The Friday Five is a collection of things I’ve enjoyed or am thankful for from the past week. This time around, it seems like music has been on my mind, so here’s some things to cram in yo’ earhole.

#1 – Mary Spender. I stumbled onto her video about duplicating Beethoven’s daily routine and decided to check out the rest of her YouTube channel. I found interviews, lessons, and a bunch more – including an excellent cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely”, which is worth the trip alone. However, I’m really blown away by her originals, one of which is below.

#2 – Melanie Faye. Every so often, Facebook is good for something besides starting fights and devouring hours with nothing to show for it. Came across one of her videos and then discovered a couple friends were fans as well. Outstanding might be an understatement here. Lots to love on her YouTube channel with covers on guitar and bass, but the originals are insane.

#3 – Free Range Idiocy – Todd & Tim’s Top 5 Albums. Bit of a shameless plug here, but I wanted to include it because there’s a lot of good music in here along with some insight into our musical “growing up”. Besides, if you’re that upset about me plugging my podcast on the website that’s named after me where I talk about me… well, you’re obviously not in on the joke.

#4 – Ani DiFranco – “Smiling Underneath”. As much as I appreciate and love the happy guitar-and-vibes live version of this tune, there’s something about the brooding album version that I’ve connected with over the last couple years. It’s funkier and probably a better reflection of what I think she’s trying to say about love – how you don’t need everything to be pretty to still have love.

#5 – Etta James – “You Can Leave Your Hat On”. Originally written by Randy Newman with tongue firmly planted in cheek, this one was made famous with a fantastic cover by Joe Cocker and a prominent feature in the movie 9 1/2 Weeks. HOWEVER… you gotta love Ms. Etta on this one. Y’all might know her better from “At Last”, but she gets absolutely F-U-N-K-Y on this one.

Did you dig it? Good. Maybe you’d like to check out some of the other things I’ve written lately.