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Dilla

“Most of our geniuses leave early. They leave us their legacy. They leave us their music and the music lives on forever.”
-Amp Fiddler

A Tribe Called Quest
Common
The Roots
The Pharcyde
Erykah Badu
Busta Rhymes
De La Soul
Black Star
Janet Jackson
Hi-Tek
Ghostface Killa
Slum Village

This list represents some of the cornerstones of the second golden age of hip-hop. James Yancy was the conductor that helped ring in that second age. A period where beats and verses were dense, “bling” was merely a sample that you may grab from a Raymond Scott album to add track texture, and producers were starting to step out from behind their MPC’s and 808’s to become superstars in their own light.

Most people who worked with or consider James Yancy (J Dilla) a friend would describe him as quiet, not one to cast a wide shadow when in a room. But when his MPC 3000 was booted up (A MPC that is now in the Smithsonian btw!) and would crank out a beat in the basement of his mother’s house, it would do all the talking necessary, and you knew that you were working with one of the best.

Dilla’s legacy would begin in the neighborhood of Constant Gardens in Northeast Detroit. As a teen, Dilla teamed up with high school friends T3 and Baatin to form Slum Village, becoming the torch-bearer for Detroit underground hip-hop, creating music in the home of Funkadelic keyboardist and Constant Gardens resident Amp Fiddler.

Amp saw Dilla’s talent and while on tour with A Tribe Called Quest at Lollapalooza in 1994 he introduced Dilla to Q-Tip, a fellow beatmaker and the leader of ATCQ. Dilla handed Tip his tape of Slum Village beats and later that night Tip was floored. “I played it for Common, Questlove, Pharcyde….I was just tellin everybody you gotta hear it you gotta hear it you gotta hear it.”

And hear it they did! From 1995-2000, J Dilla would produce beats for ATCQ’s Beats, Rhymes and Life and The Love Movement, The Pharcydes’ Labcabincalifornia, Erykah Badu’s Mama Gun,
De La Soul’s Stakes Is High, Busta Rhymes’ The Coming, Common’s Like Water For Chocolate, The Root’s Things Fall Apart as well as releasing Fantastic Vol. 1 and 2 with Slum Village. He was a founding member of The Soulquarians, a collective that would usher in the 3rd golden age of hip-hop.

Dilla’s trademark sound— pulling samples from all areas of music from soul to jazz to world to abstract commercial jingles, not quantizing the beat in the MPC so that the drums are slightly off the beat and therefore more human— would make the rounds in the form of beat CD’s to MC’s and made Dilla the go-to producer in hip-hop. Even Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis reached out to Dilla (along with Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad) to produce a track for Janet Jackson, the biggest pop artist at that time.

As his star rose, Dilla’s health began to deteriorate. Never one to be the center of attention, Dilla didn’t tell many people that he was dealing with the autoimmune disease Lupus as well as Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare blood disease. In the summer of 2005 as his disease left him bedridden at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, he would produce his magnum opus, Donuts.

Created from boxes of 45’s his mom would bring up to his hospital room, the album would become his love letter to friends and fans. With thirty-one tracks (which was his age at his time of death), none exceeding 2 minutes, the music is cryptic and transcendental to what Dilla was feeling and thinking about what his legacy would be. “It is almost like listening to two producers, the person Dilla was and the person he would be if he had lived,” said friend and fellow beatmaker House Shoes.

The album was released on February 7th, 2006. Dilla would pass away three days later on February 10th.

What is left from his passing is a 10-year span of music that is still powerful and relevant, maybe more relevant than it was when it was created.

Dilla left the Ruff Draft for future producers, shining a light on feel over perfectionism, and keeps us digging for Donuts on the daily.

Nekos Barnes (blackcircle)
The Root, Mondays from 12-1pm

New Show: Reggae University

By Ahmid Sesay (Star)

Reggae University airs Wednesday nights at 9pm ct

What is Reggae? How does Reggae sound? This answer will vary depending on how many people you ask and the era in which they grew up. What is Reggae to me? Reggae is African music. Reggae is spiritual music. Reggae is educational music. How does Reggae sound? A baseline, rhythm guitar, and a one drop beat. It is African music because it resonates with Africans. I was born in Sierra Leone. The majority of my Reggae knowledge comes from being around my late father and my uncles. That is where my inspiration for music was born. The message in the music shows that we share a cultural bond and fight the same struggles universally. Reggae IS a culture.

I focus mostly on Roots Reggae. When I say “roots,” folks quickly associate that with “old school” reggae. Roots is just what most know to be the original style before Dancehall came in and took over. In my opinion, the two are not the same genre. Dancehall is to Reggae what Rap is to R&B. They come from the same people and culture, but they’re extremely different. I dislike the fact that when one is looking for Reggae, Dancehall is often first offered. That bothers me. If I’m hungry and tell you I want Curry, don’t give me jerk. Same culture, different food. Reggae is a style of music. It creates a melodic, yet relaxed vibration. Just because a man chats Patois on a song doesn’t make it Reggae.

That’s why I chose the name “Reggae University” for my show. I aim to teach people about Reggae from ALL eras. Being that I’ve never stepped foot in Jamaica but have a great knowledge of the music, I want to show the POWER of Reggae. Reggae music is a music full of activists. One would like to credit the Rastafarian faith, but it’s not just the Rastas. Jimmy Cliff, Culture, Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer, Peter, and of course Bob are just a few of the “activists” in Reggae. Most people know those names. I want to extend their knowledge to artists like Justin Hinds, The Maytones, and more. I also want to focus on educating people on the newer Roots Reggae artists like Romain Virgo, Lila Ike, Naomi Cowan, Protoje and more. Mi ave nuff fi teach unu (I have a lot to teach you all)!

The message in Reggae, especially in the earlier days, taught the Black race, wherever they may be in the world, to focus on and to cherish Africa. It is our home. It taught us the teachings of Marcus Garvey. It taught about peace and love. The beauty of Reggae is that you can never learn nor have enough. I have crates of records and boxes of cds and still feel like I need to double the amount of what I have. First you start with Bob Marley, then next it may be Gregory Isaacs, then Culture, then Morgan Heritage or Luciano. The music has a deep, rich history that I hope will be revered more as time progresses. So….when you’re chanced, come a mi school and sit dung inna de front row. Its a serious ting mi deh pon…..Reggae University.

Our Favorite Records of 2019

The year is nearing its end. At WXNA we commemorate this occassion by asking our volunteer DJ army a simple question: what is your favorite record of the year? Then they answer that question, and we present the results here. Just as the prophecy foretold!

So have a look and check out some of these amazing recommendations. It’s an excellent way to kick-start the new year (after all, music is forever).

Presented for you in no particular order…

Fontaines D.C., Dogrel
DJ Ed, Eighties Schmeighties
Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster, Take Heart, Take Care
Chad, Dustbin Days
Bill Callahan, Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest
DJ Trev, Our Golden Tones
North Mississippi Allstars, Up and Rolling
Hound Dog Hoover, Goin’ Down South
Stray Cats, 40
Jammin’ James Riley, Rockabilly ‘n’ Blues Radio Hour
Orville Peck, Pony
Erin Mock, Wishful Thinking
Jenny Lewis, On the Line
Dave Brown, The Black Ark
The New Pornographers, In The Morse Code of Brake Lights
DJ Hot Car, Hot Fudge Tuesdays
Hot Chip, A Bath Full of Ecstasy
Grigsby, Set Records To Stun
Gauche, A People’s History of Gauche
Anna Lundy, Untune the Sky
Ruth Garbus, Kleinmeister
DJ LT, Shout, Sister, Shout!
Young Guv, GUV I & II
Alexis, Free Association
The Highwomen, The Highwomen
Laurel Creech, All About Nashville
Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains
Brady Brock, Fidelity High
Ioanna Gika, Thalassa
DJ Travis T, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
popGeezer, The English Breakfast
Guided By Voices, Zeppelin Over China
Mello-D (aka Doyle Davis), Groovy Potential
The Chemical Brothers, No Geography
DJ Rodge, Delicious Elixir
Brittany Howard, Jaime
JMar, Transmission
Jazz Funk Soul, Life and Times
Chris Nochowicz, The Future of Jazz
The Raconteurs, Help Us Stranger
DJ Cajun Mitch, Sounds of the Bayou
Blood Incantation, Hidden History Of The Human Race
DJAK, No Remorse
Frank LoCrasto, Lost Dispatch
DJ rhatfink, Bedazzled Paradigm Jukebox
Elkhorn, Sun Cycle
Mike Mannix, Psych Out!
Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains
Mike Hester, Flying Lesson
Amyl and the Sniffers, Amyl and the Sniffers
Laura Powers, Needles+Pins
Aldous Harding, Designer
DJ Charlotte Rollerskates, The Maiden Voyager
Sharon Van Etten, Remind Me Tomorrow
DJ Juan, International Echo
Nicholas Payton, Relaxin’ with Nick
DJ Big Chief Chaz, Gilded Splinters
Quelle Chris, Guns
BadN8, Coolin’
Anderson .Paak, Ventura
Jason Piffier
Carl Perkins, Discovering Carl Perkins – Eastview, Tennessee 1952-53
Randy, Hipbilly Jamboree Pick
The Muffs, No Holiday
Randy, Randy’s Record Shop
Brittany Howard, Jaime
R Reid, Holistic Revolution
Lingua Ignota, Caligula
Adam Ebb
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Ghosteen
Michael Roark, Slings & Arrows
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Bandana
Blackcircle, The Root
Temporary High, Nick Piunti
Tommy Womack’s Happiness Hour
Icejjfish, The Gospel
DJ Jonni Downer, The Unlistenable Hour
The Raconteurs, Help Us Stranger
Heather Lose, Aging Hipster
Dry Cleaning, Boundary Road Snacks And Drinks / Sweet Princess
Jay Millar, Plural of Vinyl
Sunn O))), Life Metal/Pyroclasts
Josh Mock, Sad Songs for Happy People
Green Ribbons, Green Ribbons
DJ Lauren, Different Every Time
Darrin Bradbury, Talking Dogs and Atom Bombs
Double-Shot with Joe & Sue

Jenny Lewis, On The Line
DJ Nexus, Musical Mysticism
Juleah, Desert Skies
Michael, The Scatter Shot
Gene Clark, No Other
Ashley, Set Records to Stun
Crumb, Jinx
DJ TJ, Static Wall
Steve Gunn, The Unseen In Between
DJ Susan, The Inconsiderate Mixtape
Kali Malone, The Sacrificial Code
popcorn brain, Dreambeat
Robyn Hitchcock/Andy Partridge, Planet England
Anne McCue, Songs On The Wire

A WXNA Holiday EP

Here at WXNA we would be remiss if we let the season pass by without suggesting a few seasonal tunes to play while baking cookies or wrapping packages or fretting about the future of democracy decorating the tree. But let’s be honest, there is no shortage of holiday playlists to be found around this-here internet. That’s why this year, we’re focusing on a holiday EP. Leave them wanting more, that’s what we always say. Also, life is chaotic. Who has time to compile the top 15,000 holiday songs of all time? Not us!

You can listen to this playlist on Spotify by clicking on these words.


“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

DJ Sue of Double Shot with Joe and Sue
This 1947 Frank Loesser-penned song was a favorite of my parents, when Mom was pregnant with me for New Year’s Eve that year. She played it every year for the holidays, and now, so do I. My parents loved music and would have been thrilled to know that I am part of WXNA.


“I Believe in Father Christmas” by Greg Lake

DJ Joe of Double Shot with Joe and Sue
When that came on MTV for the first time every year, I knew it was Christmas.


“River” by Joni Mitchell

DJ LT of Shout, Sister, Shout!
Not a real crate-diggin’ choice, but I can’t imagine a holiday season without this song in it, providing a respite from the expectations of joyfulness and jingling.


“Christmas At the Airport” by Nick Lowe

Rick Pecoraro, WXNA Contributor
A relatively new entry to the Christmas canon (2013), and one of the few songs that really get to the nut of holiday travel: that it can all fall into chaos at a moments notice. When I hear this song I’m usually reminded of Christmas 2005 when my flight from Newark to Omaha was cancelled. I ended up flying to Chicago and then in a hail mary attempt at forward progression rented the last available car and drove the remaining 8 hours to Nebraska. I hadn’t slept the night before, was exhausted and falling asleep behind the wheel. When I hit the Quad Cities I pulled off, and went into a Best Buy in an attempt to stay awake. I bought a copy of Pavement’s “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” and Gwen Steffani’s first solo record. Anyway, this Nick Lowe song takes me back to that Christmas. To its credit I look back fondly.


“I Wish I Had More” by Andrew Bryant

DJ Chad Pelton, Dustbin Days
Andrew Bryant (formerly of the band Water Liars, and now a solo artist) has released singles around the holidays for the past few years (my count is at 5 on Bandcamp). This one should appeal to those that love the sadder side of things around the holidays, or maybe I shouldn’t say sad, but honest. It’s a reminder of those folks dealing with tough relationships, which the holidays have a way of amplifying, and although it’s a fairly brutal tale of a family amidst breakup, I find it uplifting, sincere, and quite heartfelt.


“Patti Smith for Xmas” by Kyle Hamlett Uno

DJ Trev of Our Golden Tones


“Merry Christmas From The Family” by Robert Earl Keen

DJ Houndog Hoover of Goin’ Down South
Funny, and gets all the details right!

WXNA Gives Thanks

This Thanksgiving, WXNA has so much to be grateful for. Last week was our Fall Pledge Drive, and thanks to YOU, we exceeded our goal of $30k! Because of your generous support, we’re keeping the home fires burning and the tunes spinning into the colder months. Here’s what we’ll be playing over the airwaves and in our homes tomorrow to celebrate the season (you can also listen along via Spotify)!

DJ Picks:

It’s Halloween! An Introduction To The Surreal World of The Shaggs

It’s Halloween, and I know for a fact that I’m not the only WXNA DJ with The Shaggs’ 1969 Philosophy of the World album as their seasonal soundtrack. The band of sisters from Fremont, NH may not have looked as witchy as Stevie Nicks or sounded as ghoulish as Sunn O)))– but Helen, Betty, Dot, and (sometimes) Rachel Wiggin possessed something much deeper beneath the surface. And isn’t that, after all, the spookiest place imaginable?

The Wiggin sisters were managed by their father, Austin Wiggin, who organized their concerts in Fremont and depleted his savings on their studio sessions. It can be said that perhaps their cult following began with him, who may have bordered on obsessive in his attempt to make his daughters rock stars. Since Philosophy of the World was released in 1969, record collectors and music heads across the world have fulfilled his dream by becoming similarly obsessed with and possessed by this record and this band. The Shaggs’ sound demands a response in this way– you can’t listen to their angular, artless rock n’roll without feeling something. There’s a declarative kind of joy that emanates from their sing-song melodies. The obtuse jangle of it all is beautiful, like the broad strokes of a de stijl painting.

It’s time for games
It’s time for fun
Not for just one
But for everyone
The jack-o-lanterns are all lit up
All the dummies are made and stuffed
By just looking you will see
It’s this time of year again
It’s Halloween!

I’m not sure who made these dummies and what they’re stuffed with, but they sure sound terrifying! Even more terrifying to some might be the evidence of a recurring Shaggs theme– that something might be for everyone. In the title track of Philosophy of the World, they outline their worldview with a disarming simplicity:

Oh, the rich people want what the poor people’s got
And the poor people want what the rich people’s got
And the skinny people want what the fat people’s got
And the fat people want what the skinny people’s got
You can never please anybody in this world
It doesn’t matter what you do
It doesn’t matter what you say
There will always be
One who wants things the opposite way

In form and content, The Shaggs were champions of the everyday person– they didn’t have expensive equipment, glitzy outfits, or beautiful harmonies. They were sisters that sang about the universal struggle of obeying your parents, losing your cat, heartbreak, and God— but did so with an unnerving singularity. Sometimes they’d sing the melody, all at once, but each with different phrasing. What could be more witchy than that? These weren’t seances, perhaps, but spellbinding all the same in their dissonant, wide-eyed wonder.

Further reading/listening:

 

DJ LT
Shout, Sister, Shout!
Sundays 1-2 pm

 

WXNA at Southern Festival of Books!

Editor’s Note: We asked WXNA DJ Leslie to report back from this year’s Southern Festival of Books, and DJ Laura Powers  provided some photos and videos below of our WXNA stage featuring some of our favorite local artists as well as a tribute to beloved late songwriter, David Berman. Check it out, and join us next year!

This year’s Southern Festival of Books did not disappoint, as it kept it’s visitors bound together downtown at the plaza and library for three cheery days with live music, good food, prolific authors, and a ton of books, eliciting many meaningful discussions. Highlights for me included author Ottessa Moshfegh (My Year of Rest and Relaxation) and, of course,  Friday afternoon when WXNA hosted the Music Stage on Legislative Plaza.

Karina Daza kicked things off at the Music Stage on Friday afternoon with a mesmerizing set of Latin-influenced soul. Kyle Hamlett Uno followed with a set of beautifully poetic acoustic tunes, and WXNA’s own Anne McCue had us spellbound with her set of songs that blended the personal and the political. The day ended with a tribute to the dearly missed musician and poet David Berman that reminded us of the power that words and art have to create community.

– Leslie Hermsdorfer

Daniel Pujol reading the poem titled “Interregnum Strange” that he wrote for the David Berman tribute.

DJ Juanny Cash spinning records

Anne McCue Performs

Karina Daza

Kyle Hamlett

Southern Festival of Books

What DJs Are Reading: Southern Festival of Books Edition

Southern Festival of Books is just around the corner, and we’re excited that we’ll be a part again this year! In celebration, we’ve polled our DJs about what they’re reading. Look below for all kinds of recs, ranging from musical to comic!

DJ: popGeezer

Show: The English Breakfast

What I’m Reading: Any DC Comic from Tom King or Brian Michael Bendis.

Still in the middle of Lincoln In the Bardo by George Sanders.

Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns documentary accompanying “Country Music” tome is waiting to move into the rotation.

But Flannery O’Connor’s The Complete Stories always stands at the ready for quick consumption at any time.


DJ: Chad Pelton

Show: Dustbin Days

What I’m Reading:

Karl Ove Knausgaard- My Struggle Book 6

I am one of the many that got entangled in the minutiae of the daily life of Knausgaard, as he takes us through the sometimes cringeworthy growing pains of his life. And being one that likes to finish what I start, here I am lugging the 1200 page final tome of the series on my vacation with me. Good for the 8 hour flights. 

Val Wilmer- As Serious As Your Life (Black Music and Free Jazz Revolution, 1957-1977):

Not only a great photographer, Val Wilmer is also an engaging storyteller, and this book is a great read for someone who, like me, is diving headlong into the world of free jazz with very little knowledge on the subject. My radio show focuses in the folk/country world, so it is refreshing to switch gears and hear about the achievements of the likes of Milford Graves, Albert Aylor, John Coltrane, and Cecil Taylor. 

Jesse Graves & William Wright – Specter Mountain (poems):

Jesse is an old pal from Knoxville, and his latest volume of poetry is a team effort with fellow poet William Wright. Together they have created a book-length poetry collaboration rooted in the hills and valleys of the southeastern mountains. Praised by Robert Morgan, and weighing in at 67 pages, it is a delight to see what two differing voices combined together in a single, lengthy poetry cycle can evoke.


DJ: Michael Roark   

Show: Slings & Arrows

What I’m Reading: You Can Say You Knew Me When by K. M. Soehnlein

This is the third book that I’ve read by Soehnlein. It’s the second he wrote of three. Together they make a kind of trilogy (though written out of order). He’s a gay author who deals with awakening sexuality in the late 1970s in suburban New Jersey and onward. This novel is what happens at the start of the new century in San Francisco, when it blew up with dot-coms and mass gentrification. It delves into homophobic self-destruction, pot smoking, and deep dark closets being opened by the death of a father. It’s about inheritance, financial and genetic. And one of the reasons I may be enjoying it is that it provides a grand tour of a San Francisco—a San Francisco at a crossroads, one that I visited several times during that period in the late 1990s and early twenty-first century.


DJ: LT

Show: Shout, Sister, Shout!

What I’m Reading: How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell, who seamlessly weaves a tapestry of interdisciplinary ideas into a cohesive book that encourages us to resist the attention economy without hiding from it. Pauline Oliveros’ theory of Deep Listening is explored alongside Buber’s I and Thou, Thomas Merton’s writings, birdwatching + bioregionalism, and more. 


DJ: Laura Powers

Show: Needles+Pins

What I’m Reading: The Children by David Halberstam

The Children is former Tennessean reporter David Halberstam’s account of the Nashville Student Movement in the late 50s and early 60s. The Nashville Student Movement was responsible for ending racial segregation at downtown lunch counters and led the famous Freedom Riders who challenged segregation on public buses in the Deep South. At a time when Nashville is changing so much I feel it’s important to know our history. And it’s inspiring to read about young people who saw wrongs that needed to be made right and were brave enough to make it happen.


DJ: Trevor

Show: Our Golden Tones

What I’m Reading: Nate Chinen’s Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century. Many wild and wonderful worlds are illuminated in this. It’s excitingly relevant. I’ve been hooked on its analysis of the various ways “traditional” and “free” jazz communities and practitioners have splintered in certain contexts, but also worked together in others. It’s as interesting of a cultural study as a musical one. It’s also like if Jacques Ranciere’s Aisthesis was a history of jazz. Wowee!!


DJ: DJ Karl

Show: Dizzy Spell

What I’m Reading: Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons by J R L Carter – A fascinating exploration of the life and fiery death of Thelemic magician and rocket scientist Marvel “Jack” Parsons.


DJ: Anne McCue

Show: Songs On The Wire

What I’m Reading: If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino. I’m re-reading this wonderful book after many years. Calvino has a limitless imagination and comes up with many ‘novels’ within this post-modern creation/novel. It is a love story for and about readers and reading.


DJ: Alexis Stevens

Show: Free Association

What I’m Reading: Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh. I loved My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Moshfegh, so I wanted to go back and read her earlier work. Her books are great for anyone going through Fleabag withdrawals. And she’s coming to the Southern Festival of Books! 


DJ: Sirena 

Show: Music for Grownups

What I’m Reading: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Besser van der Kolk, M.D. This book outlines mind-body therapeutic practices being integrated into bio-medicine which I believe to be a promising approach to healthcare. Before that I read, Hearthmath Solutions by Doc Childre and Howard Martin. Both books support current research in neurofeedback methods to promote self-regulation as a means to address dis-ease. I just bought my book club selection for this month, Eva Luna: A Novel by Isabel Allende . I look forward to transitioning to some well written fiction!


DJ:Adam Ebb 

Show: Body to Body

What I’m Reading: Soft Fruit In The Sun written by Oliver Zarandi. It’s a collection of short stories that explore doomed familial, romantic and sexual relationships through the lens of “body horror.” It’s a great debut thats funny, disgusting, and very relatable.


Photo Credit: Humanities Tennessee on Flickr

Top Four Randy Newman Albums (Excluding “Good Old Boys”)

Hi, I’m Josh Halper! I’m a guitarist born and raised here in Music City. I’m one of two hosts of WXNA’s “Hot Fudge Tuesdays” which airs every Saturday, from 2 to 4 p.m. We are the self-proclaimed “Randy Boys” on the WXNA lineup, so as a statement of my love for Mr. Newman, I’ve decided to make a list of my favorite Randy albums.

4. “Darkmatter” – Randy’s 2017 album serves as a Cliff’s Notes for the types of work you might find when digging through the songwriter’s expansive career. Songs such as “The Great Debate”, “Putin”, and “It’s a Jungle Out There (V2)” represent the scathing critiques of both governmental and societal hypocrisy that we, as Randy fanatics, have come to anticipate with a nervous reluctance. These songs ride the line of hilarious and cringeworthy, satisfying the listener’s appetite by the third or fourth listen. The rest of the album contains delicious historical vignettes (“Brothers” & “Sonny Boy”), heart-wrenching narrative, and seemingly autobiographical poetry (“Lost Without You, “She Chose Me”, “On the Beach”, and “Wandering Boy”). This is with a solid collection of songs that any Randy lover can be beyond pleased with.

3. “Little Criminals” – In terms of production, this album is a launching point for Randy Newman’s middle era, when he sometimes used distorted electric guitars and synthesizers instead of strings. Bringing in the Eagles as his backing band bridged the gap between crooner Randy and rocker Randy, giving his discography a nice dip into rock’s evil depths. The songwriting is just as whimsical as before, but something about the way the pieces are tracked makes them feel less silly and fun, even though the subject matter is relatively consistent with the rest of his work. His high energy songs see these changes, but the ballads remain pure and simple, creating a wonderful balance.

2. “Sail Away” – I consider this album to be the sister to “Good Old Boys”, which is a crowd favorite. A solid chunk of the cuts (“Sail Away”, “He Gives Us All His Love”, “Old Man”, “Dayton Ohio”, and “Burn On”) feel like they would fit right in with the following release. The string motion is in the same style, the instrumentation is almost identical, and the subject matter is just as romantic and somber. Thematically, the lyrics are geographically broader, outlining both critique and praise of the U.S. and the world, rather than focusing just on the South. Though this makes for an interesting trip around the globe, “Good Old Boys” reigns supreme in my ears. Something about a concept album…

1. “Randy Newman/Live” – This is my favorite Randy Newman Record (yes, over “Good Old Boys”). The record, which was originally released as a treat for Reprise’s fan club, feels like the most intimate and spontaneous thing ever put on tape. The image of Mr. Newman performing in a tiny club by himself, taking requests from and joking with the audience, makes it the most charming album of all. Songs like “Tickle Me”, “Mama Told Me Not to Come”, and “Lover’s Prayer” that are totally absurd (and almost creepy) become as cute as a shaved lamb in the solo setting. The solo performances of some of his heavier songs (“I’ll Be Home”, “So Long Dad”, and ”Living Without You”) are undeniably brutal. You can hear the audience’s awestruck silence as Newman spills his guts in song after song. This romance is immediately tossed aside when he jumps gracefully from “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” into “Lover’s Prayer” proving that he is an incomparable writer and performer who both recognizes the weight of his work and does not take himself too seriously. This is a combination that I have yet to see elsewhere.

Josh Halper(DJ Sweetbaby)
Hot Fudge Tuesdays
Sundays 2-4 pm

Around Town With Khalila, the WXNA Intern: Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore

This is another installment of our blog-series: Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern. You can read parts one and two here and here.

In this week’s post, Khalila explores the Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore.


When Brother Yusef Harris opened Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore in 1986, he wanted to create a space where African Americans could develop positive healing, positive feelings, and connection to their own history and culture. Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore is not just for people of color, but anyone who searches for a safe space for healing from racism and gentrification.

The store is located on Jefferson Street, long a center of Black life and culture in Nashville. When you visit, you’ll likely be greeted by Executive Manager Deborah M. Stewart. As you walk through the store, you’ll find shelves full of children’s books with Black characters, giving children the ability to relate to characters and see themselves in these stories. Books on African American history, protest, and prophetic scholars fill the walls. Along with books, Akelbu-Lan Images offers beauty products meant specifically for black people, incense, healing soaps, and more.

To me, this is the most important bookshop in Nashville. It has stood strong amidst the changes in Nashville, and provides healing, knowledge, and a safe space for Black people. While talking to Deborah Stewart, she told me that people come to the store to heal, to talk, to vent, to cry, and to just be in a space that is meant for them. That is so powerful, and I can say truthfully that there is no other bookstore in Nashville that is so focused on Blackness.

Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore is located at 2721 Jefferson Street in Nashville.

 

Khalila Early-Zald
WXNA Intern

Photos by Khalila
Header image by caligula1995 on Flickr