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.
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..."
(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.
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
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 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.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
The following is a bone previously picked.
For some reason, though, I find it still a little lodged near the trachea.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At the end of it, the fair, if sad, truth is that "art" very much boils down to a much more simple definition.
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"?
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Here's a word.
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.