songs i never get sick of...
because when you're on the highway as much as i was last week, such things run through your head...
shuggie otis, 'strawberry letter 23' (shoutout traci): i been telling nahmix over and over again that 'strawberry letter 23' is lyrical perfection. on the surface, the words don't make a lot of sense, but if you just try to visualize what the nigga shuggie otis is singing, you realize that he's painted you a most vivid picture. like a song in technicolor, the words are so brilliant and descriptive: hello my love/i heard a kiss from you/red magic satin playing near, too/all through the morning rain i gaze/the sun doesn't shine/rainbows and waterfalls run through my mind/in the garden i see/west purple shower, bells and tea/orange birds and river cousins dressed in green... such lyrical prowess makes this song number 4 on my top ten favorite songs list. i just can't get enough of it. the song is damn near perfection.
terence trent d'arby, 'wishing well': lyrically, the song makes d'arby a descendent of shuggie otis in his rendering of visual words. filled with apparent non-sequitors like, hugging like a monkey see/monkey do/right beside a river boat gambler/erotic images flow through my head/so i wanna be/your midnight rambler ...i get excited when i hear this song. no, for real, i actually smile when i hear this shit. if we're ever at a karaoke event, and this song is on the playlist, i'll sing it for you. promise.
maroon 5, 'sunday morning': look, yo, i just love maroon 5, ok? i play songs about jane at least once a week. this joint makes me bob my head from left to right the way kindergarteners do when they're singing 'john jacob jingleheimer schmidt' (his name is my name, too). no matter how shitty i'm feeling (usually about my perpetual singleness and two-month retirement from 'the game'), the song puts me in a much better--even happy--mood. (p.s. saf, tell your mom adam is pretty cute.)
prince, 'soft and wet': it's the move from the falsetto to the baritone when prince sings, 'tell me that you love me girl' that tickles me everytime. this song makes me wanna dance. even in front of white people.
bob marley, 'waiting in vain': ok, i'm not a stalker, but this song speaks to me. i live/love inside my head. i constantly daydream. in fact, as i write this, i'm daydreaming. when it comes to person-person interaction, i am incredibly shy, and i get awkward. (people scare me.) i either become an asshole or talk about mile a minute, while telling myself in my head that i'm an incredible fuck up. so...in the past i've noticed that i don't say the right things when people were apparently flirting with me. as a result, i leave with no name, no number, no ass. yet i'll be smitten, and mentally create a scenario where i said the right things, and shit worked out. such mental excercises are often comforting internally, but externally, i'm a mess--often feeling physical pain, beating myself up for being so inept at such social interaction. if/when i ever see this person again, i'm reminded of such pain, and realize that i fucked up my chance to make a good impression. i therefore wait (in vain) for an opportunity to redeem myself which, of course, never comes. but bob has made such waits beautiful, because it seems to me that though the song is stalkerish, he's not so much in love with the girl, but in love with the wait. that's why i love it. *whew*
bob marley, 'natural mystic': of course natty dread would make it on the list twice. since i was a bit long-winded about 'waiting in vain', i'll try to keep this one as short as possible: 'natural mystic' creeps up on you; it's haunting. it is also the best first song on an album. ever. period.
michael jackson, 'stranger in moscow': an odd choice by the gloved one, i know, but this is the greatest mj song post bad imho. i know i've written about this song before, but every time i listen to it, i'm amazed at how impeccable it sounds. when michael sings, 'then a beggar boy called my name...and again, and again, and again...' i can sense his pain with not being able to be anonymous anywhere in the world. when i'm in the mood (note thee mood, just a mood), i play this over and over just to try and hear every part of the song, there are things in the background i'll hear for the first time, and become once again awed by mj's genius. if you can, you should also check out the video (i mean, short film). it's pretty dope, too.
roberta flack and donny hathaway, 'where is the love?': if you know me personally, you know i don't really sing unless i'm at a concert or messing around. i'm not a prime candidate for vh1's motormouth at all. but 'where is the love' by roberta flack and donny hath requires that i sing each and every word at the top of my lungs--every time i hear it. i know when it comes to male/female r&b duos a lot of you all roll with marvin gaye and tammy terrell. that's understandable, but i'm telling you, on their best day, they couldn't hold a candle to roberta and donny. their voices were meant to be together, i swear. and since they mostly harmonize in 'where is the love' you can really tell.
tracy chapman, 'fast car': tracy chapman, one of cleveland, ohio's greatest. when tracy chapman sings, it seems to be the most effortless act ever. though i am terribly saddened whenever i hear this song (only 'little red corvette' makes me sadder), i must hear it over and over again. if i hear it on the radio on my way somewhere, as soon as i get home, i'll play it over and over. the lyrics take us from someone with a little bit a hope, to someone who has realized such dreams will not come to fruition. (the moment of) homelessness never sounded so sad, but it also never sounded to beautiful. btw, i think the use of this song by nice 'n' smooth ('sometimes i rhyme slow, sometimes i rhyme quick) is one of my favorite hip hop samples ever.
van hunt, 'hold my hand': i don't know how many times i'm gonna have to tell you all to get on the van hunt bandwagon, but his debut album mighta been the best album you didn't buy last year. while you were all distracted by that nigga ye and the male alicia keys otherwise known as john legend, i was developing a boy crush on van hunt. 'hold my hand' is the second song in the trilogy of 'van hunt sings summer's life', and is reminscent of a good, mid-tempo 80s prince song with its simple but hypnotic guitar chords, combined with great lyrics and an awesome use of string instruments in the background. lyrical highlights include: day and night you watch me from your hiding place/but you don't tell anyone else about us/footsteps in the shadows reveal secrets of a young belle/fresh from her shell and curious/hold my hand/that's something you don't have to understand for you to do/hold my hand/young lover come and get under my skin/it'll all make sense to you...now if that ain't a straight boy empathizing with a gay chick, what is? (hmmm...i haven't gushed about an album like this since res' how i do back in 2001, and we see what happened to her. [what happened to her?] maybe i should shut up about van hunt.)
songs i won't go on about:
sade, 'kiss of life'
donny hathaway, 'a song for you'
stevie wonder, 'golden lady' and 'pasttime's paradise'
the roots, 'silent treatment'
dido, 'thank you' to put it simply, i want dido to sing me lullabies.
fiona apple, 'criminal'
bill withers, 'ain't no sunshine'
c'mon and gimme yours...you know you want to.
language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison