Favorite Songs: Bill Withers ‘Grandma’s Hands’

Like many of my generation I first came into contact with this song due to its use in “No Diggity” by Blackstreet back in 1996. But the original is not just a nice sample, it’s an example of how great songwriting can really connect people. Wither’s memories of his grandmother Luna in church and his grandmother soothing, teaching and protecting despite her age and ailings are absolutely wonderful.

The mourning of her passing in the last lines nearly goes by unnoticed because the memories of her are so strong that she still seems to be there.

I really adore songs that are true and vulnerable and full of love. “Grandma’s Hands” is a song that connects because it’s about family and most of us can relate having a family member (or a friend) who always seemed to be there and help and soothe and spoil.

And yes, I do remember my grandma’s hands and how they always smelled of dove hand cream and how they moved when she sat on her couch knitting, like little birds, waving a nest or how they so delicately held her cup of tea as if she was dancing with the porcelain.

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Favorite Song: Chastity Brown ‘Wake up’ – Roadtrip Melancholy

I neither own or drive a car but I still have a Spotify-playlist called “Roadtrip Melancholy” which verges on cheese but only so and can be summarized by “music that is like Roy Orbison’s ‘I drove all night’”.

So, when I heard the first driving beats from Chastity Brown’s song “Wake up” (from her album “Silhouette of Siren’s” and her voice sang the line “don’t you ever miss me, when you’re gone”, I knew it fit that playlist like a glove.

The song is a weird mixture of 90s songwriting with a little alternative mixed in there but also a heap of country (especially in the chorus). There’s so much space with the instrumentation and I guess that’s part of what I wanted for the playlist: music that creates wide spaces, that has a sense of distance, of winding roads, ever changing scenery and a weird yearning towards something, anything. It’s a perfect song.

(also, that ring is gorgeous)

Brown’s music is beautiful, her voice has little texture, the kind that turns everything a little bit more alternative. But there’s a great warmth in there as well, so her songs (like “Drive Slow”) really sooth your soul even if they’re sad.

Favorite Songs: Lucius “Tempest” 4.0 – acoustic beauty

Lucius released a sort of compilation called “NUDES” with new versions of old, newish and unknown songs and it’s a lovely collection and a better solution than a random Best Of with maybe two new songs and a remix.

One of the highlights is the acoustic version of “Tempest” which is a work of art in itself but really moved me live because of the use of the background vocals that add a tenderness to the song (which is actually a somewhat sad love song). Back on their debut “Wildewoman” it was already a little sad but the energetic, slightly retro production created more of a dissonance between lyrics and music and let you forget how vulnerable and aching the song really is.

The new version, however, is full on sad and lovely and will break your heart. It’s also close to the beautiful live experience that this band offers (seriously, if you have the chance, see them live, from their outfits to their impeccable harmonies to the great band and their amazing showmanship).

Favorite Song: JD McPherson ‚On the Lips’ is sweet sweet bliss

There’s a certain sort of song that I get super obsessed about and it’s usually a weird nod to the 50s compositions, a slight American small town prom-vibe that I can’t resist.

Now, JD McPherson is a master of fresh sounding 50s R’n’R and I initially didn’t even recognize him because there’s something about the way he uses his voice on his 2017 album “Undivided Heart & Soul”. “On the lips” is so tender and sensual, it makes me feel all tingly inside (*flutters her eyes).
The album itself is classic JD McPherson but with a few new sounds sprinkled in there. It’s fun! In a way, his albums always sound like a really fresh fruit, just juicy and a little bit tart and really rejuvenating. Since I just crawled out of a really bad case of the flu, it’s the kind of music that feels like I someday won’t feel like a shriveled up worm anymore.

But that song! It’s beautiful! And it’s melancholy, so that’s why I was drawn to it in the first place. I love that JD is not full on point and that the one note in the chorus actually slips a little. It adds to the vulnerability of the forlorn lover and has a live feeling that works well with this kind of music anyway.

I like the soft-spoken JD. I am less convinced of the retro-shittiness of the music video but hey, you can’t have everything.

Pop goes: Janelle Monae ‘make me feel’ – makes feel ALL the feels

Remember how Justin Timberlake supposedly planned that hologram of Prince and everyone was disgusted and then it didn’t happen but maybe only because everyone was so openly disgusted?

Well, Janelle Monae is here to show how to actually pay respect to a legend by releasing her new single “Make me feel” which is an ode to Prince’s sexy funk and powerful sexual ambivalence.

The song is instantly catchy, you don’t even need to hear it twice to slowly glide over the floor, levitate over the couch and spread glittery sequins wings in front of the windows so all the neighbours can see. Look at ’em wings!

The music video gives you the added bonus of Tessa Thompson being gorgeous and flirty. Yes, please!

I also would like to post the other released single for the coming album “Dirty Computer” called “Django Jane” which is a in comparison nearly simplistic but impressive rap song (with a lot of humor and food for thought).

Favorite Song: Haerts – Your Love (no, I don’t mean ‘Hearts’, Google!)

I have this Spotify-Playlist that is called “Feels like a Hughes movie” where I collect all songs from the 80s and those that sound like the 80s and to be honest, I should just do it and rename my blog with that title because that’s basically the only musical style I’ve written about since months. Maybe that’s just the style of music I am stuck with, now that I am grey and old and world-weary (says the 33-year-old like she’s lived through wars).

Ok, so Haerts are an insanely entertaining indie pop duo, namely Nini Fabi and Benjamin Gebert from Germany who now live in New York because honestly, don’t ever move to Germany if you want to make music, unless you want to record one album but leave after that, seriously, this is a black hole of musical ambition.

Anyways, their song “Your Love” sounds like it should be played in one of those old-fashioned romantic movies with a manly man and a womanly woman (with super big hair and even bigger shoulder pads!) and they had a big fight but then he enters her workplace (a nondescript office) in his (nondescript) uniform and whisks her away. It’s glorious.

The video is nsfw if it’s not usual to see naked people on your screen at your workplace. 

I am somehow getting heavy Cock Robin-flashbacks with this song which is high praise, btw. It doesn’t even sound alike but I don’t know … something about it. I should have posted this video a long time ago because it’s such a perfect song.

I also recommend basically all other music by Haerts because it’s so full of emotion and pop cultural references and it’s so accomplished in using them (click here for their soundcloud account).

Favorite Song: The Stranglers ‘Golden Brown’ – this song is about what now?

I was such a naive little thing when I got into music. I remember how I discovered “Golden Brown”, probably in some Guy Ritchie movie on the soundtrack or some such and I was so much in love with it and with Hugh Cornwell’s voice. I bought – to my shame – not an album but a Stranglers sampler (I like to think I did that because it was not yet the time when you could get everything via Amazon and so I only found it on the sampler in my local record store) and listened to it on repeat.

And now, doing some research on the actual meaning of the song, I have to find out that it probably 100% was about heroin. Crickey!

I have hardly had a drink in three years and have merely tasted the marihuana a couple of times in my life and there I am, humming and singing an ode to heroin. Geez, that’s the horrible thing about Brits and their music. They really know how to sing a song about drugs in such a pretty way that you’ll never guess (Americans somehow haven’t yet managed to be that sly and cheeky about it).

Ok, but I still love that song and wanted to feature it because Hugh Cornwall who wrote the lyrics also said that it might have been about a girl. I actually think that this was just an excuse so people like me would not be totally horrified by the lyrics and clasp only a few of their pearls.

Ok, so here’s the reason why I love the song: that solo guitar in the middle, this incredibly simple, close to monotonous melody, that voice (!) and then this repetitive carnival’s music, that kind of puts you into this weird trance. It’s a beauty even if it’s about a horrible horrible drug.

I also want to add this version which is Hugh Cornwall playing with the Mariachi band Mariachi Mexteca which is really absurd but works surprisingly well.

(I also would like to add how lovely Hugh’s voice still is)