Okay, I don’t know if any of yall forgot about these women but I didn’t even know some of these women were a thing until a few months ago and got mad at my Mom for never mentioning them to me, but I realize as much as she knew about music she didn’t know everything and she also might not have known about these women. Of these women, Betty Davis is the one I knew the least about and is my personal favorite.
I just love this song so much. It says so much about my Mom’s life and how Black women are never expected to know or care about other forms of music outside of Pop and Spirituals. In the future, I’ll make a list of Black women in different genres of music that people rarely think about like Country and Punk. But I guess she was a part of the whole Afro-Futurist Funkadelic thing that happened in the 70s, which is kinda sad, because we only ever hear about the guys who performed that time of music!
Big Mama Thornton
I have mentioned Big Momma on this blog before. I stumbled across this version of Hound Dog in a Tom Cruise movie years ago and wondered how it was I’d never heard this particular version of the song before. It turns out that the Elvis Presley version is nothing more than a cover song, and although I like Elvis okay, I feel he made a very washed-out version of this funky little song and I prefer this version. She has an incredible voice and I wish more people knew about her which is why I’m putting her on this list.
This is another song (and another performer) I’ve fallen in love with. Now I’ve actually heard this song before, I just didn’t know the woman who sang it. I only discovered the video for this song a few weeks ago, and I don’t remember how I stumbled across it. I tried to find women from different eras of music to show that this is an ongoing problem of forgetting the contributions of women (especially Black women) to American culture. I’m reasonably sure that most people don’t know about these women because I’m a person who makes a point of knowing things about things and I didn’t know about them!
Bernadette is the lead singer in one of my favorite girl groups from the 80s, Klymaxx. I was a huge fan of their music and didn’t know her name. It turns out that Bernadette not only wrote this song but produced and wrote a lot of songs from the 80s by some of our favorite performers like Teena Marie and madame X. I love this song and every time I hear it, it brings me to tears. Apparently, I’m not alone in that response as this song’s sentiments seem to resonate with a lot of people. It’s a romantic song but it speaks to anyone who misses anyone they love, I guess.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
This too is one of my favorite songs. My Mom definitely knew about this performer but for some reason never talked about her to me much. I stumbled across this video years ago and then promptly forgot that I did so! But I didn’t forget her name, just like I didn’t forget her voice.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915 – 1973) is often referred to as the “original soul sister” and “the mother of rock and roll” for too many good reasons to display at once. Among others, Tharpe was among the very first recording guitarists to incorporate heavy distortion on her tracks.
For some reason, there is a long history of Black women guitar players that has been lost to time, and well, we know why. For the same reason that there’s a long list of white female painters whose names no one ever mentions. As in all things, women do extraordinary things, but it’s only men who get all the attention, and then only very specific ones. I hope I can do my part to fix this with one tiny list at a time. Some of these I’ve heard of and some I’ve only encountered for the first time very recently.
One of the great things about October is listening to some of my favorite songs that come from Horror movies. So let’s catch some of these needle drops from Horror movies, which are perfectly okay for listening to all year long.
These first two songs I discovered on YouTube. They’re not from movies, but they are entirely appropriate for Halloween, so I thought I’d put these first. I don’t know what I was looking for at the time but I found these songs by The Merkins ridiculously funny. There’s an entire album’s worth of these, each one of the characters in the group also gets a solo song, and it just tickled me that all of them are sung completely straight like this. Incidentally, “to merc” is the new slang for murder so even the group name is a joke.
Dreamer’s Paradise – The Merkins
I’ll Kill You That Way– The Merkins
This one is one of my new favorites and it comes from one of the top Horror movies this year, Jordan Peele’s Nope – Exuma: The Obeah Man.
I am one of five people that probably even remember this song from the 2016 Ghostbusters: Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid) by Fall Out Boy/Missy Elliott.
No One Believes Me by Kid Cudi from the 2011 Fright Night. This is one of my favorite vampire songs. I absolutely love this video and how much I wish it were a movie.
Here is a song from another Jordan Peele joint (the man has impeccable taste in music), I Got Five On It, from the movie US. I’ve always thought this song was creepy but there were no Horror movies associated with it until Peel made it explicit.
Here is The Candyman from the 2021 version of Nia Dacosta’s Candyman.
From the 1990s version of Stephen King’s The Stand: Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. This was also used in John Carpenter’s Halloween.
This is a very popular song for movies but it was very well used in Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake When the Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash.
Here, using The Munster’s theme song as the foundation is Missy Elliot’s Get Your Freak On.
In case you have not had enough Jordan Peele, here is Childish Gambino’s Redbone, from the movie Get Out!
This is from one of my all-time favorite vampire movies, Joel Schumaker’s 1987 The Lost Boys, the song Cry Little Sister.
The Addams Family movies had some good songs attached to them. Here is the theme song from the first movie performed by MC Hammer, Addams Family Groove.
And for those of you who haven’t seen it in a while, A Bonus Video:
I have to admit I had forgotten the existence of these songs until I stumbled across a video on Youtube chronicling a list of One Hit Wonders of the 80s, (there are soooo many of these.) I can’t even say I like most of these, in which case it’s okay I forgot them, but I am sad to think I didn’t remember the ones I remember liking, though. On the other hand, once I was again reminded of their existence I was able to remember most of the lyrics or at least the refrains of these songs, which means nothing more than that I have a brain that likes to hold on to useless flotsam from over thirty years ago. And no, I don’t know why my brain considers these things important enough to recall.
There were a lot more than these few songs. I just snipped out ten of the ones I most easily remembered, but there were at least a hundred on the list. You will understand why some of these were forgotten, not just by me but by people in general.
Obsession – Animotion
Iiii…I hated this song when it was released, and quite frankly, I’m not liking it too much right now.
What I Am – Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians
I remember the video for this song and how the lead singer looked like she was doing the peepee dance, and how there were several parodies of that and this song. There’s something about this song that is just very mockable. I still think Edie was high when she wrote it, sang it, and danced in the video. I don’t hate this song, but like quite a number of songs from the 80s, I don’t like remembering it.
I Just Died In Your Arms – Cutting Crew
There were a lot of one-hit songs in the 80s that were just, for lack of a better word, depressing. I thought this was one of the least depressing which isn’t saying much really. For some reason, there was something about 80s music that inspired singers to make cheezy hand gestures.
Break My Stride – Matthew Wilder
I remember this as one of those songs that I used to sing to myself whenever I was feeling coffee’d up. It’s the perfect song for when you have a little extra energy but are not doing anything in particular with it except striding from one room to another or puttering around on your front lawn. It’s one of those “I don’t sing this when I’m in the house” type of songs.
Mexican Radio – Wall of Voodoo
Something about this song just thoroughly tickled me when I was fourteen. I think it’s just the emphatic and somewhat aggressive manner with which the lead singer asserts that he is “onna Mexican radio”. I remember I would walk around the house singing this song, and while my Mom never told me to shut up, I could tell she was thinking, “What is wrong with that child?”
Voices Carry – Til Tuesday
This is yet another one of those hot on-the-charts, but depressing songs of the 80s. I never could figure out its meaning, but then that too was part of 80s music, in which people would actually get up on a stage and sing lyrics that sounded great, but made no sense. Do not watch this video if you don’t want to be infuriated by a total douche!
We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off – Jermaine Stewart
Yeah, that’s a good idea.
I actually like this song though. I loaded it to my phone recently.
The Rain – Oran “Juice” Jones
This song is everything that was wrong with 80s R&B, or Adult Contemporary, I guess. Synthetic instruments of unknown origin in the background, middle-of-the-road beats, and middle-of-the-road rhythm. This song is deeply mediocre. Trust me, you will instantly forget it right after watching this video, so go ahead.
19 – Paul Hardcastle
This is another in a line of depressing Pop songs of the 80s. For some reason, some singers felt a need to put important world information in Club songs. Paul Hardcastle is not a singer. He is an instrumentalist whose done some good work. The lyrics of this song are now sadly out of date though.
Party All The Time – Eddie Murphy
Not too many people remember that Eddie Murphy had a couple of albums under his name. This was dropped when he was riding high off his movie career in the 80s. I don’t think he wants many people to remember this but it’s not a bad song. It does have the usual 80s synth problems but it’s at least listenable.
I have no idea why Youtube recommends certain types of videos to me. Sometimes it will recommend things to me from over ten years ago that are not based on anything I’ve been watching recently. I normally don’t search for music videos on Youtube, but I guess this was rec’d to me because of the music post I made before, with none of those videos having anything to do with this type of music, so there’s that…
Not that I don’t like this video. I just think it’s weird that it would recommend Indigenous Rock music, seemingly out of nowhere. I love the clothing (those coats are awesome!) and attitude though, although I’m not too impressed by the actual music. At least it’s upbeat. If this is your bag though, then go for it.
Okay, I was trying to find movies directed by George Plympton and I got nothing until several weeks later and this was Youtube’s answer. I liked this a lot (it’s deeply funny) but I wonder why it couldn’t have given me this video at the time I asked for it.
Plympton’s videos are always very silly and I enjoyed this one.
Just note, I think this video is incredibly funny, but I’m not sure why this was recommended to me at the time it was (a few weeks ago). Okay, I do search for animated shorts like this every year in October, but Halloween was months ago and I don’t recall asking for anything like this recently. There seems to be a significant lag time between what I ask for and what gets recommended. Or maybe the video simply didn’t exist back when I asked for something like it.
This one really resonated with me because there have been times when highly extroverted people latched onto me and determined that we were going to be friends regardless of what I wanted. Not that I didn’t appreciate their friendship but I do understand this lady’s predicament.
This is one of Denis Villeneuve’s weirdest films. I still don’t completely understand what’s going on here, but I enjoyed it, and it probably needs to be made into a movie. I do know why this was recommended to me though. It’s the interaction between requesting short horror films, watching all of the Bladerunner short films, and Villeneuve’s interviews.
I will unashamedly admit to watching cat videos, I generally enjoy most of them, and recently searched for some. So why Youtube decided to offer me tiny goat videos is a mystery. Not that these weren’t fun to watch (and now I want a dwarf goat). I don’t know how or why Youtube makes some choices, although I suspect a bunch of other people also watched cat videos and then searched for tiny goat videos and Youtube thought I might like some too.
For the record, I have never requested tiny goat videos.
Here are ten of my all-time favorite Halloween songs. I tried to list the songs that a lot of people don’t usually think of listening to during the Halloween season, but will definitely be heard, if you watch scary shows and movies.
One song that won’t be seen on this list is Michael Jackson’s Thriller, because that is sort of the official song of Halloween, and it’s a given that it would be everyone’s favorite at every party. No, this list is for the not quite so well known songs, or songs that aren’t frequently thought of as being for Halloween. Some of these songs are actually pretty scary, so probably aren’t suitable for parties, as it would immediately kill the mood, but there is at least one party style song on this list.
Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett
This is the classic Halloween novelty song, released in 1962. The first time I heard this song, I was just a kid, and naturally, I was immediately charmed by it, and this song has never lost the ability to make me sing along and smile.
This Is Halloween – The Nightmare Before Xmas – Danny Elfman
This was yet another charming little song that, when I first heard it, immediately made me laugh, and sing along. Every year, I never miss an opportunity to loudly sing this in my car. The visuals are actually scary, managing to capture all of those little childhood terrors that pop up in the middle of the night, except for the vampires, though.
They’re brothers, according to the game based on the film, and I thought they were some of the cutest, little, tiny-head, vampire-bat people I’ve ever seen in a movie, and I would love to have one of those as a doll!
*Sigh* I’ll probably have to make it myself.
The Exorcist – Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield
Now, I have told y’all the story of how my mother would not allow me to watch this movie, saying it was too much for me, but when I reached a certain age, (I think maybe 13 or 14), she allowed me to watch the adult supervised, edited for television, version. (My mom loved Horror movies, and I often watched them with her, but she didn’t just let me watch whatever I wanted willy-nilly. She was often present, and we almost always watched the edited for TV versions of some of the scariest ones.)
Well, anyway, even watching it with adult supervision was a mistake, because a couple of weeks after I saw it, the city experienced an earthquake. This happened after my bedtime, so the timing on this was simply incredible!!! I’m not gonna go into details, but you can imagine what happened after that, for yourselves. (Like the little girl in the movie, I crawled into Mom’s bed whenever I had a nightmare.)
All ofthis to say, I didnt think this was an actual song. I thought, like most of the music I heard in movies, that it was made up for the film. Imagine my surprise several years later, when I came across the Mike Oldfield album in the library, called Tubular Bells! I only stumbled across it because I was heavily into Electronic music, and listening to some of the early stuff, and the album was just in that section. Even without the film’s visuals, the music is deeply creepy, and guaranteed to kill any kind of partying mood.
Halloween – Main Title Theme – John Carpenter
You can play this at a party, and it probably wouldn’t even kill the mood, because Michael Myer’s theme song slaps! This is the iconic theme from the 1978 version of Halloween, which was also written by the film’s director, John Carpenter. I didn’t see this movie until I was nearly an adult, and I was not particularly impressed at the time, but I’ve since grown to like it a lot. Some things you can’t truly appreciate until you reach a certain level of maturity, perhaps.
Danse Macabre – Camille Saint-Saens
Its amazing to me the kinds of influences a teacher can have on a child. My greatest memories of this song come from my elementary school music teacher, Ms. Blaylock. I loved this teacher so much, and even though she passed many years ago, I love her still, and hope to meet her in any afterlife that exists.
I learned to read music from her, and when she formed an all girl band of tambourine players, I joined that, I learned to play the piano from her, and she even introduced me to The Bee Gees, but one of the most interesting things she taught me was that even devout Christian women like her could find scary things (including Halloween) fun.
Ms. Blaylock would play this song in class every year, and I always looked forward to the quiet times we spent in class just listening to the kinds of music that a bunch of inner city kids would otherwise have never been exposed to, outside of Looney Tunes. She had wide ranging tastes, and I credit her with having adopted at least some of that, as my own musical tastes are all over the place.
No One Believes Me – Kid Cudi – Fright Night 2017
I absolutely love this video. I would rather watch an entire series based on the premise of this song and video, than the mediocre movie it was made for. There’s this quiet suburban neighborhood being slowly taken over by vampires, and this guy is anguished about what he is, the things he’s done, and what’s happening to the world he used to live in, as he walks the streets at night. Movies about Black vampires are pretty rare, and I would love to see a film with vampires and people of color, in a suburban setting, and not done as a comedy.
This is very much a song for Halloween, but is also one of those party-killers I mentioned. Its hard to dance to this level of angst and depression.
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Grieg(Peer Gynt Suite No.1)(From the movie Needful Things)
I first heard this song in a Stephen King film called Needful Things. Here, the Town Selectman, named Buster, who has a beef with one of the officers in the Sheriff’s department, comes home to find derogatory notes placed all over his house, by Nettie, who was put up to it by the devil, disguised as an antiques store owner.
This is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite scenes in a Stephen King film, and makes the entire movie worth watching, even if you don’t like King’s films. Its fun, suspenseful, and there’s a great payoff, later in the film.
Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
I heard this song as a teenager, and from what I remember, it took some time for people to figure out that it was Michael Jackson singing the background vocals, and then everyone’s next question was, why? Who is Rockwell that he can get one of the most famous men in America, who was nearly at the height of his career, to do the background vocals ( since Michael Jackson almost never featured on other people’s songs). It turns out that Rockwell was related to Michael by marriage, because his sister, also the daughter of Motown’s Berry Gordy, was married to Michael’s brother Jermaine.
The video for the song is mostly funny, but the lyrics themselves are pretty creepy, and are a precursor to some of Michael’s later paranoid themes about being so incredibly famous.
Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
The first time I heard this song I was a teenager. My first question was, wtf?!!! There’s a song about werewolves? I couldn’t believe that someone would write a song like this. This is one of my favorite, year round, Halloween ditties. I love the beat, and the lyrics, how even though its about werewolves, its not at all scary, because the visuals are deeply funny to me, and just the whole aesthetic is enough to immediately put me in great mood for the rest of the day.
I Got Five On It – Luniz
This song is not at all scary as far as the lyrics. Its your typical gangsta rap drama about drugs and moneymaking from the 90s. However, I have never liked this song because the beat always creeped me the hell out. This song gained its official Halloween status, thanks to Jordan Peele heavily featuring it in his last directorial role, US, and now, well I kinda like it. It suit the movie so well ,and it was really nice to know I wasn’t the only person who heard it, and thought it would sound great in a Horror movie.
Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
A song about death ought to be considered a Halloween song.
Welcome to My Nightmare – Alice Cooper
The first time I’d ever even heard of Alice Cooper, I was a very little kid, and he featured this song in an episode of The Muppets, and I distinctly remember thinking, that’s not a real singer. I thought he was a made up character for the show. It took several years for me to figure out that he was an actual Rock performer, with a career and everything, and this scary, monstery, stuff was his schtick!
Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus
I heard this song in the 1980s vampire movie, The Hunger, which I wasn’t supposed to be watching, I don’t think, and my thoughts at the time was, “Hey! I know who Bela Lugosi is!”, and “They got songs about vampires, now?!!!” I don’t want to say that I found the song charming…because I didn’t. Personally, I found the song terrifying, and to this day, I’m not entirely sure why.
Note: Tomorrow is Friday Oct. 22nd, which means that Dune will finally be released on HBOMax. I’ll have more to discuss next week, and the week after that I hope to have seen the movies, Antlers and Last Night in Soho.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite opening scenes. The opening scene of a film will often establish a plot, introduce the characters, setting, mood, or theme of the film. Outside of the trailer, its a movie’s first impression. I love all kinds of movies, so don’t be too surprised that there are no Horror movies on this list.
This opening scene from the second X-Men film is action packed, visually stunning, introduces the basic plot, and also a new character, and the rest of the movie isn’t a disappointment either.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
I wanted to put these two movies upfront. This is also an establishing scene of a new character, and just as visually stunning as the first movie on this list. It drops slightly behind it though, because without the theme or plot, its just a gorgeous opening action sequence. Also, the rest of this movie isn’t as good as this opening scene, and this isn’t one of my favorite characters, although this entire sequence says a lot about what type of person he is, is just loads of fun, and makes me wish I had this superpower.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
You would think that this would be a great opening scene for the rest of this movie’s characters, and themes, but no. This opening has almost nothing to do with the plot or themes of the film. Its simply an introduction to the setting we’ll be visiting for the next two hours, which is fine, because this is yet another visually arresting film, but I thought it was lacking in character development, which for me, is one of the more important aspects of getting into such a fantastical film. This opening is a favorite of mine, because I’m both a huge David Bowie fan, a movie extraterrestrial fan, and a Science Fiction fan, and I feel this song was perfectly chosen for this scene.
Here is yet another sequence that introduces the audience to a very specific setting. We know all we need to know about this world, from the opening, and what type of movie we’re dealing with: SciFi Noir. This is a dark world, full of gray characters, scuttling through this rainy, urban, corporate hellscape of auditory and visual noise, or flying through it in cars. This is America’s dystopic future.
It also introduces two important characters, and sets the plot in motion, as it’s the death of the interviewer in this scene, that requires that another Bladerunner be called in. Upon first seeing this movie, these things are all a mystery, but you later learn that all of the primary components of the rest of the plot are present, like the Voight-Kampff Test, the Bladerunner, the speed and power of the Replicant, and just why they’re banned from coming to Earth.
I love this opening. It introduces the three primary characters, the basic plot, and the theme: Regret. This is the autobiographical story of a mobster wannabee, his rise, and eventual decline. This is the scene just after the protagonist and his two friends kill an actual mobster, a Made Man named Billy Batts, and now need to hide the body. Contrast the protagonist’s final statement in this scene, with the look on his face. That is the face of a man who is wishing he were anywhere but where he is….
Sometimes I get a feeling about a movie just from watching the trailer, and I have almost never been wrong when i got that feeling. Even with movies that didn’t do particularly well at the Box Office, when they were released, if it was one where I got that feeling, it would eventually go on to become a Classic, or Iconic film. I had that feeling when I first saw the trailers for Alien, The Thing, and Bladerunner. And I had that feeling for this trailer, too. Not that I’ve never been wrong, but even at a very young age, I knew what movies I was gonna love!
I remember walking out of the theater, after watching this movie, and my brain had to take a few minutes to readjust to reality. I had the unsettling thought that the “real” world wasn’t real. And I guess, I’m not the only person who felt that way.
I chose this opening scene, not becasue it’s particularly special, or well done, (although it is), but because I’ve seen a number of scenes like this in other films, and I’ve always loved them. So, when a martial arts movie starts off with some watery ass kicking, its always loads of fun for me. Martial arts movies love to do these types of scenes, because it’s a very easy way to convince the audience that the fighting is real, and that those arms and legs are actually connecting with faces and bodies! Its also a great way to make the scene feel dramatic, and important to the rest of the movie, although really, this is just a scene from earlier in the film, showcasing the lead character’s skills.
Below, is another one of my favorite movies, and of course, the opening scene looks uncomfortably wet. Slow motion ballet fight scene? Check! Fight scene in a tavern? Check! Gruesome fight ending? Check!
This has to be, hands down, one of the most awesome car chase scenes in movie history. I love everything about it, from the introduction of the lead character, and getaway driver: Baby. To the music: Bellbottoms by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion! (which I used to listen to a long time ago.) To the cutely mediocre compact car with the great gas mileage: The red 2007 Subaru Impreza!
This entire scene just slaps!
And back down to Earth, with the Intermezzo from The Cavalleria rusticana, by Mascagni, and the opening theme from Martin Scorceses’ 1980 Raging Bull, which is now considered a modern Classic. I was just a kid when it was released, so I didn’t see this until I was an adult, long after I knew this theme from other movies. There’s not a lot going on here, but from this, you know its going to be a somber tragedy, about the rise and fall of a Boxing career. This is way down here at the bottom of my list, although most of these are not in any particular order, because its really upsetting for me to watch family dramas, and I generally hate them. But I liked this intro.
Hi! Why not mellow out to some of the nostalgic musical tones of yesteryear. This is the relaxing stuff I grew up listening to, because in our house, you listened to the music of whoever controlled the radio, and that was Mom, (until we were maybe about twelve.) No cares, right now. No worries. Just some music to chill out to….
I was initially going to call this “The New Shit”, but changed my mind, after I encountered a lot of new music that was protest related.
What’s happening today, is indeed a revolution, and every revolution has a soundtrack. In the sixties, the songs revolved around the war in Vietnam, and racial civil unrest. In hindsight, I should have expected this, as there can be no revolution, without Art!
There’s a lot of songs out there, that were written by white folksingers, during the Vietnam War, but plenty of Black musicians wrote stuff, too. I tried not to choose songs that readily come to mind when considering protest songs. I tried to choose the kind of songs that people might know, but probably don’t think of as revolutionary.
Here’s a list of revolution songs by Black artists, both past, and present, and maybe even the future. Some of y’all might not have come across these yet, as most of these will not see radio play, and and some of them won’t be offered on conventional streaming apps, either. On the other hand, many of them are available on YouTube, but you can’t research what you don’t now, right?
(Say it Loud) I’m Black and I’m Proud – James Brown
This song was groundbreaking for its time. I’ve found that there’s two different types of revolution songs, songs of grief, and songs of defiance. This is definitely the template for the latter type of song. It is defiantly and unabashedly Black.
Songs like these are important, because they are declarations of worth. They remind people of why they’re fighting, and what they’re fighting for, and if its one thing a bully hates, it’s when their victim gets back on their feet, and declares their worth!
I’m Black and I’m proud is not any different from saying Black Power, or Black Lives Matter.
F*ck the Police – NWA
This song was incredibly shocking for its time. Not only did it get banned, but it sparked a wave of censorship against Rap music, which did nothing to actually stop Rappers from speaking truth to power, but it did spur music companies to begin focusing solely on Rap music that had no consciousness to it, and only talked about Black crime and partying.
If you’re wondering why conscious Rap music fell out of favor, then the censorship wars of the mid-eighties certainly played a role. White suburban parents did not want their children listening to songs about questioning and disrespecting authority, and so they did what White parents have always done,when it came to art they didn’t want their children exposed to, like Jazz, and Rock.
Declare it immoral, and use that as an excuse to ban it!
Redemption Song- Stevie Wonder
Here, Stevie does a cover of the song originally written by Bob Marley. Its not that I don’t like the Marley version, but I’m a huge Stevie Wonder fan, this version has always been my favorite, and I’ve always loved when Stevie got political.
Or you could try:
You Haven’t Done Nothing
Blowin’ in the Wind
Heaven Help Us All
Fight The Power – Public Enemy
I thought about featuring the official song video for this selection, but decided to go with the opening credits for Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, which is what launched this song into everyone’s consciousness. This was a lot of mainstream white people’s first introduction to political rap, like Public Enemy.
I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to Rap music when I was growing up. I didn’t have favorites, or closely follow certain groups, although I certainly knew who PE was. I knew about who and what was hot, because it was the music that everyone around me listened to, so it was always in the background, while I explored other musical tastes.
I’m not going to say this type of music didn’t influence my thinking, because it most certainly did, but I didn’t realize how much so until I was older.
Talking About a Revolution- Tracy Chapman
I talked in my last post about my regard for tracy Chapman’s music. This is another of her many political songs, which still gives me chills many years after I first heard it. This song, along with the last song I listed, is from her first, self titled, album, which was released in 1988.
You can try:
Across the Line
If Not Now, When
Hell You Talm ‘Bout – Janelle Monae
This song was released a few years ago, to minor acclaim. Not many people paid a whole lot of attention to it, outside of the Black community, but this song gives me chills every single time I hear it. It is, in the end, a raucous litany of the dead.
This Is America – Childish Gambino
This song became a nine days wonder when it was released a few summers ago, and has not lost its effectiveness. People are still puzzling about the video’s many images and their meanings.
“The central message is about guns and violence in America and the fact that we deal with them and consume them as part of entertainment on one hand, and on the other hand, is a part of our national conversation,” Ramsey tells TIME. “You’re not supposed to feel as if this is the standard fare opulence of the music industry. It’s about a counter-narrative and it really leaves you with chills.”
Black Excellence – Buddy
I have no idea who Buddy is, but this is one of my new favorite videos, for its celebration of Black history, and I just love to watch good dancing!
Glory – Common/John Legend
This is one of my Mom’s favorites, but mostly because she’s a big John Legend fan. This song is from the movie, Selma, by the Black female director, Ava Duvernay. I have not been able to bring myself to watch the film. I probably never will. I’ve had my complete fill of movies of Black people overcoming trauma, whose stories I already know, anyway.
The other day, my mom said something very intersting to me. She said, about the current protesters, “At least they’re not singing We Shall Overcome. I’m sick of that song.” Remember, my mother grew up doing the civil unrest of the fifties and sixties, and was a member of the local chapter of the Black Panthers, just before I was born.
I get the distinct impression that the white people who are talking about today’s issues the loudest, are 1). the kind of people who have never protested for anytihng in their lives, and have 2). not lived with this nearly their entire life.
My mother is seventy years old. She’s been actively fighting to uplift Black people since she was a teenager! She is not unhappy to see young people picking up where she left off, after her unofficial retirement.
The other day we were talking about her mom, and how she passed just before Obama became the first Black president, and how she would have loved to have seen that. My mom said she was glad to have lived long enough to see that, and to see what’s happening today.
So yeah, all those white people bitching and whining about the current uprising, can sit down and shut the whole hell up. They’re nattering ignorantly at a people for whom fighting for their rights is a generational lifetime profession!
I Just Wanna Live – Keedron Bryant
This is one of my favorite current protest songs. Its also one of the saddest because Keedron is only twelve years old.
There is almost no discussion about the levels of trauma our children are going through, and not just police brutality, but the presidents behavior, and their constant exposure to the ignorance of online agitators, who are always quick to insist how little their lives matter.
Our kids need to see this. They need to know this. Sadly, they’re the warriors of our future. They’re going to need to know how to fight this battle, and unfortunately, teach their kids because the battle to be treated as human beings is never going to be over.
Black Parade – Beyonce
I want to end on a high note though. On Juneteenth of this year, Beyonce dropped one of the Blackest songs of the year. This is a song of joy, and celebration, and well, there’s definitely some bragging involved.
And then, at the end of this song, she also dropped a list of Black owned businesses.
I love this song! I’m not the fighter/confrontational type. That doesn’t mean I won’t beat your ass, though. It just means I won’t enjoy doing it, and will be embarrassed at my loss of composure, afterwards! I don’t do things the way my mother did them, but I contribute in the way that I can, in a way that works for me,which seems to be Beyonce’s manner of approach too, and that’s by celebrating, and uplifting, every opportunity Black people get to shine.
I’m no badass. But I can happily cheer on a badass.
I thought for quite awhile what header to put on this intro. I thought maybe I should put some facts and figures about the women in these little song blurbs, but I finally decided, to hell with it, Im just gonna say why I love these songs, and why the music of these Black women have been an integral part of my life.
I hope you learn some new things, and most of all, ENJOY!
Big Mama Thornton
I did not hear this song until I was an adult and I heard it, in, of all places, a Tom Cruise movie. I wondered who the singer was, because I was diggin’ it, and I’d always liked the Elvis Presley version of the song. It turns out that Big Mama is the original singer of Hound Dog. Well, now she tore it up, and as far as I’m concerned, this is the only version worth listening to.
It turns out that Elvis appropriated a lot of Black music, so now I make a point of finding out if there was an original singer, if I like one of his songs..
I only sort of like this kind of soft jazzy music, when I’m in a very particular mood. Kinda sweet, and melancholy, and tired, but just a tiny bit happy, too, like I just spent a whole lot of money doing something I love all day, and I’m exhausted, happy I had the experience, but sad I’m now out of money. I heard this song in some movie as a child.
What movie, I don’t know.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
I came across this video on YouTube a few years ago. I’d known about Rosetta through my Mom, who is also a huge Blues fan. I find the incongruity of someone dressed like my grandma, in a church coat, riffing on an electric guitar, deeply funny.
Also, the song is hitt!
Koko is another one of my Mom’s favorite artists. I only like some of her music, but this song is one that stays on my playlist, and gets regular play. Most of the time I find her music to be like watching a soap opera. There’s a lot of romantic drama in it, that I don’t much care for, but this song is very cool.
When i was a little girl, I caught one of Jessye’s performances on TV, in what I have no idea, and decided I was going to become an opera singer. I loved to sing, I sang in school, at home, around the house, in the yard, and I wasn’t bad, but I found another madlove (drawing and painting), and eventually gave up on the idea of becoming an opera singer, when my voice changed, after I hit puberty.
I don’t know when i first heard this song. I was a child, so it must have been on the radio. A lot of people probably don’t get that, back in the day, kids just listened to whatever their parents listened to, (because the Walkman, Spotify, or MP3 players, and such didn’t exist), and then, as they got older, they branched off into their own musical tastes. So I ended up with a thorough grounding in Classic R&B, and Blues,before moving on to Rock and Techno!
Also, I’m a sucker for blatantly romantic songs like this.
The Staple Singers
The Staple Singers, headed by the great Mavis Staples, is one of my all-time favorite singing groups. I’ve loved this song sine I was a kid, but my favorite movie moment, for this particular song, was from the movie, Children of a Lesser God.
Before Mariah Carey, there was Minnie Riperton. I feel like there’s not a lot of people who know about her, but this is probably one of her most famous songs, because of those incredible high notes she keeps hitting out ofhte park throughout the whole song. Trust me, everyone tried to hit those notes when we were young girls. It is absolutely impossible for me to hit them now.
Deniece Williams was really hot in the 80s. She had a bunch of songs, but like I said, I’m a sucker for a treacly romantic song, especially when its sung with such a beautiful voice. This song is one of my big favorites, and great for singing in the shower. Still ain’t hitting them high notes though!
Here’s another deeply romantic song, from someone I discovered in the early nineties. The first song I ever heard by her was called Fast Car, which is arguably one of her most famous. After I heard it, though, I bought every one of Tracy’s albums, which were a heady mix of romantic, and socially conscious songs, that appealed to my twenty-something self.
If you have never heard of her, you need to get in on this. She sang all of her songs with this same amount of passion, and yes, she’s singing to a woman!
Okay, I have a confession to make. I chose this song for this list, because when I was a teenager, and this song came out, I sang it really, really loud, in the house, everyday, and just replaced her name with my own name, because our names are almost exactly alike!I have two younger brothers,and I’m not sure if they remember this phase of me telling them I’ve had it up to here, and that I was their queen! Hopefully not!
This is for those of you who, for some strange reason, do not know that Latifah was a rapper first, and an actress later, and she made the transition so effortlessly, that people barely noticed she did it. We just accepted her as a actress, without asking a single question!
The first song I heard from Monica was not The Boy is Mine, it was, Just One of Them Days. Yeah, I liked her right away, child that she was, but she grew into a phenomenal singer, who covered one of my favorite treacly romantic songs, Misty Blue, which was originally sung by Dorothy Moore.
Seventies Disco was born on Valentine’s Day 1970, when David Manusco opened The Loft in New York City, and it rapidly faded in 1980. When the Disco movement peaked in 1978-79, the demographic was predominantly white, heterosexual, urban and suburban middle class. But it didn’t begin that way. For the first eight years, Disco was an underground movement.
Significantly, the discos also offered a taste of freedom and self actualization for three other subcultures during the seventies: Gays, Hispanics and African Americans. After decades of marginalization for each of these minorities, they all found a supportive home in the discos.
The I want Song
When Howard Ashman came to Disney to work on The Little Mermaid, he brought his years of theatre experience with him, and he shared his expertise with the animators on the film. In an interview taken from one of his impromptu “lunchtime lectures,” Ashman described the theatrical idea of the “I Want” song:
…Early in the evening, the leading lady usually sits down on something and sings about what she wants in life — and the audience falls in love with her, and then roots for her to get it for the rest of the night.
The “I want Song” came out of musical theater, which has long been a safe haven for the LGBTQ community. Howard Ashman, along with his partner Alan Menken, wrote this particular theme song, and was the creator of many of Disney’s most well known and popular I Want songs. The I Want song is often an indicator of the primary character’s emotional goal for the rest of the film. its the “thing” they are in pursuit of, whether it be freedom, understanding, or adventure.
To many gay men, Garland is the mother of all icons. But why? While Garland was still alive, critics made ham-fisted attempts to answer this question. A 1969 review of her Palace Theatre show in Esquire Magazine reads: “Homosexuals tend to identify with suffering. They are a persecuted group and they understand suffering. And so does Garland.”
The lyrics of gay anthems are often marked by themes of perseverance, inner strength, acceptance, pride, and unity. Ten elements were identified by the editors of the 2002 book Queer, which they claim describe themes common to many gay anthems: “big voiced divas; themes of overcoming hardship in love; “you are not alone;” themes of throwing your cares away (to party);hard won self-esteem; unashamed sexuality; the search for acceptance; torch songs for the world-weary; the theme of love conquers all; and of making no apologies for who you are.”
According to Popular Music, a music journal, the song most commonly identified as a gay anthem is “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. The song is described as “a classic emblem of gay culture in the post-Stonewall and AIDS eras and arguably disco’s greatest anthem.”
The disco music fad was brief, but heady for the original members of the Village People. Victor Willis, David Hodo, Felipe Rose, Alex Briley, Randy Jones, and Glenn Hughes reeled when record sales slumped in the early 1980s. “It felt like we’d been group-loved by the world, then all of a sudden group-rejected,”
“It’s Raining Men” has often been perceived as gay anthem. A campaign in Facebook was launched on January 19, 2014 to get the song to UK number one in response to a UKIP councillor blaming recent UK floods and adverse weather on divine retribution for the British government’s introduction of gay marriage. The campaign was reported widely and The Weather Girls’ version reached number 21 on the first day of the chart week.
The song’s title comes from the nineteenth century quote “Go West, young man.” The term was originated by John Babsone Lane Soule in 1851 the Terra, Haute, Indiana Express as a rallying cry to head westwards, where gold and much else could be found.
In an interview with the Buddhist publication The Shambala Sun, lang (a devoted Buddhist) said, “‘Constant Craving’ is all about samsara.”
Samsara, as defined within Buddhism, is the continuous cycle of birth and death while one moves within the six realms of existence. Each realm can be either physical or psychological, marked by a specific type of suffering
“Come to My Window” finds Melissa Etheridge baring her soul to her lover, letting her know that she will go that she will go to great lengths just to be with her. Etheridge is imploring her to sneak in through the window (much more romantic than using the spare key) so she’ll be there when she gets home.
Believe – Cher
All of the songwriters and producers involved with this track were men, but they crafted the song so it would appeal to a female audience. The lyrics are about moving on with confidence after a failed relationship.
I’m feeling a bit of Pop Culture nostalgia this week, so here, have some of the vampire songs that are always on MY playlist!
I was on Tumblr, and I noticed a trend of people recommending vampire songs that 1. I didn’t recognize, and 2. Were all by white people and groups, as if PoC had never had any interest in vampires￼, and never made any songs about them. I really hate lists of music on there anyway. I have pretty wide ranging tastes, but these lists always seem to have the most obscure musical groups these people can find. Why these people can’t ever seem to listen to just regular songs, that maybe more than five people have heard, is a mystery! At any rate, there was one list I found, I listened to a couple of the songs and I think that person just has bad taste in music, because they were fairly bland. I mean if you’re gonna go through the trouble of making music about vampires, the least you can do is be EXTRA, like all the artists on this list.
But I’m often exasperated by the rather “twee” musical tastes of Tumblr patrons, who can be somewhat limited in their musical tastes, and helluva lot younger than me. Vampires are a global mythology, in that nearly every continent has one, so I’m also pretty sure other parts of the world have songs about them, but I’m Black, and American, so this is my focus. Maybe, at some point, I’ll do some research to find songs from other countries.
Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus ( The Hunger 1983)
This is the classic Gothic vampire song, used in countless movies, and shows, that feature vampires. The first time I heard it was in the 1988 movie, The Hunger, which starred Catherine Deneuve, and David Bowie, as modern day vampires. If you haven’t seen that movie than check it out, as it’s an interesting snapshot of a very specific musical period (Goth) in the early 80s. The music, fashion, cinematography, and acting are all artifacts of that particular time, and the movie was groundbreaking, in that it was a mainstream movie, that featured an openly lesbian relationship, as Deneuve’s character puts the moves on Susan Sarandon.
Remember, that in 1983, this movie was the coolest shit we’d ever seen, because American culture hadn’t yet been saturated with Gothic imagery. In fact, I blame this movie for it!
Love Song For A Vampire – Annie Lennox (Bram Stoker’s Dracula 1992)
This is one of my favorite songs, and I believe it was specifically written for the movie, in which it was featured during the end credits. I was a huge Annie Lennox fan in the 80s, otherwise I’d probably have never paid any attention to it. It helps that Annie Lennox always looked suitably vampiric since the beginning of her career, which had been going for ten years strong, by the time she made this song. It fits the film perfectly, in that it has this deep throbbing heartbeat sound, just underneath the listeners perception, the instrumentation, and singing is lushly romantic and overdone, just like the movie, and still gives me chills so many years later.
You really need to hear this with headphones to get the full effect.
Moon Over Bourbon Street – Sting (Interview With The Vampire 1994)
This song was also written in the late 80s by the newly solo lead of the British rock band, The Police. Sting wrote this after reading Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, so I was expecting this song to be in the movie that was made in the 90s, but no luck. It wasn’t in it. But this isn’t my favorite version of this song, I prefer the Wozniak Club version, which I liked to jam to in the car, on my way to work. Of course, this is exactly the type pf song that would be played in the vampire club!
Vampireshavemadeonlyinfrequentappearances in AfricanAmericanfolklore,and,similarly,AfricanAmericanshavebeenlargelyabsentfromvampiremoviesandnovelsthroughthetwentiethcentury.
When people recommend vampire songs, everyone seems to forget that Black artists make songs about vampires, too! I came across quite a few of them when researching this. This was the feature song for the Fright Night remake made a few years ago. The remake was not especially successful, and didn’t feature this song anywhere in it, which may account for why so few people know about it, but this video was, and remains, one of my absolute favorites.
After Dark – Tito and the Tarantulas (From Dusk Til Dawn 1996)
This is the song that plays when Satanica Pandemonium does her dance, for the two brothers, at the Titty Twister bar, featured in the movie. It’s not my favorite, but I like Tito and the Tarantulas other songs, and just want to recognize that Mexican people got vampire songs.
Seduction/Surrender – Grace Jones (Vamp 1987)
For some reason, all vampire movies must have a Club scene. We got vampires walking up in there, vampires owning clubs, dancing in clubs, hunting for a meal in the club, or all of the above. In 1987, Grace Jones owned, danced, and hunted, in the Club featured in this nearly forgotten movie. This song was specifically adapted for her strip scene.
The Hunger opens with a club scene, Interview with a Vampire has a club with actors, From Dusk til Dawn is set in a bar, Near Dark gets a bar scene, so do both Fright Nights, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, most TV shows feature clubs owned by vampires, and yes, the Blade movies have nearly famous club scenes!
Fatal – RZA (Blade 3)
As far as I’m concerned, despite the groundbreaking first film, it’s the second film, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, that’s the best of the Blade movies. This is Blade’s song, from the third, thoroughly awful, film. The song is every bit as badass as he is, and featured in the end credits, and it’s by the f*cking RZA, from Wu Tang! C’mon! How does anybody miss listing this song in any recommendations of vampire songs? On the other hand, the third film sucked, so that might have been the reason people simpy don’t remember that the RZA made a vampire song.
Cry Little Sister – Gerard McMahon (The Lost Boys 1987)
I’m putting this here because this is my favorite song from this movie. If you haven’t heard the soundtrack, it still holds up after some thirty years, and has a lot of great songs, including the title song.
System – Linkin Park (Queen of the Damned 2002)
This is the song from the movie, where Alaska walks up in the club, and literally sets the roof on fire.
Confusion Dance Theme Remix – New Order (Blade 1998)
This is the song from the film’s iconic opening scene, called the Blood Rave, where we’re introduced to the Blade character, and what he does for a living: killing vampires! This is very probably one of the most famous intros in vampire filmdom (is that a word?) The song itself doesn’t actually have anything to do with vampires, but every time I listen to it, this scene is what plays in my head.
Just putting this hear for today. Some of the greatest characters of color of hte past ten years. This is one of the reasons why I started this blog…
The Greatest – Bironic
The 100, 3%, The 6th World, Advantageous, After Earth, Agents of SHIELD, Almost Human, Altered Carbon, American Gods, American Horror Story (Coven, Freak Show, Roanoke), Annihilation, Ash vs. the Evil Dead, Black Lightning, Black Mirror, Black Panther, BrainDead, Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Chronicles of Riddick, Cleverman, The Cloverfield Paradox, Continuum, Crazyhead, Crossbones, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, Dark Matter, The Dark Tower, Death Note (2017), The Defenders, Defiance (TV), Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Dirty Computer “emotion picture,” Doctor Strange, Doctor Who, Emerald City, The Expanse, The Exorcist (TV), Extant, Falling Skies, Fear the Walking Dead, The Fits, The Flash, Game of Thrones, Get Out, Ghostbusters (2016), The Girl with all the Gifts, The Good Place, Gotham, Grimm, Humans, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Jessica Jones, Justice League, Killjoys, Krypton, Legends of Tomorrow, The Librarians, Life, Lucifer, Luke Cage, The Magicians, The Martian, The Originals, Orphan Black, Pacific Rim Uprising, People of Earth, Penny Dreadful, Power Rangers (2017), Powerless, Powers, Raising Dion (web), The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (2016), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Runaways, Sense8, Shadowhunters, The Shannara Chronicles, Siren, Sleepy Hollow, Snowpiercer, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Star Trek (2009), Star Trek: Beyond, Star Trek: Discovery, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Stranger Things, Suicide Squad, Supergirl, Supernatural, Thor: Ragnarok, Timeless, Travelers, True Blood, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Westworld (TV), A Wrinkle in Time, What We Do in the Shadows, Wonder Woman, The Worst Witch, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: First Class, Z for Zachariah, Z Nation
I’m always late to these things. Apparently, this was some hot thing that was happening this Summer, thanks to Blanco Brown’s hit song The Git up. He issued something called The Git Up Challenge, and well, it took off from there. This mostly appears to be a Western or Southern thing, as I haven’t heard anyone talking about it up here in the Northeast really. Its not just a teen thing either, because I’ve seen grown ass men and women taking this challenge which is fun, and wholesome, and sorely needed right now.
That’s another thing I found interesting about these videos. All the young people have a mixed bag of friends of all different races, and I found that encouraging. This is what’s called Generation Z, I guess. these kids are my nice’s age. She’s 14, now. These kids are the future, and I just love to see them having a carefree time, and making the kinds of memories they’ll look back on with a cringe and a grimace, when they’re my age. Also, are mismatched sneakers a thing, now? Not that I intend to engage, because some things should just be left for younger people to live, but I didn’t know that was a thing the younguns were doing, (although I knew about the mismatched socks thing from my niece. She never even considers wearing matching socks.)
I was also encouraged by all the different types of people who participated in the challenge, everyone from small kids to seniors. The song really does seem to be universally loved!
A lot of people decided to do a Line Dance version of the challenge, which is entirely in keeping with Black culture. Black people will Line Dance anywhere. We’ll probably Line Dance at the Apocalypse, and if you’ve never joined in The Electric Slide at a family reunion, then you have not been living right!
I was a little less enthused about all the cops who love this song, and I avoided a lot of their videos, but a couple of them were very enjoyable. Like this guy. The twerking just killed me. I was dead! I don’t actually think the song was calling for twerking , but each person interpreted the song their own way ,and brought their own thing to it, and he thought of twerking, so…
Also, I kept getting distracted by the thought that the police were supposed to be working not twerking.
This is one of my favorite ones. I just wanted to post this, because I’m feeling good this week, what with our coming impeachment of the president, and I thought I’d share some good feelings. These videos just made me smile, and they’re a fascinating glimpse into the everyday lives of average Americans.