Sunday, December 27, 2009

"A Timely Suggestion..."

On the eighth day of Christmas....

It's New Year's Day.

And we observe New Year's Day, in part, because we follow the Gregorian calendar which was decreed in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

I found all of that out in about two minutes of clicking and Googling and Wilkipedia-ing.

Pretty cool.

Encouraged and energized by the ease with which I was able to unearth those interesting factoids, I moved ahead to the question which has become as much a holiday tradition to me as untangling gnarly balls of lights and watching Ralphie lobby for the Red Ryder.

Why do we sing "Auld Lang Syne"?

This is what I found with a little clicking, Googling and Wilkipedia-ing...

"Auld Lang Syne" is a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788[2] and set to the tune of a traditional folk song .It is well known in many English-speaking (and other) countries and is often sung to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, its use has also become common at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions.

The song's Scots title may be translated into English literally as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago"or "days gone by".

Well, as the folks at Staples would say, that was easy.

Oh... and as to how it ended up in our collective consciousness as the song we automatically sing when Pavlov rings the New Year's bell...

Singing the song on Hogmanay or New Year's Eve very quickly became a Scots custom that soon spread to other parts of the British Isles. As Scots (and other Britons) emigrated around the world, they took the song with them.

Canadian band leader Guy Lombardo is often credited with popularising the use of the song at New Year’s celebrations in America, through his annual broadcasts on radio and television, beginning in 1929. The song became his trademark. In addition to his live broadcasts, Lombardo recorded the song more than once. His first recording was in 1939. A later recording on September 29, 1947 was issued as a single by Decca Records

So, it turns out that, after eighty years, the answer to the question "why do we sing Auld Lang Syne" is...

Because we do.

Traditions are funny like that. If you're like me, you sometimes just assume that most traditions have some deep rooted, long standing, fascinating, intrinsically historic, possibly even sacred, origin.

Yeah, I suppose some do.

On the other hand, it's also probable a lot of traditions become traditions simply because something happens, it gets repeated by someone, the word gets out, everybody starts doing it and, next thing you know...


Like singing "Auld Lang Syne" on New Year's.

Even though few know what it means, how it relates to the occasion or even sing it correctly, for that matter.

It's "auld", not "old".

And "syne", not "sign".

But sing it we do and sing it we must.

Because it's traditional.

Then again...

I'm old fashioned enough to respect that some traditions need to be left alone. But I don't have any problem suggesting that others might benefit from a refurb.

For example, I, like many of you, believe that "America The Beautiful" would be a national anthem far superior to "The Star Spangled Banner."

And I'm fairly sure I wouldn't miss "Auld Lang Syne" if it went "au revoir".

Always willing to be a part of the solution, though (not to mention the chance to throw in my two cents), here's a few suggestions for songs to possibly shore up the musical part of the celebration of each change of calendar:

"Reelin In The Years"-Steely Dan...probably too hardcore for some and the lyrics are a little hard to decipher, but certainly no more so obscure than "in days of auld lang syne"...

"Seven Year Ache"-Rosanne Cash...naahh...too morose...and it would only be good for seven years...

"Time Has Come Today"-The Chambers, that's a little more like it...comes complete with dance groove and the cowbell/woodblock tick tock a little hard to do the romantic smoochy thing, though, with that guy yelling out "TIME!" over and over again...

"In The Year 2525"- Zaeger and Evans...well, hell, let's cancel the party, slash our wrists and be done with it...

"It Was A Very Good Year"-Frank Sinatra...a lovely and introspective piece that would very nicely set the mood for looking back poignantly...can't quite hear the piercing kazoo like sound of the noisemaker jiving with "when I was seventeen..", though...

"Time In A Bottle"-Jim Croce...again, poignant and folky, but picture those guys in The Poseidon Adventure standing in a circle, hands locked together, rocking back and forth, singing loud and proud 'IF I COULD PUT TIME IN A BOTTLE....!".....doesn't quite fly...

"No Time"-The Guess Who...uh, probably only really appropriate at the very last New Year's Eve Celebration...

"Feels Like The First Time"- Foreigner...a lot of people would confuse this one with "Like A Virgin" and the last thing you want to draw attention to at a drunken gathering of hotties is virginity...

"Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?"-Chicago...this one comes pretty's singalong-able and it includes a happy go lucky attitude (" does anybody really care...abouhhhht tiiiiime...")...doesn't really work without the big brass section, though, and the terms "New Year's" and "spit valve" just don't go together all that well...

Along the way, it occurred to me that maybe some traditions stay put because it's simply too much work to find an alternative.

If it ain't broke and all that.

But, finally, I came up with the song I think would be a lot more heartfelt, relatable and poignant as we close the book on one year and open the book on another...

Catchy. Romantic. Familiar. Poignant. Danceable.

And, arguably, able to withstand the addition of a couple hundred kazoo like noisemakers.

At the very least, the damn words make sense.

It's a whole lot easier to explain "when two lovers woo" than to explain "drink a cup of kindness yet, in auld lang syne", not to mention that the song acutally mentions kissing.

And a whole new batch of offspring traditions could follow.

Like TBS doing a New Year's Day all day marathon of back to back to back to back showings of "Casablanca".

Bogie and Bergman could replace the old man handing off the new year to the baby.

Bars named "Rick's Cafe Americain" would pack 'em in every Dec 31st.

Inviting folks to your party would become "rounding up the usual suspects..".

And the blatantly obvious champagne toast at midnight...?

"Here's lookin at you, kid..."

Inevitably, naysayers will offer up that well enough should be left alone.

But leaving well enough alone really isn't what I do.


Friday, December 25, 2009

"Angels We Have Heard On High...and Higher...and Higher...and..."

Twelve hours to go.

Give or take.

Twelve more hours of listening, enjoying, cherishing and/or enduring Christmas music.

Depending, of course, on your personal tastes, personality and/or thresholds.

I readily admit that there is some Christmas music that moves me to tears.

And some that moves me out from whatever room it plays.

But, as a writer and composer who understands the basic tenets of the subjectivity of any art form, I long ago stopped passing judgement on people for their inexplicable enjoyment of certain musical works.

There really are, it turns out, people who can listen to "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" for three straight months and not head for the roof with the sniper rifle to start killing innocent bystanders.

Waterboarding, my a**...that's some folks who can be tortured and deal with it.

Allowances for taste aside, I really do love Christmas music. Secular and non.

And there are certain pieces that, to my ear, cannot be improved upon.

Usually the non-secular, ie; "The Lord's Prayer", "Ave Maria", "O Come O Come Emmanuel", et al.

Provided, of course, that the interpretation of said non-secs remains reasonably true to the composer's original vision.

"O Come All Ye Faithful" as rendered by The Sex Pistols, for example, might bring the envelope pushing to shove.

That said, I'm one of those folks who isn't sorry to see Christmas music get packed up and put away with the diligently rolled tree lights (which will come out of the box next November in a gnarly mess in spite of the about your holiday wonders...).

Because there are times, during the season, when the sounds of the season conjure up, simutaneously, visions of sugar plums and dreams of taking a ballpeen hammer to the CD player.

And for that, I pin the blame on Sam Harris.

Sam was the uber talented wunderkind who upped the ante, big time, on winning the vocal wars on Star Search, the 80's talent show that was American Idol before there was American Idol.

There ain't no question that the kid had game.

Give him a listen and you'll see/hear.

Serious chops, n'cest pas?

But just as Pandora ooopsed when she de-boxed the previously boxed, Sam, inadvertantly, not only set the bar for vocal peformance higher, he unleashed that which had previously been leashed.

Yes, I'm talking about...

The Sam Harris Lick.

The insertion, at some point in the song, of a single note that encompassed all other notes in the known, and unknown, musical scale, starting low and gliding, seamlessly if executed flawlessly, up, up and up to a vocal moment that was part climax, part plaintive wail while teetering periously close to the sound of an adorable, but clearly wounded, small animal.

Admittedly, used sparingly by the right talent, a hair raising, chill down the spine moment.

A sincere sensory stimulation.

Used frequently by the wrong talent...

Musical masturbation.

And the thing about singers who make things look easy on national TV?

They make it look easy.

And the next thing you know....

...what started out as an earnest attempt to create a signature sound, to put a personal stamp on a style flows like a virus through the vocalist mainstream and starts to show up at any time, in any place, in any voice.

The sweet simplicity of the human voice now includes bells and whistles as standard equipment.

And bells and whistles start to get in the way of the sound of the music.

The "lick" eventually mutated into a variety of forms, scattered throughout the presentation sugar frosting on the flakes, sometimes to the point where the vocal gymnastics start from moment one of the song.

Sam Harris always came off as a nice guy.

I have no reason to doubt that he was/is.

I'm pretty sure, too, that no matter how many people forget who he was/is, he will always be in my thoughts at Christmas time.

If, at no other time, when I hear Mariah and her fellow licksters take me walkin in a wailin wonderland.

Merry Christmas, Sam.


Twelve hours to go.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"...25% of the Fab Four is Batting .666..."

This one comes out of the "...other than that, Mrs. Kennedy, how was the motorcade?" folder.

(CNN)- Anyone who followed the nasty divorce between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills shouldn't be surprised that the former Beatle believes his last marriage to be one of his biggest mistakes of the past decade.

No one could look back on how the six-year union ended between the singer-songwriter and the former model last year, with tears, name-calling and a massive divorce settlement and think on it fondly.

But now for the first time, McCartney is telling Q magazine that it indeed was not the best of times. Asked whether the wedding was one of his worst decisions in the last decade, the music legend said it was a "prime contender".

Sir Paul told Q magazine: "OK, yeah, I suppose that has to be the prime contender – but I don't wanna down anyone, these things happen, y'know?"

But the one thing McCartney is grateful for out of his union with Heather Mills is his six-year old daughter Beatrice.

"I tend to look at the positive side, which is that I have another beautiful daughter out of it," McCartney told the magazine.

Another bright point for McCartney has been finding love again with American divorcee Nancy Shevell, which McCartney said was once of the nicest things about the past decade. He also dismissed reports that he was planning to retire, saying, "I have too much fun. Why would I retire? Sit at home and watch telly? No thanks. I'd rather be out playing."

I think one reason people have always been drawn to Paul is the intriguing combination of sunny disposition and stiff upper lip that fosters no suspicion of insincerity.

Since the day we started reading/hearing interviews with the guy back in 1964, he has always maintained a firm footing on the high road.

And though we all have, thanks to the times in which we live, an almost innate sense of skepticism when it comes to these things, even the most jaded among us (of which I readily confess a charter membership) would be hard pressed to make a case against what seems to be a foregone conclusion.

Paul McCartney is a nice guy.

I mean, honestly, have you ever known of anyone else who could essentially endorse the conventional wisdom that Heather Mills is hell on (as opposed to Helen) wheels and still come off sounding gracious?

And let's don't even get started on his tiptoeing around the "Yoko is the Anti-Christ" sentiment that has permeated pop culture since 68.

Now, lest this piece be misunderstood as an uncharacteristic love letter, make no mistake I have no stars in my eyes and can easily see the feet of clay that once filled cuban heeled boots.

I mean he's certainly not perfect.

For example, he's obviously been married more than once.

Actually, three times, if you expand the def.




And when it comes to getting things right in this life...

Two out of three ain't bad.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"..Yo, Sweetheart...You Push The Envelope With Your Chops...Not with Your ****...."

Adam Lambert apparently doesn't get it.

It's not about crotches.

It's about armpits.

(CNN) -- Adam Lambert cleaned up his act for his CBS "Early Show" appearance Wednesday morning, giving a performance no one could take offense with.

Lambert said on the show that he believes he has been unfairly attacked because he is a gay man, and he blamed parents upset with his performance for letting their kids watch the American Music Awards without supervision.

"It's a double whammy -- I think it's because I'm a gay male, and I think people haven't seen it before," Lambert said about the negative response that has erupted over his Sunday night AMA performance.

ABC has received more than 1,500 complaints from viewers upset about Lambert's raunchy dance sequence at the AMAs to his single "For Your Entertainment," in which he simulated oral sex with one of the dancers and kissed a male keyboardist on the mouth. The network's morning show, "Good Morning America," canceled Lambert's scheduled appearance Wednesday because, it said, it couldn't trust what he would do.

"The Early Show" on CBS offered to give Lambert a platform to speak and sing after ABC's cancellation.

"The Early Show," which has typically been third in morning ratings behind "Good Morning America" and the "Today Show," made the most of the opportunity and allowed Lambert to dominate the morning programming as he took questions from fans, chatted with host Maggie Rodriguez and performed two of the songs from his new album, avoiding any untoward dance moves.

The former "American Idol" finalist admitted that he did "get carried away" during the AMA performance, but said that his dance moves came from an "impromptu place" and that they were not planned in advance.

"I do see how people got offended, and that was not my intention. My intention was to interpret the lyrics of my song and have a good time with it," Lambert said.

Asked what he would have done differently if he had the chance, Lambert said, "I would sing it a little bit better."

This week, the media watchdog The Parents Television Council attacked Lambert's AMA performance as vulgar and urged upset viewers to complain to the network, producers and the show's advertisers.

Lambert said on "The Early Show" that it wasn't his responsibility to worry about what kids were watching at home. "I'm not a baby sitter. I'm a performer," he said. "It didn't cross my mind, children. It was almost 11 o'clock. It was a nighttime show. I was there in an audience full of mostly adults."

iReporter on Lambert kiss: "What's wrong with America"

Lambert pointed out that other performers at the awards show indulged in some not-so-child-friendly behavior as well.

"Lady Gaga smashing whiskey bottles, Janet Jackson grabbing a male dancer's crotch, Eminem talking about how Slim Shady has 17 rapes under his belt -- there was a lot of very adult material on the AMAs this year, and I know I wasn't the only one," Lambert said.

Lambert was joined on the show by his mother, Leila, who said she was "a little taken aback" by his AMAs song.

"But I just went with the flow, and it's all good," she said.

Before performing his songs "What Do You Want From Me" and "Music Again," Lambert assured the "Early Show" crew and the audience that his performance would be a chaste one.
"Parents, this is appropriate, I promise," Lambert said with a sly smile.

Lest I be suspected of an attack of old fart fogeyism here, let me dispel the notion.

When I was a kid, Elvis made parents crazy with his "scandalous" hip gyrations.

A few years later, Mick Jagger made parents crazy with his "scandalous" smooching strut.

A few years after that, Michael Jackson made parents crazy with his thrust and grab crotch move.

In none of those cases did the empire come crumbling down and at no time did I ever personally find myself feeling the urge to enlist in Satan's army because I was being morally corrupted by said motions and/or maneuvers.

That said, even at a naive and impressionable age, I heard a little voice in the back of my head whispering, ever so subtly, one word.


Elvis's voice was an engaging, magical once in a lifetime sound that required no visual accompaniment.

I'm pretty sure the King had, and has, legions of sightless fans who never required a hip shake to be in love (UHH) and all shook up.

The Stones were the best true blend of blues, R&B and rock and roll that ever came along and their ability to move us musically required no visual accompaniment.

I'm pretty sure the Stones had, and have, legions of sightless fans who never had to witness Mick doing his rooster moves to get some (DA-DA-DUH) sat-is-FACK-shun.

And Michael?

Voice, songs, one of a kind. Live forever.

Yada, yada.

Which brings us to the lacivious Mr./Ms. Lambert.

Tsk, tsk, dude/dudette.

You're already running the risk of being thought of in terms of armpits.

As in the kid who sat in the back of at least one classroom in each of our school day lives and, desiring to be noticed, loved, adored, et al, but lacking confidence in his honest ability to be funny felt the need to make us laugh by employing palm and pit.

To make fart noises.

And, yes, it was funny.

The first time.

Maybe even a couple of times.

And then we found ourselves wandering away, our attentions stolen away by the kid in the class who really was funny and not afraid to simply be...funny.

Adam Lambert proved in his weeks on Idol that he is a world class vocal talent.

And we all totally get that simply standing on a stage and showing that skill ain't near enough in this dumbed down, uber-low attention span culture we all enjoy.

Unless, of course, you're Susan Boyle.

I suspect, though. Adam would rather do a Kurt Cobain than ever be referred to as "frumpy".

Ergo, we have now all witnessed the crotch thrusting, fellatio simulating, homosexual French kissing entertainment extravaganza...

"Ladies and gentlemen...The Adam Lambert Experience ! ! "

Oh..and apparently the kid can sing pretty good, too.

Can't quite tell.

Hard to hear over those annoying armpit noises.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"...If The CMA Gets Wind Of Her, We're Talking Best New Artist of 2010..."

Three things we all love.

Back in a minute...

(CNN) -- Susan Boyle, a 48-year-old unemployed charity worker who became an international sensation after her audition for "Britain's Got Talent" in April, can now lay claim to a new achievement.

Her debut CD, set to come out on November 23, has become the most pre-ordered CD in the history of, the online retailer said Thursday.

Eager fans began ordering copies of the CD, "I Dreamed a Dream," as soon as its release was announced late summer, pushing it to the top of the online retail chart ahead of Whitney Houston's much-anticipated comeback CD.

"One of the things that is so unique about Susan Boyle is her ability to touch people around the world," said Steve Barnett, the chairman of Columbia Records, in a statement.

Before she sang during her audition in April, the unassuming single woman with a loose mop of curly hair drew snickers from the audience, including notoriously hard-to-please judge Simon Cowell.

The scowls and eye-rolling were replaced by wild cheers as soon as she sang the first line of "I Dreamed a Dream."

Even though she eventually lost out to a dance troupe in the TV competition, her pitch-perfect rendition of the "Les Miserables" number catapulted her into an overnight sensation with a string of global television appearances.

No man is an island, it is written, but I have spent what seems like a lot of my life being one of the few people I know who believe that you don't have to be "the same" or "predictable" or, God forbid, "safe" in order to win the hearts and minds of audiences, be it with a song, painting, novel...or blog.

And the stunning (and by that I mean sensory and not undeserved) success of Susan Boyle is one of those events that I file away on the off chance that I might actually someday get to plead my case for recognizing "outside the box" as a legitimate path of artistic travel and not an indication that the applicable traveler should be branded and, or worse, ignored.

Susan Boyle is the first witness I would call to the stand.

Because she bitchslapped the conventional wisdom trumpeters by effortlessly offering up the three things people love.

An underdog.

A winner.

A surprise.

Now, that's something to sing about....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Could Have Been Worse...He Could Have Been Hallucinating He Was Neil Young and SUNG 'Ohio'..."

It ain't easy being the Boss.

Check it out.

The curse of Friday the 13th struck Bruce Springsteen in a most unusual way: it made the 60-year-old rock legend forget where he was.
The Boss bellowed "Hello, Ohio!" to his fans at the Auburn Hills Palace in Michigan..

Springsteen referred to the neighboring state several times in the following 30 minutes until E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt whispered in his ear..

A visibly embarrassed Springsteen grinned and said such a mistake was "every front man's nightmare.".

The Detroit Free Press says Springsteen rocked the forgiving audience for nearly three hours Friday night with new and old hits including a complete performance of his album "Born to Run.".

Information from: Detroit Free Press,

That's one of the occupational hazards of being a performer on the road. Best intentions aside, after a while, the hotels and the airports and even the venues all start to sound, smell and look alike.

And, fair being fair, he was in Michigan which is right next door. So, saying Ohio wasn't necessarily a senior moment.

It's not like he yelled out "hellllllo, Portland!!!"

And it's not like he pulled a Jessica Simpson.

Remember this oldie but goodie?

“Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says 'Chicken by the Sea.'”

Bless her heart, she doesn't even know the difference between chicken and tuna, let way alone the fact that it's Chicken OF, and not BY, the Sea.

And she's half the Boss's age.

Obviously everybody had a good laugh over Bruce's little geographical miscalcuation.

But I think it's safe to let him keep driving a car and operating heavy machinery.

Cause I'm pretty sure he knows the difference between chicken and tuna.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"..Rhapsody In Blue...Blue Is The Ocean...The Ocean Has A Beach...The Beach Boys...Seems Like A No Brainer..."

At first glance, you’d think that Brian Wilson and George Gershwin don’t have a lot in common.

It ain’t necessarily so.

Apparently, the Gershwin family sees the connection.

Acclaimed early-20th-century composer George Gershwin’s estate has asked onetime Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson to try his hand at finishing some rare, unfinished Gershwin compositions. The completed songs—along with covers of Gershwin classics—will appear on the scruffy pop genius’s next solo album, to be released through a Walt Disney Records imprint.

“He had a gift for melody that nobody has ever equaled,” Wilson says of Gershwin. “The earliest music I remember hearing is ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’ Along with Irving Berlin, Gershwin basically invented the popular song.”

My first instinct here was to execute the “get cute” and try to come up with some possible Gershwin/Wilson collaborations.

“God Only Knows It’s Nice Work If You Can Get It”

“Round, Round, Get Around, I Got Rhythm”

“Bess, You Is My California Girl”

“I Loves You, Rhonda”

You get the idea.

But, while checking out the story, I came across an article by an entertainment reporter (that sounds oxymoronic to me, but damned if I can figure out why) who was apparently tempted to head down that same road..

The best he could do was:

“Lady Be Good Vibrations”

That pretty much made it clear that while Mssrs. Wilson and Gershwin may be birds of a musical feather, trying to turn their respective already completed work into a cohesive whole has about the same chance of success as did McCain/Palin.

That aside, I think the Gershwins have made a wise choice.

Both George and Brian were undisputed masters of pop melody in their time.

Both did a nice job of pushing the envelope containing the conventional wisdoms of popular music parameters without pushing it so far that it alienated.

Both were lovable and beloved eccentrics who were screwy but not psycho.

And if you want to stretch the point, both created their music in an atmosphere of literal family, George leaving the lyrical tasks to his brother Ira, Brian leaving the concert tasks to his brothers Carl, Dennis and cousins Mike and Al.

As I said, it might seem, at first, like an odd choice.

But, odd is good.

Both Gershwin and Wilson were considered odd.

Genius, by its nature, tends to trigger that reaction in the less gifted.

And, by the way, no, I’m not overlooking the other still living songwriter who is considered an undisputed master of pop melody in his time.

But Paul McCartney just isn’t the right fit for this particular gig.


“S’Wonderful, S’Marvelous, S’Michelle, Ma Belle” just doesn’t quite hook it.

And second…

Yoko is still around.

Pretty sure she wont be able to pull off breaking up Brian and George.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On Lemon Drops...and Chimney Tops...and Grousing..."

And now, it's time for clear grasp of the obvious.

Asked to honesty define myself, I would suggest:

Grouser (n.) a complainer, grumbler, one who engages in the act of grousing, complaining, grumbling, et al

Yeah, that sounds about right.

I like to think (or rationalize) that this is simply one facet of a multi-faceted and fascinatingly complex character.

I can also make the case that what looks like grousing might also just as easily be the result of a mind that is always analyzing, interpreting and, yes, critiquing life and the many parts of life that just seem to necessitate the grouse.

And, of course, there's always the inescapable possibility that I'm simply hard wired to see the glass as half empty.

Fair being fair, though, those who know me (and still speak to me) understand that I'm not a one trick pony.

In other words, I may be a card carrying curmudgeon, but I know, and recognize, the truly exquisite things in life when I see, or hear, them.

Eva Cassidy was one of the truly exquisite things in life.

Of course, there's another couple of paragraphs to be written on the cruelty of a life that lets paperweights like Paris Hilton survive to a ripe old age (an assumption at this writing, obviously) while giving Eva Cassidy a bone cancer that would kill her before she was forty.

But that would take away from the point of this piece.

To simply share with you the exquisite sound of Eva Cassidy.

Some things really are un-grousable.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Oh...So, When She Said Forever Your Girl, She Meant It Would TAKE Forever...."

Perception is, indeed, reality.

But not necessarily true.

For example, if you are a baby boomer and were asked to name the most successful pop group of the 60’s, you would say “The Beatles.”

And you would be correct.

And not.

Here are some fun facts from Billboard Magazine’s chart history that I think will both validate you.

And surprise you.

1. Most weeks on the chart: Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, 741 weeks. 741 WEEKS. That’s more than 14 years! Color me impressed, Heather. No other artist or album has even come close to that achievement – the closest was Johnny Mathis’ Johnny’s Greatest Hits, which spent 490 weeks (almost 9.5 years) on the charts.

2. The most top-ten albums: The Rolling Stones with 36 albums, followed by Frank Sinatra at 32 and The Beatles at 31.

3. The most number-one albums: The Beatles with 19, followed by Elvis and Jay-Z with 10 each. Tied for third are The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen with nine each. Fourth place is another tie: Barbra Streisand and Garth Brooks both have eight.

4. The biggest chart jump: Life After Death by The Notorious B.I.G., #176 to #1. This is really no surprise – the album was released posthumously just 16 days after his death in 1997. Other huge leaps include Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy, from #173 to #1; Radiohead’s In Rainbows, from #156 to #1; and somewhat surprisingly, The Monkees’ More of the Monkees, from #122 to #1. And another quick fact about Vitalogy – it originally charted at#55, and that was actual vinyl album sales, not CDs. It was the first vinyl album to chart at all since CDs entered the market.

5. The biggest chart drop: Light Grenades by Incubus, from #1 to #40. This just happened in 2006 and broke the previous record held by Marilyn Manson’s The Golden Age of Grotesque, which dropped from #1 to #21 in 2003. Other plummets include Young Jeezy’s The Inspiration, falling from #1 to #18 and Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile, which fell from #1 to #16. You can see that Incubus holds the record pretty handily.

6. The only artist to ever have four number one albums in the same year: The Monkees. They even topped ever-present bands The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, which is pretty astounding. The year was 1967 and the albums were The Monkees (released in 1966 but still #1 on the charts in 1967), More of the Monkees, Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.

7. The first rap/hip-hop album to hit #1: Licensed to Ill, the Beastie Boys. It was 1987. Kind of ironically, it only made it to #2 on the actual Hip Hop/R&B chart.

8. First artist to hold the #1 and #2 spots: Bob Newhart. Yep, that’s right. In the ’60s, Bob’s The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart and its sequel, The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back held both spots, beating both Elvis and The Sound of Music soundtrack. The subtitle of the first album is “The Most Celebrated New Comedian Since Attila the Hun.” That first album garnered him three Grammys in 1961: Best New Artist, Best Comedy Performance (Spoken Word) and Album of the Year. But back to the #1 and #2 spots on the Billboard Charts thing: the only artists to ever do the same are Guns ‘n’ Roses in 1991 with Use Your Illusion I and II, and Nelly in 2004 with Suit and Sweat.

9. The most weeks on the top ten: Music for Lovers Only by Jackie Gleason at 153 weeks. Surprising, no? That’s almost double the length of time Thriller spent in the top ten: 78 weeks.

10. Longest time for an album to make it to #1: Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl, 64 weeks. Yep, Paula’s album was on the charts for more than a year before it finally gained enough steam to take the #1 position. But she did really well on the singles chart – the album contained four #1 hits, which ties her for second place for the most songs to hit #1 from one single album. The singles were “Straight Up,” “Forever Your Girl,” “Cold Hearted” and “Opposites Attract.” The number-one spot goes to Michael Jackson’s Bad album, which had five #1 singles: I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror and Dirty Diana.

The Stones had more top ten albums than the Fab Four?

Bob Newhart?

And Paula Abdul?

I’m gonna have another cup of coffee, put on Headquarters and log on to Ebay with my copy of Music For Lovers Only.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

His Genius, You See, Is That "Former Monkee" Is a Description, Not A Definition..."

The term "not fully unappreciated in his/her lifetime" is pretty cliche.

But, as my sister the human behavior expert tells me, the reason that certain expressions are considered cliche' is that they are heard repeatedly, which implies that there is, at least, a kernal of truth in them.


Nick At Nite and those Time Life commercials will likely continue to do a pretty steady job of typing Michael Nesmith as the tall guy wearing the wool hat in The Monkees.

Cost of doing business.

And not to put words in his mouth, but I suspect that Michael is savvy enough a businessman to agree.

That said, in time, it will be clear to folks that Michael Nesmith was, in some measure, not fully appreciated in his lifetime.

They'll get it eventually.

Cause, after all, like the man sings...we know some day mankind will travel to the stars.