In Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Science in the Capital” series (Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below, Sixty Days and Counting) – one of my favorite reads of the last few years – one of the main characters, Charlie, likes to do his housecleaning with Beethoven playing on stereos on both floors – as I recall, “The Pastoral Symphony” on the ground floor and the “Grosse Fuge” upstairs. Both at maximum volume.
I’m cleaning the house today and I was flipping through my iPod playlist trying to find the right mood music. I tried Neil Young – no good, too slow – then some late 70s/early 80s punk – too frenetic. Distraction is required, and volume, but pacing is also crucial. The Rolling Stones worked a bit better – I got some traction with Let It Bleed in particular. But predictably it was old school funk and r&b that served me best, James Brown in particular, like…
Get up Offa that Thing
Papa Don’t Take No Mess
Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag
Honestly, I don’t know why I faffed around with all that other stuff. I still want to try Charlie’s approach – it does seem like Beethoven might have the right stuff for housecleaning – but for now I’m still a funk soul brother.
I’m going to have to work up a proper playlist for this, though, rather than jumping over to the iPod all the time to skip tracks that don’t work as well. And I suspect such a playlist would have other uses – like working out at the gym maybe.
If you have any suggestions for songs to include on a “housecleaning” playlist – even if they stray from the funk fold – let me know and I’ll try them out. If you have your own “housecleaning” playlist, send it to me or post it somewhere. Much as I would wish it otherwise, housecleaning is one of those things that comes around fairly frequently and my playlists will need to be long and varied.
If you are running a James Brown deficit, there are a couple of collections that will give you what you need: 20 All-Time Greatest Hits! has as many of the indispensable tunes as you can fit on one disc, in their single rather than album versions; while the Star Time 4-disc box set has pretty much every major James Brown song you could ask for.
But not all of them, even on four discs – I was just looking through the contents just now and it is missing “The Boss,” originally from the Black Caesar soundtrack, a funk favorite of mine and a song which I should certainly post as my “Funk for Friday” one of these days – but here it is now, to hold you over:
Filed under: Music, funk, playlists