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5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To with guests Michael Perry and Hanif Abderaquib

Cameron Wittig

5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To is a collection of our newest favorite songs. Every week we ask an artist that we love to tell us about the music they love.

Listen to the whole segment and all the songs below.

5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To with guests Michael Perry and Hanif Abderaquib


1. Michael Perry picks “I Cover the Waterfront” by John Lee Hooker feat. Van Morrison

Our guest today is Michael Perry. Michael Perry is a New York Times best-selling author for books such as “Population: 485,” “Jesus Cow” and most recently, “Montaigne in Barn Boots.” He’s also a pig farmer, a resident of Eau Claire, Wisconsin and the narrator of Eaux Claires Music Festival. Last week at Eaux Claires we got the chance to sit under a shady tree and have a little conversation.

Justin Barney: What is one song you can’t stop listening to?

Michael Perry: Well, when you’re the father of an 11-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old daughter, that question takes on different meaning, because sometimes the song you can’t stop listening to is one that you don’t necessarily like. It’s just playing all the time.

But to address the question more seriously, there’s a version of “I Cover the Waterfront” by John Lee Hooke, and I am pretty sure he is dueting with Van Morrison.

Just the lyrics, of course, but the feel of that song lately -- I think we’re all a little unnerved and on edge. There’s just something calming about it, about listening to the weathered old bluesman singing, and just knowing that there’s always trouble, there’s always been trouble, there always will be trouble and there’s also old blues singers covering the waterfront metaphorically and literally. So yeah, I’ve been listening to that one a lot lately.

Justin Barney:  Let’s do it.

  • "I Cover The Waterfront" was released in 1989 on the album, "Together"
  • Listen if you like: old blues music, Van Morrison, confort

2. “Mother” by Idles

Song two this week is “Mother” by Idles. I think that a lot of our enjoyment of music is beyond words. It’s this thing that’s buried inside that just rattles a feeling, and nobody rattles that feeling like Idles.

This British band is brutality. Being brutal is something that I don’t really look to toward music, I’m softer. But listening to Idles, it just feels good to unleash and be carnal and be brutal, and that is everything that this song is. So get into it. It is “Mother” by Idles.

  • "Mother was released in 2017 on Idles album, "Brutalism"
  • Listen if you like: angry British music, METZ, hardcore stuff


3. Hanif Abderaquib picks “WIFI LIT” by Future

My guest today is Hanif Abderaquib. Hanif is a poet and an author. Last year he released this book called “They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us.” It is a mixture of journalism and music writing that I absolutely fell in love with. It is such a fantastic book. I was so pleased when Michael Perry, narrator of Eaux Claires Music Festival, invited Hanif out to Eau Claire to be part of the increased presence of spoken word at Eaux Claires this year. That is where I got this interview.

Justin Barney: Hanif, what is one song you can’t stop listening to?

Hanif Abderaquib: Well I’m into -- Future put out "BEASTMODE 2" last night -- and I had a hard time getting past the first song, which is called “WIFI LIT” and a part of the reason I had a hard time getting past it was because my Wi-Fi was, in fact, not lit. I couldn’t stream -- I was in the woods out here-- so my stream was struggling to go past the first song. So because of that, I got really, like, emotionally invested in that song to the point where I didn’t even care what came after. You know what I mean?

Justin Barney: Yeah.

Hanif Abderaquib: And the whole mixtape is good, but, I’ve been playing that song on repeat since, like, 11 p.m. last night and I just love it. I love that it’s essentially an ode to airplane Wi-Fi. You know what I mean? The whole premise of the song is about how his future is in the sky and his Wi-Fi still works. And it’s like, who doesn’t want that? You know, someone who travels a lot and has to work on planes, I would love it if Wi-Fi worked efficiently, so good for Future. But I like it, I like it a lot. It’s my favorite song of the week so far.

  • Future's new album, "BEASTMODE II" is out now.
  • Listen if you like: trap, great adlibs, Migos

Cody Gaisser  - “Wish There Was A Way”

Every year, we have this event called Sound Bites at the Iron Horse Hotel. Restaurants all around town are paired up with DJs from here at 88.9. They pair a dish with a song. There is also an auction, which Bridget Flynn won and is our guest today for our 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To segment.

Justin Barney: Bridget, what is one song that you can’t stop listening to?

Bridget Flynn: I had to find something that, 1, I didn’t think you would know, 2 would…

Justin Barney: Not a prerequisite, but okay.

Bridget Flynn: I wanted it to be sort of a sad song, so my pick is Cody Gaisser, “Wish There Was A Way.”

Justin Barney: Okay, so I don’t know it. Good. We’re on the right track. Tell me more about it.

Bridget Flynn: So I met Cody probably 15 years ago, and he’s a singer/songwriter out of Florence, Alabama. It’s fun, but it’s a little sad.

Justin Barney: Do you remember hearing it for the first time?

Bridget Flynn: I do. He used to come in and do open-mic nights at the place I worked. The first time I met him, he was just this little 16 year-old guy. He pulled out a guitar and no one really thought anything of it, and he opened his mouth and I was like “Oh my God! My life is changed.” He’s got this crazy voice that I just love.

  • “Wish There Was A Way” was released in 2002 on Gaisser’s “Good As Velvet” EP.
  • Listen if you like: Kyle Craft, Van Morrison, gritty vocals and guitar
  • Get tickets to Sound Bites here.

4.“Make America Great Again” by Pussy Riot

Justin Barney: I’m here with your morning DJ, Dori Zori.

Dori Zori: Hello!

Justin Barney: Hello! Dori, What’s one song you can’t stop listening to?

Dori Zori: Justin, I am still reeling from all the special performances of Eaux Claires this weekend.

Justin Barney: Yes, yes, yes. We were both there.

Dori Zori: I know you are, too. And one of the bands I was most excited and curious to see was Russian band Pussy Riot.

Justin Barney: Yes.

Dori Zori: Most people might remember them when they were arrested in their home country for staging a feminist, anti-Putin punk performance inside a cathedral in Moscow. I mean, you gotta respect musicians singing about issues social, economic and political that matter to them throughout the world. And, who doesn’t love musicians like that? Like Marvin Gaye and Public Enemy, right?

Justin Barney: Absolutely. And just them performing was a big deal, you know? They are, like actively being pursued by the Russian government, and they are, you know, they are in hiding. They perform in ski masks, you know? It’s interesting.

Dori Zori: Right. I was hoping they would make it to the show and they definitely did. And, you know, while we got to hear their important messages sonically, I love what they did too. It’s a mix of, like, Cibo Matto meets Le Tigre with, like, some punk sensibilities and electroclash, which is really my happy place in music.

Justin Barney: Yeah.

Dori Zori: So, I am going to pick one of their songs, called “Make America Great Again.”

Justin Barney: And what is that about?

Dori Zori: I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. But overall, you know, it’s taking the popular phrase that’s been used a lot in the past couple years and talking about it from an inclusion standpoint, not an exclusion standpoint and that just makes my heart happy.

  • "Make America Great Again" was released in 2016 on Pussy Riot's "xxx" EP.
  • Listen if you like: political songs, a new take on the phrase, news

5. “Nzele Momi” by Jupiter and Okwess

Justin Barney: The final song this week is “Nzele Momi” by Jupiter and Okwess. So, in the summer, I just want to listen to world music. I attribute this largely to Marcus Doucette, because I have been listening to “Sound Travels” now for five years, every single day straight. And I don’t know much about this song. Jupiter and Okwess, I know that they’re from the Congo, but I don’t necessarily know too much about it, and luckily I have a wealth of knowledge here in the studio. So, Marcus.

Marcus Doucette: Hello, hello, by the way.

Justin Barney: Hey, Macus.

Marcus Doucette: And, you know, it’s really easy to look at this release because it’s Jupiter and Okwess, but actually it’s a shortening of his band. So, it’s Jupiter -- Bokondji I think is his last name -- and his band, Okwess International. Okwess is Lingala for “food,” and so this is like musical food for, probably your soul, your spirit.

Justin Barney: This is why I asked you to come in, Marcus. This is the knowledge that I was seeking.

So, “Nzele Momi,” it is a banger.

Marcus Doucette: Oh, for sure.

Justin Barney: It is such an awesome song and it is just like perfect for the summer -- super upbeat.

Marcus Doucette: Yes.

Justin Barney:  What am I hearing here? What are these sounds?

Marcus Doucette: Well the song -- so “nzele,” it comes from, it’s like a shortening of kind of a corruption of a French word, which means “mademoiselle.” But in local terminology, it ultimately means “pretty lady.” And so this song is, in some way, like about a pretty lady of some kind. I’m not entirely sure what the rest of the lyrics do, but I do know a whole lot about Jupiter and Okwess International, which is formerly how he referred to his band.

He’s an interesting dude. He’s the son of a diplomat and his mother is like a traditional shaman. He grew up in Germany and like, was really exposed to, like, rock and roll, and funk, and soul and all this stuff. And then he came back to the Congo, and then he started a band, he started getting big and then there was a civil war. A lot of people left. He stayed. He stuck around, and then as the Congo sort of slowly built back up, you know, you’ve got all these hallmarks of like, you know, bad government happening all around him. And instead of writing protest music, he tries to write really positive stuff, songs that really just kind of, like, get you out of like, that whole like, you know, thinking politically all the time sort of mentality.

Justin Barney: Yeah. This is a dancier, face-off song.

Marcus Doucette: Yeah, for sure. This is definitely to raise your spirits.

Justin Barney: So, what is the, like, the genres going on here?  What is typical -- what is like a typical genre of something from the Congo?

Marcus Doucette: So, before the Congo was like, sort of ripped apart by the civil war, like, Congolese rumba was, like, it’s a major sound on the continent.

Justin Barney: Rumba.

Marcus Doucette: Rumba. So, that’s where rumba came from. It would in turn go over to the New World and become a whole other thing when it combined with, you know, Spanish music and rumba in that sense. But you know, rumba from Africa is the rhythm of rumba, that makes the whole thing.

Anyway, so, you know, that’s a whole other conversation, but it is a  -- it is a combination of that, and I imagine, just like the mutation of all the stuff he encountered throughout his life. You know, he’s like regular people. It’s not like he just sits around and listens to rumba. He listens to, you know, all the greats, you know, and it filters through his music in a really interesting way and it just happens to sound really, really good.

  • Jupiter & Okwess's new album, "Kin Sonic" is out now.
  • Listen if you like: Sound Travels, rumba, world music