behind the grooves


On this day in music history: June 28, 1974 - “Caribou”, the eighth studio album by Elton John is released. Produced by Gus Dudgeon, it is recorded at the Caribou Ranch in Nederland, CO and Brother Studios in Santa Monica, CA in January 1974. Completed in just nine days prior to starting a tour of Japan, it features some of John’s best known and most performed material. Producer Gus Dudgeon completes Elton’s background vocals on several songs, when the artist isn’t available to sing them himself. The album features additional musical support from guest musicians such as The Tower Of Power Horns, Dusty Springfield, Toni Tennille, and Billy Hinsche. The album spins off the top five hits “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” (#2 Pop) (featuring Beach Boys Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston on background vocals) and “The Bitch Is Back” (#4 Pop). In 1995, an expanded CD reissue is released including four tracks recorded during the sessions including his cover of “Pinball Wizard” (from the film version of The Who’s “Tommy”), “Sick City” (the non-LP B-side of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”), and the holiday single “Step Into Christmas”. Elton scores a number pop single with “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” in 1992, re-recording it as a live duet with George Michael. The profits raised from the sales of the second version are donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. “Caribou” spends four weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

The Odyssey is a strange, adventurous tale of a grown man trying to get home after fighting in a war. He’s on that long journey home, and it’s filled with traps and pitfalls. He’s cursed to wander. He’s always getting carried out to sea, always having close calls. Huge chunks of boulders rock his boat. He angers people he shouldn’t. There’s troublemakers in his crew. Treachery. His men are turned into pigs and then are turned back into younger, more handsome men. He’s always trying to rescue somebody. He’s a travelin’ man, but he’s making a lot of stops.

He’s stranded on a desert island. He finds deserted caves, and he hides in them. He meets giants that say, “I’ll eat you last.” And he escapes from giants. He’s trying to get back home, but he’s tossed and turned by the winds. Restless winds, chilly winds, unfriendly winds. He travels far, and then he gets blown back.

He’s always being warned of things to come. Touching things he’s told not to. There’s two roads to take, and they’re both bad. Both hazardous. On one you could drown and on the other you could starve. He goes into the narrow straits with foaming whirlpools that swallow him. Meets six-headed monsters with sharp fangs. Thunderbolts strike at him. Overhanging branches that he makes a leap to reach for to save himself from a raging river. Goddesses and gods protect him, but some others want to kill him. He changes identities. He’s exhausted. He falls asleep, and he’s woken up by the sound of laughter. He tells his story to strangers. He’s been gone twenty years. He was carried off somewhere and left there. Drugs have been dropped into his wine. It’s been a hard road to travel.

In a lot of ways, some of these same things have happened to you. You too have had drugs dropped into your wine. You too have shared a bed with the wrong woman. You too have been spellbound by magical voices, sweet voices with strange melodies. You too have come so far and have been so far blown back. And you’ve had close calls as well. You have angered people you should not have. And you too have rambled this country all around. And you’ve also felt that ill wind, the one that blows you no good. And that’s still not all of it.

—  Bob Dylan, excerpted from his Nobel Acceptance Lecture

On this day in music history: June 28, 1986 - Wham! play their last live concert at Wembley Stadium in London. Dubbed “The Final”, the British pop music duo perform before a sold out audience of over 72,000 fans. With the demand for tickets topping 1,000,000 requests, originally two concerts are planned, but ultimately the decision is made to do only a single show. Tickets are priced at £13.50 (approx. $20 US), and sell out within fifteen minutes of going on sale. The day long event also includes the premiere of the film “Wham! Foreign Skies”, documenting the duos historic concerts in China in April of 1985. The concert also features guest appearances by Elton John and Duran Duran lead singer Simon LeBon. Though the concert is professionally filmed, to date, only brief clips have been shown publicly and has yet to be released in its entirety. Other than a brief appearance together during the encore of George Michael’s set at Rock In Rio in 1991, it is the last time that Wham! perform live in concert.

Hit It Fergie

I had to get this fic out of my system!

Fic Request.

(Y/T/N)- Your Twitter Name

Originally posted by ethan-support-group

“@(Y/T/N) you need to get Ethan to do this!”

“Please convince him to remake the video!” 

“I’m begging you! Get him to remake the vid!” 

The Tweets and messages flowed in like a flood. Complete with pleas and beggings from your boyfriend’s audience, plus a link to a very old video. 
As soon as you clicked play, your eyes lit up and you were running up to the office where Ethan was editing. 
“Ethan!” You cried as you rushed over to him. “I have an idea for your 1st of April video.” 
“Oh yeah? Let’s hear it,” He replied, his gaze still on the computer in front of him. 
You positioned the phone in front of Ethan’s face and pressed play. 

“Listen up, y'all, ‘cause this is it-”  

“Noooooooo!” Ethan slapped the phone out of your hand. Slamming a finger onto the screen to pause it. “No! That is not happening!” 
“Please, please, please!” You begged, wrapping your arms around him. “It’ll be so funny to see you do it!” 
“I’m not singing to that damn song,” Ethan grumbled irritably. You squeezed his shoulders, shaking him gently. 
“Come on, baaabe. It’ll be fun!” You whined. “Everyone wants to see it.” 
He crossed his arms and shook his head, “Nope. Never! I refuse!” 

“I hate you,” He snapped, only half angry. “I can’t believe you talked me into this.” 
You couldn’t stop the massive smile that crawled across your face as you stood behind the camera. He sat down and had the laptop on with his old video up and sighed. 
Ethan’s eyes set on you standing behind the camera, “You are so not going to watch me do this.” 
“Oh I so am,” You replied with a chuckle. “I’m not missing this for the world.” 
“You can watch it when I’m done!” Ethan half yelled. 
“Nope, I’m staying here!” You stubbornly sat your ass on the chair behind you. Crossing your arms and smiling when he groaned. 
“Fine, but if you laugh I’m throwing you out.” He mumbled, fixing his hair before starting the recording. 
When the music started and Ethan began to sing, it took all of your strength not to burst into a fit of giggles. 
His mouth moved fluently with the lyrics, his body gently moving to the music. 
You were able to contain your laughter for a few moments, but as soon as Ethan did the “ I blow kisses” your body shook with stifled laughter. Ethan’s eyes flickered to you for a half of a second and his mouth curled in a smile and his lips fumbled with the words. 
“Goddamn it, (Y/N)!” Ethan laughed, pausing the video. 
“That was adorable!” You blurted through your giggles. “Oh my God!” 
Ethan shook his head, flicking his hair in annoyance. 

More than once Ethan blurted out with laughter because of your grinning face. Especially when the chorus came on and then Ethan motioned lifting weights. 
He sighed, only a little annoyed. Your giggles were making him smile too much to concentrate. 
“Go get a paper bag or something,” He joked as he restarted everything. 
“No, you’ll lock me out!” You said. “I promise I’ll hold on. I won’t laugh.” 
“You said that six takes ago!” Ethan exclaimed. “One more time, and if you laugh, I’ll get Tyler to carry you out.” 
You nodded, seating yourself down on the chair and holding onto the sides. 
Ethan managed to get through the whole song without looking at you and you got through most of the recording without so much as giggling. 
But when the song started on the final minute and Ethan started bobbing his head, you found it very difficult to control yourself. 
You started grooving behind the camera, silently dancing to the music. 
Shimming and crumbing as Ethan wiggled his shoulders and weaved his arms about. 
Just as the song came to a close, Ethan burst out laughing as you stood and started waving your hips in a ridiculous fashion. 
“I was so close!” He howled. “No, you’re so out of here!” Ethan launched himself at you as you crumpled with laughter. 
You tried to scramble away but Ethan grabbed hold of your waist and spun you around to face him. You squealed when his fingers dug into your hips, making you cry out and swat at him.
He drowned out your giggles with a kiss, ignoring the “is everything ok”’s from outside the door. 
“Now, get out of here before I do something else to keep you quiet,” Ethan winked, slapping your ass as he nudged you towards the door.


On this day in music history: June 28, 1980 - “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” by The S.O.S. Band hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on August 16, 1980. Written by Harold Clayton and Sidigi Abdallah, it is the debut release and biggest hit single for the Atlanta, GA based band fronted by lead singer Mary Davis. Originally formed in 1977, the band is first known as Santa Monica. They eventually change their name to The S.O.S. Band, with the initials S.O.S. standing for “Sounds Of Success”. The band are signed to Clarence Avant’s Tabu label which at the time is distributed by CBS’s Epic Records. Avant pair the band with producer and songwriter Sidigi Abdallah, who works on material for the debut album “S.O.S.”. It is the first project helmed by the fledgling producer who had been mentored early in his career by legendary record producer and engineer Bones Howe (The 5th Dimension, The Association). Collaborating with fellow songwriter Harold Clayton, he and Abdallah will come up with a song whose original title is “Show You Right”. They continue to work on it, eventually evolving into “Do It Right” before it is finally titled “Take Your Time (Do It Right)”. The seven and a half minute cut is split into a two part single, and is released in March of 1980. An immediate smash on the dance floor, the record storms the R&B singles charts during the late Spring of 1980, before crossing over and racing into the top five on the pop charts in late Summer. “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

Late Night Swimming

A/N : Hello! This is the very first smut I’ve posted on Tumblr so please forgive me if it sucks x on a side note, hope all of you will give this new blog all your love

Pairing(s) : Luhan x (Y/N)

Warnings : nothing much. just pool sex lmao

Genre : Smut

Requested : Yes

Summary : For the anon who requested a Luhan smut that takes place in a pool ;)

Word Count : 2K

Originally posted by wendeer

All I wanted to do was to head down to the hotel’s swimming pool for a good soak in the water to clear my head from the roiling thoughts. For the past few weeks, I’ve been so bogged down with the ruthless demands from work and the amount of paperwork I’ve been tasked to complete. So what did I do? I scampered away from all of it by booking a room at the hotel downtown for myself because I’m an avid procrastinator who enjoys running away from my responsibilities.

So here I am, making my way down to the pool for a nice night swim instead of actually starting on that damn paperwork. The sky stretches above my head like an ink-black blanket dotted with twinkling stars as I wander out of the building and inhale the stinging scent of chlorine wafting from the empty pool.

Padding across the deck in my bare feet and in my bathing suit, I perch at the edge of the pool with my legs dangling in the water, relishing the coolness against my bare skin. The night breeze wafts through my air and I allow my eyes to flutter shut, tilting my head back. There is absolutely nothing better than taking a break from the cold, hard reality of life, enjoying some time by myself and conveniently blocking out all of the demanding responsibilities from my head.

Keep reading

record store blues; josh dun imagine

The bell above the glass door jingled when you walked into the record store. A song with a familiar catchy melody and prominent beat echoed through the store whilst you admired the decor.

The store was dimly lit other than the white fairy lights hanging off the walls, running along the shelves that held various albums and records. There were also a few neon signs that outlined the shapes of guitars, treble clefs and base clefs. The choice of decor was very hipster and Tumblr like, it leaving a sort of sweet taste in your mouth.

You walked over to the vinyls that were collecting dust in the corner and begin to flick through them, hoping to find another sad album to engulf yourself in.

Today had been a dismal day. The day had been cold and the weather had been disgusting, it didn’t give you a good vibe to say the least. The rain continuously poured down from the dark clouds above the city, making you feel even more miserable. Thunderstorms always occurred in the city of Columbus, Ohio and when they did, you couldn’t help but to feel down. However, when these grim days closed in on you, you took out your umbrella and went to your happy place. The record store.

You began to hum to the familiar song playing in the background and started tapping your foot. Before you knew it, the music took over and you closed your eyes, you were singing the lyrics. Oddly enough, the song that was playing suited the weather outside.

“Just a young gun with a quick fuse. I was uptight, wanna let loose. I was dreaming of bigger things, and wanna leave my own life behind.” You pulled your long dirty blonde hair out of your eyes and tucked it behind your ears, still grooving to the music.

“You’re a really good singer.“ 

Your eyes snapped open when you were pulled out of your trance by a voice, nearly jumping out of your skin as you spun around to where it came from.

A guy was leaned against the wall behind you, the fairy lights on the wall above him illuminated the yellow fringe poking out of the gap on his black backwards cap. He wore a black sweater with the sleeves rolled up his forearms, revealing a brightly coloured tattoo on his right arm.

"Wow. Uhm thanks? Yep, okay-” You stammered awkwardly scratching the back of your neck. Nobody had ever complimented your voice before and you weren’t quite sure how to tackle the situation. 

The corner of his lip tugged upwards creating an innocent smirk which made your legs go weak, he then pushed himself off the wall and walked over to you. He dug through the cluster of records in the display in front of you and pulled one out.

“I think you’ll like this,” his hand grazes yours as he hands you a pink record reading Paramore: After Laughter. You were wide eyed at how easily he could pin point your music taste.

“Funny that, I really like Paramore. I’ve been a big fan since I was a teenager,” you chuckle shaking your head in disbelief over how much of an open book you are.

“It’s the best part of my job. Showing people new music or reconnecting with an artist. Music is just a really big part of my life and it’s really fulfilling sharing it with people.” For some reason his cheeks flushed red and he looked down at the ground sheepishly.

Something about this guy made your sorrow subside with a flash. He was still a stranger to you, but nobody could get you to smile this easily on a bad day. You’d usually link the record store with a sad feeling just because you only came on dreary days, however this boy was turning that feeling around.

There was a short silence between the both of you, but the music in the background helped fill it.

“What?” You ask raising an eyebrow. His sudden mood change puzzled you. Only a couple of minutes before this employee was courageous and fearless, now he was shy and quiet.

You watched him fumble with the branded lanyard around his neck. You tried to read the name tag that was on it, however he began to tap nervously it which blocked you from reading it.

“Do you mind if I show you one of my favourite artists?” He raised his head and looked at you with doe eyes. His sweet and shy puppy dog eyes made your heart pound and helped you answer.

“Sure, I’m always open for new music,” the boy turned around and began walking to the shelves on the other side of the store. You followed him whilst holding onto the vinyl tightly in your hand. He started rummaging through the pile of CD’s, narrowing his eyes in concentration. 

You smiled to yourself as you took in his features. You felt your heart rate pick up when he pulled his bottom lip under his teeth, his jaw tensing slightly.

“Here we go,” he gives you the small black album with traces of red to your free hand. You flip the album to the front.

Twenty One Pilots: Blurryface

“Oh yeah, I’ve heard some of their stuff before,” you looked up at him and he had a sheepish smile on his face. “I like them,” you add after flipping over the album again, scanning over some of the song titles.

“Yeah, I like them too,” the boy’s grin basically brought you to your knees. His eyes crinkled at the sides and his brown eyes squinted. 

“My name’s Josh my the way,” he bit his lip again.

“Josh. That really suits you,” you nodded your head in approval, a smile crawled onto your lips.

“That’s why my mum called me that!” Josh raised his hands and chuckled.

 There’s that confidence.

“I come here a lot. But I haven’t see you working here before?” You questioned as you both walked to the front desk and he scanned your items.

“I just came off tou-” Josh paused and cleared his throat, leaving you feel perplexed and curious of what he was going to say.

“I just came back from doing some road tripping with my friend Tyler, and now I’m home,” he rephrased his sentence and forced a smile once he put the albums into the paper bag.

“That sounds like fun! Well, I better go because I’ve got some songs to listen to,” you raise the paper bag and giggle.

“Let me know what you think of the band I showed you. Enjoy!” Josh chuckled.

You bid Josh a farewell, then took out your umbrella and ventured back into the storm to your apartment.

You couldn’t get Josh’s contagious smile out of your mind. Something was different about this boy. Maybe it was the fact that his hair was a crazy colour and intrigued you, or maybe it was how easily he could read you. Whatever it was, you wanted to know him. 

So you did.

You continued to go to the record store even on sunny days. You seemed to have replaced the once gloomy feeling you linked with the store, and replaced it with a happy feeling because of Josh. 

That boy really meant the world to you, nobody could lift your spirits like he did. Little did you know, he felt the same way.


On this day in music history: June 28, 1980 - “Coming Up (Live At Glasgow)” by Paul McCartney & Wings hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Paul McCartney, it is the seventh solo chart topper for Liverpool, UK born singer, songwriter and musician born James Paul McCartney. Written in the Summer of 1979 while recording his album “McCartney II” at his farmhouse in rural Scotland, he performs all of the instrumental parts and most of the vocals on his own. Months prior to its release as a single, McCartney and his band Wings perform “Coming Up” to live audiences on a brief tour of the UK to rapturous response. The bands show at the Glasgow Apollo in Glasgow, Scotland on December 17, 1979 is recorded and includes a rousing performance of “Coming Up”. When the studio version is released as a single in April of 1980, that performance is also included on the B-side of the 45 with the “Venus And Mars” era track “Lunchbox/Odd Sox”. US radio stations immediately take to the live version, giving it more airplay than the studio version and creating a huge public demand for it. Initially, Columbia Records in the US wants to add the live recording to the “McCartney II” album, but Paul refuses. A compromise is reached with CBS by including a bonus 7" single (actually one sided white label promotional copies originally intended for radio stations only) of the “Live At Glasgow” version with the first pressing of the album. Entering the Hot 100 at #73 on April 26, 1980, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “Coming Up” is also instrumental in McCartney’s friend and former band mate John Lennon coming out of his five year long retirement from the music business. While spending time at his and wife Yoko Ono’s beach house at Cold Spring Harbor in Long Island, NY, Lennon hears the song on the radio just days before its release. Impressed by the song and feeling the competitive urge once again, Lennon is immediately inspired to begin writing the songs that becomes the “Double Fantasy” album released in November of 1980. After the chart success of the live recording of “Coming Up” in the US, an alternate live performance recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on December 29, 1979 is released. That version is featured in the live concert film and soundtrack album “Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea” released in 1981. “Coming Up (Live At Glasgow)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

The Sound of Emancipation, Musician Magazine, 1997

You’ve said that Emancipation was created in a freer climate than that under which you recorded for Warner Bros. Yet there doesn’t seem to my ears to be a significantly “freer” sound on the new album than in your earlier work.

Well, when you’re in the creative process, the first thing you naturally think about is the “bombs,” the great ones that you’ve done before. You want to fill in the slots on your album with the songs that will make everyone the happiest: fans, musicians, writers, and so on. I used to try to fill those gaps first whenever I was trying something new, or wait to challenge myself to do another great one.

This means that you think about singles: time constraints, for example, and the subject matter. [For that reason] my original draft of “Let’s Go Crazy” was much different from the version that wound up being released. As I wrote it, “Let’s Go Crazy” was about God and the de-elevation of sin. But the problem was that religion as a subject is taboo in pop music. People think that the records they release have got to be hip, but what I need to do is to tell the truth.

So one element of creativity missing for you in the Warner years was that freedom to say what you wanted to say in your lyrics.

Right. I had to take some other songs, like “A Thousand Hugs and Kisses” and “She Gave Her Angels,” off the Warner albums because they were all about the same subject. But now I can write a song that says, “If u ask God 2 love u longer, every breath u take will make u stronger, keepin’ u happy and proud 2 call His name: Jesus” [from “The Holy River,” on Emancipation], and not have to worry about what Billboard magazine will say. Plus I’m not splitting the earnings up with anyone else except the people who deserve to have them. The people here in my studio will reap the benefits of how Emancipation does, not people in some office somewhere who didn’t contribute anything the music.

Now, the record industry can be a wonderful system, if you want to go that route. After all, some people don’t want the hassle of getting on the phone and talking to retailers about their own records; they want someone to do it for them. I’m just not one of those people.

So lyrically you’ve got more freedom than before. What about the music itself?

If you’re working in a happier atmosphere, you’ll hear things differently and play them differently. “Courtin’ Time” [from Emancipation] is different from “Had U,” from Chaos & Disorder. That whole album is loud and raucous, but it’s also dark and unhappy. Same with The Black Album.

Your drummer, Kirk A. Johnson, co-produced much of Emancipation.

That stems from his being a drum programmer. He’s good at using the computer to put a rhythm track together. I don’t like setting that kind of stuff up, because a lot of times the song will leave me while I’m doing it. But when Kirk and I work together, we can keep each other excited. I can do all the programming myself. 1999 is nothing but me running all the computers myself, which is why that album isn’t as varied as this one. Technology used to play a big part in my music; it only plays a very little part now.


The problem was that regardless of what I heard in my head, I’d work with the sounds I had in front of me. Actually, I seldom wrote at any instruments. But I’m definitely into letting sounds dictate…not the way I write a song, but the way I develop my ideas. “In This Bed” [from Emancipation] is experimental; as we were working on it, I put a guitar on the ground and just let it start feeding back. After a while I hit this button and let the feedback pattern repeat. Does this mean that instruments have a soul or a life of their own? Will they end up writing the song?

It’s like how Mayte and I got married, I took her to see the neighborhood where I was raised as a baby. When we got there, everything was gone: The house where I grew up, all the buildings, everything had been torn down, except this one tree that I used to climb on when I was a kid. That’s all that was left. So I went over to this tree, put my hand on it, and let the memory of that time flow back into me. If that’s what energy is all about, if this tree could remind me of something, even if it looks raggedy and old, that’s the most beautiful thing. The sounds in my music are chosen with a lot of love too, and always with the idea of which color goes with which other color.

How do you know whether to do the bass part in a song on synth or bass guitar?

I’ll listen to the kick drum. The bass guitar won’t go as deep as the synth, and the kick drum tells me how deep I have to go. My original drum machine, the Linn, had only one type of kick. I think I had the first Linn. I did “Private Joy” [from Controversy] with a prototype of that Linn.

Do you use the Roland TR-808, the rapper’s choice, for bass drum sounds?

Sure. I used that on “Da, Da, Da” [from Emancipation]. But I need to remind you that I’m not a rapper. I’ll do rhythmic speaking. “Style” [from Emancipation] calls for words to be spoken, but you can’t [vocally] riff on it. It’s like James Brown: he’ll talk his whole song, but he’s not a rapper either. There’s music behind my groove; it’s not just loops and sample.

On “Courtin’ Time” you drew a lot of big-band phrasing for your vocal parts; the whole thing comes from swing jazz. So why did you stick with a backbeat rhythm track, instead of loosen it up into more of a swing feel?

I wanted it to be a dance record. [Saxophonist] Eric Leeds played me this record, Duke Ellington Live at Newport, with that long saxophone solo [by Paul Gonsalves, on “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue”]. He was telling me that one reason the solo went as long as it did was that this lady jumped up on a table and started dancing to the rhythm, so naturally nobody wanted to quit. That’s the vibe I’m trying to capture. I played “Courtin’ Time” with Eric once for twenty minutes, and he was wailin’ that whole time. That’s why even people who are into hip-hop still get “Courtin’ Time.”

Like “Courtin’ Time,” “The Holy River” stands out on Emancipation as a departure for you in terms of the rhythm.

Well, the melody came first on that one. Sometimes I’ll be walking around and I’ll hear the melody as if it were the first color in the painting. If you believe in the first color and trust it, you can build your song from there. Music is like the universe: Just look at how the planets, the air, and the light fit together. That’s one reason why Emancipation is so long – because of the sense of harmony that keeps it all together.

“Soul Sanctuary” is more of an orchestral experiment, with a mixture off what sounds like Mellotron string lines, harp, and marimba.

I’ll start a track like that piece by piece. I’ll have a color or a line in mind, and I’ll keep switching things around until I get what I’m hearing in my head. Then I’ll try to bring to Earth the color that wants to be with that first color. It’s like having a baby, knowing that this baby wants to be with you. You’re giving birth to the song.

Was that a real or a sampled harp on “Soul Sanctuary”?

That was a sampled harp. I wanted to be able to play it perfectly, and while I can play a few simple things on a real harp, the sample helped me get it the way I wanted it. Samples are good for music; you almost can’t compare “It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night,” the uptempo song from Sign o’ the Times, with “The Human Body” [from Emancipation] because of the difference that samples make.

Yet your songs don’t rely on samples in a structural sense. Unlike a lot of dance-oriented musicians, you use samples to adorn rather than to support a tune.

I am so glad you said that! I’ve heard a whole lot of musicians who have had a hit record and then come to Paisley Park to set up and jam with the New Power Generation. Now, I’m not a judge, but I know when I see someone jamming and when I see someone drownin’ [laughs]! I have to pull their plug and save some of their asses. Man, learn your instrument! Be a musician! You can’t call yourself a musician if you just take a sample and loop it. You can call yourself a thief, because all you’re doing is stealing somebody else’s groove. Just don’t call it music.

How can you tell when the song you’re working on has potential?

Well, see, I can’t say anything about that, because I hate criticizing music. If you judge something, maybe that means you get judged back someday. I wouldn’t tell you that some song you wrote isn’t any good. I wrote this song called “Make Your Mama Happy” that would probably frighten you. And this other song I wrote, “Sexual Suicide,” has this horn section that’s nothing but baritone saxes; it sounds like a truck coming at you. So who can say?

You don’t rate any of your songs as more noteworthy than others?

The thing is, everybody has an inner voice. Mayte and I are into this thing now of wondering whether we’re supposed to get up out of bed when we wake up. If you sleep past this point when you’re supposed to get up, then you’re groggy for the rest of the day. It’s the same thing with songs: Each song writes itself. It’s already perfect.

I remember when Miles Davis came to my house. As he was passing by my piano, he stopped and put his hands down on the keys and played these eight chords, one after the other. It was so beautiful; he sounded like Bill Evans or Lisa [Coleman], who also had this way of playing chords that were so perfect. I was wondering whether he was playing games with me, because he wasn’t supposed to be a keyboard player. And when he was finished, I couldn’t decide whether it was him or an angel putting his hands on the keys.

The point is that you recognized something in what Miles was doing, a kind of excellence that you might not hear in the work of other musicians.

For me, excellence comes from the fact that God loves me. But what is excellence? You’ve heard about these people who will bomb a building and kill all these people in God’s name. You could say that they did an excellent job at what they were trying to do, right? Now, when I look at my band, Dyson is a different kind of guitar player than Mike. She looks cool, she has that kind of punk attitude. But that’s her; that’s not Mike. Lisa was never an explosive keyboard player, but she was a master of color in her harmonies; I could sing off of what she had with straight soul. I don’t know if the people in the band I’m with now will go on to greatness on their own, but everything they do gives me something that I need right now.

You don’t differentiate between musicians either? You don’t point to this person as a better player than that person?

God gave us all gifts. If we accept that, we’ll all do the best that we can do. Miles took some soul-type players and put Keith Jarrett on top of that; it was magic. And Fishbone – are they good or not? The last time I saw Fishbone, the drummer played the whole gig facing the wall. But in that kind of craziness there was a certain kind of excellence too.

Still, you presumably audition musicians for your bands. That means you have to put them on some kind of scale to rate one as being better, or at least more appropriate to your needs, than another.

Well, “auditions” … The idea of a judge is in there somewhere, and I don’t want to be a judge anymore. A lot of people criticized the last band that Jimi [Hendrix] had, but they were able to start and stop at his will; they were right for him at the time. I’ve even hired dancers whose only job was to be there and make me feel good. See, anybody can play with me. I can play with any musician and make them sound good, and they can bring something to me. This hit me when I married Mayte and accepted my name for what it is.

With that, the Artist suddenly stood and stretched. “My band will me if I don’t get in there with them,” he announced, bringing the interview to an end. Within a week or two I had translated and transcribed my notes, then called Paisley Park to arrange for the follow-up Q-and-A. The Artist picked up the phone – “You’re not taping this, are you?” were his first words – and asked me to send the questions his way via fax. Within a day he had them, and a couple of days later his replies were in my hands. Here, as written, is the final round

What are the positive sides of music software? Could you cite examples were running a certain program yielded results that you could not have obtained otherwise?

The body of a human (when healthy) runs like a sequencer. It was obviously programmed a long time ago by an absolute genius. This was the notion behind the groove “Human Body” on Emancipation. Every track of the song is its own “cell,” so 2 speak, running in harmony with its “cellmates.” A living being of sorts is created every time computers are put 2 use this way. No other way yet discovered would be as rewarding.

You noted that one element of using music technology is that the instruments themselves might end up “writing the song.” While some artists seem to consider this a reason not to pursue sequencing and sampling, as if the products somehow shift control of the creative process away from the person, you take a more intriguing view, as if you have an almost organic partnership with the tool of your trade. How, then, do you get to know a new instrument?

Something very soul-like attracts me 2 some instruments moreso than others. It starts with the sound and then the shape. I dig instruments that appear as if the makers were in love with them.

Some of your most memorable songs have been structurally pretty simple; if you write a lead sheet of, say, “We Gets Up” [from Emancipation], what you see is pretty much rooted on the I chord, with minimal melody. What, then, distinguishes a song that doesn’t rely on unusual chord changes or an extended melody?

One-key songs designed 2 put the participant in a trace are best filled up with sound provoked by the spirit more than, say, a structural melody that’s best complemented by color. This 2 me is the root of funk: the choices one makes.

You’ve had a number of customized guitar designs over the years, including the “white guitar” from Purple Rain; to what extent does playability factor into your design for these instruments?

I have compromised playability 4 the look of an instrument in many instances. Keyboards, though, have 2 have “the touch.” Everything is sort of patterned after the 1st violet piano I received as a gift in 1986. Chords are important. Every note in a chord is a singer 2 me. This approach gives music its life. 2 look at music this way is a reason 4 living, as far as I’m concerned.

You’re set up at Paisley Park for analog as well as digital recording. What are the pluses and minuses of the two technologies?

Warmth. Digital is faster. Analog…well, the kick drum on analog sounds like a fat dude getting stomped in the back with a timbaland! It’s all personal preference.

What approach do you take in rehearsing a new band?

Again, let everybody play their strengths. Because Rhonda’s so smart, 4 example, I tend 2 lean toward bassier grooves moreso than with my other bands. She has a nuclear future sure!

What are your thoughts about the state of songwriting today?

I will always respect people like Duke Ellington – someone who has their own style and just watches music change around them. Carlos Santana has more fans now than when he played Woodstock!

You’re preparing to tour. Do you find that you compete with the high standards you’ve set for yourself in past tours? What insights about performing can you share with artists who are working with limited budgets in relatively funky venues?

My own competition is myself in the past. “At war with himself.” Y'all said it 1st. 2 the new artists: Be wild and all else follows.


On this day in music history: June 28, 1988 - Motown Records is sold to MCA Records and The Boston Ventures Group for $61 million. One of the largest black owned businesses in the US, Label founder and Chairman Berry Gordy, Jr. sells the legendary record label which he started in 1959 with an $800 loan from his family. By the late 80’s, Motown is at a low ebb financially and creatively, with the company losing millions of dollars a year while operating at a loss. In spite of numerous pleas from various high profile figures within the African American community not to sell, the deal is finalized with Boston Ventures acquiring 70%, MCA 20%, with the last 10% being set aside for “future black ownership”. The sale of Motown includes the contracts of the artists then currently under the labels roster including legends such as Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Lionel Richie, and the company’s vast master tape archives. However, the deal does not include Motown’s highly lucrative song publishing arm Jobete Music, or the television and film production company Motown Productions, both of which is retained by Gordy. (Half of Jobete is sold to EMI Music in 1997 for $132 million, and the other half for $190 million in 2004). Motown undergoes a resurgence in the early 90’s when former MCA black music executive Jheryl Busby is brought in to run the label. He scores major successes with acts such as Boyz II Men and Johnny Gill. In March of 1993, Boston Ventures buys the 20% stake of Motown owned by MCA, then five months later Polygram Group Distribution purchases the label from BV for $325 million. Today, Motown Records is part of Universal Music Group which acquired Polygram in 1999.


On this day in music history: June 28, 1975 - “Look At Me (I’m In Love)” by The Moments hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #39 on the Hot 100 on August 9, 1975. Written by Harry Ray, Al Goodman and Walter Morris, it is the second R&B chart topper for the New Jersey based vocal trio. Group members Al Goodman and Harry Ray write the song with their band guitarist Walter Morris. The trio are sitting around the table in the kitchen of Goodman’s home in Hackensack, NJ when they start throwing song ideas around. They write “Look At Me (I’m In Love)” in short order, before going to All Platinum Studios in nearby Englewood, NJ to cut the track. The string and horn charts on the track are written by legendary arranger Sammy Lowe (“It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World”). The lush romantic ballad is their last major hit as The Moments, leaving All Platinum Records for Polydor in 1979, and changing their name to Ray Goodman & Brown.