Sunday, February 19, 2006


What if 60's "lounge" singers had some rock-lyric sensibilities? What if Sinatra and Dino spent some time in Greenwich Village hipster joints?

Maybe they would've been like Bobby Cole.

Fortunately for them, they weren't, and had huge careers. Bobby, stubborn, cool, and writing his own lyrics, only made one solo album. But, to use one of his favorite words, it's...."unique." If someone asked Bobby's opinion of something, and he didn't want to hurt their feelings, he'd just call it "unique." But here, "unique" means...bold, Brando-tough and at times, dark.

No jazz-pop artist issued put-downs better than Bobby on "No Difference At All." The Italian tough guy isn't even impressed with sluttiness. Not compared to his new girl: "You're like Spicy Tales. She's Voltaire. She's the heart of Park Avenue. And you're Times Square." We used to kid Bobby, though. One line not only puts down rock ("She's a Debussy symphony, you're rock 'n' roll") but betrays his own conceits. More than one person chided, "Debussy never wrote a symphony!" Which kind of put a little dent in the singer's lip-curled gimlet-eyed put-downs of a girl no longer keeping up with him. He'd just shrug it off. Besides, he actually knew and studied music theory and could play a Mozart sonata with ease...and from memory.

"Heat" is as cool as it gets, the perfect rumbling piano work from Bobby, plus an ethereal lady backing him, as they both take a sprawling tour of the underworld on a night drippy with sweat or blood. Not many were writing lyrics with the word "incandesce" in there.

As for darkness, "I'm Growing Old" is Sinatra's "It Was a Very Good Year" gone very bad. The singer here isn't looking backward fondly, he's accepting a very unpleasant future. The song puts a final chord on the forewarning of an earlier song here called "Lover Boy." In that one, he tells a playboy that Life will eventually provide the truth: "taking in exchange...your youth." Here, the truth is "I'm Growing Old," and its so painful Bobby told me that grown men in the audience would cry. That might also explain why Lou Rawls emphatically turned this song down when Bobby offered it. PS, Bobby had better luck when Nancy Sinatra covered one of his tunes. But that's another story, and for more, check out:
Update: the original link expired, and has been replaced by a link to the songs HEAT and GROWING OLD from the album.

HEAT in stereo
GROWING OLD Instant listen or download, no code words, pop-ups or porn ads.


If Joni Mitchell and Warren Zevon had a child...that's sort of a description of Sarah Kernochan. Like Joni, lanky blonde Sarah was sexy in spite of herself. Her music intrigues and disturbs with awkwardly lilting melodies and rhythms. The lyrics have a Zevon-esque sardonic sense of humor. Her bizarre subject matter includes trailer trash ("Mobile Home") and sexual fantasies with dangerous pirates while screwing her boring boyfriend ("Can I Get On Top This Time?")

She was probably the first (this is the early 70's) woman to really get aggressive about oral sex: "Who told you it was nasty? They must be really sick." Attention ill folks, listen to that track and get at it: "It's All Right, It Won't Bite."

Kernochan's two RCA albums won some critical raves, but disappeared quickly as usually happens to any record with a literate lyric sheet enclosed. Sarah went on to write a book called "Dry Hustle" (about what you think it's about) and then films including "Marjoe" and "Hairy Bird." "Hairy Bird" (referring to exactly what you wish it wasn't) was re-issued with the less genitally-referenced title, "All I Wanna Do." It's a cult classic, probably hurt at the box office by being an indie, similar to "Girl, Interrupted" in theme, and having Kirstin Dunce instead of Wynona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. Sarah also wrote the screenplay for "What Lies Beneath," and is married to a Broadway hotshot writer/producer named James Lapine.

The title of her first album is "House of Pain." The title track's a lovely, limping, aching and odd ballad based on the horror movie "The Island of Lost Souls." Always one to take a chance or just do something odd, she includes an aural pun about a needle stuck into a patient with a debilitating result. But hear it for yourself:


IT WON'T BITE (the oral sex song)

The Trailer Trash MOBILE HOME

artistic but rude CAN I GET ON TOP sex song

Note: almost all of Sarah's songs are on her website, so if these links don't work it might just be a change in her web server or some other minor glitch. Just go get 'em direct from her site.