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I Love Kanye West Almost As Much As He Loves Himself

I recently attended a conference where I was asked to fill in a questionnaire. Amongst the questions about my favorite television program and favorite beverage, I was asked to name a person who inspires me. My answer was chocolate malt. For favorite beverage, that is. All in the Family is my favorite TV show. My inspiration? Kanye West a/k/a Yeezy a/k/a Ye a/k/a Yeezus.

I have much admiration for Mr. West. People mock his ego, but I think the world would be a better place if more people believed in themselves the way Kanye does himself.

I admire that he pursues his dreams, including those outside his music. He may not be the best fashion designer, but he goes after it instead of staying in a rapper/producer box.

I admire that he pursued the woman he believes to be the world’s most beautiful and married her.

I admire him because he says what he thinks and what he believes. I find his honesty and candor refreshing.

And then there’s the music. His body of work holds its own against any artist working today. He continually challenges himself musically. After issuing three fine albums of his rapping, he surprised us with an album of singing, and while he’s no Marvin Gaye, that album turned out to be damn good. I like that he’s equally comfortable and innovative using classic soul samples and using obscure rock samples.

Lyrically he explores love, racism, art, sex, religion, drugs, self-destruction, and redemption. He can be thought-provoking; he can be funny.

He aims high and more often than not delivers.

He has a vision and is not afraid to execute on it. He won’t settle for just okay in his pursuit of perfection.

I’ll let the man himself sum up what I admire most about him: “If everything I did failed — which it doesn’t, it actually succeeds — just the fact that I’m willing to fail is an inspiration. People are so scared to lose that they don’t even try. Like, one thing people can’t say is that I’m not trying, and not I’m not trying my hardest, and I’m not trying to do the best way I know how.” (May, 2012)

Music is better with artists who consistently aim high and try to expand their boundaries. Such creative types are what keeps me passionate about new music year after year. The way Kathie Lee needed Regis is the way I need Yeezus.

Today is Kanye West’s 38th birthday. In a career full of high points, here are twenty of my favorites.


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

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Today’s playlist consists of songs that were #1 in Glenn’s Ten, the weekly tally of my favorite current songs, on this date going back to 1981, the year I started tracking such things (click here for more background).

My #1 on March 3, 1981 was Don McLean’s cover of Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” My #1 this week is Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” It took me thirty-three years to go from “Crying” to “Happy.”

In 1981 I was a shy, skinny high school student who felt like he didn’t belong. I wished I was more popular but hard as I tried, I just wasn’t cool.

I worked to better myself. Gaining weight was a challenge, as was overcoming my shyness. To achieve the latter I ultimately turned to stand-up comedy. Getting up on stage in front of a group of strangers to express my thoughts was what I needed. It gave me confidence and got me an agent and positive reviews in publications including Backstage.

To gain weight I ate a banana split every night right before bed. I didn’t put on any pounds, but I did develop lactose-intolerance.

Eventually my metabolism slowed down and I filled out.

I also became successful in corporate America, most recently as the Vice President of Licensing at Warner Music Group. That shy, introverted kid made something of himself.

In retrospect, I’ve been cool this whole time. Perhaps my fellow high school students didn’t think so, but what did they know? I’m going to rely on the impressions of 16 year-olds as to my coolness? It takes more guts to be a non-conformist. I learned to love myself as I am.

Loving yourself is the subject of a few #1 songs of this date. There’s 1991’s “I Touch Myself” by Divinyls, but that’s not the self-love to which I refer. Lady Gaga’s self-empowerment anthem “Born This Way” topped my chart for several weeks n 2011. Madonna, Gaga’s spiritual predecessor, sang “You’re frozen when your heart’s not open” in 1998.

It’s now 2014. I’m unemployed for the first time since graduating college. I’m also the happiest I’ve ever been. I am confident. I feel positive and energized about my future. If I have to, I can do anything. I am strong. I am invincible. I am…happy.

Here is the chronological soundtrack of my March 3 journey from “Crying” to “Happy,” with videoclips for the two entries not available on Spotify.


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