1. "Potato Head Blues," Louis Armstrong
It's a magical, trailblazing work of beauty that never fails to move me in a positive way. Check this quote from Woody Allen's character in his 1979 masterpiece Manhattan: "Why is life worth living? It's a very good question. Um... Well, There are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. Groucho Marx, to name one thing and Willie Mays and the second movement of the 'Jupiter Symphony.' Um, Louis Armstrong's recording of 'Potato Head Blues....'
Here it is. (It takes about 18 second before music -- the original 1927 recording -- kicks in.)
And because it's one of my favorite films of all time, here's the scene from Manhattan:
2. "Mother Popcorn," James Brown
JB's pioneering funk smash is an ode to the "Popcorn" dance he created. If this live performance -- from 1969 -- doesn't make you want to shake your ass, you should probably go see a doctor. Dig Maceo Parker's sizzling sax solo.
3. "Watermelon Man," Herbie Hancock
Hancock's jazz-funk gem from his classic 1973 album, Head Hunters, has been covered and sampled numerous times, but nothing beats the original. Well, maybe nothing except this killer clip featuring Hancock (and band) joined by the keyboardist's former boss, Miles Davis.
4. "Salt Peanuts," Dizzy Gillespie
This composition by trumpet titan Gillespie always improves my mood. One of the most important recordings of the bop era, it's an amazing work of art and a joy to hear.
5. "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)," Hank Williams Sr.
Another smile-inducing number, it makes me wish I at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival soaking up the myriad sounds and stuffing my face with Louisiana's finest cuisine.
6. "The Lemon Song, " Led Zeppelin
Plant stole the priceless line about his, ah, "lemon," being squeezed until the juice runs down his leg from original blues badass, Robert Johnson. But, let's admit, no band galvanized the blues like Led Zeppelin. Here's a splendidly raunchy concert performance from '73.
7. "Memphis Soul Stew," King Curtis
King Curtis was a superb sax player, composer, and bandleader who led Aretha Franklin's backing unit in addition to his own group, which in 1971 recorded the must-hear Live at Fillmore West. Shortly after its release some sick fuck stabbed Curtis to death.
8. "Eggs and Sausage (In a Cadillac with Susan Michelson)," Tom Waits
This is from Waits' 1975 gutter-jazz knockout, Nighthawks at the Diner. Here's a great clip of Waits performing and being interviewed on The Mike Douglas Show following year.
9. "Hot Tamale Baby," Clifton Chenier
Another song that always makes me grin and wish I was visiting New Orleans again. Originated by Zydeco King Clifton Chenier, here's a vibrant, more rock-informed performance from earlier this year by his talented son, C.J. Chenier.
10. "Country Pie," Bob Dylan
This is off his1969 country album, Nashville Skyline. Dylan went decades without performing this number live before a more rocking version started surfacing around 2000. Here's one of them.