Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Playlist

On a biweekly basis, a musical playlist that I create is given airtime on under the title Daddy Peet Expresso (DPE). Along with each "show," I also write what could be called a blurb, not a description of the music so much as a reflection on any aspect of that particular list that catches my fancy.

For DPE #12, I thought it would be of interest to give listener/readers a chance to get in the kitchen, to see what my playlist creation process might entail. Here's what I wrote for that segment:
If you were considering making a playlist for a party, or for a romantic evening, or even for an afternoon of work, where would you start? Favorite songs? Favorite songs on a particular theme? Songs that elicit a special mood?

And if you were going a create a playlist for a biweekly program, would you go about it in that same way, choosing favorites or hoping to create moods?

I can’t speak with the authority of a world famous deejay, nor can I pretend that my own approach is based on any sort of winning formula. What I can say is that for creating the Daddy Peet Expresso playlist, the process is a bit like the creative process I’ve followed in writing a short story, a poem, and even a song lyric. I get some sound or phrase in my head, process it in my imagination, then it takes flight from there. What the playlist eventually sounds like might not be anything like that initial sound byte, but within the broad songscape there certainly is a genesis, an alpha, the beginning of a storyline, just as there is also a sense of omega, le fin, “leave out all the rest.”

This particular set of songs * was probably initiated when I was lounging in my living room in a condo in Singapore, chilling to the disc Bleu Blanc World, a free CD that accompanied my monthly Songlines magazine injection, and I heard voices from what I later learned was a 6-man vocal ensemble from Marseilles named Lo Cor de La Plana doing a very fine a capella piece called “La Vièlha,” and I thought, “that’s cool,” a nice song to start a set with.

Later, on my iPod, a rhythmic African number that I didn’t recognize but that I guessed came from a CD I’d picked up on a recent visit to the States gnawed at my attention, and I took note: an Angolan singer named Mamukueno doing a piece entitled “Rei de Palhetinho” (The King of Palhetinho). Let’s add that.

Then there was the moment when I was sitting at the kitchen table of my sister’s country home in southern Ohio, surfing the Net and listening for the first time to the last Ray Charles recording, one that included, she said, a series of unlikely duets. Sure enough, the minute I heard the notes of an old familiar tune done with strings, then voices I never imagined side by side, I paused and asked, “Who is that?” The duet was both poignant and arresting, especially when the improbable meant voices as tonally disparate as Ray’s and Willie Nelson’s, on a Sinatra tune with all the orchestral hype --- schmaltzy? Absolutely. Moving? By all means.

And so forth. One by one other tunes joined the ever growing list in my Mac: by popping up in my daily listening experience on the iTunes shuffle (“La Negra Tomasa” by Compay Segunda and Moby’s “Run On” being two), at least one from my daughter’s iPod (“Secrets” by One Republic), one re-enjoyed when I was traipsing out in the world (Marley’s "Exodus”) and a dozen others popping up…..well, as to where and how, that’s very secondary to the music itself. 

* By the end of December 2011, all Daddy Peet Expresso playlists will be available for your listening pleasure on the updated and improved radio moka website. Stay tuned ...