DJ Jim Q's Playlist: Humility
This months Humility playlist is comprised of songs with themes of humility, meekness, modesty, even self deprecation. Humility isn’t all that prevalent in popular music or modern culture for that matter. Maybe it’s because of all the talk about personal brand, self-promotion and individualism, but humility is in short supply. This is really too bad, because
humility is a prerequisite for empathy and fundamental to being able to connect with other people.
Humility translates to selflessness for me, putting something or someone above yourself or your personal needs.
We do it as designers all the time, I may not respond to a particular design element but I know the audience will, so I put their desires above my personal taste. In user experience we talk about empathy, really sympathizing and identifying with your users, losing yourself and looking at the world through their eyes. This approach works for more than just trivial things like website design of course, it is fundamental to human compassion. Wow, did that just get a little deep?
OK, back to the music.
While songs with themes of humility aren’t particularly abundant, after a little digging, I think I pulled together a good collection of tracks, some from unexpected artists.
For instance, in “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” Prince abandons his characteristically cocky posture and empathizes with the heart-broken protagonist who is looking for a new partner. He explains “I said baby don’t waste your time, I know what’s on your mind, I may be qualified for a one night stand, but I could never take the place of your man”. Aww what a good guy.
In Amy Winehouse’s break out hit “You Know I’m No Good” “You Know I’m No Good”, she gives her dude fair warning, she is nothing but trouble. It features the soul revivalist, Dap-kings, true to form, sounding like a blend of the Wrecking Crew and the J.B.‘s. This record, produced by Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, sounds like it was transported straight from the 60’s girl-group era. I must admit, I don’t generally like the retro-revivalist stuff, but this track is super catchy and the musicianship is amazing (as it always is with the Dap-kings).
In the country-rocker classic, “Jolene”“Jolene”, Dolly Parton pleads with Jolene not to take her man. She admits that she can’t compete with Jolene’s beauty and instead asks for her help. It’s a unique take on the jealous lover story and I’ve always wondered if it worked.
“What’s up Fatlip”“What’s up Fatlip” is a different kind of hip-hop track, very introspective, honest and humble. Fatlip, of Pharcyde, raps about how he isn’t doing all that well, even though when those around him ask “how you doing”, he just says “he’s coolin”. He goes through an exhaustive list of his shortcomings, failures and insecurities. It’s actually quite sad, but also refreshing and as real as it gets. More emo hip hop please.
Talk about sad, Thin Lizzy’s “Got to Give It Up”“Got to Give It Up” is the tale of a failed individual falling victim to addiction, confessing his failures through a sad story of his spiral into darkness. “Tell my mama and tell my pa, that their fine young son didn’t get far, he made it to the end of a bottle, sitting in a sleazy bar.” It sounds like he has hit rock bottom, a very humbling place to be.
I don’t want to end on a completely bleak and somber note, so I close out the playlist with the up tempo rager “How Low Can a Punk Get”“How Low Can a Punk Get” by the Bad Brains. This version of the song is my favorite. It’s from the “Black Dots”“Black Dots” record which is a compilation of early Ear Studios sessions recorded in 1979. It was released in 1993. In my humble opinion, it’s one of the greatest punk records ever.
Once again, thanks for listening, and if you like these playlist please share them. I have a great time making them and I appreciate knowing that folks enjoy them.