Singer and minister Al Green’s story is one that reads like a turn-paging novel. The story that many know began with a pot of grits, ended with two gunshots, and helped push one of the greatest soul singer of the early ’70s away from the music that had made him a star. On Oct. 18, 1974, for reasons that still remain unclear, Green’s girlfriend, Mary Woodson, then 29, burst in on the singer as he prepared to take a shower in his Memphis home. Heaving scolding hot grits at his back, Woodson burned the singer so badly he would spend several months in the hospital. Woodson then fled to a bedroom, where she shot and killed herself with the singer’s registered .38-caliber pistol.

Green, who had achieved huge artistic and commercial success with songs like ”Let’s Stay Together,” ”Take Me to the River,” and ”Tired of Being Alone” looks back at that experience as a moment in his life that had to happen and one that he learned from.

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“The woman had water or something in this pot,” explained Green. “I said, ‘Mary, you gonna heat water or something?’ She said, ‘I would never hurt you. I love you.’ I said, ‘Hurt me?! I just wrote a song for you!’ That’s the furthest thing from my mind. I go back downstairs, I disrobe, I’m washing my face, and I feel this excruciating pain, and water or something flies all over the place. I get in the shower, cold water, and I’m screaming, and the next thing I hear is a shot fired and someone hit the floor. I loved her. I thought we could be together forever. She didn’t mean it. I didn’t know she had a problem. Suicide is not an answer, it’s destruction.”

After the ordeal, something happened to Green.

“I woke up about 4:30 in the morning. Something was…

Al Green: “What I Learned…”  was originally published on

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