Thursday, March 29, 2007

Gunhill Road goes to 42ND STREET

This week's postings salute whores, who give value for what you pay for.

Sluts give it away for free, maybe only asking for a "nice comment" between the re-ups. In the future, all sluts will simply be known as "rapidsharers" or "megauploaders." And remember, with sluts it's all for sampling only, and all memory of the one-nighter should be deleted within 24 hours. In other words, if you liked it, next time buy it. Support the whores!

"42nd Street" is a general salute to the whores and sleaze of Times Square in 1972. The pop group Gunhill Road got their name from their Bronx location. Though they didn't get as big as Dion and the Belmonts (also named for a Bronx street),they opened for Poco and the following year, 1973 had their lone Top 40 hit with the novelty "Back When My Hair Was Short."

Their real gem is "42nd Street." It probably took the lads a half hour to go by subway from Gunhill Road to Times Square, and do what all the awkward high schoolers did...gawk at the hookers along 8th Avenue, sneak into adult book stores and peep shows, and enjoy some ski-ball and see paintings on the heads of pins at Hubert's Museum. Maybe take in some grindhouse movies. Filet of army mule was always cheap at Tad's Steakhouse.

Thanks to Rudy Giuliani and Disney, the area's ironically returned to what Times Square was back when "42nd Street" was a popular movie.

This song, with its rich harmonies and wistfully intelligent lyrics, accurately portrays the intrigue, triage-level gratification and melancholy sleaze that made Times Square a mecca for the desperate, deranged and under-age.

42nd Street instant download


That colorful, craggy curmudgeon Walter Matthau seems to channel W.C. Fields on the peculiar single, "Bring Her Back To Me." It's about a drunken father who did such a poor job of raising his daughter that she's become a lady of the evening. Or, as Norm MacDonald would phrase it, "A Big Whore!"

With lyrics probably from Neil Simon (N.Simon-A.Greene is the credit), it's a half-sung half-soused reversal of "Father, dear Father come home with me now," with just enough campy backspin to suggest Daddy wants his daughter back for sex.

I found my white label promo copy years ago, and in the same rumpled shape as Matthau, so excuse any sonic imperfections.

Matthau Staggers as Daughter Streetwalks. Instant download.


These 16 hooker tunes cover the social-disease strata from high class call girls to raunchy street hustlers. There's "Sweet Painted Lady" as sung by Bridget St. John (not Elton John) and "Roxanne" the dial-up red-light district song sung by Dilanna (not Sting).

"Love For Sale" is here, plus Georgia White, Ma Rainey and Chippie Hill doing vintage numbers including Streetwalkin' Blues, Hustlin' Blues and Bring Your Greenbacks. There's even Mr. Waits doing his homeless man version of Randy Newman and singing "Christmas Card from a Hooker."

You also get a "Best Little" ho' down via Dolly, and "Barcelona" by the limp-wristed Sinceros, who self-consciously sing of "prostitutes with very large hearts entertaining very small parts." Prodigy Janis Ian was jailbait when she wrote and sang "Pro Girl." I like her attempt at seeming British by quoting the whore fee in "pounds" not dollars. She works in a play on the John's Bargain Store chain, ("John, bargain well...") which is pointless but it shows how precocious this poetess was at 16. And At Seventeen...she couldn't even give it away.

Speaking of giving it away, Janis offers a few songs for free download on her website. But, not every album. Now what kind of blogger is that??


Monday, March 19, 2007

YES My Darling Daughter - Vintage Sex Song

A seminal song about consensual sex, "Yes My Darling Daughter" was a pretty pioneering effort back in 1940: a horny girl describes the advice she got from her very hip mama!

When Eddie Cantor heard a demo of it, he flipped for the song, and the unknown girl who sang it. That girl was Dinah Shore, and she and "Yes My Darling Daughter" became a hit when she sang it on Cantor's radio show.

Dinah's radio debut was so hot, she reprised the song just a month later, October 23, 1940. (That version is available below). Dinah ended up a regular on Cantor's radio show, and a big recording star.

Fast forward nearly 20 years to Eydie Gorme's version. Gorme's another Jewish girl like Dinah, but her version's got a rocking up-tempo big-band arrangement. She removes the line suggesting papa might protest her antics, and...check the ending! Gorme is getting pretty orgasmic with her "Yes, Yes" delights, and goes so far overboard...the police have to be called in.

Listen for how Gorme's voice melds with a police siren! Out of respect to Eydie Gorme and her husband Steve Lawrence, no further speculation will be made as to why the cops were called.

The illfolks blog takes great pleasure in offering an obscure and unlikely bit of smut, and hopefully you'll take great pleasure too, although for a song that's under 3 minutes, you'll have to be quick.

PS, songwriter Jack Lawrence wrote the lyrics for several very clean hit songs, including "Beyond the Sea," "Tenderly," "All Or Nothing at All" and "If I Didn't Care."

GORME goes Nuts
DINAH on Radio


People in the music business still shake their heads about Patti Dahlstrom. She made four albums. She should've been more of a contender. Critics were enchanted by her looks, and less so by her rootsy Southern vocals which were true if not pretty. Perhaps at the time (early 70's) there was no such thing as "country crossover," so being pitched as a pop star was doing her a disservice.

Her friend Jim Croce had much better luck as her opposite; smooth voice, indifferent looks. (Patti didn't mention Croce much to the press, but I used his name to get your attention.) Dahlstrom was especially effective as a lyricist. Her new words for "Amoureuse," re-titled "Emotion," brought Veronique Sanson's music to America for the first time. The song was a hit in Helen Reddy's cosmetic version, rather than the no make-up style of Dahlstrom.

Patti had a co-write for a song in the 1985 film "Heated Vengeance" but settled in Houston where she became a teacher. And speaking of teaching, listen to "Slim and Olabelle," (on her first album), a country rocker about the lessons she learned from her grandparents:

"And they only taught me two things. The first was to answer to myself. To do it if I think in my head it's right, and it don't hurt nobody else. And the second is if you love someone, go on, honey, let him know it, because the easiest thing about loving someone is to show it."

On the album, and here, the song is followed by a nice ballad, "Rider," which rides off into the sunset.



Sometimes an obscure person becomes famous by getting executed. The four cases presented here led to songs that have immortalized the mere mortal.
What's your view on the death penalty?
Should it never be used? Is it better or crueler to let someone rot in a tiny cell? Perhaps the death penalty should be reserved only for cases of premeditated murder or mass murder, such as Lennon's killer or The Son of Sam (both residing rather comfortably in New York State).
The four cases here involve an alleged rapist who never killed anyone, a druggie who went nuts with a murderous boyfriend, a guy whose partner killed a cop, and a somewhat slow man who was innocent and framed by the real killer.
CARYL CHESSMAN (top left) was a career criminal, but his rap sheet didn't include rape, and the masked "Red Light Bandit," not only robbed motorists he sexually assaulted female passengers. Caught in a car with a red light (simulating a police car's light) and unwilling to say who was using the car besides himself, Chessman was convicted of multiple felonies including kidnapping (for dragging a woman out of a car against her will). In California, kidnapping could be punished by death. And it was. Chessman fought an amazing battle to stay alive and wrote a best-selling autobiography while on death row. After many years, he finally died because a secretary mis-dialed the warden's office and the latest stay of execution was received too late. Some say a rapist deserves death, and a career criminal is no loss. Two country songs challenged the death penalty in the Chessman case (as did celebrities around the world). A reference to Chessman turns up in "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" Genesis album. Should Chessman have died?
KARLA FAYE TUCKER was white trash in Texas, a teen groupie with the Allman Brothers Band, later a heroin addict and prostitute. She lived in a slum where everyone did drugs, and a Harley dripping oil and stinking of fumes was safer in the house than outside. Karla hated the guy who owned the Harley, especially since he routinely beat his wife (a friend of Karla's). Karla and her latest boyfriend planned on wrecking the guy's bike, but after a binge of drugs, they beat the guy to a pulp, along with his latest girlfriend, who had been hiding in the darkness. In prison, Tucker was apparently "born again," and many insisted her early environment had much to do with her crime. If various bloody female followers of Manson could escape the death penalty, how about a reprieve for Karla? After 15 years on death row could anyone say she was the same person she once was? Her pleas for mercy were ignored by Gov. George W. Bush who declared: "Karla Faye Tucker has acknowledged she is guilty of a horrible crime. She was convicted and sentenced by a jury of her peers. The role of the state is to enforce our laws...May God bless Karla Faye Tucker and may God bless her victims and their families." Should a messed up woman's one night of brutality mean execution?
In Great Britain, Tim Evans died in 1950 and Derek Bentley in 1953. Ewan MacColl wrote protest songs after the executions, focusing on the glaring injustices in both high-profile cases.
TIM EVANS (lower left), his wife and child, lived uncomfortably in a poor walk-up apartment. Their arguments were heard by a neighbor, Dr. Christie. When the police found the body of Mrs. Evans, and the child, Tim was long gone, on the advice of the good doctor. Frightened during interogation, and not having much to live for, he confessed. Then he recanted. Ewan Maccoll's brilliant song (alternately called "Go Down Ye Murderer") seems to follow, with justifiable vengeance, the execution of a murderer. The song was recently covered by Karan Casey. Should Evans, with a previous clean record and protests of innocence, have gotten the death penalty?
Teens DEREK BENTLEY and Chris Craig were just a pair of Croydon punks. During a warehouse burglary gone wrong, they were stopped by a policeman. Craig waved his gun. Bentley shouted, "Let him have it, Chris." Meaning, hand over the gun? Craig chose the slang meaning, and shot the cop dead. He was a bit under the legal age for a hanging, but not Bentley. Though he had not fired the gun, Derek was deemed just as guilty as Craig. MacColl's song seethes over the boy's death while the chorus grimaces at the comic books and violent films that "educated" the young criminals. Elvis Costello re-visited the case and wrote his own version ("Let Him Dangle') decades later. Should Bentley, or anyone, get the death penalty when they haven't actually killed anyone? Chris Craig served ten years in jail and has not been in trouble with the law since.

CARYL CHESSMAN - Ronnie Hawkins
CARYL CHESSMAN - Country Johnny Mathis
KARLA FAYE - Mark Knopfler
KARLA FAYE - Mary Gauthier
LET HIM DANGLE - Elvis Costello

Friday, March 09, 2007

SACRELIGE #4 Simon & Garfunkel Satire

"Hello darkness, my old friend."

A message left by Art Garfunkel on Paul Simon's answering machine? For those who continue to continue to pretend that friendships never end, and that flowers never bend with the rainfall, I suggest you NOT download this celebration of Simon hating Garfunkel and vice versa.

Those mature enough to realize that often the only thing that keeps a relationship going is a mutual need to make a little cash, here's hoping you'll like "Here's Hoping." It was performed on England's "Not the 9 O'Clock News," about 25 years ago. At the time, Paul and Artie were tolerating each other for a tour, which wasn't helped by a British TV interviewer asking Garfunkel about all those great songs he wrote. That's probably why this satire has Paul very prominently declaring HE wrote all the material.

ILLFOLKS declares that the Photoshop job on the picture above is also satire.

Simon and Garfunkel created some great songs together. Their solo work can be enjoyed at home or while exercising in Paul-Artie's classes. So at the illfolks blog, the joke is on those who still don't get it; people will grow, mature, and sometimes start disliking and avoiding each other. Call it a'pauling, or art-istic, but it happens, and here's some fun over the feud...

Instant download: Simon and Garfunkel HERE'S HOPING

LILY OF THE WEST Murder Ballad x 10

Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy kills rival. But that's not the end of the story: "still I love my faithless Flora, the lily of the west." Boy, is this guy gone. In fact, soon he'll be executed. [SHE will be executed, too, in the case of the "lesbian" versions from Joan Baez and Rosanne Cash]

The setting for this well known "crime of passion" song is Louisville for American folksingers, but its origins are in the U.K. circa the 1830's. The Irish ballad cautioned against journeying South: "Twas when I came to England, some pleasures for to find..."
In the original, our hero merely loves and loses Flora:
"I courted her a fortnight, in hopes her love to gain, But soon she turn'd against me, which caused all my pain. She robb'd me of my freedom, she robb'd me of my rest, I roam, forsook of Flora, the Lily of the West."

Within a few decades, and with broadsheets popularizing murder ballads, the tune was revised to include mayhem. The upper class is blamed, since Flora falls for a "lord of high degree." Our hero sees red, and acts rashly. Or has a rash, and sees red:

"I walked up to my rival with a dagger in my hand, And seized him from my false love, and bid him boldly stand; Then, mad with desperation, I swore I'd pierce his breast, And I was betrayed by Flora, the Lily of the West."

(Yes, you can click the picture and see a larger version of the sheet about this broad Flora). As with "Stagger Lee" and "Tom Dooley," more than one musical setting can accompany these lyrics. The less popular version (the one resuscitated by Mark Knopfler, and the one used often by Irish traditionalists) seizes the melody more commonly associated with the old air, "Lakes of Pontchartrain." With this 10-version download you get "Lakes of Pontchartrain" with its own far less murderous original lyric, so you can compare it to the versions here that borrow from it. Over the years Flora's been re-named "Maire" or "Mary-O" or "Molly-O," but "Flora," after all, is more likely to be a "Lily" of the west.

Geography students can worry over how far "west" Flora might be in relation to Louisville.
Once the song was transplanted into a Kentucky ballad of the Old West, the slimeball that Flora was fooling with was changed from a "lord of high degree" to "a man of high degree" or, worse, "a man of low degree." Either way, Flora served most definitely as a witness for the prosecution! Which suggests the Groucho line, "I was fighting for your honor, which is more than you ever did." The song wouldn't be nearly so compelling if the guy didn't still love her, setting up over a century of similar (if not always lethal) songs of agony.

In American versions, the pain is that the gallows await while the singer woefully declares he still loves his "faithless Flora." One Irish version actually spares the wonder it isn't popular:

"I then did stand my trial, and boldly I did plea. A flaw was in my indictment found, and that soon had me free. That beauty bright I did adore, the judge did her address, He said "go you faithless Molly - O", the Lily of the West Now that I've gained my liberty, a roamin' I will go. I'll ramble through old Ireland, and travel Scotland o'er. Though she thought to swear my life away, she still disturbs my rest, I still must style her Molly - O, the Lily of the West."

That's the version from Alex Beaton and from The Chieftains with the Ponchartrain melody. In most others, the guy has been found guilty thanks to Flora's eye-witness testimony, and poor boy, he's gonna die. Whether you prefer Bert Jansch, Pentangle, Steve Forbert, Rosanne Cash, etc., a special doff of the hangman's cowl goes to Peter Paul and Mary who recorded it on their best-selling album "Moving." It gave the old number a fresh new audience and probably inspired most of the cover renditions. Their version may have a little extra resonance since it's the only one that, unintentionally, echoes the love triangle of the story. Peter and Paul harmonize like dueling rivals, while Mary's alluring refrains suggest how haunting Flora was, and how easy love lost became life lost.

Beatles! "You Know My Name" In FRENCH

We like art collages, but tend to be baffled by sound collages. Odd, isn't it?
When The Beatles snuck "You Know My Name, Look Up The Number" onto a B-side, it sounded like a recording of somebody spinning the dial between "Top of the Pops," "The Goon Show" and shortwave radio.
Yet, being a Beatles song, it was dutifully covered by other artists. Here is the French language version by one Gerard Saint-Paul (unless it's two, Gerard and Saint-Paul). What do you think it sounds like? Sort of Deja vu in French? Could it also be Groovy Fab?
It's on Volume 2 of "La France Et Les Beatles" which is up to four volumes already. Sapristi! Gerard also recorded Rentre Jojo a la maison (Get Back) and C'est beau Paris (Come Together), while Ringo Starr sang "Beaucoups of Blues." I wish my French was good enough. I'd tell you so much more.

Gerard Saint-Paul - Dis moi je t'aime.