Saturday, November 17, 2012

"...Although, Change A Couple Of Letters In "Kiss An Angel Good Morning" And....."

Not a big fan of lists.

And I could give you a pretty long list of the reasons why.

But, that would pretty obviously invalidate my veto.

In this particular moment, though, a list serves as the best underscore of the point I've been making pretty regularly now in both print and, every few weeks or so, on the morning radio show where I get to play music and wax witty.

The former a sure thing because of the station's "the most music in the morning" listener warranty.

The latter a matter of opinion.

I went Googling for a list of this kind because I wanted to be able to finance my aforementioned point with more than just the two cents I keep throwing down. And while the titles here represent an admittedly subjective collection (reason number three or four why I don't put a lot of stock in lists), they do serve the purpose of making the point.

Which I promise I'm going to get to momentarily.

First, from the Google and in no particular order, a list of "the top twenty four country songs of all time".


1) RING OF FIRE
2) GOOD HEARTED WOMAN
3) WHEN I CALL YOUR NAME
4) THE GRAND TOUR
5) HE'LL HAVE TO GO
6) I HOPE YOU DANCE
7) EL PASO
8) IF LOVIN' YOU IS WRONG, I DON'T WANNA BE RIGHT
9) YOU'VE NEVER BEEN THIS FAR BEFORE
10) BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
11) MOUNTAIN MUSIC/DIXIELAND DELIGHT
12) COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER
13) SWEET DREAMS/I FALL TO PIECES
14) LET'S FALL TO PIECES TOGETHER
15) IT WASN'T GOD WHO MADE HONKY-TONK ANGELS.
16) THE LORD'S PRAYER/HOW GREAT THOU ART
17) WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE WORLD STOPPED TURNING
18) YOUNG LOVE
19) DON'T LET ME CROSS OVER LOVES CHEATING LINES
20) SAFE IN THE ARMS OF LOVE
21) IS ANYBODY GOING TO SAN ANTONE/KISS AN ANGEL GOOD MORNING
22) AMANDA
23) ROSE COLORED GLASSES

24) LOVE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE


This list, again while purely the opinion of the lister, is, for my uses, a fair representation of "top country songs". And while there are a few proverbial, and regionally amusing, teeny drops of fly shit to be picked out of the pepper (If Lovin You Is Wrong, for example, was written and recorded originally as a great R&B song; You've Never Been This Far Before is Conway singing about the kind of love that tends to require a lot of lyin to get to the lyin down, etc), this list serves the purpose of making the point.

Which, much to your sense of thank Godness, I'm sure, we have now reached.

That, pretty much to a title, these songs, which are by any reasonable measure considered classics of the genre, are noteworthy not so much for what they got as for what they aint got.

They ain't got no beer.

They ain't got no honey.

And they ain't got no references to a woman's rear end.

Let alone any beer and/or honey dripping off of and/or being dripped onto a woman's rear end.

Your honor, if the court please, may I enter as people's exhibit one, a very brief, but very representative list of current country chart successes, all of which meet the aforementioned criteria of the mention beer, honey, a woman's rear end and/or of beer and/or honey dripping off of and/or being dripped onto a woman's posterior.

Beer Money.

I Like Girls Who Drink Beer.

Red Solo Cup.

Country Girl (Shake It For Me)

Drunk On You. (This one in particular not only celebrates the hallowed American tradition of inebriation, but gives us, as a value added, the image of the aforementioned honey being dripped onto a woman's rear, in this case, referred to respectfully as her "moneymaker".)

And let us not overlook the granddaddy of the derriere' dittys.

Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.

The slippery slope one encounters whenever one offers up opinion as to cultural content is that art, for the purposes of this discussion defined as country songs, is, by its nature, something that cannot be faulted.

It simply is an expression of emotion, philosophy, observation, commentary, lamentation, pick the big word of your choice, about the multifacets of the multifaceted existence we know as this life.

And if that art happens to push the envelope in the process, then it is, rather than a transgressor, actually a transformer. Because envelopes were meant to be pushed and art came along to do exactly that.

Here's the point to the point, though.

For my own artistic sensibilites, the fact that country songs offering expressions of passion, romance, joy, heartache and/or break, lost love, found love, stolen love, even forbidden love, not to mention honestly artistically striking imaging like tears falling behind glasses with rose colored lenses or a burning ring of fire have morphed into not a whole lot more than raise your glass tributes to raising your glasses, dripping copious amounts of honey on and/or all over that part of the femalie anatomy that Grey apparently wasn't alerted is now designated the "moneymaker" (and let's not even get started talking about the lack of male cheeks having sticky shit poured all over them) is a source of some bittersweetness to me.

And not owing to any prudishness on my part.

Puritan, in my world, is a brand of cooking oil and nothing more.

(Come to think of it, there's another liquid that might flow sensually down and around a country girl's glutes)

My lament isn't about laviciousness.

It's about laziness.

Because as so many B or C budget motion pictures (not to mention assorted and sundry TV shows, reality and otherwise) have taught us all through the years, when there is no chance of creating a compelling story with crisp dialogue, colorful and interersting characters shining a light on our emotions or beliefs or unspoken dreams, resulting in our experiencing a tear welling up in the eye or the gentle, but poignant, feeling of our heart strings being tugged...a write can always find an audience by offering up a little T&A to distract us from the lack of compelling story with crisp dialogue, etc......

I think beer is cool.

I love the taste of honey.

And the woman's rear end, like pretty much the rest of her, is, in its best moments, a legitimate work of art all its own.

But it's not lost on me, as a songwriter, as a radio personality, as a man, that pretty much any list you can Google up with the "top country songs of all time" is going to be missing, at least, three things.

Beer.

Honey.

And, trust me, there's not a woman's ass in sight.

Lovely picture that makes notwithstanding.





Sunday, October 28, 2012

"...I Am Big...It's The Venues That Got Small..."

What do Sean Penn, Warren Beatty, Carlos Leon, Guy Ritchie and Joe Gillis all have in common?
 
Stand by.
 
 
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Madonna drew boos and triggered a walkout by several concertgoers after she touted President Barack Obama on her "MDNA Tour" in New Orleans.
 
The Material Girl asked during Saturday night's performance: "Who's registered to vote?" She added: "I don't care who you vote for as long as you vote for Obama." Drawing boos in touting Obama over Republican Mitt Romney, Madonna followed: "Seriously, I don't care who you vote for ... Do not take this privilege for granted. Go vote."

Madonna is often outspoken. Some Colorado fans, mindful of a mass shooting there, complained she used a fake gun to shoot a masked gunman in a recent concert act in Denver. A Madonna concert in Paris in July drew ire when a video showed a swastika on a politician's forehead.


Some inevitable facts.

Madonna Louise Ciccone is fifty four years old.

She is, of course, known as, simply, Madonna.

She is also, of course, affectionately known as "Madge".

Nicknames like that tend to occur when a singer evolves from electric to elder.

Cute Beatle Paul only became Macca after he passed the big five oh.

And we probably would have come up with something for Mick Jagger, too, but he, cleverly, never stands still long enough for us to tag him with anything.

Nothing wrong, in my book of dog eared pages, with older pop stars keeping the stage fires burning.

It only gets a little dicey when those older pop stars start straining just a little too much to keep it "hip".

Neither the aforementioned Paul nor Mick seem to have any other agenda than doing their songs and counting their money.

Madonna, on the other hand, seems to be headed toward the slippery slope of trying to stay "hip" with by mixing in social and/or political commentary amongst the greatest hits.

Nothing wrong with having an opinion.

Nothing worse, though, than trying to "be" relevant.

Relevance is not a pro-activity.

You either are.

Or you aren't.

As to the answer to the original question, what do all the aforementioned gentlemen have in common?

They are all, of course, former suitors/husbands/liasons of our Madge.

Joe Gillis?

Perceptive movie buffs will have nailed that from the first mention.

For those not so steeped in movie tradition, allow me.

Madonna is teetering ever so closely to that line across which she morphs from Madge into Baby Jane.

And, not to mix the movie metaphors, but my personal fear for her isn't so much that she will actually turn into Baby Jane....

...as much as it is she will turn into Norma Desmond.

"I'm ready for my close-up, TMZ....now go vote...."







Saturday, October 27, 2012

"...Will Work For....Oh, Wait...."

Technology, for lack of a better word, is cool.

And I feel fortunate to have reached an age that ordinarily symbolizes a lack of understanding of and/or disdain for "new fangled" things without having a lack of understanding and/or disdain for "new fangled" things.

In this case, Mp3, digital download, Itunes, BeeMp3, Sound Cloud, Noise Trade, among many others.

No need to pry my Walkman from my cold dead fingers, kids, I'm totally jiggy with everything going on here.

And appreciate that the current generation of music makers has so many options available to them in terms of getting their music to the masses, in many cases bypassing the, at one time, only game in town of begging, borrowing and/or groveling to the establishment publishing houses, record labels, ad nauseum.

And, believe me youngsters, doing it that way generated very little in the way of ad and a whole lot in the way of nauseum.

So, you kids Sound Cloud and You Tube and Noise Trade, et al, your little musical hoofies to the quick.

The maze of musical success starts, always, with one obvious, essential fact of life.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Or as the young lottery minions love to lay on us...

You can't win if you don't play.

Personally, I really like the independant approach. I've long believed that the only thing standing between a whole lot of creativity and access by the masses to that creativity is the "approval" of the "experts" whose green light is necessary to pass Go and collect the record deal and/or $200.00.

This principle applies, by the way, to a number of industries, not the least of which being politics and broadcasting.

But's that's another blog bone for another picking time.

All of this love I feel for the "DIY" school of music making, though, gets just a little chillier with the addition of yet another "new fangled" thing.

The online solicit.

No, not the pitch for you to pay and download a singer's song.

I'm talking the "virtual tip jar".

I've seen this little "value added" showing up on a couple of three singer/songwriter type upload/download places lately as well as some less than subtle "hey, how about making a donation to help me get my CD finished?" type solicits on Facebook, etc.

Hmmm.

I'm trying to imagine what response those who think this kind of currency quest is kosher might offer to my own take.

That high tech is cool.

Panhandling is not.

I hear "...ah, lighten up, it's just a grown up version of the lemonade stand or paper route....every kid wants to make a little extra coin.."

Uh, yeah.

The key things there being that in return for the dough you get a paper.

And a whole lot of sugar with some lemon water in it.

And there's that pesky "grown up" dealio, indicating that both of the newsprint and refreshing beverage "sellers" have yet to come close to experiencing puberty.

I hear "...it costs a lot of money to make CD's....and we should all chip in to help these kids make their dreams come true...."

Uh, yeah. It does cost a lot.

Uh, no, we shouldn't all necessarily chip in to make those dreams come true.

Mom.

I hear..."you know, old man, in your day, it was possible for talented writers to get a songwriting deal with a publisher and they could live off the weekly draw they were given, but that's not really possible anymore...".

First, uh, yeah, it was possible.

And, uh, yeah, it's not all that easy to find anymore.

And, uh, I don't know of a single peer of mine from the time who, reading this, isn't enjoying a healthy guffaw at the notion of "living off the weekly draw".

Almost all of us, in one form or another, had something else going for us that seems to have gone totally out of fashion.

Tell you that one in a sec.

First, though, let me just sum it all up by offering that, again, I applaud the ambition of the up and comers to take available technology by the scruff and use it to get their musical messages out to whatever audience they can build.

But, when it comes to "brother, can you spare a dime (two bucks adjusted for inflation)?"..., I'm afraid this once upon a time songwriter is going to have to draw an old fashioned line.

Because "artist" is all very nice a name tag to wear when you're playing The Bluebird Cafe.

But when it comes to the real world, you might take a pass on passing the hat and wear the name tag that a lot of us have in our old shoe boxes, from that, uh, aforementiond currently out of fashion thing.

The one they give you when they hire you for the part time job.


"...Ruby Tuesday...Say Hello To Ben Gay...."

Admittedly partial...

And unlikely to be around to witness it for myself....

I respectfully request that some young person make a note to check out, and document, when the time comes, just what kind of a show Perry or Swift or Gaga or Mars or Mraz, et al, put on shortly after they turn 70.







No moss gathered here, far as the eye can determine.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"...The Answer, My Friend, Is A Really Dependable Alarm Clock..."

Morning radio is very much a good news/bad news way to make a living.

The bad news is having to get up at 3:45 AM to get to the studio in time to prep properly and do the kind of show I think listeners deserve.

The good news is having the opportunity to talk to a lot of interesting, even life changing, people.

Like Peter Yarrow....of Peter, Paul and Mary.

Enjoy....I'd love to hang around and listen with you but I gotta get to bed.












Thursday, October 11, 2012

"...Those That Can, Do...Those That Can't Usually Have A Byline..."

Good news for lawyers.

They can breathe easy.

There's a new number one.

Be right back with the details.
 
 
LONDON (Reuters) - The Rolling Stones released new single "Doom and Gloom" on Thursday, their first new song in over six years, and early reviews were mixed.
 
Celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, the British rock veterans behind "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "Honky Tonk Women" have gone back to their roots in a fast-tempo, blues track described variously as "gritty", "dirty" and "swampy".

Doom and Gloom is one of two new songs on their upcoming greatest hits album "GRRR!", which hits shelves on November 12, and there was a sense of relief among critics that the track sounded like the Stones of old.

"Received music industry wisdom has it that new Rolling Stones material exists purely to flog compilation albums or tour tickets," wrote Dan Silver in the Mirror tabloid.

"It's with some relief that we report it's actually rather good," he added in a three-out-of-five star review.

Neil McCormick of the Daily Telegraph also gave Doom and Gloom three stars, saying it was "business as usual" for the band and drawing comparisons between the song and the "basement rock" of their acclaimed 1972 album "Exile on Main Street".






Both critics argued that the song's weakest point was lead singer Mick Jagger's vocals.

"The best bit is when he stops singing and starts blowing," said McCormick of the harmonica interlude.

Silver praised the "nicotine-stained chords" of Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards on guitars and Charlie Watts's "customary magic" on the drums, but added:

"If there's a weak link here then it's actually Jagger, who honks and caterwauls over the track like one of his own tribute artists. His extended enunciation is excruciating - almost to the point of parody in places."

Music magazine NME called Doom and Gloom a "'Gimme Shelter' for Generation Wii.

"The ... new Stones song ... is a revitalising reminder of what made them great in the first place, a tune that will sit seamlessly amongst their classics. Are you listening, Macca?" it concluded, in a challenge to ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.

Doom and Gloom and GRRR! are part of a series of events to celebrate half a century of the Stones, one of the world's most successful and influential rock and roll bands who started out on July 12, 1962 at the Marquee Club in London's Oxford Street.

The rockers walk the red carpet at the London film festival next week for the premiere of a documentary called "Crossfire Hurricane" and they also published a photograph album in July.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York stages a film retrospective opening on November 15 and the Stones are even helping to decorate London's famous Carnaby Street this Christmas.


As promised, here are the details.

Mick sounds like Mick.

And pretty damn good for any age, let alone 70.

Lawyers, meanwhile, have cause to celebrate.

They are no longer number one on the list of professions that most people hold up to scorn, ridicule and disdain.

There's a new arrival at the top of that chart.

Music critics.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"..And, Of Course, Let's Not Forget The Delightful Irony That Their Own Label, Years Ago, Was 'Brother Records'..."


First, a suggestion that might save you some time.

One Direction.

All Time Low.

If either or both are instantly recognizable to you, do yourself a favor and move along with your day without taking time to read the rest of this piece.

If on the other hand, you instantly recognize this...

"I'm gettin bugged drivin' up and down / the same old strip..."

Please continue.


(CNN) -- The Beach Boys were all smiles this week when they unveiled their exhibit at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

Earlier this year, they put aside their differences to reunite in a very public way: on-stage at "The 54th Annual Grammy Awards." That was followed by the release of their first album of new material in 20 years, and an extensive worldwide tour to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

All five members , Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks -- seemed genuinely excited when talking about their reunion.

"The value of the music is so good," Love said. "Good vibrations, you might say."But good vibrations may now be a thing of the past. Just before the Grammy Museum celebration, Love and Johnston issued a press release announcing they would be hitting the road with their own incarnation of the Beach Boys. According to the tersely worded statement, "The post-50th anniversary configuration will not include Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks. The 50th Reunion Tour was designed to be a set tour with a beginning and an end to mark a special 50-year milestone for the band."

A blindsided Wilson said, "I'm disappointed and can't understand why he (Love) doesn't want to tour with Al, David and me. We are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys."

The Brian Wilson-Mike Love version of the Beach Boys has just arrived in London for the final two dates of their reunion tour. If the splintered Beach Boy factions can't come to an agreement about their future, the September 28 concert at Wembley Stadium may be the last we see of this particular lineup.

Wilson has said he'd like his next project to be a rock 'n' roll album. Right now, he doesn't know who he'll be working with on the record, but adds that he'd like it to be the Beach Boys.




A few years ago, I did a phone interview with Mike Love on the morning show and found him to be a fairly pleasant, engaging fellow. He didn't come off as particularly swaggering or obnoxious, at least in terms of what one can gather about another from the sound of a voice on a ten minute phone call.

The Mike Love / Brian Wilson "feud", nevertheless, pretty much remains documented fact.

And, actually, "feud" might be too strong, or even cliche', a word since that implies there has been bad blood on both sides. The whole pissing match between these two through the years seems to have consisted of Love acting like an asshole and Wilson befuddlingly wondering why his cousin seems to want to keep acting like an asshole.

Then again, one never know what goes behind closed doors and, for all we know, Brian may hold his own in the battle.

Or "hole" his own, as the case may be.

All of that said, while it's disheartening to hear that this latest, for all appearances, burying of the family hatchet has come to a somehow both sad, and inevitable, conclusion, Mike and Brian not being able to keep it together comes as no surprise whatsoever to anyone who instantly recognized the earlier lyric line and don't have a clue about either One Direction or All Time Low.

Those of us/you who remember trying find a new place where the kids are hip.

Again, allowing for the fact that one never knows unless one actually knows, here's my impression from fifty plus years of listening and/or observing.

Brian Wilson is a certifiable musical prodigy who created some of the 1960's most memorable, and ultimately timeless, pop music.

Mike Love is an adequate pop music singer who has benefited beyond greatly from the talents of his prodigy cousin.

The Beach Boys have always been, and will always be, a family.

Literally.

And while Mike and Brian are only cousins, their history reads like a classic tale of sibling rivalry.

And every time I read yet another sad, now almost wearying, story about Mike Love essentially telling Brian Wilson to fuck off while having no problem with his continuing cashing in on the talents of he whom he would have fuck off, I can't help but be reminded of a couple of less musical brothers from a long time ago who seemed to have some dysfunction riding up and down the same old strip of their own relationship.

I feel bad for Brian Wilson yet again being "bullied" by his "brother".

But Mike's jealousy of Brian, at least to date, consists of dissing him and denying him his proper props.

Cain, on the other hand, took his jealousy of Abel to whole different level.

So, chin up, Brian.

It could be worse.

God only knows.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"....Sugar In The Morning....Sugar Six Decades Later...You Go, Sister..."

The wheel on the bus goes round and round.
 
 The tour bus, too.
 
 
PHOENIX (AP) — Dorothy McGuire Williamson, who teamed with sisters Christine and Phyllis for a string of hits in the 50s and 60s as the popular McGuire Sisters singing group, has died. She was 84.
Williamson died Friday at her son's home in the Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley, daughter-in-law Karen Williamson said. She had Parkinson's disease and age-related dementia.

The McGuire Sisters earned six gold records for hits including 1954's "Sincerely" and 1957's "Sugartime." The sisters were known for their sweet harmonies and identical outfits and hairdos.

They began singing together as children at their mother's Ohio church and then performed at weddings and church revivals. They got their big break on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts show in 1952 where they continued to perform for seven years.

The group made numerous appearances on television and toured into the late 1960s, making a last performance together on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1968. Dorothy stepped back to raise her two sons, Williamson said. Christine also raised a family while Phyllis pursued a solo career, according to a 1986 profile in People Magazine after the trio reunited and began doing nightclub and Las Vegas performances again.

The sister last performed together in the mid-2000s, and are featured on a 2004 PBS show called "Magic Moments - Best of 50s Pop."

"They were a talent at a time when you had to have talent — it couldn't be done as it is now," said Williamson, who is married to McGuire's son, Rex. "Truly, their harmonies were some of the best and God-given and they always knew that and never took that for granted."

The group performed for five presidents and Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. They were inducted into the National Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.
Christine and Phyllis, 86 and 81 respectively, live in Las Vegas.

"They were just hard working professionals and they took every aspect of the career very, very seriously," Williamson said of the sisters. "And when they put on a show you were going to get a great, great show."

McGuire was married for 53 years to Lowell Williamson, a wealthy oilman. The couple had two sons, Rex and David.

In addition to her husband and sons, she is survived by two step-children and nine grandchildren.

Two things noteworthy here.

One obvious.

One not so much.

Obviously, a successful career and a legacy of great pop music that will endure.

Not so obvious...

A show biz celebrity and married to the same guy for 53 years.

Alert the media.

Really, I mean it.

Alert the media.

Especially the matrimonial dead pool department at TMZ.

Nicely played...and lived, Mrs. Williamson.

Godspeed, Dorothy.



Saturday, September 8, 2012

"...One Must Remember That "Art" Is Also Often Used To Describe Those "Dogs Playing Pool" Rugs...."


Disclaimer:

The following is a bone previously picked.

For some reason, though, I find it still a little lodged near the trachea.

Ergo....

Artist.

Belongs, for my money, in the list of words that includes "genius", "totally" and, without question, "awesome".

Words that get used by and/or attributed to people to the point that "ad nauseum" becomes gross understatement.

And my particular sticky wicket satellites around said use of said word when applied to those whose voices wander, or barrel, as the case may be, in my direction from ground zero of the country music industry, Nashville, Tennessee

A town I'm proud to call one of my homes in this life, by the way.

A totally awesome town, in fact.

I cut and pasted this definition of the word "artist" from Dictionary.com.

 
(noun)

1.      A person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria

2.      A person show practices one of the fine arts, especially a painter or sculptor

3.      A person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc.

4.      A person who works in one of the performing arts, as an actor, musician, or singer; a public performer, a mime artist, an artist of the dance.

5.      A person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.


Here's the thing.

The country music industry seems perfectly comfortable indulging itself with a liberal and frequent assignation of the word to pretty much every Tom, Dick and Chesney that comes down the pike.

Or 16th Avenue, as the case may be.

Recording artist.

Hmmm.

Now, admittedly, any "debate" about what constitutes and/or qualifies as art is a slippery slope. One man's pork chop is another man's pork rinds, obviously.

But, in order to get this little conundrum concluded in my cranium, I decided to rely on a qualification process employing the dictionary definition provided above.

 
For example...

 1. a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.

...well now, there's a description that can be bent, folded and/or mutilated to fit just about any singer of song that wanders into Pancake Pantry, especially the wide open spaces of "aesthetic criteria", so no help there.

 2. a person who practices one of the fine arts, especially a painter or sculptor.

...this one, by its specificity, seems to disqualify anyone who offers a cultural contribution with voice as opposed to hands (or feet, wasn't there some famous painter guy who held the brush between his toes?), but, "fine" arts gets a little tricky, not to mention snobby, not to mention implying a little less CMT and a lot more NPR, so, again, no assist...

 3. a person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting…a commercial artist.

...again, the specifics, however specfically vague they might appear, seem to disregard anybody who plys their "art" with a microphone as opposed to a pen, pencil or Photoshop...

 4. a person who works in one of the performin arts, as an actor, musician or singer; a public performer, a mime artist, an artist of the dance.

...now we're getting somewhere....."singer" finally made it into the criteria, although by its position in the list, you get the impression that it's regarded as neither important enough to be listed first, as is actor, nor worthy of being the big finish as is "artist of the dance"....

5. a person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.

...whoops, there it is.....the defining words that any reasonably good advocate could take before the tribunal and use to justify said use of "artist" when applied to various and sundry country singers as in the term" recording"....artist.

 
Not so fast, Fellini.

What about that word "exceptional"?

Does, for example, the ass focused anthem to women's, well, asses that is "Honky Tonk
Badonkadonk" qualify as exceptional?

If so, then, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage, the world renowned recording artist, Trace Adkins.

Does the laughter generating laud to one man's 16 oz. reason for living that is "Red Solo Cup" meet the "exceptional" criteria?

If so, please make room for acclaimed recording artist, Toby Keith.

Don't get me wrong. The writer in me never lets a week go by without wishing I'd come up with either of those two and was delightedly seeing the BMI royalty amount showing up in my direct deposit.

But artistry?

At the end of it, the fair, if sad, truth is that "art" very much boils down to a much more simple definition.

Potato, patahtoh.

That said, here's a personal criteria I find plausible and applicable.

Fifty years from now, what will be the more immediately recognizable?

Toby Keith's singing of "Red Solo Cup"?
 
Johnny Cash's singing of "Ring of Fire"?

Yeah.

Totally.

 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"...If You Don't Believe Me, Just Ask Bernie Taupin..."

Hal David knew his way around words.

Here's a word.

Apocryphal.

More on that in a minute.


Los Angeles (CNN) -- Hal David, the lyricist behind such standards as "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" and "What the World Needs Now is Love," has died at 91, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers said Saturday.

The Oscar- and Grammy-winning songwriter, who teamed with musician Burt Bacharach on dozens of hit songs, died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles from complications of a stroke, ASCAP said.
 
David started working with Bacharach in the late 1950s on tunes recorded by artists including Perry Como, Gene Pitney, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, the Carpenters, Barbra Streisand and Dionne Warwick. In May, President Barack Obama and the first lady hosted a concert honoring Bacharach and David as part of the "In Performance at the White House" series.
 
"As a lyric writer, Hal was simple, concise and poetic -- conveying volumes of meaning in fewest possible words and always in service to the music," ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams said. "It is no wonder that so many of his lyrics have become part of our everyday vocabulary and his songs ... the backdrop of our lives."
 
Singer Smokey Robinson on Saturday said David was one of his songwriting idols when he was growing up.
 
"I hope that the music world will join together in celebrating the life of one of our greatest composers ever," Robinson said in a statement Saturday. "I will really miss my friend but I will celebrate his life and he will live on-and-on through his incredible musical contribution."
 
Lyricist Carole Bayer Sager, who also worked extensively with then-husband Burt Bacharach, said David made Bacharach's melodies seem "effortless."
 
David was president of ASCAP from 1980 till 1986.
 
The Recording Academy called David an "exquisite lyricist" whose work has left a "lasting impact on our culture."
 
He was born in Brooklyn, New York, to parents who had immigrated from Austria. He studied journalism at New York University before joining the military during World War II.
 
Returning to New York after the war, he began working with songwriters he met at the famous Brill Building, which at the time was the center of the city's song industry, ASCAP said.
 
It was his collaboration with Bacharach that proved the most fruitful. They were some of the first to work with Warwick when she was a young vocalist.
 
They also helped Herb Alpert to No. 1 with "This Guy's in Love With You" and wrote The Carpenters' No. 1 hit "(They Long to Be) Close to You."
 
British Invasion stars like Springfield and Sandie Shaw sought the pair's talents in the 1960s, and they got Tom Jones into the Top 10 with "What's New Pussycat."
 
The pair's accomplishments extended to stage and screen as well. They wrote scores and themes for 1960s films including "Alfie" and "Casino Royale." Their "Raindrops" tune was written for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and reached No. 1.
 
They wrote the score for the musical "Promises, Promises," which was nominated for a Tony Award and won a Grammy for best Cast Album of the Year in 1970.
 
David parted ways with Bacharach in the early 1970s, but he went on to work with other composers, including Albert Hammond -- with whom he wrote "To All the Girls I've Loved Before."
 
His first wife, Anne, died in 1987. He is survived by his wife, Eunice; two sons, three grandchildren, and two stepsons.
 
David's older brother Mack, who died in 1991, was also a famous songwriter who wrote such hits as "La Vie en Rose," "Candy," and "Bibiddi-Bobbidi-Boo."
 
 
In their heyday, you couldn't turn on a radio and not hear a Bacharach/David tune. But, as is often the case with team talent, the accolades and/or adoration wasn't always fifty fifty. In fact, because of his then marriage to actress/hottie of her time Angie Dickinson and assorted other show biz world priorities, Bacharach tended to be portrayed as the star, with David cast in the role of "oh, yeah and that guy, too."
 
Urban legend has it that at some time during those spotlight years, Mr. and Mrs David were attending a cocktail party at which one small group of small talkers contained a guest who couldn't gush enough about the talents of that amazing "Burt Bacharach".  Her gush flowed primarily in the form of comments like "oh, my gosh, have you heard that amazing new Burt Bacharach song, Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head?"...."I just love that new Burt Bacharach song, Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head."....."...you know, I think that Burt Bacharach song, Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, is one of the most brilliant....."
 
Said gushing was brought to an abrupt conclusion when Mrs. David, having been amiably chatting with another small group of small talkers, but within earshot and reaching out distance of the gabbing gusher, turned, politely touched the fervant fan's shoulder and, ever so sweetly, interjected...
 
"excuse me...but HAL DAVID wrote Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head......Burt Bacharach wrote 'dun-dun-da-dun-da-dun-da dun..."
 
That anecdote has, through the years, been attributed to more than one similar situation, ergo its earlier disclaimer as potentially apocryphal.
 
And only those who were in attendance at the purported party know the tune, the whole tune and nothing but the tune.
 
But, even if Mrs. Hal David didn't say it that night...
 
...even that amazing Burt Bacharach would have had to admit she was right.
 
Because he knew what we know.
 
Hal David knew his way around words.
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"...Even In A Noisy Room, You Can Hear Them Perfectly..."

On the seminal, but long forgotten, Badfinger album, "Straight Up", Pete Ham sings...

"There is no real perfection/
There'll be no perfect day/
Just love is our connection/
The truth in what we say.."

Peace, love and groovy connection notwithstanding, I think a little "au contrare'/ mon frere' " is in order when it comes to the first line, there, Hamster...

Because when it comes to perfection...

A few years ago, producer/performer Don Was remarked that he thought the Mike Reid/Allen Shamblin song "I Can't Make You Love Me", as done by Bonnie Raitt was, in Was' words, "the perfect pop song."



Personally, I think Was was right.

With one proviso.

I'd offer that it was "a", as opposed to "the", perfect pop song.

Because if you're talking a poignant and powerful, even devastating, and, yet, simple expression of a raw and primal emotion like human heartbreak, "I Can't Make You Love Me" is dead center.

Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin nailed it.

Bonnie Raitt gave it exquisite life.

But, for my jukebox money, Del Shannon nailed it thirty years earlier.

And Peter and Gordon gave it exquisite life.

Three writers, three singers, three decades apart, all doing what they did...

...perfectly.






Saturday, August 18, 2012

"...Just Having A Little Poke At Taylor, He Said, Swiftly..."

The Borg had it all wrong.

Resistance is futile?

Pish tosh.

I've been resisting, for years now, the inevitable incredible pull on my psyche of the traditional, and very human, force of aging.

Working most of my life in the creative arts (music, writing, radio, et al) has given me an edge over my more traditionally traveled peers.

Then again, a lot of them are happily retired and reasonably well off while I'm still wandering around waiting for my big break so, as G often opines, everything is a tradeoff.

Lately, though, even the youthful attitude in which I wallow, thanks to pretty much every waking hour spent in the pursuit of the aforementioned music, writing, radio, et al, has taken on a little water, sinking me ever closer to the very real possiblity that I might, despite my best efforts, finally morph into that which I have dedicated my life to not become.

Old.

Oh, I'm not so naive, vain or deluded that I feel the need to either deny, or regret, the graying of hair, the protruberance of paunch, the aches, pains and/or laments that come with the passing of time. I dress casually (again, thanks to the profession{s}) but I don't think my walking by elicits anywhere near the "tsk tsks" that, say, Madonna evokes these days with her 54 year old carcass crammed into the get up of the average 24 year old.

And though I really do (always have and always will) think that the pop music of the 1950's and 1960's will never be surpassed (and that even includes my guilty pleasure inclusion of Donnie Iris singing "Ah, Leah" on my treadmill IPod),  I have managed, for the most and larger part, to resist any generationally induced temptation to refer to contemporary music as "lame", "useless" "superficial", "irrelevent" or that greatest of the great, that time honored acknowledgement that my opinion of today's sounds have evolved from an OMG/IKR mindset to one labeled AARP.

No thanks to Taylor Swift.

Vis a vi her current "raced to the top of the charts" single. (Apologies if you have to sit through the inevitable :30 hype beforehand....sign of the times)....




Okay. First, the disclaimer.

I totally get why she is a superstar.

She writes and sings songs that hit her audience dead smack center of where they live.

But I'm noticing something here.

Most singer/songwriters, at least those that I have either known, worked with or simply enjoyed through the years, tend to "progress", "grow", even, say, "mature" with both their lyrics and their melodies as time passes, they live and learn more as they, to put it simply, grow up.

Find a copy of "Meet The Beatles" and play it.

Then find a copy of "Rubber Soul" and play it.

The time between those two recordings is less than eighteen months.

Taylor, on the other hand, has apparently decided to become unique in pop music in yet another way.

De-progression.

Her lyrics seem to be moving from heart felt, angst and/or anger flavored odes castrating one bad boyfriend or another, totally relatable and enrapturing the average thirteen year old to heart felt, angst and/or anger flavored odes to one bad boyfriend or another, totally relatable and enrapturing the average ten year old.

Don't get me wrong. Ain't nobody's bizness how anybody does de bizness.

And Taylor shure do sum bizness.

In fact, my whip smart six and half year old granddaughter Olivia knows all the words, back and forth, to all of Taylor's heart felt, angst and/or anger flavored odes...yada, yada.

Friday morning on the radio show, I played a snippet of the new tune and then, in a spirit of professional camaraderie, called upon my own moderately known gifts as a songwriter and suggested a few song titles that might assist Taylor with the direction she seems to be taking with her work, titles that I think, given where it seems to be headed, she could totally run with.

"I Don't Like You and You Can't Have Any Of My Skinny Cow"

"Why Do You Have To Be Such A Poopy Head?"

"My Easy Bake Oven Light Is Burned Out And I Suspect You".

"Who Needs Nike or L'Oreal? I'm The New Spokesperson for Fisher-Price".

"And You Thought Justin Bieber Was Annoying."

And, last, but I think absolutely the one that will become her signature tune...

"I'm Actually Almost 23, But Adele Has That Market Nailed Down".

Taylor seems like a nice kid.

And she makes Olivia happy.

So, live and let listen, I suppose.

Of course, I realize that, having been a little impish with the icon, I'm going to get emails offering song titles Taylor can use to get even with me.

No need, girls.

She already has that covered.





Saturday, August 11, 2012

"...Just A Comfy Little Glass House In The Country..."

The latest from the feet of clay folder...

(CNN) By Phil Gast, CNN -- Country music fans are loyal and they don't like to see their legends fall.

Randy Travis, one of the genre's most revered traditional singer-songwriters, was arrested this week after being found naked, smelling apparently of alcohol and lying on a remote roadway in northern Texas, authorities said.

In a genre largely led by artists who can achieve chart-topping tunes and high-grossing concert tours, industry consultants and radio station personalities say Travis, 53, faces significant challenges ahead and should first address whatever issues may have led to this incident.

Country's unique "cradle to the grave" fan base will likely stick with Travis, one industry expert told CNN.

Travis was considered a breath of fresh air for country music when he made his debut during the mid-80s.

"Country music fans are notorious for their loyalty," said Wade Jessen, senior chart manager for Billboard in Nashville. "They tend to live the artist's lives with them -- good, or bad, (but) only up to a point."

Some say Travis may have reached that point Tuesday evening.

Travis was driving his black 1998 Pontiac Trans Am, which went off the north side of a highway just west of Tioga, Texas, where he resides, and struck several barricades in a construction zone, said Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Mark Tackett.

Travis was found naked, Tackett said. When the singer was brought to Grayson County jail at 3 a.m., after a hospital visit, he still didn't have clothes, Sgt. Rickey Wheeler said.

"He was given a paper suit, which is a jail uniform made out of paper," Wheeler told CNN.

Travis was charged with driving while intoxicated and felony retaliation, after allegedly threatening to fatally shoot highway patrol troopers who responded to a concerned caller who notified authorities of "a man lying in the roadway" Tuesday. The incident happened just six months after he pleaded no contest to public intoxication in another case.

Travis, of course, isn't the first country star to run into problems.

Hank Williams and George Jones were known for their tumultuous lifestyles and drinking. Jones even earned the moniker "No Show Jones" because he missed so many performances.

"The difference is George Jones had his clothes on," said country radio consultant Joel Raab.

And it's certainly not the first time a celebrity from any genre has found himself in the middle of a personal and public relations challenge. R&B star Chris Brown worked his way back up the charts after he was convicted three years ago of assaulting ex-girlfriend Rihanna. Former "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen is back on television after a very public firing and meltdown.

Susan Keel, a Nashville-based publicist who has represented country singers, said Travis should postpone his current tour and issue a statement indicating he is getting help.

"He should apologize to the officer, the public, friends and fans to indicate he will get his life back on track," said Keel.

Travis burst onto the country music scene in 1986 with "Storms of Life." The North Carolina-born singer's debut album sold nearly 4 million copies and made him a star of the "new traditional" scene.

Travis was in his heyday from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, recording such classics as "Diggin' Up Bones" and "Forever and Ever, Amen." His baritone voice and songs and even his retro wardrobe harkened to a traditional country style.

Julie Stevens, now program director at KRTY in San Jose, California, said Travis and George Strait came in like a breath of fresh air during the mid-1980s, when country radio stations were suffering low ratings.

"It was horrible," said Stevens. "We were just coming out of John Travolta and the whole 'Urban Cowboy' thing."

Travis ran out a string of successful songs and albums.

"The two of them together saved the format," Stevens said. "I don't know why George endured and Randy didn't."

Travis eventually moved toward gospel music and today he largely plays smaller venues, including casinos.

Strait, meanwhile, is still bringing large crowds to arenas. While he has a predictable sound, according to Billboard's Jessen, Strait "is very adept at making it sound fresh from album to album."

"I don't think we can blame Randy Travis' decline on the format," Jessen said.

Observers point out that Travis hasn't had a top-selling record for a decade. Finding one now could give him a needed boost.

"He has to make a hit record that will work on country radio with today's country fans," said Raab. "You would be hard-pressed to find a Randy Travis song on a contemporary country radio station today."

An estimated 2,000 stations, most of them "contemporary," are considered the primary marketing vehicle for country music, Jessen told CNN.

Listeners ages 25 to 54 are the key demographic, and successful musicians keep the songs coming.

"If you take it in general terms, Randy Travis is considered a veteran artist," said Jessen. "Randy doesn't have singles on the radio all the time. Current artists have a new single on the radio all the time. They tour and record. They tour and record. They tour and record."

Still, Travis has won seven Grammy Awards, five Country Music Association awards, 10 Academy of Country Music statuettes, 10 American Music Awards, seven Music City News awards, and eight Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association, according to his website.

He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1986, according to his website.

Travis' last major hit came in 2002 with "Three Wooden Crosses," a song about faith and redemption.

There are three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway,

Why there's not four of them, Heaven only knows.

I guess it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you,

It's what you leave behind you when you go.

Travis "was able to tell it with sincerity and it was a hit," Jessen said.

Jess Wright, program director and on-air personality at WFRE in Frederick, Maryland, said her station plays some traditional country songs favored by the likes of Travis. "If it is not the right song, it is hard to find the right place to play it," Wright told CNN.

Raab provides consultant services to 27 stations, a few of which are "classic" -- meaning they play songs from the 1950s to the 1990s.

He spoke Thursday with an individual at one such station. While they discussed Travis' most recent incident, they never discussed whether his songs should be taken off the air.

"I don't think the legacy of his music is necessarily tarnished by what he did," said Raab.

The past two years have been difficult ones for Travis.

He divorced his longtime wife in 2010. According to a lawsuit filed earlier this year, Elizabeth Travis remained his personal manager until she terminated the agreement in 2011 -- without proper notice, the suit alleges.

Randy Travis countersued in May, contending Elizabeth Travis divulged confidential information about him in order to damage his reputation and career. He did not provide specifics.

In February, the legendary performer was arrested for public intoxication while sitting in his car in front of a church in Sanger, Texas.

"I apologize for what resulted following an evening of celebrating the Super Bowl," Travis told CNN in a statement after that arrest. "I'm committed to being responsible and accountable, and apologize for my actions."

With fewer songs on radio, Travis primarily reaches his fan base by touring, said Jessen. "An old rule in country music, men like to be sung about and women like to be sung to. Randy has done both."

"His diehard fans are going to stay with him through this," Jessen said. "They will wish him well and stay tuned to the news."

"Country music fans don't like to see their legends fall."

Keel said the country music industry still considers Travis a legend.

"This is a very supportive community and a forgiving community," she said.


Not that anybody has asked, but, for my money, the preceding piece pretty much hit the nail on the head.

The conventional wisdom in Nashville during my own years of writing and studio work was that country music fans, as opposed to rock, etc, fans, were loyal to the singer as much as, if not more than, the song.

In the 70's, the prevailing attitude was that Kenny Rogers could have sung the phone book and the CD would have gone double platinum.

Randy enjoyed much of that same fan fervor during his time in the high wattage spotlight.

That blind loyalty, as a matter of fact, was something that a lot of my friends/peers on Music Row, in the day, pointed to as an explanation for the smashing success of a song Randy recorded that included the lyric, "honey I don't care / I'm not in love with your hair..."

Oscar Hammerstein, come home, all is forgiven.

Without intending to either counterpoint or split hairs with Mr. Gast's take on it, here's what my own instincts, down home honed after thirty five plus years of both Nashville songwriting industry membership and/or country radio show producing and hosting, tell me about the Randy ruckus.

Country music fans, at least the more traditionalist fans who think that country music could do with a lot less Pickler and a whole lot more Patsy, a whole lot less Paisley and a whole lot more Possum, will quietly tsk tsk amongst themselves as to Randy's raw and raunchy behavior, but, in the end, forgive, if not forget, his Trans Am transgressions, pray for his recovery from the demon rum and get back to bitchin' about how country music has gone to hell in a handbasket..

After all, they will reason, who amongst us hasn't come just this close to gettin bare ass naked, certifiably shit faced and headed on down to the local Suds and Sack for a pack of Marlboro Lights?

Those willing to live and let live will just add this story to the legendary saga of Geroge Jones, drunk and denied keys to the family wheel by Tammy, using his own pickled smarts to ride his lawn mower miles down Franklin Road to the nearest liquor store.

Of course, Possum wasn't naked. But the envelope gets a little more of a push with each passing generation, right, ya'll?

And, yes, he threatened to shoot and kill the police officers that arrested him, but, hey, there's not a good old boy in the crowd that hasn't offered to have us "wonder where the Loosiana sheriff went to" now and again.

Bottom line is, Randy did break the law, but it's not like he's Jerry Sandusky.


Randy's "problem", in the end, won't be about acceptance or rejection by his loyal fans.

And it won't be that his obvious issues with drinking, driving and disrobing have made a big splash in the news.

His problem will be that he, unlike George Strait, as Gast mentions, for example, has been unable, to keep his music relevant and important to this generation of country music fans.

And the only thing worse for somebody in the song business than being in the news...is being old news.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"...Everybody Thinks Their Pitch Is The Perfect Pitch...But This Pitch Really Is...."

Nothing feels as good as lending a helping hand.

Which I am inclined to do.

Momentarily.

First, though...

(Tennessean.com)
Keith Urban is dismantling the way he makes records — and he likes it.

Urban is working with new producers, writing with different songwriters and recording in different studios hoping to make an album unlike anything he’s recorded to date.

So far, it’s working.

“I wanted to have everything around me be totally unfamiliar to me and I think it’s great in a sense that all sorts of stuff is coming out that I normally haven’t done before,” he says.

In particular, Urban is excited about a song he wrote recently with producer Jay Joyce and Jeremy Spillman, both of whom are new co-writers for the singer. He called the writing session “exhilarating” and says it “gave birth to a song that I never would have written with anybody else melodically and in a lot of other ways, too.”

Urban says he has accrued six or seven songs in the past several months, and that so far the music is hopeful but offers fans something new and with insight into his past.

“The song (I wrote with Joyce and Spillman) is a bit of my journey over the last six years, my transition,” he says. “I have it represented in there and I like it because it got represented in a song that’s otherwise pretty upbeat, and I didn’t think that would be the place for that kind of lyric, but it works.”

As for when the new music will be on store shelves, Urban says it will likely be sometime next year, and that carving out a handsome chunk of time to make an album is something he’s always wanted to do. This time, however, it was more than just a want.

“It just isn’t easy to do,” he says. “But it just feels very, very strong in me to do it. I am putting a tour on next year, but it won’t be early in the year, so there is somewhat of a need for an album sooner than later. But I just would like for the album to be right.

“We can’t keep remaking the same record.”


Change is good.

And in my ongoing effort to be a part of the solution, I have a pitch idea for Keith.

Here's a pretty clever song that was recorded some years ago by a Capitol Records group called The Ranch. It was going to be their "next single" but, as fate and the song biz would have it, the label decided to focus more on the lead singer of the group and put their time and energy and money into his career.

So, the group ended and the "next single" meandered up to 60 or so on the chart and then withered away in the wind of career change.

Hey, kids, this is the NFL. Shake it off, take a shower and get on with the game.

Reading about Keith's new direction, though, it occurred to me that this song might just be right up his alley.

It's not like anything he's done in recent years.

And I'm pretty sure he could nail it.

After all, he sounds an awful lot like the lead singer of The Ranch.

Guy named Keith Urban.


Monday, July 16, 2012

"...Why.....So........Seriousssss?????...."




Apparently, conformity doesn't suit me.

Some years ago, I named one of my LLC's, "Outside The Box Multimedia". Not so much because I felt like my work was going to be a cut above, et al (although, of course, one can always hope), but more because I seem to have spent the lion's share of my adult years operating just outside the box of conventional wisdom, etc.

I have been feeling that coloring outside the lines sense pretty strongly today.

It was inspired, or triggered as the case may be, by the passing today of three notable music talents.

Bassist Bob Babbitt.

Deep Purple's co-founder Jon Lord.

And country music pioneer Kitty Wells.

Facebook, in particular, has been saturated all day with reactions to these three deaths, almost all of those postings either literally using, or expressing feelings in terms of, the word "sad".

As in, "sad news", "very sad", "such sadness", ad nauseum.

This is where I personally wander off down the road less traveled.

Maybe it's because my own life certainly has a lot less years left in it than years already lived and I'm subliminally trying to brace my own self for the inevitable surly bonds of earth slipping, but I gotta be honest with ya, kids, I'm just not feeling a lot of sadness at the news of these three nice folks shuffling on ahead.

Obviously, I'm not such a clod that I don't understand that their loved ones are feeling the loss and that, primally, sadness is one of the gamut of emotions that wash over one in that circumstance.

And while there really is no specific measure for what constitutes "untimely", the simple truth is that both Babbitt and Lord were in their 70's and had been ill for some time and the remarkable Miss Wells lived to be a feisty 92, so it's not like any or all of them were young, in the primes of their lives and snatched from us by some cruel act or accident.

These were three lives very well lived, beautifully realized, remarkably accomplished and inspiringly spent, three very obvious counterpoints to the contemporary glut of faux celebrity and/or substance soaked tragedies.

So, call me obtuse if you must, but, sincerely, sadness eludes me here.

Celebration, on the other hand, seems very much in order.

Celebration of three lives very well lived, beautifully realized, remarkably accomplihsed and inspiringly spent.

Celebration that, assuming your theology and my theology are walking, at least, alongside each other, three deserving souls have gone on ahead to their rewards and a joy, the understanding of which we politely feign but, let's be honest, gang, which we can't begin to actually comprehend.

In that light, not to mention the light these three left behind, sadness seems a little silly.

Then again, maybe it's just me.

Wandering around over here just outside the box.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

"....thank you !...and for our last number tonight...the great Billy Joe Royal classic..."Hush!"....."

Every now and then, at this stage in the life, I find myself reacting to something in an unexpected way.

Something like this.

London (CNN) -- Bruce Springsteen had been waiting for this moment for a long time. "I gotta tell you," he said to the 65,000-strong crowd, "I've been trying to do this for 50 years." For the finale of his headline slot in London's Hyde Park on Saturday, he'd arranged a very special treat: An onstage collaboration with Beatles legend Paul McCartney.

But the rock megastar hadn't banked on the local London council deciding to show him who was boss.

At the climax of his three-hour set, Springsteen and McCartney, backed by the E Street Band and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, played a storming rendition of "I Saw Her Standing There" to a rapturous crowd. Springsteen's delight was palpable: He grinned throughout, his face lit up like a child with a super-sized Christmas gift.

The supergroup then segued into a sizzling version of "Twist and Shout" -- but as the night peaked against a backdrop of fireworks, a drably dressed man with sensible hair could be seen waving frantically at the back of the stage, indicating the rock legends' time was drawing to a close.

Then, at 10:40 p.m. local time, as Springsteen and McCartney were winding up the extended "Twist and Shout," the sound suddenly dampened, and went quiet.

At first, the Boss didn't seem to notice. He attempted to address the crowd, apparently unaware that they couldn't hear him. But as it became clear that there was no amplification, he and lead guitarist Stevie Van Zandt played what looked to be a brief a cappella goodnight for the benefit of the front rows, shrugged, and left the stage.

London's Westminster Council later confirmed that concert organizers Hard Rock Calling had cut the power, saying they "were sticking to their license for the event." According to the Hard Rock Calling website, Springsteen had been due to finish his set at 10:15 p.m.

Conditions for holding concerts in London's biggest central park have been tightened in the past year, the BBC reported, due to an increase in complaints from local residents. The events, which bring vital funding to the parks management, have been cut in number from 13 to nine and crowd size has been reduced from 80,000 to 65,000 maximum. Campaigners in the well-heeled borough have also sought a reduction in permitted noise levels.

Springsteen is known for his marathon sets. This night was no different. He'd come on stage at 7:30 p.m. and played without breaks for just over three hours, from a beautiful acoustic "Thunder Road" through an extensive list that included "Badlands," "Because the Night," "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" and "The River." He then hit his high-energy closing set of "Born in the USA," "Born to Run," "Glory Days" and "Dancing in the Dark" before bringing on the former Beatle for the finale.

But that wasn't enough to satisfy his fans, who were left baffled, then angry that their idol's set had been cut short.

"Ashamed to be British right now. Springsteen and McCartney playing 'Twist & Shout' in Hyde Park and council pulled the plug cos of curfew," tweeted actor and comedian Stephen Merchant.

British journalist Richard James tweeted, "Springsteen and McCartney: Only in Britain could a local council pull the plug on the greatest artists of the last 50 years giving it all."

Fan Liz Chong [@lizchong1] demanded the concert organizers apologize for cutting Springsteen and McCartney off mid-song, saying "Won't come again."

Sunday night sees Paul Simon take the stage. He should consider himself warned: Should he too decide to team up with a golden great for a grand finale, they'd better keep a closer eye on the clock.


Having "grown up" with these guys, while having fronted, backed and/or been a part of more than a fair share of peforming bands through the years, I had, as you might imagine, an immediate empathy for both performers and attendees as to the "wtf" sensation that shutting them down naturally evoked.

That said, as a parent and grandparent living in a culture that, with each passing day, prides itself less and less with the idea of showing even the commonest of courtesies to others, I can't help but feel a little "you go, guy/girl" is deservedly offered up to the "rule keeper" who green lighted pulling the plug.

And not to put words, or music, in the mouths of icons...but something tells me that parents/grandparents like Mr. Springsteen, Mr. McCartney, et al might just have walked off the stage with the faintest of smiles that would indicate they agree.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"...For Those Who Skip The Dreaming and Scheming Part But Jump At The Chance To Laugh At Yesterday..."

Two quick thoughts.

Every generation's musical heroes deserve the respect to which they are entitled, be they then or now.

And.

Autotune, my ass.










Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"So, Live At The Fillmore East Is A Figure Of Speech, RIght?..."

First, a little straight shooting.

Far be it for me to make fun of anybody regarding their marital status and/or history.

So, I won't be offering any editorials, one way or the other, as regards the upcoming nuptials of the sexagenarian Mr. Allman and his vicenarian bethrothed.

That said, though, I watched both an interview on CBS News and the following CNN interview with Gregg and have one arguably trenchant observation to make.

Right after you take a look at this.



The CBS interview had much the same look, feel and/or tempo.

Ergo, the previously promised observation.

Regardless of their respective ages, the pending Mrs. Allman isn't going to have to worry much about exhausting herself in conversation with the Mr.

And he obviously gets plenty of sleep.

Apparently, not just a little of it while he's wide awake.

Forget what it takes to be 64 and marry a 24 year old.

That's nothing compared to what it takes to come off as less interesting than Piers Morgan.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"...Nobody Gets Too Much Heaven No More...But, Night Fever?...We're Lousy Wid It...."

Two reasons to feel bad for Barry Gibb today.

One, the obvious.

The second, maybe not so much.

Count on me to share it with you momentarily.

(CNN) -- Robin Gibb, one of three brothers who made up the group the Bee Gees behind "Saturday Night Fever" and other now-iconic sounds from the 1970s, died on Sunday, according to a statement on his website.

He was 62.

Gibb "passed away today following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery," said the statement, which was attributed to his family. He died in England at 10:47 a.m. (5:47 a.m. ET), according to a post on his official Twitter feed.

In the latter part of the 1970s, the Bee Gees "dominated dance floors and airwaves. With their matching white suits, soaring high harmonies and polished, radio-friendly records, they remain one of the essential touchstones to that ultra-commercial era," the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame says on its website.

"Saturday Night Fever" and the group's 1979 album "Spirits Having Flown" yielded six No. 1 hits, "making the Bee Gees the only group in pop history to write, produce and record that many consecutive chart-topping singles," according to the Hall of Fame.


A few weeks ago, when Robin Gibb's health took a turn and it seemed to most that he was knock, knock, knockin on....I wrote a couple of sister (or more appropriately, brother) pieces opining a little (and whining a little, but that's the story of/ that's the glory of...) about the tsunami of sharing about the "disco" era Bee Gees with so little, if any, attention paid to the ten plus preceding years of cultural contribution and chart success from the British born boys who came to us from the land down under.

A link to that (those) is provided here for your dancing and dining pleasure.

http://phelpsong.blogspot.com/2012/04/there-is-something-i-would-like-you-all.html

Now that Robin has shuffled (or disco-ed, as someone will insist) off the mortal coil, the reminisences, accolades and tributes are, rightly, flowing from print and online media and radio speakers like Bee Gees hits used to flow through...well, radio speakers.

And, inevitably, those reminiscences, accolades and tributes are, yet another tsunami of sharing about the "disco" era Bee Gees with little, if any, attention paid to the ten plus preceding years of cultural contribution and chart success from the British born boys who came to us from the land down under.

Me being me, of course, I'm thinking a total non sequiter, and at the same time perfectly applicable, tribute song to Robin this morning might be the Poco hit "Here We Go Again".

But that's a song for another time.

Or era, depending on how much longer the members of Poco live.

And, not for nothin', but kudos to NPR because I did, this morning driving in, hear a lovely on air news/tribute piece marking Robin's passing which started out disco but very quickly pivoted to a refreshing "but they were also big hitmakers long before Travolta danced" finish, including a snipped of Robin and older brother Barry harmonizing on their first, and still very innovative, American hit, "New York Mining Disaster 1941."

How lovely the irony that the most comprehensive, and correct, obituary of a rock/pop icon should come, not from "hip" rock/pop or even oldies stations, but, instead, the nerds of NPR.

Insert Sheldon Cooper-esque "hemmmphf, hmmphf" laugh here.

All of this, though, is previously plowed ground.

Let me newly plant this one on ya.

Maurice Gibb died a few years ago and you couldn't swing a dead cat (or white three piece suit jacket) without hitting someone hearing a Saturday Night Fever era Bee Gees song on their TV, radio, Ipod and/or social networking site.

Robin Gibb died this weekend and you can't swing a dead cat (or white three piece suit jacket) without hitting someone hearing a Saturday Night Fever era Bee Gees song on their TV, radio, Ipod and/or social networking site.

Which brings us to the second reason you gotta feel bad for Barry Gibb today.

By the time he passes, it 6-5 and pick em' that we will all be totally burned out on "Stayin Alive".

Godspeed, Robin Gibb.


Friday, May 18, 2012

"...And I...eee...I Will Always Love...To Love You, Baby..."

Pretty much the same.

And not at all alike.

Clarification coming.

(CNN) -- Donna Summer, the "Queen of Disco" whose hits included "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls," "Love to Love You Baby" and "She Works Hard for the Money," has died, a representative said Thursday. She was 63.

Her publicist, Brian Edwards, said Summer was suffering from cancer. She died surrounded by her family in Florida, he said.

"Early this morning, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith," a family statement said. "While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy. Words truly can't express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time."

Summer first rose to fame the mid-'70s, thanks to "Love to Love You Baby." The song, with Summer's whispered vocals and orgasmic groans helped define the mid-'70s disco trend and hit No. 2 in 1976. Summer followed the song with such hits as "I Feel Love," "Last Dance" and a disco-fied version of the Richard Harris hit "MacArthur Park," which outdid Harris' version by hitting No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart. It was Summer's first of four chart-toppers.


Another name that immediately sprang to mind yesterday in the wake of Summer's passing was, of course, Whitney Houston.

The connection seems, on the surface, to be a no brainer.

Two very successful, critically acclaimed female vocalists whose talents brought them to the top of the charts and gained them the admiration and/or adulation of millions worldwide.

And two very successful, critically acclaimed, etc etc who died young.

Twin sisters of different mothers.

So it would seem.

But a little tender and respectful scrutiny would offer up some indication that six of one is not necessarily half a dozen of another.

Houston's talent was undeniable, but her life was yet another cautionary tale of the potential pitfalls of too much as happens to too many all too often. A descent from the heights of success into a poignant life of fractured family, failed marriage, career struggle and all the assorted collateral damage, fueled, as it is all too often, by the devastating effects of substance abuse. A life that came to a sad, even pathetic, end face down and alone in a half filled bathtub, a victim of a disease too often contracted by the rich and famous.

The kind of life that will end up as two hours on the E! True Hollywood Story.

Summer's talent was equally undeniable. But her life was, by all accounts and as far talk and tabloid would offer us, one of family fulfillment, a long, happy and successful marriage, a career, predictable ups and downs notwithstanding, pursued with graciousness and humility, as far away from the aforementioned talk and tabloids as tape can measure. A life that came to an equally sad, but heart touching, end surrounded by loving family and friends, a victime of a disease too often contracted by every day folks.

The kind of life that will end up as two hours on the Lifetime Channel.

There is no blame that can be rightly placed on one, nor overt accolades to be placed on another.

It seems only fair to suggest that both of these ladies were human beings who, like all the rest of us, did the best they could.

But it also seems worth noting that it would be only to fair to keep something in mind as media does what media does, attempting to ramp up the drama of any given situation to, ostensibly, keep us all tuned in.

Connecting the two.

When, in fact, Donna Summer and Whitney Houston were pretty much the same.

And not at all alike.