I have been enjoying watching James Taylor on this season of The Voice. He is a rock and roll hall of famer through and through, and I have appreciated his comments to the relatively young musicians on the show.

When I hear a James Taylor song, I always think back to the good times we had in our first townhouse with our neighbors and good friends James and Lisa. We both had young daughters at that time, loved music, and enjoyed grilled meats and drinks so we had a lot in common and spent quality time together. James Taylor was one of James and Lisa’s favorite musicians so we listened often.

In memory of all of those great times with great friends, today’s Song of the Day is “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the first Saturday Night Live ever filmed at home from last Saturday, check it out on your DVR, on demand, on YouTube, on whatever. It was really excellent and showed some pretty amazing creativity from some of the best in the business stuck at home like the rest of us.

Chris Martin was the musical guest and played a great rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm” from 1975’s “Blood on the Tracks.” It was the perfect choice of song for the times we are all experiencing alone together.

For today’s Song of the Day, we’re going to go back to that original Bob Dylan version of “Shelter from the Storm.” It is one of my favorite songs on one of my favorite albums. We all could use a little shelter right now.

Happy Easter!

For those of you who celebrate Easter, I know this is a weird one. Back in high school and college, I would have played at a couple masses by now, but today, churches around the world are empty. That Easter Eve midnight mass at Holy Angels was always a fascinating, head-turning experience.

For today’s Song of the Day, I wanted to share one of the most spiritual albums I know. John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” is an absolute masterpiece. It is impossible to not feel something when listening to the album. Coltrane and the band created music that you can see if you close your eyes. The album is really quite something.

For today’s Song of the Day, let’s all take a moment to enjoy one of the greatest jazz albums and songs of all time: “A Love Supreme, Pt. 1: Acknowledgement” by John Coltrane.

Yes, I know it’s April 12th, and I’m a day late on this one, but I did have a song in mind yesterday so I wanted to make sure to share it.

I try to keep my ears open to new music regardless of the genre. We let the kids control the radio from time to time when they’re in the car so we can hear their current favorite songs. It’s not always easy, and I might not always like what I hear, but that’s the whole point of the exercise.

From time to time, an artist comes around that stretches the boundaries of genres. In the mid-2010’s, I started hearing and reading about a country artist who was stretching the definition of the country music genre, and then I listened to Sturgill Simpson’s “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” all the way through. It blew me away! The story behind the album is equally amazing. Sturgill wrote the album to welcome his son into the world. How cool is that?

My favorite song on the album is “Keep It Between the Lines.” Horns, funk, and groove on a “country” album – what is there not to like? Enjoy!

It was way back in 1997 when a group of us took the train into the city for 93XRT’s Free 4th of July concert which was our tradition for many years. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hear some great free music surrounded by all of the restaurant vendors at Taste of Chicago? And, the actual 4th of July was the best day to go back then because the crowds were smaller.

Well, our main reason for going that day was to see Big Head Todd & The Monsters (and Collective Soul to some extent), but by the time the show was over, I had a new favorite Chicago-based band. An up-and-coming acid jazz group named Liquid Soul opened the show that day and blew the crowd away. The crowd was up and moving and going nuts! I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Liquid Soul’s music seamlessly combined jazz, funk, soul, rock, R&B, rap, and everything in between. From that point forward, I would see as many shows as I could and managed to convince many friends and coworkers to go along for the ride. If you missed the Chicago acid jazz scene back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, check out Liquid Soul! They even played at Bill Clinton’s 1996 inaugural parade so you know they’re cool.

So, to start your Friday off right, here is a little soul for you – a little Liquid to the Soul, that is! Today’s Song of the Day is “Worlds’ on a Leash” by Liquid Soul.

Those of you that know us well know that Donnell and I love going to concerts. We actually met at a Mr. Blotto show at Otto’s in DeKalb. We talked through the entire show so I have no memory of the music from that night, but clearly, Donnell and I hit it off!

We talked about the various bands and music that we liked, and one fairly obscure artist that we both liked was a singer-songwriter named Willy Porter from Milwaukee. We tried unsuccessfully to make plans to see a show, but all of those conversations brought us closer today, and as they say, the rest is history.

So, for today’s Song of the Day, here is a song from the guy that helped spark an amazing relationship now approaching 20 years: “Watercolor” by Willy Porter.

Today, we’re going all the way back to 1959 for our Song of the Day.

As many of you know, I played trumpet in high school – A LOT of trumpet. It was a really great time to be in to trumpet. Dizzy was still actively playing. Miles was still pushing the envelope as he did his entire career. Wynton released amazing albums like “The Majesty of the Blues”and the three-album “Soul Gestures in Southern Blue” suite. The late 80’s and early 90’s were great years to be really in to trumpet.

If I had to look back and pinpoint the one album that flipped the switch for me to focus my studies on jazz trumpet, it would be Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.” I am convinced that millions of trumpet players would say the same thing. “Kind of Blue” is approachable and understandable to anyone that enjoys music. That album is fairly unique in that way. No matter what genre you prefer, you can listen to and enjoy “Kind of Blue.” I even heard the album blaring from a roof top patio of a fraternity down the street from Currier Hall in Iowa City when I was in college. That was when I knew Miles and that album transcended everything.

Out of all of the great songs on the albums, the one that consistently puts a smile on my face, the one where I am convinced the guys were having an incredible moment in the studio is “All Blues.” I have listened to this song so many times that I can sing, and in some cases, play all of the solos. I hope it brings you as much joy as it does for me.

I was really hoping I would not have to write about John Prine and COVID-19 and death, but the news came tonight that COVID-19 has taken John Prine from us.

To honor John and share one of my absolute favorite songs of all time, today’s Song of the Day is “Angel from Montgomery” written by John Prine and performed by Bonnie Raitt.

As we start another week under nearly nationwide stay-at-home orders, it is difficult to find good news. One of the beautiful things about music is there is a song for every occasion, and even sad songs can spark a good memory.

Now, today’s Song of the Day is not a sad song by any stretch of the imagination. Leon Bridges released “Coming Home” back in 2015. If you haven’t heard it, pop over to Apple Music, Spotify, or whatever music service you prefer, and check it out.

Leon’s follow-up album, “Good Thing,” from 2018 was equally as amazing and worthy of many listens. With everything happening today, sometimes you have to make a good thing out of “Bad Bad News.”

We got together over Zoom with our regular crew to play a fun little Euchre tournament over the internets last night. It was nice to see everyone, and the tournament was a great success even though we were separated in different houses and cities.

As is usually the case when we get together, the soundtrack eventually turned to 80’s music. There were many great songs in the playlist, but one stood out to me as particularly relevant for what we are all going through right now thanks to the threat of COVID-19.

So, here is today’s Song of the Day: “Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder.