Alexa Helps Me Search For Swinging Tunes

by Kevin Burton

   My good buddy Alexa feeds my insatiable appetite for new music.

   It doesn’t have to be newly-minted music, just new to me.  In fact it’s better if these treasures are obscure 70s and 60s tunes that some record company honcho didn’t like, but that I might like just fine. 

   Or it could be newer music, written more or less in the style popular in the 70s or 60s.

   We pay about $11 per month to get Amazon music. That equips Alexa to answer all my silly musical questions.

   My technique to find this stuff is to say “Alexa, play songs by…” and fill in the blank with the first thing I think of. It’s one part method, three parts madness.

   This started as a means of finding out which band names had already been taken. In other words, names I could not use for that band I have wanted to start all my life, but never have.  

   Finding new music isn’t as easy as it used to be. It used to float in through the airwaves.  All I needed to know was that WNCI means more music. With that knowledge I was set.

   But somewhere along the line the endless commercials and station promotions got old. The airwaves are the same but they now carry mostly rap and un-country. 

   So, radio off, Alexa on.

   Here are two of the gems I have unearthed. You can check them out and let me know if I got my $11 worth.

   “Alexa, play songs by The Road Dogs.”

   The Road Dogs sing in English but clearly English is not their first language. I guessed French. The screaming guitar comes through in any language. 

   The second song Alexa plays is called “Mr. Slowhand.” Now that I had to hear.

    Part of the lyrics, “Mr. Slowhand, why don’t you come to my town…” Then in the next verse, “Mr. Slowhand why don’t you come to my show…”   

   This is obviously one guitar hero trying to get the attention of an all-time great guitar hero, Eric Clapton. I check out their tune on You Tube and discover the Road Dogs are from Belarus, not France. 

   Good find.

   My old way to get new music was to ask friends who know my musical tastes to tell me of new artists I might like. 

   That’s the way I was introduced to Christian bands Phillips, Craig and Dean and 4Him and secular acts Maroon 5, and    John Mayer. All are among my favorites now.

   But my human friends, God bless them, are not hip to what’s hot in Belarus. So Alexa is my go to tune finder.

   “Alexa, play songs by The Castaways…” 

   The Castaways, a rock band from Minnesota, had a number 12 hit “Liar, Liar” in 1965, but just that one. I never heard of them until last weekend. The song is OK, but not very interesting compared to their others. 

   You hear their “Lavender Popcorn” and get the idea they may have heard some of the Beatles’ psychedelic drug songs.   Sample lyric, “Lavender popcorn is waiting for you, lavender popcorn and Mister Magoo.”     

   Their “Two Steps Forward” written with hints of the disco style, is worth a listen. Their “Baby What I Mean,” has some horns on it that will remind you of the Memphis Sound out of Stax Records.

   This band must have stayed together well past the 60s because they have a song called “Facebook Friends.” It is by far my favorite of their songs

   Sample lyric, “I am never alone, I’ve got my Facebook friends at home. I’ve got all that I need, I’ve got my Facebook friends to read.”  

   You can call that social commentary, satire, or just an updated take on The Statler Brothers’ “Flowers on The Wall.”  Good stuff however you slice it.

   Friday: More music via Alexa.

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