"My music addresses the young people who go to church. And, okay, a little bit of fornicating. But God understands, and finally they get married. And then, three kids down the road I'm still in love with you!"

Q: Tell me about where you live.
A: I'm a mystery man. I live-I don't know, man. I live in town, sometimes I live out of town, sometimes I live uptown, crosstown. I'm trying to work out my own soul salvation, so therefore I kind of, like-I'm a loner, you know? I really don't hang out with a bunch of folks. I got my books, my pencils, the man upstairs. That's the way it's been. That's the way I like it.

Q: But you live in Memphis, right? What are your favorite things about Memphis?
A: I like the Peabody Hotel, the Rendezvous for barbecued ribs-I like the beef ribs instead of the pork. They give you the baked beans there and, oh, man, you're eating your fingers off! I've never been to Elvis' place, and I'm right down the street from it.

Q: Not even when Elvis still lived there?
A: No, 'cause then there was security guards and all these folks around him, and then you wouldn't bother because it was just a bit too much. Most of all he wanted his space, 'cause people will run you down. They don't know it takes energy just to conversationalize. If you was in the hospital and you had five or six visitors, you'd be glad when they were gone, because it takes your energy.

Q: Some people can't understand how you could go from those sexy songs in the seventies to gospel music and then back to soul music with this new record, Everything's OK.
A: I wouldn't let that worry me if I were you. I think the music addresses our young people and addresses our middle-aged people who've been married 10 or 15 years. It tells them, "Let's stay together." Any man married to his wife 40 years should be able to go into his house and say, "I'm still in love with you. You're 40 pounds overweight, I'm still in love with you. Forget Jenny Craig, I'm still in love with you." These are natural things. Or the boyfriend and the girlfriend who go to church. And, okay, a little bit of fornicating-they trying to do it right, they just off to a bumpy start! But God understands, and finally they get married and finally they walk down the aisle. But that's just the way it is: You're gonna find people that gravitate together because of natural . . . gravitation. And then, three kids down the road, stretch marks and all, and I'm still in love with you.

Q: There's a famous story about an ex-girlfriend who threw a pot of boiling Cream of Wheat at you. Then she killed herself. Do you know what was going on in her mind?
A: I did not know. If I had known, I probably would not have got burned. But I loved Mary then and I love Mary now. I will always love Mary. She told me so many things that's happening now, and I told her she was crazy. She said, "You're gonna have a church, Al. And believe me, it's gonna be fantastic. And you're gonna be the minister." I said, "What? Come on. Let's go get something to drink." And now, all these years later, I'm exactly what she said. When I was born again, I didn't believe it. But everything about God is a miracle, isn't it? And the Word itself is a miracle. Woooo-ooooo! I'm outta here!!!