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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (2-14-20)

Inspired by Valentine’s Day and the February 14 birthdays of Cait Brennan, Tim Buckley, Rob Thomas, and Dwele.

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Throwback Thursday – 1999

Eminem has often been accused of being homophobic. Maybe it’s because he rapped “I’ll still be able to break a motha-fuckin’ table over the back of a couple of faggots and crack it in half.” Maybe it’s because he rapped “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge / That’ll stab you in the head whether you’re a fag or lez.” And “All you lil’ faggots can suck it / No homo, but I’ma stick it to ’em like refrigerator magnets.” And “Little gay-looking boy / So gay I can barely say it with a straight face-looking boy / You witnessing massacre like you watching a church gathering taking place-looking boy / ‘Oy vey, that boy’s gay,’ that’s all they say looking-boy / You take a thumbs up, pat on the back, the way you go from your label every day-looking boy.” And “You fags think it’s all a game.” Anyone can see how the artist born Marshall Mathers got labeled a homophobe, even if he pretends he doesn’t see it.

So it’s ironic that in his first hit single, the song that put him on the map and into the international consciousness, the music bed is based around a sample from an openly gay singer-songwriter.

“My Name Is” became Eminem’s first single to crack the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #36. Its music is taken from a 1975 release called “I Got the…,” written and performed by Labi Siffre. Siffre, who was born in England in 1945, says he knew he was gay since age four. He met his life partner, Peter John Carver Lloyd, in 1964. They remained a couple for 49 years, until Lloyd’s death in 2013.

Before Siffre would allow Eminem to use the sample, he made the rapper change some of the words on “My Name Is.” The lyric “My English teacher wanted to have sex in junior high / The only problem was, my English teacher was a guy” became “My English teacher wanted to flunk me in junior high / Thanks a lot, next semester I’ll be 35.” The lyric “Extraterrestrial killing pedestrians, raping lesbians while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’” became “Extraterrestrial running over pedestrians in a spaceship while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’”.” Said Siffre, “Dissing the victims of bigotry – women as bitches, homosexuals as faggots – is lazy writing. Diss the bigots, not their victims. I denied sample rights till that lazy writing was removed. I should have stipulated “all versions” but at that time knew little about rap’s “clean” & “explicit” modes, so they managed to get the lazy lyric on versions other than the single and first album.”

For Throwback Thursday this week, Tunes du Jour revisits some of the musical highlights of 1999, kicking off with Eminem’s “My Name Is.”


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When Sheila E. Met Prince

In 1978, Pete Escovedo was a member of Santana’s band. While the group was holed up in a Bay Area recording studio working on a project, a young artist from Minneapolis was in the neighboring studio. Carlos Santana and Escovedo were impressed with the kid’s abilities – writing, producing and playing all of the instruments on the album he was recording. Hearing them sing this guy’s praises, Escovedo’s daughter Sheila, a talented musician in her own right, remarked that she’d like to meet him.

She did meet him the following year. She attended a performance of his and went backstage to introduce herself. It turns out he knew who she was and was already a fan of her work. That is when Prince met percussionist Sheila Escovedo, who he later christened Sheila E.

Though she had reservations about being a lead vocalist, Prince persuaded Sheila E. to do a solo album. He wrote songs for her, including the record’s title track, a song inspired by and originally intended for Apollonia. That song, “The Glamorous Life,” hit the top ten on the US pop and r&b charts and went to #1 on the dance chart.

Ringo + Sheila E2
Tunes du Jour celebrates Sheila E’s birthday with this twenty-track playlist.


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It’s Jellybean’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

John “Jellybean” Benitez, along with Arthur Baker, was the pre-eminent remixer of the 1980s. If I saw his name on a 12-inch single, I knew I was going to get something good. He worked with many big names in that decade and beyond. Artists whose work he remixed include Talking Heads, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney, Donna Summer, Santana, ZZ Top, Billy Joel, Afrika Bambaataa, Whitney Houston, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Sting, Bangles, A-ha, Cher, Shakira, Bonnie Tyler, The Romantics and, most famously, Madonna.

These days Jellybean deejays parties around the world and is the Executive Producer of Sirius XM’s disco/dance station, Studio 54 radio. A couple of years ago, while I was working at Warner Music, Jellybean and I were discussing a project he wanted to do. I was very into the idea and told him I was confident I could get the big names he wanted on board. We also talked about a radio show he conceived for the Sirius XM channel in which new mixes of classic dance songs were played. To help him with that show I sent him a package with some modern mixes we had done of disco classics by Chic, Ashford & Simpson and others.

He never said thank you. I sent him a follow-up email to be sure he received the package, but he didn’t reply. Oh, well. So he is lacking manners. That doesn’t affect the joy I get listening to his classic remix work. (By the by, he never got around to launching the project he wanted to do about which I was excited.)

Today is Jellybean’s 57th birthday. Many of his mixes are not on Spotify, so today’s dance playlist consists of some of his mixes that are, of Madonna, David Bowie, Irene Cara, The Pointer Sisters, Shalamar and Whitney Houston, alongside other records I love to dance to.

You’re welcome.

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Glenn’s Ten – 9/30/14

Ariel Pink’s “Put Your Number in My Phone” moves into #1 in Glenn’s Ten this week, knocking from the top Meghan Trainor’s “All About that Bass.” There are three new entries – “Beggin for Thread” performed by Banks, “i” performed by Kendrick Lamar and “Dangerous” performed by Big Data featuring Joywave.

Glenn’s Ten for this week is:
1. “Put Your Number in My Phone” – Ariel Pink
2. “Gotta Get Away” – The Black Keys
3. “Secrets” – Mary Lambert
4. “All About that Bass” – Meghan Trainor
5. “Beggin for Thread” – Banks
6. “Alone in My Home” – Jack White
7. “i” – Kendrick Lamar
8. “Flawless” – Beyoncé featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
9. “Dangerous” – Big Data featuring Joywave
10. “Do You” – Spoon

Rounding out today’s playlist are ten tunes that were #1 on this date in Glenn’s Ten history, in reverse chronological order.

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Feliz Cinco De Mayo!

Ringo + Toni 002
Hoy es Cinco de Mayo, y yo was thinking about Spanish-language songs that crossed over onto the US pop charts. That got me thinking about hit songs that were re-recorded in Spanish by their original hitmakers in an attempt to cross over the other direction. It’s a savvy business move, no? Why limit your audience, especially once the music business became more global?

Here is your Cinco de Mayo playlist:

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Did You Know Sara Bareilles Released An Album This Year?

grammy plaqueI’ve worked on nearly every Grammy compilation release since the first one.

The nominees for the 56th annual Grammy Awards were announced last Friday. The nominations always elicit strong reactions from music fans. I’m pleased with many of the Academy’s selections (Go Kendrick Lamar and Daft Punk!) and puzzled by others (Ed Sheeran is nominated for Best New Artist. Last year he was nominated for Song of the Year. Was he pre-new then?).

Today’s Tunes du Jour playlist consists of some of the tracks that have won Record of the Year. I choose to focus on the positive. I refuse to bash the Grammy voters for when they got it wrong (such as, for example, when they gave Record of the Year to Bobby McFerrin for “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” What the hell was that about? That record won over Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” Are you kidding me?).

Herewith are some of the better Record of the Year winners.

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