Saturday, December 18, 2010

How the music moves 'em

BTW, Happy 67th Keef!
We aren't always dissing Rolling Stone.  Their web newsletter has a cool Playlist Special where 50 artists were asked to provide Top 10 lists of the music they love.  There were really no parameters, so Patti Smith picked Bob Dylan's love ballads, Ray LaMontagne covered his favorite Band songs and Jimmy Webb revealed the songs he wish he'd written.

Check it out here:

Here are 10 things we learned from the RS Playlist Special:

1. Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave) lists Aretha Franklin's "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody" as one of his favorite soul songs: "I knew Aretha as a little girl — she must have been 10 or 11. We were all on the road around that time with her dad, who was part of Martin Luther King's world, and he would bring her onstage to play piano when Dr. King was speaking. I always associated this song with Jerry Lewis, who did a hell of a good job — but when I heard this, I went, "Holy shit, that's little Aretha!"

2. Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson was not an early fan of the Rolling Stones. But he got there, and the most memorable Stones song for him is "Midnight Rambler." "A woman told me years ago that she saw the Stones in '72 and masturbated when they played "Midnight Rambler." I was like, "It's a song about a guy breaking into a house and raping somebody!" How dark and weird, and yet it's an incredibly powerful piece of music."

3. Keith Richards tried to find some obscure songs that "slipped between the cracks" like Big Bill Broonzy's "When Did You Leave Heaven." But Keef couldn't resist giving props to Chuck Berry for "Memphis Tennessee:"  "I think he's playing everything except the drums and a little piano. There is something about the way the guitars mesh together. I have to doff the old hat. The greatest."

4. Rage Against the Machine guitar slinger Tom Moreno consider's John Lennon's "Imagine" the best protest song of all time: "Lennon described this song as basically the Communist Manifesto set to music. It's couched in such a beautiful melody and gorgeous singing performance that it's easy to miss the fact that it's a lullaby of socialist-style overthrow."

5. Ozzy Osbourne remembers listening to "She Loves You" on a blue transistor radio and he was transformned. "I feel so privileged to have been on this planet when the Beatles were born. They are and will forever be the greatest band in the world. I remember talking to Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols. He said, 'I didn't like the Beatles.' I said, 'There is something fucking wrong with you.' "

6. Here's how Pete Seeger sums up the folkiness of us all: "My father, Charles Seeger, was a musicologist; when he was 90, he put out a collection of papers he had read at various scholarly gatherings. The last paper he read was titled 'The Folkness of the Nonfolk and Nonfolkness of the Folk.' The last sentence was, 'Musically speaking, the people of the United States are divided into two classes: a majority that does not know it is folk and a minority that thinks it isn't.' What lovely lines, because we're all folk."

7. Another transistor radio, another musical awakening: Rod Stewart working his first job as a silk-screener and on comes Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang." "To explain what Sam Cooke meant to me, it would take a couple of hours just to scratch the surface. The man basically introduced me to soul music. The first time I heard him, his music hit me like a thunderbolt and just slapped me around the head. I was 15 years old, and he changed my life."

8. Rufus Wainwright's description of Leonard Cohen's writing: "Fantastic framed sculptures." Wainwright's favorite Cohen song is "Bird on a Wire." "It's so touching and true in terms of what we go through as human beings — all the attempts we make to do the right thing that just miss the mark. It's probably his most human song."

9. Canadian rapper Drake loves to watch a DVD of Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock before he performs, and when he was in Seattle he visited Hendrix's gravesite and left this note: "Still inspired."
10. Can you be moved by a song more than Erykah Badu, who said this about Earth Wind and Fire's "That's the Way of the World:"  "When I heard this, it was like there was something that burst out of the ground and surrounded me — like children and flowers and Africa were appearing out of nowhere. And those horns! When Maurice White's voice comes in, it sounds like the voice of God."

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