“We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue” -Curtis Mayfield


Many people can’t weave social issues like “team light skin vs team black skin”, street violence, economic empowerment, and racial unity into a lyrically concise six minute song. Well, that’s unless you were one of the leading voices in funk and psychedelic soul during the Black Power Movement. Mayfield’s vocals and words carry a deep conversational tone that leads straight into a DPJ approved percussion solo by Henry Gibson (not the actor, but that would be crazy). The horns, bass lines, and socially conscious lyrics heard throughout Mayfield’s debut album Curtis showed his evolving style from his days as the lead singer of the Impressions. Powerful and poetic, the song elevates above being preachy and instead inspires.


“Kid Charlemagne” -Steely Dan


There are songs I listen to because of the way they sound, their rhythms, their musicality, there is something about them that is satisfying on a sonic level. Then there are the songs I listen to because of the lyrics, a compelling story, turns of phrase that make you stop and think.

This Steely Dan song is both.  Even without background knowledge of the song, the words themselves weave a tale that is timeless and grand. You get a sense of danger, from the music and the recalled panic in lyrics.

“Is there gas in car?/Yes there’s gas in caaaaar/I think the people down the hall know who you are”