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Skipped on Shuffle
45 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep. 051 – Bill Withers – “Where You Are”
The fifty-first Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Where You Are” by Bill Withers off his 1976 album Naked & Warm. Bill Withers started his music career later than most artists. He had served for nearly a decade in the Navy and then returned to a series of blue-collar jobs after his military discharge. One night he overheard how much singer Lou Rawls was making playing at a small California club and it convinced Withers to give his interest in music a more serious try. He moved out to Los Angeles and after a few years landed a record deal and released his debut album, Just As I Am. The album brought success to Withers, who was now in his early 30s, thanks to the power of the melancholy soul song, “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Known for his folk-influenced and personal songwriting, Withers would continue to pen a number of hits through the mid-70s before a dispute with his record company made him temporarily step back from his career. He would sign with Columbia Records and the move soon marked a shift in his music away from the introspective style of songwriting for which he had been known towards a more upbeat and energetic tone. While not nearly as successful as his previous albums, Naked & Warm, introduced listeners to the new Withers, who was setting down his acoustic guitar in favor of piano-based, uptempo songs. “Where You Are” finds Withers celebrating love amid a funky beat. Jason discusses how “Where You Are” lyrically and musically shares many similarities to a hit Withers would have a year later with the song “Lovely Day.” He reflects how songwriters, like other artists, sometimes tend to make similar works trying to perfect an idea. Scott discusses how he admires Withers’ steadfast commitment to keeping creative control of his songs and his image as a Black singer-songwriter. Withers’ personal integrity causes him to leave the music industry altogether, which Scott and Jason feel is why Withers is not as well-known to a younger generation, despite how enduring his songs have proven to be. Jason gives a recent example of just how powerful and abiding Withers’ music is, even if many are not as familiar with the singer and his remarkable life.
49 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep. 050 – Stone Temple Pilots – “Long Way Home”
The fiftieth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Long Way Home” by Stone Temple Pilots off their 2001 album Shangri-La Dee Da. Stone Temple Pilots arrived on the Southern California music scene in the early ’90s. Their debut record, Core, was filled with distorted guitars playing heavy riffs amid thundering drums and singer Scott Weiland’s howling dark lyrics. For these reasons, the band was instantly labeled as part of the grunge movement associated with the US Northwest. Critics derided what they saw as the band’s attempt to adopt the sound and style of their musical contemporaries while audiences loved them for their instantly classic hard rock hits. The band worked to shake off these comparisons and began crafting records that distinguished themselves as unique songwriters and musicians. Their follow-up album, 1994’s Purple, honed their rock and pop foundation while their third record, 1997’s Tiny Music: Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, delved into jazz and psychedelia, resulting in their most adventurous album yet. Despite the band’s success, Stone Temple Pilots battled not only with critics but also Scott Weiland’s drug use. Suffering from a debilitating addiction that frequently resulted in canceled shows and even jail time for the singer, Weiland’s demons often seemed to stifle the band’s momentum. In 1999, the band regrouped after a brief hiatus and had a period of relative stability where they were able to write, record, and tour steadily, overcoming the turmoil of the last several years and hitting a creative stride. This industrious era peaked with 2001’s Shangri-La Dee Da, a record as diverse as Tiny Music and at times as heavy as Core, exemplified by songs like “Long Way Home.” According to Weiland, “Long Way Home” pays homage to one of their greatest influences, Led Zeppelin, with this huge, arena-ready track. The lyrics and Weiland’s delivery, desperate with a desire to run away while also to hide — possibly indicative of his own drug use and personal problems — makes for an uneasy end to the record. The song continues on into the unknown, fading out slowly during one of guitarist Dean DeLeo’s best solos, as did the band, who would face more setbacks and tragedy, but still continue on today. Scott and Jason are both huge fans of Stone Temple Pilots. They discuss how Shangri-La Dee Da is one of their defining accomplishments despite not having the commercial success of its predecessors, meaning many fans probably missed out on “Long Way Home.” Scott discusses how the band deserves a place among the most esteemed icons of rock and Jason reflects on the deep connection he feels to the band’s music.
46 minutes | 4 months ago
Ep. 049 – U2 – “The Refugee”
The forty-ninth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “The Refugee” by U2 off their 1983 album War. In 1976, drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. posted a note on a school bulletin board in Ireland that would bring Paul Hewson (Bono), David Evans (The Edge), and Adam Clayton to his house in an effort to start a new band. While a few friends and family also showed up to play, it wasn’t long before the others dropped away, leaving a four-piece rock band that was ready to conquer the world. U2 would release their first album, Boy, in the fall of 1980. Audiences and critics across the US and Europe took note of the band, praising the record and becoming enthralled by their passionate performances. The momentum of the band would be interrupted by a number of problems crafting their follow-up album, October, but by the end of 1982, U2 was ready to record their biggest record yet. Featuring iconic tracks — including “New Year’s Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” — War brought the band even more acclaim and bigger audiences. The accompanying live record and concert film from the tour, Under a Blood Red Sky, cemented their prowess as a live act. Interestingly, “The Refugee” never made its way into U2’s live sets. The song is a powerful track that encapsulates many of U2’s common themes of finding a home and solace and the hopeful symbol of America as a promised land that seems perfectly crafted for live performance. Listeners can imagine Bono engaging the crowd during Mullen’s extended drum parts and then leading the audience into singing along with lyrics that tell of a woman yearning for freedom and peace. Scott and Jason share their love/hate relationship with U2, particularly its lead singer, Bono. While they agree that U2 are undeniably an important band with many great tracks, they discuss the band’s inconsistent output, particularly after The Joshua Tree, and their increasingly ostentatious staging that makes it difficult to take the band and its music seriously.
43 minutes | 5 months ago
Ep. 048 – Simon & Garfunkel – “You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies”
The forty-eighth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies” by Simon & Garfunkel off their 1967 single Fakin’ It. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel attended elementary school in New York City together. Their love of music and ability to harmonize together made them fast friends. By the time they were only 15, the duo was already writing and recording music with a hit single, “Hey Schoolgirl,” under their belts. At the time known as Tom & Jerry, the two struggled early on despite their initial breakthrough. But when a record producer remade their classic folk track “The Sound of Silence” as a rock song by overdubbing additional instruments without the band’s knowledge and re-releasing it, the duo found success. Simon & Garfunkel quickly released and recorded a follow-up record, but then began to slow their pace, asserting more creative control and taking more time and care to produce material. Simon, who wrote nearly all of the duo’s material, began to struggle with crafting new songs and disliked the record company’s pressure for more singles. After a lengthy recording session and creating additional tracks for a film soundtrack to The Graduate, the duo released Bookends to critical and commercial acclaim. It is during this period that “You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies” was released, but many fans may have missed the song. “You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies” did not appear on any of the original album releases. The song was only available as a B-side on the Fakin’ It single for many years. While it has since been released elsewhere on compilations and as a bonus track on the CD version of Bookends, the song was written during a time when the duo was transitioning into superstardom and experimenting with sounds beyond their folk roots. Scott and Jason talk about the surprising arrogance of the song’s narrator, which serves as a sharp contrast to a duo that’s known for their soft and thoughtful expressions and reserved approach. The overall sound might have more in common with the British Invasion bands, perhaps due to Simon’s time overseas, which Jason mentions in the duo’s history. It also features a bridge that arrives abruptly and gives the song a surprisingly jazzy interlude. While Scott and Jason agree “You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies” is an outlier for many reasons, the song is a catchy tune and one that went largely unnoticed given the duo’s continuous string of hits.
50 minutes | 7 months ago
Ep. 047 – The Smiths – “Paint A Vulgar Picture”
The forty-seventh Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Paint A Vulgar Picture” by The Smiths off their 1987 album Strangeways, Here We Come. From 1982 to 1987, the English rock band The Smiths fashioned a unique sound that broke from many musical conventions in rock and pop at the time. Founded on Johnny Marr’s distinctive jangly guitar riffs coupled with Morrissey’s playful lyrics addressing class differences and love and longing all with a particularly dark sense of humor, the band established a cult following. They are frequently cited by countless rock musicians as an influence and inspiration and new fans continue to discover the band’s music. “Paint A Vulgar Picture” comes at the end of the band’s spectacular five-year run of successful albums and singles. The band had already called it quits by the time their last studio album, Strangeways, Here We Come landed in stores. A harsh critique of the music industry for its greed, the song tells the story of label executives discussing ways to profit off of a musical star’s recent death with repackaging and re-releasing material to sell to grieving fans. Scott and Jason discuss the irony of Morrissey’s disgust with the music business as he portrays it in the song. The Smiths had compilations and reissues even during their short time as an active band to promote themselves. Morrissey was quite vocal in the press about feeling the band should be more popular and they had even signed with a major label, EMI Records, shortly before their breakup. Scott and Jason reflect on the band’s history, Morrissey’s persona, and how Morrissey and Marr are never going to reunite The Smiths. Through this lens, “Paint A Vulgar Picture” is an interesting tale of past, present, and future.
46 minutes | 8 months ago
Ep. 046 – Living Colour – “Sacred Ground”
The forty-sixth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Sacred Ground” by Living Colour off their 2003 album Collideøscope. Living Colour is a hard rock and metal band best known for their energetic debut album Vivid in 1988. The record’s lead single, “Cult of Personality,” propelled the band to fame when its music video went into heavy rotation on MTV. At the time Vivid was released, the band was a frequent performer at New York City’s CBGB, but they soon found themselves playing for thousands as an opening act for The Rolling Stones. Their follow-up record, Time’s Up, continued to push boundaries, infusing even more jazz, funk, gospel, and R&B into their sound. As a four-piece band with all black members, Living Colour shattered perceptions about what a hard rock band could look and sound like, with lyrics that spoke candidly about stereotypes and their personal experiences as people of color. The band would release another record, Stain, in 1993 before calling it quits two years later. Fortunately, the breakup did not last long and by the early 2000s, they were back together, writing what would become 2003’s Collideøscope. An album thematically connected to 9/11, the record’s subject matter is dark and difficult at times with the band continuing to explore new sonic landscapes. Scott and Jason discuss the muddied sound of many songs on the record. Vernon Reid’s heavily distorted guitar dominates the musical space while singer Corey Glover seemingly has to shout to be heard throughout the album. This dominant stylistic choice seems appropriate on songs like “Sacred Ground,” an aggressive and catchy metal tune about fighting for the future. The song champions those who stand up to protect the environment and preserve their culture and dignity. Scott and Jason share their appreciation for the activism that Living Colour brings through their music and the impact first hearing the band had on each of them.
46 minutes | 9 months ago
Ep. 045 – The Verve – “Valium Skies”
The forty-fifth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Valium Skies” by The Verve off their 2008 album Forth. British alternative rock band The Verve is best known for its colossal hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony.” Easily one of the most recognizable songs of the ’90s, the track was on the band’s third album, Urban Hymns. The Verve released their first two albums to moderate success in 1993 and 1995. Following an impulse to become more commercial to reach greater success with their sophomore album, A Northern Soul, the band found the writing and recording process difficult. These problems largely stemmed from the personal struggles of vocalist Richard Ashcroft, who was battling drugs and depression. After reconciling and finding their long-sought-after success with Urban Hymns, the band split a second time before regrouping a decade later for Forth. Scott discusses how “Valium Skies” is an intimate song with Ashcroft seemingly reflecting on his life and the ups and downs of The Verve’s career. Scott shares his love of the band and the excitement of finally seeing them perform during their tour to support Forth. The band would break up yet again shortly after that tour and they have yet to reunite. As a more casual fan, Jason enjoys how the song is a nice blend of the band’s psychedelic wanderings molded into a recognizable verse-chorus structure. For fans of only “Bitter Sweet Symphony” and Urban Hymns, Jason says there is a lot to enjoy on Forth as exemplified by tracks like “Valium Skies.”
50 minutes | 9 months ago
Ep. 044 – Steely Dan – “Almost Gothic”
The forty-fourth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Almost Gothic” by Steely Dan off their 2000 album Two Against Nature. Steely Dan incorporate many musical genres into their unique sound, but their songs are rooted in a fusion of rock, pop, and jazz. Lead singer/keyboardist Donald Fagen and guitarist/bassist Walter Becker — who are also the band’s founders and sole songwriters — craft catchy songs with a singular wit and cryptic phrasing. When the band released their debut record, Can’t Buy a Thrill, in 1972, they were a six-piece musical outfit. As Fagen and Becker began to write more complex compositions and their interest in touring declined, they eventually became the sole members of the band. They stopped playing live to focus their energies in the studio. They opted to use session musicians on their records rather than a fixed band. The pair would become known for their sophisticated production, spending endless hours perfecting every facet of every song. After an exhausting experience completing their 1980 album Gaucho, the band called it quits. Fagen and Becker reunited in the 90s and toured for many years before deciding to embark upon a new studio record. The result was Two Against Nature, their first album of original material in two decades. While not much had changed lyrically, the band moves on from where they left off, indulging further in their jazz sensibilities. Steely Dan won four Grammy Awards that acknowledged the work on the new album, but the accolades seemed to also recognize the band’s enduring influence. While Scott and Jason struggle to explain what “Almost Gothic” is even about, it stands out musically with a dreamy keyboard and soothing horns carrying the song amidst a collection of other tracks anchored by guitar, bass, and drums that quickly find an upbeat and funky groove. The lyrics suggest the song’s protagonist is desiring someone or something and aroused by the mystery of the connection. Jason loves Steely Dan and feels it’s a refreshingly carefree and breezy tune from the band. While Scott is a bit fascinated by this one, he tends to favor the band’s hits, particularly their early work, wondering if the glossy production takes something away from the songs.
53 minutes | 9 months ago
Ep. 043 – Nine Inch Nails – “Lights In The Sky”
The forty-third Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Lights in the Sky” by Nine Inch Nails off their 2008 album The Slip. Until 2016, industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails (NIN) had a single member, Trent Reznor. For nearly thirty years, before musician and composer Atticus Ross was officially added to the lineup, Reznor was the sole writer and creative force behind the band. In the late 80s, Reznor was employed as an assistant engineer who doubled as a janitor at a small Cleveland recording studio. While working there, he learned how to record, mix, and produce songs. Looking to get into the music scene, the owners let him use the studio at night to work on his own material. The result would be NIN’s debut record, Pretty Hate Machine. Reznor immediately found success, but for the next several years he would find himself battling depression and drug and alcohol dependency. These personal experiences would find expression and come to define the darkness of the band on classic albums such as The Downward Spiral and The Fragile. By the time The Slip is released, Reznor is in a much better place in his life. While the record still has the anger and bleakness that characterizes NIN, Scott and Jason think Reznor is opening up in new ways on “Lights in the Sky.” Scott talks about the changes in Reznor’s personal life, beginning a relationship with singer and songwriter Mariqueen Maandig. Shortly after The Slip is released, they marry and Reznor puts Nine Inch Nails on hiatus to begin a new band, How to Destroy Angels, with his wife. Scott and Jason discuss how “Lights in the Sky,” signaled a new direction, not only personally, but musically for Reznor.
49 minutes | 10 months ago
Ep. 042 – Oasis – “Roll It Over”
The forty-second Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Roll It Over” by Oasis off their 2000 album Standing on the Shoulder of Giants.
52 minutes | 10 months ago
Ep. 041 – Eagles – “Too Many Hands”
The forty-first Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Too Many Hands” by Eagles off their 1975 album One of These Nights.
45 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 040 – Cream – “Those Were The Days”
The fortieth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Those Were the Days” by Cream off their 1968 album Wheels of Fire.
43 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 039 – Seal – “Don’t Make Me Wait”
The thirty-ninth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Don’t Make Me Wait” by Seal off his 2003 album Seal.
48 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 038 – Billy Joel – “The Great Suburban Showdown”
The thirty-eighth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “The Great Suburban Showdown” by Billy Joel off his 1974 album Streetlife Serenade.
57 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 037 – R.E.M. – “Beat A Drum”
The thirty-seventh Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Beat A Drum” by R.E.M. off their 2001 album Reveal.
51 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 036 – King Crimson – “Into The Frying Pan”
The thirty-sixth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Into the Frying Pan” by King Crimson off their 2000 album The ConstruKction of Light.
44 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 035 – Rammstein – “Roter Sand”
The thirty-fifth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Roter Sand” by Rammstein off their 2009 album Liebe ist für alle da.
51 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 034 – George Michael – “John And Elvis Are Dead”
The thirty-fourth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “John And Elvis Are Dead” by George Michael off his 2004 album Patience.
41 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 033 – Sade – “I Never Thought I’d See The Day”
The thirty-third Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “I Never Thought I’d See The Day” by Sade off their 1988 album Stronger Than Pride.
52 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 032 – Pink Floyd – “Childhood’s End”
The thirty-second Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Childhood’s End” by Pink Floyd off their 1972 album Obscured by Clouds.
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