Year: 2020
Original Format: mp3

The current plan is for this to be the next-to-last installment in this series; 13 is a good number, I think. It’s always been lucky for me, despite its bad reputation.

No big concept here, just a straightforward tribute to the power of music, one thing we always have to be thankful for. Here’s wishing a happy and healthy holiday, with the emphasis on healthy, to you and yours.

One note: This thing was assembled in a degenerate drug frenzy (meaning: I ate half a Space Gummy), and listening back to it I realized that for some perverse reason all the most difficult stuff is at the beginning (and the end, but that’s another story). If you can make it through the first 10 minutes, you’re gold.

OK, without further ado, smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em, and let’s do this thing.


And All Music Is John Malkovich/Kurt Vonnegut
To be honest the audiobook of Malkovich reading Breakfast of Champions was better in theory than in execution. But at least I got this out of it.

Aah, Music Vinny Roma
This is a homemade record from a compilation of those called Enjoy the Experience. And it sounds like it. But you can’t fault the sincerity.

In the Music The Roots
I revere Chuck D. I respect Jay-Z. Rakim is a titan. But for my money, Black Thought is the best rhymer ever to breathe air.

Solid Wall of Sound A Tribe Called Quest
That’s right, Tribe and Elton John. And this is not just a sample — Reg actually recorded new vocals and piano for this track from Tribe’s last album, the fantastically titled We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service.

Lost in Music The Fall
The Fall and Sister Sledge are another set of strange bedfellows. (And now I’m picturing Mark E. Smith in the sack with the Sledge sisters, and that’s weird.) To be honest I never really knew the original song, which was written and produced by Nile Rodgers, and so to me it’s a Fall song that Sister Sledge retroactively covered. (This is also weird.)

Saturday Night Style Mikey Dread
“Seminal radio DJ, artist, producer, and TV host Mikey Dread may be best-known in the U.S. for his work with old school punk heroes the Clash, but in his Jamaican and adopted British home, his legacy is seen as much more than that. Born in 1954, in Port Antonio, Jamaica, Michael Campbell came to national prominence in the ’70s with a weekly radio show on JBC (Jamaican Broadcasting Company). Taking the name Mikey Dread, the DJ’s four-hour spot, which he called Dread at the Controls, was a revelation.” —Jo-Ann Greene, Allmusic

Occapella Lee Dorsey
Allen Toussaint wrote this, as he did most of the great Lee Dorsey material. A ton of people have covered it, including at least one Beatle (Ringo, 1974). But Lee’s original is pretty untouchable.

Let the Music Play The Isley Brothers
This song is usually associated with that other set of brothers, the Doobies. (It’s also the name of a documentary about them.) But the Isleys’ version is way better, at least from where I’m standing.

Funky Music Luther Vandross
“Vandross had sung his “Funky Music (Is a Part of Me)” during the opening set of Bowie’s Philly Dogs tour, as part of ‘the Mike Garson Band’ (basically, Bowie’s touring band minus Bowie). Bowie had first heard Vandross’ song during the Sigma [Young Americans] sessions, as Vandross sometimes ran his fellow backing singers through it during studio downtime. When Bowie asked Vandross his permission to record ‘Funky Music,’ the latter was incredulous. ‘What do you mean, “let” you record it. I’m living in the Bronx in a building with an elevator that barely works and you’re asking me to “let” you record one of my songs.’ [Bowie] also worried he would seem ridiculous singing something called ‘Funky Music’ (‘He said he didn’t want to be so presumptuous as to say “funky music” since he was a rock artist,’ Vandross said in an early ’80s interview.) So he rewrote ‘Funky Music’ as ‘Fascination.’” —Chris O’Leary

Universal Rhythms (excerpt 1) Mandrill
A recent deep dive into the catalog of Mandrill — a fair-to-middling 70s soul-funk band with the occasional burst of genius — led me to finally learn where Beck got that sample he used on “Hotwax” back in 1996. (Also where Public Enemy copped the monster riff that powers “By the Time I Get to Arizona,” but that’s a subject for another time.)

Can You Hear the Music Rolling Stones
It’s funny, in one ear I hear this as the Stones at their pandering, minstrelly worst; in the other it comes across as a work of titanic, sincere beauty. In my head it resolves into a third thing that I don’t know how to describe. I like it though.

Let the Music Play G. Love
The guest voices on this are Ben Harper, who’s like an old pal, and Mark Broussard, who I’d never heard of before. Here are three facts about him:

  • Marc Broussard is the son of Ted Broussard, an acclaimed Louisiana Hall of Fame guitarist and former member of The Boogie Kings.
  • In 2001 Broussard was part of Y, a Christian band based out of New Iberia, Louisiana.
  • Broussard married his wife, Sonya, on The Rock Boat VII in January 2008.

When the Mode of the Music Changes The Fugs
Every year seems to bring some new piece of evidence that the Fugs were godlike geniuses who could do anything. I look forward to next year’s.

Up Above My Head Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Speaking of godlike geniuses…. Such is the power of Sister Rosetta’s steamroller of a voice and sanctified riffage, that for as long as this song lasts, I also believe there’s a heaven somewhere. (I only just learned three minutes ago that the other voice on this song is that of Marie Knight, who had a whole thing of her own going on… one more thing to learn about.)

The Music That We Make Morcheeba
A slower, spacier version of this song appeared on Morcheeba’s first album as “Moog Island.” The upbeat version fit better here, but “Moog Island” is a seriously righteous piece of music.

Universal Rhythms (excerpt 2) Mandrill

When the Music’s Over The Doors
If my 20-year-old self knew that I’d one day be ending a mix with a 10-minute-long Doors song, he would have been appalled and incredulous. Well, screw that guy, he could be a real jerk sometimes… though even now I find myself wondering if this sublime/ridiculous epic isn’t a bit much. But since it’s the end you can go ahead and press Stop anytime. (There are a couple sort of bonus tracks after… I’ll leave those for the real heads to discover.)

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