Sunday, March 16, 2008

I Hate Lists But

...I'm gonna follow Maggie's lead here and get on the bandwagon of a playlist. First, know this about me....I cannot make a small playlist. It's like impossible. Back in the good ole days of burning CDs of songs? I had such a hard time coming up with cutting down the songs I wanted on a CD that I would usually end up burning more than one. And in the even better days of making mixtapes? Yeah, I was the girl that always used both sides A and B. All I can say is, thank goodness for the iPod cause whew, the playlist possibilities are endless!

That said, I've been reflecting a lot lately on good old R&B music. It was the first music my ears heard and the same music I love to this day (yeah, I'll certainly have something to say to Maggie's forthcoming Pop music post cause I'm a sucker for that, for sure). There's this priceless picture of me and my dad when I was like 1 year old and we're sitting on the floor listening to records and he's got those big ass 70s headphones on my little baby ears. Man, I gotta find that picture! I digress, anyways, the kids nowadays seem to be lacking any real knowledge of what good R&B used to be and that saddens me. So with that said, here's a little taste of some great classic R&B songs that I think everyone should know (the originals and not the samples or remakes or American Idol-ed Up or whatever).

DISCLAIMER: Again, my hatred of lists begs me to let you know that this is by no means my definitive list of the most amazing R&B songs ever. I will undoubtedly, as soon I get done posting this, come up with more.

1. The Manhattans, "Shining Star" - A complete sentimental favorite. One of my dad's most favorite songs. I remember when he had the 45 of this and played it over and over and over.

2. Betty Wright, "Clean Up Woman" - My sister and I used to have to hear this every single Saturday morning we were actually cleaning. We had no idea what it was really about cause all we ever heard was the clean up woman line.

3. Earth, Wind, & Fire, "September" - EWF had one of the first concert specials I ever remember seeing on TV. My sister, friends and I would all re-enact it because we saw it so many times, complete with "costumes" of bathrobes. One of my all time favorite EWF songs.

4. Kool & The Gang, "Get Down On It" - I love the groove of this song, plus when I was little I had a crush on JT Taylor. Man, they had so many good songs...check out "Jungle Boogie" and "Ladies Night", too. I need not tell you about that one that is played at every single celebratory event in existence.

5. Aretha Franklin, "Ain't No Way" - Cause everyone needs Aretha Franklin music in their life. And that means songs other than "Respect". I love her vocals on this one.

6. McFadden & Whitehead, "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" - Originators in establishing some of the best R&B around helping establish the great "Sounds of Philadelphia" that still ring true and leave impressions all over to that city even today. I LOVE the lyrics to this, too.

7. Sam Cooke, "A Change is Gonna Come" - Talk about legendary. Though his life was cut short, this man had such an impact on so many people. His voice is so smooth. This song's been redone lots of times, but none are as amazing as it's original. And yes, I adore Gavin's version so that's saying a lot. :)

8. Gladys Knight & The Pips, "If I Were Your Woman" - I don't think some people (read: kids today) give Gladys the credit she should have for her vocals cause this woman can blow...even now.

9. Donny Hathaway, "A Song For You" - Speaking of being able to blow? Yeah, that's Donny. And leaving an impact long after they're gone? Donny, again. Another classic American Idol covered song but none come close to this. This version here? A live one that's amazing.

10. Al Green, "Let's Stay Together" - Oh, Al. Need I say anything? This is a great spontaneous sing along song, too. I know I've been in a bar before and this comes on and people just gotta love one another and sing along.

11. Teddy Pendergrass, "Turn Off The Lights" - Gotta have some Teddy in your life, too. This man's voice is so commanding. And well, there's something to be said for his directness in this one.

12. Minnie Riperton, "Memory Lane" - Cause Minnie should be known for more than her high pitched notes in "Loving You" and being Maya Rudolph's mom.

13. Marvin Gaye, "What's Going On" - Another classic song that has lyrics that still reign as true today as they did when it was written delivered perfectly by Marvin.

14. Otis Redding, "Try A Little Tenderness" - This is such a fun song...Otis opening singing his behind off with just a piano/organ with some horns before it really kicks in. And who can forget Ducky's version of this in "Pretty in Pink"?!

15. Millie Jackson, "If Loving You is Wrong" - Just a great, great song. Strong and sultry.

16. The O'Jays, "I Love Music"- Cause well, I do. And my mom loved the O'Jays and would play stuff like this out. Another Saturday morning cleaning session favorite.

17. Jackson 5, "Who's Lovin You" - Cause listening to little Michael Jackson wail like this never ever gets old.

18. The Commodores, "Lady (You Bring Me Up)" - This is just a fun song for me. I was planning on using "Brickhouse" but I heard this today and remembered how much I love it, especially the "la la la" breakdown.

19. The Sylistics, "You Are Everything" - Before there was Robin Thicke or Justin Timberlake or hell, Jordan Knight, there was The Stylistics with the distinguishing falsetto vocals. This is such a beautiful song...melodically, lyrically, vocally. Love it.

10. Stevie Wonder, "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" - I don't know what it is about this song that echos with me but it's by far one of my favoritest Stevie songs. A nice little nugget hidden in his infinite list of hits.

There, all done. Enjoy!

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