Music, anyone?

I am an unabashed music fan. And even in a hectic summer, sometimes there’s nothing better than simply driving around and listening to satellite radio’s offerings. One thing I’ve noticed about the popular summer music so far is that there’s definitely a throwback feel to it. Hearing these songs take me back to the early 1980s … though I still have a Huey Lewis CD somewhere in my car.

Fitz and the Tantrums, “Out of My League” – because it reminds me of the B-52s’ “Legal Tender.”

Capital Cities, “Safe and Sound” –

Daft Punk and Pharrell, “Get Lucky” – Actually, Daft Punk’s entire album, “Random Access Memories,” has a late-disco, early New-Wave feel to it.

(Sidebar: Pharrell Williams is uber-talented.)

Robin Thicke/Pharrell/T.I., “Blurred Lines” – I’m posting a link to the Amazon MP3 sample because the video is absolutely atrocious, just a bunch of models with blank stares in flesh-colored underwear dancing around the three guys. So unoriginal.

I could go off on another completely different tangent here, so I will. This is one of the catchiest and funniest songs I’ve listened to this summer. Each time I listen to it, I think, “OK, this is about some douchebag guys getting drunk at a club and using poor come-on lines.” That would have been a much better visual.

Robin Thicke had this to say about the song, in a recent interview on Power 106 in Los Angeles: “We made the whole record in an hour and were walking around the studio like two old men hollering at young girls from the porch. So it’d be like, ‘Hey, girl. Come here.'”

But someone took exception to the lyrics, and labeled them as “kind of rapey.”

For the record, I don’t condone sexual violence of any kind. But calling a song about trying to hook up with women “kind of rapey”? Have you ever listened to Stone Temple Pilots’ “Sex Type Thing”?

You built a time machine? Out of a DeLorean?

I changed the title of the blog in homage to one of my favorite movies ever – Back To The Future.

When I was eight years old, I begged my grandma to take me to see this movie. When I got back from two weeks in Pittsburgh, I lied to my parents and told them I hadn’t seen it yet. They knew otherwise, and took me to see it again. And I rented it on VHS again. And again. And again.

28 years later, I will drop everything to watch this movie. And the sequel. But not the third one. Though I watched the last few minutes of the movie just to find out why Marty McFly hates being called “chicken.”

There are a lot of universal themes in the movie – friendship, trusting yourself, instilling faith in others, time travel. Time travel!

And the final line of the movie suggests this: Infinite possibilities are ahead of you.

***

I just bought the soundtrack, too. While I’m not a die-hard Eric Clapton fan, as a music fan I can appreciate his genius on the guitar. But Clapton has a great song on the soundtrack that is completely un-Clapton and more along the lines of Bob Marley – “Heaven Is One Step Away.” It has a bit part in the movie, when Marty McFly returns to 1985 and attempts to save Doc Brown.

(By the way, I don’t condone drunk driving. Or crazy drunk drivers. At all.)

Love, Peace and Soul (Train)

I’d tell you exactly where I was when I learned of Don Cornelius’ death … but in the name of confidentiality, I won’t. However, I’ll tell you exactly what went through my mind as I looked up at the television, tuned to CNN, and saw the text underneath the video of Don Cornelius, in a spiffy black pinstriped suit.

DON CORNELIUS 1936-2012

As a fan of R&B, Motown, soul and hip-hop music, I was shocked to learn of Cornelius’ death as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I was saddened. A person who bridged a racial and societal gap in pop culture and who revolutionized music was gone.  His legacy will live on in so many episodes of “Soul Train,” a show that needs no words to explain its premise.

If you have Centric TV on your cable, I highly suggest you tune in to old episodes of “Soul Train.” Furthermore, I highly suggest you watch VH1’s documentary on “Soul Train.”

There were two shows I HAD to watch when I was a little kid: “The Muppet Show” and “Soul Train.” Both enriched my desire for sensory stimulation with bright colors, music, audience engagement and interaction. While the Muppets brought alive my love for comedy and satire, “Soul Train” helped create and refine my taste in music.

My parents faithfully watched it, and sang along and danced to the hits that played over our television. My dad has a love for music, and he forged a lot of connections and friendships while working in Prince Georges County in the late 1970s and early 1980s through not only his outgoing, approachable demeanor but also through his appreciation of music and sports.

I grew up in a predominantly white, upper middle-class neighborhood in suburban Washington D.C., where my classmates’ musical tastes drifted more towards Jane’s Addiction, Metallica and Nirvana.

Not my cup of tea, unless it came with two Tylenol and a cold compress.

While my classmates were buying CDs of Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, I was picking up cassette singles by Karyn White, Mint Condition and Johnny Gill. Instead of WHFS, the Baltimore-Washington alternative station that was in its heyday in the 1990s, the preset dial on the radio of my first car was tuned to WPGC, the Prince Georges County-based R&B station that played everything from Rare Essence to Toni Braxton.

(WPGC newsman David Haines had a saying: “Burnt toast and coffee time.” That was my morning signal to get the hell out of the house and head to school.)

My second preset: Howard University’s WHUR. I still recall my amazement when a high school boyfriend of mine had it pre-set on the dial of his car, too. D.C., by the way, had a killer music scene 20 years ago.

But I’m going off on a tangent. Back to “Soul Train.” Which, yes, I watched and danced around in my living room to, during high school and college.

A Chicago-based show originally broadcast on a small handful of stations, it went into syndication as a result of cooperation with Johnson Products, the creators of Afro-Sheen – a coalition of two African-American entities. “Soul Train” was a conduit brought African-American music into our living rooms and into the mainstream. It showcased not only music but fashion, youth, creativity and a positive environment that encouraged appreciation of all of these things.

When the show exceeded critical mainstream mass, “Soul Train” incorporated traditional white perfomers – Elton John, David Bowie, Teena Marie (who, as ESPN’s Jemele Hill once stated, was the first white girl with soul.) … Bowie’s performance of “Fame” – clearly lip-dubbed – is a thing of strange beauty.

“Soul Train” broke racial barriers and established cultural trends. It promoted the African-American community during a time of racial strife in the United States … and continued to keep its hold on America as our society grew more progressive.

Don Cornelius’ idea not only promoted music – it revolutionized pop culture and created societal connections. Sadly, his death had to remind us of all of this.

That certain song …

There’s got to be one song, or that certain set of songs, that takes you to “a good place.”

Here’s mine – I first heard it in December of 1990, sitting in the Baltimore Armory during an indoor track meet, listening to my Walkman (remember those?) …

I still have no clue how many headsets I broke ...

And, surprisingly, I still know all the words to it today.