Running Down a YouTube Rabbit Hole: 10 Old Songs that Made Tommy’s 2018 Brighter

joup2018So.  2018, right?  I just don’t know any more you guys.  I mean yeah, we got a ton of great music released this year, some great books, great comics, great television, and it was an absurdly good year for film too.  But as we hurdle closer and closer to a worldwide authoritarian state and the impending hellscape that awaits us from climate change inaction, it all just feels like one big distraction. 

Don’t get me wrong, some distraction is good now and then.  It keeps us sane.  Speaking of which, here’s a bunch of year-end lists I made over the last couple weeks (here, here, here, here, here, and here).  And I guess I’m going to keep on distracting, at least for the amount of time it takes you to read this article, another year-end list. 

But I’m going to go a slightly different route this time around and not focus on anything that came out in 2018.  Instead, here are 10 songs I discovered online this year, the result of tumbling down a YouTube rabbit hole…except with good songs and not alt-right conspiracy theories. 

Let the countdown commence… 

10. Roy Ayers – “Liquid Love”

It starts simply enough.  You hear about an artist or a song from a friend or article or blog, or you see some random album cover in a store or online somewhere, and you just have to find out what it sounds like.  So you look it up on YouTube to give it a listen, and then the algorithm recommends something else.  So you listen to that too.  And then you get another recommendation…and another…and another, and each song is just as amazing as the next.  Before too long, you’re making a list of them for a web article, and you’re starting it off with “Liquid Love,” some loungey, jazzy soul from Roy Ayers that gets under the skin and stays there for a while. 

9. Brian Bennett – “Solstice”

One of the fun things about listening to random old songs on YouTube is when you realize you’ve heard part of the song before, but in sample form.  The intro to Brian Bennett’s spacey, funky “Solstice” was used in a track by Lovage years and years ago, and it’s cool to finally hear it in full. 

8. Janko Nilovic - “Drug Song” 

The downside to discovering all of this wonderful old music is that a quick Discogs check later, you realize you’ll never be able to afford some of these rarities and collectibles.  And that’s a shame when you’re digging on something as infectious as the funky flute jam “Drug Song” from Janko Nilovic. 

7. Fuego – “Misa Criolia (We Are the Children)” 

I am of the opinion that disco often gets a bad rap, especially when listening to Fuego’s ‘81 update of Micky & Joyce track “Misa Criolia,” a bumping, worldly, jungle boogie of a jam. 

6. Lijadu Sisters – “Come on Home” 

Nigerian duo Lijadu Sisters released “Come on Home” in 1979, a cool and breezy little number that feels equal parts disco, funk, and yacht rock.  It’s the kind of song you can imagine Tom Tom Club freaking out about, and then instantly running to the studio.

5. Black Savage – “Kothbiro

I can’t find too much information on Black Savage’s “Kothbiro,” except that it’s sung in the Dholuo language of the Luo tribe located in Kenya, and that apparently Kanye West has sampled it before.  Don’t let that last part keep you from discovering this smoky, groovy jam though. 

4. The Roger Webb Sound – “Moon Bird”

Another song that I swear I’ve heard sampled somewhere before, but can’t quite place.  It doesn’t matter though, because this eerie and jazzy psychedelia from The Roger Webb Sound sounds just fine all on its own, the opening notes to a journey you’ve waited a lifetime to take. 

3. The Lollipops – “NakeWhen You Come”

Oh man, this little nugget of ‘60s psych pop from Danish trio The Lollipops is just risque enough to raise an eyebrow, but that hook is inescapable.  If this hasn’t been sampled by some aspiring hip-hop producer yet, then I don’t even know what we’re doing here.  This song also gets points because my 2-year old son digs it. 

2. Armando Trovajoli - “Surrender” 

Italian film score composer Armando Trovajoli has an immense body of work, which makes me a little aghast at myself for not knowing any of his work.  Listening to the gorgeous “Surrender” was akin to discovering the deeper cuts of Ennio Morricone the first time around.  And it doesn’t get much better than that.  I’m thinking I’ve probably got a whole lot of records to start sifting through.

…and finally 1. Elias Rahbani – “Dance of Maria” 

One of my favorite records from 2011 was the self-titled release from Quakers, the hip-hop project of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow.  That album is a virtual fountain of awesome samples, many of which I’ve been able to track down over the last few years (The University of Arizona marching band performing Radiohead for instance), and I finally found one more this year with Elias Rahbani’s “Dance of Maria.”  A moving and shaking mix of psychedelia and Middle Eastern tones, this song kills.  It’s probably made it into my normal rotation even more than some of my favorites that actually came out this year, and like The Lollipops track, my 2-year old digs this one too.  In fact, he requests it.  He’s right to do so. 

So there you go.  Something a little different for 2018.  May our 2019 maybe settle down a little bit with all of the bullshit. 


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit

One Response to Running Down a YouTube Rabbit Hole: 10 Old Songs that Made Tommy’s 2018 Brighter
  1. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    A wealth of stuff here – as in all of it – I’ve never heard before but am looking forward to. And You’re right about Moon Bird, or at least so far as I think I’ve heard it before. Also, thanks for putting a new Ayers album on my radar. Ubiquity is always on the periphery of my turntable.

Leave a Reply to Shawn C. Baker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>