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Two Birthdays: Kanye West and Boz Scaggs

It’s fun on a random day to check out whose birthday it is. June 8 is pretty random — James Comey’s testimony in Washington notwithstanding — so I took a look at who was born on this day.

Some of the noteworthies are Nancy Sinatra (whose claim to being the biggest one-hit wonder ever is somewhat compromised because she had the headstart of being Frank’s daughter), trombonist Bill Watrous, Derek Trucks, Seu Jorge and many others. Seu Jorge may be unfamiliar to most folks, but his samba version of David Bowie’s “Changes” from the Bill Murray movie “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” is tremendous.

Two others are Kanye West, (turning 40), and Boz Scaggs (74).

Kanye Omari West was born in Atlanta and raised in Chicago. He was a producer for Jay Z, Alicia Keyes and others. West’s controversies, such as his interruption of Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, his denunciation of President Bush at a Hurricane Katrina benefit and his marriage to Kim Kardashian, have been covered to a fault.

The Wikipedia profile notes that he is widely acclaimed and one of the best selling artists of all time. He has won 21 Grammys, which is the most of anyone who won their first this century.

William Royce Scaggs was born in Canton, OH, in 1944 but grew up in Oklahoma and Texas. Boz is a shortening of “Bosley,” a nickname given to him by a classmate. Scaggs met Steve Miller when he was 12 and eventually joined his band.

The highlight of Scagg’s career was the 1976 album Silk Degrees which, according to Wikipedia, was recorded with session musicians who would go on to form the band Toto. Hits from that album include “Lido Shuffle,” “What Can I Say?” “We’re All Along” and “Low Down.”

Above is West’s “Stronger” and below is Scaggs’ “Georgia.”

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--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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