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Bobby McFerrin - Drive (Later With Jools Holland 2010)

Checking for Matches…

How to lead a band without a band

Bobby McFerrin stopped worrying and got way-happy in 1988 with a little hit you may have heard . . . 50 million times. But that was only the pop-happy culmination of a lifetime of jazz, classical and healthy opera living. Since you last saw him clowning around with Robin Williams and Bill Irwin in a video, Bobby’s been off recording with Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and numerous others, while simultaneously guest conducting orchestras all over the world.

Although “Drive” was also on his landmark Simple Pleasures disk, it has outlasted “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” in McFerrin’s live repertoire, and served as a signature song, getting him off the hook for having to play his “American Pie” every single god-damn night.

McFerrin did for vocals what Stomp did for drums — exploding the possibilities and preconceived limitations of what an instrument could be. Who needs four Beatles when one voice can be the rhythm track, the sound effects, the instrumental solo, and the lead vocal?

Even though deservedly given credit for opening up the vocal possibilities of pop performers, it’s worth remembering there was a petite folk singer from Greenwich Village who took an a cappella song to the top of the charts before McFerrin. Without Suzanne Vega’s unlikely folk hit “Tom’s Diner” in 1984, you just wonder if the dinosaurs in the mid-80s hair-band music business would have given a shot to a strange Rastafarian who doesn’t even have a band.

But don’t worry … be happy they got it right just once in spite of themselves.
 

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