Tag Archive: music

28 Songs that Changed My Life: De La Soul, “The Magic Number” (6 of 28)

Hip hop entered my life at a fairly early age, making its way to the New Jersey sticks by way of transplants from New York City. Early cuts like “Roxanne Roxanne,” “Rock Box” and others were elementary school playground jams that stick with me to this day. But let’s be honest: The early years of rap were pretty samey. Awesome, yes, but not particularly varied in sound, approach, or lyrics. There was a formula and most acts stuck with it. Then in 1989, De La Soul dropped Three Feet High and Rising, and everything changed for me. Hip Hop could be light-hearted, joyful, romantic and fun? Who knew!? They sampled ’60s hippy jams and music for the Woodstock generation. They rapped about awkwardly talking up…
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28 Songs that Changed My Life: The Crystals – “Da Doo Ron Ron” (5 of 28)

There’s just something about a chorus of women singing a catchy melody over a dense bed of sound that feels right. Phil Spector was a murdering villain. That is now his legacy, and it will be forevermore. But that legacy shouldn’t taint the legacy of fantastic vocal groups like The Crystals, who provided a soundtrack for my youth and who, without me knowing it, influenced the music I’d later come to love. For a time, I found the stuff by The Crystals, The Ronnettes, and others to be dated and quaint. It was my mom’s music, not mine. It’s music for old movies (and old PEOPLE), not for listening by someone modern and with it. Time has proved me wrong. This stuff is classic for…
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28 Songs that Changed My Life: John Coltrane, “A Love Supreme” (2 of 28)

Prior to my journey into jazz beginning (which largely started with Miles Davis and the legendary Kind of Blue), all I knew of John Coltrane was a fleeting reference in a U2 song. I assumed their reference to A Love Supreme was because it was some important or influential work, but I was young and not nearly as musically adventurous as I’d become, so I did as I often did and didn’t think much about it. Then jazz happened to me. I discovered how great escape it was. How it could put me at ease and transport me somewhere else. It began to influence my own freeform, meandering music. I’d first heard Coltrane on Davis’ classic records of the mid-to-late 1950s and it made me…
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28 Songs that Changed My Life: Public Enemy, “Night of the Living Baseheads” (1 of 28)

It’s no exaggeration to say that Public Enemy helped change how I view the world. Much like George Orwell’s 1984, it helped me clarify thoughts I’d had and refine my overall worldview, putting to words an sounds the way I saw politicians, authority figures, media, justice, and more. I’ve extensively written about Public Enemy’s impact on me, so here I’m going to skip the formalities and get right to the song. I still remember the day I first saw the video for “Night of the Living Baseheads.” The blaring horns, pounding rhythm, thought-provoking lyrics, and insane multimedia assault of a music video was like nothing I’d ever seen before. Growing up as a sheltered white kid in a tiny New Jersey town (which I helped…
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In A Silent Way is the semi-overlooked Miles Davis masterpiece you need in your life

When I first discovered the music of Miles Davis in the late 1990s, it was something of a musical awakening for me. It came during a time when I was setting aside the strident music “purity” of my youth — you know how some people will only listen to a specific kind of music and ONLY that kind of music? — and exploring new frontiers in sound. Miles Davis certainly provided that. His personal story was compelling, but he was more than an intriguing figure. He had the tunes to back it up. LOTS of them, an ever-shifting career filled with experimentation and attempts to push the boundaries of what he could do with his music. The man knew no rules. He CREATED rules, over…
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