The Ohio State University Alumni Association

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The president’s playlist

We asked President (and music aficionado) Michael V. Drake to name his 10 favorite albums. He nominates these nine — plus one single — for your consideration.


“Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis

Columbia, 1959

This classic album features a sextet of great hall of fame players, including John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley. “In a Silent Way” is another great contribution from legend Miles Davis. My wife, Brenda, and I were fortunate to see Davis perform live on our first date.

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“John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman” by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Impulse!, 1963

When Hartman’s soothing voice intersects with Coltrane’s tenor sax, the result is spare and clean — a jazz classic. Don’t miss “Lush Life” and its great monologue.

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A board member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Drake says music and playing guitar are things he can’t live without. Listen to this Spotify playlist featuring his favorite singles from these albums.

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“The Best of Herbie Hancock — The Hits!” by Herbie Hancock

Sony Legacy, 2000

Herbie Hancock is one of the outstanding performers of our time, and I’ve been lucky to see him perform a number of times. He’s had an incredible career of more than 50 years and is still active, still a headliner. Such classic songs!

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“What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye

Motown/Universal Records, 1971

It is amazing to hear the themes, politics and sociology he was thinking about at that time — concerns about the environment, poverty, war, American life. The album was truly prescient.

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“Gaucho” by Steely Dan

MCA Records, 1980

This record was engineered so well — and even won a Grammy for it. It is a well-produced record that features many of the best studio musicians of the day.

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“Elegy” (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Various Artists

Lakeshore Records, 2008

Brenda and I saw the movie on vacation a couple years ago, and it was interesting, with actors we like, such as Ben Kingsley, Dennis Hopper and Penélope Cruz. We bought the soundtrack and have played it hundreds of times. Just a great mix of music.

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“Reflektor” by Arcade Fire

Capitol Records, 2013

I saw Arcade Fire on “Saturday Night Live” a few years ago and then heard them again on a road trip. I got their album and found it really inventive, featuring many different kinds of instruments. An interesting modern rock band and great choice for an airplane ride.

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“Adagio,” featuring Albinoni, Pachelbel, Boccherini, Respighi

Deutsche Grammophon, 1973

About 40 years ago, I bought a new stereo and wanted a copy of “Pachelbel’s Canon” to play on it, so I bought this album. I really loved Albinoni’s “Adagio” on the B side. Just amazing.

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“I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” by Aretha Franklin

Atlantic Records, 1967

I co-teach a course that incorporates the music of the 1960s. We feature a selection of wonderful artists, but if we were to narrow the playlist to four or five songs, “Respect” would be among them. It sums up so much of what was happening in the world. What a great singer, player and album.

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“California Love” by Tupac Shakur

Death Row/Interscope, 1995

The single “California Love” connected to a whole generation and way of life. I lived in California for most of my life, and I knew all the places he was speaking of. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, well-deserved recognition for his influential body of work.

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