Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Girl, lemme talk to you for a minute...

So my iPod was on shuffle as I walked home tonight, and one of my all time favorite songs popped up: Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name." Produced by Kanye, the song features gorgeous background vocals from a then relatively unknown John Legend, a baller Main Ingredient sample and best of all, a fabulously executed spoken monologue mid song. Now, for those of you who don't listen to old school soul and R&B, perhaps you aren't familiar with the origin of the random spoken breakdown. A staple in '70s and '80s slow jams, the spoken breakdown is a rare and hilarious musical nuance that when done properly, really takes a song from good to great in no time. When done wrong, it is painful and awkward. And it's become nearly extinct. And I am not talking about intros or outros on songs, because trust me, those are in no danger of going the way of the polar bear (too soon, my b). I'm talking straight up "baby, let me explain" speeches and "come over and let me rub you down" pleas. You know what I mean: Jodeci, Teddy Pendergrass, Bobby Womack, Boyz II Men, Barry White...the soliliquies that made you stop singing along and just go, "hmm mmm, I know that's right." Or laugh, really, really hard.

In spirit of a lost art form, I have compiled a list of my favorite, desert island top five monologues. Feel free to comment and add your own. I hope to everything sacred I am not the only person under the age of thirty who holds these special addresses close to my heart.

5. Boyz II Men "End of the Road." Michael McCary, the Philly group's bass harmony (or the dude with the cane) was ALWAYS on the monologue tip. He couldn't dance because of his scoliosis, and his voice was so Barry White deep, that he was the natural candidate for the vocal breakdown. But even as a 3rd grader I was like, this motherfucker has NO self respect. I mean, come ON dude. You have a cane and a bad ass voice. You should not be using your spotlight moment to say things like this:
"Girl, I'm here for you. All those times at night when you just hurt me and just ran out with that other fellow, baby, I knew about it, I just didn't care. You just don't understand how much I love you do you? I'm here for you. I'm not out to go out and cheat all night just like you did baby, but that's alright. I love you anyway and I'm still gonna be here for you, till my dying day. Baby, right now I'm just in so much pain baby, because you just won't come back to me will you? Just come back to me."
GET A GRIP man. You get the doormat prize and come in at number 5.

4. Lenny Williams "'Cause I Love You" Alright, not only is this one of the better sample sources that Kanye sped up, but it has one of the greatest breakdowns. Lenny cries throughout the whole damn song, and it culminates in this:
"You know, one time things got so bad until I had to go to one of my friends and talk to him. And I told him, I said, “You know, I’m having problems with the woman that I love. It seems that I call her on the phone and I just can’t get her to answer.
And then I went to her house and I saw a car parked in the driveway
I knocked on the door, but still my knocks went unanswered.
And then I went home and I watched television until television went off.
And then I played my records until I just didn’t want to hear them anymore.
And finally I went to bed, but I found myself waking up a few hours later.
And the tears were running down my face." And my friend told me, he said, “Lenny,
You just oughta forget about her." But I told my friend, I said, “You know, maybe you’ve never been in love like I’ve been in love. And maybe you’ve never felt the things that I’ve felt." But this is what I told my friend, I said, “You know, sometimes you get lonely. You get lonely, you get lonely."

I didn't even know television went off.

3. Alicia Keys "You Don't Know My Name" Well, this is the song that sparked this post and one of my all time favorite R&B tunes. Kanye West didn't become famous for nothing and the lush production coupled with John Legend's beautiful cascading harmonies and Alicia's coquettish charm make this a killer "unrequited crush from a far" jam. And when Keys says "Wait, my cell phone breakin' up" I lose it. Oh, and Mos Def is a BABE in this video.
"Well, I'm gonna just have to go ahead and call this boy.
Hello? Can I speak to -- to Michael? Oh hey, how you doin'?
Uh, I feel kinda silly doin' this, but um, this is the waitress from the coffee house on 39th and Lennox. You know, the one with the braids?
Yeah, well I see you on Wednesdays all the time
You come in every Wednesday on your lunch break, I think
And you always order the special, with the hot chocolate.
And my manager be tripping and stuff, talking 'bout we gotta use water
But I always use some milk and cream for you, 'cause I think you're kinda sweet.
Anyway, you always got on some fly blue suit 'n your cuff links are shining all bright
So, whatchu do? Oh, word? Yeah, that's interesting. Look man, I mean I don't wanna waste your time but, I know girls don't usually do this, but I was wondering if maybe we could get together, outside the restaurant one day? You know, 'cause I do look a lot different outside my work clothes. I mean, we could just go across the street to the park right here- Wait, hold up, my cell phone breakin' up, hold up. Can you hear me now? Yeah. So, what day did you say? Oh yeah, Thursday's perfect, man."

2. Prince "Insatiable" I couldn't leave this one out, despite the fact that Prince kind of talks his way through out the whole song. He gets really nasty and makes me feel uncomfortable towards the end and this is basically sonic sex. But really I just wanna know who "Martha" is and why he chose that name, because it's about as sexy as "Mildred."
"OK, so all U do is push the little red button
And I belong 2 U in your little video box
Nah, don't look at the clock, yeah
It's 2:45, we got all night
First, U gotta tell me what U want me 2 do...
Do U really want all my clothes off? (Yes)
What are U gonna do 2 prove it? (Ooh)
Aren't U afraid we're gonna be found out? (No)
Well, let's get on with the show...
Doesn't my body look good in the shadows?
Ooh, baby knows what 2 do
Have U done this before? (I don't know)
U say U want my hips up in the air (Yeah)?
Oh no, I don't care...
I know I could be nasty with U."

The video is edited so his royal nastiness can't truly be conveyed.

1. Teddy Pendergrass "Come and Go With Me" And here it is. This gets the number one spot for two reasons. First of all, it's the flip side: this time it's the object of the song, the lady he sets his sights on, giving us a piece of her mind. They go back and forth, but obviously she goes home with him, but only because he agrees to buy her drink and drive her home after. My kind of girl. And secondly, Teddy Pendergrass was one of the originators of the slow jam spoken word. He has to be on my list. So here's to you Teddy P. The clip is a live one.
"Come on over to my place
(No, not tonight, no)
You see it’s not far from here
(I believe you)

Would you just take a minute and think about it?
(Oh, man)
Would you just think about it, think about it? Yeah...
(I’m thinkin’ about it but I really have to say no)

Come on and go with me
Come on over to my place
(No, I know)
You’re sittin’ here, you’ve been sittin’ here for quite a long time
(Yeah, I’m slightly bored, I hate bein’ bored)

See, I’ve been watchin’ you
(I’ve been doin’ the same thing)
I’ve had my eyes on you
(I’ve been checkin’ you out all night long)
You look so nice and you look so sweet
(Oh, thank you)

Come on and go with me
(That was sweet)
You look like you oughta be with me
Come on, over to my place
(Yeah, but what are you gonna with me? That’s the problem)

Seems that you feel the same way I do
(I think it would pretty interesting)
It seems that you need some company, too
(Oh, boy)

Come on and go with me
(You said your car is right outside, right in front)
Come on, over to my place
(And you’re gonna bring me home after)
But would it be all right with you?

Come on and go with me
If we left here and we went somewhere else, baby
(Come on over to my place)
Somewhere where it’s nice and quiet, nice and quiet
(That’s nice, yeah, that sounds a little better than this place)
Where we could sit down by a cozy lit fire
We could sip a little wine, work things out
(Oh, yeah)

Come on and go with me, work things out
(Well, I cannot stay long)
Come on over to my place
(We got an hour, no more than that)
Lady, you won’t be under any kinda pressure
(Please, I cannot stand pressure)

I wouldn’t do that, baby? No
(Okay, well, would you get my coat?)
See, I wouldn’t do that, baby
See, I just wanna sit down
And get to know you a little better
(Okay, just for a little while)

I swear you look so good to me
(Are you gonna pay for my drink?)
Come on over to my place
You look so good to me."


Bana said...


Oh ha-winkz, you've been treatttteeddd.

anthony said...

hmmm. ipod shuffle. alicia keys (where's she going?) mid-song monologue (ok, that's funny, but where, still?...) aha! this post is the vehicle for demonstrating the plethora of isabelle-iffic jams that mtv's got up. that thing's like an r&b library of congress.

Chucklyn said...

R.I.P. Teddy - way to show 'em how it's done, mang.

Live on through your music! Much respect.

p.s. - excellent post & I love the name of the blog, ha!!