Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Embarassment at traffic lights & great summer songs: I'm black and I'm proud

THERE are fewer things more embarassing than getting caught mid air guitar or its singing equivalent, getting caught reciting lyrics that have no relevance to you or your life.
Typically that can mean being found rapping about the thug life and pimpin' bitches in the hood when you are a 35-year-old white man living in a British or Irish suburb and commuting to and from a well paid job in the banking sector.(If such a position exists anymore.)
My version of getting caught like this happened today on the way into work and features heavily the music of the Chicagoan consciousness poet of black power Curtis Mayfield.
Those of you au fait with the great man's work will be aware of the now famous refrain from the live version of Mighty, Mighty (Spade and Whitey) where he incants four times "I gotta say it loud," before being joined by his band in a gutsy, dramatic and defiant chorus of "I'm black and I'm proud."
At this juncture it is apposite to note that I could not be more removed from either Curtis Mayfield or the 1970s Chicago/ Black Rights movement he represents. I am a rapidly expanding, white Irish man with a shocking singing voice much too poor or deep to affect that beautiful, pure Mayfield falsetto. I also have absolutely no sense of rhythm, so am utterly unqualified to replicate any soulfullness of Curtis's classic songs.
Well, it was at the end of my very loud second round of "I'm black and I'm proud," that I opened my eyes, ceased my authentic polyrhythmic clapping/ air bongo combination and glanced to the car also stopped at traffic lights to the right of me.(All windows open, sun dappled Stanley Road, Bootle, near Hugh Baird College if you want to complete the picture.)
The driver, archetypical Scouse mum - magenta hair with massive knock-off D&G shades stuck in said barnet - was in bulk laughing at me, pointing out the spectacle to a barely responsive toddler, who was also laughing his wee huggies off.
The lights went to green, I sped off towards the quirky exoticism of Kirkdale and the Eldonian Basin and Curtis launched into We People Who are Darker than Blue.
Now is there a better summer trio of songs in a playlist than Move on Up followed by Mighty, Mighty (Spade and Whitey)followed by We People...?
What are the strong summery songs with positive messages that can make you feel better or make you look a big eejit at traffic lights?


  1. I often have the problem of mouthing song lyrics while I'm walking round town listening to whatever CD happens to be in my CD player at the time, but I tend to be in too much of a daze to notice if I'm getting odd looks.
    At the moment my feel good summer songs are HOT LIMIT by HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR and SoCal kinda Love by Scott and Aimee

  2. Too much sun is a depressing thing to me, living where I do in the bible belt. It's a portent of what's to come, six to eight months of blazing heat usually, an utterly depressing thought. As a consequence of that I've just now left the Tindersticks official website, thinking I've got some catching up to do, and have been listening to a lot of David Sylvian's earlier work of late. The heat turns me autumnal I'm sad to say. Plus I don't drive or iPod, and so if anyone catches me singing along it'll resemble an old man mumbling to his navel and what in god's name is ever wrong with that?

  3. Ya boo sucks, it's a bizarro Scrooge. Get out of 1980s England, man.

  4. Currently those songs would be "Livin' it Up" by Ja Rule, "In the Ayer" by Flo Rida, and "Boom Boom Pow" by Black Eyed Peas. They all have something really catchy in them that makes me think of nights out in da club and hot sweaty dancing. I also sing them at the top of my lungs in the car (along with most Lil Wayne songs). You will note that all of these artists share something in common with Mr. Mayfield and I share something in common with you. Ah, white boys are ridiculous.

  5. Got the picture ... LOL. Just waiting to hear you intoning some funk from stevie wonder stuck on the ring road ... wohaaaaa!

  6. Ha ha! That mental image will entertain me all the way home (while I sing I will survive on the bus)...