worry about the mortgage, man. I've got to worry about kids needing food on the table. I can go on and on."
And then he says with a laugh, "Now you got me thinking about my bills."
Of course, there are temptations, and few things are more tempting than the forbidden fruit of a frisky roll in the hay, the subject of Faithful Man's tortured title track. "Everyone has been tempted on this planet at one time or another or will be because temptation is a part of living," Fields says. "That's part of the human saga. That's part of human existence."
For Fields, soul music's sole purpose is to tell the saga of mankind, his ups and downs, her triumphs and failures, and the desire to connect to something bigger and better than what we so tragically are. "What we tried to do with the Faithful Man album is to incorporate the 360-degree circumference of what people go through," he says.
Aside from soul music and the connections he makes with audiences — Field says he is often hypnotized by their gaze — a faith in the good Lord above helps him. "There ain't nothing wrong with a good ole fashioned prayer. Just get on your knees, man, and let them out," Fields says. "Of course, I leave all the preaching up to the preachers and all the law up to the lawyers and the doctoring up to all the doctors. I just sing."