Detour.

I’ve been gone too long.  Apologies, but the combination of World Cup distractions, low temperatures and general lethargy have combined to keep me away longer than I intended.  I shall attempt to make up for my errant behaviour over the next couple of weeks, but for tonight allow me to clear some cobwebs, get my fingers up to speed, my brain ticking over as it should.  Bear with me, I need to get into the right frame of mind to write the posts that need to be written.  I can’t do sewer when I’m pissed off at the government, not unless I’m writing about sodomy with a foreign object (hint: things I want to do to someone with a broom handle).  I can’t get fluffy when all I want to do is slap the idiot press for pretty much everything they’ve done over the past month (I’mma start with KBC, the idiots who thought to ringa with their signal, bloody nkt!).  I can’t even indulge in my bullshit alien conspiracies, now that I am convinced they walk amongst us (CORD, I’m looking at you…).  I need to detour a bit, and then resume normal service over the weekend.  Yes?

Disclaimer: This post shall be vague, and rambling, and shall have absolutely no moral whatsoever.  I’m just having a bit of a chat is all, such as I do, and playing you a couple of tunes.  On the up side, this is all about random music.  That’s always fun, right?  Right?  Just nod.

I’ve ended up following a couple of music junkies on twitter (it’s still the work of the devil that one), because I consider myself quite the aficionado and I was looking to meet kindred spirits.  Shock on me when I keep getting taken to school.  These fellas, they’re the real deal, the depth and breadth of their playlists is frightening.  No really, real fear.  I’m too scared to tell anyone what I’m listening too, lest I am mocked for my gauche taste in pop ballads.  But that’s over there.  Here, in my house, I can play all the nonsense I want, and you must love it.  To wit, I need to tell you about my dirty little secret love.  Well, its not so much a secret as it is a well concealed fact. I know I’m quite the oversharer, constantly subjecting you to way too much TMI, but this one even I am too shy to tell you about, until now. This man, walalalala…

I’m in love with a man.  An older man.  A man who should not be sexy, but dammit he is.  A man who has been accused, but never convicted mind you, of theft.  A man whose hair was slightly questionable, for way too long.  A man who wears his shirts a tad too unbuttoned even for my lascivious ass.  Aaaahhh…  Lovely Michael Bolton.  I’m grinning stupidly at my screen, watching one of his oh so romantic videos, with the ubiquitous beautiful people making lovely even as they pine for love…

I’m swaying and ef’thing…

What?

Don’t look at me like that, I love the man and I am okay with it.  Scratch that, I am most proud of my love for a 61 year old (yes, he is 61, that’s how old we are) white man best known for ripping off black soul artistes, and winning Grammys for his effort.  Now ordinarily, a man like this would be on my list of men I plan to one day kidnap and torture in my basement, but Mr Bolton came into my life when I was young and impressionable.  Stop judging me, I first heard the man when I was in kendo Standard 8, back when my music tastes were dictated by John Karani, John Obongo Jnr and Jeff Mwangemi.  If none of those names means anything to you, this post is not for you.  KBC (ptuh!) had such a serious hard-on for this man, he was played all day; Lunchtime Music, Sundowner, Late Date…  There is no one in my age set who is unfamiliar with ‘Soul Provider’.  Admittedly, most don’t much care for the man, in public, but you belt out one of Mr Bolton’s many ballads at karaoke and watch the geriatric bastards sing along (fellow lovers of easy listening pop/rock, I see you…).  I have known this man for 24 plus years.  That’s longer than I have known any of my close friends, longer than I have owned any one pair of shoes, hell, as long as I have been menstruating.  That last one was too much, yes?   Yes.  (Sewer gear…check!)  Michael and I go back, way back, talk smack about him at your own peril.

There I am, happily singing along to a random playlist helpfully provided by the lovely geniuses at YouTube (they who seem to have me pegged as someone who is in dire need of sanitary towels, if the Always ads they insist on showing me are anything to go by), and I stumble upon one of my favourite songs…

Now this particular song is the reason my black passport will be confiscated, for real.   I am ashamed to say this, but I’ve always considered his cover much better than the ‘original’.  Wait, don’t lynch me, let me explain. The first time I heard the song, it was this cover, to my mind, this was the original.  You can imagine my dismay when I heard Ray Charles sing it.  Why now?  He was so…throaty.  And there was no Kenny G, dammit!  Again, don’t lynch me.  Yes, I loved Kenny G too, but not too much.  I’ve lied, I thought that curly haired bugger was the shit, up until I grew up and got some education as to what real jazz sounded like, which then took me back to Ray Charles, but with a greater appreciation for his genius.  Ray is brilliant, but, truth be told, I still prefer Mr Bolton’s vocals.  Before you revoke my negro credentials, listen and tell me what you think.

The sumptuous orchestra on this track makes his a completely different song; less ‘woe is me’ love song and more gentle serenade.  I don’t think I should even compare the two, they’re like chalk and cheese.  This is how I get out of my self created awkward corner, yes?  Yes.

Detour.  I keep saying ‘original’ because I have recently learned that Ray Charles covered the real original, written in 1930, by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorell.  Yup, all you Bolton haters, he didn’t steal this one from our people (that I can tell), so there.  It gets better, the song was written for Hoagy’s sister, Georgia, which explains the lyrics.  Why would someone talk about smiling tenderly when singing about a place, especially in America?  I’m not being mean, I’m just saying, it’s the South, Jim Crow and shit, smiling tenderly is not what comes to mind, not in 1930.  Don’t look at me like that, I watched Roots, and Malcolm X.  (Conspiracy theory gear…check!)  Singing about the state is odd, but singing about a woman, now that’s just about right.  The best part of this little nugget I stumbled upon, the original is bloody spectacular, jazz orchestra the works.  Again, listen before you slap me…

It’s good, no?  No?  I don’t know why I bother with you ungrateful Philistines.  Detour over.

Scrolling down the Ray Charles playlist, I came upon this lovely gem…

Sound vaguely familiar?  Rap being rap, they took one random line and spun it into that most addictive hook from ‘Gold Digger’, ‘She take my money…’.  I came across the song some time last year, on Treme, the TV show.  It was one of those moments when you hear a song and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you think, ‘Fuck me sideways!’  Odd thing is, that show is so fucking brilliant, those moments come along roughly 5 times per episode, at least.  I know you think I’m off on one of my misguided tangents, but listen to this and tell me I lie…

Detour.  If you like this, go out and get the TV show, then get the music.  This is the only show I know with several sites dedicated specifically to the soundtrack, episode by episode over four seasons.  It’s a music junkie’s heaven, plus it has some of the best writing and acting I’ve seen in a good long while.  As with all things brilliant, it has, however, since ended, HBO saw fit to kill that story.  I blame Obama, I blame him for everything these days, him and el presidente, just because.  (Ranting gear…no check, trying to disengage…)  Detour over.

While googling for the Treme version I wanted to revisit, I stumbled upon a live performance of the same by Stevie Wonder.  Being that I am loose like a langa, and Stevie is, well, Stevie, I clicked play, and thus began another walk down memory lane.  This man is the voice of my childhood, him and MJ and Lionel.  ‘Part Time Lovers’ was the song, no?  Scrolling down his playlist takes me back to the first time I watched a colour television.  I have no idea why.  Issues.  Listen to this man sing…

This song though.  I’m not sure there’s anything I can say about it.  His voice is most fascinating, in some ways its an instrument in its own right.  R&B these days is all woowoowoo bullshit, but this is what it should be about.  Clear voice, control, lyrics that make sense, music that did not come out of a computer.  It’s art, is what it is.  Now I’m guessing there’s a youngling who’ll listen to this and think, this guy sounds like John Legend.  I see you nodding, you poor soul.  There’s nothing new under the sun, my lovely, now you know.  All of me isn’t all that new, is all I’m saying.  Yes, I am laughing an evil laugh.  I googled the two, hoping to find a clip of the them on the same stage, and I did, kinda.


John Mayer, John Legend, & Corinne Bailey Rae…

My people, when Mr Wonder introduces someone as ‘overwhelmingly incredible’, you need to listen.  You don’t have to agree, just listen.  In one of those creepy coincidences that tend to happen when you’re online way too long, someone put three songs I absolutely love in one performance, thereby rendering me speechless for 10 minutes.  I watched this clip in awe, ‘hand in the air, hallelujah!’ awe…

Ms Corinne Bailey Rae should need no introduction, but she’s so brilliantly eclectic she’s often overlooked when we talk about good music.  Watch this concert and tell me she hasn’t won you over…

Isn’t she just the most gorgeous creature?  Come on…  If this doesn’t move you, then you are a cold heartless bastard unworthy of good music.

John Legend on the other hand is a staple, whether you like him or not, Kenyan FM has decided he is the man they will play until our ears bleed.  ‘Coming Home’ is…fitting.  As much as we hate to admit it, us and our langa government, we are at war, most of the time with ourselves, and trying to come home.

We’ll make it home again
Back where we belong again
We’re holding on to when
We used to dare to dream
We pray, we live to see
Another day in history
Yes, we still believe…

Detour. These two artistes do a mean duet.  Their cover of ‘Where is the love’, off his live album, almost outdoes the original.  Almost.  For all their brilliance, Donny Hathaway cannot be beaten, and because I know you don’t believe me (you never do, do you?), here’s the original with Roberta Flack.  Further detour, as I was wandering through Mr Hathaway’s playlist, I found a live version of ‘Someday we’ll all be free’.  I’d explain my obsession with the man, but it’s easier to let you figure it out for yourself…

Keep your self-respect, your man, the pride
Get yourself in gear, keep your stride
Never mind your fears
Brighter days will soon be here
Take it from me someday, we’ll all be free, yeah…

If you do nothing else this week, get yourself one of his albums, the man was true genius, the likes of which we rarely see these days.  You shall thank me later.  It was inevitable that this song would lead me to his live cover of ‘What’s Going On’, which in turn could only lead to Marvin Gaye himself, he that was shot by his father, useless twit, the father, that is.  Wait, both of them were equally foolish, no?  This album is described as the seminal album for black conscious music, yaani he sang about more than pretty women, unheard of for an Motown musician at the time, or so they say.  I wasn’t born yet, so don’t quote me.

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, yeah…

Lakini, if I need to tell you about Marvin, then we cannot have a discussion.  If you don’t like him, that’s another story, I’ll fight with your dodgy ass later.  Detour over.

The last of the trio on that Stevie Wonder clip, John Mayer, now he is a truly special bastard.  Honestly, I’m not entirely sure he’s sane.  Any man who refers to his dick as racist, well, he’s a star.  I absolutely love his no-filter mouth, and I love his music more.  I know a man who is about to send me a strongly worded email tukana-ing me for that statement, but fuck it, this man plays blues guitar like someone three decades older and several skin tones darker.  ‘Gravity’ is moody music, just what you need when you’re in a funk and unwilling to climb out.  Strange thing is, this is just what I needed to get me out of my funk.  Go figure.

Oh, twice as much ain’t twice as good
And can’t sustain like one half could
It’s wanting more that’s gonna send me to my knees
Whoa gravity, stay the hell away from me
Whoa gravity has taken better men than me
How can that be?

And to wrap up this random walkabout, we return to (almost) the beginning, with my ‘strange white man with a penchant for covering black man classics’ fixation.  The beginning of ‘Gravity’ has a riff off this beauty…

I still want you to stay
I still love you anyway
I don’t want you to ever leave
Girl, you just satisfy me, me…

Possibly related, I now have the title for my next post.  Chitty chitty, bang bang.  Bang here refers to…