I still bring out Explosions in the Sky’s 2003 album The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place periodically, my favorite from their catalog by a wide margin. I remember seeing them at a live show for the first time on the tour for this album, probably 2004, where they played this song somewhere in the set. In their shows I’ve seen in successive years, it’s one of their encore numbers.
Blade Runner is one of the best movies, but I actually enjoy the soundtrack even more. This one is my favorite, probably the centerpiece of the score that embodies the vibe of the 2019 dystopian Los Angeles from the film. This whole album is in regular rotation for me.
This live rendition by The Jazz Messengers is a great version of an even better song. It was composed by Art Blakey’s sideman and pianist Bobby Timmons (on the keys in this session). I love the blues-infected build and refrain. Lee Morgan’s blasting first solo is one of the best out there.
In college I’d listened to KRS-One’s solo albums before I ever heard his original work with Boogie Down Productions. One of my top songs is the landmark track from their 1988 album By All Means Necessary:
“My Philosophy” is the opener that sets the tone for the record, just like “Poetry” from their first album.
I love how the verse just keeps coming — no chorus, no language, just a chain of rhyming (even across bar lines) for five and a half minutes.
My dad has been putting together a playlist of all-time great songs, and mentioned to me and my brothers that we should do the same and share with one another. “Great” songs in this case don’t have to be by any particular measure other than personally important to yourself — either ones you got enjoyment out of when younger, ones that have an emotional connection, or just fun favorites you always tune in to when you hear it come on.
I started putting together my own playlist and thought I’d share them here in no particular order.