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.