Sir Mike picks his 10 favorite songs
Any student who’s ever even visited Carman is bound to remember Michael Layne, better known as Sir Mike, the ring-wearing, fist-bumping front desk security guard.
Apart from a warm welcome, Sir Mike always guarantees a great soundtrack for the first-year crowds, and his timeless music taste definitely doesn’t go unnoticed. In fact, Sir Mike used to be the lead singer of a vocal group, The Flames, which was signed in Panama and subsequently toured throughout South America and Mexico.
“I was what Smokey Robinson was to The Miracles,” Sir Mike said. “The guy. I could do baritone to falsetto, I could go from James Brown to Bob Marley and Johnny Mathis and some of the Latin singers, all those cats.” Even now, Sir Mike still performs at clubs, weddings, and Panamanian reunions throughout the nation and has recorded several personal demos, covering music from the 1960s-80s.
I asked Sir Mike to compile the ultimate playlist–the top 10 favorites he’d want if he were given only 10 songs to listen to for the rest of his life. (Several selections are albums and artists and not songs, yes—but it’s Sir Mike, so he can do whatever he wants.)
1) “Kind of Blue” (album) – Miles Davis
His take: “I’m so much of a fan because it uses modes instead of basic chords—classical modes, which was really very innovative for its time. It’s a classic.”
2) “What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye
“This really broke ground because he brought together all different types of styles with that song. He combined Latin, jazz, blues, which was never done before.”
“I can’t tell you why I like it, but it’s one of my favorites. It’s good studying music! And I’m just amazed at his dexterity.”
4) “Thriller” (album) – Michael Jackson
“A masterpiece. That’s all I need to say about it. The rest is all said.”
5) “Here Comes The Sun” – The Beatles
“George Harrison behind that. It’s a good feeling—I just associate it with good times. It says ‘here comes the sun.’ There’s nothing more that needs to be said than ‘here comes the sun.’”
6) “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” – Marvin Gaye
“I associate [it] with heartbreak, but it’s a masterpiece. Number one of the 1970s!”
7) Oscar Peterson (jazz pianist)
“I think he’s got twenty fingers.”
8) “The Sands” (album) – Frank Sinatra and Count Basie Orchestra
“’The Sands’ is the best live album I’ve ever heard. When they did ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin,’ I was like, ‘OK, I’m sold.’”
9) “My Girl” – The Temptations
“That song’s gonna be one of the songs we’re gonna be hearing three decades from now. It’s Smokey Robinson—how can you go wrong?”
10) “No Me Platiques Más” — Luis Miguel
“It’s a ballad, one of the better songs I performed of his. He’s one of the great Latin singers, originating from Mexico. Ladies fall apart in the hallways when he shows up. He’s a master. I have great admiration for him and his work.”
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