Alt.blacksoul memories at the beauty parlor: … It’s Saturday afternoon. I’m at Nappy or Not over on East 16th Street, ’round the lake from our apartment, waiting to get my hair done. No appointment of course, only vague promises of getting my tenderheaded scalp in if other appointments fall through. (Pictures will be posted later.) I can see the Parkway Theater sign from the green couch I’ve had my keister planted in for the last two hours. I listen to about half of Musiq SoulChild’s “Aijuswannaseing,” all of India.Arie’s new one, “Acoustic Soul,” and Erykah Badu’s “Mama’s Gun” (“Penitentiary Philosophy” is interrupted by a car alarm for about a minute).
Seems like I’ve been listening to the same song for the last 15 years, I swear. Watching Terence Trent D’Arby on “Saturday Night Live” during Valentine’s Day weekend in 1988. Going out and buying an acoustic guitar about fifteen minutes after seeing Tracy Chapman’s televised performance at a Nelson Mandela benefit at Wembley Stadium. Having two girls I thought was cute write in my yearbook: “Yellow is the color of sunrays!” Ultimately deciding against buying Me Phi Me’s album because of the one-single rule: If the single’s any good, the album won’t be worth the money you spend (and is this the calculus that makes these artists one-hit wonders more often than not?). Absentmindedly trainspotting for hours on WHFS to hear if they were going to play Tasmin Archer’s “Sleeping Satellite.” Dubbing a cassette copy of a vinyl record of “Innervisions” at the D.C. Main Public Library. Going to the first concert I ever attended on my own: Arrested Development at D.C.’s original 9:30 Club on F Street, wearing out “Tennessee” and “Fishing For Religion” (opening act: the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, with Rono Tse throwing up sparks with his industrial racket-making devices and Michael Franti and Charlie Hunter closing with “Music And Politics” and “Positive”). Playing Chapman’s “Mountains O’ Things” at a freshman talent show at Bowie State University. When did Me’Shell N’dege’ocello come into the picture, after “Plantation Lullabies” came out? Feeling the top of my head come off when I bought Cassandra Wilson’s “Blue Light Til Dawn.” Remembering when Erykah Badu was just a headwrap chick, as the writer in a cover story in this spring’s issue of The Fader describes her. Not quite feeling Eric Benet’s “What If We Wuz Cool,” despite it making my toes tap when I heard it. Plunking cash down for Sweetback’s debut ’cause that Groove Theory singer, Amel Larrieux, was cool (not that she was any kind of Sade, y’understand, but digging it anyway). Buying “Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite” the week it came out (I’m the only guy I know who went to see him in concert, once at S.F.’s Bimbo’s 365 — his version of NIN’s “Closer” was way better than on record — and once at Detroit’s Fox Theater — he turned the audience out by singing Ready for the World’s “Let Me Love You Down” in Spanish). Liking Les Nubians, but having my wife like them more.