Thursday, July 29, 2010
One of Romania's greatest stars, folk artist turned pop-rocker Madalina Manole turned up dead on her 43rd birthday (July 14th, a gloomy wednesday full of woe), leaving a note for her husband Mircea Petru. She had a one year-old son. She had a prosperous career (with a comeback album released in 2010) but depression is a disease that blinds people to hope and can leave them flailing for meaning and ultimately grasping for the means to end it all.
Fans, depressed and saddened by the demise of a woman they had admired for over 25 years, did not get much comfort from the Romanian Orthodox Church, who would not allow a massive tribute in a church because of her crime — the sin of suicide.
Her fatal means was an overdose of Furadan, a powerful insecticide that is so toxic that the powdered version was banned in the U.S.A. and many other countries. A bit of Furadan, the size of a seed, can instantly kill a bird. The liquid version is also dangerous. A teaspoon of it is fatal to a human and because enough residue can linger on crops and kill small animals, most farmers have voluntarily suspended using it. Many countries have also banned sibutramine hydrochloride monohydrate, something else found in Madalina's system. A diet drug, it's considered dangerous and potentially addictive, and where it is legal, warnings from the manufacturer indicate it shouldn't be used by a patient suffering depression.
You'll note in the pictures below, that Manole looks very thin-glamorous in the picture on the left, and more zaftig in the one on the right, where perhaps the rest of her is a bit more fleshed out as well. As we know from songs such as "Sophie" by Eleanor McEvoy, the neurotic desire to be thin, and the failure to recognize a proper and human weight for a woman, has led to many, many deaths.
Madalena (first name actually Magdalena-Anca) was just 13 when she had her first taste of fame, singing "Pentru noi nu poate fi alt cer" ("For Us There Cannot Be Another Heaven"). It was featured in the film "Nelu." She blossomed into a true beauty, and at 23, she had her first smash hit with "Fata Draga" ("Lovely Girl') written by her future husband Şerban Georgescu. He wrote most of her early hits, and her next few albums offered an intriguing blend of pop modernity and a respect for Romanian folklore. Her songs and singing were good enough to interest PolyGram, who seemed to think that she might have some crossover appeal, despite the language barrier...since beauty knows no language barrier. Hottie Manole got many endorsement deals for various cosmetics and hair products.
Through the 90's Madalina was a tremendous star, and the TV appearances and concert touring put her on the kind of high that helped her ignore the precarious lows…."the auditoriums and the tens of flower bouquets I was receiving, the joy on people’s faces when they were seeing me live on the streets of their towns, the dolls I was receiving from children at each show, the autographs and the letters from my fans, the songs they sang along line by line, all of these made me forget of the things less pleasant from my life as an artist; the longing for the loves ones at home, the scandalous newspaper articles, and the things that at artist has to give up, sacrifice, or keep a diet."
A casualty of her lifestyle and her maturation, was her marriage to mentor Şerban Georgescu, who was wealthy, powerful, but also fifteen years older. It seemed that after the painful divorce, she found love again via Petru Mircea, and the child she miraculously delivered at the age of 42. They married in October of 2009, four months after the boy was born. Within another four months, February of 2010, she had a new album out, but newspapers were reporting that she was exhausted, and there was some question about how many TV appearances and how much touring she would be doing. After her death, there were reports that she'd attempted suicide a month earlier.
Your download features a dozen samples of her work, including her first hit, "Fata Draga," which most certainly is steeped in her country's musical heritage, and may strike you as some distant cousin to the strains of "Those Were the Days" (Mary Hopkin) or "Gypsies Tramps and Thieves" (Cher), and that with the right English lyrics, it might've had a quirky chance of being an International hit. The more you listen to it, the catchier it becomes. There's also "Nu Esti Chiar Un Inger," which is your typical power pop ballad with a galloping beat that tastefully manages to slide past disco and twang a little closer to ABBA sensibilities. "Vino Dragostea Mea" actually sounds like some Italian boat song peeled out of a Canned Film Festival. "Vreau Sa Te Uit" could've been a sing-along for Dalida. "Da Te Iubesc" despite its somewhat corny back-up singers, is in the same pop vein as Madonna's "La Isla Bonita," released three years earlier, which is hardly an endorsement but gives you an idea of how slickly commercial Madalina could be.
Several tracks come from "Dulce De Tot," her beautiful 2000 release that capped her most productive period. "Un baiat minuet" is a bit of reggae-tinged oddness. A great track from that album, "Cand Sunt Cu Tine," is included not only because it's an assured, polished performance from Madalina, but is bound to arouse dyslexics. She released 7 albums in the 90's. But after "Dulce De Tot" in 2000, she produced only two more albums…one in 2003 and her comeback/farewell at the start of 2010. Her final album, "09 Madalina Manole" is widely available (even eMusic has tracks) and there are three songs sung in English including the mildly soulful "Loving My Baby."She sings it without betraying that English is a second or third language for her, and after repeat listens, it sounds as decent as any Mariah or Whitney-type wannabe, but what is most memorable with Madalina is the passion she finds in her native language, even if the music's influenced by Western pop. And so it is, that the 13th track, your sample from her last album, is "Suflet Gol," a full-blown ballad, recalling the kind of showstopper one might expect from a Celine Dion or Lara Fabian.
13 from MADALINA MANOLE
If you called up John Callahan and got his phone message, you heard: "This is John. I'm a little too depressed to take your call today. Please leave your message at the gunshot."
Callahan, who died July 24th, was a quadriplegic cartoonist, a cross between Sam Gross and Gary Larson…prone toward both "tasteless" cartooning and comical shock just for the fun of being weird.
His particular form of quadriplegia, due to a drunken car accident at age 21, was paralysis from the waist down and weakened use of his arms. He was able to draw only by putting both his semi-lifeless hands together. This resulted in a punkish style that almost seemed intentional, since his cartoon anthologies turned up at a time when Peter Bagge and many others were deliberately mimicking grade-school level drawing, and even The New Yorker was getting edgy via Roz Chast and Jack Ziegler.
Facially, John looked like a cross between Paul Krassner and Warren Zevon. As one might expect, the internal complications from quadriplegia, as well as external sores and infections, were bound to shorten his life, and so he passed on at 59. Unlike indie music quad Vic Chesnutt (also paralyzed below the waist due to a car accident) his end was not a suicide, though his songs often touched on that subject.
A few years ago, John ventured into Chesnutt territory for his indie album "Purple Winos in the Rain." Since even Chesnutt, who did a lot of touring, and had been a professional musician for years, wasn't selling big amounts of CD's in this era of penury and piracy, Callahan's album was no hit. It wasn't reviewed in the major mags, wasn't known to the average music lover (since most don't spend a lot of time auditioning obscurities at CDBaby or eMusic). Even some Callahan fans didn't know of it, unless they were dedicated enough to visit his website. The best tracks are surprisingly gentle in their seriousness, including the Zevonesque "Touch Me Where I Can Feel." After a Portland concert, Bob Dylan made himself available to meet John…not sure if Bob was a fan of the cartooning or the music, or just felt charitable toward someone his entourage felt he should meet.
Callahan's lack of musical success didn't matter much, financially at least. Once living in public housing, he did pretty well syndicating his cartoons, publishing compilations in paperback, and scoring some bucks with cable TV animation based on his drawings, including "Pelswick" and "Quads!"
A documentary was made on him a few years ago, and it made sure to include recitations of angry letters sent to him or his publisher. The irony was that much of the protests came from people unaware of Callahan's handicap. They invariably included an indignant line that the tasteless cartoonist would not be so quick to make fun of the handicapped if he too had to live his life in a wheelchair. Callahan, however, was one of the "equal opportunity offenders," who also pushed buttons with gags about Catholics, blacks, dogs and women (mentioned here, in no particular order). It had to be rather pleasing for John that well into the 21st Century, and with Dwayne Tinsley, R. Crumb and Gary Larson already out there, along with thousands of cartoons published in Hustler, Screw and the National Lampoon (as well as a zillion comic books and indie zines), people were still writing in, offended by his work.
Your download…the rather gentle "Lost in the City," where John's simple lyric and melody is tastefully augmented by minimal backing by professional musicians (John himself could barely strum a ukelele and spit rudimentary harmonica). The extra few minutes at the end are from "Suicide in the Fall." While his songs were often somber, they were also often optimistic. While they might touch on the sad or the pathetic, like some of Zevon's tunes, they seldom involved pity. The full CD of "Purple Winos in the Rain" has a lot of surprises and rewards, including a guest appearance by Tom Waits.
JOHN CALLAHAN Lost in the City-Suicide in the Fall Instant download, no pop-ups pop-unders, porn links or wait time.
"I never really left the band," Joya Sherrill once said. "Duke would call me for jobs once a year at least." Which was good enough for the wife and mother that Joya had become long after her initial work with Duke Ellington. She also had a kiddie show on New York's indie station WPIX, where past masters Officer Joe Bolton and Captain Jack McCarthy had hosted Three Stooges shorts and Popeye cartoons.
The New Jersey-born Joya (August 20, 1924 – June 28, 2010) first worked with the Ellington band in 1942, then again in 1944, and more steadily through that decade and into the early 50's. She's often credited as the author of the lyrics to Billy Strayhorn's "Take the A Train." Not always. Strayhorn wrote lyrics that were never used. The piece was often recorded as an instrumental, so the label credit was all his. Joya heard the song on the radio and added some words, which she gave to her father, who had the connections to get it to The Duke. The song was soon recorded with lyrics, but it was up to an astute secretary or somebody at the publishing house to make sure the credit on the label was Strayhorn-Sherrill. But the credit line doesn't end there! Often the credit you see is: Ellington-Strayhorn-Sherrill, because the famous downward chord vamp on the keyboard, which introduces the song and reappears throughout, was Duke's invention. This contribution is as much a part of the song as, say, Matthew Fisher's organ work in "A Whiter Shade of Pale."
Twenty years later, Joya was hired by another Big Band legend, Benny Goodman, for a good will tour of the Soviet Union. Probably her best known single was the Russian tune released via Reprise, "Katusha." And yes, now and then she'd get an offer for a date or two with Ellington and his band…or, the reverse. One day in 1970, the Duke turned up at the WPIX studios on 42nd Street to appear on an episode of "Joya's Fun School." Her series ran (and re-ran) through 1982. After that, she was pretty much the wife of Mr. Richard Guilmenot, a construction superintendent. The couple, and family, lived nicely in Great Neck, New York.
Another New York favorite is the "Joyva Jell." The Joyva company was first known for making halvah (this has already been documented elsewhere on the blog) but also did a brisk business in chocolate-covered marshmallow penny candy, and chocolate covered raspberry jell bars and jell rings.
There's not a more beautiful candy in the world. Bite off either end of a jell bar or bite out a chunk of jell ring, and hold it up to the light; a beautiful, gem-stone shade of purple.
The jell bars began to disappear when penny candy inched upwards of two for a nickel, although Joyva did market a full-sized bar for ten cents eventually (available in pure raspberry enrobed in chocolate, or stripped of chocolate and sprinkled with sugar, and half raspberry, half orange, with a peculiar meringue foam in the middle). As Joya's name instantly brought back a memory of Joyva, the photo gives our singer the treat of a handful of jell rings, which are still sold (by the pound) in stores and via the Internet. Ring-a-ding!
Joya Sherrill's few albums are easy to find on eBay, and on a good week, can be had for a fiver or a tenner. They include her main solo work, "Sugar and Spice" (on Columbia, featuring Luther Henderson) and "Joya Sherrill Sings Duke Ellington" (on 20th Century) as well as odd-ball "halfsy" albums such as "Della Reese and Joya Sherrill" and "Spotlight on Sammy Davis Jr. and Joya Sherrill" (also known as "Sammy Davis Jr. Jumps with Joya.") There's also the original cast album "Duke Ellington's MY PEOPLE with Joya Sherrill." But…for a taste, we go with…"Do Me Good Baby," which Joya certainly does.
DO ME GOOD BABY! Instant download, no pop-ups pop-unders, porn ads or wait time extortion.
What would The Four Tops sound like without Levi Stubbs?
You'll find the answer in the download below. When The Four Tops take the stage, either at oldies shows, headlining, or co-billed with whatever's left of The Temptations, the announcer usually tells the crowd that the show is dedicated to Levi Stubbs (and mentions a few of the other dead Tops as well).
Which puts The Four Tops into the odd position of simultaneously being the stars of the show and a tribute band. They are billed as THE Four Tops. But without distinctive lead singer Stubbs, it's just a bunch of guys covering the well-loved Motown songs. Since they tend to play in good-time places like theme parks, or to older audiences who are just celebrating being alive, the ethics don't matter much. It's just a little funny when the new lead singer nostalgically describes how the band proved they could handle more than Motown soul when they covered "Walk Away Renee…" even though he wasn't in the band when that happened.
But if you were expecting that familiar, magical sound of Levi Stubbs, who was the lead singer and soul of the band, no, that's gone. In fact, it's best preserved on those old 45's, because the secret of The Four Tops' success as an AM-radio super group, was in over-peaking his vocals and letting the VU meter arrow go raw into red, and also to write the charts a few notes out of his natural range, forcing him to strain and shout the lyrics.
For what it's worth, and it really isn't anything, the Illfolks blog considers The Four Tops to be the best of the Motown groups, with songs such as 'Bernadette," "Seven Rooms of Gloom" and "It's The Same Old Song" far more important and gut-wrenching than the sweet stuff their contemporaries were singing, and that goes for "Tears of a Clown," "Just My Imagination," "Baby Love" and "My Cherie Amour." Not to mention the Jackson Five, please.
Even though a lot of The Four Tops songs did sound alike, they were all good. They managed to vary their sound enough to score hits in the 70's ("MacArthur Park") and 80's ("When She Was My Girl," big on the R&B chart if not the actual Top 100). The band did seem to be "Indestructible," to give you the title of the 1988 song that was really the last time the Four Tops sounded anything like The Four Tops, and seemed immortal.
Still, there's something a bit creepy about not letting an historic group die. Why is it that this generation can't accept death the way past generations did? Past generations let The Andrews Sisters die. They let Spike Jones and his City Slickers die. They let Louis Jordan and his Timpany Five die, and Red Ingle and his Natural Seven.
So why is it that wimps keep resurrecting The Kingston Trio, hauling out bogus versions of The Marcels or The Platters, and running tours of Jay and the Americans without Jay, or Herman's Hermits without Herman, or The Animals with whatever monkeys want to bicker over the name?
"The Four Tops" is an attention-getting name to use. They have one original band member left, which is often enough to pretend "truth in advertising." But when you see Queen, Vanilla Fudge or The Four Tops without the famous lead singer/voice, what, as Marvin Gaye might ask, is goin' on? "Official Four Tops Tribute Band" might be less commercial but more ethical, since the band does not sound anything it did when fronted by Levi Stubbs!
There's a song in "My Fair Lady" that assures us that there will be Spring every year WITHOUT YOU. Last July 4th weekend, a hot and happy crowd seemed to enjoy a nostalgic set of Motown WITHOUT STUBBS. Too bad that the announcer didn't specifically say, "The Four Tops' sound was mainly the work of its lead singer Levi Stubbs. He is very, very dead, but his spirit lives on. The song never dies, just the singer. I give you…an acceptable tribute band that is officially allowed to be called The Four Tops…"
Cut to the download for a frisky non-Stubbs half hour of: Loving You (Is Sweeter Than Ever), Bernadette, The Same Old Song, Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over), Walk Away Renee, Something About You Baby, A Simple Game, When She Was My Girl, Ain't No Woman (Like the One I Got), Reach Out (I'll Be There), Can't Help Myself.
FOUR TOPS PERFORM JULY 5, 2010
Posted by Ill Folks at 8:22 AM
Larry Jon Wilson (October 7, 1940-June 21, 2010) was an unusual artist who made some fine albums nobody paid much attention to in the early 70's…and came back with one last one that also was neglected.
The problem with C&W artists is that so many are predictable; they sound alike. You have to really listen or care to notice something a little special. How often will a reviewer, who usually has limited space to promote this genre, not even crack open the album from an unknown artist and only cover the latest album from the biggest star? A disc jockey might only pay attention to a lesser known practitioner if the album jacket is a knock-out or the name is catchy...and "Larry Jon Wilson" was not a catchy name and he didn't have knock-out looks.
And so a troubadour with some slyly good songs and an easygoing delivery was mostly ignored. Raised in Augusta, Georgia, the unusual Mr. Wilson favored a stylistic mix of blues and folk, but didn't consider writing or singing professionally till he was past 30. He lived in South Carolina where he had a wife, three kids and a secure job as a technical consultant for a fiberglass manufacturer. He finally got some steam going toward a full-time musical career when he began publishing some songs. Monument, the label that had done so well with quirky Roy Orbison, signed Larry for four albums that began with the 1975 release of "New Beginnings," quickly followed by the rather desperately titled "Let Me Sing My Song To You," and the even more depressingly christened "Loose Change" and the aimless "Sojourner."
Luck is a factor in any career. He thought he had some back in 1975 when Saturday Review noted of his debut album, "Larry Jon Wilson's New Beginnings is, to sum up, the best thing I have heard in country, rock, pop, or you-name-it for a very long time." But it takes publicity, a hit song, and a lot of other factors to build momentum and create stardom, and that impressive line wasn't enough. Larry and his song "Ohoopee River Bottomland" was chosen for a movie called "Heartworn Highways," about the new breed of C&W artists, including David Allan Coe, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earl, John Hiatt and Rodney Crowell. He was in good company, but the film did not get released till 1981. He was out of the business by then.
One of his last write-ups was in the Tennessean, in 1979. Writer Robert K. Oermann asked Larry why he hadn't been able to promote himself into a bigger career. Larry replied, "I just did what I could afford to do." Oermann thought that another reason might've been the intimate nature of Larry's songs, which were perhaps not too commercial: "…his songs are intensely personal, so painfully moving. He can break your heart, bring on tears, and exhaust you in a single evening…"
That's certainly an apt description for a song such as "Bertrand my Son," which opened Larry's first album and included a spoken introduction:"I have a little boy, Bertrand Tyler Wilson is his name…he was born with his feet and legs different than ours….had a lot of casts and braces and things…so I wrote a song for him." And with lyrics that would bring tears to Shel Silverstein, he sang: "If living on the fruit of the tree of love can help your chances, you'll be runnin' and playin' with me soon, I know."
Larry sang sometimes in small clubs in Georgia and Florida, and in June 2000 his first two albums got a CD re-issue, which led him to realize he was far from forgotten. In fact Mojo called it the "Re-Issue of the Month." He finally released a new album in 2007, simply titled "Larry Jon Wilson." Your download offers tracks from a variety of his albums: "Goodbye Eyes," "Bertrand my Son," "Life of a Good Man," "Drowning in the Mainstream," "Sheldon Churchyard," and "Melt Not My Igloo."
Sorry for the delay in acknowledging Larry (as well as Joya Sherrill), but this blog only posts on the 9th, 19th and 29th of the month, and tries not to be morbidly overloaded with musical obits each time. It also sometimes takes a little extra time to properly research and present the tribute.
LARRY JON WILSON sampler
Heavy metal was what Jack the Ripper wielded, and it's no surprise that the favorite bad guy for metal bands is a real murderer, not make-believe monster.
Ripper fans include: Judas Priest, Motorhead, Chemical Romance, The Horrors, Screaming Lord Sutch, The White Stripes, AFI, Buckethead, Iced Earth and One Way Street. Let's not forget guys like Link Wray, who recorded his own "Jack the Ripper" instrumental rumble, though he might have imagined a surfer Jack ripping the waves.
Unlike Dracula, or even Dr. Jeckyll's Hyde, the Ripper existed. He made a hobby out of killing prostitutes. A "better watch out for Dracula" song would only be mysterious and spooky, and altogether ooky for hip thrashers. Instead, with the Ripper, they can be more urgent with screaming guitars that match a knife's glint, and rumbling minor key melodies that evoke dark alleys. The misogynist aspect can't be overlooked, since these guys attack the vocals with such enthusiasm. Included here is "Whores in da House" by Jack the Ripper, just to document that rappers, of course, find this guy a role model, too.
There is no certainty about how many victims there were (between 5 and 19), if the Ripper was male or female, if several people were involved, why the killings stopped, or how many (if any) of the notes signed "Jack the Ripper" were hoaxes. Almost all evidence and every theory can be believed or ripped to pieces. Eyewitnesses differ on specifics (the cloaked Ripper in a top hat is folklore too). Movies paint the ladies as young and beautiful when they were in fact middle-aged dregs, some toothless, who sold themselves cheap in a slum area. Making the victims more sexually attractive only further fogs up the motives in the case. Check the Net and you'll find entire websites about Jack, including "fun" sites that list the likely victims and suspects.
It's all speculation and nothing more, with plenty of theories to prop up or debunk a particular suspect or motive. We'll have to wait for the next book, and the author's appearance with Regis & Ripa (no, the photo is just an illfoax hoax...Ripa never actually posed with Rip Torn).
There are more than a dozen Jack the Ripper songs here..including evocative tracks from "Jack the Ripper" (score by Pete Rugolo, 1959)....
Let 'her Rip
Monday, July 19, 2010
One of the pioneers of pop/folk was Burl Ives. While today he's considered one of the Jimmy Crack Cornies, he was one of the important champions of our American musical heritage. He sang "The Wayfaring Stranger," though from his profile, he was no stranger to wafering.
Along with Pete Seeger and the Smothers Brothers, he knew "The Times They Are a Changin'" and went from songs about Aunt Rhody and the fox in the henhouse to protest material. But in Burl's case, nobody was buying. His older fans didn't want him doing Dylan songs, and hard boiled Dylanologists couldn't believe that the old Burl'd egg had anything to offer. But if you listen to his versions of Dylan, well, they aren't that far off from Dave Van Ronk, and he had the same sincerity as a more respected old singer such as Ewan MacColl.
Ives' album "The Times They Are a Changin'" (1968) was a bold move coming after such middle-of-the-road discs as a show tunes collection ("Burl's Broadway"1968), religious tune compilation ("I Do Believe" 1967) and such hot and cold items as "On the Beach at Waikiki" (1966) and "Have a Jolly Christmas" (1966). He does offer some of the play-safe tunes middle-of-the-roaders liked: "Little Green Apples," "Gentle on My Mind" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." There's also a pretty creepy cover of "Maria," which has the cringeworthy line, "little girl, I'd make ya mine," which you don't want to hear from an old fat guy. The idea of an elderly, affluent, long-established actor and star singing the homesick "Homeward Bound" is a tad depressing.
But then there's the credible "Don't Think Twice It's All Right," a very interestingly intimate "One Too Many Mornings" and an undeniably poignant "The Times They Are a' Changing," which gains extra weight coming from an old singer getting behind the generation's Young Turk. In other words, ya need to give some respect to "Big Daddy."
BURL IVES : THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN'
Update November 2011: Rapidshare deletes files if they aren't uploaded often enough to suit them. A few individual songs have been re-upped individually via a better service:
BURL IVES : ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS
BURL IVES : THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN'
"I Love Lucy" with its snazzy brass and throbbing percussion is one of the world's most famous TV themes.
The guy who made it famous? Hardly anyone could tell you the egg's name, which is Wilbur Hatch (May 24, 1902 - December 22, 1969).
And almost nobody could name another TV theme he wrote.
Well, one of them was "Pete and Gladys," full of comic harpy-plucks and violin't swooshes. The show was somewhat of a copy of "I Love Lucy," except the redhead was the charming and cute Cara Williams, and her husband was played by legendary nasal straight-man Harry Morgan. The show was spun from "December Bride" (music also by Hatch, natch).
Some years later, producers were still trying to create manic old-school sitcoms, and once again, imitation seemed to be the sincerest form of getting a show on the air. As in, why not go back to "I Love Lucy" and have TWO married couples getting into mischief? Only this time, have BOTH women be hilarious comedy veterans?
And so "The Mothers-in-Law" brashly hit TV screens, with short, dumpy, agitated Kaye Ballard and tall, droll and sarcastic Eve Arden as the stars. Arden's previous sitcom was "Our Miss Brooks" (music by Hatch). Their straight-man husbands didn't have all that much to do except simmer and boil. Hatch's wo-manic theme song, bringing back Ricky Ricardo's bongo drums but adding electric guitar, stresses just how zany Kaye and Eve were going to be as they tried, paraphrasing a John Lennon song title, to Bring On The Lucy.
Your download…peppy orchestra leader Wilbur Hatch leading the band; the two original theme songs combined to form a neat minute of nostalgia.
WILBUR HATCHES TWO THEMES
Patsy Cline couldn't have fallen to pieces without Hank Cochran.
Eddy Arnold couldn't have made the world go away without Hank, either.
And Burl Ives could not have shed that "bitty tear" or found a "funny way of laughing'" without Hank.
As you're astute enough to realize by now, Hank Cochran was a songwriter, and he died.
But not before Elvis Costello, Merle Haggard and many others threw him a great party last year. And we'll get to that party in just a minute. First, a look back...
Garland Cochran (August 2, 1935 – July 15, 2010) grew up in orphanages after his parents split, and lived for a while in Mississippi. At 12, he was hard at work drilling oil wells with his uncle. Still in his teens, he formed a duo called "The Cochran Brothers." His partner, Eddie Cochran, was not actually his brother. Eddie was also more interested in rock than rockabilly.
By 1960, Eddie Cochran was a star, albeit a dead one (car accident) and Hank was in Nashville, working as a songwriter along with a fellow named Willie Nelson. Willie wrote "Crazy" for Patsy Cline. And Hank? With Harlan Howard he co-wrote "I Fall To Pieces," which became his first success. Back then, a songwriter could earn very good money with royalties, and when he got a check for $11,000, he found it "mind-boggling."
He handed Patsy two more Top Ten songs: "She's Got You" in 1961 and "Why Can't He Be You" in 1962. His"Make the World Go Away" was a success two years in a row, first on the country charts for Ray Price in 1963 and then for Eddy Arnold in 1964 who also crossed it into the pop charts.
Hank's modest career as a singer never amounted to much, although "Sally Was a Good Old Girl" reached #20 on the country charts in 1962, and he did make some albums. As a favor to a longtime friend, Willie Nelson joined Hank for a cover version of "A Little Bitty Tear," which was the last time Hank made the Top 100. Even with Willie in on the session, the song only reached #57. While his biggest smashes were in the early 60's, he still could write a chart-topper, including the enduring and well-covered "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurtin' Me," which hit #1 via Ronnie Milsap's version in 1989.
Cochran had almost as many wives as he had #1 hits (five of them) but managed to stay married to the last one for the past 28 years. He also managed to find country singers to record his songs in the 70's, 80's and beyond, and you can sample them in the download file below (along with a few by Hank himself). In 2002 he released "Livin' For a Song: A Songwriter's Autobiography."
Two years ago Hank underwent surgery to remove cancerous tumors from his pancreas. His internal problems increased over the years, leading insiders to expect the worst each time he needed to be hospitalized. Fortunately in June of 2009, Merle Haggard hosted a celebration for him, quipping "You know you're a brilliant songwriter when your ex shows up at your celebration!" He was referring to Jeannie Seely. Merle sang seven songs, and he was joined by Elvis Costello, Bobby Bare, Cowboy Jack Clement, Lee Ann Womack, Gene Watson and even the president and CEO of BMI, Del Bryant. They honored their favorite tunes, and of course, his.
Of his favorite tune, "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurtin' Me," (which nobody got tired of covering), he recalled, "People study songs and go over them and all that...and they tell me that's one of the most well-written songs, but that has nothing to do with why it's my favorite. It's my favorite because it can still cut me up just like the day I wrote it."
Hank wrote "Don't Touch Me" (Etta James), "I Fall To Pieces" (Patti Page), A Little Bitty Tear and Funny Way of Laughin' (Burl Ives), "That's All that Matters" (Mickey Gilley), "Would These Arms Be In Your Way" (Keith Whitley), "Can I Sleep In Your Arms Tonight Mister" (Jeannie Selly), plus George Jones, Eddy Arnold and more...
Below's a threesome of "Ain't Life Hell," "Same Old Hurt" and "If She Could See Me Now," the first with Willie Nelson, the last two by Hank his own self.
HANK COCHRAN TRIBUTE
You might remember Jimmy Webb's unusual song "P. F. Sloan," which he's sung on several albums (and re-covered with Jackson Browne on his new multi-star duet album "Across the River.") It somehow contrasted or compared Sloan's longevity with the disappearance and reappearance of London Bridge (now a tourist attraction in America), Nixon's comeback and presidential victory, and the case of Roy Rogers' horse Trigger, who died at age 33 in 1965, but was born again as a stuffed exhibit:
My old friend Trigger up and died
So now they've got him stuffed and dried
You know they've tanned his hide
he's starin' glassy eyed
Out through the parlor door
The song leaped to the top of my iTunes jukebox with the news that Trigger is on the move, thanks to a recent auction. He'd been on display in Branson, Missouri, the tourist mecca where old C&W singers and MOR artists perform, and the "Roy Rogers Museum" used to stand. With an understandable lack of interest in Roy Rogers these days, the museum had to shut down.
Roy Rogers Junior ran an auction, clearing out the museum. If Jimmy Webb's out on the road somewhere, and still covers "P.F. Sloan" amid crowd favorites such as "Macarthur Park" and "Galveston," he might want to revise the lyrics to something like...
Roy's old friend Trigger, stuffed and dried
could not find rest when Rogers died
No, with no sense of pride
the estate tried
to sell him on an auction site
For fifty bucks a pound...
And succeeded. Trigger was sold for $266,000. You'd think for that price, Junior would've thrown in Roy's dog Bullet, but no, that was a separate auction. Fortunately the same Nebraska cable TV network owner who bought Trigger, also bought Bullet (for an extra $35,000). Here's the deal. The cable station will use these props to call attention to re-runs of old Roy Rogers movies…hosted by Roy Rogers Jr. So there you are, a happy ending for all concerned. Junior is still making a living, and America's Western Heritage lives on, as people once again remember Roy Rogers as a squinty-eyed cowboy hero. Although the chain of Roy Rogers restaurants weren't bad…with the novelty of the "free fixin's" buffet where you could augment your burger with not just ketchup but fresh lettuce, onion and tomato slices. Frankly, Pardners, the best place for a fast-food burger if McDonalds, Burger King, Hardees, White Castle, Jack in the Box, Wendy's and Roy Rogers were lined up in the same strip mall...was Roy's.
Happy Trails, folks. Hopefully Roy Rogers (who died in 1998) and his perky wife Dale Evans (2001) were cremated. Otherwise…hell, they could end up sold and starring in a new movie from George Romero.
P.F. SLOAN song by JIMMY WEBB No 60-second wait-time from weasels who want money from you for giving you somebody else's property, no pop-ups or porn time.
Naftali Kupferberg (September 28, 1923 – July 12, 2010) was a bridge from the beatniks to the hippies. That he jumped off the bridge, only shows what kind of a loon he was. Beat poet Allen Ginsberg (who was published in Tuli's early and unsuccessful 1958 magazine "Birth") mentioned him, but not by name, in his greatest poem, "Howl." Ginsberg wrote about the guy "who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge…and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown."
Poetic, and basically true. Kupferberg actually jumped off the Manhattan Bridge: "I thought that I had lost the ability to love. So, I figured I might as well be dead….but nothing happened. I landed in the water, and I wasn't dead. So I swam ashore, and went home and took a bath and went to bed."
By the time the hippies came along, Tuli was, like Ginsberg, a legendary character. Tuli wrote "1001 Ways to Beat the Draft" and formed The Fugs (based on Norman Mailer's fuggin' curse word in "The Naked and the Dead.") The Fugs were very much an underground group, with two obscure releases on an indie label. Co-Fug founder Ed Sanders (on the left in the photo, Tuli in the middle) admitted, "we just did this for a joke…we were poets, and we certainly knew how to write words, but none of us went to Juilliard, and when we made the first record, we didn't even know how to face the microphones." For those that bothered to listen, The Fugs became part of that special anarchistic, grinning, goofing, deadly serious and harshly hilarious alternate universe that was also peopled by Shel Silverstein, R. Crumb, Frank Zappa and Abbie Hoffman…and others just to the right or left of Dylan or Ochs.
The Fugs first album included your sample of Tuli, "Defeated," which has a few neurotic mommy-lines that would not have been out of place in a Ginsberg poem: "She wouldn't let me play with my cock/ Or suck on her soft tittie…" (Here, this is followed by the chant "No Deposit No Return," from one of Tuli's later bizarre solo projects…a mind-boggled look at how commercials and ads invade our brains and can almost be considered art). The Fugs managed to sign a major label deal for their third album, "It Crawled Into My Hand, Honest," which contains their most vividly brilliant song "Wide Wide River (River of Shit") as well as one of Tuli's mystic poems: "Do not tell me. I am source of your knock-up. The mud elephant wading through the sea leaves no tracks…"
As you'd expect, Tuli's world of sex, drugs, goofs, non-conformist thinking and hippie sensibilities and nonsense, meant that he wasn't the world's greatest businessman. Not many artists are. Which is why they often end up working very hard to avoid reality…creating even loonier worlds for themselves. Some, such as Shel Silverstein, earned enough royalties to do very well. Some, including Allen Ginsberg and Philip Roth, looked toward Academia and teaching in order to make sure of a weekly paycheck. Others just tried to get by, even if it meant hauling a table out onto the sidewalk and selling cartoons and shit. Unfortunately for Tuli, he lived long enough to reach the age of entitlement and Internet downloads, and the extinction of the royaty check. Which is why last year there had to be a benefit to raise some money for him so he could pay his medical bills. But hell, it happened to Dave Van Ronk, too. And it happened to others, who shall remain nameless…and who didn't raise enough money for more than the bullet it took to take 'em out of a world where reality could no longer be fantasized away. In other words, they couldn't just giggle and quote Tuli: "Life's so funny, I could cry, life's so funny, I could die," and stay alive.
Tuli fought the good fight, refused to grow up, and kept on being weird. Ever non-commercial, he took his creativity to the non-paying world of Public Access television and, yes, YouTube. It's certainly nice that these days anybody can get their work out there…but if you notice the download numbers on Tuli's "tulifuli" YouTube posts, they show that there's so many people fucking around, it's interfering with the fuckers who really know how to fuck around. In other words, they're being swamped by that great river of shit known as "Free on the Internet." We won't see the likes of a Tuli Kupferberg again, because today everyone's an anarchist, a musician, a poet, an author and a nonconformist only not very good at it. Not so that somebody else would pay for a book or pamphlet to be printed, or an album to be released, which is what made Tuli stand out and keep going. The good news is that if you do want to march to a different drum, not let a lack of talent prevent you from drawing cartoons, and want to flash a camcorder on yourself as you read wacko observations or ad-lib goofiness, you can. The bad news? It don't pay the bills.
Trying to actually make a living from being a cult figure, oddball, anarchist or comic and cosmic joker? These days...Fuggetaboutit.
Defeated, No Deposit No Return (such is death, huh!) by The FUGS and TULI KUPFERBERG Instant download or listen on line. No 60-second wait-time from weasels who want money from you for giving you somebody else's property, no pop-ups or porn time.
Friday, July 09, 2010
If P. Diddy was looking' for one mo' hit and wanted to crack the Indian market with a sparkling ditty, how about…Pee Loon by Mohit?
No, not some crazed cousin to "Golden Showers" by the late 70's group Deaf School, "Pee Loon" is a love song from the biggest movie factory in the world…Bollywood (not Hollywood). It's on the soundtrack to the new film "Once Upon a Time in Mumbai." The film's about crime czar Haji Mastan and his fascination with the Indian actress Madhubala in the 1960's (she died in 1969). The power of the "Mumbai Mafia" in the 70s and 80s is also explored in the film, which stars Emraan Harmi and Kangana Ranaut.
There's a bit more drinking than peeing involved in the song. If you'd care to follow along with the lyrics: Pee loon, tree neelay neelay nainon se shabnam. Pee loon, tree geelay geelay hoto ki sargam, Pee loon, hai peenay ka mausam.
Tere sang ishq taari hai. Tere sang ik khumari hai. Tere sang chain bhi mujhko, Tere sang bekraari hai, Tere bin jee nahi lagda. Tre bin jee nahi sakda. Tujhpe hai haare maine vaare do jahan, kurbaan, meharbaan, ke main toh kurbaan. Sun le zara, tera kurbaan. Hosh mein rahun kyun aaj main. Tu meri baahon mein simti hai. Mujh mein samayi hai yun. Jis tarah tu koi ho nadi. Tu mere seene mein chhupti hai. Saagar tumhara main hoon…
Which roughly translates as: I shall drink the shimmer of your eyes. I shall drink the moistness of your lips. With you, love is breathtaking, intoxicating, peaceful, restless…My heart can not beat without you, I can not live without you, I have given away everything for you…and if you're not going to finish your Muttar Paneer, I trust you'll ask the waiter for a doggie bag. And don't forget that last chunk of onion naan. Let me stick this somosa in my pocket for a snack on the bus home…"
All right, maybe it loses a little in the translation, especially on this blog of puns and jabs. All I can add is:
Shaam ko milun jo main tujhe. Toh bura subah na jaane kyun. Kuchh maan jaati hai yeh. Har lamha har ghadi har pehar.
Hi teri yaadon se tadpa ke, Mujhko jalati hai yeh, Pee loon. Main dheere dheere jalne ka yeh gham. Pee loon. Inn gore gore haathon se hum dum.
"Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst. Where there aren't no ten commandments, and a man can raise a thirst…" No…that's not right, either. Nevermind. Just download this Loony tune…
Michael Polnareff has turned 66. The elusive French pop star (born on the 3rd of July, 1944) has kept a fairly low profile in the past two decades (releasing three albums: Kama Sutra in 1990, Live at the Roxy in 1996 and Ze Tour in 2007.) He's still well remembered; the proof is a "Happy Birthday, Mikey" right here on the Illfolks blog. Who could ask for more than that?
Polnareff's first major hit (with Jimmy Page part of the session band) was "La Poupee Qui Fait Non" in 1966. More on that later on. Aside from bumping into the pre-Zep Mr. Page, he got some English lyrics done for him by a pre-Procol Harum Keith Reid. There wasn't really a meeting of the depressed minds…Michel was simply looking for English lyrics so he could appeal to a larger market, and on a tip from Keith's alert manager David Platz, Reid submitted some. The best of the Polnareff-Reid numbers, "Time Will Tell," is your download below.
Polnareff became one of pop's infante terrible types…sporting dark glasses (which, like Roy Orbison's, were more a necessity than an affectation) and offering up scandalous tunes like "L'Amour avec Toi," while doing naughty things like baring his butt for a publicity photo.
Ultimately Polnareff fled France in the midst of betrayals (hmm…where DID all the money go) and tragedies (the death of his mother). Settling in the United States in the mid-70's, he resumed his controversial ways, climbed back into the charts via "Jesus for Tonight," and composed the score for the Margaux Hemingway rape drama "Lipstick." In the 80's, Michel returned to France and reached a comeback peak at the decade's end via "Kama Sutra," featuring Mike Oldfield. Around 1995 he underwent cataract surgery. The following year, 1996, France's great superstar Mylene Farmer, along with some popular Middle Eastern yowler named Khaled, made the charts covering Polnareff's first hit, "La Poupee Qui Fait Non," which translates loosely as "The Popcorn is Non-Fat."
In 1999, "A Tribute to Polnareff" was released, featuring Pulp (Jarvis Cocker), Saint Etienne, Peter Hammill, The Residents, Nick Cavet, Spookie, Daphne Kaye, Pascal Comelade, Marc Almond, and many more. Michel was last seen in live performance in 2007, which was around the time a French documentary appeared on television, alerting old fans (with memory loss) of his achievements, and explaining to a new generation why there's something else worth listening to besides the God-awful sound of French rap. Or, to paraphrase John Steed, "Michel P…you're needed."
MICHEL POLNAREFF KEITH REID "Time Will Tell"
"Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?" She can't, Bob; she died.
Jane Nyambura, one of Kenya's most popular singers, died on June 29th in a way you'd expect of someone from that continent…shoddy medical treatment. Her husband James said, "I am still in shock but God has done His will. Last month I took her to Kikyuy Mission Hospital…she was discharged after a week." It didn't mean she was cured. All it meant was that nobody discovered that she had meningitis. A few weeks later, Jane once again fell ill, and this time was taken to someplace different, Lang'ata Hospital. Nobody there seemed to know what to make of her problem, either. "On Thursday, she was okay, even talking," her husband said. "But come Friday, she fell into a coma, and a brain scan showed that she had meningitis…"
Queen Jane (her stage name) had been performing in good health and had released an album about four months ago. Adventurous music fans may have heard one of her songs, "Nduraga Ngwetereire" via the much-bootlegged "Rough Guide" ethnic music series. Your download is her first big hit, "Mwendwa KK." These songs, and several of her other hits, have pretty much the same pattern…a light, happy beat and frolicsome, nasal singing. The download below might sound a little like Paul Simon's "Graceland" if it had been produced by David Seville of The Chipmunks.
The singer began her musical career back in 1984, when she took an interesting turn from politics (her uncle, John Michuki, was Enviroment Minister at the time) to writing songs about the problems in her country. She wasn't happy with the average music heard in Kenya, which she said was "about verbal slurs, lewd speech and dance moves." She tried to offer alternatives, and she also ran a music shop that served as a place where budding musicians could learn their craft. Queen Jane's early success was in the band Mbiri Stars in the late 80's. Leader Simon Kihara, tearfully said when told of her death, "I'm like a three-legged stool whose one leg has been broken. The feeling is worse than what I felt when she left my band, Mbiri Stars." Queen Jane's own take on leaving that band was, "Feeling cheated and exploited, I opted out." With the help of producer Kimaita Magiri, and a group called Them Mushrooms, she recorded her album Ndorogonye, released in 1991 under the band name Queenja Les Les. A year later, Mwendwa KK became a hit, and she never looked back.
Now fans are looking back at her many achievements, and those of you who've never heard her, can look down below and grab a song and a bit of African pop-culture.
Mwendwa KK - QUEEN JANE
Seems like every day George Harrison's classic song "Piggies" is the true soundtrack of our lives. In the past day, you could play it as background for such headlines as: the BP oil spill continues, 2 suicide bombers kill 50 people in Pakistan, or obscenely rich ex-eBay CEO Meg "Pig" Whitman runs for Governor of California. More people in the news? How about LeBron James leaving Cleveland (where he even lives) to get an even bigger and piggier amount of money to play for Miami? How about zoologist Jack Hanna declaring in 50 years half the animal species will be extinct? What's causing it…except human piggies with their over-population and their sadistic and ignorant pastimes of hunting and seeking aphrodisiacs and status symbol fur coats to wear?
On this Animal Farm that we live in, "piggies" is too nice a word for most corporate villains and politicians, to say nothing of the radical Islamic loonies who would be deeply offended at any reference to pork while they grind people into sausage. But "piggies" suits the ridiculous "stars" who are constantly in the headlines. That includes Lindsay Lohan literally giving a "Fuck U" in court, George Michael once again in trouble with the law, and Mel Gibson "using the 'n' word" (as the tabloids shiveringly put it) and facing 4 years in jail for punching his girlfriend. Also in the news: Leslie Van Houten, now 60 and a model prisoner for 40 years, actually denied parole for the 19th time on the grounds that a lesson needs to still be sent to those who think actresses, socialites and rich businessmen can be slaughtered as "piggies" by a cult of hippies. Key phrase there: "by a cult of hippies." Otherwise, yes they can, and it happens every day.
George Harrison's dead…otherwise he could spend an entire 2 hour concert adding verses to "Piggies," including the phenomenon of "entitlement," that means immigrants automatically get welfare (ie "the dole") and illegal ones get even more, that overcrowded jails mean even murderers can skip out free in a year or two if they've even been convicted, and that the sense of "entitlement" has yielded vast armies of selfish and clueless fools who think that the only freedom worth fighting for is getting anything copyrighted for free…mostly because they are obsessed with idiot celebrities and must own (free) the latest musical tripe from Lady Gaga or get the latest rotten movie about vampires (bloodsucking and parasitism being something they identity with so readily).
Mel Gibson's news, which should be on a back page somewhere along with the news of Lindsay Lohan or George Michael, is front page because so many piggies care about the piggy lives of "celebrities." We're supposed to care about nauseating couples such as Katy Perry and Russell Brand, or worry over "Brangelina" breaking up, or care what's happened to Jon and Kate. It's ridiculous enough to care about talented millionaire singers or actors, but it hits rock-bottom when the subject of all the attention is some talentless swine from a scripted low-budget "reality" show. The Kardashians shouldn't be allowed in a Burger King much less on television. They are no talent. As for faint talent, how often do we see pictures of an aging, idiot-speak model (who only has the talent to stand in front of a camera after the make-up artist and wardrobe mistress did all the work) and her husband, whose hoarse crooning is not original at all, just Johnny Mathis after being kicked in the balls by Phil Collins. Yet we constantly need to know what's going on with baby-making Heidi Klum and her trained Seal.
Piggies constantly gobble up media coverage by their appallingly bad behavior…which is only matched by their appalling lack of talent. Charlie Sheen? Making a million an episode? On a sitcom? When he has no comic skills at all? He replaced boorish bastard Jim Belushi as America's long-running sitcom star on a show with no laughs, and Noisy Jim was also in the headlines for being a creep. Meanwhile anyone who comes out gay only needs an ounce of talent, since the homosexual cliques in Hollywood (from the top, with Barry Diller, Jann Wenner and David Geffen among them) will keep them constantly in front of the cameras, in disproportion to their abilities. Or do you think Neil Patrick Harris or David Hyde Pierce really have talent? Not to mention coy Ryan Seacrest, milking the "is he or isn't he" game. The press is loaded with gay gossip column writers and anyone tacky (Perez Hilton) can instantly join and become famous just by being a piggy. With almost nobody working at their craft long enough to display actual acting, singing or dancing skills, we now have idiot piggies for superstars, ones named "Vienna" or "Snooki" or "Omarosa," and this slop is good enough for all the piggies to be fed every night, in time-slots that once went to television programs of style, intellect and courage. But piggies watch anything, and most are home all day long to wallow in whatever burbling twits like Rachael Ray or Martha Stewart have to say, or what "The View" crones want to interrupt each other with, or what garbage somebody's giving away on "Let's Make a Deal" or "Price is Right." Piggies also are fascinated by learning if some white trash or tar ball is or isn't the father of some other piece of baby-spawning shit getting a lie detector test from Maury Povich. Or what moron is being yelled at by Judge Judy…who herself is to celebrity what an old shoe is to breakfast. Not to mention Jerry Springer except briefly.
And as George Harrison sang it, everywhere there's lots of piggies…so every country has their home-groan share. Oh Goody. (Jade Goody, for U.K. piggies…and let's never forget her.) But let's not get off on a rant, here! Back to the original point...
"Piggies" came to mind recently and specifically, thanks to that reliable and drunken embarrassment Mel Gibson, once an action-movie idol, but now acting like Pete Doherty's grandpa. Frankly, Mel doesn't deserve the epithet "piggy." He goes whole hog in being a misanthrope, misogynist and racist. He does win a point or two for rarely denying any of it. At best, he just grits his teeth and remains silent, asking everyone instead to go see his latest violent, misogynistic, racist movie. Let's not be too hypocritical, either; Mel says things many of us actual "think." Most especially when we're not thinking. But really, who hasn't thought of saying "sugar tits" to a bitchy female cop or some other hottie on a power trip? Who hasn't grumbled about some Jews in the world who act in a stereotypical way (though NOT your beloved Three Stooges, Mel). Who hasn't seethed over an idiot wife or girlfriend dressing or acting like she would like to be the star of a gang-rape porn video? As for the "N" word, it's "Nigger." Thinking hostile thoughts about blacks is something 90% of whites do, just as 90% of blacks think hostile thoughts about whites, but "Whigger" or 'Honky" or "Cracker" isn't as cutting a word (which is why the pen isn't mightier than the switchblade, for most ghetto-dwellers.)
Mel Gibson also called his girlfriend a "psycho cunt," and is there ANY man alive who hasn't at one time thought the same thing about his beloved significant other? Mel also told her once, "I am going to come and burn the fucking house down, but you will blow me first!" Oh for fuck's sake, it's entirely possible Ralph Kramden once said that to Alice. Except in sitcomland all he ever really did was threaten her with the massive domestic violence of being punched so hard she'd land on the moon. People say Mel Gibson is stupid. Well, finally, the proof is in. He got involved with someone even more of a swine than he…and more intelligent. She came well prepared for her relationship with him; she carried a secret recorder, to get every word of his down for posterity. And her lawyer. And you can't write a piece about "piggies" without mentioning a lawyer.
Yes, "everywhere there's lots of Piggies."
And who is the Illfolks choice to sing about it? Theodore Bikel, who was briefly calling himself Theo Bikel in the late 60's, when he recorded this tarnished gem. At the time, Bikel was considered some fogey-actor, as out of touch as Sebastian (album of Bob Dylan narration) Cabot. Bikel had become one of the ex-Tevyes, after all, appearing on Broadway in the un-cool (too Jewish!) "Fiddler on the Roof." How DARE any actor over 40 even TOUCH a Dylan or Beatles number?? Besides, never trust anyone over 30! That message, cried out by oh-so-tolerant, peace-loving flower children, was very much in the air at the time. So forget the facts, including that Bikel in the early 60's was hanging around the same Village locations as Dylan, was singing the same protest songs, and fucking the same hippie chicks as some of his better-credential'd van Ronk and Rollers. A renaissance man (not that he fucked Annie Haslam), Bikel had a massive resume at the time he recorded his Warners album, and it's gotten bigger. Christ, compared to Jon Gosselin, Bikel is Orson Welles. Compared to the latest American Idol schmuck, Somebody UnWyze, Bikel's George Harrison. So let him sing "Piggies" and don't have a cow about it!
So as you leave this blog, and inevitably run into the latest LiLo headline, Brangelina gossip, or tape-recorded rant or video-recorded raunch from Mel Gibson, have Theo Bikel's "Piggies" as a keepsake. With its zany opening, moog-ish vogue underpinnings and lyrics-as-art recitation capturing the zeitgeist of the times (even I'm nauseated by this sentence), this is quite a version of "Piggies." Ricky Gervais couldn't do any better, and let's pray to Christ he doesn't try.
PIGGIES - THEO BIKEL