Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 2-20-24

Steely Dan’s Walter Becker was obsessed with a tiny sound glitch on the album Katy Lied and flew to a 3M factory in Minnesota to find out the cause. It turned out to be a blot of dried mustard on the tape. Duh!

The late Walter Becker was born on this date in 1950. Lots of Steely Dan on today’s playlist.

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Tunes Du Jour Presents Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson is one of the most influential and beloved figures in the history of American music. He is not only a legendary singer, songwriter, and producer, but also a humanitarian who has used his fame and fortune to support various causes.

William “Smokey” Robinson was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1940. He grew up in a musical environment, listening to the likes of Nolan Strong, Hank Ballard, and Jackie Wilson. He formed his first vocal group, the Five Chimes, while in high school, and later changed their name to the Miracles. He met Berry Gordy Jr., the founder of Motown Records, in 1957, and became one of his first artists and collaborators. He also suggested the name Motown, in honor of the Motor City.

The Miracles gave Motown its first number one hit with “Shop Around” in 1960, and went on to score many more classics, such as “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” “I Second That Emotion,” and “The Tears of a Clown.” Smokey Robinson was the lead singer and the main songwriter of the group, as well as a prolific producer for other Motown acts, such as Mary Wells, the Temptations, the Supremes, and the Marvelettes. He wrote and produced some of the most iconic songs of the Motown era, such as “My Guy,” “My Girl,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” and “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game.”

Smokey Robinson left the Miracles in 1972 to pursue a solo career, and continued to create hits, such as “Quiet Storm,” “Cruisin’”, “Being with You,” and “One Heartbeat.” He also became the vice president of Motown, and helped to nurture the careers of new artists, such as Lionel Richie, Rick James, and Teena Marie. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a solo artist and as a member of the Miracles. He also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, and a Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for his contributions to popular music.

Smokey Robinson has written and sung some of the most romantic songs ever. He has also shown his love for humanity by supporting various charities and causes, such as the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation, the Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation, UNICEF, and the United Negro College Fund. He has also invested in his hometown of Detroit by donating to the Motown Museum and supporting arts and music programs for young people.

Smokey Robinson is a living legend who has enriched our lives with his music and his love. He is a role model for aspiring artists and a source of inspiration for generations of fans. He is a treasure of American culture and a gift to the world. Let us celebrate his legacy by listening to thirty of his best songs as a vocalist, which are featured in the playlist below. Enjoy!

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Tunes Du Jour Presents Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre is one of the most influential figures in hip-hop history. As a rapper, producer, and entrepreneur, he has shaped the sound and culture of rap music for over three decades. He is also a philanthropist who has donated millions of dollars to various causes, especially in the fields of arts, technology, and education. However, he is not without controversy, as he has faced accusations of misogyny and violence against women throughout his career. In this blog post, we will explore the achievements and challenges of Dr. Dre, and how his music reflects his life story.

Dr. Dre was born Andre Romelle Young in 1965 in Compton, California, a city notorious for its gang violence and poverty. He began his musical career as a DJ and a member of the electro group World Class Wreckin’ Cru in the early 1980s. He then joined forces with Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and DJ Yella to form N.W.A, a group that pioneered what became known as gangsta rap and brought the realities of the streets to the mainstream. Their second album, Straight Outta Compton (1988), was a landmark in hip-hop, featuring songs like “Fuck tha Police,” “Express Yourself,” and the title track, which showcased Dre’s production skills and the group’s raw and rebellious lyrics.

However, N.W.A soon fell apart due to internal conflicts and legal disputes. Dre left the group and co-founded Death Row Records with Suge Knight in 1991. He released his solo debut album, The Chronic, in 1992, which introduced the G-funk style, a subgenre of rap that used heavy samples of funk music, synthesizers, and melodic hooks. The album was a huge success, spawning hits like “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” “Let Me Ride,” and “Dre Day.” It also featured the debut of Snoop Doggy Dogg, who became one of Dre’s most frequent collaborators and protégés.

In 1996, Dre left Death Row Records after a violent incident with Knight and founded his own label, Aftermath Entertainment. He faced some initial setbacks, as his first compilation album, Dr. Dre Presents: The Aftermath, received mixed reviews and sales. However, he bounced back in 1999 with his second solo album, 2001, which was another commercial and critical hit. The album featured songs like “Still D.R.E.”, “Forgot About Dre,” and “The Next Episode,” which reaffirmed Dre’s status as a rap icon.

Dre also established himself as a prolific and influential producer, working with artists such as Eminem, 50 Cent, The Game, Kendrick Lamar, and many others. He helped launch the careers of some of the biggest names in rap, and earned multiple Grammy Awards and accolades for his production work. He also expanded his business ventures, co-founding Beats Electronics, a company that produces headphones, speakers, and streaming services. In 2014, he sold the company to Apple for $3 billion, making him one of the richest and most powerful figures in the music industry.

Despite his success and fame, Dre has also faced criticism and controversy for his treatment of women. He has been accused of assaulting and abusing several women, including his former girlfriend Michel’le, TV host Dee Barnes, and rapper Tairrie B. He has also been called out for his misogynistic lyrics, which often degrade and objectify women. Some of his songs, such as “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” have been seen as glorifying violence and rape against women.

Dre has apologized for his past actions and expressed regret for his mistakes. He has also tried to distance himself from his violent and sexist image, and focus on his positive contributions to society. He has donated millions of dollars to various causes, such as the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, which he co-founded with music executive Jimmy Iovine in 2013. The academy aims to foster creativity and innovation among students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. He has also supported other initiatives, such as the Compton High School Performing Arts Center, the Global Fund, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Dr. Dre is a complex and controversial figure, who has both inspired and offended millions of people with his music and actions. He is a rap legend, a musical genius, and a business mogul, who has changed the course of hip-hop and popular culture. He is also a flawed human being, who has made mistakes and hurt others, and has supposedly tried to atone for his sins. He is a man behind the beats, who has a story to tell, and a legacy to leave behind. Today’s playlist consists of 30 examples of his best work, either as a rapper, producer, writer, or some combination thereof.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 2-17-24

A used unwashed black t-shirt worn by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong during the promotion of the band’s American Idiot album sold for $2500 at a charity auction, with the proceeds going to the Oakland School of the Arts. I would love to dispose of my laundry pile the same way, but I doubt anybody would pay more than $400 for my sweat-stained socks.

Billie Joe Armstrong was born on this date in 1972. Tracks from his band are included on today’s playlist.

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Tunes Du Jour Presents The Weeknd

The Weeknd is one of the most successful and influential artists of the 21st century. His music spans genres from R&B to pop to new wave, and his lyrics explore themes of love, loss, addiction, and identity. He has won multiple Grammy Awards, sold over 75 million records worldwide, and set several streaming and Billboard chart records. Beyond his musical achievements, The Weeknd is also a generous and outspoken philanthropist who supports various causes around the world.

The Weeknd was born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye in Toronto, Canada, to Ethiopian immigrant parents. He grew up speaking Amharic, one of the two main languages of Ethiopia, and attended an Ethiopian Orthodox church as a child. His cultural roots have influenced his music and his philanthropy. In 2016, he donated $50,000 to the University of Toronto to help establish an Ethiopian studies program. In 2021, he donated $1 million to the United Nations World Food Programme to provide meals for people affected by the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

The Weeknd has also shown solidarity with other communities in need. In 2020, he donated $300,000 to Global Aid for Lebanon to help the victims of the Beirut explosion, which killed more than 200 people and injured thousands more. He also donated $500,000 each to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund and to frontline health workers at Scarborough Health Network, the health care network in his hometown. Additionally, he has been a vocal advocate for racial justice and social change. He has donated to organizations such as Black Lives Matter, the Equal Justice Initiative, and the Colin Kaepernick Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative. He has also used his platform to raise awareness and call for action on issues such as police brutality, systemic racism, and human rights violations.

The Weeknd’s music reflects his passion and his vision. His songs often feature collaborations with other artists from different backgrounds and genres, such as Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar, Ariana Grande, and ROSALÍ. His albums showcase his artistic evolution and experimentation, from the dark and gritty House of Balloons to the bright and more pop-oriented After Hours.

The Weeknd is more than just a musical star. He is a humanitarian star who uses his talent and his influence to try to make a positive difference in the world. Thirty of his best tracks are in the playlist below. Hit play and enjoy The Weeknd!

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 2-15-24

In late 2002 I had credit card points that were about to expire so I ordered a bunch of CDs by artists whose music I had not heard, which included Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground by Bright Eyes, which turned out to be a good choice. The album’s title is a reference to a quote by William S. Burroughs: “The story is in the soil, lift it up, anything can happen.”

Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst was born on this date in 1980. Lots of tunes from Conor are included on today’s playlist.

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Tunes Du Jour Presents Joy Division and New Order

Joy Division and New Order are two of the most influential bands in the history of rock music. They emerged from the punk scene of the late 1970s and evolved into different styles and genres, leaving behind a legacy of timeless songs and albums.

Joy Division was formed in 1976 by four young men from Manchester, England: Ian Curtis (vocals), Bernard Sumner (guitar), Peter Hook (bass), and Stephen Morris (drums). They were inspired by the energy and attitude of the Sex Pistols, but they soon developed their own distinctive sound and vision. Their music was dark, atmospheric, and haunting, reflecting the bleakness and alienation of their industrial surroundings. Their lyrics were poetic, complex, and literary, dealing with themes such as love, death, isolation, and mental illness. Curtis, who suffered from epilepsy and depression, delivered his vocals with a deep, expressive, and sometimes erratic voice.

Joy Division released two albums in their short career: Unknown Pleasures (1979) and Closer (1980). Both are considered masterpieces of post-punk, a genre that emerged after the initial wave of punk and experimented with new sounds and influences. Joy Division’s songs, such as “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” “Atmosphere,” “Transmission,” and “She’s Lost Control,” are among the most iconic and influential of the era. They also created a distinctive visual identity, with minimalist and abstract album covers designed by Peter Saville.

Joy Division’s career was tragically cut short by the suicide of Curtis on May 18, 1980, the eve of their first American tour. His death shocked and saddened the music world, and also mythologized the band as a symbol of intensity and authenticity. Joy Division’s music has inspired countless artists across genres and generations, from U2 and Radiohead to Nine Inch Nails and The Killers.

After the death of Curtis, the remaining members of Joy Division decided to continue making music under a new name: New Order. They were joined by Gillian Gilbert, a keyboardist and guitarist who added a new dimension to their sound. New Order’s music was a radical departure from Joy Division’s. They embraced synthesizers, drum machines, and dance music influences, creating a fusion of rock and electronic music that was groundbreaking and influential. Their music was also more upbeat, colorful, and optimistic, reflecting their personal and artistic growth.

New Order released several albums throughout the 1980s and 1990s, each one exploring new musical directions and possibilities. Their most famous and successful song is “Blue Monday,” a 1983 single that is the best-selling 12-inch record of all time. The song is a synth-pop masterpiece, with a catchy melody and a pulsating rhythm. Other notable songs by New Order include “True Faith,” “Regret,” “World In Motion,” and “Bizarre Love Triangle.” New Order’s music has influenced many artists in the fields of synth-pop, techno, house, and alternative rock, such as Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, The Chemical Brothers, and LCD Soundsystem.

Besides their musical achievements, Joy Division and New Order have also been involved in various philanthropic efforts. One of their most notable contributions was their participation in the Artists Against Apartheid project, a campaign that aimed to raise awareness and funds for the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. In 1986, New Order recorded a song called “State of the Nation,” which denounced the racist regime and expressed solidarity with the oppressed people. The song was released as part of an album called Conspiracy of Hope, which also featured songs by U2, Sting, Peter Gabriel, and others. The album was a benefit for Amnesty International, a human rights organization that works to end injustice and abuse around the world.

Joy Division and New Order also supported the Hacienda, a legendary nightclub in Manchester that was owned by their record label, Factory Records. The Hacienda was a cultural hub that hosted many famous bands and DJs, such as The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Madonna, and Happy Mondays. It was also a place where people of different backgrounds, races, and sexual orientations could mingle and enjoy music and dancing. The Hacienda was a pioneer of the rave culture, which promoted peace, love, and unity through electronic music. However, the club also faced financial and legal troubles, and eventually closed in 1997. Joy Division and New Order donated much of their royalties and profits to keep the club running, and also performed there several times.

Joy Division and New Order are two bands that have made a lasting impact on music and culture. If you want to listen to some of their best songs, check out this playlist.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 2-12-24

I keep forgettin’ why I walked in this room
I keep forgettin’ where it was that I parked my car
I keep forgettin’ my Wifi password
I keep forgettin’ where my phone is, oh it’s in my hand

I keep forgettin’ what day of the week it is
I keep forgettin’ if turned the oven off or not
I keep forgettin’ if I fed those damn cats
I keep forgetin’ that I don’t have any cats to feed

I keep forgettin’ to schedule a haircut
I keep forgettin’ the last place I put my keys down
I keep forgettin’ my apartment doesn’t clean itself
I keep forgettin’ something else about some other thing

I haven’t forgotten that Michael McDonald was born on this date in 1952. You can hear him on a few songs on today’s playlist.

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Tunes Du Jour Presents 1972

1972. The Vietnam War raged on, Watergate loomed, and the social landscape shifted beneath our feet. Amidst this backdrop of upheaval, our ears tuned in to a soundtrack that transcended mere melodies—it pulsed with the countercultural spirit and the burgeoning individuality of an era.  Let us step back in time, dust off the record player, and explore the timeless tunes that wove themselves into the fabric of our lives—a kaleidoscope of genres and voices that defined a generation.

  • Al Green crooned “Let’s Stay Together,” his velvet voice weaving an unwavering plea for commitment.
  • Roberta Flack tenderly sang “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” etching raw vulnerability into our hearts.
  • Don McLean painted a poignant picture of a generation in transition with his epic “American Pie.”
  • Alice Cooper’s rebellious anthem “School’s Out” became the rallying cry for youth liberation, its raucous energy echoing through high school corridors.
  • Across the pond, T. Rex electrified listeners with glam rock swagger in “Bang a Gong (Get It On).”
  • Johnny Nash offered optimism with “I Can See Clearly Now,” a beacon of hope cutting through the haze.
  • Meanwhile, Elton John’s cosmic odyssey “Rocket Man” and David Bowie’s otherworldly anthem “Starman” transported us to distant galaxies, reflecting the era’s fascination with space exploration and introspection.
  • Jimmy Cliff addressed racial injustice and social struggles in “The Harder They Come.”
  • Big Star captured the bittersweet angst of adolescence in “Thirteen.”
  • The bluesy, swaggering classic “Tumbling Dice” by The Rolling Stones left an indelible marks on musical history.
  • And let’s not forget Elvis Presley, who still had magic to spare with “Burning Love.”

From the introspective musings of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” to the raw energy of Led Zeppelin, each track on this playlist embodies the spirit of its time while transcending it—a symphony that continues to resonate across generations.

The music of 1972 continues to evoke nostalgia and stir emotions across generations. These iconic tunes remind us of the enduring legacy of artists who dared to push boundaries and challenge the status quo. So turn up the volume and let these timeless tunes whisk you back to celebrate the enduring beauty of music that transcends generations.

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