Give Me Five...Featuring Sister Nancy

Give Me Five…Featuring Sister Nancy

Late afternoon music. The day has blown by faster than I can keep up with. Yesterday I had a bit of a physical and emotional breakdown. It happens. My body ached from a night of bad dreams, and my tensed up reactions, the night before. My emotions? Well, part of therapy is sometimes opening doors you’ve kept locked for a long time. Its necessary, but hard on the soul.

I went to the acupuncturist though, and then came home and let myself collapse into bed and sleep, with music playing in my ears. It all worked. I feel so much better today.

Today I’m buzzing with energy and motivation. I’ve had music playing the whole time. So, it’s time to sit down, take a breath, hydrate, and write about my five favorites today.

Give Me Five – May 5, 2021

You can listen and follow along with May’s Give Me Five at Spotify and YouTube

Song 1: “Bam Bam” by Sister Nancy

Sister Nancy "Bam Bam GMF
“Bam Bam” by Sister Nancy – from the album, One Two (1982)

“This woman never troubled no one.
I’m a lady, I’m not a man.
MC is my ambition.
I come from nice up Jamaica.
So bam bam, what a bam bam.
Bam bam dilla, bam bam.
Bam bam dilla, bam bam.
‘Ey a mi seh what a bam bam,.
Tell ’em said what a bam bam.
Tell ’em, tell ’em.”

I was reading an article today that stated “Bam Bam” is said to be the most sampled reggae song of all-time. (source: Financial Times) It didn’t surprise me. I feel like I’ve heard it creep into a ton of songs. I know that Jay-Z brought her in to record with him, and Damian Marley, on the song “Bam”.

I first heard “Bam Bam” when I was working at Tower Records. The in-store plays for the day was made up of six CD’s (I think I’m remember right with six?) and we’d try to mix up the genres to have some variety to the music playing, and to (hopefully) inspire the music consumers to venture into different areas of the store/genres of music. At least us morning crew tried to do this.

I was the Singles buyer. Most of us buyers worked the morning/open shift. The International buyer, who was a big reggae/ska/dancehall fan (and my boyfriend for a few years), but this CD on and I loved it. I don’t think I’d heard it, in its entirety (and not in a sample) since those 90’s Tower days, until I stumbled on the article – and then had to play it. I’ve been listening to “Bam Bam”, on and off, all day.

Sister Nancy "Bam Bam" Give Me F Song 1

Song 2: “Just One Look” by Doris Troy

“Just One Look” by Doris Troy – from the album, Doris Troy Sings Just One Look (1963)

“I thought I was dreaming,
but I was wrong,
oh yeah yeah.
Ah, but I’m gonna keep on scheming,
till I make you,
make you my own.”

“Just One Look”, on ’45, was one of a stack of singles that I used to dance to on summer. I think it was 1976. This family moved on to our dead-end street block, from Cuba, and stayed for a little under a year. They had two daughters. I was right in the middle of the two, age wise. They didn’t speak a lot of English, but they loved music, just like I did.

I’d ride my bike over to their house in the afternoon, lean it up against the side gate, and follow them into their garage. Their dad had set-up a record player and speakers, and they’d drag out their stacks of ’45s. They were mostly from the 60’s.

This one was one of our favorites. We’d play the songs, make up dance routines, and sing-a-long – pretending the three of us were in a girl group. I have a hard time remember those two sisters’ names, but I remember all those songs.

Doris Troy "Just One Look" Give Me F Song 2

Song 3: “(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me” by Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" Give Me Five
“(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me” by Dionne Warwick – from the album, The Windows Of The World (1967)

“Well how can I forget you?
When there is always something there to remind me.
Always something there to remind me.”

Okay. True confessions time. I thought the 80’s “one-hit-wonder” version of this song was the original until about ten years ago. I’m sure I must have heard Dionne’s version at some point in my childhood, and Sandie Shaw’s when I was digging into her music in my teenage years, after discovering The Smiths, but that Naked Eyes 80’s version was the only one I held in my memory until a fellow music obsessive and I were talking, and the song, by Dionne was brought up.

It led me on an “Always Something…” rabbit hole. There are quite a few versions of this song that have been recorded, and that have charted. Lou Johnson’s version was the first to hit the Billboard charts, in 1964 – though Dionne had recorded a demo of it a year earlier.

Also in 1964, in the UK, Sandie Shaw took the song to #1, and held it there for three weeks, on the UK Singles chart.

This version of Dionne’s was recorded for the album, The Windows of the World, in 1967. It charted, but not as high as Lou’s or Sandie’s. The song got some new life in the technology horror anthology Black Mirror, in the episode “Black Museum”. (source: Wikipedia)

Which version did you know about first?

Dionne Warwick "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me

Song 4: “Donkey” by Bessie Turner

Bessie Turner "Donkey" Give Me Five
“Donkey” by Bessie Turner” – from the single, “Donkey” (2020)

“Don’t know what I’m diving into.
I’m dying to find my peace, dear.
If nothing can learn to win,
I’m in.”

A new song discovery today, found on a Spotify playlist. When I was first listening to it I thought for sure it was from the 90’s – a song I would have dug, but must’ve missed. Nope. This is a single from last year.

I do dig it though! I hope Bessie releases an album soon.

If you want to hear more Bessie Turner, and support her music, go here.

Bessie Turner "Donkey" Give Me F Song 4

Song 5: “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” by Sharon Van Etten and Josh Homme

Sharon Van Etten and Josh Homme "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding Give Me
(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” by Sharon Van Etten and Josh Homme – from the single, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” (2020)

“And as i walked on,
through troubled times,
my spirit gets so downhearted sometimes.
So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony?”

You didn’t think we’d go a whole day of Give Me Five without a cover song, did you? No way!

Another new discovery today, though I feel like I read about this when it happened. I love Sharon and Josh, so when I saw the song pop up in a playlist I had to hit play.

Sharon said about this quarantine, at home recording of the Nick Lowe song:

“When my friend Zach Dawes first suggested we try to cover Nick Lowe’s timeless song, ‘Peace, Love and Understanding,’ I was nervous and excited and wondered what direction we would take it together. The journey from then to now, and the unexpected collaboration that transpired leaves me wistful as I remember how lucky I am to have such a great community here in Los Angeles.” (source: Pitchfork)

I’d love for Sharon and Josh to do another duet sometime – or maybe tour together in the hopefully not too far away time when we can all see live music, in-person, again.

To hear more Sharon Van Etten, and to support her music, please go here.

To hear more Josh Homme (and his band, Queens Of The Stone Age), and to support his music, please go here.

What have you been listening to today? Care to share?

Creekside by Kelly Vivanco May Give Me Five Cover Art
Kelly Vivanco

For May’s Give Me Five I’m featuring Kelly Vivanco’s piece “Creekside” as the Cover Art.


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