I’m going to go out on a limb here and posit that Clyde Otis is the most successful black songwriter and music executive you’ve never heard of.
For one thing, he’s got writing credits on more than 800 songs. For another thing, he became the Director of A&R for Mercury Records in … 1958. For a third thing, he founded his own publishing company and started producing his own sessions … for country artists in Nashville.
But back to the songs.
His first hit? “That’s All There Is to That” as performed by … Nat King Cole.
Perhaps his most…
There is one word that is more important than any other word in the history of rap, and one usage of that word that is more important than any other usage.
The word drops at the :14 second mark of the song “Bring the Noise” from Public Enemy’s second album It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.
That word is: bass.
It is the first word of what is arguably the most important set of lines in the history of rap:
Bass! How low can you go?
Death row, what a brother knows
Once again, back is the incredible
It will sound like a cliché, I’m sure, when I tell you this song changed my life. In this case, however, the cliché is the truth.
I was sixteen years old, and living in Seattle. I’d had a guitar since I was thirteen. I’d been obsessed with music, and guitars, since I was a toddler. There are Super 8 family movies of me running around in the backyard with a little plastic guitar singing nonsense songs at the top of my lungs at the age of two. About a decade later, my Grandpa surprised me with a guitar. In less…
No matter how you feel about Bruce Springsteen, it’s hard to fault the quality of his heart—he just seems like he’s always trying really hard to do the right thing. And as we’ve learned from his now-published autobiography, that ongoing effort pretty much tears him up inside on a regular basis.
Sometimes, his commitment to that notion of right costs him heavily—over his many decades, it’s cost him friends, business partners, and career opportunities. …
You likely don’t need my recommendation to incentivize you to discover, listen to, and experience this song. It did, after all, win Song of the Year at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, so chances are, you’ve heard it.
But I want to recommend it all the same, because I want to acknowledge that there are substantive songs of protest being written, recorded, and released across today’s modern music landscape.
To be honest, it’s a complicated landscape. I’ve listened to a lot of songs recently that are widely praised as modern protest songs, but almost without exception, they seem to depend…
The more years pass that our culture fails to produce politically-minded musicians and songwriters that are worth a dime, the more I find myself appreciating those artists that did care, and that consequently do matter.
This song is, strangely enough perhaps, the second song on this playlist to have been inspired by the Falklands War, the first having been Billy Bragg’s Island of No Return.
Whereas Bragg’s song is an archetypically fiery burst of impassioned activist poetry that combines the personal and the political to make its point, Gang of Four takes an entirely different route with “I Love a…
My missus and I signed a lease for an apartment in Brooklyn, site unseen, the evening of September 10, 2001. We wired the deposit via Western Union, and completed the paperwork via fax.
Of course you know what we woke up to the next morning.
Most sane folks would have perhaps scrapped their plans. We didn’t. Partly, we’d already pretty much put our eggs in the Brooklyn basket—we were committed. A big reason, though, was the story on everyone’s lips. New Yorkers were coming together as never before, kindness was back, humanity was prevailing. …
There came unto the world on September 6, 1925, a songwriter so influential, so talented, so gifted, that the world of popular music would never again be the same. In a parallel universe, he might have been a Brill Building writer, a Tin Pan Alley star, a staff writer in Hollywood, or a hitmaker at Motown.
As it was, he was born who he was, where he was, and when he was, and he was Jimmy Reed.
In 1945, he was a WWI vet working at a meat-packing plant in Gary, Indiana. By 1953, he had a record deal and…
The quarter of Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main Street is rather rightly considered the ne plus ultra of rock n’ roll, and just as Dylan was followed by all those wished-for “New Dylans,” there was most certainly a hunt afoot for the next Stones as well.
No one really ever found them, but if they’d have looked close enough, at just the right time, they might have spotted Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers in 1977 and realized, here they are.
The album was L.A.M.F (an acronym for Like A Mother Fucker), and “Born to…
The next best thing to early 70’s Rolling Stones was Johnny Thunders.
Every halfway decent Velvet Underground song sounds like a bad Dylan B-side.
Joy Division were better than New Order but Love and Rockets were better than Bauhaus.
Back in the USSR, Blackbird, Carry that Weight, The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, Dear Prudence, Get Back, Good Day Sunshine, Got to Get You Into My Life, Here Comes the Sun, Hey Jude, Lady Madonna, Let It Be, Lovely Rita, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Octopus’s Garden, Penny Lane, Rocky Raccoon, Sexy Sadie, Strawberry…