Today’s Throwback Track comes courtesy of the song “Connected” by Stereo MCs. The rhythmic vocals that start the song off before the heavy beats come out remind me of days spent with headphones or my ghetto blaster (with CD and a dual cassette deck that had auto-reverse features!), the music my background as I lived within my youth of writing notes on three-holed punch paper to give to friends at school next day, when mix tapes often became they way you defined yourself in one way… not just by the songs you chose, but the order you chose to place them on each side of a blank cassette tape. When new music often came to you visually via music videos rather than sponsored ads in the middle of a social media experience. It’s odd that in many ways, while technology has changed to make the task of people connecting to others easier and faster, it’s also dehumanized the value of the connection in more ways than not.
My first #ThrowbackTrackThursday song was inspired by Justin Timberlake’s single “Filthy”. In that same week, Bruno Mars released a remix of his song “Finesse” that included a Cardi B feature. Hearing that remix for the first time took my ears back to the beats of the New Jack era and one of my favourite groups from that era (particularly ones that used similar drum tracks to the ones echoing in the “Finesse” remix), Boyz II Men. Boyz II Men, back in the day, was a four piece that demonstrated vocal prowess over Bell Biv Devoe’s Michael Bivins’ inspired beats. “Motownphilly”, in particular, was the first song that introduced me to Boyz II Men and the beauty of a capella harmonies mixed with danceable drum lines. My appreciation for their music inspired my first and only fan driven writings to MuchMusic for Master T’s RSVP show to play more of the “Motownphilly” music video at a time I knew I’d probably be able to watch it on television. Back in the day when MuchMusic actually played music videos, interviewed musicians, and featured live music performances. Back in the day when music came in a variety of tangible formats, compact discs still just making their forays into the market and the cassette tape was still a popular medium for many musicians to share their songs. The fact that the music video for “Motownphilly” showed a group of guys who could sing, harmonise, and create upbeat, uptempo music was an irresistible combination.
To get more of my musical memories and musings in a place I can look back to, I’m trying to write more on that site. To help with the inspirations behind the moments, I am challenging myself to at least post on specific days, leaving random musically-related musings to be posted at whim. So starting this year, I have opted to co-opt the ubiquitous Throwback Thursday hashtag trend into a Throwback Track Thursday on this site.
Today’s #ThrowbackTrackThursday is one I dedicate to the phenomenon that is Prince. Admittedly, his name comes to mind today in particular while I listened to Justin Timberlake’s new track “Filthy”… and the beats and bass suggested the influence of his Purpleness to me for reasons perhaps only my aural memories can explain. Of the many tracks Prince influenced, inspired, and wrote… “Raspberry Beret” is the one I choose for today. Because not only was the original track a fond memory of my younger self, but it has also generated great covers by artists I dig in their own rights as well. See: Hindu Love Gods. Matt Nathanson. Chris Martin.
The Proclaimers’ song, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) has been in my head as of late, not because of its frequency on radio stations or on playlists, but how the meaning of the song to me came and affected me moreso of late.
It’s easy to be with someone when things are going well, but it’s always telling who is around when times are less ideal. As I sat in a car driving three hours to try to be there for a friend, I was reminded of the song in how myself and others travelled the distance without question, travelling to and from in a day, just to try and provide what comfort we could in person rather than texted words or phone conversation. Length of the friendship had no role to play in whether we chose to go. Our friend was easily someone we would do whatever we could for however long we were able.
Back in high school, the song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” was a staple to my music back then. In many of the yearbook entries that year, quoted song lyrics were part of how I expressed sentiment. And while many of those persons I quoted lyrics about are not in my life, the song reminds me of the less complicated times and friendships of them that worked in high school if not anywhere else.
Whenever I hear the song, it brings back fond memories. A musical time capsule as well as a reminder to me to be there in the present for people I care about. A good song doing good things, I think.