Living with…Lauryn Hill…for a week

So, who is Lauryn Hill?

Lauryn Hill was a member of the Fugees who in the mid 90s had several international hit songs including a stunning rendition of  Killing Me Softly, Roberta Flack’s classic number.  After success as part of a band, she went solo in 1998 after her first child with the album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.  The album was universally praised and earned her ten nominations and five Grammys including Album of the Year.  Having reached the top as a solo musician she then proceeded to drop out of that whole world and is known as much for her reclusive nature and eccentricity as her musical heritage.  Much of her work has a spiritual edge to it.

In the 2008 US Presidential campaign it was discovered that both Michelle Obama and Republican candidate John McCain had Lauryn Hill’s music in their collection – we’re still waiting to find out what the other thing is that they had in common.

And is she adored?

Not half!  The more I discovered about her the more I realised that she arouses feelings amongst her fans close to religious adoration.  And this isn’t playground taunting of other artistes (My favourite is better than yours!) but claims of how she has changed people’s lives, how she has inspired and saved them.  My favourite from Youtube –  “Queen Lauryn has given us more than an album and more than a song. She has given us hope, truth, grace, and for so many of us peace” – beat that.  So I guess she goes deep…

And the fuss is worth it?

That’s exactly what I wondered, not being a natural fan of R&B I’d not come across one of the great albums of the 90s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

So here goes, I thought.  And I’ve been generally blown away by the experience of the album.  Forget any R&B label this is a wonderful mixture of genres from gospel to soul to reggae.  The sound is modern (well, late 90s) but also full of all those great musical heritages.  But it’s the lyrics that really grabbed me.  Like all great artistes, Lauryn has angst with a capital A.  She has ‘issues’ and it makes for the best music.  In the Ex Factor she lets us know how it really is, not as empty words but heartfelt emotion.

“It could all be so simple
But you’d rather make it hard
Loving you is like a battle
And we both end up with scars”

I guess her ex will know how she feels.  Actually, I think he does – it’s widely felt that the personal stuff is derived from her relationship with other members of the Fugees.  After a failed attempt at a band reunion in 2005 one of them told the press  “Before I work with Lauryn Hill again, you will have a better chance of seeing Osama Bin Laden and George W Bush in Starbucks having a latte, discussing foreign policies.”   Well, as we can rule the Starbucks reunion out now I guess that ends any hopes of a Fugees reunion too.  Anyway, they know where they stand…

As for forgiveness, the amazing Forgive them Father shows she can forgive even if maybe she can’t forget:

“It took me a little while to discover
Wolves in sheep coats who pretend to be lovers
Men who lack conscience will even lie to themselves, to themselves
A friend once said, and I found to be true
That everyday people, they lie to God too
So what makes you think, that they won’t lie to you”

Even if for me its a tad on the long side, there are enough gems to heartily recommend this album.  In particular, try and get hold of the lyrics sheet as well – sit down and read the poetry what she wrote to accompany the beat.

For the video this week, I’ve chosen two as I couldn’t decide between them.  Firstly the first single from the album Doo Wap featuring a split 60s/90s screen.

And then the most amazing video Everything is Everything.  Watch as a whole city becomes a turntable, complete with scratch effects – I love the sound and feel of this song, so it’s probably my favourite:
In our world of revolution: “After winter, must come spring.  Change, it comes eventually.”  How apt this week.

Gleewatch: “Aretha is my kryptonite”.

Script genius – wish I’d written that.

Twotes of the week

@TomHarrisMP Oh, why can’t the fight against psychopathic terrorists be nice and neat, painted in black and white morality and be comfortable for us?

@swissmiss: Sometimes I wish the internet would go to sleep as well. #overandout

@jacques_aih: Due to a typo on the advertisement, the new chairman of the Conservative Party will be an old Estonian.

@jacques_aih: In Verona you can see the palaces where the Capulets and Montagues lived. There’s a plaque on both their houses.

@heatherbray6: In a cafe with a sign that reads ‘Children left unattended will be given a shot of espresso & promised a puppy’

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