Feb 10 2008, 4:47

A new Last.fm friend recently asked me my favorite songs of all time. I can't compile a list that narrow, but it did get me to thinking about the music I've listened to over the years.

Like the first song I remember hearing: Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles. I was 3.

The first song I ever learned, my older brother taught me:

It's a me
It's a me Oh Lord
Standin' in the need of prayer

I grew up on Top 40 radio and remember first paying attention to rotation with Another Saturday Night by Sam Cooke. The concept of "crossover" music was years away for me.

One year my older sister came back from summer vacation with a stack of albums that I quickly appropriated. Artists like Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Friends of Distinction, Junior Walker & the All-Stars. She also had a coupla things I just couldn't get with: A mopped female vocal quartet called The Beatle Buddies and a female country singer. All I remember about her was a cover of Bobbie Gentry's "Ode To Billie Joe." And then there were the two albums that I eventually would wear out by the newly renamed Diana Ross & The Supremes: Reflections and Love Child -- which began my fascination with the group and its troubling lead singer. Especially the latter collection and specifically the title tune. It answered important questions in my life that I didn't know how to pose at the time. And it was the first time a song's lyrics ever resonated with me.

I started my own music collection (of 45 singles) with the 90-cent purchase of Laura Lee's Women's Love Rights.

I was in junior high school when I was exposed to "Black radio." In heavy rotation at the time were gems such as Master Of Eyes (The Deepness Of Your Eyes) by Aretha Franklin, Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight & The Pips, Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye.

The first album I ever bought was Rags To Rufus by Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan.

I was a college freshman studying in my dorm room. Normally I liked to study by the school (or one of the city) radio station's quiet-storm airings. This particular day one show ended and another began. No segue, no announcement -- just a sensual jazz guitar intro and even more sensual vocals: "You're so late getting home from the office./Did you miss your train?/Were you caught in the rain?" Nancy Wilson's Guess Who I Saw Today was my introduction to jazz. Years before, I'd seen Sarah Vaughan on a TV talk show. I didn't know who she was. The host made a big deal over the guest as did my mother. I wasn't impressed. Frankly, I thought she sounded like a man. It wasn't until college that I heard Key Largo and Gloomy Sunday and fell in love with that voice. My quote for years had been: Nancy Wilson turned me on to jazz, but Sarah Vaughan turned me out.

Later on during my college years -- while I was seriously feelin' Patti LaBelle, Patti Austin, Chaka Khan, Luther Vandross, Roberta Flack, Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight, The Emotions and, of course, Aretha Franklin -- a friend lent me an album cassette called You Know How To Love Me, beginning a lifelong love affair with Phyllis Hyman.

Sometime in the early '90s, I found that I'd begun liking fewer and fewer of the top Billboard titles until finally I recognized practically none. Ultimately I wound up a devotee of Grown Folks' music, largely smooth- jazz vocalists and instrumentalists. Some of the young'uns today consistently act like they got some musical sense: India.Arie, Chanté Moore, John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae, Melinda Doolittle. And Janet Jackson. And despite everything, can't leave out Whitney Houston. (May she rest.) But especially India.Arie.

At this point in my life, the music's gotta seriously come right or not at all.


  • llehcin

    Love your journal entry, TMoor. Music marks the timeline of my life also. Any song played during my lifetime I can go back in time and tell you what was going on. Its amazing how music enhances your mood; good, bad, indifferent and every mood in between. Music lives!

    Feb 23 2008, 19:43
  • Mirage106z28

    What a phenomenal idea for a journal entry! It sounds as though you incorporate music into your life the way I do. Each song/artist/musical genre is a direct line into a specific time in your life, and the music you love seems to reflect the mental/emotional state in which you find yourself. You have exquisite musical taste btw.

    Giu 14 2009, 23:33
  • swain1856

    I enjoyed your journal entry TMoor. I remember well the thrill of discovering new music as a teenager. I lost that wonderful sense of discovery for a while because since the 90s there has been very little new music played on the radio that appeals to me. But now I've discovered Lastfm, Pandora and iMixes on iTunes. So besides my love for Melinda Doolittle, I've recently discovered Leela James and John Legend. And it's been so much fun to find out that great music is still being made.

    Giu 29 2009, 2:35

    What a great trip. Very nice of you to share with all of us.

    Mar 16 2012, 1:30
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