1. Sam Beam picks “Boogie On Reggae Woman” by Stevie Wonder
Every week, I have a guest on this show and the guest this week has been an idol of mine since ten years ago when I walked into the Exclusive Company and I saw a poster for his EP, The Woman King, and I took a chance and bought a CD from an artist I’d never heard before. Since then have fallen completely in love with his music.
He is the band Iron & Wine. Right now, he’s doing a project with singer Jesca Hoop. They’re coming to Milwaukee on June 10 to the Turner Hall Ballroom. We are playing the song right now “Every Songbird Says”. I’m here with Sam Beam.
Justin Barney: Sam Beam, what is one song that you can’t stop listening to or one song that really means something to you or something that’s been in your head?
Sam Beam: Well, I have a hard time picking songs. There’s so many that mean so much to me. But I did have a fond memory of last week, we moved the house and we were packing and I set up the little iPod and the little speaker and was playing some stuff while I was packing, and Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman” came on and I realized that my youngest, my six year old, had never really heard Stevie Wonder before.
Justin: What a gift.
Sam: I know! That’s what was so fun. I love that song so much. It’s so funky. She had never heard that and so it turned into this big dance party. I forget what it’s like for some of my favorite songs, what its like to be alive and not have that in your consciousness and then all of a sudden it was. With someone like Stevie Wonder, it’s such a part of me and what I love about music. To be able to pass that on to my girls. They have such a ball. We pulled up on YouTube when Stevie Wonder was on Sesame Street. It’s so fun.
Justin: So you got to really go down the rabbit hole.
Sam: Yeah. And so “Boogie On Reggae Woman” is one of my favorites because it’s so damn bad ass. I mean seriously, listen to it, it’s so great. It’s so funky and awesome. And so the girls just cut the rug for a while. We had a great time.
Justin: That’s awesome. That’s just a wonderful memory that you’ll have and that your kids’ll have. Let’s listen.
- “Boogie On Reggae Woman” was released in 1974 on Stevie Wonder’s ‘Fulfillingness’ First Finale’ album.
- Listen if you like: The Jackson 5, funk, Moog synthesizers
2. Jesca Hoop picks “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush
Jesca Hoop is half of the Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop. We are honored to have her as a guest this week.
Justin Barney: Jesca, what’s one song you can’t stop listening to?
Jesca Hoop: This woman’s work by Kate Bush.
Justin: Wonderful, why that song?
Jesca: Because I look to music for an emotional impact. Of course, whatever kind of music you’re listening to, there’s gonna be some kind of emotional impact. But it’s just fun or mundanity or whatever. You know, there’s a whole range of emotions. Kate Bush delivers a really intense dose of sadness in that song.
Justin: What do you like about that sadness or why do you think that appeals to you?
Jesca: I think the way she delivers a moment in crisis through a song, I just think it was such a feat. Such an accomplishment. I think that I’m in awe when I listen to that song about how simply she tells the story, but then how effective it is as well. I’m in awe of her ability to tell that story and delivering it with her voice, which is such an effective instrument to drive straight to the heart of you.
Justin: What is the story in the song?
Jesca: Well, the mother is dying in childbirth, if I’ve interpreted this correctly. The father is outside the hospital room and I believe the mother is in childbirth and she doesn’t make it.
Justin: Wow, what a devastator.
Jesca: It’s an absolute devastator. It’s one of those songs that you don’t recover from.
- Jesca Hoop and Sam Beam are coming to the Turner Hall Ballroom on June 10th.
- “This Woman’s Work” was released in 1989 on Kate Bush’s ‘The Sensual World’ album.
- Listen if you like: total devestators, Maxwell, Sinead O’Connor
3. Moken “Wild Wild Ways”
When I am listening to music I do not like something that is in the background. I like when something sticks out and grabs me. I want to be captivated by something. I want it to grab my by the collar and say, “Don’t look at your phone, don’t think about what’s going on later. Listen to me.”
This song is a collar grabber. Moken’s voice is going to grab you, with it’s jaunted warbly baritone up to a wha-wha-wha falsetto. It’s truly weird, and I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard anything like it. It’s almost like when you are singing the words to a song that has a chorus of background vocals and you just sing the background vocals yourself.
And that gives it this playful, approachable sound even though it’s kind of weird. Prepare to be grabbed.
- Moken’s album, ‘Chapters of my Life” is available now on Bantu Records
- Listen if you like, Man Man, spaghetti western African, oddly Rusted Root
4. Television – “Elevation”
This week I sat down with our very own Ken Sumka to pick his brain about music.
Justin: Ken, what’s the song that you can’t stop listening to?
Ken: It wants to be springtime and I’ve got a handful of go-to albums in the spring time. One is XTC Skylarking, which I mark spring with listening to the entire thing and having a gin and tonic. But another album I associate with early spring is Marquee Moon by Television. It’s just one of those albums that from the first note to the last note, it’s just a perfect record. Like a lot of records, there’s like one bad song or there’s one song you don’t like so much. Every song on this record, including the title track, which is like 10 minutes long, is letter perfect.
Justin: Why do you associate it with spring?
Ken: I think it was the first time I listened to it. It’s one of those albums that you see on “Best Albums of All Time” on every critic’s list. And I’m like, “Really, is it that good?” And so in college at one point, I listened to it and I was like, “Yeah, really, it’s that good.” And I think I just associate it with spring. And this week, I’ve been listening to it a lot and it’s just a killer record. Great guitar interplay, with Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd and it’s got that early Talking Heads vibe, that angularity to it, where it’s just very tense and nervous, and there’s something about that that I like. I like uncomfortable listening sometimes.
Justin: Yeah, absolutely. On a perfect record, you gotta pick the perfect song off of a perfect record. What is that?
Ken: I know, well it’s Sophie’s choice. The song everyone knows is “See No Evil”, but I don’t wanna do that because if you’re at all familiar with television, that’s probably the one you know. So I’m gonna go with “Elevation”.
Justin: Why “Elevation”?
Ken: I think it ratchets up the tension more than just about any other song. And the funny thing – you gotta keep this part in – this song came out in 1977 but if you listen to the main melody, it sounds like Greg Kihn’s “The Breakup Song.” That song came out in 1981.
- Television’s album, ‘Marquee Moon’ was released in 1976 on Elektra Records.
- Listen if you like: Talking Heads, Greg Kihn’s “The Breakup Song,” angular guitar
5. Chance the Rapper – “All We Got”
Chance the Rapper loves Kanye West. West’s album “The College Dropout” came out when Chance was 11 years old. It was the first hip-hop album that Chance ever listened to. And says that Kanye was the reason that Chance wanted to become The Rapper.
A couple of months ago I interviewed Chance the Rapper, and my first question to him about the new mixtape was, “Is Kanye on it?” At which point his manager literally stepped between us and said, “We can’t talk about that.” When he stepped away Chance had a big smile on his face and he had this twinkle in his eyes as if to say, “Kanye’s on the mixtape.”
Low and behold last Thursday night I was up at midnight waiting for the mixtape to drop. It finally appears online, and there it is. Track one, side one. “All We Got” featuring Kanye West.
It’s significant that Kanye is on the intro track to this album. See this intro track starts with “And we back, and we back, and we back” a reference to the first song on his last mixtape, “Good Ass Intro” which a cover/re-interpretation/omage of Kanye West’s “Intro (I’m Good)” from his Freshman Adjustment mixtape. This is poetic justice.
In just three moves, Chance has gone from being inspired by Kanye West to make his first mixtape in highschool, to making his second mixtape, making an intro inspired by a Kanye intro, to having Kanye on the intro of his third mixtape.
I’m happy for Chance. He’s Kanye’s greatest prodigy. Well done Chance.
- Chance the Rapper’s album ‘Coloring Book’ is out now.
- Listen if you like: Kanye West, “Good Ass Intro,” everything I wanted Chace 3 to be