DJ Jim Q's Playlist: Water
Drip… drip… this month’s theme is water, let’s dive in. Water-themed songs are abundant, I guess that shouldn’t be surprising given the essential nature of water. It’s elemental to life. In fact, all life on the planet is born of water. Humans mutated from the tetrapods. Our prehistoric ancestors crawled from the sea about 400 million years ago. Since then, we have evolved a little bit. Standing upright, losing the tails and gills, we have evolved into sophisticated sentient beings, at least some of us. Yet we have not lost our primal connection to water. It’s so integrated into our existence, we consume it, we bath in it, we are actually made up of up to 60% water. Water is recreation and also a devastating destructive force. It’s everything. So it makes sense so many songs would pay homage to it.
The theme this month was selected by our good mates from the Perth chapter. I wonder if being completely surrounded by water had anything to do with it? While technically too big to be an island, I still like to think of Australia as the biggest island rather than the smallest continent. But what do I know? Perth has a strong lineage of fine music. From contemporary artists like Pond and Tame Impala to post-punk pioneers, The Triffids, and the legendary Scientists, the western coastal city is a wealth of musical creativity. By the way, Scientists are back at it and touring in 2019, check them out if they pass through your city and get a little taste of Perth in your home town.
I kicked off the playlist with Donovan’s mythical tale of Atlantis. I love his soft whimsical narration at the beginning of the song, it’s almost a whisper. His Scottish accent seems to put a decorative curl on every syllable. Donovan would have been a fantastic bedtime story orator. I thought the tale of Atlantis would be a great way to set the stage for the rest of the water-themed musical program. Hail Atlantis!
Immediately following Donovan is Missy Elliott’s “The Rain”. This is the first Missy song I heard and it’s still might my favorite. The song features legendary producer Timbaland at the top of his game. A reimagining of Ann Peebles soul classic “I Can’t Stand the Rain”, this version is minimal, psychedelic, and dreamy—if I remember correctly the video was equally far-out.
A little further into the playlist is The Standells garage-rock classic “Dirty Water”. Equal parts swagger and charm, this ode to the Charles River is a warm dedication to Bostonian “lovers, muggers, and thieves”. The song has predictably become an anthem for Boston sports teams, but it’s still a great rock-n-roll song.
Toward the middle of the playlist, you will find “Águas de Março”, the first track from one greatest Brazilian pop records ever, “Elis and Tom”. Elis Regina, a legendary Brazilian singer, and the king of Bossa Nova Antônio Carlos Jobim came together to make this 1974 masterpiece. The collaboration was apparently a long time wish of Elis’s and finally came to fruition when her record label gifted her the opportunity to mark 10 years with the label. Wow, what a gift. Elis and Tom is an absolute work of art, this is definitely one for your vinyl collection.
Closer to the end of the list is A Certain Ratio’s space groovy track “Knife Slits Water”. ACR is one of the bands, that without context, is very hard to place in time. They could be from 1970, 1980 or a hip new indie band on Warp Records. The experimental post-punk outfit oscillates between rock, funk and industrials sounds. The bands early recording was on the legendary Manchester-based Factory Records whose roster included such pioneering artists as New Order, Joy Division and O.M.D. I originally intended to include ACR’s song “Waterline” but they didn’t have that song on Spotify.
I finished out the playlist with a drop of Miles Davis. “Water Babies” the title track is the first song on the 1974 retirement compilation. The record is a collection of outtakes and leftover sessions. The six-track album span two stylistic eras from his last entirely acoustic album “Nefertiti” to the transformational period between “Filles de Kilimanjaro” and “In a Silent Way”. Water Babies may be the shortest track on the record, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in elegance.
That’s just a few of the many waters themed tracks floating your way in this playlist.
From Solange’s latest “Sound of Rain” to PJ Harvey’s “Down by the Water” we go from the surface to the deep. This playlist is a confluence of divergent genres with artists including “Al Green”, Lizzo, Bad Brains, Girlpool, Leon Russell — even the princess of pop, Katy Perry, made it into the pool this month.
Thanks for listening. See you next month with another theme and another playlist. In the meantime, if you dig these playlists, please share them and say hi on Twitter. Also to keep up, follow me on Spotify.