Playlist

The Perfect Playlist: The Best of Basia

The modern playlist is the descendant of the mix tape. And like my mix tapes, I make a significant effort to make sure they are right—and by right, I mean that there is a certain cohesion and shared texture that inspires me. What I love about digital versus tape is the great flexibility for experimentation (though, sometimes I do miss walking around Manhattan with my old yellow cassette Sports Walkman). The playlist featured in this blog entry was easier to compile because it features one artist. I first created my “Best of Basia” playlist in 2005, and have updated it with each new album.

I have been a fan of Basia since 1990, when she released her second solo album, London Warsaw New York. I became aware of her because of her superb cover of “Until You Come Back to Me.” I remember using one of the listening stations in Tower Records to listen to the album, which I purchased on vinyl. London Warsaw New York had other remarkable songs such as “Cruising for Bruising,” “Brave New Hope,” and “Baby You’re Mine.” Four years later she followed up with the brilliant The Sweetest Illusion, which features, what I consider to be her masterwork, “Yearning.” Around this time, I finally picked up her first solo album, Time and Tide, which features the title track as well as “New Day for You.”

In 1995 Basia released a live album, Basia on Broadway— a vocal tour de force! Three years later, she released a greatest hits album with several new songs.

Basia would reunite with her Matt Bianco bandmates (her first band) in 2004 on Matt’s Mood and finally release another solo album in 2009 with the beautiful composed and arranged, It’s That Girl Again. Her latest release is Butterflies, which is nothing short of outstanding. I recently updated my Best of Basia playlist to include tracks from Butterflies. Let me know if you like this combination!

  1. “If Not Now Then When” from It’s That Girl Again
  2. “I Must” from It’s That Girl Again
  3. “From Newport to London” from Newport to London
  4. “Matteo” from Butterflies
  5. “Just Another Day” from Peter White’s Caravan of Dreams
  6. “From Now On (Live)” from Basia on Broadway
  7. “Half a Minute (Live)” from Basia on Broadway
  8. “Yearning” from The Sweetest Illusion
  9. “There’s a Tear” from It’s That Girl Again
  10. “It’s That Girl Again” from It’s That Girl Again
  11. “Liang & Zhu” from Butterflies
  12. “Butterfly” from Butterflies
  13. “Waters of March” from Clear Horizon
  14. “Go for You” from Clear Horizon
  15. “Astrud” from Time and Tide
  16. “Where’s Your Pride” from Butterflies
  17. “Baby Your Mine” from London Warsaw New York
  18. “The Prayer of a Happy Housewife” from The Sweetest Illusion
  19. “An Olive Tree” from The Sweetest Illusion
  20. “Reward (Live)” from Basia on Broadway
  21. “Until You Come Back To Me” from Basia on Broadway
  22. “Brave New Hope” from Basia on Broadway

Click here to visit Basia’s website!

edwinroman.com

 

 

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The Perfect Playlist: E’s Spanish Jazz 3

Not too long ago my best friend from college sent me a picture of a mix tape that I made for her in 1988 which she remarkably still has. I titled it “Past Tense” after a poem I had written back then. I lost the notebook where I had written that poem, but remembered some of the lines. I also remembered some of the songs on that tape, most notably on all of side a.

vader tape

Social media humor.

The playlist is the descendant of the mix tape. And like my mix tapes, I make a significant effort to make sure they are right. What I mean by right is that there is a certain cohesion and shared texture; it takes me on a journey and inspires. What I love about digital versus tape is flexibility for experimentation. Though, sometimes I do miss walking around Manhattan with my old yellow cassette Sports Walkman.

Interestingly, I made some mix tapes that I thought were so good, that I remembered them and they now exist as playlists on my iPhone / iPod. I thought I would share some of my favorite playlists on my blog. Here is my first one called “E’s Spanish Jazz 3.” It mixes several Spanish language genres. It is also the third and my favorite version of the “Spanish Jazz” playlists. I have included links to YouTube so you can hear the songs for yourself and maybe add it to your own device.

  1. La Pluma by Bloque
  2. La nave del olvido by Buika
  3. Remedios by Gertrudis
  4. Sultanas de Merkaillo by Ojos de Brjuo
  5. Sabor a Mi by Bebo Valdes
  6. Lo Siento Mi Amor by Rocio Jurado
  7. Un Mundo Raro by Lila Downs and Diego El Cigala
  8. Awakeing by The Souljazz Orchestra
  9. Che Che Cole by Antibalas
  10. La Media Vuelta by Falete
  11. Romance de la Luna Tucumana by Diego El Cigala
  12. Tangos De Pepico by Estrella Moraente
  13. Sabor a Mi by El Chicano
  14. Quiereme Mucho by Linda Ronstadt
  15. Querido Emigrante by Milly Quezada
  16. Idiilio by Willie Colon
  17. Bajo La Tormenta by Sergio George’s Salsa Giants
  18. Perfume de Gardenias by Miguel Zenon

P.S. I have about ten versions of “Sabor a Mi”—it is amazing song that many recording artists have covered and I have yet to hear one I have not liked!

P.S. II La nave del olvido by Buika is in my top ten all-time favorite songs!

 

edwinroman.com

Nina’s Way

Nina Simone: Red Hot and Blue.

My tribute painting to the High Priestess of Soul. I thought of what Picasso may have done if Simone had been a subject.

If I have any say regarding my last moments on this planet, the final song I would want to hear is Nina Simone’s recording of “My Way.”

I first discovered the song in 1989 during a visit to Tower Records. I was perusing in the Jazz section and a fellow patron strongly recommended Simone’s 1971 album, Here Comes The Sun. The album, which is a recording accomplishment, features an assortment of cover songs that notably includes “Angel of the Morning”, “Just Like a Woman”, the title track and the brilliant “My Way.” Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, first popularized “My Way” in 1969.

After hearing the 1967 French song, “Comme d’habitude” (“As Usual”), Paul Anka acquired the publishing rights at no cost (except for the rights to the melody, which the authors retained). A year later, while Anka was having dinner with Frank Sinatra, Sinatra declared that he was, “getting out of the business. I’m sick of it, I’m getting the hell out.”  Inspired by Sinatra’s frustration, he wrote the English lyrics (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_53Ygpgvuss ). Sinatra recorded the song in late 1968 and released it in early 1969. “My Way” reached number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 2 on the Easy Listening  chart. In England, the song achieved a still unmatched record: the recording with the most weeks in the Top 40, from April 1969 to September 1971 (http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?artist=%22My+Way%22).

Since Sinatra’s recording, there have been numerous and varied covers of the song. Elvis Presley’s live version during his satellite-televised concert from Hawaii showcases his remarkable vocal ability ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWStRiZ-OCM ). The Gipsy Kings covered the song using a traditional gipsy arrangement, with a Spanish translation of the English lyrics that is earthy and exuberant (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fsw2NQb5xSA ). Shirley Bassey does a mind-blowing live version that, like Elvis, showcases the full spectrum of her voice (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pjPTfygX3U ). Bea Arthur sang it on her breakout television series, Maude, to great comic effect and some rather fine vocals (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tTWjg74dis ). La Lupe released a Spanish translation of Comme d’habitude in 1970 with an awe-inspiring vocal and musical arrangement (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGgyIup3CVo ).

The lyrics of “My Way” tell the story of an older person reflecting on their life and taking responsibility for how they dealt with challenges while maintaining integrity. Nina Simone’s version (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIkoeocWhcw ) is special because her re-arranged version of the song, which is more upbeat, melodic, and syncopated, feels like an affirmation and celebration and, for me, musically encompasses the message of the song. Simone’s version fiercely combines a lush orchestra, angelic backing vocals, and elements of Black Christian music that are all highlighted by an unexpected bongo drum. Perhaps my favorite part of the song is the way it ends: Simone sings the final lyrics (“and did it my way…”) and the orchestra keeps playing for two minutes. It is powerful, epic and eternal: something worthy of hearing as you cross into the great unknown.

Best of Nina Simone Playlist

Sinnerman (from the Inland Empire soundtrack)

The Pusher (from Just Like A Woman: Nina Simone Sings Classic Songs of the 1960’s)

Cherish (from Silk and Soul)

Keeper of the Flame (from Compact Jazz: Nina Simone)

Wild is the Wind (from Nina Simone at Town Hall)

Ne Me Quitte Pas (from I Put a Spell on You)

For All We Know (from Little Girl Blue)

Four Women (from The Complete Nina Simone on Phillips Recordings)

Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair (from Compact Jazz: Nina Simone)

To Be Young, Gifted and Black (from The Essential Nina Simone)

In the Morning (from Just Like A Woman: Nina Simone Sings Classic Songs of the 1960’s)

Angel of the Morning (from Here Comes the Sun)

O-O-H Child (from Here Comes the Sun)

To Love Somebody (from Sugar in My Bowl)

Just Like a Woman (from Here Comes the Sun)

My Way (from Here Comes the Sun)

Additional Reading

A New Yorker piece on Simone:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/11/raised-voice

Other Web Sites and Links

A musician who loves the bongo drum of “My Way” and plays along:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIS9UUAkSo0

Nina Simone’s Official Web Site

http://www.ninasimone.com/