Hello and welcome!
For those reading my column for the first time, these monthly playlists which I’m re-visiting (and continuing to create) came about as a result of an idea I had back in January of 2010: an idea that would see me create one 80 minute playlist a month.
The reason for doing this was two-fold: I wanted to create and re-enforce very specific lived experiences and memories tied to music, and I wanted a rather consistent set of songs to propel me each month as I created my art.
In creating these playlists, I tried to make things flow— I wanted songs to segue very effortlessly (or abrasively) creating a sense of narrative.
Going forward, once a week, I’m going to update the Spotify playlist that you can find below.
I’d recommend not shuffling the songs, as they were sequenced the way that they were for a reason. To get the full experience, listen to them in the way in which I’ve arranged things.
Included below is a short description of the tune I’ve included, and/or a description of the specifics memory associated with it. If you’re not trying to read all of that, just hit play on the link above!
1. Time’s Lie- Stan Getz Quartet
So, this is Stan Getz, with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and…
TONY WILLIAMS filling out the rhythm section.
Yeah, you read that right, Stan Getz got three dudes who were top 5 for their instrument at the time to back him up here, at Montreux.
Tony Williams and Stanley Clarke are actually in the conversation for top 5 of all time for their instruments, so I suppose that makes this all the more impressive.
Also, those two dudes are PLAYING on this song. Dear lord, dear lord. Tony Williams actually played my favorite drum solo of all time on this song, though it’s not found on this version of the song.
The video can be found below though, and… Well…
Where did the beat go?
I don’t know, and I don’t care.
If ever a more impressive outrageous tapestry has been woven using percussion, I’m not aware of it, and I doubt such a thing exists.
Okay, I’m done now.
2. Tiderays- Volcano Choir
So, Justin Vernon’s other band released a couple of really, really solid albums that kinda flew under the radar a few years back.
Or, at least, I feel like they did.
This is the opening number for the second of those albums, and I think it’s just lovely.
This is winter sunrise music par excellence, and the organ tone in here is one of my favorite I’ve ever heard recorded.
3. Rock With You- Michael Jackson
I’m not sure if Michael Jackson is, “cancelled,” or, “uncancelled,” at this point. I’m pretty sure the folks who made that documentary just got sued, so maybe he’s moving back towards, “uncancelled.”
Snipes at, “cancel culture,” aside, this is one of the best pop tunes he ever put together.
The synth tones are A1, and the rhythm section is fully locked-in.
I’m here for it.
4. Candy- Cameo
You guys, some of the best slap bass ever is found within the friendly confines of this tune.
I heard this for the first time in a Minneapolis bowling alley.
I lost a best of three set that night, and had to buy my old roommate Schuyler’s beers as a result.
This was a tough blow for my ego, because I consider myself a decent(ish) bowler.
Thankfully, my buzz kicked in right around the same time as the song’s guitar solo, and I was afforded a euphoric moment, as a result.
Smiles all around.
5. Banging Sound- Step Brothers (feat. Fashawn)
This song blew my mind the first time I heard it, because it’s a hip-hop tune, and I wasn’t entirely convinced that it had a 4/4 time signature.
Sitting down to do the count this morning though, I realized that indeed it does.
It’s still a great tune though, and one of the best beats Alchemist put together.
6. On Call- Kings of Leon
I’m not gonna lie, I’m low-key holding out for Kings of Leon to shock the world and drop a late-career classic.
Back when they had it, they really, really, had it, and I feel like they could channel that magic at least one more time?
This is a great tune. The bassline has some nice swagger about it, and the guitar solo is my favorite kind of rude, complete with some DOWN SOUTH bend and pop BRILLIANCE.
Bend and pop might not be a thing, but it is now.
7. Two Words- Kanye West featuring Freeway, Mos Def, and the Boys Choir of Harlem
Man— what I’d give for us to go back to the early 2000s.
Kanye’s first album…
and… yes, Freeway.
I’m not gonna even write about Freeway’s verse on here, because those who know about it, know ALL about it, and those who don’t are in for one of the greatest verbal flexes of all time.
If you haven’t listened to this recently, do yourself a favor, and let yourself enjoy a blessing.
8. Drive- Travis Scott featuring James Fauntleroy
I’m not gonna lie, I listen to this and get a bit sad, because it shows what could have been, as opposed to what we got.
Can you all imagine if Travis Scott stayed in this lane, as opposed to heading towards… well, Kardashian Land?
We start with a Screw sample.
Then get a LIL’ FLIP sample.
and then— a flip of my favorite Jodeci song before charging headfirst into perhaps the toughest drum sounds of the 2010s, and the best chorus that Travis Scott ever got in his life?
Perhaps, we didn’t deserve this, and that’s why Owl Pharaoh was a one-off thing.
In any instance, this is so good. Just fully superior music.
9. You Ain’t No DJ- Big Boi featuring Yelawolf
So, because Big Boi couldn’t get a 3000 verse on his album, he got the next best thing.
A 3000 beat.
The most sonically adventurous and terrifying piece of production to grace Big Boi’s debut album, Andre 3000 might as well have sent us a future transmission from the year 3000, because this is pure post-P-Funk bliss, and 100%, a gift.
To be clear, Big Boi and Yelawolf rap just fine on here too, but the beat steals the show.
Turn it up.
10. Fuckin’ Wit D- DMX
Funny story about this song.
I was walking by the Metra stop on Davis once, and there was a security guard who’d just gotten off of (or was heading to?) work, and he was rapping along to this song fairly loudly.
There was no one really around us, so I feel like that was legit, but as soon as he rounded the corner and saw me, he stopped.
I was kind of delighted because this is probably my 3rd favorite song from, “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot,” but maybe he got a little self-conscious.
Hadn’t thought about that for awhile.
11. If I Ruled the World- Nas featuring Lauryn Hill (DJ Screw remix)
I truly do believe that DJ Screw was born to remix this song.
In the history of remixes, this is the standard-bearer.
Yes— it’s really that good.
It’s also 12 minutes long, and not one second of that is extraneous.
Please clear 15 minutes from your schedule today, so you can treat yourself to this.
I promise you won’t be disappointed.
12. Capricorn- George Duke
I found out a couple of weeks ago that I have a Capricorn rising, which BLEW MY MIND because I thought for years that I was a Scorpio, Sagittarius, Sagittarius AKA a problem.
But now, knowing that I have a top-tier synergy of Water, Fire, and Earth, I feel like my appreciation of this song makes more sense.
Or, something like that.
13. Love- Musiq
I used to BURN guitar solos over the instrumental version of this song.
Musiq flipped this for a Ghostface collaboration a few years later, and that was just fine, but this is the original, and the purest version of the song— top-tier R&B.
14. Keep Your Heart- TV on the Radio
February of 2014 was a bit tough for me.
I feel like I had come to terms with the fact that my time in Minneapolis had more or less come to an end, and I felt some kind of way about that. I was also stinging a bit from things not working out with a girl that I had gotten pretty excited about, and those two things came to a head on a Friday night, when I was chilling with friends.
I was pretty in my feelings, and then, this song came on.
I feel like I kind of disconnected from what was happening in the room, and all I could really hear was the music.
I heard optimism in here.
The vocal acrobatics at the end sounded like an especially epic trip towards the warmth of a sun.
I felt fortunate to bathe in that particular warmth, especially, during the dead of winter.
I’ll always be thankful for that, and I’ll always love this song.