Chaka Khan abides
July 24, 2015 1:08 AM   Subscribe

She's every decade, Chaka Khan! Start and end your weekend with her and you can’t go wrong. She can tell you something good in the '70s. In the '80s, she feels for you, in one of the most danceable songs ever. In the '90s Chaka was Every Woman, and tonight I found this: with a good band including Mark Stephens, Vinnie Colaiuta, Melvin Lee Davis and Andy Winer, she makes you shiver with her cover of Joni Mitchell's Man from mars.
posted by goofyfoot (30 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I Feel For You is one of my all-time favorites. Joyous, catchy, and with one of the few non-obnoxious uses of harmonica (or the keyboard setting thereof) in a pop song. It will always be the theme of the summer of 1984 for me.

Also, another example of Prince's superb songwriting skills.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:14 AM on July 24, 2015 [10 favorites]

Heed the Warning has been in my head for the last month. No complaints.

Ain't Nobody is one of the greatest songs ever recorded.

Chaka is truth.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:42 AM on July 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

The harmonica on that tune is played by Stevie Wonder. If it sounds like a keyboard, that's probably because no one on earth can play a chromatic harmonica like Stevie Wonder can ...
posted by iotic at 1:43 AM on July 24, 2015 [5 favorites]

The full concert that Man from Mars is from is here: The Jazz Channel Presents Chaka Kahn (2000)
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:45 AM on July 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

I loved "Tell Me Something Good" (Bob Hope lead in, and no lip sync) when it came out in 74 and I still sing it in the shower. And "I'll Be Good To You" is fine. No one is more fun to listen to than Chaka Khan when she has good material (Stevie Wonder, Brothers Johnson, Prince, etc.).
posted by pracowity at 1:54 AM on July 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

Chaka Khan ft. Incognito live at Java Jazz Festival 2015

It starts with I Feel for You and just gets better and better.
posted by chavenet at 2:50 AM on July 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Like your post, goofyfoot, this is choice: Miles Davis & Chaka Khan: Human Nature (live in Montreux 1989).
posted by On the Corner at 3:19 AM on July 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

Stevie did the harmonica on I Feel For You? Well damn! That certainly does explain why it sounds like a musical instrument and not a wheezy Bob Dylan.

That song has special resonance for me apart from its musicality. My childhood was a very unhappy and lonely one, but in the summer of 1984, I made my first friend, at day camp. We were both 12, both friendless, and bonded in a way that brought the both of us joy. Unfortunately, he lived in the next county, which may as well be on the moon when you're 12. But I stayed in denial as summer ended and junior high started, as we would call each other a few times a week, and I held out hope that we would be close again.

Then on New Year's Eve of 1984 into 1985, my parents went to a party and I stayed at home, watching the Disneyland New Year's Special on TV (it may have also been Disneyworld). It was a pretty boring affair, until suddenly, Chaka Khan appeared and began to perform I Feel For You. And like that, it fell on me like a sack of wet sand: the year was over, my friend was gone, and that wonderful summer was never coming back. I burst into tears, and could not stop crying.

Way too young to handle the realization, I called the number my parents left. My dad, who was half lit at this point, listened for a while as I sob-babbled into the phone, then told me to relax, his friend Tom would come to get me. Tom arrived some minutes later, picked me up, and brought me to the party. I didnt see my dad, but Tom led me to the rec room where he let me watch Purple Rain (my first rated R movie! And it had Prince!), while he rejoined the party. My parents came for me some time later, and I fell asleep in the car as they drove me home.

I have since come to reconcile the fact that good times do end, because other good times await. I might be making too much of the song, but I Feel For You is, to me, a song of joy both past and future; happiness had and happiness still to come.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:36 AM on July 24, 2015 [20 favorites]

Chaka and Miles!
posted by goofyfoot at 3:43 AM on July 24, 2015

Chaka and Miles!~

Playing a Michael Jackson song!
posted by chavenet at 4:41 AM on July 24, 2015

Happy Chaka Khanukkah
posted by Sophie1 at 6:43 AM on July 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

  That certainly does explain why it sounds like a musical instrument and not a wheezy Bob Dylan.

As iotic said, chromatic harmonica. Yer standard Bob Dylan/blooozmann harmonica is a diatonic, and is missing some notes. Takes a huge lung volume and uncommon dexterity to play a chromatic. And only Stevie Wonder can play like Stevie Wonder.
posted by scruss at 6:44 AM on July 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Memphis' botanic garden has a summer concert series thing. Aretha Franklin was supposed to play but cancelled at the last minute, and Chaka Khan stepped in.

The posters said "Aretha Can't? Chaka Khan!" and it was glorious.
posted by epilnivek at 7:06 AM on July 24, 2015 [6 favorites]

I swear I remember a clip of her wailing away on the drums - like really going to town. But I can't seem to find it. It's not that cbs clip.
posted by cashman at 7:33 AM on July 24, 2015

Also, I know you, I live you. (Not to be confused with Alan Silvestri's end theme from Romancing the Stone)
posted by cashman at 7:38 AM on July 24, 2015

(And Human Nature was composed by Steve Porcaro of Toto, with lyrics by John Bettis.)
posted by mubba at 7:44 AM on July 24, 2015

Boogie Down Productions' "The Blueprint" sampled a keyboard lick that used to get me totally hyped. Through some research I learned it was from Rufus and Chaka's "Ooh I Like your Lovin' " which totally gets me hyped too. The Rufus era stuff was great.
posted by jonmc at 8:27 AM on July 24, 2015

Homer Simpson approves.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:35 AM on July 24, 2015

This queen!!
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:48 AM on July 24, 2015

In the '90s Chaka was Every Woman

Sorry, this is probably just me being pedantic, but "I'm Every Woman" is from 1978; Whitney Houston's cover is the one that came out in the 90s.

One of the many impressive things to me about Chaka Khan is that some of her later output matches the quality of her earlier stuff:

Never Miss The Water
posted by The Gooch at 9:23 AM on July 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

posted by saulgoodman at 9:46 AM on July 24, 2015

For a second I made the mistake of thinking she was going to cover the song Rapture by Blondie.
posted by boilermonster at 9:49 AM on July 24, 2015

Never forget Rufus. Their Stompin' at the Savoy album is a constant joy.
posted by adamd1 at 9:51 AM on July 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

No love for What 'Cha Gonna Do for Me? One of the funkiest, down-lowest, most kick-ass songs ever?
posted by blucevalo at 10:51 AM on July 24, 2015

Oh nothing just sitting at work tearing up about a sad story involving Melle Mel saying CHAKA 200x/ minute.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:01 PM on July 24, 2015

I loved Rufus when they first appeared in the 70s and have continued to enjoy her solo work. She has a voice no one can forget.

I heard a while back that she was very hit-or-miss in concert but that doesn't seem to be mentioned anymore. This was when she was still battling addiction so it's likely that changed when she sobered up.
posted by tommasz at 1:22 PM on July 24, 2015

No one can or will ever out-Chaka Chaka Khan. I first noticed her "back in the day" when that first Rufus album came out. She exudes soulfulness, jazzy awesomeness and femininity, sings her sweet ass off even now, and, to me, is also one of the most beautiful women ever. It's her whole persona, it's just all right there. Thanks also to whoever posted her version of "My Funny Valentine". What a treat!
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 7:55 PM on July 24, 2015

And she will always destroy The Bee-Gees.
posted by droplet at 8:26 PM on July 24, 2015

Saw Rufus open for the Rolling Stones on the Bicentennial Tour (that
s 1976 for you youngsters) and they killed. Yes, The Eagles (with Joe Walsh) were on the bill, too. And The Stones were awesome (my first time seeing them). But Rufus kinda stole the show. That's the album I went out and bought the next day.
posted by cleroy at 10:27 PM on July 24, 2015

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