LOVE THE WAY IT SHOULD BE (HUMANITY)

Artist: John Legend & The Roots

Genre: Reggae

Notable lyrics:

Time is gettin’ harder and harder
More and more each day, yeah
Still I am determined that I’m never gonna change my way
Thinking ’bout love the way it should be
You gotta open your eyes and you will see
About love the way it should be
You gotta make up your minds and you’ll advance humanity
Humanity, humanity, humanity, whoa

What happened to the love
That they are all talking about?
It’s nothing but useless words
Coming from out of their mouths
Talking ’bout love the way it should be
We gotta open our eyes and we will see
About love the way it should be
We gotta make up our minds and we’ll advance humanity
Humanity, humanity, humanity, whoa

Listen, people listen
You got the notion (I hope so)
Listen what I’m saying to you
You got the notion (I hope so)
A little bit of justice and peace
You got the notion (I hope so)
Bring a little love for everyone
You got the notion (our hope’s on)

About time I dedicated a song in the praise of humanity, only with sheer irony.

John Legend is a popular American singer, most famous for his super-hit ballad ‘All of me’. John’s known for singing a variety of R&B, and pop songs. He started his career in music in 2000, and has produced 6 albums henceforth.                                                         The Roots, popularly known for being hired in ‘The tonight show with Jimmy Fallon’, are an American hip hop band, formed in 1987 by Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. With the 8 members playing a variety of instruments, they’re known for their impromptu’s, and were described by Rolling Stone magazine as ‘one of the greatest live acts in the world’.

Originally produced by Prince Lincoln Thompson and The Royal Rasses, a Jamaican singer and his reggae band respectively (1949-1999) in 1987, ‘Humanity’ has been covered by John Legend in collaboration with The Roots in 2010. While the song hadn’t gained much attention, it was used in a particular ‘Gray’s Anatomy’ episode, and has garnered some popularity since. While the original song is pure Reggae, the new song has infusions of jazz, and soul, which are the hallmarks of The Roots. With the beautiful, public-spirited lyrics, it has brought some of that Bob Marley essence back into existence.

The song talks about the creation a better world; one with more peace, more justice, and more love. It’s in the form of a preaching, except it’s been sung so soulfully that it’s become one of those songs you hear on the radio, and go everywhere looking for. The enchanting night-club music takes you back to the 80’s, with its characteristic reggae music, and improvised jazz. The trumpet and the drums add more charisma to the song, further drawing you into its free-spirited music. Such songs are modest in number, which is a tragedy. There’s a need for the creation of songs that spread love and peace on a large-scale basis.

 

LA JAVANAISE

Artist: Madeleine Peyroux

Genre: Jazz (French)

Notable lyrics:

J’avoue
J’en ai
Bavé
Pas vous
Mon amour
Avant
D’avoir
Eu vent
De vous
Mon amour

Ne vous déplaise
En dansant la Javanaise
Nous nous aimions
Le temps d’une chanson

A votre
Avis
Qu’avons-
Nous vu
De l’amour
De vous
A moi
Vous m’a-
Vez eu
Mon amour

Ne vous déplaise
En dansant la Javanaise
Nous nous aimions
Le temps d’une chanson

Hélas
Avril
En vain
Me voue
A l’amour
J’avais
Envie
De voir
En vous
Cet amour

Ne vous déplaise
En dansant la Javanaise
Nous nous aimions
Le temps d’une chanson

La vie
Ne vaut
D’être
Vécue
Sans Amour
Mais c’est
Vous qui
L’avez
Voulu
Mon amour

Ne vous déplaise
En dansant la Javanaise
Nous nous aimions
Le temps d’une chanson

Translation:

I had
A few
Tough years
Didn’t you
My true love
Until
At last
You crossed
My path
My true love

If you don’t mind
While dancing the javanaise
Our love lasted
As long as a song

What do
You think
That we
Have seen
Of true love
Let me
Tell you
I was
Deceived
My true love

If you don’t mind
While dancing the javanaise
Our love lasted
As long as a song

Alas
April
In vain
Draws me
To true love
I was
Willing
To see
In you
This true love

If you don’t mind
While dancing the javanaise
Our love lasted
As long as a song

Life is
Pointless
When it’s
Devoid
Of true love
But that’s
The choice
You made
For us
My true love

If you don’t mind
While dancing the javanaise
Our love lasted
As long as a song

The combination of French, the language of love and Jazz, the music of love, has to be one of the most magnificent creations of mankind.

Originally written by Serge Gainsbourg back in 1962, this song happens to be a cover by Madeleine Peyroux, an American jazz singer and songwriter who began her career as a teenager on the streets of Paris. She is known for her vintage jazz and blues songs. When Peyroux was just 13, she moved to Paris with her mother, where she began singing, ‘inspired by the street musicians of Paris’ Latin Quarter. By 1989, she was performing as a member of the old-timey jazz band the Riverboat Shufflers. Around age 16, she joined another vintage-inspired ensemble, the Lost & Wandering Blues & Jazz Band, and spent several years touring Europe performing jazz standards by such legends as Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and others’.

While Gainsbourg’s version of the song, which is the original one, is sensual and authentic, with perfect 60’s French music, Peyroux has brought out the sheer delicacy in the song. Even though the two versions don’t necessarily contradict each other, they’re not that similar, save for the same lyrics. Why I have chosen this version is because I was more drawn to the innate authenticity that persists, even with the progression in the art of Jazz. When I first heard the song, Madeleine was mistaken for a 50’s Jazz artist, such is her vocal charm. Released in 2006, the song retains the timelessness a jazz song is entitled to have.

The elegant, pared-down arrangements are all brushed drums, acoustic guitars, and cool organ licks. But of course it’s Peyroux’s voice that brings it all home–preferably one where the shades are drawn, embers are smoldering in the fireplace, and the white wine is kept dry.

What a perfect way to describe the song. Also, the soft and toned music makes is especially pleasant, like something you’d play in a very nice restaurant, or to accentuate your lover’s voice as you have a candle-lit dinner on the terrace on a warm evening, or even on a beautiful cruise across the Pacific. Her perfect pronunciation, The sweet music of the violin and the piano swipe are all beautiful attributes of the song.

The Javanaise is made to seem like a dance the lover’s asking his beloved to remember they had on an evening, on a street with the street band playing this song (the latter half of this story is all made-up). That’s the beauty of French Jazz music when it’s played in every nook and corner of Paris – it’s mind-numbing and mesmerizing. One quiet walk through Paris on a lovely summer’s night will fill your life with so much bliss that you’ll never be worried about the little things again. That is, of course, if there’s no threat of robbery.

 

 

CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF YOU

Artist: Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

Genre: Swing (Jazz)

Notable lyrics:

Pardon the way that I stare,

there’s nothing else to compare,

beside, her view leaves me weak,

there are no words left to speak.

I’m aware of the plethora of covers of this song (Muse, Heath Ledger, et al) but I guarantee you, this is the most authentic and the best version there is (not to mention, the original one). The song has also played a part in several movies as a soundtrack. So, if it rings a bell, you know why.

Having to be one of the most romantically striking songs there is, the hit track was released back in 1967, the pre-revolutionary era (in terms of music, of course), earning a top position in the billboard charts for a whole week (we don’t respect billboard anymore but back then, the competition was tight), and thereby instantly fetching a gilded record for the artists. During the late 60’s, the highly contagious Rock music was all the rage and Jazz had seen better days. Even if the song is listed as a ‘pop rock’ song, there are certain attributes that make it more of a Swing oriented song; the indiscreet bass guitars, the drums, the lively maracas, an occasional trumpet and the heartfelt, sensual singing that is perfect for serenading a love interest. On the other hand, the lyrics are just as flattering as the rest of the song. If only you could imagine how the ladies back in the day were smitten (just watch the live shows, Frank wasn’t kidding around).

With a song that starts off with a bold instrumental piece, it’s important to maintain the same calibre throughout the entire song and just that has been done so immaculately, with the outstanding chorus and thereon. The mid-20th century flair is very conspicuous and adds to the originality of the song belonging to the worldly genre of Jazz. The song fades into a gradual end with the actual performance still being as intense as ever – guess they had to stop somewhere!

I can’t point the exact time or place of the song’s discovery, but all I remember was how bewitched I was; I often found myself obsessively listening to the tune while goofing around, unwinding after a long day or – pretty much all the time. Everyone deserves a wonderful favorite Swing song and this one has to be mine.

TRY A LITTLE TENDERNESS

Artist: Otis Redding

Genre: R&B/soul

Notable lyrics:

 Squeeze her, don’t tease her, never leave her

Get to her, try, try

Just try a little tenderness, ooh yeah yeah yeah

You got to know how to love her, man,

you’ll be surprised, man

It’s obvious why this song belongs to the genre of ‘soul’ – he puts his soul into it. this song is an excellent specimen of craftsmanship with a heavy dose of drama and perseverance. it almost sounds as if Otis sung the whole song in a single take a.k.a the professional way.

Evidently, this gem from the 60’s, or the ‘era of mind-blowing, skilled & hand-made music’ came to me via ‘pretty in pink’ in which our dear Ducky performs his infamous dance for the same song. as drawn as I was to the song, I immediately looked for it and lo! I’ve got a new dance anthem on my playlist!

As groovy as this song is, it begins as a romantic ballad and slowly makes your feet do their thang. with an intelligent use for saxophones, this song definitely deserves its position in the ‘rock n roll hall of fame’. this sensual song is what one would describe as ‘an original “Hey Jude”’, (they were also released 2 years apart, the Beatles’ song being the latest one) with the essential lessons about wooing a potential lady and keeping her happy and satisfied (take it any way you want). Otis’ raspy and breathless voice gives the song it charm and makes it a spectacle. the song overall remains energetic and yet, consistent.

The next time you find yourself hosting a good ol’ 60’s party, make sure this tune makes it onto your playlist.