122: George Harrison (The Beatles), ‘You Know What to Do’ b/w Buddy Holly, ‘You’re the One’

So you thought (as I did) that you know every George Harrison/Beatles recording and every post-puberty Buddy Holly recording? Here are two you don’t know. And you just may have a hard time telling them apart.

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129: Franz Schubert, ‘Death and the Maiden’

In Renaissance art, the Death and the Maiden allegory depicted irresistible Death seducing a hot virgin without any clothes—think of a slasher movie directed by Ingmar Bergman. In young Franz Schubert’s string quartet, this motif becomes a hyper-energized meditation on his impending demise.

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033: Radka Toneff, ‘The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress’ (Jimmy Webb)

You’ve never heard of the Norwegian singer Radka Toneff. Trust me, it’s your loss.
Listen to her sing Jim Webb’s ‘The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress’. Tell me you weren’t moved.

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125: Bee Gees, ‘Holiday’

I say ‘The Bee Gees’ and you snicker. But before these three white Australian brothers started sounding like three black American sis-tahs, they were compared favorably with, ahem, The Beatles. The Brothers Gibb – Incarnation #1.

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119: Tom Harrell, ‘Train Shuffle’

Loath as I am to resort to gimmickry, it’s hard to ignore the back-story of trumpeter Tom Harrell’s paranoid schizophrenia. He hears voices, maintains ‘a tenuous contact with reality’, is heavily medicated, and speaks like a zombie who’s just seen a ghost. Until he puts his horn to his lips, when he’s instantly and magically possessed by an utterly coherent aesthetic expressiveness.

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289: Simon & Garfunkel, ‘Old Friends/Bookends’

In 1967, Paul Simon said I resembled Art Garfunkel.
He was wrong.

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203: Aretha Franklin & Ray Charles: ‘Spirit in the Dark’

I’m about to submit myself to a month-long prayer marathon, be bored out of my mind, try to seriously ponder my destiny for the coming year, and sneak in an occasional thought about Aretha and Ray’s ‘Spirit in the Dark’.

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160: Smokey Robinson & Aretha Franklin, ‘Ooh Baby, Baby’ (Live)

Two remarkable voices from the same ‘hood, Smokey and Aretha, velvet and steel, a magical meeting in a magical song. It’s not chemistry, it’s alchemy. Watch it and say a little prayer of thanks for being present at the creation.

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