This week’s listmaker: Doug Manuel. Doug is a third-year MFA candidate at Butler University and managing editor of Booth, a literary journal. His poetry has appeared in Thoughtsmith, Bruised Peach Press, Marooned, and Lux.
My favorite songs change every week and maybe even every day, but I decided to list these songs because lately they have been flooding my mind and seeping into my conversations. Honestly, I believe my diverse list comes from my father, who was a DJ and loved all types of music, and from my bleached black upbringing in Catholic school. So, these are some of the songs that move me, and I hope they move you as well. If not, you’re foolish, but that’s okay. We all need some time with our eyes closed.
1. “Feel Like Making Love” Roberta Flack–My father used to hum this song all the time, and I think that Roberta Flack’s influence on soul music can never be underestimated. This song is soft and alluring and does exactly what the title says it does. However, I must admit that I like the D’angelo version better. There is just something about the way the drums grab you right from the start. Also, D’angelo’s falsetto is never better, and his horn section really kills it on this song. I know it is blasphemous to say a remake is better than the original, but I think we all know that sometimes we have to use the lord’s name in vain.
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2. “If You’re Feeling Sinister” Belle & Sebastian–I was late to game with this song. While Belle & Sebastian were the darlings of the indie world in the nineties, I was still afraid to admit that I loved “white people music,” but when I got to college, I found this song and quickly fell in love. Stuart Murdoch’s voice is as friendly as Mr. Rogers’, and the rhythm of the song glides so smoothly with Murdoch’s guitar and the percussion. Then, the piano arrives with the melody, and all is forever well. And with me being still weighed down and influenced by my hardly ever used Catholic morals, this song does work to make me feel anything but sinister.
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3. “Eric B Is President” Eric B & Rakim–This song came out when my dad’s DJ career was almost over, but my uncle still talks about the way you could hear the bass all the way across town when my dad spun this record. Literally this song is the epitome of the boom clap boom boom clap era, and Rakim’s flows are razor-blade sharp. Whenever I hear this song, I wish I were fifteen years older, so I could have been an adult when hip-hop was young and rappers weren’t making millions. My brother still claims that Paid in Full is the best hip-hop album ever, and when I hear this song and the album’s other jams, it is hard to say that he is wrong.
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4. “Hip Hop” Dead Prez–I can’t think of any other song that made me feel more guilty for being the watered-down black guy that I am. I was a senior in high school when this album dropped, and I have to admit that these guys made me want to be a black nationalist. I grew out my hair into an afro and then into dreads, but the whole facade wouldn’t last long. I loved white girls and white music too much. Still though, whenever I hear that 808 turned inside out with that menacing-ass beat, I can’t help but pound my chest and say, “Yes Sir.” Additionally, the music video is so clutch. The woman’s behind in the beginning does exactly what it is supposed to do.
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5. “Sour Times” Portishead–Some people make fun of trip-hop, but I believe that Portishead did something truly special with Dummy. Seriously, it was like someone decided to mix my two favorite types of music, hip-hop and sad bastard singer songwriter stuff. The production on this track is supreme, and by the end of the track, I truly believe that no one loves Beth Gibbons like her former lover. I swear I could watch her slumped over and leaning into that microphone forever. This song has the chilling edge of a RZA beat with Beth’s voice. Do I need to say anything else?