RIP Kate McGarrigle


She seemed so happy: she was going to put the situation out of her mind and drink up the world to her fullest. She travelled back and forth to Europe, she saw my and Martha’s shows, she went on a grand tour of the world, she swam in lakes in the country. She was a true individual, unique.
-[son] Rufus Wainwright

“Swimming Song”
[audio:09%20Swimming%20Song%201.mp3|titles=Swimming Song|artists=Kate & Anna McGarrigle]

Rare Aretha

Rare early footage of my favorite Aretha Franklin song, “One Step Ahead.” She must be about 20 years old here. The video is from before she signed with Atlantic Records, when she was still with Columbia, in the early ’60s.

Mos Def sampled “One Step Ahead” in 1999 for “Ms. Fat Booty” – a bit different feel, but also a great track.

mp3: Aretha Franklin – “One Step Ahead”

mp3: Mos Def – “Ms. Fat Booty”

Evolution of a Hook

When T.I.’s “What You Know” came out in 2006, the track dominated the charts. It was pretty much inescapable that entire summer – hailed as an instant classic for its swaggering Southern lyrical style and its infectious, anthemic synth melody. The song was a classic in more ways than one, however. Can you believe that hook has been powering hits since 1968?


T.I. – What You Know


The producers of “What You Know,” DJ Toomp and Wonder, definitely did some crate digging to find that melody. The hook first appeared in The Impressions’ “Gone Away,” written by Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, and LeRoy Hutson, and released on the album This is My Country.


Gone Away – The Impressions


My guess is that we have Donny Hathaway to thank for it, because In 1970, Hathaway used the same hook in his cover of Ray Charles’ “I Believe To My Soul,” recorded for his debut album Everything is Everything. And here it gets the deep horn sound and rhythm that we hear echoed in “What You Know.”


I Believe To My Soul – Donny Hathaway


But that wasn’t the end of the story. Donny Hathaway had befriended Roberta Flack while they were both students at Howard, which led to a series of legendary collaborations between the two before Hathaway’s tragic death in 1979. Early in their partnership, during the same period in which Hathaway recorded Everything is Everything, he also arranged Roberta Flack’s album Chapter Two. On that album, Flack covered the Impressions’ “Gone Away,” and when the song’s pace picks up about halfway through we hear the hook again.


Gone Away – Roberta Flack


Thirty-six years later, producers DJ Toomp and Wonder are shuffling through the stacks, listening to some old Roberta Flack…and a classic hook is reborn for a new era.

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This video contains short audio clips of “Gone Away” by Impressions, the Roberta Flack cover, and T.I.’s “What You Know.” However, no Donny Hathaway mention!

This Will Destroy You

Post-rock reviews are usually my brother’s territory, but I thought I would get into the act. I decided to check out This Will Destroy You because I thought their new album cover was hilarious, and I saw they were making t-shirts of it for people who pre-ordered the album. But then I started listening and actually liked their music! Fans of bands like Explosions in the Sky and other cinematic, meandering, instrumental rock may be into this. YMMV – I like it. But seriously…


I want that shirt.


Threads – This Will Destroy You

Bollywood blockbuster

Om Shanti Om 2.jpg

We finally saw the Bollywood mega-hit that came out during Diwali: Om Shanti Om. I have to say – the big Bollywood blockbusters go over with me much better than the Hollywood ones.

Here’s the first track from the Om Shanti Om soundtrack: