Meshell Ndegeocello brings alive old and new songs

Meshell NdegeocelloOn May 30, I was privileged to attend an intimate performance and “All Things Considered” interview with Meshell Ndegeocello at the legendary Village Studios in Los Angeles. The event was organized to launch her new album, Comet, Come to Me, but she played songs from each of her previous albums—except Cookie, The Anthropological Mixtape, for which she said she needed to be in another mental space to deal with. (Cookie came at the end of her relationship with Maverick, with contentious demands from the label such as trying to select producers by opening up Billboard to see who had the latest hits. However, she teased that a song might make its way into a forthcoming concert.) It was a real treat for fans to hear songs from the early albums: “Dred Loc,” “Outside Your Door,” “I’m Diggin’ You,” “Who Is He and What Is He to You,” and “Ecclesiastes: Free My Mind.” I was so overcome I felt tears well up just hearing these songs brought back to life. Continue reading →

The improbability of a pink moon

Nick Drake was a young British singer-songwriter who killed himself in 1974 after struggling with depression. He released his first album, Five Leaves Left, in 1969. Neither of his two subsequent albums — Bryter Layter and Pink Moon — sold more than 5,000 copies. Yet his influence slowly continued to spread, and he’s been cited as an influence by artists such as Kate Bush, Beck, and REM. Continue reading →

Musical locations in Manhattan

Washington Square ParkOn a recent trip to Manhattan, my partner and I visited specific locations referenced in songs by our favorite artists while we listened to the song. The concept of a musical tour of the city made for an intriguing plan. Our first stop was Washington Square Park. In “Garlands,” Tori Amos sings about two lovers meeting up here to go see a Chagall exhibit uptown. The paintings seem to chronicle elements of their love. The song was a bonus track on The Beekeeper. Tori originally considered titling the song “Washington Square.” Continue reading →

Ndegeocello takes a chance with Weather

One of the great losses in this era of downloadable, individual songs is the practice of sitting down with a new album and letting it seep into your soul. That’s especially important for an artist like Meshell Ndegeocello, who explores unexpected avenues in her music. When she released songs from The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams in two batches during 2006-07, the songs at first seemed strange, an unfamiliar landscape. Only gradually did the magic emerge, and it’s definitely a masterpiece. Continue reading →