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Throwback Thursday – The Hits of 1995

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights the hits of 1995, starting with TLC’s “Waterfalls,” a song that features backing vocals by Cee Lo Green.


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U Should Know D’Angelo

You should know D’Angelo’s music. His debut album, Brown Sugar, turns twenty this summer. It’s a landmark in neo soul that sounds as fresh today as it did in 1995.

D’Angelo’s second album, Voodoo, celebrated its fifteenth anniversary a couple of weeks ago. It builds on and surpasses his debut, with D’Angelo’s singing, writing and production stretching beyond what his contemporaries were doing.

He surprise released his third album, Black Messiah, this past December. The Village Voice annual music critics poll placed it at #1 for 2014 album releases.

Today D’Angelo turns 41. Here is an introductory playlist. You should know D’Angelo’s music.

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50 Songs Named After Real People

Today is the birthday of two music icons – Jam-Master Jay of rap pioneers Run-D.M.C. and disc jockey Wolfman Jack. Besides their place in their history of rock and roll, both men have another thing in common – they were the subjects of songs. That inspired me to put together today’s playlist – songs named after real people.

I found fifty songs whose titles are actual people. Actually I found more than fifty, but I didn’t want to subject you to Chiddy Bang or Mac Miller. I made a few rules for myself:
1) The title can’t have words besides the person’s name, hence no Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” or Sleater-Kinney’s “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone.”
2) The title has to be the full name the person is known by, so no “Springsteen” by Eric Church or “Jessica” (about Jessica Simpson) by Adam Green. Allowed are “Galileo,” “Joan of Arc” and “King Tut,” as that is how most people identify Galileo Galilei, Joan d’Arc and Tutankhamun.
3) The song doesn’t have to be about the person after whom it is titled, so “Jack the Ripper” and “Rosa Parks” are in.
4) The track has to be on Spotify. This means I left out Bob Dylan’s “George Jackson” and Hoodie Allen’s “James Franco.”

Amazingly for a playlist based on such a goofy concept, it holds together quite well, if I say so myself.

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Praising Mary J. Blige

Ringo + MJB

God needs better marketers. That guy wearing an ill-fitting sportsjacket who stands on a box outside the Port Authority shouting incoherently through a megaphone or that guy in a diaper on the corner of Hollywood and Highland holding the sign about end days? I’m supposed to walk by them and think “If this person says God exists, it must be true.” It doesn’t work for me.

Then there are God’s marketers with slightly bigger megaphones, like that pastor who recently penned an op-ed claiming that Taylor Swift turns kids gay, and they can’t shake it off. Swift’s not really my cup of chamomile, but if I need to choose between that writer’s brand of religion and homosexuality, then crank up the 1989 CD.

There’s also your Fred Phelps types, picketing concerts and high-profile funerals with signs reading GOD HATES FAGS. Many self-appointed religious leaders say the same thing, albeit with less colorful language. I’m supposed to walk by them and think “If this man has a sign that says God Hates Fags, it must be true.” Similar signs are held up in the “counter protest” area during the Gay Pride parade. Shockingly, the parade goers weren’t swayed. If only there was somewhere else these self-proclaimed religious folks should be on a Sunday morning. If only.

Some of His messengers kill cartoonists. God hates fags and cartoonists. Their marketing technique is the old “Buy our product or we’ll murder you.” It didn’t work for Kellogg’s and it won’t work for Him.

By now you’re probably saying “Glenn, what does this have to do with Mary J. Blige, the multiple Grammy Award-winning multi-million-selling r&b singer who celebrates her 44th birthday today?

When I read that Mary J. Blige considers herself a born-again Christian, my stomach sank. Oh, no. Another diva hero gone to the dark side. Songs of hers I like will now have the association with the slogan “Live and let live provided you live the way I tell you to live,” and nothing mars a good groove like a bad ad campaign.

Turns out I was wrong. The guy standing on the box, the guy who listened to a pop singer and turned homosexual, the guys who picket parades – they all misled me. Not all of God’s marketing reps are assholes.

Says Mary J: I’m not God. God said not to judge anyone lest you be judged. That’s it. Who am I to point my finger? You’ve got to walk in love. To say you do not want people to be happy is so mean, so not me.

She told PrideSource:
“I believe [Christ] died to give us a deep relationship with God, and in having a deep relationship and walk with God, there is no judgment. We cannot judge or think we’re better than anybody.

“I have nothing but love for everyone in the universe. I believe we can all teach each other something, and I believe we can all grow and learn from one another. I’m a spirit, so I need spiritual assistance – that means I need to pray, I need to read The Word, I need to share The Word with people. That’s what it’s for. It’s not for me to be like, “You’re gonna burn in hell.” That’s not what I believe God wants me to testify about.

“The fact that I’ve been through so much, and my trials and tribulations are out in the open, is to heal other people. And that I’ve come through it isn’t to say I’m better; it’s to say we all can do it.”

Isn’t that refreshing? I still don’t believe in God, but it’s nice to find someone who does and is full of love and support. If He wants to sell the product, He needs to recruit more marketers like MJB.

Let’s get it percolating with these twenty career highlights.

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#1 In Glenn’s Ten On This Day Throughout History

Today’s playlist is made up of songs that were at #1 in Glenn’s Ten on this day, in chronological order. A few of the songs are not on Spotify, so I’ll give you YouTube links so you may experience them.

Originally intended to be the b-side of a George Harrison single entitled “This Is Love,” supergroup Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle With Care” was my #1 on this day on 1988. Per the liner notes of this album’s reissue in 2007, the word “wilbury” came from a remark George Harrison made to producer Jeff Lynne about errors made while recording – “We’ll bury ’em in the mix.”

Despite referencing Santa in its title and being a December #1 in 1991, De La Soul’s “Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa” in not a Christmas song. It’s about a girl seeking revenge on a sexually-abusive parent.

“I Got My Education” performed by New York house duo Uncanny Alliance was my #1 this day in 1992. It hit #2 on Billboard‘s dance chart. The duo released one album and neither member was ever heard from again.

My #1 on this day in 2005 was The White Stripes’ “Walking with a Ghost,” a cover of a song released just a few months earlier by Tegan and Sara.

Here are the other #1s from this day in Glenn’s Ten history, except for 1985’s entry, as I cannot locate the book where I maintained that year’s lists.

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