Banter on Tulips and a Tribe Called Quest, Jay-Z and John Coltrane, Outkast and Othello.


The Soundtrack of Love

L-o-v-e is in the air. Ahem, not for me, yet, but apparently for everyone else on God’s green earth. So, as I frantically figure out what to buy my two cousins who are getting hitched in May and June, respectively, I log on to theknot.com and browse their gift registries. Crystal salt shakers, silverware and candlesticks galore, oh my! Not to throw the slightest bit of hatarade on the nuptials’ parade (*Smirking* never that), but when I make that move, me thinketh salt shakers will be the farthest thing from my mind. I mean, come now, I’ve lasted 25 years, without a set of my own and I still manage to throw down (*giggling* Okay, (whispering) once in a blue moon.) But really, all of this prompts me to wonder, how come no one asks for the necessary stuff of life? Like a year's supply of Koolaid for the newlyweds, for instance? To cite "The Wiz," one simply “can’t be caught dead without red”. And, how about a barbecue grill? (The best wedding gift for a cullud man, one would think.) Or, how about (*drumroll please*) the favorite music of the couple in question? I for one, could imagine myself -- after listening to the endless bloviation of the officiant and the “Akunamatata” of an old guest who decides to catch the Holy Ghost and fall out on my Vera Wang train -- just wanting to cool out to my fave music en route to the private “after-party”. What’s that you say, you too? Well, not to fret, I’ve made it easy for you. Here’s a list of nine songs that don’t normally make these kind of lists, but that I know would keep it quite the crunk, as Luthuh sings… for ever, for always, for luv

“All About Love” Earth Wind and Fire: When Maurice White starts out singing “Paint a pretty smile each day / Lovin’ is a blessing, yeah / Never let it fade away / It’s all about love, yeah,” that’s really all that needs to be said. EWF has a way with words that only they can truly embody with their music. Like their other love song jewels, “Reasons”, “Imagination” and “I’ll Write a Song For You”, this one is just perfection.

“Golden Lady” Stevie Wonder: Part of one of his most complete and introspective albums, “Innervisions”, the song begins with a short piano solo. Then, drums and organ kick in. Soon we hear Stevie singing as if in a dream, “Looking in your eyes / Kind of heaven eyes / Closing both my eyes / Waiting for surprise.” The amazing thing about this piece is the visual element. I swear the man sees more than I can and all the elements flow together very nicely. I guess that’s why I love dear Stevie so.

“The Makings of You” Curtis Mayfield: The “gentle genius” who gave us “Freddie’s Dead” and “Pusherman” from his “Superfly” soundtrack, was no less adept at the whimsical renderings of the woman in his life. Truth be told, the beloved writer and guitarist had me at the first words. “Add a little sugar, honeysuckle and a great big expression of happiness / Boy, you couldn’t miss, with a dozen roses / Such would astound you / The joy of children laughing around you/ These are the makings of you.” (Sniffle.) Gets me teary every time.

“Everlasting Love” Rufus featuring Chaka Khan: Quite possibly one of the greatest voices like freakin’ ever (when I was little, I was convinced that she and Patti Labelle were sisters), Chaka breaks it down like she’s singing alone in her bathroom and thinks no one’s listening. Except the difference with her and the rest of us is that the chick kills it. When she sings at her lowest register, “All ya need is an everlasting love. All ya want is, a satisfying love,” you believe that maybe, just maybe, that’s true.

“Hello, It’s Me” The Isley Brothers: Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time as a little girl at my father’s knee reading liner notes from the records in his extensive collection. Maybe it’s because deep down inside, I always wanted a gold crusted cane like Rudolph. But, I have always loved me some Isleys...Ron, O’Kelly, Ernie, Rudolph and Marvin...*Stomping the “stage” in my room.* (You know, Fitty sing-rhymes about being a "p.i.m.p.", but has not one thing one these brothas.) This song is a departure from their trademark guitar-heavy funk, but shows why they’ll always have a place in our black classic lexicon.

“Another Star” Stevie Wonder: Though he’s better recognized for “Ribbon in the Sky” (also a great song) and “As” (which runs a close-second in my book), this song is love at it's best and worst-- the height of passion, heartbreak, and just pure … (wrinkling my nose because words escape me here)… I just don’t know what. But listen to it and you'll see what I mean. The first time I heard it, about three years ago, I was driving home and almost had to pull over. Drums? Check. A ridiculously tight flute solo? Check. Stevie in rare from? Check. George Benson singing backup? Check. Whew, it’s just like that. Best line: “For you there might be a brighter star, but in my eyes, the light of you is all I see.”

“Love Saw It” Karyn White and Babyface: No one can koo-kah-kah-koo like Karyn White. And, Babyface put it on you, like no other singer in his late eighties/early nineties heyday. (I think I was in middle school when this came out, but I knew this was hype even way back then.) The best lines speak volumes: “Love called my name / Love saw me change / Love rescued me from the danger of pain.” One day, says I, one day.

“For the Lover in You” Shalamar: I have a confession to make…I used to think Howard Hewett was cool as all get out. Shielding my face as you laugh. Okay, I admit, he’s about knee-high to uh... Jermaine Dupri. Yada. Yada. And I’ll grant you that the whole black man’s mullet thing he had going on never was a good look. But, his falsetto on this song was incredible. I still hear him now, *singing* “With this ring, I’ll show you, there ain’t no may-bay! This is for lovah in you And this ti-i-i-i-ime we’re gonna last forevah” My lawd!

And the crown jewel…

"Ain’t No Mountain High Enough" Diana Ross: *Hair blowing in the wind as she greets her fans who have braved the rain for an encore performance in Central Park*. Stage lights dim. Spotlight on Mahogany Elle...I mean Diana... sing-whispering, “If you need me call me / No matter where you are / No matter how far/ Just call my name / I’ll be there in a hurry/ On that you can depend and never worry/ No wind. (No wind)/ No rain. (No ra-yeen)/ Or winter’s cold (who-oo-oo-oo) /Can stop me baby (oh babe)/ Baby (baby)/ if you’re my goal! As much as I know the story of how she earned her way to the top via Berry Gordy’s couch, of how she knocked her fellow Supremes in the knees to be Queen Bee, of how Emmanuel Lewis has secretly made his home in her 8 foot weave for the last twenty years…LOL (okay, just kidding about the last part) … All of that -- all of it -- is lost to me when she sings defiantly over the swelling strings, “Ain’t no mountain high enough, nothin’ can keep me, keep me from you-ou-ou!” This may be more to the credit of Ashford and Simpson’s production expertise, than her canary-like voice, but whatever it was, it worked. It's a classic.

And there we have it, friends, brothers (or sisters), countrymen… the end. So, when it’s announced that Mahogany Elle has been swept away by some New York Times-reading, spade-and-dominoes-playing, Tribe Called Quest-and-Five Heartbeats-loving, Snoop-and-Smokey-Robinson-quoting, can-get-down-on-some-crème-brulee, but not-too-boogie-for-chicken-wangs-type-of-brotha, and is headed down that road to forever, please refer to this list. And, no crystal salt shakers please. In the spirit of that dude from Amistad, just give us us music. e


At April 16, 2005 1:35 PM , Blogger SunsyneSmile05 said...

Wow...I am still laughing...dayum....
Absolutely hilarious....and I will be sure not to get u any crystal salt shakers when you get married...How about just a crystal fountain to display all that red kool-aid ur having at ur reception? I always read ur blog when I need a laugh...Keep it real girl...

At April 18, 2005 10:39 AM , Blogger Maverick said...

MUCH RESPECT!!! I am highly impressed by the soundtrack. I actually put together a soundtrack of my life about a year or two ago, so this post is near and dear to me. Plus, I am even more highly impressed by you putting Stevie Wonder's Golden Lady on there...that is one of the most underrated, unknown classics out there. I stopped by because you commented on my blog a couple of days ago...I will have to keep reading. But from the posts that I have checked out from you, and the amount of music that I see you listen to, we might have to talk more often...

At April 20, 2005 2:26 PM , Blogger Zantiferous3 said...

I was with you... WITH YOU girl... Soror!!! ALL the way up to... Love Saw It. Then you lost me. Well wait, you tried to get me back with "For the Lover in You" my personal Shalamar fave is "I Don't Want to be the Last to Know" but I guess that wouldn't go over well at a wedding reception. LOL...

And you included... *sigh* the Goddess of all that is SONG... Chaka. *sigh* I looooooove Chaka. And Everlasting Love might be my favorite song by her. Love it!

At April 21, 2005 2:16 AM , Blogger Mahogany Elle said...

-S. Smile: glad to amuse and you're right, RED Koolaid will be up in the place LOL

-Maverick: that's hype that you appreciate Golden Lady -- just perfection from a master, right?! :)

-Sawrrruh X...(LOL) That's funny you agreed until "Love Saw it". That was actually the one song I was debating. (Shh...don't tell anyone I second guess my musical instincts...I have my skreet rep to maintain). My alternates were "Love Ballad" by L.T.D. and "Loving You" by the O'Jays. Glad you were back on board with Shalamar and Chaka. :)


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