Sax, Drugs + Rock ‘N’ Roll: The Rise of the Saxophone

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

“Saxophones don’t belong in rock ‘n’ roll”, decried Courtney Love on a recent episode of Courtney Love Onthe singer’s You Tube series where she shares her insights on “dressing for court“, the Kardashian’s and BDSM among other things.

This time, Love was sharing her beef with Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons. “[Saxophones] just don’t belong”, she repeated.

With all due respect to Ms. Love, I strongly disagree.

Want to know which rock ‘n’ roll greats got down with the sax? The Stooges, X-Ray Spex, Violent Femmes, The Cure, Lou Reed and the list goes on. Death and Taxes has a great playlist that features these legends and more, and points out how in the early 1950’s, “the sax was a key instrument in the new genre’s foundation.”

The saxophone has been making a comeback as of late, adding magic to some amazing modern-day songs. Why the sax appeal? For starters, the woodwind heightens the mood of a song, intensifying those highs and lows. Plus, the brass adds texture in a way other instruments can’t (and ladies and gents totally swoon over a sax solo).

I’ve put together a sax playlist showcasing some contemporary artists making beautiful use of the saxophone including Blood Orange, Lykke Li, St. Vincent, Kelis, St. Lucia and more.

Don’t tell me the saxophone doesn’t belong. These songs wouldn’t be what they are without it.

Image credit: Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

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