Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 9-2-23

“Will It Go Round In Circles,” Billy Preston’s second US number one single, was borne from a comment Preston made to his songwriting partner, Bruce Fisher, about having a song but no melody. From there the pair came up with lyrics about having a dance with no steps and added to those words a very catchy melody. A session that included pre-stardom guitar and bass players The Brothers Johnson brought the groove and the funk.

Billy Preston’s first time having his name appear at the top spot of the Hot 100 was in 1969 with “Get Back,” credited to The Beatles With Billy Preston. Following The Beatles’ breakup, Preston continued working with its members, including playing with George Harrison at the Concert for Bangladesh. Preston was the first artist to record Harrison’s My Sweet Lord,” which Harrison co-produced and later recorded himself.

“Will It Go Round In Circles” entered the Hot 100 at number 99. It reached the top ten eleven weeks later, at which time the number one song was Paul McCartney and Wings’ “My Love.” “My Love” was knocked from the top spot by George Harrison’s “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth),” which was knocked from the top spot by “Will it Go Round In Circles.” The b-side of the Preston single was his cover of The Beatles’ song “Blackbird.”

The late Billy Preston was born on this date in 1946. A handful of his songs feature on today’s playlist.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 12-13-22

Today’s playlist celebrates the December 13 birthdays of Television’s Tom Verlaine, Taylor Swift, Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge, Jamie Foxx, Ted Nugent, Evanescence’s Amy Lee, The Time’s Morris Day, Steve Forbert, Dick Van Dyke, and John Anderson; and the December 14 birthdays of Jane Birkin, The Waterboys’ Mike Scott, Spike Jones, Beth Orton, The Big Pink’s Robbie Furze, Charlie Rich, The Searchers’ Frank Allen, Linda Jones, Dandy Livingstone, and The Beatnuts’ Juju.

A Prince Playlist

I missed Prince’s debut album, For You, when it was released in 1978. My first exposure to him was hearing “I Wanna Be Your Lover” on the radio. It became a hit when I was in high school. Good song. Then I saw the video. Not what I expected. Before then I thought Prince was a trio of Black women, like The Emotions. My first visual exposure to Prince and already he was throwing my expectations.

His third album, 1980’s Dirty Mind, got a fair amount of press in music magazines, and its cover art made an impression. I was interested in the guy.

“Controversy” was a single my freshman year in college. The song grabbed me, and so I bought the 45, my first Prince record.

The life-changing moment came the following year, when I heard “1999” on KISS-FM in Boston. Holy crap! It blew my mind. It sounded like nothing else on the radio at that time or any other time. At that moment I became a big fan. I got a ride into Harvard Square, went to the Harvard Coop (the university’s bookstore/ record store/ probably other things I can’t remember store) and bought the 1999 album. (The same day I bought Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Can you believe the two albums came out a month apart? What a time to be alive!)

From that point on I was a certified Prince fanatic. I bought the first four albums. I bought subsequent albums on the days of release. I bought the twelve-inch singles, and eventually the CD singles. And for quite a stretch there Prince continued to blow my mind. I’m still awed by his genius and marvel at how he thought to do unconventional things with his music, such as removing the bassline from “When Doves Cry,” the only number one on the dance chart to not have a bassline.

I’ve met many great talents over the years. Brian Wilson. Tina Turner. Smokey Robinson. Norman Fell. But nothing compared 2 meeting Prince. It was in 1988. He didn’t say a word, though he did sign my work stationery:

Putting together a Prince playlist and disciplining myself to keep it to thirty songs is a tough task, especially as a Prince fanatic, but I persevered. I’m not saying these are his thirty best songs, nor are they his thirty most popular songs, nor are they my thirty favorites of his songs. It’s a mixture of all three of those categories (which, of course, have a lot of overlap). I threw in some of the hits others had with songs he wrote. It’s by no means complete, but it’s a start.

(The Spotify embed feature is STILL broken. Here is the link:

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Prince: Compositions

Around ten years ago, while I was working at Warner Music, we were trying to think of catalogue projects that may engage Prince. One of my suggestions was a two-disc set in which one disc consisted of Prince songs recorded by others and the second disc was Prince’s demo versions of songs made famous by others.

Two weeks ago Warner released on Tidal Prince’s Originals, demo versions of songs Prince wrote that were recorded by other acts. (It hits others streaming services tomorrow, with CD and vinyl releases coming as well.) I’m not saying Warner took my idea without giving me credit; I’d be surprised if I were the only person who thought of it.

Today’s Tunes du Jour playlist is the concept of the other disc of my proposed set – songs Prince wrote or co-wrote performed by other acts. It’s not exactly what I envisioned that disc to be, as many (MANY!!) of the songs I would choose are not available on Spotify. There’s all the Paisley Park material that reverted to Prince (Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, Mazarati, Jill Jones, The Family, Ingrid Chavez, etc.), as well as commercially-released covers that for whatever reason are missing, by artists such as Foo Fighters, Robyn, Jesus and Mary Chain, Mavis Staples, Eels, and Living Colour.

Even with those limitations, not a bad list. Enjoy!

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