Sunday, October 19, 2014

When Patti Dahlstrom was nearly killed by Paul Williams

Paul Williams rushed to the bleeding Patti Dahlstrom, crying, "What have I done??"

Patti, dazed and bleeding, remembers now, "His voice became faint..." Slipping in and out of consciousness, she barely heard him say "Patti, an ambulance is on its way..."

You know Paul Williams. His songwriting credits include a lot of MOR ballads. But he didn't write "Killing Me Softly," and he was hoping he hadn't killed Patti Dahlstrom.

Paul did write "kill me now" romance songs that rock critics hated. These include: "Evergreen" as cooed by Stresiand, "We've Only Just Begun" as mewled by The Carpenters, and the silly "An Old Fashioned Love Song" (Three Dog Night).

He wrote "You And Me Against the World" covered by Helen "Hear Me Roar" Reddy. If you're still not repulsed, how about "Rainbow Connection" sung by The Muppets?

Yeah, that Paul Williams...who redeemed himself with a sense of humor in films (he was paired with giant comedian Pat McCormick in "Smokey and the Bandit") and the cult classic "Phantom of the Paradise."

Back when Patti was lying on the ground, her face smashed and bleeding, they were both young songwriters just beginning to get breaks. They often played their newest songs for each other. Patti's style wasn't as kitschy-coo as Paul's. So, did they come to blows over artistic direction? Did they have some kind of lethal argument?

No, Paul was showing off his Cunningham Bugatti, bright red with beige leather interior: "Paul started out and fairly fast, I think, probably 80 miles an hour on that turning twisting road. But it didn't feel that fast because the car was built to race, and holding the ground that well, the curving of the road felt natural and easy..."

Until he lost traction. "I remembered flying out of that car when the rear wheel hit a curb and broke the axle. I dreamed it. But back then all I had was Paul's description, "I looked up and you were over my head about eight feet and being thrown about twenty feet away.” And she heard a voice say "the odds are 50,000 to 1 that the doctors can save the left side of your face..."

The full details of the accident, and the faith that pulled her through it, is in her book "Traveling With Jesus: Learning on the Road of Life." It's not exactly a huge book...at 13,000 words it's more of a very long feature magazine piece. That makes it a quick, good read. Check pattidahlstrombooks.com for the download link.

And for those who don't yet know Patti Dahlstrom...check the CD re-issue of her best songs. She's been recorded by Thelma Houston, Cilla Black, and Shirley Bassey among others. She and Paul both have had a song covered by Helen Reddy. In Patti's case, it's "Emotion," English lyrics comfortably atop the melody from Veronique Sanson. Patti recorded four solo albums...featuring rollicking Southern rock, earthy songs about life and love, and much more. "I Never Did" is one of her classy ballads, and you'll find it below, from the original vinyl.

PATTI I NEVER DID

Grow Old Along With Disease - Glen Campbell and John

One of the most depressing songs John Lennon wrote is one of his last. "Grow Old Along With Me," his re-write of Browning, is literally a sad recording. You'd think John could've afforded a top quality portable tape recorder. The existing vocal, souped up to sound like an ELO outtake, is woeful and thin, with what sounds like a battered school auditorium piano.

It's also sad because not long after he made the demo, he was demolished.

John loved New York City. He wanted to live in America, land of the free. America believes in the freedom to bear arms, sell guns to just about anyone, and New York doesn't have a death penalty no matter what the murderer did.

Is it possible to listen to that song and not feel the deep irony of John, 40 years old, NOT growing old with Yoko? With us? Not being around the way Bob Dylan is, or Leonard Cohen, or Elton John or Paul McCartney?

It's a tribute to John that this is one of the most-covered of his comeback era songs. And who is the most prominent performer with a version of it? Glen Campbell, who sang it after his Alzheimer's diagnosis. It's pretty wrenching to hear a guy singing about growing old...when he knows he's also going to grow addled, and his wife could be living with a guy who has no idea who she is, and vice versa.

Flip Wilson once said that the cost of living is going up, and the chance of living's going down.

"Grow Old Along With Me," if you can avoid a bullet, some other act of violence, AIDS, Ebola, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's....

Here in October, Campbell has just released his final recording and video. It's "I'm Not Gonna Miss you." One critic, Ed Masley, reviewed it with many a reference to John Lennon:

"A gospel-flavored piano intro echoing John Lennon's "Isolation" is met by ethereal, Beatlesque harmonies before the country crooner takes the spotlight, candidly addressing what he's going through with "I'm still here but yet I'm gone / I don't play guitar or sing my songs / It never defined who I am / The man who loved you 'til the end." Now addressing his wife, he sings, "You're the last person I will love / You're the last face I will recall / And best of all / I'm not gonna miss you." Then he hits you with the sort of slide guitar part George Harrison might have added to a Lennon record."

Quite so. But the video directed by James Keach is more like Johnny Cash's "Hurt," with clips of the young man and close-ups of the puffy, battered face of a man grown old.

You can find that one on YouTube via Glen's own channel (a few pennies in royalties do go to him for a certain amount of plays). As for the older "Grow Old Along With Me," that's below.

John Lennon cover version by Glen Campbell

Thursday, October 09, 2014

ELEANOR McEVOY - THE BEST

The other night, I was listening to Eleanor McEvoy's album "Snapshots." It's 15 years old. It's a classic and it's more than that. It has such depth, so much to offer, that hearing this was almost like a new experience. I was struck by the production on "Sophie," a tour-de-force with its counterpoint of Eleanor's aching voice and the brutal reality of power chords on the piano. At times it reverses, with the piano becoming delicate in nuance, as she drives home the stark rhymes about this anorexic, tragic heroine…"dying…" "…can't stop crying…"

I remember being in a record store (remember those?) that had a bunch of sale bins. A girl was looking through the CDs of the unknown artists on sale, hoping to score something interesting for a few dollars. I was with my lady, who, irony enough, had introduced me to McEvoy this very way. She said, "This looks interesting..." and I bought it. As we checked the boxes, I noticed a copy of "Snapshots." Eleanor's albums were often in the sale bin, to my chagrin. Eleanor's not very well known in America and CDs and promo copies were often available for a few dollars. I flashed the album to my lady. The girl next to me said, "She's good?" I said, "She's great." "Oh? What's she like?" Thinking of a reference she might understand, I said, "Imagine a totally depressed Sinead O'Connor."

At the time, 1999, McEvoy was known for heartbreakingly intimate angst, if she was known for anything. "Only A Woman's Heart" was (and remains) her biggest hit. "My heart is low…my heart is so low…" Like Paul Simon, the best songs on the early albums tended to be somber, if not grim: "Go Now." "Please, Heart, You're Killing Me." "Whisper a Prayer to the Moon." Her love songs were in a minor key, including the haunting and humble, "You'll Hear Better Songs Than This." She wrote questioning, ironic pieces on religion ("Ave Maria") and she bettered Paul's "Slip Sliding Away" with the faster-paced "Days Roll By." And yes, she had several songs about people dying.

Fast forward 5 years. With great anticipation, I went to see her perform live. Would she be darkly morbid? Harrowing? Would she be some kind of wreck barely able to get through a set without throwing a bitter tantrum or breaking down in tears? To my surprise, Eleanor presented a very balanced show of the dark tunes and the gradually increasing lighter ones. She had an easy rapport with the audience, and without flashy looks or costume, won over the room with her personality. She could play guitar, piano and violin, too. It was then that I realized Eleanor McEvoy is quite simply, the best. Who else could I see for well-written and performed songs, in no genre more specific than "rock?" Joni Mitchell would be a competing name but even in 2004 Joni was a recluse.

That night, October 9th, she performed a stark number she only sings if she happens to be doing a gig on that date. "Anyone know what day it is?" she asked. She was expecting a cue for the song. But I was the first to speak up, and I said, "Yes…it's John Lennon's birthday." "Oh? Really? I didn't know that." Then she launched into a song that is both rich and spare, beautiful in its simplicity, deep in the chord changes, profoundly simple in sketching in the sparse details of a girl gone missing, with hopeful, hopeless signs placed around the neighborhood by her family. I often play it for people as their introduction to this artist.

More recently, she played a gig within 200 miles of me (it happens so rarely, since she mostly performs in Ireland). I made sure to go. I literally fight a torrential downpour to see her. More than ever, Eleanor McEvoy was the complete, consummate artist, with a wonderfully varied show that she performed for a very diverse audience of young and old, eccentric individuals and complete families, sober and darkly intense loners and some burly guys who'd visited the lobby bar before the show to down a few beers. They all loved her show, and I was in love with her, in an admiring way, as you just had to be in the presence of such a virtuoso. She not only performed on an array of instruments but even sang a number in French. She also offered a few covers…for which she brought enhancement and new insight in her choice of tempo and inflection.

As I did previously, I was so happy to have a few moments with her after the show to chat with her. Some artists hide after a show, exhausted. Some are shy by nature. Some have a genius that can also be difficult. She signed CDs in the lobby, had an easy smile, was gracious, had a charming humility…again…what else can I say…she's the best.

And so, on John Lennon's birthday, here's the October 9th song. The music didn't die when John did. There are some out there who are continuing his legacy of highly personal, extremely artistic songs. I'm glad to say that this still young, but so mature artist has carved her own unique identity while maintaining an enviable touring schedule in both her native Ireland and in England, Australia and throughout Europe, and does it her way…with releases on her own label…produced with all the time and sonic care she knows her music is worth. I'm glad to say that previous posts of "October 9th" on this blog have introduced a lot of people to Eleanor's work, and I've heard from quite a few people who said, "I never heard her before…I listened to the song over and over…she's wonderful…I want to get her albums. I'd love to see her in person."

It's a simple and yet dramatic song. I'm glad to say that she's blossomed into an artist with a full range of material. Like even our own master of gloom, Leonard Cohen does these days, she offers a show that, even with some dark songs, leaves everyone satisfied, gratified, uplifted, and...smiling.

OCTOBER 9th Listen on line, no pop-ups, porn ads or wait time.

TALKIN' BASEBALL - YANKEES EDITION - A Salute to Derek Jeter

Oh, why the fuck NOT.

Everybody's done it. For an entire baseball season, people have not only been saluting "The Captain," Derek Jeter, but giving this multi-millionaire expensive gifts and tons of money. He goes to a town to play a few games, and the opposing team gives him a car, or a big check for his charity organization, or some silly space-wasting trinket like a painting of himself or a trophy.

Isn't it nice that thanks to technology and the Internet, one can give a gift that takes up no space? And costs nothing to the giver? Here ya go, Derek, a download of "Talkin' Baseball," the Yankees edition.

The song, basically just a list of player names, reflects just how deeply sports fans take their favorite game and "heroes." No matter the country, and whether it's football, soccer, tennis, or bouncing 50 feet on a race track wearing metal blades, people admire SPORTS HEROES.

Pardon me while I elaborate on how this goes well beyond a novelty song of player names.

One of the strangest things about baseball is the amount of inane souvenir-collecting and memorabilia connected to it. Go on eBay and you'll see it..."relic" cards with a piece of shirt glued to it, autographed (forged) baseballs (usually backed up by some claim of "forensics!") and sweaty crap and inert wood used in games ("authentic jersey...a bat used in the game...a glove...).

Many baseball fans are transvestites. A transvestite derives pleasure from wearing unlikely garments. Nothing is more unlikely than a fat, out of shape slob going to a baseball game wearing the jersey, or ENTIRE UNIFORM of his favorite player. What the fuck, it's not even Halloween. You're DRESSING UP for the vicarious thrill of PRETENDING TO BE WHAT YOU ARE NOT?????

Many baseball fans are latent homosexuals. Or something. Why, WHY in the world, collect little cards with MEN'S PICTURES ON THEM?? You'd think it would be a phase, and one might outgrow it, but, no, baseball cards are feverishly collected by adults, and huge amounts of money are spent on shameless fake-collectibles like "silver edition" cards, "limited edition" ones, ones with some piece of shiny shit or hologram on it, etc. The bottom line is still...the worship and fascination of collecting cards with MEN on them, often their faces. I must confess that I have some baseball cards, myself, but not the new guys. I mostly collect cards of ugly vintage players (Don Mossi is a favorite) and ones with odd names (John Wockenfuss, for example).

Totally within the bounds of a psychiatrist's couch, talking about odd names...is the warm, fuzzy glow baseball fans have in just SAYING THE NAMES OF THEIR FAVORITE PLAYERS. It's almost pornographic. If a woman set up a "dirty talk" phone line, and merely purred, "Van Lingle Mungo..." she'd make a fortune.

Van Lingle Mungo, a little known player, was made famous via a mournful jazz-pop tune that collected player names. This led to "Talkin' Baseball," an irritatingly catchy Terry Cashman number that bounced along with nothing but the names of players. Few of them were particularly amusing, like Herb Hash. It didn't matter. And it led to the piece below, the YANKEES edition.

All seriousness aside, I was vaguely caught up in the 20th, and last season of Derek Jeter. I made sure to catch his last game at Yankee Stadium. In one of the most famous storybook endings in baseball history, reliable David Robinson managed to blow a save (that's a term, not a person), gave up several homers (none of them Simpson) and set up the "bottom of the ninth" for Derek to win the game. Nevermind that the Yankees, yet again, didn't make the playoffs. It was a triumph for Derek Jeter, who certainly is a classy guy. I mean, he gives autographed baseballs to the chicks who happily do a one-night stand with him.

The good thing is that for 20 years, Jeter never flaunted his enviable sex life, was NEVER thrown out of a game for arguing with an ump, and quietly tallied up remarkable stats that will be in the record books and "Hall of Fame" forever. My favorite thing about him, is that he insisted on playing a tape of Bob Sheppard when he came to bat. Sheppard, "The Voice of God," was the Yankees stadium announcer for probably 80 years. He had a distinctive voice. If not the "Voice of God," it could've been the voice of St. Peter announcing people through the pearly gates. When Bob died, and a new, boring announcer arrived (same situation recently with Don Pardo being replaced on "Saturday Night Live"), Jeter didn't allow it. He went with Yankee tradition. Sheppard's voice, on tape, continued to announce, "Now batting for the New York Yankees, Number Two, Derek Jee-ter."

It's kind of odd how something as unimportant as a "game" can become inspirational, and such a part of life (even in the off-season). It's downright peculiar that singing a bunch of baseball player names can bring a smile, an almost post-coital satisfaction to some people. Including you? Download this and find out...

Talkin' Yankee Baseball Players, including Derek Jeter

Spotify Crooks: "ARE YOU MAKIN' ANY MONEY?" Paul Whiteman Jimmy Buffett

One artist you'd never expect to find on this blog is Jimmy Buffett. Buffy The Music Slayer isn't in need of publicity. He's among the wealthiest celebrities thanks to diverse enterprises and the "parrot heads" who like sappy music and think sipping margaritas on a beach is heaven.

But, no matter how much money you make, you can still feel pissed off when some greedy corporation or incompetent bureaucrats take what belongs to you.

Jimmy's joined the artists angry at SPOTIFY. Aka Spotty Pie, this Internet giant rose from the swamps of "good ideas gone bad" (as Google did, as eBay did) to become a colossal monster. Websites are immune from morality thanks to both weak government laws. The idea is to make it easy to make a killing. Hedge fund weasels search for Dr. Frankenstein-types who can build a monster...investing in a crooked scheme like SPOTIFY can bring in a fortune. SPOTIFY declared itself "the new paradigm" as record stores went under and radio stations wilted. Internet music thieves happily insisted SPOTIFY meant: it was all right to steal all the music. From Totally Fucked Up blogs getting link-ads or Paypal donations, to forums run by Seniormole-types who were never in the music industry but knew everything about it, the word was: "It's ok for us to offer downloads of every Beach Boys album, and all new releases...the artists will make money by touring their asses off, t-shirt sales at gigs, and...SPOTTY PIE!

SPOTIFY, radio without trusted disc jockeys to hip you to artists you might like, pays the shittiest rates around, and blames it on overhead. "Once we get really big," they claim, "we'll pay better." Which is like Google announcing they'll stop spying. Or eBay announcing they'll stop allowing bootlegs and forgeries or letting kids see or buy porn just by typing in "nude" or "boobs." Nope, greed is greed. We see it with all the monster sites, like Amazon, where Bozo Bezos has the nerve to refuse to carry certain books, DVDS or CDs unless the companies accept his low rates and obnoxious terms.

A friend of mine, with five major label albums to his credit, muttered to me recently, "I'd like to pull my stuff off SPOTIFY...I'm not making anything. But their contracts are twisted and their grip is tight." Many artists have pointed to a huge amount of hits and only pennies to show for it. (Not unlike Google's evil YouTube, which is mostly bootleggers hoisting stuff in hopes of getting a fortune in royalties on material they don't own...only to get checks for chump change).

Continue, Buffy:

And so, not wishing to harm Mr. B. any further with even ONE sample song from his vast collection of sound-alike tunes about getting drunk and loafing around on the beach, the download below is the Depression Era classic, "Are You Makin' Any Money?"

The answer, for anyone on SPOTIFY, is a resounding NO.

But anyone who calls themselves Devil Ass, Zinfuck, Christer the Blister, Hans Demented, Mephisto, Seniormole, Ziggy Fart Dust, or other evil or stupid names in forums or torrents, would answer, "Oh, but your music is being heard, and that's the most important thing. Give away your music for FREE and for our entertainment. We, of course, in our jobs, dictate our price and don't do a damn thing unless we get paid for it."

Hey Spotify Are You Makin' Any Money?

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Elton John, Joan Rivers & Cher sing: THE BITCH IS BACK

I was thinking, how do I honor my friend Joan Rivers on the blog?

First off, she was not a singer.

Second, she wasn't really my friend. I just felt like she was, which is part of a star's charisma. I met her several times, interviewed her for an hour, photographed her, worked with her for a charity, and even saw her on Broadway in the "Sally Marr" show (in which she played Lenny Bruce's mother).

But as much as Joan made you feel like you were her friend, no. If you mentioned my name, it wouldn't have instantly registered with her. That's because she did so, so very much in her life and her vast and powerful circle of true friends included Barbara Walters, Howard Stern and those types.

So how to at least mention this legendary lady here? Ah...

I remembered one musical moment, and a triumphant one: Joan Rivers singing (?) with Elton John and Cher.

Joan's career had many ups and downs (to put it mildly) but let's get on the roller coaster and set the Wayback Machine for 1986.

Joan had gotten her own talk show on Fox. It had become painfully obvious that Johnny Carson and his producers had absolutely NO intention of giving her "The Tonight Show" when he retired. The two most reliable substitute hosts knew it...David Brenner and Joan Rivers.

David got his own (short-lived) talk show, and Joan followed. The difference? Brenner asked Johnny if it would be all right. Johnny said yes. Joan? She wasn't sure if she had a deal. When she did, she had to sign instantly. When she called Johnny to let him know...he'd already heard about it and hung up on her in a paranoid rage. He was often cynical and suspicious, and had previously disposed of producers, directors and even wives...so instantly adding Joan to his backstabber list was no surprise.

Even so, Joan was heartbroken that she'd offended Johnny. She was preparing for a new TV show, and was under intense pressure, and much of it came from the negative publicity surrounding her "betrayal" of the great Carson. She kept apologizing in the press...hoping to reconcile with Carson...but when it obviously wasn't going to happen, she got pissed off and concentrated on creating the best debut show possible.

The night of the big "confrontation" (Joan Rivers' hour at 11pm vs Johnny's hour starting at 11:30pm) there was a big question: who'd dare take Joan's side in a "talk show war." Who'd risk NEVER being invited to EVER be on "The Tonight Show" again?

The answer, on the premiere show, was Elton John and Cher. The joyous highlight was when Elton belted out the bluntly obvious "Bitch is Back," with Joan sitting nearby. Despite having a less than melodious voice, she couldn't help but join in...and out came Cher, to add her own voice to the mix. It was a great, if short-lived triumph for Joan Rivers.

If you've ever wondered if Joan Rivers could sing…the answer here is an emphatic NO. Her voice in 1986 was already in permanent rasp. It was this rasp that ultimately did her in, when she arrived at the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic a few weeks ago for a vocal cord check-up. She suffered a heart attack that had her on life-support for a week, and the plug was pulled. Joan hadn't thought the procedure would have a freakish ending...her daughter was in California, and a stand-up gig was scheduled for the following night.

Back to 1986. Joan had delivered a message to Johnny: "I can BITCH I can BITCH…BETTER THAN YOU!" And yes, he got that message. Joan, as a guest host, had put up numbers equal to Carson. He had every reason to be concerned that a chatty, bitchy talk-show could be a serious rival.

Having three gay icons (not that there's anything wrong with that…) helped make Joan's debut a solid success in the ratings. Johnny of course masterfully countered, all that first week, with the biggest and most loyal stars he could find. There was even the rather incredible "visual joke" when superstar Michael Landon turned up. Landon said he wanted to show a scene from a new nature movie he was making. The clip rolled: there were scenes of placid forestry, and then someone in a canoe on a rolling stream…with the super-imposed words: "Up Rivers."

Joan's show disappeared after seven months. Ratings weren't bad, but amid the chaos, Fox executives kept dictating frantic orders. They blamed Joan's producer-husband Edgar, and Edgar tried to find a direction amid all the conflicting orders he was getting. They told Joan that he was incompetent and inexperienced and had to go. She said, "If he goes, I go." It was a bluff...but Fox let her go.

Edgar took the blame, sank into a depressed state, and the marriage suffered. He eventually killed himself. Joan managed to find her way back from all of it, including a business manager who ran her into near bankruptcy. She bounced back with renewed stand-up concerts, with books, and with a mail order jewelry line geared to her new audience, which was mostly housewives. Rather than be a cult item like Lenny Bruce or Woody Allen, Joan went for the higher profile...the celeb jokes, the "red carpet" gags, the solid one-liners aimed at catty-chatty housewives and gays. Yet, there was still enough going on that veteran Joan fans who appreciated iconoclastic, truthful comedy could watch and be amused...and that's why she was always welcome on Howard Stern's radio show...and eventually worked her way back to being a guest on Letterman and on Fallon's version of "The Tonight Show."

Groucho used to say, "I tell the truth and people break up." Joan did the same thing, whether it was "Mick Jagger has child-bearing lips!" or "Liz Taylor has more chins than a Chinese phone book." If anything, despite the "Fashion Police" tv show (which she said was more of a loss leader...the real money being in her jewelry business, which needed her star power for sales), Joan remained controversial to the end. In fact in her last year, she was in the tabloids for daring to joke about a wide variety of hot-button topics. When she died, various pro-Palestinians took to the "comments" section of crap newspaper websites to bellow about "karma."

I'll tell you this: "karma" is dying rich and wealthy at 81, after a hugely successful documentary, a brilliantly successful cable stand-up special, and two best-selling books (added to ten previous ones). She was hot as ever, which made her sudden death front page news. She went out without feeling a thing. That's karma? What's the "karma" of some 4 year-old kid in Gaza who got killed because his stupid parents sided with Hamas terrorists and allowed him to be in the same building as the cowardly leaders who thought they'd be safe if they hid among ordinary citizens? Karma? "Oh grow up..." PS, Joan was also attacked by the ADL, the Jewish "Anti-Defamation League," because she did some tasteless Holocaust jokes, too. Joan was "an equal opportunity offender." PS, although she never ever apologized for jokes, or for a failed ad-lib (which was what the Palestinian quote was), she did make sure to let people know that the deaths of innocent people aren't funny...no matter what religion or race they are.

There were other female stand-ups before Joan Rivers. Moms Mabley, Phyllis Diller and Jean Carroll were all talented ladies...but Joan is the real pioneer. From being a female Woody Allen with witty self-deprecation and oddball one-liners, to turning into a female Lenny Bruce/Don Rickles, to ultimately being 100% unique Joan Rivers...she had a passion, drive and dedication to her art that was an inspiration for every female comic who followed, and probably some men, too. Because at the core of what Joan Rivers was about, was the truth. That's what makes the great comics great. They are bold enough to tell truths and get those shock laughs of recognition. Joan was hot-wired to write jokes, buy jokes, memorize jokes, and work harder at 81 than she did at 31...endless interviews, concerts, jewelry promotions, "red carpet" events and those "cameras all over the place" reality shows that documented her unique personality. No, unlike Rickles, Joan was rarely given the benefit of "it's only an act." People believed she meant every insult and was a meanie. But anyone who ever worked with her would tell you, she was a lady. She was polite, concerned, and very easy to work with. Unlike Rickles, Rivers never ended a show with a sappy "just kidding" benediction. "Oh grow up" was more her style. She was a realist! She was a gem. She was one of a kind. I didn't watch her reality shows, frankly, or pay attention to the "who are you wearing" red carpet shit, but I sure watched her whenever she was on a talk show, and enjoyed her books, too. To suddenly realize there would be no more...was a deep, sad shock.

Joan's funeral was on a beautiful day, perfect sky, pleasant temperature. The "karma" clowns had to be disappointed that it wasn't rainy. It was just about the best weather possible to make you feel alive. The event was star-studded and loaded with both laughter and tears. She could've had a few more prime years, but at 81, she even joked on stage that she could keel over at any time. The heart attack may have been inevitable. She died at peace. Let's wish peace for the world...and not toss around stupid shit about "karma," and about differences among idiots who live in a corrupt sandbox in the Middle East with the sun toasting their brains.

At 81, Joan Rivers was as current as any comedian, as funny as any comedian, and more compelling than most talk show hosts and reality show personalities. She was vibrant. Sarah Silverman said her heart was "torn in half," because Joan wasn't done. But what Joan Rivers did for over 50 years...she done good. She was amazing. But even a force of nature must go silent sometime. Not here, though. Here, you can enjoy Elton John singing "The Bitch is Batch," and you surely will recognize when Joan Rivers adds her voice to the mix...and when Cher arrives to make it one weird threesome.

Howard Stern gave the eulogy on Sunday. He did a great job, and opened with one of Joan's favorite "vagina jokes." But today he said something that I felt, too: "I'm really, really, really rocked by her death. It was a very upsetting time when I'd heard that she died."

Elton John, Joan Rivers and Cher The Bitch is Back

WICKED GENE SIMMONS blames Piracy: ROCK IS DEAD

I've always liked Gene Simmons. He's a piece of work. Like Joan Rivers or Howard Stern, in a way, he's made being opinionated amusing. Not funny, but at least amusing. OK, also annoying, but what do you expect, he's a rock star, not a comedian or a talk show host.

While I never paid much attention to his "reality show," or the music of KISS, I did sit down and talk with him for about an hour once, and I still remember it fondly. Much of the time we just talked about our mutual love of old horror movies. I also did see KISS in concert, in their prime (with the original members) and even if I wasn't a big fan of the music, the show was definitely spectacular. Yeah, even the blood spitting. And Gene did the tongue bit wayyyyy before Viley Virus.

SO...

Recently, in Esquire Magazine of all places, Gene proclaimed rock as DEAD. And it is. In a way, it's just as dead as classical music or country music or rap. It's just worn out. It's hard to come up with anything new. It's a genre that has seen its better days. When was the last great innovation in rock? New Wave? That was a long time ago.

One of the main reasons Gene considers rock dead...is that you can't make a living from it. And THAT is something nobody thought back in the New Wave days, or any time before the Internet and Google. And piracy.

I've written about this way too often to even bother now, and it's taken a long time for the average idiot to understand it...but like climate change, no reasonable person can possibly deny the destructive power of piracy. When this blog started, there were plenty of assholes with silly names, most of them referencing demons and death, who didn't think they were demons, or that they were causing the death of rock and roll by throwing every album onto blogs and into forums.

While this blog restricted the "freebies" to out of print stuff that wasn't coming back, or one or two tracks that could help and artist reegain the spotlight, others were convinced...because they were ignorant...that piracy, to the extent of a daily upload of entire discographies or the latest albums, was GOOD. After all, they were getting "nice" comments for it and could now consider themselves "stars" equal to disc jockeys, rock writers, and even the rock stars they were stealing from.

The pirates had no knowledge of the music business...because they never were IN the rock world as a journalist or a performer. All they knew is they were getting attention. So they figured yes, get the music free, and...uh, er, um, you "support" your artist by, er...uh...maybe buying a T-SHIRT! Oooh, that's the new paradigm! "If you like the music, buy it." It's an option. Like, go into the restaurant, order a meal, eat it, and "if you liked it, pay the check. Your option." You could tell the world you were a "seniormole" and you subscribed to "Spotify." So everything is all right! "Isn't it pretty to think so..."

Gene? Oh, GENE...here's a segment from the interview...

Yeah, wicked, wicked Gene Simmons. Like Prince, and Metallica and some others...he's had the NERVE to complain about the Assange Demon Blogfather Douchebag Zinfucks out there. Unfortunately, despite winning a lot of battles, and neutralizing a lot of dickheads, the copyright owners have lost the war. The record stores are gone. The idea of buying music is now absurd. People also have way too many other options, like "fapping" to pix of Viley Virus "twerking." There's Netflix streaming, and video "gaming" and social media. And, frankly, not that much new music of any type that is as compelling as what we already have on our shelves or hard drives.

For new bands and singer/songwriters it's "pay to play" out there. Few are learning how to really perform. Few are even learning how to play or sing, relying on electronic tricks and computer programs. Fewer can write a coherent lyric. There's no guidance from managers or record labels, and just a vast wasteland of eMusic sites and streaming radio sites and YouTube fails...where most artists get lost, and deserve to get lost.

Gene was right about piracy, and partially right about rock. Rock isn't dead, it's just in some zombie state. It's in a nursing home. Sometimes a new performer or group emerges from the narcoleptic haze and for a while, people say "Hey, how about that K.T. Tunstall...how about Keane..." before saying, "that last album...not so good." And none of the albums were bought.

But in the literal sense, rock isn't dead. After all, some version of Kiss is still going out on stage, and once in a while there's a new album, just because create people can't stop themselves even if they're barely breaking even.

Let's just say...Rock is ill, folks!

And below? No piracy of KISS here. Piracy is not purely evil or always wrong. A lot of times piracy is a convenient way to get something out there when it's buried in contract disputes or coated in apathy. Sometimes giving away music CAN and DOES encourage someone to buy an album or go see a newly discovered star. It just doesn't happen very often. Below...the obscure Barry Mann tune "Too Many Mondays" as performed by Gene in his first band, "Wicked Lester."

It would be so easy to say this song is NOT an example of lively, thriving rock...or the sign of a record label or manager putting a lot of thought into a band's direction. So let's just say it's only rock and roll. And you might like it.

Wicked Lester Too Many Mondays

EUNB - LADIES' CODE star EUN-BI GO is GONE

She was known as EunB (sorta the way "Scary Spice" Melanie B is known as MelB). Whether Ladies' Code could be considered yet another K-Pop variation on the Spice Girls I'll leave to musical scholars.

EunB, aka Eun-Bi Go, was killed in a car accident on a slippery road on September 3rd. A few others in the band were also in the vehicle, but have survived. As did the driver who did his best to navigate under poor conditions and a sudden blow-out of a rear tire.

Just 21 years old, and looking more like 18, Eun-Bi Go was darn cute, which is a trait of so many K-pop girls. And here in the Land of the Ill, it's still difficult to forget the passing of another great "Eun." That's the Eun and only actress and singer, Eun-Ju Lee.

The song below is probably their biggest hit, "So Wonderful." Aside from being annoyingly catchy after a minute or two of its repetition, the visuals chosen for it are pretty stunning. On YouTube, the official video has a mild, weird "story line" about a guy taking his lifelike sex doll out of its package and setting it up for romance.

I can almost hear the ghost of Pat Morita protesting, "Sex dolls? That's Japanese. South Koreans don't do that schtick!" But it seems like they do.

Your version is the live one...with some appropriate squeals of joy from both sexes in the audience.

In concert, Ladies' Code minced around the stage, struck Lolita poses, lightly touched their lady areas as they synchronized their strutting, and in general did their best to make their female fans believe in GIRL POWER. The male fans? Oh, these girls could break hearts and arouse groins.

EunB was adorable in the girly-girl outfits she wore, and was quite fetching in a variety of wigs and hair colors. It's always a sobering reality when such a mindless accident happens. She was bubbling with life and energy…and the bubble literally burst. What can one even say about the whim of fate that took her?

Despite this tragedy, the innocent sweetness of Ladies' Code shines through in the existing concert videos, and in the music itself. It will take time, but just as sometimes we can watch The Rolling Stones on the Sullivan show, and not dwell on Brian Jones being dead...we'll be able to watch EunB with her group, and think of her as forever young.

EUN-BI GO and her group.... So Wonderful

Jenny Darren - New York someday...and "California Dreaming"

When someone makes an album as good as "Queen of Fools," you want more...and you keep an ear cocked for any word on the great artist who made it.

In the grit-obscured light of smokey clubs where the bluesy-ladies rasp, sigh and cry, you look for another Elkie Brooks, Genya Ravan or Jenny Darren. You don't usually find one that comes close. What you really want is the original. Unfortunately, though the originals survive, in all three cases, they're doing small or very local gigs, or some charity event nowhere where you are. And given the difficulty of making money off music...they aren't prone to release many albums, even a "download" only.

Darren has spent a lot of her time doing other things, including teaching. I don't know that even when she does a show, she's going to surprise the crowd by belting out the old knockout numbers like "Lay Me Like a Lady" or "Use What You Got" or "Heartbreaker."

Jenny fans are waiting for that album with "Song for New York" on it. It's been promised for quite a while now. Meanwhile...below is "California Dreaming," a live version she did in some small club not long ago. It's that venerable, immortally peculiar call-and-response number made famous by The Mamas and the pervy Papas.

It somehow blends religious confusion ("I pretend to pray") an eerie sense of mortality and season change, and the stupid idea that California is the place to be (no, and it's not Seattle or Portland, either). I have no idea what "Song for New York" sounds like. If Jenny's been in New York over the summer, she's noted that climate change produced a cooler than usual summer, including a premature change of some leaves turning brown. And the sky, gray.

Fall is approaching, and the inevitable discontent of a winter's day. Console yourself that it wouldn't really be better if you were in L.A.

Hopefully "Song for New York" (single or album) will be available one day via Jenny's self-named dot.com. Check there for news on her music and her latest gigs. Jenny Darren California Dreaming

Chi Coltrane's great…Yesterday Today and Forever

Yesterday she was hot, then she cooled down, then she spent about 20 years in a kind of Snow White-sleep, and then she returned to the road to tomorrow. She is forever.

She's Chi Coltrane.

In the 70's there was nothing like the sweet soul shouting of Chi Coltrane when she pounded the keyboard and howled about "Thunder and Lightning." I tell you…it wasn't frightening. Not when she looked so hot. After her Columbia run ended, she was sort of forgotten. Her excellent "Road to Tomorrow" album didn't bring back "Yesterday" or make her one of the today stars, but she made a few more albums. There was some great stuff on "Silk and Steel" and the other Europe-only releases…and then she fell victim to a weird ailment that just sapped her energy. (There's a lot of it about).

"I had a disorder that is quite common among rock stars, because we do so many television interviews and then go right to the concert hall, and we don't get much sleep...it's not good quality sleep...and we have what they used to call "burn out." I know Cher had the same thing, too, and Randy Newman had it. But a lot of women get it, even more than men. Even every-day women get it; it's a lack of a certain hormone. Conventional doctors right away want to put you on thyroid medicine. A went to this doctor and she told me what it was. She said "Take this supplement for a year..." and now I'm fantastic. I don't feel like 20 years went by because I was sleeping most of the time. I feel great." With the right diet and holistics and attitude, she's re-emerged and over the past five years has put out a new album, a DVD concert, and performed some very successful (100,000 viewers) shows in Europe.

Her show isn't just the old stuff. One of the daring newer tracks is "Yesterday Today and Forever," which you'll hear below via a 2009 live TV broadcast overseas. It's just her and her piano in a studio, and that's enough. She ain't afraid of the high notes. In concert she does have a full band. She likes to joke with reporters. Explaining her 20 years out of the spotlight, she says: "I was waiting for my musicians to get out of prison. We needed money for a new album so they robbed a bank."

Chi Coltrane Yesterday…Today…and Forever

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pardo Me...I feel the LOSS of Jeopardy & Saturday Night Live voice DON PARDO

Don Pardo...he was probably THE greatest announcer in TV history.

He made it look easy, but like being a good quiz show host, being a good announcer is not easy. You can't just be a handsome guy to host a show well, or have a nice voice to be an announcer. Personality is needed.

Don Pardo had it. He pioneered it. Just as quiz show hosts gradually evolved to include wiseguys (Groucho Marx on "You Bet Your Life") and impish troublemakers (Bob Eubanks on "Newleywed Game") Don Pardo used his voice to color the bland world of products and names.

As the announcer on the original "Jeopardy," he gave an almost sardonic edge to the proceedings. His all-knowing, sly and mock-stern vocalizing let you know that Michael C. Fina silverware was crap, that Rice-a-Roni was crap, and that winning a bunch of useless junk was a fool's paradise. And wait, dear contestant, till you get that notice from the I.R.S. about taxes!

Pardo's style and importance led host Art Fleming to specifically mention Don's name. "Thank you, Don Pardo..." became part of the proceedings. How many other announcers were worth that? On "The Tonight Show," you eventually heard a modest, "And me? I'm Ed McMahon." And lately, Letterman's red-headed stooge makes sure to list the guests and then toss in, "I'm Alan Kalter." And why did he get the job? Because his leering style isn't too far from what Don Pardo created on "Jeopardy," which was adopted by earthy smartass Bill Wendell (another NBC staffer...who was Dave's original announcer for 15 years...even when Dave moved to CBS.)

Below...a sample of Don. Listen to the way he tears into a dimwit loser on "Jeopardy," courtesy of Weird Al Yankovic's parody of Greg Kihn's "Our Love's in Jeopardy." It's not far, at all, from how he announced cheesy prizes on that show in those pre-Trebek days.

A venerable staffer at NBC, after Art Fleming's "Jeopardy" left the air, Pardo was handed the assignment of announcing "Saturday Night Live." Naturally, writers were quick to use his almost-mocking vocals on the show, and even toss him some on-camera gags, too. You can find a multi-part interview with Don on YouTube, courtesy of the Archive of American Television, and if you're into voicework, it'll be a lot of fun for you to watch. There are also plenty of obits today where you can learn more about Don and his career.

I'll just add that today's news about his passing, even at the ripe old age of 96, saddens me greatly. At times, the most entertaining part of "Saturday Night Live" was Don's all-knowing, all-mocking reading of some names that were more interesting than the actors or actresses owning them. I ain't namin' names. Except that I think, in the most recent roster...he probably got a big kick out of "BROOKS WHELAN!" HOW many years did Don announce SNL? What now...Darrell Hammond taking over the job...or do they get some preposterous, tin-voiced ninny to do it? Maybe the guy who does Fallon's "Tonight Show" and who is really just imitating Andy Richter?

There was nobody who did it like DON PARDO. I know it may seem like a big fuss to make...but I admired the guy, and got such a kick out of him. Look, I even enjoy listening to Michael Buffer (not his bawling, warthog brother) and I even listen for when he's pitchy or when he eases the microphone away on the last syllable of "RUMBLE." So I beg your Pardo...but when SNL begins next month...he WILL be missed. So long, Pardner.

Here's Thomas Hurley III, Alex Trebek, Don Pardo, and WEIRD AL…all combining for….

I LOST ON JEOPARDY Thomas Hurley III is a LOSER

Instant download or listen on line. No capcha codes, wait time or "tip jar" for Paypal donations.

105 In the Shade: LICIA ALBANESE is at rest

In a close contest, it was Licia Albanese over Rise Stevens 105-99.

Basketball? Well, no, opera divas. The incredible Licia Albanese died a few days ago at the age of 105. Amazing.

Also amazing, is that she resisted playing the lead in Lucia De Lammermoor. You could imagine, ala "Oprah, Uma" David Letterman inanely standing on stage and shouting, "Licia! Lucia!" Or not.

Frankly, as regulars to the blog know, opera is not often covered here. It's not often covered anywhere, come to think of it, because what was once the peoples' art form…soon changed to operetta and finally Broadway musicals. Some might say that's a sign of the degeneration of culture in the past 100 years, but look, they won't say it for long. In another 100 years there won't be a planet. If it still exists, it'll be a planet of the apes, and musical history, as taught in "skooz," would begin with M.C. Hammer.

In other words, my autographed Licia Albanese record album, if I was alive, wouldn't fetch a buck on eBay, and my autographed photo of Rise Stevens even less.

Victoria de Los Angeles was probably my favorite, but Rise Stevens was up there, and because nobody cared about her, Jean Madeira, and because she went topless, Carol Neblett. Of the vintage performers, there was Licia, whose best work was done way before I was even born. Licia (short form of Felicia, July 22, 1909-August 15, 2014) came to prominence the year the Marx Brothers were "At the Opera," 1935.

She was known for "Madame Butterfly" first and foremost, and specialized, as one might expect, in Italian operas by Verdi and Puccini. Her love of Puccini led to her enduring "Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation," which gives scholarships and encouragement to young, struggling singers who have an unfortunate love for an archaic music form in an era of Viley Virus and Justa Beaver.

After touring her version of Madame Butterfly all over the world, Licia made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1940. She also performed at the San Francisco Opera, and on radio with Toscanini. Ageism being an old and familiar nemesis, Licia had a 26 year run at the famous Met…until the venue's ruler, Sir Rudolf Bing, decided to cut her down to only one role for the entire season. Licia's response to Der Bingle's decision was to gracefully walk away. She continued to play at other opera houses, and when her voice was no longer strong enough for opera, she switched to Broadway show tunes…appearing in various productions of Sondheim's "Follies" in the mid-1980's.

Though she wasn't as well known as the more flamboyant Maria Callas, or the amusingly-named Lily Pons, Licia Albanese was a favorite with the critics, especially in her most familiar roles, in Puccini's "La Boheme," "Madame Butterfly" and "Manon Lescaut." She also joined Rise Stevens for a recording of "Carmen" in 1951. Among the more recent artists who have acknowledged her as an inspiration…Teresa Stratas, who saw the great Albanese in a production of "La Traviata," a role that Stratas would play so well in the 1982 movie version opposite Placido Domingo.

Never forgotten, the legendary Licia received honors for her life's work, including the "National Medal of Honor for the Arts," becoming the first woman that Bill Clinton met and didn't hit on.

In keeping with blog policy on being obscure and contrary, your download isn't an aria by Puccini or Verdi. From the Parnassus vinyl, Licia sings an aria by Francesco Cilea...who is not a household name as a composer but still is beloved by Celiacs everywhere, and no diet of classical should exclude him.

From "ADRIANA LECOUVREUR" "Lo Son L'Umile Ancella"

ARLENE MARTEL - "Theme from Star Trek" T'Pring (& More)

"T'pring…T'pring…"

Sounds like a bad phone app? "T'Pring" was the name of a "Star Trek" alien played by the bizarrely beautiful Arlene Martel. For better or worse, and she would've probably said for better…this was her main claim to fame. Betrothed to Mr. Spock (in one episode), T'Pring instantly became legend…and Martel was certainly one of the best remembered of the female guest stars on the show.

How well? On Farcebook…uh, Facebook…various fanboys rushed to post their pix. "Here's me and Arlene Martel! Classy lady to pose with me! RIP!" Well, yes, and at $20 a pop, or whatever she was charging, she had no reason not to be classy or at least tolerant. But in the world of memorabilia, it isn't that uncommon for some bitter beauties to feel a great deal of contempt for the overweight and/or geeky assholes who hand over a sweaty twenty while stuttering inane and predictable drivel. Having their smelly bodies come close to yours, as their brush with fame...could make you a little less pleased with the fame that brought you to the "collectors show." But Arlene Martel kept showing up, and always had a warm smile for the Trekkies were still boldly going...in search of some kind of a life for themselves.

The bottom line with most performers running a table at a memorabilia show, is "thanks for the extra money, thanks for remembering." There are a lot of 60's era actresses who aren't invited to the events and aren't identified with any show or any character at all. In that respect, the former "Arline Sax" was lucky.

A Jewish girl from the humble Bronx, the re-christened Arlene Martel had an air of confidence and dignity...which she needed to escape the "ghetto" (as she called it). She could play intimidating parts (including a lion-tamer on "Wild Wild West" and a super-sexy and scary "Room for One More, Honey" nurse on "Twilight Zone"). She could also play comedy, earthy women, peasants, just about anything.

Her list of credits…well, let's just say that the Trekkies probably were surprised to look down along her table and see, aside from the T'Pring portraits, pix of her from "Outer Limits," "Wild Wild West," "The Monkees," "Hogan's Heroes," and even a cult biker film she made long ago.

While I didn't know Ms. Martel, I've known several in her position...the kind who were, or are, grateful that they can always walk down the street and be called by name...or the name of their famous character. They get used to it. Most come to appreciate that it's better than nothing. Only a few find the double-edged Sword of Damocles hanging over their head and all the "if only I wasn't typecast" frustration that goes with it. What I'm saying is that as nice as it is for obese and clueless people to say "T'PRING" the past few days, it pisses me off that most of them never cared about anything else Arlene did.

I get it. You want the autographed photo of her as T'Pring, not an autographed photo of how she looks today. Not how she looked in some other TV show that didn't involve THAT uniform or THAT make-up. It's just sad that most of the tributes have been about THAT one show and character she was in...as if nothing else mattered. There was an actual person inside that costume. Nostalgia shouldn't have such blinders on, but it usually does.

Her death a few days ago, at the age of 78, was a tragic loss. She could still have made memorable TV appearances if any casting director had the sense to make a call. She was "giving back" to fans by advising them on healthy foods to eat and reminding them of ecology and the debt owed to THIS planet, not to T'Pring's. She was apparently working on an autobiography that would've answered a lot of questions about her fascinating life (she was quick to mention her first love was the ever-fascinating to some people James Dean) as well as her marriages, healthy lifestyle and interesting views on the inner self. It would've probably also covered the requisite fanboy topics (what was it like to work with Leonard Nimoy, Bob Crane, Rod Serling…)

As to the item below…one has to go with a "Star Trek" theme (over "Twilight Zone," "The Monkees" or "Hogan's Heroes) but which one? Here at the blog of less renown, it would have to be a peculiar version…and Ferrante and Teicher, with their cascading manipulation of elephant tusks, mated to a thumpy disco beat…is insidiously down to Earth.

Ferrante and Teicher STAR TREK THEME

ED NELSON - The THEME from PEYTON PLACE

He was one of those busy actors in the 60's and 70's…who was more a face than a name. Handsome in a flawed way, often playing jealous husbands, arrogant businessmen and corrupt politicians, Ed Nelson (December 21, 1928-August 9, 2014) had come to television by way of cheap horror movies. He was in "Teenage Cave Man" (with Robert Vaughn), "Attack of the Crab Monsters," "Bucket of Blood" and "The Brain Eaters."

The man from Louisiana was an authentic presence in virtually every TV western of the late 50's and early 60's (The Rebel, Paladin, Black Saddle, The Tall Man, Maverick, Wagon Train, Laramie, Gunsmoke, The Rifleman). He also turned up in The Twilight Zone,Outer Limits, Thriller, The Eleventh Hour and Perry Mason. His only major starring role was as Dr. Rossi in the night time soap opera "Peyton Place," which is now mostly known either for its theme song, or its reference in the country hit "Harper Valley P.T.A." At the time, it was a big deal for a "woman's" show about dreary romances and scandals to have such a high profile.

Nelson's profile sank after the show left the air in 1969, and only his more ardent fans recall that he appeared in daytime soap operas, had a local talk show, and toured as President Truman in a one-man show originated by James Whitmore. A bright guy, he didn't have to suffer the indignity of waiting and waiting for a guest spot on a TV show…he became the mayor of San Dimas, California, and at 71 graduated from Tulane University. He spent his retirement years at home in Greensboro, North Carolina.

"Peyton Place," which launched the careers of Mia Farrow and Ryan O'Neal, is now pretty much forgotten. In its day, not only was it a hot show that would spawn a variety of "chick lit" romance series, even the sweetly sappy theme song was popular, with or without the lyrics. You get either or both…the reliable Frank Chacksfield of Project 4 fame or the ubiquitous Vikki Carr.

PEYTON PLACE INSTRUMENTAL BY FRANK CHACKSFIELD

FOR THOSE WHO ARE YOUNG Vikki Car

BOB CRANE swings "F-Troop"

These days, Bob Crane is best remembered for "Hogans Heroes" and for his infamous death, which most agree had something to do with somebody jealous or angry over his conquests as a ladies man. At 49, he was still gettin' it on, even if his sitcom fame was far behind him and his round, still attractive face was seen only rarely in a guest spot on a "Quincy" or "Love Boat." Crane was still a STAR when he turned up in small towns during the summer months. He was on the "straw hat" trail, playing lead in some familiar Broadway comedy people might want to see. He brought along his video equipment to record his romps with starstruck fans…single or married.

Before "Hogan's Heroes," Crane was a hot prospect and something of a hipster. He was a radio personality with a cool sense of humor. In fact one of his very first TV appearances (uncredited) was as a disc jockey on a "Twilight Zone" episode in 1961. He was also a good drummer, and once "Hogan's Heroes" was a hit, he was able to indulge himself with a record deal and a band…and material that referenced both his show and many other hit TV series of the day. He covered "Get Smart" (even piping up with a "Sorry About That…" at the end), and a jazzy take on the western comedy "F-Troop." Yes, Bob was way too cool to just record TV themes and not make 'em swing. Well, he was always a bit too hip for his own good…

BOB CRANE F-TROOP THEME

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

THE MAN WITH THE CHILD IN HIS EYES - Kate Bushed by YALE A CAPELLA

Yes, the blog once again morbidly plumbs the depths of all-girl a capella. For some peculiar reason, this irritating music form is popular at colleges. I guess there are plenty of students who want to sing, and not many that can play a variety of musical instruments. Not enough for a small orchestra or even a marching band.

"The New Blue" of Yale University released a "30th Anniversary Album" around 1999, and collected nearly two dozen tries at pop hits of the day…almost all of them very trying. Most were recorded with the latest group of co-eds, although some tracks go back to the 80's.

It would be cruel to pull a "so bad it's good" here…because while they're certainly bad…they just aren't entertaining about it. Hearing their unnatural "Natural Woman" or how they kill "Killing Me Softly," will only enrage you. They even managed to botch "Scarborough Fair" via insipid harmonies. (But since you don't believe me, go ahead, listen to their take on the obscure Paul Simon tale of a mean individual who seemingly is going to be the victim of vigilante justice). I had hopes the girls would somehow doo-wop this thing with some menace or soul, but…no. They handle it like the King's Singers, that famous group of odd girly-men.

Somehow, their take on Kate Bush's "The Man With the Child In His Eyes" (not written about Rolf Harris or even Gary Glitter) is well worth a listen. Perhaps the main reason is that Kate's voice on that song was so high-pitched that it was almost painful for some. Even some dogs. The girls here keep it at a human level, and with so many voices wrapping around each line, they make it the warm, fuzzy, almost dreamy romantic tune that Bush intended it to be. Maybe not.

Man with the Child in his Eyes THE NEW BLUE

(Mean Individual) Stranded in a Limousine THE NEW BLUE

JAMES GARNER DIES - MAVERICK & ROCKFORD FILES theme songs

What can you say about James Garner? He learned from Henry Fonda how to be natural as an actor. He played who he was. Garner bummed around at many odd jobs (well, his real last name was Bumgarner) before an agent pal hired him as an extra for a Broadway show starring Fonda. Soon enough, the good looking young performer left the stage (and its frights) for the comforts of Hollywood, working his way up to important roles and…"Maverick."

It was "Maverick" that made Garner a star, and once he was, he got out of his contract so he could try other kinds of roles. Despite moving on to a variety of roles in romantic comedies and action films, he ended up typecast as…James Garner. When he returned to television, he basically played the same glib, pacifist as he did on "Maverick," a guy who didn't like to fight…but was good at it. He also didn't like to hire lawyers, but was good at it. He sued to get 14 million bucks in back royalties on "Rockford Files."

Although he played good ol' boys and Western heroes, Garner was a lifelong Democrat and a big fan of weed…once claiming that he toked up most every day. Yes, there was a lot to like about James Garner…one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. And he even autographed a photo for me years ago.

His two most popular TV shows had very famous theme songs. "Maverick" was a typically catchy Warner Bros. hack job with fairly awful lyrics…though not any worse than the embarrassing ones for other WB shows such as "Sugarfoot" ("once you get his dander up…") or "Lawman," which proclaimed, "The lawman came with the sun. There was a job to be done." The dopey "Maverick" lyrics included the badly rhymed "Riverboat ring your bell, Fare thee well Annabelle." Only New Yorkers could get something out of the line "Living on Jacks and Queens," if they mis-heard it as "Living in Jackson (Heights), Queens."

As for Johnny Gregory (born Gregori, and still with us at 89), he was a versatile orchestra leader who imitated the 101 Strings (for his "Cascading Strings" albums), and sometimes called himself Chaquito (for Latin-tinged lounge music, but also for sassy TV theme cover albums). His version of "Maverick" was on an early (late 50's, obviously) album of Western TV themes.

It's memorable for being fairly idiotic. For some reason, his choir of dopes don't actually sing all the lyrics…but two guys who don't remotely sound like James Garner or Jack Kelly, turn up to intrude with such pearls as "Hello Bart." "Hello Bret."

Later as John Gregory, he was still specializing in TV theme albums when "Rockford Files" came along, and again, he contributes an interestingly mediocre cover of it. What made "Rockford Files" such a memorable theme song? The weird combination of a synthesizer and a harmonica. Apparently with access to neither, Gregory tries to substitute, without success. But that's the fun of "cover versions." Maybe.

Fare thee well, James Garner.

Maverick Johnny Gregory

Rockford Files John Gregory

Saturday, July 19, 2014

MAAZEL? TOUGH...MAESTRO LORIN MAAZEL, DEAD AT 84

OK, who recorded over 300 albums?

Not so fast, Elvis the King. Or Michael King of Pop. Joining them in musical heaven, is one of the Kings of the Classics...Lorin Maazel. As Maestro for many symphony orchestras over his long career, he recorded a truly amazing amount of music.

Below is just a fraction...the very accessible SLAVONIC DANCE #8 which is "Presto" (meaning fast...or good music for a magic trick).

The two-album "Slavonic Dances" set was one of the first classical records I bought. I mention this not out of nostalgia, but to suggest that if a 12 year-old could enjoy it...you might, too. Arista say they love it but the kids can't twerk to it. Back then, I bought a cheap version in mono on Urania, but when I could afford to upgrade, I chose Lorin Maazel's Emi Digital, even if it was with the less than Slavic Berlin Philharmonic. They say, Emma, that for one reason or another, Berlin has become the most dangerous city in Europe. But I digress. As usual.

Maazel was having some health problems in 2013 but figured he might get better. On his website, he mentioned that he was turning down the kind offers from symphonies around the world, and would make his comeback in the summer of 2014 via his own annual Castleton summer festival held near his home in Virginia. Yes, of all the places this man performed in around the world...he chose to call Virginny his home. Unfortunately he died there of pneumonia, his website calendar still showing his return schedule. He died the day he was supposed to make his return:

The details of Maazel's life and times (Mar 06, 1930-Jul 13, 2014) can be easily found elsewhere, so I'll nutshell it by stating his last name is pronounced Mah-Zell (accent on the Zell), that he was Jewish, born in France but raised in America. He helmed the New York Philharmonic (taking over for Kurt Mazur), and was also at various stages of his career, on the podium for the Cleveland Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera among others...and actually wrote an opera, "1984," based on the Orwell nightmare of a life ruled by a Big Brother called Google.

A pretty incredible man, Maazel could speak the languages of most of the great classical masters...Italian, German and French...and had a photographic memory. He could conduct an orchestra without having the score in front of him. This guy knew the score. The New York Times once wrote: "Maazel, when he’s ‘on,’ has led some of the finest, most impassioned, most insightful performances in memory. When he’s good, he’s so good that he simply has to be counted among the great conductors of the day..." The unfortunate thing is that he was a great conductor at a time when it increasingly didn't matter.

Through the 80's and 90's, there was a downturn in sales of classical music, and less support for live concerts. At the turn of the 21st Century, we've seen many symphony orchestras struggle (as well as opera houses and ballet groups) because this type of entertainment is just not popular anymore.

At one time, most any reasonably sophisticated fan of good music (including me) could easily name the great conductors and their orchestras. Even the not-so-great conductors. Name the city and I could tell you who conducted the orchestra. And every city seemed to have a great orchestra. Bernstein, Ormandy, Szell, Steinberg, Leinsdorf, Bohm, Reiner...during the golden era of classical recordings (when RCA had "Living Stereo") all the greats were working and competing with each other. They created definitive recordings that could rarely be matched by the mono work of a Furtwangler or even Toscanini. It's truly astonishing that by the time Maazel was recording, there was any market at all for him and his contemporaries, but people who did come to the concert hall wanted a souvenir of the man they saw on the podium, and perhaps also had the fetish for seeing DDD on a CD and knowing it was a completely digital recording.

I don't pretend that a vast proportion of my music-listening time is devoted to classical over rock, but even people who aren't students of "good music" can find a lot of "easy listening" in that noble genre. After all, there's not that much difference between classical and some of the beloved music heard on film soundtracks. Certainly everyone from Alfred Newman to John Williams was influenced by, and had a solid knowledge of the classics. So from time to time, some real classical music does the soul some good. Maazel's catalogue has a lot of greatness waiting for you. Here's a taste of it, with his version of Dvorak...

Maazel Slavonic Dance #8 PRESTO!

Consolation Prizes: Gruesome and Sad Jesus Songs by Jimmie Davis

The great Jimmie Davis has already been profiled on the blog. Twice. So third time's a charming finale, adding a few more numbers from his album "Songs of Consolation."

Back in 2008, I posted "The Three Nails," a pathetique about the shopkeeper who accidentally sold three rusty nails to a big mean Roman soldier (who wasn't Jewish in the least). With that entry, I mentioned that Davis grew up poor ("The first Christmas present I ever got was a dried hog's bladder…"). He got signed to Victor Records in 1928 (for such peculiar items as "Tom Cat and Pussy Blues"). By 1934, and on Decca, he became known for country tunes. In 1940 he had his biggest hit with "You are My Sunshine." He was eventually elected governor of Louisiana, and uniquely managed to serve his constituents while amusing the entire country with more country-charting songs!

In 1960, he pledged to continue his policies on segregation, much to the delight of his gubernatorial colleague, George Wallace. But by the time he recorded "Songs of Consolation" in 1970, Jimmie was born again on the subject of the Negro (who had now been upscaled to "black"). Jimmie lived to be 101…and some of his songs remain timeless. Meaning, few have the time to listen.

But on this blog, there's always time for a pungent Jesus song. In 2009 I posted "I'd Hate to be the Man Who Put the Nails in Jesus' Hands."

And now, a trinity. Some wags might call it an unholy three, but believing in Jesus ain't no sin, and loving country music and Jimmie Davis tain't neither. Bandwidth prohibits indulging in any further tribute, but do enjoy, in a seamless download, three songs produced by the legendary Owen Bradley and sung by the former Governor of the Great State of Louisiana:

"Shake the Nail-Scarred Hands of Jesus," "I've Been Born Again" and "Going Home."

JIMMIE DAVIS THREE SONGS

Groucho Marx's Daughter and John Lennon's Father

In the spirit of the old Firesign Theatre cover...

Let's take a look at Marx and Lennon...Melinda Marx and Fred Lennon.

Groucho Marx had three children, and only the youngest daughter, Melinda, is still around. She's been reclusive ever since her acting career evaporated in 1972 with the obscure film "No Deposit No Return." Born August 14, 1946, she's known to Marx fans for a few appearances on "You Bet Your Life," including a pretty complicated Gilbert & Sullivan duet with Dad. Sweet Melinda was a little goddess of gloom in real life, not exactly thrilled with being thrust on stage to sing perfectionist patter songs. She wasn't all that thrilled about Life with Groucho in general, and her mother was not faring well either. This photo shows the kind of dysfunctional family they became...



...a chagrined kid, an alky wife (stepmom Eden) and a grouchy old hubby.

The perk of being Groucho's daughter did seem to perk up Melinda when she was in her teens, and able to score a record deal. She probably had visions of being the next Petula Clark, as her single "East Side of Town" draws an obvious comparison to "Downtown."

The East Side...and Down Side of Being a Celebrity Daughter

Meanwhile, across the pond...

Alfred "Freddie" Lennon was a disappointment to John. As in, "Daddy come home." The seaman who was mostly floating outside of John's orbit suddenly re-emerged when his boy was a huge success. John didn't want much to do with him...especially after Fred got himself a record deal.

John inherited some of his famous nasal voice from "Freddie," that's for sure. On the A-side, co-written by Freddie, he offers an autobiographical apology for his love of sailing (which made him an absentee father and husband).

His label had reason to be optimistic. Back then, The Beatles shared the charts with many middle-of-the-road performers. There was Louis Armstrong doing "Hello Dolly" and Andy Williams with "Moon River," and only a few years earlier Walter Brennan was offering talk-novelties with middle-aged background singers. Here's Fred Lennon and his 3 minutes of fame; the sailor come home from the sea. To cash in on his son.


That's My Life... FREDDIE LENNON
b-side, The Next Time You Feel Important

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

MR. DOUBLE ENTENDRE HIMSELF: DICK JURGENS

Groucho Marx was greatly amused by "Peter O'Toole," a name he thought of as the perfect dick joke. First and last name: both lewd.

My favorite? Dick Jurgens. Sorry that a few British or European readers might not be doubled over with laughter, but there wasn't a musician named Dick Wanking.

Does a name that signals masturbation beat (off) a guy with two dick names? I think so.

But I didn't think about this when I first encountered the big band leader via a family heirloom 78rpm of "Sweethearts or Strangers." This was well before I was old enough to think dirty thoughts. I also had no idea that the song was actually a C&W hit, and composed by our old pal and Jesus freak, Jimmie Davis, whose songs about putting nails in Jesus' hands can be found here on the blog.

This is more than an OK big band version of a C&W hit…it's Okeh. It swings along genially and nicely. Yes, Virginia, there were "crossover" songs well before you were born, and it wasn't uncommon for popular big bands to borrow classical melodies or boogie a bit of shitkickin' hillbilly music. I prefer the way the swing musicians are Jurgen around with the melody here...although that shouldn't imply that I spend a lot of my time listening to either C&W shitkickers or big band shit. Both categories have an awful lot of...awful stuff. This is, come to think of it, the only cut I have from DJ's big band. I don't even have the flip side.

So who was Dick Jurgens? He was a Californian (lived and died in Sacramento: January 9, 1910 – October 5, 1995). He put together his own swing orchestra, played at the St. Francis Hotel, and got himself a Decca deal that lasted from 1934 to 1940 with Eddy Howard his lead vocalist. He then switched to Okeh (with the wonderfully named Harry Cool on vocals…later replaced by Buddy Moreno).

Jurgens had a lot of obviously forgettable or forgotten hits before going into the Marines in World War II. After the war, he continued with his big band, but by the mid-50's, rock and pop had taken over, and rather than jerk around with that stuff, Jurgens took day jobs…from selling electronics to dabbling in real estate. He was called on to revive the band from time to time, but finally retired in his 70's. Ironically the Dick Jurgens band continued…he sold the rights to somebody who vowed to keep up his style of music and keep that name alive.

These days, if anyone knows the name "Jurgens," it's because of the hand lotion…which comes in handy if…you find yourself involved in Dick Jurgens. OK, that's not too respectful, but it's amphisbaenic.

DICK JURGENS

Sammy Walker at 62 - Waitin' for Jesus to Show?

Happy Birthday to Sammy Walker...a few days ago.


I remember Dick Van Dyke smiling wryly, at age 86, and saying, "I'm circling the drain." But a birthday can bring up the subject of mortality to most anyone...especially as 20's turn to 30's turn to...

So Sammy wrote the following, acknowledging birthday wishes from so many of us:

"Thank you all, dear friends and family from near and far for the Happy Birthday wishes and messages you posted today 7-7-14. At age 62, the finish line is beginning to come into view. This morning I was doing my little crossword puzzle in my little simple book that I have done most every morning for several years. The book is the July issue and I was working on puzzle # 7 and the clue for 7 down was "_____ birthday to you". The answer was of course, happy. I've never come across this clue in one of these books before. I have no doubt in my mind that this was a Happy Birthday wish from my mom and my dad and my sister, Janet.

Sometimes those who have passed on choose to contact us in strange and mysterious ways when we need it the most. I'm sure most everyone experiences this a time or two in their life if you are aware enough to recognize it when it happens. It also helps us to know that we need not fear the finish line and that there is life beyond it. There is a place reserved in Paradise for the homeless, the hungry, those suffering in pain and anguish and for all who choose to live a good and righteous life and who have faith in the Creator and Keeper of The Paradise."

62 ain't old, Sam. Bob Dylan is over 70 now, and still here with us. When he tours, he makes this Earth into some kind of paradise. People sure look like they're seeing Jesus, Moses or The Pope when he comes out. So as they say in the Dutch cheese shops, "Make good use of the time you have left." Aging can be a good thing...you can wine about it. But as we get older, and either have the material things we want or know we'll never get 'em, it's natural to ponder "the finish line," as Sammy notes.

Things get better? Well, Sammy's two Warners albums were re-issued this year. So you never know what's going to happen. How nice if there was a travelin' folkie show mounted...so people could get an entire evening of Sammy, Eric Andersen, Jim Glover, Billy Edd Wheeler, Barry McGuire...whatever combo you'd want from the great days.

It's been a double-edged sword for Sammy Walker; he was "discovered" by Phil Ochs, and billed almost instantly as a Dylan sound-alike. This has helped him get sampled by fans of Phil and Bob...but it's come at a price, with some people never getting those names (or Woody Guthrie's) out of their heads. The fact is, Sammy Walker is, most assuredly, his own man. His best songs don't make you think, "Oh, that could've been on an Ochs album," or "that's early Dylan." You think: "This Sammy walker is a damn good singer/songwriter." And once you get into his albums, the more you pick up on the unique themes, musically and lyrically, that make these Sammy Walker songs.

The brief notes for the re-issue CD booklet mention that Sammy's major label days ended with the two WB albums, and that he's only issued a few sporadic indie releases since. The later material is well worth getting. Some of it is pricey on CD, but a lot is easy to find via cheap download...the kind that delights fans while pauperizing the artist. Not to mention the secret forums and torrents that give the stuff away so the uploader can make some spare change or pretend to be in show biz.

Here at the blog of less renown, one sample song is sufficient to let educated (and this blog isn't aimed at dummies) music fans discover a new favorite. On your next birthday, you might ponder if you're one year closer to your own personal Jesus, or just to a wooden box or incineration.

You might also ponder the odds of heaven on Earth...and if Jesus (or Mohammed or Buddha or Moses or JFK or Lenny Bruce or Phil Ochs) might come down and make this place a little less miserable than it is now. Sammy's had such thoughts, as have we all. It's just the Sammy has done a good job of putting those thoughts to music. Some people ask "what if Phil was alive...what would he be writing about..." or "What if Bob cut it out with the Delta blues stuff..." I'm tempted to say that the answer is in the song below...which covers religious war, global warming, the fate of animals and humans, and those who simply leave it to a "savior" to come down and save us. But this song is not an Ochs and not a Dylan...it's a great Sammy Walker song.

SAMMY WALKER IF JESUS DON'T SHOW
Instant download or listen on line. No pop-ups, porn ads or wait-time.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

MELLOW YELLOW - Cronulla Sharks pissed at Todd Carney

Here's a live DONOVAN track.

Why?

In mock-tribute to the sports news today.

No, Cronulla Sharks did not play Sybil Fawlty. We're talking about an Australian Football team.

You remember Australia. That's where a baby can be eaten by a dingo, shrimp can be tossed on a "barbie," and piss is called "Faws-toz beee-ah."

Down in Kyle's Sandy Land, where Dannii Minogue is vogue, and koala bears are mostly infected with diseases...they have a problem with Todd Carney. Carney! He's one of the few normal-looking athletes in a land where most of 'em are neanderthal Samoans from New Zealand.

Oh, GROW UP, Australia. Get your priorities straight.

What did the guy do? He pissed in his own mouth. For a gag? For a dare? For the sake of not having to drink a Foster's? You know, don't you, that many health fanatics think urine-drinking is healthy, and it returns valuable nutrients for recycling? So they say.

Who is surprised that Todd Carney was involved? Apparently he's one of the nuttier Aussie athletes. He used a rental phone to take a nude selfie of himself...and stupidly forgot to remove it...shocking the woman who rented the phone after him. He was arrested for drunken driving, and once pissed on a guy (I assume while drunk) so the current photo is no surprise. Let's say he was drunk at the time. Thirsty. Going off his salt-free diet.

Andrew Johns (another star player among Footy fetishists) came to Todd's defense: "Surely they couldn't sack him for that. It's silly. It's stupid." But after all, "He's only doing it to himself."

Compare it to Justin Bieber pissing in a bucket and smirking about it. The Canadian hot wet mess topped off his act by cursing at a photo of ex-President Bill Clinton.

Compare it to Viley Virus and her nearly naked twerking. Compare it to R. Kelly and Chuck Berry, who have choice videos circulating in the underground that are real pissers...and in Kelly's case the girls might not even be over the age of cunt scent.

What happens? The photo turns up in the London Daily Fail among other websites and papers...and everybody can imagine what he's doing...and everyone's read a description that nobody could write tastefully. After all, "drinking his own urine" is still going to give you a queasy feeling when you see it in print. So all the Sharks have done is given more attention to it.

Fact is, in this day and age where a mainstream movie ("Jackass") showed guys drinking horse semen...and Cameron Diaz became famous for using jizz for hair styling, what Todd Carney did is no big deal. I haven't read the fine print, but I don't think the jerk did it while on the field, posted it to YouTube, or suggested to his fans that he'd like to involve them in his antics. It was a leaked (ah, ha ha ha...) photo. Did he really post it to proudly declare he was with the Cronulla Sharkes or to imply that everyone on the team enjoys "the piss that refreshes?" Of course snot. Urine trouble, said the Cronulla bunch: "We are Sharked. Sharked!"

Anyone concerned about the Daniel Pearl beheading video being an easy download? That the family of R. Budd Dwyer must deal with every ghoul on the Net having a copy of his gory suicide? That any number of grotesque videos of murders, corpses and vile "faces of death" moments are on the torrents and swapped in forums, and that nobody's bothering to create laws so these items can be reported and banned?

Some chick playing with a bloody tampon, some couple puking on each other while naked and screwing...a 14 year-old using a school computer can get this stuff with ease...and this Todd Carney moron gets his walking papers for passing water.

Fuck you, Cronulla Sharks. PS, do you know how many people have died by letting go in the ocean, attracting a shark, and getting devoured whole? No, you don't. But you know how to get into a righteous rage for a piss poor reason, eh?

Lewdness, stupidity, crude acts and a total lack of self-control...will go on, no matter what you did to Todd Carney!

Hey Todd, you've got friends here...so you committed a loo'd act. So your career went down the drain. We don't blame you for feeling peevish.

You intolerant of the incontinent Cronulla cruds...you can see worse. Right in your eye. Go to any of the adult forums, click the "hey I'm over 18" button, and go get your German and Japanese scat!

In other words...

"Welcome to POOP POOP..."

Donovan LIVE TRACK! Mellow Yellow

JOHN WILLIAMS: Checkmate & Alcoa Theatre via VALJEAN

"John Williams" has a lot of fans for his motion picture scores…"Close Encounters," "Jaws," "Superman," various "Star Wars" films, "Empire of the Sun," "Indiana Jones,""Home Alone," "Poseidon Adventure," and "Schindler's List" among them.

In his early days writing TV themes, "Johnny Williams" composed the dynamic, staccato epics "Lost in Space," "Land of the Giants" and "The Time Tunnel." But…and here's how he ends up on the blog of less renown, he also composed the jagged theme for "Checkmate" and the classical introduction to "Alcoa Theatre" aka "Alcoa Premiere." Those are the two you get below.

As the photo above would indicate, "Alcoa Theatre" was an anthology series. Few episodes seem to have survived. "Checkmate" was a private eye hour that was anchored around the rather wooden Anthony George, but ended up with a wider fan base thanks to Doug McClure and Sebastian Cabot. That's the formidable, genial Mr. Cabot with guest-star Peter Lorre in a memorable episode.

The themes below were recorded by one-name one-hit-wonder Valjean, who seemed to be trying for a Liberace-type air of mystery. Sounds like he might be from France, and have a French accent, right? Actually, Valjean Johns was born in Shattuck, Oklahoma and attended the University of Oklahoma. He became well known in the Mid-West, and at the age of 28, got a contract with Carlton, a label that dabbled in everything from vibraphone jazz via an album by Gene Estes (which I once had) to "The Little Space Girl" novelty 45 (which I still have).

Valjean managed a Top 40 hit with "The Theme From Ben Casey" in 1962, cashing in on the hot doctor series starring the brooding Vince Edwards. Naturally the pianist quickly filled up an album with more TV themes, including the rival "Dr. Kildare" which starred the strawberry blond Richard Chamberlain. Tucked amid the usual tracks ("Peter Gunn," a piano natural and "Perry Mason") were the two John Williams items...formerly popular shows now quite obscure to most people...even if they, or at least the themes, deserve better.

Although the album didn't quite crack the Billboard Top 100, Valjean Johns didn't disappear from the music scene. He enjoyed a career playing with respectable if rural symphony orchestras (including his home state's Tulsa Philharmonic) over the next decades. Born November 19, 1934, Valjean passed on a decade ago: February 10th, 2003. Checkmate. But he wasn't wrapped and stored in Alcoa aluminum foil.

Valjean tinkles John Williams

The National Anthem of Luxembourg - 60 seconds of Tribute

For those of you asking, "When are you going to post another photo of some sexy bint..."

For now, make do with Natascha Bintz, a lovely beauty contest-winner from Letzebuerg. That's Luxembourg, to you.

She might not be the most famous person alive and well and living in Luxembourg...but who is?

When was the last time boxing's famous announcer Michael Buffer paused and said at a heavyweight championship fight…"And now…the National Anthem of Luxembourg…"

It's not a rhetorical question. Go ahead, leave a comment. All I know is that when that weasel David Haye and his warthog pal Dereck Chisora weren't sanctioned for a British championship fight (because of bad behavior…both being idiots), it was the little-known Luxembourg boxing federation that offered to "legitimize" the match. But I don't recall that the Luxembourg anthem was played.

I recall Jean-Pierre Coopman was "The Lion of Flanders," but…no, he was Belgian. And he lost rather badly to Muhammad Ali.

Many of you actually HAVE heard the National Anthem of Luxembourg, even though you never saw any sporting event. How? You saw the "Le Clerq" episode of M*A*S*H. In that one, a soldier from Luxembourg went missing, and when presumed dead, the national anthem was played in his honor. Colonel Blake was proud to honor "a Luxemburger."

Oh, the memories the National Anthem of Luxembourg has stirred!

What brought all this on? Well, back when record collecting was fun, I bought just about anything and everything. This included an import on the Collection Loisirs/Vogue label, of "Hymnes Nationau." Why not? How interesting to hear how 20 nations represented themselves via music. (America, we note, chose a British drinking song with fresh lyrics!)

I came across the album the other day. Well, no, I can't say I was that excited. Actually I was just looking through one of my weirder shelves of instrumentals and was surprised I hadn't gotten rid of "Hymnes Nationau" by now. Especially since Ms. Bintz' image is not superimposed on it. I was glad I hadn't, as it was an amusing diversion for a while. Besides, you never know when you're going to need to find a way to make a foreigner momentarily stop and stand still.

The tune is titled "Ons Heemecht" ("Our Homeland") and premiered rather late for a national anthem: 1864. The music is by Jean Antoine Zinnen and matched to a slightly earlier Luxembourgish poem by Michel Lentz. There are official German, English and French translations. The English translation begins…

"Where the Alzette flows through the meadows

 The Sura bathes the rocks;

 Where the Moselle, smiling and beautiful

 We made a present of wine

 This is our country for which we risk everything on earth..."

Ok, so it doesn't rhyme...if you really are respectful, you sing it in Luxembourgish. Feel free to download the lyrics from some website or other, and sing along to this instrumental version. It's conducted by Désiré Louis Corneille Dondeyne, who will soon be celebrating a birthday: July 21, 1921.

Let's Salute... LUXEMBOURG