Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Wouldn't Like Me Either

Speaking of Karamo: a buddy who knows him had been trying to introduce me to him. “Oh he would love you,” my boy told me several times. “You’re a producer, you’re TypeA … plus you’re tall and workout. You’re exactly his type.”

I didn’t think I would be, and asked him not to try to play cupid. In retrospect, I’m so glad he didn’t. K disliked Dorian's taste in music, "too eighties." The kid definitely wouldn’t like the tunes on my iPod, either.

I have to confess: I am married to 70s and 80s soul. I have downloaded most of the Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes catalog. When vintage Stephanie Mills comes on KISS-FM—Sweet Sensation, Two Hearts, Home, the real stuff—I can sing along.

I remember the day Phyllis Hyman took her life. I had just started working in news, and that was one of the first stories I covered. It was a labor of love, transferring Betcha By Golly Wow from CD to Beta, to add nat sot to my spot.

As a teenager, I remember finding the twelve inch of Hit and Run on vinyl. Today, I’m lucky enough to carry that around on my ‘pod. Geez. Every time I hear the breakdown of that 11:06 version, I still get shivers. And know almost every word, just like it’s stamped on my brain. “I’ve got to be … number one. Better make up yo’ mind … ‘cause you’ll never find a love so divine … good almighty.”

There is a beauty to 70s/80s soul that will probably never be replicated again. The music had purpose, commitment, soul. The bass lines are so heavy you can feel them on your fingertips. The vocals are so powerful that you remember the crescendos, the pitch, and the cadence twenty years later. And the lyrics are poetry. What did say Stephanie say? “When I think of home, I think of a peaceful place, of birds and trees … People come up to me, and say, Stephanie, please sing our song.”

Actually, I’ll confess to a love affair with the entire Philly sound. It's a dense sound, far superior to Motown. The lyrics are more emotional, the percussion more soaring. Its not so ... catchy, or pop-oriented. Loleatta Holloway, Teddy Pendergrass, the Three Degrees, Gamble and Huff, TSOP, First Choice. I still live for that sound.

Is there any way you can hear the bassline from Love Thang or Let No Man Put Asunder and not feel like you’re in a hot, sweaty club, with hundreds of phine men dancing around you? Once last summer, I logged onto Spirit of House, and came across a bootleg version of The Player. Whoa: talk about taking me back. For weeks, I was blasting that at work, just falling in love every time with the intense bass and the heavy syncopation.

Not to say I never listen to anything new, not the case at all. I’m just more selective, and not a huge fan of much hip hop. Call me what you want, oldhead, circuity, house junkie, it matters not. I know what I like: I’m definitely feeling a lot of the neo-soul : Jill Scott, India.Arie, Angie Stone, Erykah Badu, Calvin Richardson, Jaheim.

Even more so, I appreciate some of the retrofunk. My all-time favorite must be the Brand New Heavies and N'dea Davenport. Right now, I’m sitting in my fave Starbucks on Broadway (not the one where I heard about the importance of having an exit strategy), and am rating all of the songs I’ve downloaded from the BNH catalog. And I’m carrying around most of it on my ‘pod and laptop. Extended remixes of Dream Come True? Instrumental versions of Midnight at the Oasis? Live sets of Spend Some Time? In all of their songs, the lyrics are so clever, and N’dea’s voice is haunting: Love will be here forever/I know that we’ll stay together/Our llve will be here forever/I hope that we’ll stay together” and Is it a dream come true?/About a love I once knew/Was it all … in my mind?/Or did I dream it all the time?”

No, I don’t think Karamo or the other femz, Timz and cornrow boys would appreciate my music. But that’s aiight. Somewhere along the way, I feel out of out love with trying to make myself into they like.