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Last sync:2023-01-30 09:00
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The Songs:
I Got a Woman - Ray Charles
(Appears in "Gold Digger"by Kanye West)

Must Be Jesus - The Southern Tones
(Appears in "I Got a Woman" by Ray Charles)

I Got The... - Labi Siffre
(Appears in "My Name Is" by Eminem)

Why Can't We Live Together - Timmy Thomas
(Appears in "Hotline Bling" by Drake)

What a Man - Linda Lyndell
(Appears in "Whatta Man" by Salt n Pepa)

Found a Child - Ballin' Jack
(Appears in "Groove is in the Heart" by Deeee-Lite)

The Barbershop Quartet from the beginning

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Good morning John!

I've heard a lot of guesses about what it is that makes humanity special. Opposable thumbs, tool use, self-awareness.

But it turns all those things, other animals do those things too. One thing I can never stop thinking about though is music, and of course there are other organisms that sing but here is a thing that no other organism has ever done. [Music] (00:24) The layers of remix and collaboration and historical context that go into that six-second clip of a barbershop quartet singing "Oops I Did It Again" are just... *air kiss*. All the tools we use to understand and manipulate the world are built, brick by brick, by individual humans and a lot of time we can't see those bricks, but with music often times we can. Several times in my life I have been listening to some old interesting song that I'd never heard before and then suddenly I realize, I have heard it before, hundreds of times.

You could probably tell that that's about to happen with this song. Ray Charles obviously is iconic. This song, "I Got A Woman," is one of the most covered songs of all time and you probably know that "I Got A Woman" was sampled fairly recently in a super popular song. [Music] (1:12) But you may well have known that that was a sample from Ray Charles in Kanye West's "Gold Digger."

But you probably did not know about this [Music] (1:28) The Southern Tones were a gospel group, Ray Charles heard that song on the radio and then immediately wrote: "I Got A Woman" using the same melody. So that my friends is the path from "It Must Be Jesus" to "Gold Digger." 

This ridiculously beautiful Labi Siffre track is wonderful to listen to it's called "I Got The." It has a lot of complexity, a lot of orchestration, there's a lot going on and you probably have never heard of it. Except [Music] (1:58) ...Slim Shady. I wanna know the story of how this track happened so bad! Eminem, if you would like to email me, I'm very curious. Speaking of super weird, this Timmy Thomas track, "Why Can't We Live Together," is like a weird mix of organ and percussion, and it probably sounds pretty familiar to you right now and you may have figured out already but if you haven't, allow me to speed it up a little bit, add some reverb and take the high end off, and suddenly [Music] (2:26)

Here's another song that you almost certainly have never heard before. Singing in the background right now is Linda Lyndell. She was a backup act for Otis Redding and even James Brown. And when she released her pretty spectacular R&B single, "What A Man," it went bad because she was white.

The KKK told her to retire otherwise they would make her life miserable for being a white person who was singing black music, and she did that, and the song was largely forgotten until: [Music] (2:59) In 2003 after  Salt-N-Pepa's song came out, Linda Lyndell actually came out and performed her song "What A Man" for the very first time in public. And now that song lives on again in another hemisphere, after Korean pop music group IOI did a version of it in 2016.

Some people don't like samples, they say it shows a lack of creativity or that they're stealing from other artists but when I look at this I see the example of the thing that actually makes humans unique and so powerful.

There are no new things. I stole every one of these words I'm saying from the person who made the word up and we don't remember that person's name. So I find this beautiful and I love to be able to see a little bit into that process of human creation as long as everybody's getting credit.

Now let me leave you with an amazing funk track called "Found A Child" by Ball and Jack which you have never heard. Except, that you have. [Music] Gets me every time John, I'll see you on Tuesday.