Kanye West introduced a generation of kids to the jazzy funk of Steely Dan. Through his fantastic sample of “Kid Charlamagne,” on his song “Champion,” he reintroduced the rest of us to a song we knew we liked but didn’t know how much we missed.
Every time I hear the hook, “Did you realize,
that you were a champion in their eyes?” it brings back memories of my childhood. Riding to the store with my parents, delivering porta-potties, with Bobby, or walking into Lance’s house as it was played in the background. Mr. West took an old song and gave it new life. Also proving that Woody Herman and Kanye West are only separated by six degrees.
Imagine my surprise when, again, I was reminded of that incredible sample (and song) when I sat down to listen to a record that was gifted to me by a friend, and there it was being played by a big band?
I’ve written before that a good friend, and bandmate, James always brings me surprise stacks of vinyl with everything from jazz to metal. Recently he gave me a copy of The Woody Herman Band‘s, Chick, Donald, Walter, and Woodrow (Century Records, 1978). At that time I didn’t realize what the title had meant, which was actually just all the names of the artists Woody and his band were covering on this project. But once I got into the second side of the vinyl, and heard their version of “Kid Charlemagne,” I had to take a look at the cover again, and then it hit me. “Donald, Walter, and Woodrow” were the names of the Steely Dan members and this side of the album were all Steely Dan covers.
I had to call James to thank him for the records and to tell him of my discovery. He shed a little more light on the project and we shared a couple of laughs.
Kanye West, Steely Dan, and The Woody Herman Band, who would’ve thought?
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