Some friends of mine recently released “Outsider Songs”, a collection of covers. The original artists are recognizable (Duran Duran!), but the songs are more obscure. It got me thinking quite a bit about songs that are literally under sung. It reminded me of Luke MacNeil’s – ‘These Are Good Songs’, another curated selection of covers, as played by a single person. Not so long ago, my friend Skye participated in a show where folks played nothing but songs from when they were in high school. Perhaps this is the evolution of the mix tape – the recognition and celebration of how other people’s music connects with us, and how we use it to define ourselves. Remember how important what bands you listened to and what movies you liked were middle school? They were big deal for me.
Everyone has their undersung heroes. There’s pride, but also possessiveness that comes with knowing about something other people don’t. Once upon a time, my favorite taqueria was in the running for “Best Burrito in America.” Like others I was glad it received its rightful recognition as culinary genius, but relieved it didn’t win first place and lose the cache that comes from being less-famous.
My list? I’d like to hear a collection of songs by side-projects and backing bands: the Tom Tom Club, the Band, the Dap-Kings, the Dust Brothers, the Meters, Missy Elliot…okay she may not fit in this list, but her production credits run ridiculously long. But really, the album I would make would probably be covers of old NES video game music, like Duck Tails (Hiroshige Tonomura), Blaster Master (Naoki Kodaka), and Mega Man (Manami Matsumae). In truth that’s what I emulated when I first started writing music.
What was your favorite music in high school? Who is your undersung musical hero?