Nick Drake, Bryter Lyter. I didn’t discover Nick Drake until 2002, during the aforementioned educational jaunt to South Africa, which, by the way, is my father’s homeland. Anyway, Drake’s one of the great British soul singers – and I don’t mean R&B. I mean, this guy sings from his soul. Or, rather, sang – he died in 1974. Music videos weren’t big in Drake’s day – and I doubt he’d do one if asked – so you’ll have to enjoy this surfer-themed video for “One Of These Things First,” a track I just put on a mix for my boyfriend. Yes, that’s how much I like it.
Cibo Matto, Viva! La Woman: Sometimes I lay awake at night wishing and hoping Japanese pop duo Cibo Matto would get back together. Such a scenario doesn’t seem likely, so I’ll just have to enjoy their previous hits, like this one: “Know Your Chicken.” Wise words I have not heard.
Nina Simone, Nina Sings Nina. Verve Records put out this collection of legendary singer Nina Simone’s most well-known hits. And, of course, it included this track, “Mississippi Goddamn.” Like so many of my other favorites, Simone’s no longer with us – she died in 2003. I cried. Seriously.
Grateful Dead, Live at The Fillmore East, 1969. Picking my favorite Dead album would be like picking my favorite child – I love them all the same! Still, Fillmore’s a pretty fucking radical show. My love of the jam band actually started with my older sister, who was a big Dead head during her teens. Ironically, Jerry Garcia died on her birthday. She was not pleased. Here’s a video of what I qualify as one of the Dead’s best tracks, although they didn’t perform it at Fillmore : “It Hurts Me Too.” This video comes from a 1972 performance in Denmark. If you’re in love with someone – especially a pothead – play them this track. There’s nothing more persuasive.
De La Soul, Three Feet High, And Rising. This album will always be my number one because it was my first full-length. I bought the tape – !!! – because my nanny liked it and I thought she was the coolest. I don’t know if I would still think that, but De La remains one of my favorites in history.