An American Music Playlist From The Strokes' Guitarist
What makes American music “American”? The answer depends on who you ask.
Guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. was born in Los Angeles to two immigrants, the British-Gibraltarian musician Albert Hammond and Argentine model Claudia Fernández. When he was 18, he moved to New York City to form what would become the hugely successful band The Strokes.
Now, Hammond, Jr. is out with his own album – his third – called, “Momentary Masters.” He sat down with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to talk about the American sound and answer the question, “What does American music mean to you?”
Albert Hammond, Jr.’s American Playlist
“Street Hassle,” Lou Reed (1978)
“My first pick has got to be one of my favorite songs of all time. But it evokes more of a street storytelling feeling of America. It’s Lou Reed, ‘Street Hassle’ … There’s a certain attitude to it and I don’t know if that’s what he was doing, but to me it just feels like anything feels possible. It really hits me. I’m really entertained but I’m also moved.”
“Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen (1975)
“My dad has this Born To Run shirt he bought when, I guess he saw him during that tour. And him coming to America, or being a foreigner and becoming American, it was such a thing and it reminds me of that, and me wearing the shirt. Stuff like that. My mom also became an American, too – nothing to do with the shirt but I don’t know, it all just ties in maybe, subconsciously. Besides, everyone feeling that Springsteen is an American legend, icon, dream. He kind of grew into that rugged every-man, maybe that’s what makes him American.”
“Hallelujah,” Jeff Buckley (1994)
“This song, I remember exactly when I first heard that song… I think it was 18. My neighbor came over and played me this song and I think ‘Candy Says’ and ‘Pale Blue Eyes.’ And her mom had just passed away and we had this little crush and we were just sitting there in the dark and playing these songs on repeat – ‘Hallelujah’ especially. And I didn’t know anything about the person or this song, but it was just, to me it felt breathtaking – the words, the melody, the performance. Everything about it seemed very magical, and it still does.”
“Coming to Getcha,” Albert Hammond Jr. (2015)
“There’s just something with the melody and the words of the chorus that reminds me of the idea of being stuck in transit. You can take it just literally or you pass away or you’re just stuck in the movement through something… the idea of time, life goes on and it’s like you’re never prepared for it.”
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