Posts Tagged ‘Alicia Keys’

 

alicia_here

When the history of this time is written, what will be said? That it’s when the land made for you and me became the land of us versus them? Or was it when love, like hope before it, won out over doom and gloom? We won’t know until Tuesday, of course, but I can say this without equivocation: I stand with Alicia Keys. I stand with love.

Alicia Keys, of course, released her latest album, Here, this past Friday. It’s a breezy set, at once jazzy, folky and soulful – and utterly addictive. It’s reminiscent, to my ears at least, of Neneh Cherry’s classic Homebrew from the early 1990s, in that it mixes and matches genres, sometimes in the same song, and does so with a deftness that makes it sound effortless (though I’m sure it wasn’t). And, to go hand-in-hand with Here, she also released a cinéma vérité-like short film, The Gospel, on YouTube that’s well worth watching:

About the only negative thing I can say of the album: the two songs she released earlier this year, “In Common” and “Hallelujah,” aren’t included.

Anyway, for today’s Top 5, I’m listing a few of my favorite Alicia Keys tracks, beginning with where it all began…

1) “Fallin’.” To my ears, Alicia’s 2001 debut, Songs in A Minor, is a solid set with glimmers of greatness. All the pieces are in place save one: consistency. That said, when it’s on, such as on this, the first single, it’s magnificent.

2) “If I Ain’t Got You.” The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003), her sophomore set, is a stronger album than predecessor, I think, but again lacks consistency. This song and “You Don’t Know My Name” are classics, though.

3) “No One.” Alicia’s third album, As I Am (2007), is another strong set that, like her first two albums, has some consistency issues – which, I should add, most modern albums do. (I blame the CD and its 80-minute length; back in the day, albums generally clocked in around 40 minutes, which meant only the absolute best songs made the cut.)

4) “Teenage Love Affair.” When I told Diane that I was putting together this list, she said to be sure to include this jewel from As I Am; I was planning to, anyway.

5) “Doesn’t Mean Anything.” My most-played Alicia album is The Element of Freedom (2009), which I’ve been known to play over and over again – in fact, I did just that last week, when I listened to it on my commute to work, while at work and then again on the ride home. And this song? It’s my absolute, all-time Alicia favorite…

6) “Empire State of Mind, Part II” …except for maybe this.

7) “Brand New Me.” Alicia’s fifth studio album, Girl on Fire, is another solid set accented by this song of rebirth.

And that’s that. Peace out.

 

wtc82Every other day of the week, month, year and decade began the same as it did that Tuesday morning. I rolled out of bed, communed with the cat, made and drank coffee, and hopped online for a spell. That meant, at the time, checking my email, reading the latest digests from the Rust List and Lee Shore (Neil Young and CSN email groups), and then scanning the headlines on MSNBC (now NBCNews), CNN and the Philly Inquirer. It’s a routine I still keep, actually, though the email groups have been replaced by Facebook and, some days, Twitter.

Weather-wise, it was a nice late-summer/pre-fall day in the Delaware Valley; by the time I left for work, a few minutes before 9am, it was in the mid-60s. The car radio was tuned to KYW-1060, the all-news radio station; I hadn’t even backed out into the street before learning that a plane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. It was thought to have been a tragic accident involving a small plane. Minutes later, news broke that another plane had crashed into the south tower.

My main memory of the day: watching the tragedy unfold on a TV in the high-walled cubicle office of TV GUIDE’s chief assignment editor. It was beyond comprehension. It still is.

For today’s Top 5: #Remember911. The first four videos come from the America: A Tribute to Heroes broadcast, which aired 10 days later. The last comes from U2’s halftime performance at the 2002 Super Bowl.

1) Bruce Springsteen – “My City of Ruins”

2) Alicia Keys – “Someday We’ll All Be Free”

3) Dixie Chicks – “I Believe in Love”

4) Neil Young – “Imagine”

5) U2 – “Where the Streets Have No Name”

And two bonuses (also from America: A Tribute to Heroes)…

6) Mariah Carey – “Hero”

7) Sheryl Crow – “Safe and Sound”