Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Quickie Tribute to Minnie Riperton (In Honor of Breast Cancer Month)

It's October and Breast Cancer Month, as anyone who watches the NFL knows. Seeing 350 pound linebackers wearing pink wristbands and socks is inspiring in so many ways. No sarcasm.

I've been on a big time Minnie Riperton kick for the past four months or so, and after reading a comment on YouTube, thought it was fitting to do a quickie tribute to Minnie in honor of the month. She passed from breast cancer back in July 1979-- a month after I was born, ironcially, at 31 years old. I've always felt a strange connection to her, not on any psychic/weirdo stuff, but just, her music has always really resonated with me in a bone-chilling kind of way.

As I got older, I began to appreciate her even more, and not just because of her other-worldly vocal ability. She was a layered writer. She was super sensual, but subtle. Still, she was progressive. She even drew criticism for some of her lyrics--my mom told me that when she was in broadcasting school, she failed a project for including Minnie's "Inside My Love" in her line-up. Apparently, it was too risque at the time.

At any rate, here is my quickie tribute to Minnie--just a few of my favorite songs:

"Baby This Love I Have"- This song was obviously sampled by Tribe Called Quest ("Check the Rhyme"). I love this track, it's so sensual. Fellas, this is the song to put on while sipping on a glass of good Pinot Noir or Merlot with your girl--read: the warm-up.

"Reasons"- Probably one of my favorite songs ever, seriously. In a weird way it sort of reminds me of Stevie Wonder's "Visions"--maybe it's because he produced the song during his Genius Years.  Anyways, this song is so layered. I'll even post the lyrics:
The reasons for my life are in a million faces

Like aching promises I feel them in my bones
Slipping through my fingers to dance upon the road
The reasons for my life are more than I can hold
But oh, the sweet delight to sing with all my might
To spark the inner light of wonder burning bright
You're not alone
You're not alone
The reasons for my life are buried in deep places
Words once could awaken them
These seeds that I have sown
Ringing through the madness to crash against the cold
The reasons for my life cannot be bought or sold
The reasons for my life are filling all my spaces
Like rushing waters flow, they carry me along
Twisting through my memory to pull free from the load
The reasons for my life are more than I was told

"Perfect Angel"- This song is just beautiful, her voice just skates over this track like silk. Yahzarah actually did a great cover of this on Zo's Just Visiting Too, which is no small accomplishment.

"Inside My Love"- Clearly, I don't need to say anything about this. This has to go on the all-time Best Songs to Make Love To list.

"If I Ever Lose This Heaven"- I couldn't find a better version of this song, which was Quincy Jones' (produced by him and I think written by Leon Ware, who also co-wrote "Inside My Love." But this is Minnie singing it solo. If I'm not mistaken, she had already lost the use of her right arm and this was recorded just a few months before she passed. Consumate performer.

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