“We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams…”
~ Arthur O-Shaughnessy
I listen to a lot of podcasts. They make the mundane tasks I slog through go down easier. I’m constantly introducing my latest fave to my friend, Christopher, who finally said, “will you just give me a list, please?
Instead of giving just him a list, I’m going to highlight podcasts I like here and tell you why. If you’re intrigued, check them out for yourself.
First up is my current podcast obsession called Song Exploder. Song Exploder’s been around since early 2014 but I just ran across it a few months ago. It’s hosted by musician and composer, Hrishikesh Hirway, whose name I walk around quietly murmuring like it’s some fantastic concoction created in a corporate food lab whose scientists nailed the mouth feel. (I know, I’m weird.)
I love music and I love an artist’s talk. Song Exploder bundles those two things together in smart, satisfying, well-produced packages that are a music nerd’s wet dream.
Each episode features a deconstructed song with its creator(s) talking through the component parts that make up the final product. Not only do you get a better sense of the musicians and what makes them tick, you get a glimpse behind the curtain of their process, which makes you fully appreciate the gestalt of the song when all of those parts are strategically layered together.
Here are the kinds of things you learn in a Song Exploder episode: What sound was the musician going for? What instrument was used to produce it? Which weird genius decided to forego an instrument and elevate an otherwise mundane sound to something musical? How did they do it? Which artists or previous songs influenced this song?
Since Hirway puts out about 2-3 episodes a month, you’ve got some serious binge listening that you can settle into. I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite episodes to get you started.
RAC’s “Let Go” (featuring Kele from Bloc Party and MNDR). I fell in love with Kele’s voice years ago. I’ll listen to any song he sings. Here’s one of my favorite Bloc Party songs, Banquet. The first time I heard it felt a little like listening to some alt-80s music with a fresh twist.
Thundercat’s funky “Them Changes” is so good. If this doesn’t make you groove whether you’re standing or sitting, there’s something wrong with you.
Here’s Spoon’s “Inside out”. Would you have guessed this song gives a nod to Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.” and his 2001 album? No? Me, neither.
Lastly, here’s Best Coast’s “Feeling OK”, which is bright, shiny, sunny, summery goodness. I was in San Diego a few weeks ago and on my last day there I sat in the sun out on a rocky ledge at Sunset Cliffs watching several wild, invincible high school boys doing flips through giant up-sprays of water and foam into the ocean as waves pounded the land. The air temperature was perfect. The breeze was perfect. The sun was perfect. The afternoon was perfect. And this perfect song as my soundtrack matched it all.