I use to get teased because of my love for old country music. This is mainly due to my young age, and the fact that I’m African, but to me music is universal. It’s whatever speaks to you that you end up loving. Music, to me is completely devoid of color, and should treated as such. In fact Hank Williams himself was mentored by a  black man named Rufus Payne, who taught Hank Williams about the blues and African American culture. Payne is somewhat of a mystery since all that is known about him was that he was a street performer, who was instrumental in shaping Hank William’s sound. Now I’m a fan of certain artists, and I really do love Hank Williams. He makes me happy. His lyrics are rather simple and sad. Hank Williams had met an early death at the age of twenty nine due to years of drug abuse, which was ultimately the culprit of his heart giving. I was introduced to Hank Williams, while watching The Last Picture Show, if you haven’t seen this wonderful film then you should! Hank Williams was faintly played in the background of almost every scene of the film. Williams was also on the soundtrack of last year’s Moonrise Kingdom. Hank Williams may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he is the perfect prescription when the wind is a howling outside, your mouth hovering over a nice cup of joe, and the curtains are drawn over your weary eyes. It’s just damn good music, there isn’t any gimmick to his music, just the sound of Hank Williams drowning his sorrow…almost yodeling over every laborious word, strumming that twangy guitar. Music should be like this, just bare, I mean simplicity is needed sometimes in this incredibly complicated world. Instead of a complex way of speaking sometimes you just want lyrics that simply say, “Say hey good lookin whatcha got cookin?”

(Source: Spotify)

Eddie Cochran is one of my favorites. When my father came to the states he was several years behind in the music department, so he never did listen to the day glo music of the eighties. I found that on my own in my teen years, where besides finding the artificial fun that was eighties music, I was introduced to The Smiths & Joy Division, which was the benchmark for a sullen teen buried in angst. I am forever indebted to my father for all the fun rockabilly tracks that he grew up listening to when he was young cat, and in turn showing me some of these fun tunes.

Eddie Cochran was a huge staple for years in the punk community, where a lot of punk acts covered his work, yet when one hears the name Eddie Cochran no one could ever place him, but everyone knows his tunes. Cochran died an untimely death at the age of twenty one while he was touring across the pond. In death he became a legend, leaving behind a lot of posthumous tunes, but is ever really known by the music he played while he was still alive. Some of his hits were Summertime Blues & C’mon Everybody. In one of last shows he met up with a young Marc Bolan, who would later front one of my favorite acts of all time, T-Rex, and even allowed young Bolan (who was only thirteen when he met Cochran) play his guitar. Marc Bolan would eventually die prematurely as well, by a car crash, just as Eddie Cochran would. Cochran’s guitar, one of the many items that were impounded, found its way to to Dave Dee, who would later find the group; Dave Dee, Dozy, Beak Mick & Tich, their songs never did get big, but you can hear one of their tunes in the film Death Proof. Dave Dee was a police cadet at the time of Cochran’s death, learned to play guitar from the guitar that was on that very taxi cab where Eddie Cochran met his death. When Paul McCartney was invited to play for The Quarrymen, before it became The Beatles (the name was said to have been inspired by Buddy Holly’s band The Crickets) he played a Cochran tune called, Twenty Flight Rock. Cochran’s influence is everywhere, but unfortunately he appears to be one of those unsung heroes, who paved the way for many, but whose name escapes the lips of many avid music listeners.

Here’s a nice track clearly influenced by Elvis, Buddy Holly (who died a year before Cochran did), and Jerry Lee Lewis. Hope you like it and feel free to find more of his tunes. He makes a non-dancing girl like me do the awkward shuffle. Hooray for rockabilly!

(Source: Spotify)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iA64mhwfoZc

Think Twice (Rated X)

Lavern Baker & Jackie Wilson

(1965)

This song was/is positively scandalous. To this day I’m stunned that it was able to make it’s way out of the censored confines of the pop, unoffensive, gimmicky, wall of sound, sweet, yet progressive lyrics of the 1960’s. Not to say that the 1960’s was solely filled with sugary sweetness, but this song wouldn’t even be played on today’s radio! I absolutely love this hit 1965 song by Lavern Baker & Jackie Wilson. It’s funny when you think of these two artists, you think love songs, you think soul, you think range, but you never think potty mouths. This isn’t one of my favorite duets only because of content, even though that is a big part of it, but you can tell that Wilson and Baker are having fun, shrugging off the weight of enforced censors of that time, while singing whatever the hell they felt like singing. I absolutely love that you can hear them trying to stifle their laughter. Anywho if you’re not easily offended try out one of my favorite duet tracks :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFq6eZBS1iM

You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly

Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty

(1978)

I love love Loretta Lynn. She’s a strong passionate woman, who has lyrics that will knock your teeth right out, and make men want to bite their tongue, when her angry drawl, crawls out from your radio. The title, You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly, is humorous in itself, and the song lives up to that wonderful title. I love this duet with Conway Twitty. Sure country gets a bad wrap. More than once I’ve heard people say, “Hey I listen to everything but country,” which makes me wonder what kind of limited country tunes they’ve heard. Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty take a harmless yet funny remark and make it into a hit. If you ever have a meaningless fight with your significant other, just take a step back, put this song on, and laugh at the absurdity of it all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKlCA0-Arks

Tramp 

Otis Redding & Carla Thomas

(1967)

When I woke up this morning, I inadvertently started a theme with my music selection. I found myself being drawn to duets. Now there are some duet standards that I absolutely adore, but I wanted to give you my top three favorite duets, starting with the wonderful Tramp by Carla Thomas & Otis Redding. It isn’t a secret that Otis Redding is my favorite singer of all time, so yes I am biased when I say this is one of my favorite duets. This duet is just injected with so much love. I have this image of Carla Thomas, twirling her mike around her lanky arms, teasing Otis Redding on his humble Southern beginnings, while Otis Redding explains to Carla Thomas that his overall wearing self can provide her with some southern comfort. 

Good Mornin’! Here’s a silly song to keep your mornin’ light.

Listening to Prince makes me happy. His moans, his innuendos, his reaching those high notes, his mauve paradise, his unmatched self-assured style, his smooth guitar…you can practically see purple strobe lights coming out from the radio when he sings. I was listening to Raspberry Beret during this morning’s traffic; it helped me get through it, especially since I had to circumvent the idiots that were on the road, and whose minds were weighted down by the tax season. Sometimes I wish my life could be like a Prince music video. I would definitely wear a raspberry beret, have dried ice in the backseat of my car for effect; I would rock a plum jumper that will actually fit me, while showing off my ride, a smooth violet hearse, and as I press down on the gas (I’d have lilac platform shoes of course) I would yell at someone to: “Act your age not your shoe size.” The world is just better dressed in purple. 

(Source: Spotify)

It’s the third month of the year, and I got to say it’s already been one of the best. Here are a few things that have given me a lot of happiness.

I have my strong, funky, independent female singers (Solange + Grimes + JoJo) pouring out of my headphones, while I study like mad.

I had graduated from college five years ago, currently looking into graduate school, all of which is terrifying! I needed some uplifting strong sistahs to enter into my life, because Lord knows it’s hard to get back into the swing of “school mode.”

I traveled via literature, studied character development,  while reading novels penned by warped minds that tackle the dark underbelly of suburban life. I read, studied some of their work, in hopes of shaping my own writing voice. Reading and writing are both disciplines that I take very seriously. I know I know it’s cliche to say you write better when you read more but it’s so true! 

Saul Bass is my inspiration this year. What can I say? The man’s brilliant. Have you seen the title sequence of Vertigo?

I love that there’s inspiration everywhere.

Oh…and sometimes you need that great teenage drama soap opera circus, luckily my life doesn’t consist of such drama, but you still need it in your life. Hey I’m about to be twenty six…sometimes when you have a hard day at work you want to watch Pretty Little Liars. I’m just saying it gives me encouragement by allowing my brain to breathe, be entertained, and when the nail biting episode is over, I get to writing in my self-made cave. Whatever works, right?

It’s funny how life would tear at your empathy, poison your coralled brain with reason, suffocating your inner romantic. How is it that I am able to shrug off the weighted robe that the adult world hands out, just by viewing a Disney short? Disney is the only thing that makes me weep. Disney is the only thing that helps me remember…how my eyes would widen with wonder…I suppose everyone has seen Paperman, which had won an Oscar this year, but if you’re having a poor day, want to believe in love once again….then go ahead….hit play.

This wonderfully eccentric artist, with her soaring vocals, is the savior of soul. In a world where music is created by glass hands, never meaning to stand the test of time, but meant to construct false music prophets, who suck the consumers dry, with their gimmicks. Emeli Sande is our honest savior  Her vocals, her exemplary songwriting skills, her lyrics, which are extremely relatable; I just love it. I feel every ounce of her pain, it’s all raw, and it’s unabashedly honest. This is my favorite track on her inspiring debut album. 

(Source: Spotify)