the social distancing playlist 31-40

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Thirty One. Herbie Hancock, “Hang Up You Hang Ups” (1975) Posted 4/14/2020 — The electric side of Herbie Hancock, in honor of his 80th birthday. This was cut in 1975, when Hancock’s innovations in funk and fusion were at their height. The only thing greater than the groove here is the title: “Hang Up Your Hang Ups.” Truly a mantra for our times.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Thirty Two. Procol Harum, “A Salty Dog” (1969) Posted 4/15/2020 — The downside of having your debut single become an iconic hit, as “A Whiter Shade of Pale” did for Procol Harum 1967, is it becomes the commercial standard the rest of your career is measured by. The Procols never matched that success, but still created some stirring music, like this orchestral title tune to 1969’s “A Salty Dog” album.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Thirty Three. World Party, “Ship of Fools” (1987) Posted 4/16/2020 — Though over three decades old, “Ship of Fools” is eerily representative of certain factions roaming among us today. But let’s look on the bright side and celebrate it as a full introduction to World Party’s Karl Wallinger, one of the ‘80s finest but most underappreciated song stylists.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Thirty Four. Bruce Springsteen, “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” (1973) Posted 4/17/2020 — Isolation or no isolation, it’s still Friday. Time to let the Boss loose. Here’s a bonafide Bruce Springsteen classic from his sophomore album, “The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle” to remind us, in these Covid days, of life’s true brilliance. “Rosalita” remains a defining statement of Springsteen’s potency as a performance force.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Thirty Five. Elvis Costello, “Someone Took the Words Away” (2003) Posted 4/18/2020 — We will post something more indicative of Elvis Costello’s familiar pop-centric sound later. For now, here is a quietly pensive tune from his album “North” chosen for the luscious Lee Konitz solo at the end. It represents a rare journey outside the jazz world for the saxophone giant, who died Wednesday from coronavirus complications.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Thirty Six. Emerson, Lake & Palmer, “Karn Evil 9 – First Impression, Part 2” (1973) Posted 4/19/2020 —  Five joyously blusterous minutes of pomp and circumstance, “the show that never ends,” courtesy of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery” album. Prog, especially the commercially popular kind, was never cool. I didn’t care. Loved this stuff as a kid. Still do. To me, this song was a carnival come to life. Hence the title.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Thirty Seven. Jethro Tull, “Inside” (1970) Posted 4/20/2020 — A snapshot from Jethro Tull’s trippiest, most transitional album, released 50 years ago today. “Aqualung” would make bring massive commercial visibility in 1971. But on “Benefit,” Ian Anderson and crew were still a lighter-textured psychedelic band, shedding its fuzzy folk and blues exterior in preparation for a pop/rock breakthrough.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Thirty Eight. Emmylou Harris, “Luxury Liner” (1977) Posted 4/21/2020 — Unlike now, when country radio plays bad rock music, the 1970s became an era where rock radio regularly opened up to great country songs. Hence the crossover breakthrough of Emmylou Harris’ “Luxury Liner” album and it’s extraordinary Gram Parsons-penned title tune, in early 1977.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Thirty Nine. Otis Redding, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” (1965) Posted 4/22/2020 — A mini soul symphony. Everything here sounds golden – the composition (which Redding wrote with fellow soul giant Jerry Butler), the playing and arrangement (with Booker T and the MGs at the core) and one of the great R&B vocal performances ever. For my money, this was Otis Redding’s finest recording.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Forty. Talking Heads, “Road to Nowhere” (1985) Posted 4/23/2020 — A post-touring career Talking Heads classic that speaks perhaps uncomfortably to the times. Still, the melody and march-like groove are so sunny that you almost overlook the doom factor. Almost. (“They can tell you what to do, but they’ll make a fool of you.”).

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