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Not Your Typical LGBTQ+ Pride Playlist

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Tune du Jour celebrates with this playlist consisting of two hundred songs by and/or about Ls, Gs, Bs, Ts and Qs. Happy Pride!

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A Hint Of Mint – Volume 59: New York

A very minty tribute to New York, specifically New York City, with a side trip to a local weekend getaway.


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A Hint Of Mint – Volume 55: Relaxing On A Sunday Afternoon

Mellow rock for a chill day. Artists include David Bowie, Tracy Chapman and Lou Reed.


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Meet Oscar Nominee Anohni

In a moment I’ll introduce you to Anohni, who was nominated for an Oscar this year in the category of Best Original Song, but first I want to talk a little about Kesha, Grimes and Sam Smith.

You may have heard about Kesha’s much-publicized battle to get out of her recording agreement. She claims that Dr. Luke, the producer to whose company, Kemosabe Records, she is signed, drugged and sexually assaulted her on several occasions. As a courtroom proceeding about those allegations had not yet been tried, a New York Supreme Court justice denied Kesha’s motion for a preliminary inunction extraditing her from recording for Kemosabe.

This led to the proliferation of the hashtag #FreeKesha. A group of fans protested outside Sony Music’s headquarters, demanding that the music corporation free Kesha. Kesha isn’t signed to Sony Music, but no matter. Sony should cease distribution of Kemosabe Records, which would leave Kesha still signed to Kemosabe, but hey – it was a nice day for a good protest, and what else is there in the world to complain about? Ongoing wars? Poisoned public water supplies? Human rights violations? More important to get a pop star out of her recording agreement. #Priorities

Many public figures offered support to Kesha, among them Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, Adele, Janelle Monáe, Fiona Apple, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Tegan and Sara, HAIM, Alessia Cara, Lorde, Wale, Best Coast, George Takei, Anne Hathaway, Reese Witherspoon, Lena Dunham, Mariska Hargitay, Troye Sivan, Halsey, Iggy Azalea, Sara Bareilles, JoJo, Adam Lambert, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Margaret Cho, Zedd, and Jack Antonoff. Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to Kesha to help with her financial needs.

Also supporting Kesha is Claire Elise Boucher, the Canadian singer-songwriter who records under the name Grimes. In response to a question from a Time Out reporter about Kesha’s legal situation, Grimes, whose “Kill v. Maim” is #3 this week in Glenn’s Ten, said the following about recording agreements: “You shouldn’t be allowed to sign a human being, regardless of what the allegations are or what anyone said or did. It’s basically like slavery.” Yes, making millions of dollars doing your dream job is basically the same as being forcibly taken from your home and forced to do a job you don’t want to do for no pay, much like Spaghetti Carbonara is basically the same thing as a nuclear missile, which is to say, both exist. (Grimes’ two most recent albums were released by the 4AD label, with whom, I assume, she is signed to a recording agreement.)

If Kesha’s allegations against Dr. Luke are true, then I hope at the very least she is let out of her agreement with Kemosabe, as being forced to aid your rapist make money is unconscionable, and that is where the slavery comparison applies.

British singer-songwriter Sam Smith may or may not know what slavery is, but he exhibited a lack of grasp on history last weekend at the Academy Awards. As he couldn’t pronounce Anohni or The Weeknd, Common announced as the winner of the Best Original Song award the easiest name to remember and pronounce, Sam Smith.

In his acceptance speech, Smith claimed to be the first openly gay person to win an Oscar, which is true, if you don’t count Dustin Lance Black, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, John Schlesinger, Stephen Sondheim, Bill Condon, Alan Ball, Scott Rudin, Pedro Almodovar and the other openly gay people who have won. Maybe Smith meant to say he’s the first openly gay person to win an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2016. He says he got his information from actor Sir Ian McKellen via an interview Smith read, which is true, if you leave out the part where McKellen refers to no openly gay winners in the Acting categories.

It was pointed out to Smith that he is not the first openly gay person to win an Oscar, to which he responded “I think I’m the second openly gay person to win it,” which is true, if you don’t count Dustin Lance Black, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, John Schlesinger, Stephen Sondheim, Bill Condon, Alan Ball, Scott Rudin and the other openly gay people who have won less one. In the real world, Smith is not even the first openly gay person in the category of Best Original Song. When told that openly gay Howard Ashman won that category twice, Smith replied “I should know him. We should date.” Ashman died of AIDS-related complications in 1991, the year for which his title song from Beauty and the Beast won, but sure, Sam, date him. You’ll be the first openly necrophiliac to win an Oscar. #Trailblazer. I do agree with one thing Smith said. He should know of Ashman.

Which brings us to Anohni. Along with her collaborator, J. Ralph, Anohni was nominated for Best Original Song for “Manta Ray” from the film Racing Extinction. Unlike Sam Smith, The Weeknd and Lady Gaga, Anohni, a transsexual woman, was not invited to perform her nominated song at the Oscar ceremony. In a year in which The Academy was taken to task for a lack of diversity among the nominees, the producers felt it was more important for the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to give a speech on the show about the importance of diversity in Hollywood than it was to allow only the second transgender person to be nominated for an Oscar to perform (not a Sam Smith second person, but truly the second). Besides, The Danish Girl received nominations, including one for Best Actor for Eddie Redmayne as the titular character Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of gender correction surgery, and who better to represent trans women at the Oscars than a heterosexual cisgender man? Also, the award show needed time for clueless Clueless actress Stacey Dash insult the .04% of viewers who know who she is. #Priorities

Here’s your chance to get to know Anohni, who previously recorded under the name Antony. Her distinctive voice will grab you and her songs will move you. Check out twenty of her best, including guest appearances on other artists’ tracks:


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Throwback Thursday – 1989

During the February 22, 1989 telecast of the Grammy Awards, Pepsi premiered a thirty-second spot that featured a new song by Madonna, “Like a Prayer.” It was the first time a major artist’s new single was used in a television commercial prior to being released to radio or record stores.

The following week, a two-minute version of the commercial aired during The Cosby Show, at the time a highly-rated program starring America’s favorite dad, Bill Cosby. The ad, part of a $5 million endorsement deal Pepsi struck with Madonna that also included tour sponsorship, featured Madonna dancing in the street, in a school hallway, and in a church.

The song’s music video premiered the following day on MTV. In the video, Madonna witnesses the murder of a white girl by white supremacists. A black man gets arrested for the killing. Madonna seeks refuge in a church, where she has a dream that includes stigmata on her hands, kissing a black saint, and dancing in front of burning crosses.

The Vatican and other religions organizations condemned the video and threatened a protest against Pepsi products. Pepsi dropped its sponsorship of Madonna, never again aired the television spot, and let Madonna keep the $5 million they paid her.

“Like a Prayer” became Madonna’s seventh #1 pop hit in the United States. It also topped the charts in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Belgium, and Switzerland.

“Like a Prayer” won the Viewers Choice award at the 1989 MTV Music Video Awards, a program that incidentally was sponsored by Pepsi. In her speech, Madonna said “I would really like to thank Pepsi for causing so much controversy.”

Tunes du Jour’s playlist this Throwback Thursday spotlights the year 1989, and kicks off with Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”


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It Really Shoulda…

Sam + Ringo
It’s that time of year when music geeks such as I think about the I.R.S. I.R.S. as in It Really Shoulda, as in it really should been a top ten hit.

Eight years ago, a colleague from my Sony Music days, Rich Appel, created the I.R.S. countdown. Music fans submitted a list of songs that didn’t make the top ten on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 but should have, in their opinion. Rich compiled the tallies to create the overall I.R.S. top 104. He’s been compiling this survey each year since.

As for why a song should have been a top ten hit, that’s left entirely up to the list-maker. On my list, I included records that are perfect or near-perfect melodically, lyrically and/or production-wise. I included songs that have withstood the test of time and are still part of the public consciousness years later. I included records that everybody thinks were top ten hits. I included tracks that would have been top ten hits except they didn’t conform to Billboard’s rules for chart placement at their time of release (e.g. they weren’t available on commercial 7-inch singles or viral video play didn’t count in metric measurements). I included singles by artists who hit the top ten with lesser songs. I focused on tracks that have pop appeal, leaving out fantastic recordings from some of my favorite acts, such as The Replacements and The Smiths – they were called “alternative” because they weren’t pop.

My list for 2015 is below, followed by a Spotify playlist of those songs. Rich asks people submitting lists to put them in order, with #1 being the record one feels should have, more than any other, been a top ten hit. Ask me to do so tomorrow and my list will likely be in a different order.

For today, here is my I.R.S. 104. After the artist name I listed how high the song charted during its initial release. If the single hit the Hot 100 at a later date, I included that information as well.

You can hear the official I.R.S. 104 tally for 2015 on Rich Appel’s radio show, That Thing, this coming weekend on RewoundRadio.com. Friday at 6PM Eastern he’ll go from #104 to around #53 and Sunday starting at 6PM Eastern he’ll pick up from where he left off and go to #1.

1. Wonderful World – Sam Cooke (#12, 1960)
2. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (#19, 1967)
3. River Deep, Mountain High – Ike and Tina Turner (#88, 1966)
4. I Only Want to Be with You – Dusty Springfield (#12, 1964)
5. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival (#14, 1969)
6. Cupid – Sam Cooke (#17, 1961)
7. Holiday – Madonna (#16, 1984)
8. Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder (did not chart, 1977)
9. 1999 – Prince (#44, 1982; #12, 1983; #40, 1999)
10. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen (#23, 1975)
11. It Takes Two – Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston (#14, 1967)
12. Little Egypt (Ying Yang) – The Coasters (#23, 1961)
13. I Want to Take You Higher – Sly & the Family Stone (#60, 1969; #38, 1970)
14. Into the Groove – Madonna (did not chart, 1985)
15. We Will Rock You – Queen (did not chart, 1978; #52, 1992)
16. S.O.S. – Abba (#15, 1975)
17. You’ve Got a Friend – Carole King (did not chart, 1971)
18. Hold On! I’m Comin’ – Sam & Dave (#21, 1966)
19. Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding (#25, 1967)
20. The Way You Do the Things You Do – The Temptations (#11, 1964)
21. It’s a Shame – Spinners (#14, 1970)
22. It’s Gonna Work Out Fine – Ike & Tina Turner (#14, 1961)
23. Under My Thumb – the Rolling Stones (did not chart, 1966)
24. Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me) – Four Seasons (#13, 1966)
25. Me and Julio down by the School Yard – Paul Simon (#22, 1972)
26. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John & Yoko & the Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir (did not chart, 1971)
27. I’m Every Woman – Chaka Khan (#21, 1978)
28. Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley (#29, 1964)
29. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid (#13, 1984)
30. Super Freak – Rick James (#16, 1981)
31. Mighty Love – Spinners (#20, 1974)
32. Stan – Eminem featuring Dido (#51, 2000)
33. So Far Away – Carole King (#14, 1971)
34. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love (did not chart, 1963)
35. Because the Night – Patti Smith Group (#13, 1978)
36. Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell (#67, 1970)
37. Candy Girl – New Edition (#46, 1983)
38. Brass in Pocket (I’m Special) – Pretenders (#14, 1980)
39. Everybody Hurts – R.E.M. (#29, 1993)
40. It Takes Two – Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock (#36, 1988)
41. Heartbreak Hotel – the Jacksons (#22, 1981)
42. Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton (#20, 1976)
43. Valerie – Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse (did not chart, 2007)
44. Rock and Roll All Nite (live) – Kiss (#12, 1976)
45. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – Sylvester (#36, 1979)
46. L-O-V-E (Love) – Al Green (#13, 1975)
47. It’s Raining Men – the Weather Girls (#46, 1983)
48. I’m a Slave 4 U – Britney Spears (#27, 2001)
49. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC (#35, 1980)
50. Wake Up Everybody – Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (#12, 1976)
51. Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed (#16, 1973)
52. Bring It on Home to Me – Sam Cooke (#13, 1962)
53. Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2 (#33, 1984)
54. Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead (#13, 1979)
55. Move Your Feet – Junior Senior (did not chart, 2003)
56. Heroes – David Bowie (did not chart, 1977)
57. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon (#21, 1978)
58. One Way or Another – Blondie (#24, 1979)
59. You Get What You Give – New Radicals (#36, 1999)
60. Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel – Tavares (#15, 1976)
61. Ain’t Nobody – Rufus featuring Chaka Khan (#22, 1983)
62. You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon (#44, 1986, #23, 1987)
63. I Can’t Make You Love Me – Bonnie Raitt (#18, 1992)
64. Young Americans – David Bowie (#28, 1975)
65. A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke (#31, 1965)
66. Respect Yourself – the Staple Singers (#12, 1971)
67. Moondance – Van Morrison (did not chart, 1970; #92, 1977)
68. Where’s the Love – Hanson (did not chart, 1997)
69. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing – Stevie Wonder (#16, 1974)
70. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow (#62, 1982)
71. Genius of Love – Tom Tom Club (#31, 1982)
72. Beautiful Stranger – Madonna (#19, 1999)
73. Shame, Shame, Shame – Shirley (& Company) (#12, 1975)
74. The Way I Am – Eminem (#58, 2000)
75. Jungle Love – The Time (#20, 1985)
76. Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac (#12, 1982)
77. Smile – Lily Allen (#49, 2007)
78. Tear the Roof off the Sucker (Give up the Funk) – Parliament (#15, 1976)
79. Same Love – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert (#11, 2013)
80. Solid – Ashford & Simpson (#12, 1985)
81. Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang (#36, 1980)
82. The Cup of Life – Ricky Martin (#60, 1998; #45, 1999)
83. Me, Myself and I – De La Soul (#34, 1989)
84. Bad Luck – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (#15, 1975)
85. Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads (did not chart, 1981)
86. Fuck You – Lily Allen (#68, 2009)
87. Such Great Heights – The Postal Service (did not chart, 2003)
88. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (movie version) – Lauryn Hill (did not chart, 1998)
89. Dedication to My Ex (Miss That) – Lloyd featuring Andre 3000 (#79, 2011)
90. Jump To It – Aretha Franklin (#24, 1982)
91. Mamma Mia – Abba (#32, 1976)
92. Space Oddity – David Bowie (did not chart, 1969; #15, 1973)
93. P Control – O{+> (Prince) (did not chart, 1995)
94. Got Your Money – Ol’ Dirty Bastard featuring Kelis (#33, 1999)
95. LDN – Lily Allen (did not chart, 2007)
96. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore – Buddy Holly (#13, 1959)
97. Does Your Mother Know – Abba (#19, 1979)
98. Up in a Puff of Smoke – Polly Brown (#16, 1975)
99. Blue Limousine – Apollonia 6 (did not chart, 1984)
100. All the Young Dudes – Mott the Hoople (#37, 1972)
101. Fight the Power – Public Enemy (did not chart, 1989)
102. Pass That Dutch – Missy Elliott (#27, 2003)
103. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne (#21, 2003)
104. You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse (#78, 2007; #77, 2008)


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Lou Reed – “Walk on the Wild Side”

Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl was born in Puerto Rico in 1946. He grew up in New York and Miami Beach. At a very early age he recognized his attraction to men. Not fitting in and getting beaten up at school made Haroldo decide at age 15 to run away. Hitchhiking up the coast toward New York, Haroldo made a stop in Georgia where his friend Georgette plucked his eyebrows, applied mascara, and helped transform Haroldo into Holly.

In the Big Apple, Holly met Andy Warhol and the people who hung out at Warhol’s Factory, such as Candy Darling, Joe Dallesandro and Jackie Curtis.

The story of Holly and the other Warhol superstars is recounted in Lou Reed’s sole Hot 100 single, “Walk on the Wild Side.” The man born Louis Firbank was part of that scene in the Sixties, as his band, The Velvet Underground, was managed by Warhol. He felt an affinity with the people he sang about – as a teenager Reed’s parents sent him to a mental hospital where he would receive electroshock therapy to help cure him of his homosexual tendencies.

Though not gay himself, though perhaps bisexual, Reed wrote “Walk on the Wild Side” to be, in his words “an outright gay song,” saying it’s “from me to them, but they’re carefully worded so the straights can miss out on the implications and enjoy them without being offended.”

Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, “Walk on the Wild Side” reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1973.

Tunes du Jour remembers the late Great Lou Reed today on what would have been his 73rd birthday. Here are twenty of his finest.

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David Bowie – “John, I’m Only Dancing”

Bowie_JohnDancing1
“I’m gay and always have been.”
– David Bowie, January 1972, in Melody Maker

In June of 1972, the same month he released The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, named the “Greatest, Gayest Album of All-Time” by Out magazine, David Bowie recorded “John, I’m Only Dancing.” In the song Bowie, as the narrator, tell his boyfriend John not to get jealous just because Bowie is with a girl, for all they are doing is dancing, though he does say that she turns him on.

Released as a single in the UK, “John, I’m Only Dancing” became Bowie’s third hit, following “Space Oddity” and “Starman.” His US label, RCA, declined to release the song until 1976 when they included it on the compilation Changesonebowie. (RCA also issued Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World album in the US in 1972 with a photo of Bowie on-stage in slacks kicking a leg up as opposed to using the image that graced the UK version of the album, a long-haired Bowie reclining in a dress.)

By 1982 it was well-known that Bowie was not gay. Rolling Stone made that clear with their cover story entitled “David Bowie Straight.” Did he exploit gay sexuality to achieve fame? Yes. Is that a bad thing? Tom Robinson (“Glad to Be Gay”) doesn’t think so. “For gay musicians, Bowie was seismic. To hell with whether he disowned us later.”

Nicholas Pegg, star of Doctor Who and David Bowie expert, suggested that “John, I’m Only Dancing” may not be a gay song after all. Perhaps the narrator was telling John, the boyfriend of the girl with whom the narrator is dancing, that he needn’t worry about his intentions.

In January 1973 Bowie re-recorded “John, I’m Only Dancing” for his Aladdin Sane album, though it did not make that release. This version, referred to as the “sax version,” was issued in the UK as a single in April of that year utilizing the same catalogue number as the earlier single. In the US, the first 1000 copies of Changesonebowie pressed included the sax version.

In 1974 Bowie recorded “John, I’m Only Dancing (Again).” This version retains the chorus of “John, I’m Only Dancing” but the verses use new lyrics and a different melody in which the narrator expresses his joy of dancing.

Today is David Bowie’s 68th birthday. Here are nineteen songs he wrote or co-wrote, plus “Walk on the Wild Side,” which he co-produced. He may not be gay, but as you will hear, a lot of his music is.

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The Day the Music Didn’t Die But Still

Ringo + Buddy

On this date in 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash. In his hit “American Pie” Don McLean referred to it as “the day the music died.” A little dramatic, no? The music didn’t die, but it was a tremendous loss nonetheless.

Today Tunes du Jour pays homage to these late, great rock and roll pioneers. On our playlist:
“Chantilly Lace” – The Big Bopper – The man born Jiles Perry Richardson’s only top ten hit, from 1958.
“Think It Over” – Buddy Holly – A top forty single from 1958.
“Donna” – Ritchie Valens – Valens’ only top ten hit, peaking at #2 in early 1959.
“American Pie” – Madonna – Madonna covered Don McLean’s classic for her film The Next Best Thing at the suggestion of her co-star, Rupert Everett, who sings backing vocals on the recording.
“Oh, Boy!” – Buddy Holly – A top ten single from early 1958. I recall Olivia Newton-John performing it on one of her television specials with guest stars Andy Gibb, Elton John and Cliff Richard. If memory serves, it went on for about forty minutes.
“Heartbeat” – Buddy Holly – The Knack covered this for their breakthrough album, Get The Knack.
“It’s So Easy” – Linda Ronstadt – Ronstadt had a top five hit with her cover of this song, written by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty. Ronstadt also charted with covers of Holly’s hits “That’ll Be the Day” and “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.”
“Not Fade Away” – The Crickets – An English quintet who went by the name The Rolling Stones charted in the US for the first time with their version of this tune. Not sure what happened to them.
“Buddy Holly” – Weezer – Buddy Holly couldn’t have predicted this song’s opening lines – “What’s with these homies dissing my girl? / Why do they gotta front?”
“Everyday” – Buddy Holly – James Taylor charted with his cover of this in 1985.
“La Bamba” – Ritchie Valens – It’s hard to believe this song only peaked at #22 upon its release in 1958. “La bamba” is Spanish for “the bamba.”
“Peggy Sue” – Lou Reed – This song was co-written by Buddy Holly, who took it to #3 in 1957.
“It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” – Buddy Holly – Holly didn’t write this posthumous hit; Paul Anka did. This and “My Way” are my two favorite Anka compositions. I also love “(You’re) Having My Baby,” but in a different way.
“Words of Love” – Patti Smith – A pop combo from England covered this Holly composition on their album that in the US was titled Beatles VI. Not sure what happened to them.
“Maybe Baby” – The Crickets – The Beatles’ name was inspired by the name of Holly’s band, The Crickets.
“I’m Gonna Love You Too” – Buddy Holly – Blondie covered this for their breakthrough album Parallel Lines.
“Come On, Let’s Go” – Los Lobos – Los Lobos performed Valen’s music for the biopic of Valen’s life, La Bamba.
“That’ll Be the Day” – Modest Mouse – Written by Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison, “That’ll Be the Day” was Holly’s first hit, going to #1 in 1957. Given his immense influence on rock and roll, it’s hard to believe he died a year and half later.
“Rave On” – Buddy Holly – One of five top forty singles Holly had in 1958.
“True Love Ways” – My Morning Jacket – Holly wrote “True Love Ways” for his wife as a wedding gift. What did your husband get you?

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World AIDS Day

Today Tunes du Jour observes World AIDS Day with a playlist of diverse genres – pop, hip hop, rock, dance, r&b, gospel and whatever you call what Ween does.

Thematically there are songs of reminiscence, reunions, safe sex, politics, pride, goodbyes and whatever you call what Ween does.

Give it a listen and let me know what songs you discovered and if there are any great ones I missed.

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