(I’ll stop you, since you’ve heard this one before. Trust me.)
I don’t see myself as old. I see myself as “older.” For as much as I want to believe that I’m still in my early 20s, playing the role of college radio rebel, there are indications that I am not. To wit:
-My hair is a different color
-I have injured myself getting out of bed. Hell, I’ve injured myself sleeping.
-I cannot pull all-nighters. Not once in finishing grad school did I do this. Sleep was too valuable to compromise.
Musically, there were two clues.
-I started recognizing fewer and fewer songs on the Top 40. This was a function of work life, since I spent most of my career in Oldies radio and had less need to know what was big.
-When I did listen to contemporary radio, I started noticing more and more pieces of old songs being repurposed and/or covered.
That second one is the biggie. I’d be around students or younger cousins, hear them become excited about a “new” record, and have to be the one to try and explain that I’d heard this before. It’s easy with covers; the samples are a little trickier.
Fortunately, the Internet helps us. The website whosampled.com is an excellent repository of samples that appear in songs. It is there, for example, that you will learn about the “Amen Break.” The flip side of “Color Me Father” by the Winstons contains a soulful take on the classic “Amen.” In the middle is a drum break that has turned up in just about everything since then. (I don’t need to write about it, since it is the subject of its own documentary.)
You’ll also learn about about a song called “I Got The…” by Labi Siffre from 1975. It’s a cool R&B jam, right? Go to about 2:10 into the song when it comes to a stop, and comes back with a riff that you probably recognize. “Hi kids.” Add your best Eminem impression. I’ll wait.
But what brought me to the site was helping to remember a song that I had long since forgotten about. In 1972 Lyn Collins – “The Female Preacher” – did an album with help from the J.B.s, the backing band of James Brown. The song “Think About It” came and went, and remained in obscurity until 1989. It was then that Rob Base and D.J. Easy Rock released “It Takes Two” that music fans got that vaguely-familiar feeling. The one “Yeah! Whoo!” in the Lyn Collins record was sampled over and over and over again to provide the backing behind the track, which brought a throwaway bridge lyric – “It takes two to make a thing go right/It takes two to make it outta sight” to the center of the stage.
Oh – another way you’ve become old? The songs that you liked to have on at your parties start turning up in commercials. “It Takes Two,” once the sort of party anthem that brought all comers to the dance floor, now gets used occasionally to sell apps at Applebee’s. What a drag it is getting old.
To hear the whole Lyn Collins track, click here. If you just want the Rob Base part, go to about the 1:21 mark.