Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankfulness '08 Version

It's Thanksgiving. Time to take stock of what I'm thankful for this year. Although I tell God all the time that I'm thankful for everything everyday.

But the emphasis this year is on the opportunities I've had to serve my church and community. I've had a blast assisting with morning chapel on Mondays. Leading Bible study has been cool and enlightening. Going to the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission on a monthly basis has made me even more grateful that I earn enough to keep a roof over my head and food on the table.

I'm also thankful for my family: Patty, Callie, Renee, Mom & Dad, Nathan and Herb, Gmom, Nil & Uma. I'm appreciative of my church and musical families. Thanks for your love and support this year and every year. Friends and fans around the globe, I've got a lot of love for you too.

In one week, the GRAMMY nominations will be announced. I'll be at the Nokia theatre for the live concert and TV program, believing. Believing. Thanks to everyone who has expressed their support in action and in prayer for my career and this particular endeavor.

Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday of mine. It signals the beginning of the Christmas season for one. As a kid, the Wednesday before Turkey Day meant traveling: to Pittsburgh, to East Lansing, to Alexandria, to Oakland, to Atlanta, and now to Corona. A sense of adventure and the promise of tasty food. I hold those memories dear and look forward to creating new memories this year.

I wish you and your family a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.

Peace and Cranberry Sauce

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Boss's Latest Is Free

New music has arrived on the interwebs. Fans of Bruce, or Obama for that matter, need to check out Working On A Dream. This was a song that Springsteen debuted while touring in support of Obama's presidential campaign. It's free on iTunes this week. I'm awaiting the whole new album from the Boss since it sounds like a true sequel to 2007's Magic, which featured the E Street Band in all its glory. Bruce and Co. will be the halftime entertainment at the Superbowl in January. Maybe he'll perform at the GRAMMY awards the following week. No doubt Springsteen will be in DC for the inauguration. Yours truly will watch two of those three events from home.

Other fresh cuts I'm digging right now include Keane's very 80's The Lovers Are Losing and the return of Q-Tip with Gettin' Up. I'm still getting my Motown education on with the Temptations. I'm hoping to check out their show with the Four Tops at the Gibson on Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving Week

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Temptations

On the Temptations.

Part 1: Thanks, Vanity Fair. This month's issue of the magazine features an (all-too brief) oral history of Motown Records. It was fascinating to read the first person accounts of the early years of Hitsville and Berry Gordy's successes. The vintage pics and current photos by Annie Leibowitz of the surviving Motown roster are wonderful.

The article reminded me how much I adore the records that came out of Detroit's hit factory. Many of the songs had gotten so overplayed on "oldies" radio, that I had forgotten how amazing the singles were on their own merit. As a youngster, I really enjoyed Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and of course, the Jackson 5. In later years, I gravitated toward the grittier sound of James Brown and the Stax label because their records felt fresher to my ears.

The real rediscovery was my love of the Temptations. I met the Temptations at the Charlotte airport coming home for Christmas as a freshman in college. I still have their autographs on a random piece of paper in my office. I can remember when I first moved to Los Angeles, I was really into them. I learned all of the vocal parts to their biggest smashes: Ain't Too Proud To Beg, My Girl, Just My Imagination, and I Can't Get Next To You. Each one of these cuts is legendary and we all know the words! The Tempts deserved to be part of the earliest Rock Hall induction classes.

So, I downloaded a bunch of Temptations records last night. Oh boy, they sound great. I blasted them on the stereo late into the night. The performances are brighter and more potent than I remembered. Get Ready is playing on right now. Wow. Sing it, Eddie! There are tracks I got that I have never heard before. Now, that's fun to uncover great performances lost in the tidal wave of the Classic Hits.

Part 2: This week's Rolling Stone has a spread on the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. FYI, the survey covers the Rock & Roll era, 1955 to the present. The musicians who were polled got it right for the most part. Each voter got to select their Top 20 which was then compiled into a list of the Top 100.

It's a crime though that Temptation Eddie Kendricks is missing from the list. [Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, Harry Nilsson, Teena Marie, Boy George and Rick James, also absent, would make my favorite 100.] I'm pleased that the voters recognized David Ruffin's contributions. But it seems odd that they neglected to include Mr. Kendricks, whose falsetto performances are as equally influential as Mr. Ruffin's iconic vocals. I'll drop Rolling Stone a line.

In the meantime, dig the sounds of the Temptations when you can. They really are the most amazing vocal group of all time. Without them, there's no Jackson 5, Sly & The Family Stone, Hall & Oates, Boyz II Men, Bee Gees, etc. I'm going to crank them Tempts up again. Sorry, neighbors. Don't Let The Joneses Get You Down.

Peace & Psychedelic Soul

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barack And The Family Stone

My fellow Americans,
I've found the perfect soundtrack for this morning: Sly & The Family Stone's Greatest Hits. Jubilant, slightly defiant and entirely energizing. Though these songs are 40 years old, they sum up the moment perfectly. Hope overflows from these tracks and Sly's multi-culti pop family. Here's a sample of their wonderful songs spinning on my iPod:

Everyday People
Stand!
Everybody Is A Star

Sing A Simple Song
You Can Make It If You Try
I Want To Take You Higher

Let's get it together and keep it together, America. No matter our color, sex, religious belief or economic status. We all still speak English; democracy is alive. Sly speaks to us from the pregnant past to the funky future we are embracing. We are all Everyday People in a victorious new day! We've got to live together. You can make it if you try. And everybody is a star, or at least they can be now.

America rejoice. It took a lot of faith, hope and unity to get us to this moment. That's worth fighting for and remembering. In case you missed it or want to relive it, dig Obama's victory speech!

Peace to all of you. I do want to take you higher! I am Everyday People!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Not Morgan Freeman, But An Actual Black President

Wow. Barack's speech has given me more hope for America's future than any I've ever heard. Seeing President-Elect Obama with Joe Biden is beyond moving. We have a real blended family taking over on Pennsylvania Avenue. Finally, we're witnessing the American Dream. Obama is the perfect face for our country. Truly a world citizen.

Barack's address to Chicago and the nation was smooth and firm. Easily the most amazing speech I've heard in my life. It really felt like watching a movie with a charismatic thespian (like Mr. Freeman) playing the President. America is once again a land of opportunity for all. One of the New York Times editorials stated that the American Civil War ended tonight. There will still be struggles, but we can see that the tide has changed. A new generation has spoken and we're seeing a bold, new America unfold.
Looking at the previous 43 Presidents, now I get to see a face that looks like mine. Now, there is a President with an equally different middle name as myself. Finally, there is a brown face in charge. This is so energizing. There are many problems facing our nation. My prayer is that as a country, as humanity, we can live up to the promise of our choice of President. Not just because he's black, but because of what he represents. Sea change. I hope that we all can celebrate Obama's win and unite in a meaningful way to restore the economy, heal cultural wounds, help the needy and educate our youth.

Surreal. We will get to tell our grandchildren that a monumental shift occurred tonight. How cool is that? I'm so pleased that I got to share the evening with my family and friends. Thanks for the phone calls everyone. Time to watch the rest of the coverage. Sigh.

Peace

#44... Your New President

History. Rarely have I ever felt a positive part of American History before. But tonight is different. Barack Obama has blasted through the toughest glass ceiling. We got the news from Jon Stewart, who said "At 11:00 PM, Barack Obama is the President-Elect." This is too exciting for words.

I had a chance to talk to my Father twice on this historic occasion. My Dad who knows first hand the civil rights struggles that made this night possible. Thanks, Dad. I can't wait to talk to him tomorrow to get his further perspective. Of course, I can't wait to discuss with my Mom, too.

God bless you, President-Elect Obama. I wanted to be Commander-in-Chief as a kid, but always thought it would be impossible as a "non-white" person. The mantra of "you can grow up to be anything in America" never rang true until tonight. As a student of history, I couldn't be more excited. We'll get a woman into the White House soon enough, but for tonight let's keep on Baracking!

McCain has just conceded. Pinch me. Have we really elected a black man President? World, did you see that! Barack Obama has won and so have we. We put our votes where our mouths (and Constitution) are. He's black, y'all! And he's the new leader of the FREE WORLD. World, I am sorry for the last 8 years. The nightmare is over. Hope has come home to America.

I am so anxious to hear Barack's acceptance speech. Oh my! We've raised a toast to Barack and an administration that restores America to its former greatness.

Peace & Love

Barack Like Me

VOTE!
The most patriotic thing we can do as Americans right now is to VOTE!

You all know that I'm supporting Barack Obama. He's had my endorsement for months. And Fred Armisen needs the work. I'm looking forward to watching the returns tonight.

May I remind you again? VOTE!

Time for me to get myself to the polls.

Peace and God Bless America