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The Playlist Special: Gowri Jayakumar

The front woman for Run Pussy Run and Pulpy Shilpy picks Frank Zappa favourites, a Joni Mitchell gem and Nick Drake single for her top tracks

Rolling Stone India Apr 05, 2016
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Gowri Jayakumar. Photo by Ron Bezbaruah.

Gowri Jayakumar. Photo by Ron Bezbaruah.

The Pune-based singer- songwriter and guitarist fronts the funk/rock band Run Pussy Run and also runs a side project, Pulpy Shilpy. The songs she lists as her favorite are ones any musicians would approve of ”“ from the British jazz saxophonist Soweto Kinch, music royalty Frank Zappa and the timeless Joni Mitchell.

1. “Fruit Tree” Nick Drake, 1969 

Heard it when I was studying journalism many years ago. I was mad about Nick Drake at the time, and this song was prophetic, and the clarity with which he perceived his own life comes through in this song.


2. “The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines” Joni Mitchell, 1979 

This one’s from the album Mingus, and features Jaco Pastorius on bass. Joni Mitchell shines as a songwriter and singer in this one, and she seamlessly blends it with killer arrangements by the band.


3. ‘A Life in the Day of B19: Tales of the Tower Block’ Soweto Kinch, 2006 

A brilliant concept album, you’ve got to listen to all the songs together to really know the story. jazz and rap, it’s like reading a Richard Milward/Irvine Welsh novel or watching a British dark comedy – visual and always in motion, and so stylized.

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4. “Dirty Love” (1973) “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow Suite” (1974) / ”Muffin Man” (1975) Frank Zappa 

I don’t know, the songs are damn catchy, and Zappa is super sexy, the phrases keep playing in my head. And his lyrics are nice and cheeky. These are just a few of Zappa’s treasures that popped into my head, but I have many faves by him.


5. “Step Right Up” Tom Waits, 1976 

I love Tom Waits. Perfect lyrics, perfect arrangements, and such wonderful stories. “Step Right Up” is, to me, a summary of consumerism. Clever phrasing, minimal arrangements and percussive singing. He is my go-to storyteller.

6. “Sugah Daddy” D’Angelo, 2014 

Just discovered this song last year. The melody during the chorus line “She said I’ll do it if you be my sugah daddy” is unbelievably funky.


7. “Butterfly” Bilal, 2013 

The sound of the Glasper’s piano, Bilal’s haunting vocals, the liberal use of reverb and delays ”” being in the room with this song seemed to get me somehow.


8. “Nuages” Django Reinhardt, 1999 

With and without the lyrics, this song is such a beautiful journey. Django to me is someone who singers and instrumentalists love the same, because his songs are so singable.

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