1/14/2010

Your Soul Patch Ain’t Got Soul

Before becoming a member of Beard Team USA, I wore a soul patch exclusively. It was facial calling card. Here's a repost of The Beard Coach's research into why it's called a 'soul patch'. I'm going with his recommendation and going to call it a 'jazz patch' from now on.

Your Soul Patch Ain’t Got Soul: "
billy ray cyrus

Seriously… why is that little dab of hair called a soul patch anyway? I’ve just finished trying to research this and I can’t find any satifactory etymology of the phrase anywhere. Here’s what I have been able to gather:

  • “Soul Patch” was first included in the Miriam Webster dictionary in 1991
  • According to a source on the Wikipedia entry, jazz trumpeters of the 1950s and 1960s grew them for increased mouthpiece comfort.
  • Also according to Wikipedia, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, called the first soul patch he saw a “poor, frustrated beard.”

So my theory on the history of the soul patch goes like this. It was the height of the 1950s jazz movement. African-American jazz musicians were getting freaky and white counterculture ate it up. They felt so cool and progressive hanging out at the club and grooving on the new sounds that were being made up on the spot. In the midst of that jazz-induced euphoria, these kids noticed their idols wearing this little patch of hair under their bottom lip, not knowing what reason it served. In an effort to be as cool as the cats on the stage, the guys that were caught up in the scene grew out a little patch to match… and the soul patch was introduced to the non-musicians of America.

That still doesn’t explain why it’s called a “soul” patch. Soul music isn’t really an offspring of jazz. Instead, it grew from African-American gospel crossed with rhythm-and-blues (R&B). And while R&B and jazz can both claim the blues as a parent, it’s hard to detect any resemblance between the siblings. An audible connection is even less present between soul music and its uncle jazz. So, there’s just no soul in a soul patch. I’m going to start calling it a “jazz patch.” You should too.

Real soul music was made by guys with real beards. Evidence:

Marvin Gaye?

Marvin Gaye beard

Barry White?

barry white beard

Isaac Hayes?

isaac hayes beard



There you have it. There is simply no denying the soulfulness of the full beard. You may think that little spot of hair under your lip gives you soul, but I’m pretty sure that the ladies aren’t feeling it. You want to see a woman feel the effects of a full soul beard? Play “Let’s Get It On” at your next house party. I guarantee that at least one of the girls in attendance will swoon and start turning her mind toward certain things…

You want to look like you’re a lovin’ man? Fill in the rest of your beard around that “poor, frustrated” jazz patch.
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