The US100 invites you to join our epic journey across the American musical landscape.
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Volume 01 Episode 05: Modern NYC
“I don’t think Ukraine, Russia and Belarus collapsed because of Mongol gentrification.”
Our final episode in New York City concludes with our US100 travellers exploring some of the Big Apple’s more modern output. With our three tracks all emerging from the noughties, this is a trip down memory lane for Jarek and Brent; and, as per tradition, Chris doesn’t have a clue. Jarek also uses the three songs as a basis to explore a diverse range of New York themes: from gentrification and NYPD police dogs via causing a city-wide blackout and the intricacies of Russian-Ukrainian history.
Volume 01 Episode 04: Birth of Hip Hop
“The moralising didn’t come from the pro homophobe camp.”
It’s whistle stop hip hop, as JZ drops this pod from the blocks of The Bronx. Covering approximately 453 years (1541-1994), Jarek speedily runs us through an all-encompassing narrative of how the independent elements of rap, DJing, funk, soul, MCing, graffiti, b-boying, disco, and rock – along with some ludicrous lyrics written by Debbie Harry – all melted into the boiling pot that was to be known as hip hop.
Running Chris and BD through the story of hip hop’s three Bronx-based forefathers, Jarek then explains how Queens-based Run-D.M.C. dramatically changed the game, via a listen to US100 track 8, It’s Like That.
Drawing a line at hip hop’s golden era, the guys move on to how DMC found comic books as Run found the Good Book.
Volume 01 Episode 03: Xmas Special
“On a massive sidetrack, was it Pol Pot – didn’t he murder everyone with glasses?”
Festive cheer arrives in the form of our two part US100 Christmas party, as our three songs cover almost 80 years of New York City’s musical history. In the first of our two parts, Jarek begins by dedicating the party to Sharon Jones, the third artist covered who sadly passed away a few days prior to recording. BD and Chris are then delighted to receive their Make America Enjoyable Again baseball caps, which arrive courtesy of Bob Dylan in full St Nick spirit.
The boys then pay a visit to 1930s Harlem, Manhattan to frequent the Cotton Club, taking in the performance of band leader Cab Calloway (NB: born on Christmas Day), before learning more about how his music relates to the enforcement of both prohibition and racial segregation within the US at the time. And in Challenge Chris, Chris manages to become the first person to ever link Cab Calloway to Pol Pot.
In Part II, the boys discuss The Ronettes’ Be My Baby, before taking a closer look at producer Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound and his legendary A Christmas Gift For You record, with Producer BD also revealing the stunning end result of his and Jarek’s very own ‘Wall of Sound’ experiment. Attention is then turned to the wonderful Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, and the US100’s only Christmas song, Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects. After providing an update on the artists’ lives since their songs, Jarek reveals he has made a few steps of certificate giving progress, before we end with the fine poptastic tones of a former Sugababe.
Volume 01 Episode 02: Folk Revival
“You’re on the side of the trespassing … that’s an admission of guilt right there isn’t it?”
Chris Kelly on the lyrics of This Land Is Your Land
In our second US100 podcast episode, Jarek and the guys make themselves a little more comfortable in their New York City surroundings, settling into Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, the epicentre of the folk revival movement.
Recorded mere hours after the 2016 US Presidential election result was announced, Jarek pertinently explains this period of US musical and political history, in which the old traditional songs of the factories, mines, and plantations were given a mainstream and politicised platform by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger – and we even discover a Guthrie-Trump link along the way. We then explore how folk music was taken into strange new directions by Bob Dylan and later Simon & Garfunkel, at one point dropping into the 1965 Newport Folk Festival to catch the headline act.
Meanwhile Chris entertains us once again with his unique lyrical interpretations, declaring This Land Is Your Land to be an admission of Woody’s criminal guilt, while speculating that Simon & Garfunkel’s America is in fact Paul Simon’s Fear and Loathing (in Michigan) moment. Most importantly, this episode sees the organic birth of the US100’s MAKE AMERICA ENJOYABLE AGAIN motto, since immortalised in red baseball cap form. Finally the guys craft a plan for getting a certificate to Bob Dylan and the other artists.
As always, if you like the music and hate the chat, all songs featured within the episode can be listened to in full through the Spotify B Side.
Volume 01 Episode 01: California Dreamin’
“All the trees are brown.”
The US100 team land in New York City, with Jarek, Brent, and Chris immediately exploring the story of artists behind US100’s opening track, California Dreamin’ by The Mamas & The Papas. As will become US100 podcast tradition, Chris offers his own lyrical interpretation of the song’s meaning while Jarek examines the history behind the song and the fate of the artists who helped to record it. Meanwhile, Chris and Brent are delighted to receive their official US100 membership certificates.
Where did The Mamas & The Papas come from? Who slept with who and why? Why does the ‘New York’ track have ‘California’ in the title? What’s so important about the Virgin Islands? What is a Mugwump? Has Jarek had any joy sending out US100 membership certificates, and why does this very podcast recording make us less confident of one Mama/Papa accepting theirs?
If you like the songs you hear, don’t forget you can listen to the ‘B Side’ through Spotify, in which they are all played in full, via the link below.
Introducing The US100
Jarek introduces you to US100, offering an insight into how we will be exploring these tracks through these podcasts, touching upon the questions we will aim to answer and introducing some of our features, such as Challenge Chris and Reach the Artist (to give them a certificate).
In addition we meet Producer BD, driver of the US100 car and all round practical hero, and Chris, who serves no real practical purpose but is eager to learn.