Tuesday, April 10, 2018

American playlist

I haven't posted much lately, which always makes me feel both lazy and that I must post something pretty good to make up for it. This is not that pretty good post. Instead it's some nonsense about music. Sorry.

I recently visited St Louis and doing so got me thinking about driving across the country, and what music I would listen to if I did that. I'm thinking of a playlist made up of ten blues albums, ten jazz albums, ten folk albums, ten country albums, and ten rock'n'roll albums. Within each genre I'd like, within reason, to approximate an ideal of two albums by each of the best two female artists, two albums by each of the best two male artists, one compilation, and one album by someone else. And the idea is to emphasize classics, so nothing of merely historical interest and nothing too recent. All artists should be from the USA.

What's likely to happen is that I don't ever do the road-trip but do create and listen to the playlist. So I'd like it to be good.

If you have suggestions, e.g., for specific albums, feel free to make them here.


  1. Sounds like sort of an American road trip counterpart to "Desert Island Discs", since, in addition to repaying close and repeated listening, and immunity to loss of interest, they should have a personal emotional resonance, or at least the ability to evoke it.

    As far as suggestions are concerned, I don't know much about folk or country, but what about pop music that's not rock (or rock & roll), e.g., Michael Jackson's Off the wall, or Rufus and Chaka Khan's Street Player, or Abba?

    But I found it interesting to consider the question of who are the "best" female jazz instrumentalists, of which we yearn for more? I would offer, e.g.: 1. Joanne Brackeen, piano (e.g., Take a chance); 2. Regina Carter, violin (e.g., Paganini: After a dream); or 3. Geri Allen, piano. (For the vocalists, I would suggest Betty Carter, Sara Vaughan, Ella.)

    Do you want the "best" artists or the "best" albums? (I use scare quotes because I'm sure you don't want the most popular or the critics' choices, which I, for one, never like.) E.g., for Miles, Kind of blue is so often played, but for a road trip I would suggest Miles ahead. Coltrane, Monk, Bill Evans are a must.


    1. Thanks! I have wondered about pop or soul or R&B. Perhaps I should combine them into one additional category. In the US, R&B seems to be what in the UK is called soul, while in the UK, R&B means middle aged white men in tight suits playing The Who covers in a pub. Not my thing at all. But a strictly US pop/soul/R&B category could be very good, I suspect.

      As far as personal emotional resonance goes, this will be more a case of the ability to evoke it than of already having it, since I aim to listen to stuff I don't already know. So Ella Fitzgerald might be out, unless I can find albums I haven't heard before. Which I probably can.

      And as for the best artists or albums, I am looking for some mix of most popular, most critically acclaimed, most representative, and personally appealing to me. So it's tricky. Thankfully none of it matters, but it's fun to think about.

      So far I have one Bob Dylan album for the folk category, but I'll also take your suggestions into serious consideration.