A Paul Simon/Simon & Garfunkel Playlist

To appreciate how impressive a body of work the Paul Simon catalogue his, hit play on the tracklist below. With each song you may say “Oh, yeah, he wrote that one, too.” There’s plenty more where these thirty come from, though I concede these are among his most recognizable works.

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Throwback Thursday: 1971

I recently read a book about the music of 1971. It was pretty bad. I should have been clued off seeing that the book derived its title from the name of a Rod Stewart album that came out in…1972. The author and I agree that 1971 was a great year for music, though he focused mainly on white acts. Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, recently named the number one album of all-time in Rolling Stone, was dismissed as being overrated due to white guilt, something the author clearly doesn’t feel. I humbly suggest that the playlist below shows more of the greatness (and diversity) of 1971’s music than this book.

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A Carole King Playlist

Here’s a fun fact (or three): In the history of the Billboard Hot 100, nine songs have hit #1 performed by different artists. The first two songs to achieve this feat were “Go Away Little Girl” (Steve Lawrence in 1963 and Donny Osmond in 1971) and “The Loco-motion” (Little Eva in 1962 and Grand Funk in 1974). Both of those were written by Carole King (b. February 9, 1942) and the late Gerry Goffin, who she married. To date Carole King has a writing credit on 118 Hot 100 hits. 118. One hundred eighteen.

Here are 30 of those 118 songs Carole co-wrote.

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A Sam Cooke Playlist

There’s the voice. In its 2008 survey of the greatest singers of all time, Rolling Stone placed Sam Cooke (born January 22, 1931) at number four.

There are the songs. “You Send Me,” “Wonderful World,” “Cupid,” and many others are classics, known to generations. Cooke not only sang these songs; he composed them as well. I think that when you listen to the Sam Cooke playlist below, you’ll recognize a lot more songs of his than you realized.

There’s the business acumen. Cooke was among the first African American entrepreneurs in the music business, starting his own record label, SAR Records, in 1961. Artists signed to the label included Bobby Womack, Johnnie Taylor and Mel Carter. He founded a song publishing imprint. He created a management firm.

There’s the civil rights activist. Cooke took an active role in the civil rights movement. Inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” Cooke composed and recorded “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Released as a single in December 1964, less than two weeks after he was shot to death at age 33, the recording is considered by many to be his finest work and a classic protest song.

There’s the legacy. Sam Cooke was among the charter inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s actually in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice – once as a solo artist and once as a member of the gospel group The Soul Stirrers. He’s in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He’s a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner. He has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. In addition to his ranking on their Greatest Singers survey, Rolling Stone also placed him at number sixteen on their Greatest Artists of All Time list.

Today’s playlist pays tribute to the great Sam Cooke, with two dozen of his best recordings plus covers of a few of his hits.

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