Aria is pleased to welcome a new contributor — Ivan Diller. An experienced freelance writer, Diller boasts an impessive résumé that includes regular contributions to HX Magazine, DJ Times and the prestigious (but sadly defunct) DMA (Dance Music Authority).
If Oprah can do it, why can't I?
I just want to thank Mervin for asking me to contribute to his blog. It's truly an honor. What leads me here today is a message I received on MySpace from the legendary godfather of house Frankie Knuckles. I was so excited to receive a message from him and quickly responded with a few of my favorite recordings and remixes that he's done and it dawned on me that I have a lot of "favorites," and they change all the time. I often hear myself say, "That's my favorite ___ song ever," or "That's in my top ten of all of my favorite songs." I figured I'd use this opportunity to introduce myself and do a somewhat short list here and see what you all think.
I'll start with Mr. Knuckles since he was the impetus for this entry:
"Tears" - Frankie Knuckles and Satoshi Tomiie featuring Robert Owens - My favorite house song of all time! Remember, I may say that again somewhere else down the line. It takes me back to DJing in my parents' basement on Holland Avenue in the Bronx, as well as dancing the nights away at the Red Zone on 54th Street in NYC.
"And I Loved You" - Frankie Knuckles and Satoshi Tomiie featuring Arnold Jarvis - Okay, so it's sooner than I anticipated, but THIS is my favorite house song of all time (can't I have two?). Lyrically and musically, this song gets to me every time. It's message and beats are timeless. Also from the Red Zone days. Had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Arnold Jarvis a few years ago for DMA Magazine (online) and it was an honor. Singers/artists usually have no idea how much their song can impact a person.
"Please Don't Go" - Nayobe - My favorite Latin hip-hop/Freestyle song of all time. My sister came back from spring break in Ft. Lauderdale in 1985 or 1986 with a mix tape that featured this song. It was preceded by Jellybean's "The Mexican," and I fell in love with it instantly. It go airplay on the original KTU in New York and I begged my local record shop to track down the 12" for me. Needless to say, I played it over and over again and it still gives me a chill everytime I hear it. Nayobe is an incredibly talented singer and a friend. I've done several stories on her and wrote her bio.
"When I Think of You" - Janet Jackson - My favorite Janet song, although I could easily make twenty others my favorite as well. This one takes the crown because it was the Janet song that got me hooked in a major way. As a student at Hunter College in NY in 1986, a classmate, Lucy, put her whopping foam covered headphones over my ears and said, "Listen to this." I had heard "Nasty," and "What Have You Done For Me Lately" before, but it was "When I Think of You" that made me an instant fan for life. I couldn't wait for it to be released as a single and loved the video (still do). This all leads me to...
Janet Jackson - Favorite Artist - I don't know where to begin with this. Janet has provided all of us with so much great music and entertainment (save the Superbowl fiasco) that it's hard to put my respect, love and admiration for her talent into words. My "fandom" for Janet is no secret and I have been blessed to know people who could pull a string here or there and help me to be in her presence at various functions. I sat in the audience at one of her TRL appearances and got to shake her hand as she walked by. It sounds crazy, but why did a tear form in my eye when our hands touched? I could totally relate to all the crying fans for the first time. My friend Anthony worked at the building Janet resided in when she was in New York and he managed to get us invited to the Damita Jo release party. It was awesome to be that close (yet so far) and to watch Janet socialize and interact with people. I never gained entry into her little sectioned-off area, but I was able to see her clearly from where I stood (and, no, I didn't just stand there staring all night — I mingled!). My MySpace page has a picture of me and Janet at the Harlem CD signing she did a couple of days later.
Hysterical Blindness - Favorite HBO Movie - Starring Uma Thurman and Juliette Lewis, this story of two Jersey girls in the 80s struck me as both funny and sad. There's something very dark about it, but I knew girls like these two characters. Some great lines in this movie, so if you can catch it, it's worth watching.
The Comeback - Favorite Television Show of 2005 - Lisa Kudrow's Valerie Cherish is a pathetic washed-up actress trying to make a comeback but you can't help but love her. I OFTEN quote lines from this show at the most inopportune times, even if it's just in my head. It was a great show that HBO did not give enough credit to and canceled it, prematurely, after its first season. I hold out hope that Showtime will be smart enough to pick it up.
Lindsay Wagner - Favorite Childhood Actress - The Bionic woman, of course. I thought she was way prettier and sexier than those Charlie's Angels hoes!
The Brady Bunch - Favorite Childhood Television Show - I can still watch the repeats and love it.
"Saturday Love" - Alexander O'Neal and Cherrelle - Produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lews if Janet Jackson fame, this is another early college song that I still love today. It played on my iPod recently and I told one of my co-workers that it's one of my all-time favorite songs and she couldn't believe it. She's only 25. It must be an age thing. ;)
"Without You" - Touch - Yes, we're back to music now. This song is a pretty rare house gem that goes, "My life feels so empty... like a puzzle you're the missing piece... it's hard trying to make it... without you." It was one of the first house songs that I really embraced while I was rapt in freestyle. Update: As fate would have it, after I posted this entry this morning, this song was played on Wendy Williams' show on WBLS this afternoon. That's the universe doing what she does!
"Sweat" - Jay Williams - One of several anti-Apartheid house songs that I absolutely love.
"Motherland" - Tribal House - Another Red Zone classic with a similar message. I heard it at the Underground Collective party in New York about a year ago, and you guessed it, another tear formed in my eye as I was dancing. Music can really do that to you.
"Don't You Want Me" - Jody Watley - Favorite Jody song among many. It pains me that Jody doesn't get the recognition she deserves in the music business. I was glued to my television when she was nominated for Best New Artist and subsequently won the well-deserved Grammy. She is truly an innovator and I look forward to her next project, The Makeover.
Teena Marie - Favorite Blue-Eyed Soul Artist - "Square Biz," "Fire and Desire," "Portuguese Love," "Deja Vu," "Irons in the Fire," "Casanova Brown," "Ooh La La," "Out on a Limb." Need I say more?
Mariah Carey - Favorite Love/Hate artist - I love Mimi, but I can do without all her shenanigans and ill-fitting couture. A gifted singer/songwriter who I'd love to see the "real" side of.
Stacy Lattisaw - Favorite Teenage Singer - Okay, so "Love on a Two Way Street" is now on the radio and it jogged my memory. I love her and have since I was a pre-teen hearing "Let Me Be Your Angel" at Skate Key roller skating rink in the Bronx. I've read we lost her to Gospel, but it would be great if she recorded and released a Gospel album, wouldn't it? Talent like that shouldn't go unheard.
Third World - Favorite Reggae Band - "Try Jah Love" is right up there as one of my all-time favorite songs. I didn't quite "get it" until I was much older and had my own spiritual awakening, but if you listen to the lyrics, written by Stevie Wonder, they are inspirational and moving.
"Love on Top of Love" - Grace Jones - How do I go from spiritual to Grace Jones? Robert Clivilles and the late David Cole produced this track and it stands as my favorite Grace Jones song. "Put some Grace in your face!"
Clivilles & Cole - Must mention - How can I mention Clivilles and Cole without giving a nod to all their great productions? Among my favorites, their girl-group creation Seduction, fronted by my friend Michelle Visage, landed several singles in the Billboard Top Ten including "Heartbeat," "Two To Make It Right," and "Could This Be Love." C&C's remixes of Seduction's singles kept dance floors packed in the early 90s. Visage's hip-house flow was unmatched on the remixes of "Two To Make It Right" and "Groove Me," and the original and remix version of "Breakdown." C&C's remix of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam's "Let The Beat Hit 'Em" again stands as a favorite. Their contribution to early house and dance music is an essential part of the history of the genre.
"All Around The World" - Lisa Stansfield - Who doesn't love this song? David Morales used to spin "What Did I Do To You" from her debut album all the time. That, too, is a favorite for that reason.
"One Blood" - Junior Reid and "Sorry" - Foxy Brown - Two honorable mentions from back in the Red Zone days. Boy, it seems like I spent a lot of time there! These two are reggae tracks that Morales spun when he wanted to slow things down a little. Foxy Brown is not the "ill na na" Foxy Brown of today.
If I don't stop now, I'll never get any work done today! I'll be back soon with another entry. Hope you liked this one. Peace y'all.