Guest Spots: The Dismemberment Plan’s top Gladys Knight songs

The Dismemberment Plan: “Academy Award (Cex Remix)” (A People’s History of the Dismemberment Plan, DeSoto, 10/6/03)

The Dismemberment Plan: “Academy Award (Cex Remix)”

Travis Morrison of The Dismemberment Plan is a huge Gladys Knight fan. Though his band’s dance-punk sound doesn’t overtly reflect Knight’s timeless recordings with The Pips, some influences are a bit more subtle. Below, Morrison shares five of his favorite Gladys Knight songs. And in case you were wondering, yes, The Dismemberment Plan is back together. The band is set to tour the US in support of Barsuk’s upcoming vinyl re-release (1/11/11) of the 1999 album Emergency & I.

Gladys Knight

1. “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)”

Such a great description of shared heartbreak, shared failure at love. I always loved songs that never placed blame when things went wrong. Kind of a companion song to “It’s Too Late” by Carole King. But in this song, the narrator is still in the mix, still not quite giving up. It usually makes me tear up — takes me back to a few situations in my life, I admit.

2. “Midnight Train To Georgia”

Let’s face it, this song is about The Pips. I mean, the song is kind of cruel. You have this female voice saying, “Yeah, guess your little Mr. Movie Star thing didn’t work out.” It’s kind of Freudian and could be heard as cold. But then you have these male voices chiming in the whole way through, and I think it makes the listener understand that the brother is definitely at peace with the big decisions he’s making. He’s making the kind of decisions a grown man makes. So they’re crucial to the song here.

3. “The Nitty Gritty”

She didn’t get uptempo too often, and she didn’t get low down too often. But check it out; she can do both, right in your face.

4. “Daddy Could Swear, I Declare”

Why is her track about her dad the one where she makes the most sex noises? Talk about Freudian. Great ’70s pop-soul arrangement — love that Stealers Wheel acoustic guitar and wah-wah clavinet. Just good, funky times.

5. “Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me”

When is sappy not sappy? When is sentimental not sentimental? When is corny not corny? When you feel it as your own life. This song has zero drama. It is 100% affirmation. And Gladys Knight is the kind of singer who knows that these feelings happen all across the world, respects them, understands them, and communicates them, person to person, without going for vague pomp. Just because a feeling is universal doesn’t mean people don’t feel them in their own special ways, and that’s why Gladys Knight can sing a song like this.

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