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Teenagers and popularity. Social status. Where you stand in the eyes of your peers and in your own mind. Letting others determine your sense of worth. That warped, cruel, numbered list of My Rank on The Ladder.

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020: Esperanza Spalding, ‘I Know You Know’

I had the very good fortune to see Esperanza Spalding perform last week. Even though her hair was bandana’d, she was a knockout. Here’s a piece I wrote a while back about her, her music, sexuality in female performers, and a quirky taxonomy of people who make music with their voices.

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194: The Rolling Stones, ‘Not Fade Away’ (1964)

My buddies Vocal Line are going to back The Stones on stage in Copenhagen. While pretending to not be jealous, I remember The Stones as I saw them on their first tour of the US, in 1964. You can’t always get what you want, but that memory does Not Fade Away.

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189: Choir of Young Believers, ‘Hollow Talk’ (Nordic Noir TV)

Why do I think Nordic music is so fine? Because it’s on a continuum with the world outside.
And why am I infatuated with dark, murky, gloomy, angst-ridden, terrifying Nordic Noir television?
Are you kidding?

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188: Imogen Heap/Vocal Line, ‘Let Go’

In which we discuss Leo Da Vinci, Finnish surf jazz, my futile struggle to keep up with the music world, the great Danish rhythm choir Vocal Line, and their treatment of Imogen Heap’s (Frou Frou’s) Pinteresque ‘Let Go’. Oh yeah, and magic gloves.

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187: Trombone Shorty, ‘Hurricane Season’

In which we talk about “The Making of SoTW”; tripping over fire hydrants; a 1931 Madagascarian torch singer; John Keats’ ‘Ode to a Nightingale’; kissing with your eyes closed; and Trombone Shorty, a young New Orleans practitioner of ‘supafunkrock’ – an amalgam of rock, hip-hop, neo-soul, jazz and funk.

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046: James Taylor, “Never Die Young”

“Never Die Young”, for me, is the multifocal prism through which I squint at the golden days of my youth. It contains all the love and pain and hopes and disappointments and optimism and disillusionment that my hoodlum friends and I have traversed, like all golden boys grown old. But we were fortunate enough to be children of a very special time.

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026: Andy Bey, ‘River Man’

The finest male jazz vocalist you’re never heard of, with a heart and a vocal range as wide as his 66-year professional career is long.

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