I'm your Internet girlfriend and I don't ask a lot of you, other than daily shoulder rubs and you laughing at my jokes. And every once in a while I want you all to pay close attention when I start to go on and on about individual songs on popular radio. This is as close to egotism as I get.
(PS, I'd also like everything I do to be written about in Futura Bold Italic against a red background, like in a Barbara Kruger piece or a Supreme anything. Other than that, I am humble and lack egotism).
On the mighty 101 freeway this evening, I heard some fine pop music; 64 miles, 94 minutes, 10 radio stations, and 7 “Bottoms Up”s later (SEVENNNN, I swear to god, I counted), I have made my selections and here they are: the best “driving back to LA from Mom's after Thanksgiving” songs and what they mean to me. What they mean to all of us.
“This Christmas,” Donny Hathaway. And so it was decreed on this day that the only Christmas songs allowed in apt. 15 are this Donny H. classic, “Christmas in Hollis,” that Pogues one, Prince's “Another Lonely Christmas,” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” with Darlene Love's crybaby vocals ripping up the insides of my heart (the effect it was supposed to have, probably because Spector was poking her with a hot wire hanger just outside the booth to get the best performance out of her).
When I’m between salon visits, my hair starts to turn reddish because my highlights are fading. It is during these times that several people have commented that I resemble noted American pornographic thespian Faye Reagan. I don’t see it, other than you can see my freckles when I don't wear makeup. But that’s ok, because she is pretty. I'll take it. Sometimes I also get Anne Hathaway with lighter hair, because we both have those too-large eyes (baby deer lost in the forest). “Anne with highlights,” my mom says. I'll take that too, because Anne Hathaway is pretty and because the comparison makes me feel close to Donny Hathaway. Anyway, Donny's version of this song is the gold standard, the beginning and the end, the only one, pure, uncut, straight from the fields of Afghanistan. This is the ONLY version of this song you’re allowed to listen to. I mean it. I will turn this car around. You can have Kanye and your other false prophets; I'll take Donny and his quiet suffering, his turtlenecks, and his doomed, beautiful voice.
“Bottoms Up,” Trey Songz. This was played 7 doggone times during my time on the freeway tonight, you guys. I guess the evil little playlist-compiling elves at ClearChannel were thinking that that this would be good to drink to at your uncle's house. I was mad at the frequency with which I heard it, and yet I have not lost any appreciation for the song’s woooahhh-oh-ohhh intro, with Trey doing his moaning Kels impression*, the drumroll at 00:47, the double-timed “up”s during the last part of the hook, or the way the whole song is put together. Nice job, KaneBeatz. I hate Nicki’s verse, though, where she does babytalk and starts off with a list of different kinds of booze. It’s like in “Monster,” when Jay just lists a bunch of scary things (demons, ghouls) and then asks what they have in common. UHHH THAT’S NOT RAPPING, SHAWN.
*I can sing this whole part, with no breaks or pitchiness. I also nail every single I know in “Ain't No Sunshine” whenever it comes on the radio. BREATH CONTROL.
Vince, who I swear I've seen around my neighborhood, getting his American Spirits at the store on my block.
“Linus and Lucy,” Vince Guaraldi. Of course this is burned into our childhood memories, the Peanuts kids dancing to it, but please disregard that and listen to the whole thing with fresh ears, as it is lovely and trance-inducing. My brother also informed me that this song powered a Pat Duffy skate part. The only other jazzy tune I know of in the history of skate parts was “Traneing In” in Video Days. And now, as always, I am thinking about how much fun being a boy must be. Girls don’t have that gene that makes you guys want to hurl yourselves off of things, and that’s fine. But every time I see a good skate video part, or hear anything from It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, I get jealous and think being a dude sure seems like it would be fun. Luckily, being a girl is fun enough for me 'cause we get to wear cuddly lounge-y cashmere underthings*. Also fun: this song's meter changes while battling traffic at the 101-405 interchange. That's some joy in my Japanese coupe right there, you blockhead.
want/need. Thank you in advance, based god.
“Sunny,” Bobby Hebb. I never said a proper goodbye to Bobby and I should have. But hey, have you ever heard James Brown’s hot burning fire version of this song? You should.
(best YouTube comment:
“Lady Gaga, you piece of crap. Watch God's incarnation of groove, bow down to Sir unbeatable electrifying unreachable Mr. James Brown and repent, you good for nothing illuminati bitch.”
I’d say it were time for this person to attend anger management class, except I completely agree with him.)
“Shotgun,” Jr. Walker & the All-Stars. They say guns clap just like people do, right? I done been down this road before, all pleased with myself for realizing that Jr. Walker and Dilla both decided to call one of their songs “Shotgun.” Must be a Detroit thing. This one’s about high heels and shooting somebody, just like all the best Clipse songs, and of course it all makes wonderful and perfect sense.
“The Return of the D.ST,” De La. 1) Handclappy intros are the best. 2) If something’s, uh, coming, it’s always a nice touch to announce it. Just a couple times, though—if you start saying it too far in advance, and too often, the other person who's there stops believing you. HI MOM.
“No Hands,” Waka. Stripper songs, stripper songs, guess which one of your favorite nerdy lady bloggers loves stripper songs. All we ladies want in a man is 1) a combination of Wale in “No Hands,” 2) Obama, and 3) our dad/grandpa/nice uncle. That is, someone who sweats out weaves, has a powerful presence without resorting to shouting, and tells us Don't ever change, you're perfect and beautiful, but still calls us on our shit since someone always agreeing with you is boring. It took me a little while to give in to Waka and his lovely cheekbones, but here I am. (Thanks for saving me a seat, you guys; nice to see you all here!)
I have many questions about life. So many questions. How come nobody told me about the MF Based mixtape, for example. When will Nipsey and Wiz eat a cheeseburger (so skinny, those boys!). How come Jay-Z never did a verse in which he referred to himself as having x amount of JIGGA WATTS (Back to the Future on TV earlier today). Where is Jeezy. Why doesn't Plies go by Algernod Washington instead because that is a far superior name. Whyyy. And finally: how long will oddballs rule the rap game, bodying everything and everyone with their siren songs. Rap is only going to get weirder in the world in which we live, our own Theatre of the Absurd. I cannot wait.
“All I Want is You,” Miguel feat. J. Cole. All we ladies want when a dude is mean to us is for him to lose some sleep and be very very sorry. There should be some karmic payback for every cruel deed committed, just to make some sense of this crazy world. This song’ll get that estrogen flowing, like when Gaga comes on the playlist loop at H&M and me and all my sistren among the racks of $25 skirts have that tiny, private moment of joy and sing along in our heads.
I wonder sometimes/I wonder if I was wrong/Tryna do right by you got me here/Now all I am is alone. Ah yes. Of course. I recognize an “I cheated; I'm an idiot” lyric when I hear one. 'Cause her eyes, and those hips/And that ass don’t compare at all/And at best, all they do is distract me. Goddamn right; perhaps you should not have strayed from the hips and ass that were waiting for you at home, young man. Aw damn, I love it though. The pathos. That heavy bass drum and the sad echo applied to the vocals makes my progesterone level spike 50%. Salaam Remi produced this, along with “Fu-Gee-La,” and I therefore love him forever and ever amen.
“I Got 5 On It” (original), The Luniz. Much like how I become an honorary Latina every time “Suavecito” comes on, I am suddenly and without warning straight from Alameda County whenever I hear some Luniz. I believe it was my beloved OG rap crush El-P who once said Just because radio don't play you/Doesn't mean that you great. The inverse of this is also true, and has become the theme for this whole list--just 'cause you hear it on the radio don't mean it's not great. The remix of this one has Dru Down's entertaining You can bend her over the table/But be sure that you bring my stallion back to my stable, a callous reference to the trafficking of women's bodies, but unlike people at the Voice, I have the ability to separate my real life from my enjoyment of song lyrics (sorry, I can't let this Odd Future thing go). The remix also has Richie Rich's verse, and Shock G's. But the original has the superstylish Pass it 'cross the table like ping pong, I'm gone/Beat-ing my chest like King Kong. Only it sounds like gaowwwn, and Yuk rhymes it with King Kawwnnng. The line I got more growing pains than Maggie never has gotten enough love in this lady's opinion, either.
In 1996 Oakland, Ebonics was introduced, the concept spread throughout the country, and everybody in America either laughed or got upset. In 1995 Oakland, The Luniz put E-40 on their remix and he became a young Logan's after-hours language tutor--teaching me to think differently about English, like Robin Williams did for those kids in Dead Poets Society.