There’s so much crap I could talk about. Beyonce and Jay-Z are officially married, Kanye’s tour is getting rave reviews, Stone Temple Pilots may be recording an album soon, Weezer’s new album cover is indescribably gay, Winehouse is a hot mess…yada, yada, yada. But since I don’t really have anything to focus on, and there’s not a whole lot of really *musical* musical news going on right now, I figured I’d freestyle a little bit and back off a little from the typical topics, so…
1) Please check out popdose.com. That site features contributions from some of the geekiest music geeks I’ve ever laid eyes on, and that’s said with lots of affection. I don’t always agree with what they say (and they share the typical suburban white attitude to a lot of R&B and hip-hop that gets under my skin from time to time…sidenote: why is it that if you’re black and you point out a trait that seems to be common to another ethnicity, you’re seen as a militant?), but they love their Eighties, they love their Michael McDonald, and they’re all very good writers. It is, hands down, my favorite music-related website around. Bookmark it, but make sure you read here first 🙂
2) Because I’m a music geek like the Popdose guys, I’m starting to compile a list of the 500 Greatest Albums Made Since My Birth (for the record, I was born sometime in late spring 1976). There’ll be no Beatles, and the best of Motown will get left off, but I actually think I’m gonna go waay over 500 and then will require some paring down. Stay tuned. I’ll probably post it here when I’m done.
3) I was a little bored (intentionally, I needed some chill time) last night and found myself wandering around YouTube, when I came upon a video clip that moved me so much I had to share it with you.
Most of you do not know who Phyllis Hyman was. She actually never charted a single on the Billboard Top 100 singles chart (this was back in the days when R&B artists had to cross over in order to chart pop), although she scored something like 17 Top 40 R&B singles over the course of her career (hitting #1 with 1991’s “Don’t Wanna Change The World”. She was equally capable of singing jazzy torch songs as she was singing songs that subtly hinted at funk. She toured Broadway with the Duke Ellington tribute musical “Sophisticated Ladies”, and performed songs written by everyone from Barry Manilow to Hall of Famers and Philly Soul architects Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff. In the process of a nearly twenty-year career, she set the stage for mature R&B vocalists like Anita Baker and Sade.
This performance is from a show that dates somewhere between 1986-1987. She apparently had just lost a good friend, and the writer of this song, Linda Creed (who also wrote “Betcha By Golly Wow” and “The Greatest Love of All”) had also just passed away from cancer. The woman is sobbing throughout the entire performance of the song and yet still gives it her all. It is a touching performance, almost painful to watch. But listen and you will fall in love with the power of this woman’s voice. I’ve been talking to friends lately about vocalists’ ability to inhabit a song. It’s what separates mere singers from legends. It’s what separates an Ashanti from a Mary J. Blige, you know? Phyllis was not only a great singer, she was a master interpreter.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=pgT7AyPmjfM (here is the live performance)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=uucSuUiKvcg (here is the original studio version of the song)
http://terrencesays.blogspot.com/2006/11/saturday-morning-video-phyllis-hyman.html (a link to a 1992 performance on the Arsenio Hall show)
Phyllis apparently felt the pain of the lyrics she sang in a very acute fashion. Racked for years by addictions to food and alcohol, feeling like she never got her due as a performer and suffering from bipolar disorder, she committed suicide in 1995.
http://www.phyllishymanstory.com/ (a book on the singer’s life was recently published)
This, folks, is real music. Enjoy.