The Great American Songbook Countdown – #5: In a Sentimental Mood

John-Coltrane-Duke-Ellington[1]Note: I typically made small edits as I posts from my old blog to this platform. Usually, these tweaks are limited to spelling mistakes and additional footnotes. However, as I made edits to a series of posts about the Great American Songbook, I realized that I forgot to publish a post. So, here’s the final post in my top-10 countdown of my favorite GAS songs.

Duke Ellington originally recorded “In a Sentimental Mood” in 1935. Multiple artists have covered the track over the years: my favorite rendition is the 1962 version recorded by Ellington and John Coltrane1. This version shows shows a delicate and sensitive side to Trane’s brilliance. Duke Ellington is a master on the keys; this is a perfect pairing of two musical geniuses.

Shame on me: I didn’t hear this track until 1997’s Love Jones was released. For a self-professed jazz aficionado, that’s way too late.

In A Sentimental Mood

The Best Music You’ve Never Heard: Janelle Monáe’s BaBopByeYa

Note: This was originally posted in 2011, but I felt compelled to update this and publish as a new post. I LOVE this song, and I want everyone else to love it too. Simply put, this album (along with Quadron’s self-titled debut and the Internet’s Purple Naked Ladies Bonus EP)1 and renewed my hope in R&B.

Original Post (with small updates and new footnotes) – July 11, 2011:

janelle monaeI’ll admit it; I was late to the Janelle Monáe train. When she released “Tightrope” in early 2010, I was like “ehh”. Fortunately, the good people at Soulbounce got it right, and covered Monáe in their “End of 2010” posts. I checked out a few of her tunes, realized what I was missing, and headed straight to the iTunes store to get a copy of The ArchAndroid.

I remember being physically moved by the romanticism of “Say You Go”; the majestic nature “Suite II Overture”; the old school vibe of “Locked Inside“. My kids and I danced2 to “Tightrope” every weekend. Those songs had regular recurrences on my iPod playlists3. For some reason, I was lukewarm on “BaBopByeYa”. For some reason I just didn’t “get it”… it was just too complex for me.

“BaBopByeYa” is like the Moby Dick on [The ArchAndroid].
– Chuck Lightning (Producer, The ArchAndroid)

Well, I lucked on a video where Monáe and her production team explained the genesis and meaning of “BaBopByeYa”; it’s a beautiful and wonderfully magnificent song (the “Moby Dick” of The ArchAndroid). With this understanding, the song has new significance to me. The producers and song writers can do better justice than my words can; watch the video, then peep the track, my thoughts, and the lyrics after the bounce.

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Using Amazon Elastic Transcoder

Elastic TranscoderI’m a big fan of music and I manage my 50001 songs using iTunes. iTunes has it’s share of problems2, but overall it’s a pretty good media management application – especially if you’ve bought into the Apple ecosystem (which I have).

My problem is that most of my files are in the m4a format. That’s fine for my personal use, but it’s a problem when I want to share a file with someone else (who may not be part of the Apple ecosystem). iTunes allows you to convert a music file into mp3 format, but you have to remember to remove the duplicate file3. Again, this really isn’t a problem… but there’s got to be a better way to do batch conversions of files.

This became a bigger issue when I started re-publishing old posts to my blog. Many of those post have links to since-expired media files – which means I need to replace the links to valid files. I’m using the “WP Offload S3” plugin – which uploads my media to an S3 bucket. I’m also using the “zbPlayer” plugin to make my files available to play within the post. Problem is:zbPlayer only works with mp3 files4.

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Happy Birthday, 9th Wonder

IFWT_stitch5[1]In celebration of 9th Wonder’s birthday, here’s a quick listing of my favorite 9th Wonder productions.

Little Brother – “Whatever You Say”

9th Wonder broke into the business with the underground Hip-Hop group Little Brother (best MCs out of the Carolinas). His trademark was taking obscure soul samples and using them as the foundation for LB’s tracks. 9th’s beat were perfect for the musings of Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte. Their first two albums1 were classics, and many of the cuts from those LPs stay in heavy rotation on my iPhone: “Lovin’ It” (their breakout track), “Say It Again” (shows how witty LB’s lyrics can be), “The Becoming” (“I LOVE this Rufus sample).

My favorite cut is “Whatever You Say”. Great sample (Cleo Laine’s “I Believe You”) and a great story (the classic boy-meets-girl, girl-disses-boy).

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Yippee Ki Yay, Alan Rickman (R.I.P.)

Alan Rickman, known to my kiddos as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies, died today. His “Hans Gruber”, from Die Hard, has to be in the top 10 movie villain list of all time, right? I mean, who else was as charismatic?

My short list (totally made up on the fly): Heath Ledger’s Joker. Darth Vader. Denzel’s Alonzo Harris (from Training Day). Hans Gruber. Keyser Söze.

Rest in peace, Alan Rickman.

Hans Gruber falling