Inspired by the November 17 birthdays of The Byrds’ Gene Clark, Jeff Buckley, Gordon Lightfoot, Foxygen’s Sam France, RuPaul, Ronnie DeVoe, The Moldy Peaches’ Kimya Dawson, Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding, and Martin Scorcese; and the November 16 birthdays of Odyssey’s Lillian Lopez, Chi Coltrane, Arrow, Color Me Badd’s Bryan Abrams and Count Five’s John Byrne.
In my role as the Vice President of Licensing at Warner Music Group I oversaw the licensing of “samples.” A sample is when a newer song uses a portion of an existing recording. A prominent example is Puff Daddy’s sample of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” in his “I’ll Be Missing You.”
One of the most popular catalogues for sample licensing is that of Curtis Mayfield. Elements of his records have been used by many well-known and respected rap acts, including Kanye West and Beastie Boys. I’d run the requests by Curtis’ son Kirk, who was always a pleasure to work with.
Many complain of hip hop’s dependence on samples, and while often times samples are used in a lazy and uninspired way, there are many examples where the samples complement the new song perfectly. It can also be argued that samples keep the music of great acts of the past alive and introduce this music to younger generations. Where else might a teenager hear Curtis Mayfield or James Brown other than via a new Kanye jam?
Today, the third day of Black Music Month, we celebrate the birthday of the late, great Curtis Mayfield with some of the classics he had a hand in – as a solo artist, as a member of The Impressions, as a writer/producer, or via a sample. Click here for the playlist.
2013 marked the thirty-second anniversary of Glenn’s Ten. Every Saturday for the past thirty-two years I’ve tracked my ten favorite songs of that week. The practice started in high school when my friend Lydia, who preferred to be called Candice, gave me a diary for Chanukah, which I prefer to spell Hanukkah. I never kept a diary before, as my life was lonely and depressing and I didn’t want someone to find my diary years later and read “July 15. The kids at summer camp threw rocks at me today. I thought that would have stopped by the time I became a counselor.” I was optimistic things would improve – I prefer to see the glass as 1/8 full as opposed to 7/8 empty.
The diary Lydia/Candice gave me had a drawing of Paddington Bear on the cover. I didn’t know who Paddington Bear was or why he was famous, making him the 1981 version of a Kardashian. Being a packrat (euphemism for hoarder) I couldn’t throw away this gift from Lydia/Candice. I gave diary keeping a try.
“January 1. I woke up ‘round 12. Had bacon for lunch. Clam chowder for dinner.” I know how to ring in a new year! [NOTE TO SELF – Don’t share diary entries with anyone.]
My entry for January 6 reads “Instead of antiperspirant, I accidentally sprayed shaving cream in my armpit.” [REMINDER TO SELF – Don’t share diary entries with anyone.]
Four days after that burst of genius, Glenn’s Ten debuted. In my diary I wrote “My ten fave songs: 1. “The Tide Is High” – Blondie, 2. “9 to 5” – Dolly Parton, 3. “Time is Time” – Andy Gibb, 4. “Seven Bridges Road” – Eagles, 5. “I Love a Rainy Night” – Eddie Rabbitt, 6. “Giving It Up for Your Love” – Delbert McClinton, 7. “I Made It Through the Rain” – Barry Manilow, 8. “Celebration” – Kool & the Gang, 9. “Guilty” – Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb, 10. “Suddenly” – Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard. I rocked hard in my youth! (If any of these titles are unfamiliar to you, stay tuned. At some point I’ll feature them on this blog.)
I’ve kept track of my top ten every Saturday since. When Paddington ran out of Saturdays I bought a Ziggy notebook. Ziggy’s comic misfortunes made me feel good about my life. While both he and I were lonely, at least I had hair. My cover subjects have since improved – I’m presently tracking my lists in a John Lennon notebook. It can be argued that my song choices have also improved (no disrespect to Barry Manilow, Cliff Richard or Eddie Rabbitt).
Today’s playlist consists of all the songs to be #1 in Glenn’s Ten on November 24, in chronological order, except for 1985’s entry, as I cannot find that notebook.