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196: Ray Charles, ‘You Don’t Know Me’

Ray pretty much invented soul and then cornered the market. Instead of leaving well enough alone, he went and invaded Nashville, dressing a string of Country and Western classics in his jazz/pop/soul style, but with fiercely personal interpretations. Something new under the sun. Something indelibly beautiful.

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195: Hoagy Carmichael, ‘Skylark’

Earworms, Oliver Twist (the dance), crazy loons, the will o’ the wisp, a gypsy serenading the moon, all these and more! Especially the elegant and passionate songwrighting of Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer.

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114: Luciana Souza, ‘Morrer de Amor’

‘Morrer de Amor’ as sung by Luciana Souza – the lyrics of this song are in a language I don’t understand, and I know almost nothing about its background. But the rendition is of such utter beauty and unspeakable perfection that its emotional eloquence transcends any need for explication. I’m just going to turn off my analytical brain, close my verbose mouth, and hope that you’ll be as moved by it as I am.

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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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193: The Band, ‘Rockin’ Chair’

“The Band” had a profound timeliness for 1969. But it also has a purity and timelessness, a music that evokes respect for what went before, a modesty and gravitas and resonance rare in popular art. The album is a gift.

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192: Les Double Six of Paris, “Moanin'”

The hard-bop jazz vocal sextet Les Double Six of Paris–their sources, their contemporaries and their followers; and why vocal jazz groups loved singing Count Basie.

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191: The Fleetwoods, ‘Mr Blue’

Nobody talks about The Fleetwoods anymore. In my eyes, that’s a tragedy, because so often when I’m feeling like Mr Blue their songs come softly to me. They were the first group to have two records top the Billboard Hot 100 in a single year! No one can take that away from them. I hope no one would want to.

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190: Bob Dylan, ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’

Kids ought to be careful, but I guess that ain’t gonna happen. Little romp in the back seat, whoops, you’re married at 20. A little untimely texting, you’re limping through the Pearly Gates at 21. Write a Protest Song at 22, you’re a Protest Singer forever.

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