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Sunday Soul – I Got Forty 16 Year Old Girls (And Three Boys) Dancing Last Night In the Kensington Hills (Where Were You?)
Year 11 – Playlist 27/52 – For the week of October 19th 2014
I don’t like talking about music with young people. I’m sorry, but I just don’t. I think about when I was 14 and I felt that Black Flag and The Buzzcocks were the absolute truth and literally everything else was just bullshit. I lived in a world soaked and spilling over with concept rock, disco (and I don’t mean disco I mean the Barbara Streisand/Barry Gibb “disco album” and the Donald Duck “disco” christmas album), and these stoned hairy creatures that wanted to talk about the meaning of everything… god it was the worst. I’d grown up listening to the radio and while I gotta hand it to west coast AM radio’s ability to express a diverse and sales/request/payola only and completely cross genre experience, I was all done with singer/songwriters, smash hits, and idiot rock music. So when anyone wanted to talk with me about music I would just cover my ears and wait as long as I could before hauling off and mocking them for whatever it was they were into.
Of course I had to eat my hat – and you know in those days I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a hat so I had to actually eat my can of extra super hold aqua net (come to think of it, I still don’t think I would be caught dead in a hat, but we’ll save that for my next youtube instructional video) – because music really changed… It couldn’t have been me that changed, no way man, it was the music. Bands got really interesting. First there was Joy Division, and then there was Pere Ubu, and then Postcard Records from Scotland turned me on to the Raincoats, and Aztec Camera, and the Subway Sect, Glaxo Babies, and the Gist. The Gang of Four were like this out of tune dissonant disco punk and they made me want to dance and that was really confusing (but I really liked it.) and then there was Reggae, and Michael Jackson put out ‘Off The Wall’ and then “rap” happened and there was no turning back… So for anyone out there whom I ever told off, or made cry, or made feel stupid for thinking Boston was a good band, or Kiss didn’t suck, or Emerson Lake and Palmer were amazing, I’m sorry. It was actually Emma Clarkson, of somewhere near Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8, who played the Jam and Elvis Costello for me that got me really thinking. And in so doing I also started collecting records from bands like Ultravox, Japan, the Cure, and Edgar Froese, and Kraftwerk. I collected them, but I hid them in the back of my record collection so that no one would ever see them. I wasn’t ready to cough up that can of hair spray yet, so I pretended I was still absolutely mono chromatic and just started going to bed earlier. This became my “night music.”
I went to see Robert Fripp play at the Greek Theater, a beautiful outdoor theater in the lower hills of Berkeley, and instead of the shitty concert I was braced for I found a curiously groomed man with glasses on a huge stage demonstrating the weird sounds you could get out of two reel to reel tape decks with a single tape running the width of the stage between them. He would play a little moody guitar lick, and then it would travel to the other side of the stage and come out the other tape deck. He sped it up and slowed it down, and then started layering things. It was a singularity in my young, negative life which opened my mind to many things. Now I loved “Frippertronics”, Brian Eno, Manuel Göttsching, and even (god forbid) David Bowie. The world was my veritable oyster and as soon as I cut off that silly Sid Vicious hair and slipped into some gabardine trousers with patent leather shoes I was able to go out dancing, wear eyeliner, swing my bang around over one of my eyes, and enjoy Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Visage, Duran Duran (for the first album) and for a moment I forgot all about how much I hated everything and was set free on a sea of everything and actually started to smile.
Of course it didn’t last. By the middle of the 80’s all the synthesizer bands got guitarists, traded their ladies hair for Elvis style mullets, and even the Eurythmics were trying to prove that they could “rock.” What a bore… sensitivity, intelligence, and originality just doesn’t seem to sell. Not at least in that big big way everyone’s always hoping to sell. We were dealing in local, regional, and underground success with love, devotion, obsession and emulation, but they were all looking for the Mc DLT of fame and fortune. As usual, this little lode of creativity bought them houses, and gave them something to retire on, but it was the end of the inspirational times for the moment. I was mad. I was really mad. So I abandoned night clubbing and got heavy into jazz and started to learn to play the piano. I went to college for the second time and considered becoming a teacher. Music had turned out to be a paper thin dancing idiot after all and I was all chapped about it, so I snubbed my nose at Acid Jazz, Hip Hop, Industrial, and full fledged “new wave” and just walked away.
And then one day I was walking past a club I liked and I heard something I’d never heard before. The music was bleeping, and the beats were monotone and the men inside the club were dancing with a kind of fierce intensity that always attracted me. I didn’t like it, and it didn’t reach me at that moment, but a year later I would be flailing myself wildly in dark attics, and crowded basements and completely unravelling all over again to acid house. I loved acid house because it was decidedly unmusical, and so that reminded me of jazz, and the memorable melodies were simple and soulful, and that reminded me of the 79 sound of emerging post punk and soul music from the 70’s. The rhythm, once I understood it, completely overtook me. It wasn’t the four on the floor at all, it was the “and” in between the beats that lifted me up. And it wasn’t just me… those basements were packed and the DJ’s were for the most part completely unknown to me, the records even more obscure. I would go early and stay until everyone else was gone, or they turned on the lights and made everyone leave. I stopped cutting my hair, and stopped wearing shoes, and literally lived to dance. House music saved my life and I found myself there in the confetti on the dance floor at the end of the night.
These days it’s harder than ever to tell the difference between R & B, commercial hip hop, dance music, so called EDM, and house or techno. Sounds like Trap and Dubstep seem to collect the depth of a hip hop love song and the fury and anger of mega trance and smash it all together into a “parents stay away” sound. But R & B is in the bright and amazing middle of a serious creative renaissance. MIA, FKA Twigs, Rihanna, Lorde, MGMT, and a hundred others are emerging all around us out of this sad and rehashed sounding din of the radio speaker and saying something really challenging and beautiful. The same is true for the unlikely likes of coffee table house champions like Calvin Harris and the evil (and not even Swedish) Swedish House Mafia… These people on the one hand have single handedly ruined house music, but on the other hand they’ve brought new life, new attention, new energy and new love for electronic dance music in a way that I failed to do in my love affair with the major labels, and none of my favorite DJ’s or producers have been able to do. We want to stay down, deep and dirty and be beloved for who we are, what we do, and we don’t like it when some tubby idiot from somewhere has “ideas” about what our next record should sound like. We want an audience who are sensitive, intelligent, present, and able to feel whatever it is we are going through.
Maybe we have forgotten that it’s a two way street. I gotta come to your house about as often as you gotta come over to mine – and we need to share and turn each other on to absolutely everything we’re thinking and feeling and wondering about. Nothing grows in a closed loop. Nothing good or interesting anyway… But these loops seem to just close. No matter how open minded I try to be, I find myself making some kind of heavy discovery and then like flash paper I find myself clinging to it, and sinking beneath the weight of my own closed mind. One minute you’re the revolution, the next minute you’re the man. Gotta keep awake, keep peeling those layers off, and stay willing to see where I’m wrong, or I’m pissed, or I’m actually excited and energized. That’s where the action is man… not in the past, not in the future, not in the money, and not in the glory, but right here, right now in the rhythm.
So last night I went up into the Kensignton hills and played music for about forty 16 year old girls and three boys. I had em all dancing, and feeling free. That’s not an easy thing to do. It was partly because I’m full of love and I want to be there, but it was also because I asked for a lot of help, listened to what was suggested, dug through the records and listened carefully to what’s being said out there in the world, and then tied it all together with what I found that I loved, and what I knew was a fair sacrifice, and then threw in the simple minds at the end…
I went in thinking I was doing a favor for a friend and maybe in for another fucking growth experience. I came out feeling amazed, delighted, and devoted to music, people, love, life and dancing. The favor, it seems, was done for me… Thank you.
And thank you for listening. See you next week.
Here is the track listing for Sunday Soul: I got forty 16 year old girls (and three boys) dancing last night in the kensington hills (where were you?)
1. Get Lucky – Daughter
2. Free Flight – Acos Coolkas
3. Floatation – Prins Thomas Mix – The Grid
4. Cat-Paws – Cashmere
5. Money On My Mind (MK Remix) – Sam Smith
6. Rather Be – The Magician Remix – Clean Bandit
7. Who You Are – feat. Heidi Happy – Zwicker
8. Animal – Treasure Fingers Remix – Miike Snow
9. Pull Up The People – M.I.A.
10. Around The World – Daft Punk
11. You And Me – Disclosure
12. Bury Us Alive – Star Fucker
13. We Found Love – DJ Solovey Remix – Rihanna
14. High all the time to keep you off my mind – Tove Lo
15. Sunday Soul – Program ID
16. Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds
17. Sunday Soul – Program ID
Year 11 – Playlist 27|52
19 October 2014
Total Running Time: 01 Hour 15 Minutes
May the stars above you shimmer and shine, guiding your heart always, all of the time. May they guide you sweetly, all the way home. And may all your sundays have soul.