Saturday, December 29, 2012

CHARLIE WEAVER sings HAPPY NEW YEAR

If Cliff Arquette was still alive, yesterday he would have celebrated his birthday. He would only have been 107.

Many still remember Cliff's rustic alter-ego, "Charlie Weaver," who at one time was so well known, you could not only buy a book or a few records, but even a toy replica of him (which still commands a high price on eBay). Charlie's humor was not usually based on him enjoying an alcoholic nip now and then, but fermented cumquat juice never hurt anybody.

Charlie Weaver is probably best remembered by baby boomers who saw him on "The Hollywood Squares," and enjoyed the old rascal's often risque quips. The download below might raise a slight smile for those fans. "Happy New Year" is part song, part monologue, and if it amuses at all, it's because Arquette created such a wonderful voice for the Weaver character. If you never heard of the guy, the track might be a tad mystifying, although you'd get the idea that he was in the same comic league as fretful old cuss and 50's sitcom star Walter Brennan, and that the way he gradually gets tipsy is a slight homage to corny Red Skelton's "Guzzler's Gin" bit. Weaver was popular on radio and on TV at a time when subtle comedians such as George Gobel and Lum & Abner were successful, and homespun, recognizable characters (including Andy Griffith's Mayberry bunch) were beloved by millions.

The track is from Charlie's second (and last) album, "Charlie Weaver Sings (?) For His People" on Columbia. His earlier album was an audio assortment of "Letters from Mama," which he became famous for reading on the old Jack Paar "Tonight Show," and you'd either have to be 70, or a comedy buff, to know about that. (I hasten to add, I'm in the latter category.) And in case you missed the previously posted "Cumquat Time in Mt. Idy," no need to search the blog for it. It too is right down below.

CHARLIE WEAVER Happy New Year

CHARLIE WEAVER It's Cumquat Time In Mt. Idy

In Praise of JACK KLUGMAN

The greatness of average-guy Jack Klugman, is that when his death was announced in Christmas Eve, the 90 year-old star was remembered by so many people in quite a few different ways. For some:

1) He was "the last of the 12 Angry Men," the others in that famous movie all having passed on before him.

2) He was the lovable slob Oscar Madison, the only sports writer in the world who would ever be seen wearing a baseball cap backwards (even toupee-wearing Howard Cosell would rather glue his rug on rather than be such a gamer).

3) He was the empathetic everyman lost in "The Twilight Zone," in several memorable episodes.

4) He was Quincy (no first name, please), the crime-fighting coroner who fought bravely and constantly in matters of social issues and morality.

5) He was a singer!

OK, five only applies to someone ill! But since this is a music blog, how else to pay tribute to the guy? The Emmy-winning, Tony-nominated (for the musical "Gypsy" back in 1960) star was a favorite of mine. I most certainly did NOT see him sing opposite Ethel Merman in a few songs in "Gypsy." (He had no solo number). I can't say I remember his first sitcom, "Harris Against the World," which has so far disappeared into obscurity, but I got to know him through re-runs of "Twilight Zone" and various movies and TV shows he appeared on, when he was a familiar character actor if not a famous name.

Naturally it was "The Odd Couple" (1970-1975) that endeared him to millions, and made him a star. He and Tony Randall made every moment enjoyable with their perfect comic timing. Klugman's great versatility allowed him to almost instantly return to TV after the sitcom ended. He became "Quincy," a far more responsible and crusading man than Oscar Madison, but still 100% Jack Klugman, "Quincy" actually ran two years longer than "The Odd Couple." Think about it…it took a long time before other sitcom legends (Andy Griffith, Buddy Ebsen, Dick Van Dyke) aged from their youthful comedy hits to become believable stars in a drama series.

Klugman probably considered "Quincy" a much more memorable and important character than "Oscar Madison." Oscar, after all, was just a sloppy sportswriter. Said Klugman: '"Quincy was a muckraker, like Upton Sinclair, who wrote about injustices. He was my ideal as a youngster, my author, my hero. Everybody said, 'Quincy'll never be a hit.' I said, 'You guys are wrong. He's two heroes in one, a cop and a doctor.' A coroner has power. He can tell the police commissioner to investigate a murder. I saw the opportunity to do what I'd gotten into the theater to do — give a message. They were going to do cops and robbers with 'Quincy.' I said, 'You promised me I could do causes.' They said, 'Nobody wants to see that.' I said, 'Look at the success of "60 Minutes." They want to see it if you present it as entertainment.'"

Klugman was a big enough star to get his way, and he was proved correct. Other shows that veered from solid writing and social issues to pander to formulaic "action" scenes (such as "Cagney and Lacy") would find their audience losing interest. It was that sense of "haven't I seen this before," that doomed Jack's last foray into series television. Three years after "Quincy," Jack starred in a forgettable two-year sitcom with John Stamos. It was called "You Again," which hardly suggested something new. It ended in 1988.

In 1989, Klugman's career nearly ended due to what he admitted was the stupidest decision of his life: smoking. Hit in an area fatal to an actor's career, throat cancer took away his voice. Jack should've known better from actor William Gargan, who had to have his larynx removed, and in some memorably scary commercials for the American Cancer Society, used an artificial voice box to warn against the dangers of tobacco. Fortunately for Jack, not all of his vocal cords were completely damaged, and working with a skilled therapist, he was able to create a raspy sound that allowed him to be heard. But to ever work again? With the avid encouragement of his old "Odd Couple" friend Tony Randall, Jack forayed back into the public eye, first in coy, non-speaking roles (including a TV commercial with Randall doing all the talking) and then, in the toughest setting possible: the Broadway stage. Tony booked Jack for "Three Men on a Horse" in 1993, an after more film and TV work, he and Tony returned to broadway in 1997 for "The Sunshine Boys," which I was fortunate enough to see. Klugman's voice was certainly harsh and alarming at first, but it didn't take long to acclimate to it, especially when he was speaking those great Neil Simon lines, being his familiar comic-irascible self, and partnered with the ever encouraging and ebullient Tony Randall. A humble, no-nonsense guy, Jack never did write an autobiography, but was moved to write a memoir, "Tony and Me," following Randall's passing in 2004.

Jack had two sons from his marriage to Brett Somers, the actress who played Oscar Madison's wife. Something of an odd couple themselves, they were amicably separated in the 70's, but never divorced. After her death in 2007, Klugman married long-time girlfriend Peggy Crosby the following year. His son Adam, who had a bit part in an episode of "The Odd Couple," was the one to announce the sad news, in a one-liner that was very much in the spirit of his realist father: "He had a great life and he enjoyed every moment of it and he would encourage others to do the same."

The choice for the download is "Brush Up Your Shakespeare," a duet from Tony Randall and Jack Klugman that is a lot more entertaining than the duets Jack did with Ethel Merman in "Gypsy." The lyrics by Cole Porter are from the show "Kiss Me Kate," and several couplets are still amusingly rude. Playing on titles of Shakespeare plays: "When your baby is pleading for pleasure…Let her sample your Measure for Measure" and "If she says your behavior is heinous…kick her right in the Coriolanus."

The photo above? It's one that Jack autographed for me, but now it's been slightly Photoshopped for all of you.

Jack Klugman and Tony Randall sing... Brush Up Your Shakespeare!

FONTELLA BASS TWICE-SCREWED ONE-SHOT WONDER

It's a good thing Fontella Bass was a fan of gospel music. Her faith helped her endure some bad breaks (courtesy of her record label and a pair of TV commercials that misused her music). She also had a strong connection to her family, which is why, after so many singles and albums failing to garner her much attention, she still had plenty of fulfillment in life via touring in Europe, local gigs in St. Louis, and in being a mom to her four children.

She died, age 72, the day after Christmas, having been in ill health for the past six years due to a series of strokes. A heart attack on December 2nd left her in critical condition and it was only a matter of time after that. Ironically, her beginning in show business was in singing at a local funeral home. She was only five when she was in demand for singing religious and spiritual songs. Her mother Martha Bass Peaston was a gospel singer. Martha, who died in 1998, was also the mother of David Peaston, who was a St. Louis teacher before finally scoring a hit with a 1989 solo album that featured "Can I?" and "Two Wrongs Don't Make it Right." He, Martha and Fontella Bass recorded an album together called 'Promises: A Family Portrait of Faith." He needed it: after being diagnosed with diabetes, he ended up a double amputee, and died in February of 2012 at the young age of 54.

Fontella graduated from high school in 1958, married her high school sweetheart, and got her big break as a piano player in a blues band featuring Little Milton and Oliver Sain. As Fontella put it, "one night Milton got a little too full of scotch to sing, and Oliver asked me. And I just never stopped." Her one-shot wonder hit, "Rescue Me," was recorded on January 4, 1965. Legend has it that she got so carried away during the session that she ignored some of the lyrics, adding more traditional gospel shouts. Originally released for the R&B market, Bass's song was a crossover sensation, hitting the Top 10 and becoming the first million seller for Chess Records since Chuck Berry a decade earlier.

Unfortunately, Fontella's name was not on the credits for songwriting. It was common in those days for record labels and artist managers to play those kinds of games. There was fine print on the contracts, careless (deliberate) mistakes in bookkeeping and sometimes even a quick shuffle on writing credits with perhaps a fast-talking conjob urging an artist to take a (paltry) cash buy-out over royalties. A classic example a few years after "Rescue Me" was Matthew Fisher getting no co-write credit on "A Whiter Shade of Pale." He was told to forget about it because there would surely be many more #1 million-seller hits for his band, and he'd get due credit the next time around.

In Bass's case, she naturally felt race had something to do with it: "The recording companies had been taking advantage of black musicians for a long time, and I decided to take a stand against it, but I was standing alone. I was a black female, so I automatically had two strikes against me in that white world.” Chess Records may have specialized in black artists, but it was run by Leonard Chess, born in Poland, real name: Lejzor Czyz. Not that he was more racist than businessman; guys like him, or Morris Levy a Roulette or even Jerry Wexler at Atlantic were known to play hardball with white artists asking for an accounting of earnings. CEO's in every business screw their employees and take millions in salary while paying minimum wage.

Fontela was furious at the paltry royalty check that Chess Records finally handed her, and within two years, she was off the label and, she felt, blacklisted (maybe that's white-listed). She claimed that others resisted signing her because of rumors that she was "too difficult." But it's also possible that she was, even with the fantastic performance on "Rescue Me," considered just another gospel R&B singer of which there were many. And many of the best (Etta James was also on Chess) weren't high on the charts like Diana Ross.

Bass not only failed to establish herself against all the competition in the R&B world, she lost out in singing a revised version of her hit, "Deliver Me," for the Pizza Hut chain. Aretha Franklin got that gig. You can hear Aretha's spot via the download below. “I feel screwed,” she complained to a local reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I’m sorry, but there’s no other word to use. I feel screwed all over again.” But there was a limit to how much screwing she'd allow, and when "Rescue Me" was also used in an American Express commercial, she took legal action and won a settlement. It was probably for more money than she made on any of her various gospel albums released over the years. Her last was "Travellin'" in 2001, though she still traveled for live shows, either ones involving singing her greatest hit, gospel concerts, or programs featuring herself and her brother David.

Most mainstream music fans only know Bass for "Rescue Me," and frankly, it's because the song was even better than she was. Same applies to "Band of Gold" from Freda Payne. Be honest. Either woman could've had a hit with either song. That's why so many very talented artists end up "one shot wonders." They couldn't find another smash hit song to showcase themselves, and their voices, faces and figures weren't quite enough. But for those who want to catch up with the hardcore soul fans, the white gays who love black R&B women (the ones who'd refer to Bass, Payne or Diana Ross as "divas") , down below is not just "Rescue Me," but also appropriate titles "I Can't Rest" and "Leave It In the Hands of Love," fond tributes to Fontella.

Three Songs from FONTELLA BASS. Zip file. Download to open and listen.

DELIVER ME...

sung by ARETHA FRANKLIN in 1992 for PIZZA HUT Download or listen on line...no capcha codes, no sneaky pop-ups, no demands to buy a premium account or "support my hard work" with a Paypal donation.

For NRA Wayne LaPierre: ALL THE NUNS WITH GUNS!

I posted G.E. Smith's amusingly bizarre "All The Nuns with Guns" back in 2006 and again in 2007, but as a recent comment on one of those pages put it…the song is more timely than ever. The image of nuns with guns…is something Wayne Lapierre of the NRA would approve of. Wayne, who makes about a million dollars a year as the spokesman for the gun lobby group, is furious at any idea of gun control. After all, that might shrink his salary to only $900,000. The 50 or more NRA employees also making 6 figure salaries might lose some blood money as well, and not be able to afford swimming pools or something. Companies such as Glock, might lose out on lucrative sales (one of the weapons owned by the psycho Lanza family in Connecticut was a neat-o $600 Glock).

LaPierre's solution is simple. Arm everybody. EVERYBODY buy guns! Most specifically, regarding the killing of 20 toddlers in Connecticut just a few weeks ago, have every teacher pack heat, and have an armed (but friendly) security guard on the premises. We know the latter can't possibly work. ONE security guard? Any scrawny loner could easily wander up to a guard with a concealed weapon, pick off that one defender of the entire school, and then storm on in with a backpack full of magazine clips to keep reloading that swell gun show item he bought (with no background check needed! Wheeee!)

So while gun control has momentarily become a hot-button issue, so much so that even adversaries such as Al Sharpton and Police Chief Kelly agree on it, we can be assured that the NRA still has enough power to block Senator Dianne Feinstein's proposals (which should be on the table, oh, in another month, or whenever the senate gets back from vacation). The NRA, after all, spent $10 million buying senators via campaign donations, and has brainwashed everyone into thinking that "if you take away our machine guns, next thing you know, we won't even be allowed a derringer." Nevermind that most everyone agrees that a house owner, in these days of home-invasions, has every right to have a handgun in the nightstand.

Mr. LaPierre, why stop at arming teachers, or have ONE measly guard in front of a school (a school that might have side doors, or vulnerable windows). School kids should pack heat, too. Guns should be given out when you enter a theater the same way they might hand you a booster seat or a hearing device or 3D glasses. Heckfire, if everybody in that Colorado movie house had guns, that jerky "Joker" guy would surely have been killed after he sprayed all those people with bullets, and only a few more die from "friendly" fire. Same thing with Loughner in Arizona…if everybody in the shopping mall was given a gun as soon as they parked their car, (along with coupons for a free 32 ounce soda at Pizza Hut when you buy $10 worth of pizza or something), then after that sudden eruption of gunfire, somebody would've taken out a piece, expertly shot Loughner through that scary skull of his, and again…maybe only killed a few others with shots that went astray.

Golly, if super market workers Cristina LobBrutto and Bryan Breen in New Jersey also had AK-47's by their side, they wouldn't have died at the hands of a deranged co-worker who suddenly appeared with an automatic rifle and wearing camouflage gear instead of a Pathmark t-shirt. And if police officers sometimes strike innocent people (like chasing down a killer near the Empire State Building earlier this year), don't expect gun totin' amateurs to do much better. But that's the price we must pay, right? The price being enriching gun manufacturers and Wayne LaPierre, who probably needs more than a million dollars a year to really, really have all the things in life he wants. Like a bigger car, more expert gay prostitutes (a supposition on my part), or a conscience (a fact, I believe).

G.E. Smith sings "Everybody got problems…everybody got somethin' inside of their hearts." So why not give 'em guns, to solve everything? Why not, indeed, replace rosaries with a gun clip.

Let's remember all the wise sayings of the gun nuts. If WE don't have guns, then only the outlaws will have guns. By that logic, heroin should be legal too, since junkies can get heroin even if it's illegal. And GUNS don't kill people, PEOPLE kill people…so, uh, well, hmm…kind of hard to tell when some crazy kid is going to erupt into violence, or some hillbilly in upstate New York who already killed his own grandmother will take out a bunch of firemen…oh well. Too bad the firemen weren't also packing heat instead of trying to put out the fire that maniac started. The ones who weren't instantly mowed down by sniper fire just might've shot back. And don't say "this brings us back to the days of the Wild West," because, and this is a fact, many towns had gun control and demanded that strangers leave their weapons with the sheriff.

G.E. Smith's song (you can faintly hear Paul Simon harmonizing on the chorus) may be prophetic, in talking about a time in the future when "all the nuns with guns" make every boy a better boy…by teaching him how to shoot. Maybe shoot all non-believers. Maybe shoot his parents. Maybe go back and shoot up a kindergarten class for some reason or other. "I'm never safe and little anymore," sings Mr. Smith. But thank God...there's "bullets for the holy war."

The important thing to remember is that money makes the world go round, and nothing else. So there will always be a good excuse for the NRA, for the oil companies, or for copyright-raping Google, or for millionaires like the Pirate Bay bunch or Kim Dotcom, to make a profit at the expense of somebody else's rights…whether it's the right to be creative, the right to control who uses your writing or photography, the right to clean air, the right to a livable climate, or the right to go to school and come back alive.

The NRA is the American Way...they don't believe in the gun control laws that have made Australia safer (following a 1996 mass killing), and certainly don't believe in Canada's safety policies, which include background checks. It's easier to buy a gun in America than it is to get a cat from the ASPCA (they do a background check and ask for letters of recommendation) or to get a car (one must, after all, have a driver's license which in turn requires taking safety courses).

Wayne LaPierre, a believer in buying more guns, having more weapons in the hands of more people, has foresight, right? He's a great American like William McKinley, John F. Kennedy, John Garfield and Abe Lincoln. And all four of those Presidents would have served out their terms if only, if ONLY they were packing heat or had armed guards around them. Right?

Enjoy the odd and catchy "All The Nuns with Guns," from the very obscure solo album by the legendary (one time leader of the Saturday Night Live band) G.E. Smith. Thanks, George.

Let's Arm These Ladies! And their students! ALL THE NUNS With GUNS!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bobby Cole & Steve Lawrence - and the Lonely & Sad

"This is how the lonely spend their time…" writing blogs for free while a greedy giant company called Google makes billions.

No, no, let's try that again. That's a line from a Bobby Cole song, because it's that time again….

My friend Bobby Cole, best known as a singer and songwriter, was also an arranger and conductor, and for a while led the orchestra for Judy Garland's concerts. Her opening act (for a while) was offbeat comic Jackie Vernon. Jackie's sense of humor was both subtle and weird. It didn't work for Garland's impatient audience, and after silence on a few punchlines, Jackie looked down at the orchestra leader in the pit, and said, "My, my, Bobby, where does the time go?" Jackie cut his set short, and Bobby played him off. Some years later, Bobby was again conducting an orchestra, and Jackie was once more up on stage. Jackie's opening minute of jokes went nowhere. Jackie looked down and said, "My, my, Bobby, where does the time go?"

Bobby doubled over with laughter (the only laughs Jackie had gotten) and led the orchestra in a rousing send-off for Jackie Vernon. For fans of comedy (of which none were obviously in the audience that night except Bobby), Jackie had to leave too soon.

And so, December 19th, the blog acknowledges that Bobby left the world too soon. (September 8, 1932 – December 19, 1996). You can find more on Bobby via this blog, and Wikipedia (which sources this blog!). A rumor, corrected here and at Wikipedia, was that Bobby had somehow slipped on ice, hit his head on the sidewalk, and died. No, Bobby was a heavy smoker and drinker. He had serious heart problems towards the end. It almost never snows in Manhattan before Christmas, and the streets were clear that year. An eyewitness, (a bartender, appropriately enough) was idly watching the scene in front of his club's big picture window. He noticed a gray-haired gent holding on to a lamp post, seeming to be in some distress. The man slowly lost his grip and sank to the sidewalk. And that was about it. The ambulance came, and Bobby went.

And he was missed. For one thing, there were at least three instantly grieving women, if not more. Few guys of his age could claim such devotion. There was the woman with whom Bobby had flings through the years, another who had lived with Bobby and despite all the problems, wished he was back with her, the current girlfriend, and…oh, let's throw in a few more ex-loves and a woman who carried a torch while claiming to have only been "a good friend." For many years after this, fans of Bobby spent their time piecing together his last weeks, declaring themselves part of his in-circle, and getting a bit crazy in their attitudes to some of his other friends. He did have a pretty big cult following, including fans, guys who were members of his various trios, and other singers and songwriters who admired his talent. I was probably among the youngest in his circle, having not known him in his wild days of Vegas clubs, "Ali Baba" and Garland. Nostalgia about Bobby continued over the years, until some adjusted to the loss, and others simply died. These days I rarely get a call from any of the old gang, and who knows how many ex-loves, former band members, and other friends recall December 19th specifically…or make the calls that used to be made, to talk about old times. 1996 is a long time ago.

"My my, Bobby, where does the time go?"

The song to remember him by this time, is one never released in his lifetime: "This is How the Lonely Spend Their Time." Just when this demo was recorded is uncertain, but most probably back in the late 60's when there were a lot of commercial ballads of this type. For proof, I've tossed in the Landesman-Wolf classic, "Ballad of the Sad Young Men," via Steve Lawrence. It has some similarity to Bobby's, in terms of style. The popularity of this type of torch, came from Sinatra (a friend of both Bobby's and Steve's) who sold tons of albums with titles such as "No One Cares" and "Where Are You?" Frank made it manly to sing sensitive ballads about loneliness and loss. It wasn't just for McKuen. The illustration above is of Steve's album (containing the track below) and Bobby's lone solo album, used because it has a pretty nice drawing by his friend Jack Lonshein (who I think funded the recording session).

Sinatra's grim albums, issued around the same time as those ring-a-ding-ding "Come Fly With Me" releases, reflected the dark side of the swingin' lifestyle of booze and broads and nightclubs. Bobby, like Frank, knew what it was like to wail into the late hours of a Saturday night at a hot spot, but end up alone on a sober, gray Sunday afternoon in the park.

STEVE LAWRENCE All The Sad Young Men

BOBBY COLE This Is How The Lonely Spend Their Time

TV Themes: NYPD, HAWK, JUDD FOR THE DEFENSE

One of the great things about the gritty police dramas of the late 50's and early 60's was the hard-hitting theme songs. You knew you were in for something. There was the eerie, "portent of doom" "Perry Mason" theme, and the fateful four notes starting "Dragnet." There were the patrol car prowls of Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn" and Count Basie's "M Squad," and…here are three more examples from shows that didn't last too long or get the re-runs they deserve.

"Hawk," the first theme in the medley, was set in New York, and specifically late at night, which explains the alluring, if haunted theme song from veteran Kenyon Hopkins (born January 15, 1912, now deceased). Hopkins also wrote the TV themes for "East Side West Side" and "The Cara Williams Show." Burt Reynolds, somewhat known to TV viewers by this time for his roles on "Riverboat" and "Gunsmoke" finally emerged as a magnetic leading man in portraying a Native American detective with a Brando-like cynicism. His beat involved sickos, and watching him pursue deranged loners may have been a little too alarming at 10pm. People preferred cheerful boozer Dean Martin's songs and comedy. The show only lasted 17 episodes opposite Dino in 1966. The other two entries here, premiered in 1967.

NYPD's theme reflects the hectic city that hosted the show. If "Hawk" portrayed Manhattan as dangerous at night, this one bared how ugly it looked by daylight. Watching an episode of the show today has some sociological value…it shows just how repulsive and decayed Manhattan was at the time, with filthy, shabby streets, foreboding avenues, and an almost rat-like sense of survival for both the bad guys and the good. Things stunk. Literally. Charles Gross (born May 13, 1934 and still with us) supplied the music, which had some similar elements to other shows of the day, most notably John Williams' staccato themes for "The Time Tunnel" and "Lost in Space." NYPD lasted two seasons, as did the last show of the medley, "Judd for the Defense."

Though "Hawk" hadn't drawn people away from Dean Martin's show in 1966, ABC still believed in counter-programming and threw "Judd for the Defense" up against the crooning comic in 1967. It improbably starred Carl Betz, who was still trying to live down all those years as Donna Reed's hapless sitcom hubby. Based (loosely) on F. Lee Bailey, Clinton Judd was a maverick rich guy who liked to crusade for seemingly lost causes and tackle issues in the news; society's failures in keeping the peace and respecting individual rights. Unlike Perry Mason, this show was not merely a murder mystery with colorful suspects. Judd's guest stars were not pleasant to watch, from angry Brock Peters fighting racial prejudice to bruised Phil Bruns as a barely recovering mental patient. A memorable show featured button-down William Daniels coming unglued as a man unable to cope with a new-fangled thing called a "computer," a mechanism that was turning men into little bits of data on punch cards.

Alexander Courage (born December 10, 1919, now deceased) wrote the hard-charging "Judd for the Defense" theme, which is really just five and six-note stabs repeated like angry knocks on a door (or, the downward smack of a gavel from an outraged judge). As it slowly sank in the ratings "Judd For the Defense" ended up opposite "Star Trek," which was quite an irony. "Star Trek" and "Judd for the Defense" were the only TV themes that the movie-oriented Alexander Courage wrote.

HAWK-NYPD-JUDD Original TV Themes

No More Songs - Rachel Bissex, Phil Ochs, 20 Children

You're looking at one of the sickest front pages of all time. It's the Daily News for Sunday, December 16th: a dozen innocent murder victims called: "FALLEN ANGELS."

I understand the dynamics of grief. This cover was supposed to be part of the healing process. Put on a brave smile through the tears, and pretend 20 children weren't shot dead and left on the schoolroom floor….they just fell. And never mind that "fallen angel" has often been used to describe the "whore with a heart of gold," or some other person tempted by Satan. And never mind that a newspaper is supposed to deliver the news, and not be a Hallmark card.

Fortunately most people aren't buying the "fallen angels" story. They know these innocent children didn't fall on their own. They were gunned down. They were killed by an assault rifle in the hands of a maniac, a well-known neighborhood creep who got the weapons from his paranoid gun-nut mother. The act was so heinous that the NRA actually shut down their Facebook page and went into hiding, hoping the outrage would eventually cool down.

It hasn't. Finally, some pro-gun senators in America actually said: "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH." Once again, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has vowed to present her colleagues with a bill they should pass, and maybe this time, they will. Mayor Bloomberg of New York, a long time fighter for gun control, has gotten booked on TV and has explained all the common-sense ways the nation can be a little more secure, without affronting the jackasses (hunters who love to kill things) and the reasonable gun owners (who do need a means to protect themselves and their property).

No more assault rifles. No more multi-bullet clips (like Loughner used in Arizona to kill a child as well as adults in that shopping mall). While sicko parents such as Loughner's and the creep's mother in Connecticut share some blame in not medicating their monsters or keeping weapons from them, it's time that laws cut down the number of times innocent people are cut down. We need to have a waiting period for meaningful background checks, and to shut the loophole on morons who go to "gun shows" to buy "collector's items" that can spray bullets into a classroom so that not one scurrying little kid can make it out alive.

The NRA (not the subject of the attacks by "hacktivists" who have gone after such "evil" organizations as RIAA, MPAA and Sony) is a terrorist organization that thrives on greed. The weapons Adam Lanza used in his attack cost between $600 and $1200 (ammo, extra). The NRA is paid by gun manufacturers to promote weapons of mass destruction, and to camouflage this by some bullshit about how helpful it is for a hunter to keep down the deer population, or for a Dad to bond with his son in shooting a turkey and bringing it home to Mom to cook for dinner. This evil, greedy organization doesn't want to limit the profits to a cheap handgun a home owner might have in the bedroom in case of a break-in, or some lousy rifle used once a week for target practice. Nope, the NRA thrives on putting assault weapons in the hands of the ignorant, maladjusted, violent and often mentally and socially incompetent. The more of an arsenal the gun manufacturers can sell, the happier the NRA is…and their employees should get their paychecks each week etched in blood instead of ink.

Many songs could've been used to illustrate this particular entry, but the title "NO MORE SONGS" (by Phil Ochs) fits. Because "Fallen Angels" do not hear any songs. They are not up on a happy cloud somewhere singing campfire songs. These are children that no longer exist. No more songs, laughter, joy. Nothing.

Now, Rachel Bissex. She's gone, too. Some will be marking her birthday on December 27th (1956). She died of cancer on February 20th, 2005.

Her first album "Light in Dark Places" arrived in 1991, but it was a long ten years before she became known outside of Vermont. Her breakthrough year was 2001, when she won the Wildflower Songwriting Contest," got the "Kerrville New Folk Award" and released her fourth album, "Between The Broken Lines." She was also the force behind the local Burlington Coffeehouse. She was working on a new album…but in 2003 came the diagnosis of breast cancer. Her fifth and last CD, "In White Light," contained mostly the songs she'd written back in 2002 and 2003, but also, eerily enough, a cover version of the Phil Ochs ballad "No More Songs."

No more mass killings? Such a thing is not possible, but the odds can be taken down quite a bit. There is hope. Just look at what happened in Australia, following a killing spree in 1996 that left 35 people dead.

Lawmakers in Australia created a "national firearms agreement," buying back 650,000 automatic weapons from their trigger-happy citizens, and establishing new rules for gun licenses. The murder rate in Australia, and the suicide rate, dropped by 40%. On average, in the 80's and 90's, there was a mass killing via guns in Australia every year. Since the ban? None.

In Canada, there are similar encouraging statistics. Gun violence has been down in that country thanks to their laws that require gun nuts to wait 28 days before they can get their hands on a new weapon. Troubled loners can't get a gun at all…the law requires two people to attest to the character of the person wishing to buy the weapon.

There is no excuse, none, for any more delay in gun control laws. John Lennon imagined no heaven, "above us, only sky." It's pretty to think the "Fallen Angels" are on the fluffy cloud we can see floating along in the afternoon sky. But it would be better if those kids were on Earth, playing with their friends and their siblings and parents, and growing up the way you and I did…without quite the atmosphere of climate decay, moral decay, violent video games, selfish Internet abuses and the easy access to guns, drugs and all kinds of means of misery and destruction. The planet may not have long anyway, given over-population and the damage done by the greedheads in the oil industry and the religious fanatics and power-mad loons in various disgraceful and backward countries around the world…but there is no excuse for any more headlines about "Fallen Angels."

Rachel Bissex No More Songs (Phil Ochs over)

TINY TIM - Santa Claus Has Got THE AIDS

"Tiny Tim" was the crippled child in Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol." The name was later used by an emotional cripple named Herbert who transformed himself from misfit to novelty singing superstar. For a golden year, he was big on TV and a hit on radio with his gender-bending version of "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips," which somehow suited a time when 20's and 30's music was aped on the radio ("Winchester Cathedral") and "Bonnie and Clyde" was a hit movie. The flip side of the psychedelic era and gloomy progrock was a simultaneous fascination with nostalgia (W.C. Fields, Laurel & Hardy) and any survivors of that era (like Mae West to sing Beatles and Doors numbers). The edge of anti-war protests and drug use was blunted by a goofy show called "Laugh-In," and on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show' the nerdish Tiny Tim married his love Miss Vicki to huge ratings.

Then John Lennon said, "OK, so flower power didn't work. We'll try something else." Flower-child and novelty performer Tiny Tim tried…but ended up as a nostalgic act spiraling down from top nightclubs to the seedy traveling "Vaudeville Revue" run by shady (and eventually murdered) Roy Radin. Tiny Tim became one of the menagerie of ex-stars who, in the phrase of Tennessee Williams, often lived off the "kindness of strangers." He was a nice guy, and open and friendly to anyone who might get him work or invite him out for a free meal.

I met Tiny Tim socially once, but didn't exchange phone numbers. I didn't think there was anything I could do for the guy, having met more than enough one-hit-wonders and former stars of cult films or a lone TV series. For some reason I wasn't all that interested in spending evenings discussing any mutual fondness for old music with him, maybe because he just seemed as sad as any of the geeks pawing through the 78's at memorabilia shows and record stores. That he was once "a contender," or that he was far more erudite than the average vinyl-hoarding cretin just wasn't enough. I did let him know that I was a fan of his work, and proved it by naming "Bring Back Those Rockabye Baby Days" as my favorite record of his…not "Tulips," and let it go at that.

Over the years, as he scrounged for gigs in small clubs, he tried for another big novelty hit. Too bad for Tiny, radio was slowly narrowing its playlists to exclude such items as "Tiptoe To the Gas Pumps." So when he did manage to get somebody to press a single...it sold only a few hundred copies. Like many a down and out folkie he had lots of unrecorded songs which he might perform, with some wistfulness (if not bitterness) to a half-filled audience or some halfwit hanger-on with a tape recorder. Thus we have: "Santa Claus Got the AIDS This Year," a calamitous meeting of the original Christmas "Tiny Tim" and the heavy set has-been.

Just what the hell Tiny was trying to do here, as he ran through this song in some room somewhere, I have no idea. He seemed to think AIDS was curable, and no worse than the clap: "The nurses all look sad, 'cause Santa's got it bad. 12 months to wait and then, he'll soon be round again." Around the time he came up with this ditty, AIDS was wiping people out very quickly. A few friends of mine perished within months of diagnosis, while a few others trembled and hoped that their ARC (as HIV was known at the time) would not become AIDS, and that if it did, somebody would have a vaccine for it. Today, AIDS is still fatal, but those with HIV can live fairly normal lives for decades thanks to new medications.

Well, as long as Tiny Tim was thinking of AIDS as no worse than the clap, then it's possible to avoid cringing at this song. Besides, the main source of humor here, is in making fun of Santa Claus, and this time of year, most anyone over the age of 12 has a deep disgust for the fat old bastard. We're all tired of TV commercials trading in on St. Nick, and those stupid Coca Cola signs with his jolly face on it asking that we all become obese diabetics. 'Tis the time of year we should pay careful attention to the question Professor Irwin Corey posed about this obnoxious Yuletide creature: "Santa comes but once a year? Down a chimney? In MY sock?"

Tiny Tim sez... Santa Claus Has got The AIDS This Year

Homer and Jethro - Cool Crazy Xmas

All right, all right…here's an entire album that will never be re-issued. And YOU don't have a turntable anymore anyway. And if this album miraculously DID get re-issued, YOU wouldn't think it was worth $9.99 on iTunes or half that at eMusic.

So here, free...the always under-appreciated Homer and Jethro. Homer (or Jethro) once said, "We were too corny for sophisticated people, and too sophisticated for corny people." Quite so.

But even so, the duo averaged two albums a year for a decade, and actually had a hit single (a forgettable parody of "Battle of New Orleans"). During the great Hillbilly Sitcom Scare of the early 60's ("Beverly Hillbillies," "Green Acres," "Andy Griffith Show," "Petticoat Junction") they made some good money doing singing commercials for a brand of corn flakes. They even issued a few albums alluding to this success, with Jethro dressed up as "Cornfucius."

In the late 60's, CBS, citing "demographics," began to kill off their rural comedies. Sure, these shows were popular, but CBS didn't want to be known as the old fogey network catering to Middle America. They wanted a cool, urban image, and to get ads aimed at 20-somethings. CBS was even aiming their guns at "Gunsmoke" while greasing the floor under Jack Benny, Red Skelton and the hillbilly sitcoms. Columbia Records and other labels were likewise cleaning house, and ridding themselves of the Patti Page-type artists who were clogging the middle of the road and needing to give way to the fast lane of rock music.

Around this time, and only 55, Homer Haynes dropped dead of a heart attack. Thus, H&J were spared the ignominy of being dropped from their label. The audience for country was narrowing (and already crossover-country was becoming popular) and in the duo's case, trends in music made it more difficult to have hits with song parodies. There weren't that many songs everybody knew, or cared to hear corn-ified. Could Homer and Jethro do versions of "I am the Walrus" and "Stairway to Heaven?" Hmmm….

Jethro Burns gave up after a new partner and "The New Homer and Jethro" failed to interest anyone. A highly respected mandolin player, he later guested on various bluegrass albums and even made his own straight solo discs. He didn't live to see the name of "Homer and Jethro" become revered and respected, with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He didn't live to see a boxed set collecting all their tracks with a bonus DVD and a big 12x12 annotated booklet. If he was alive today…he STILL wouldn't have seen any of that! The duo remains, like deep-fried Oreos, an acquired taste. The duo remains a favorite only among the musically ill. And for that, my poor heart is as heavy as a bucket of liver.

Homer and Jethro Crazy Xmas Album

Sunday, December 09, 2012

GOOD KING WENCESLAS! + Jane Seymour & Worst Xmas Tunes

Sapristi!

How are you holding up?

Muttering, are you, about Christmas hype and all the greed, hypocrites, brainwashing, religious fanaticism and "jolly Saint Nick" bullshit? Has the season made you more painfully cynical about there ever being "peace on earth?"

Music makes it worse: you're assaulted by commercials re-writing "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls" to sell everything from toilet paper to the Daily Mail. Narcolepsy-inducing soft Christmas ballads alternate with brain-exploding novelty numbers to keep you permanently in a bad mood.

The number of rotten Christmas songs outnumber the tolerable by 15 to 1. One good one, like "Good King Wenceslas," is easily dwarfed by 15 horrible ones:

1. Jingle Bells. STUFF THEM UP YOUR ASS. The most over-used and irritatingly cheerful holiday song of all.

2. All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth. Sing it again, brat, and you'll need dentures. (Runner-up "Nuttin' Fer Christmas")

3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Insincere, obnoxious, condescending, and as icky as figgy pudding.

4. We Wish You A Merry Christmas. SHUT THE FUCK UP.

5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. DIE. And take "Frosty the Snowman" with you.

6. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. It wasn't even funny the first time.

7. Here Comes Santa Claus. The aural equivalent to bukkake.

8. Santa Claus is Coming to Town. It makes me re-think my opposition to someone owning an AK-47. GET HIM!

9. Sleigh-Ride. Close to "Jingle Bells" as one of the most irritating melodies ever written. It's always sung breathlessly: "it's-lovely-weather-for-a-sleigh-ride-together..." Makes you think "slay." Ring-ting-alingly terrible.

10. White Christmas. FUCK YOU, BING. And everyone else who sings this, except a black vocalist, because that makes it funny.

11. Feliz Navidad (lo siento, pero chinga tu madre).

12. 12 Days of Christmas - just sadistic and monotonous. And please, to all reporters who think it's clever to write up "how much these gifts would cost," please STOP. Nobody's actually going to buy geese a'laying or hire pipers to pipe...so just go on a 12 day drunk and lie in the gutter till Christmas blows over.

13. Deck the Halls - used in too many radio and TV commercials. Go "Fa-la-la yourself."

14. Let It Snow - redundant lyrics, preeningly sung. It also has crappy rhymes that are "frightful" not "Delightful"

15. The Little Drummer Boy. (bang, POW, to the MOON, you little shit.)

Another 50 aggravating Christmas tunes could be listed here.

On the other side? "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Joy to the World," "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," and "Silent Night." Despite it's rude title, "Come All Ye Faithful" is a good one as well.

So why choose "Good King Wenceslas?" Because, like "Jerusalem," it was a song I heard all my life and never really paid much attention to. Unlike "Jerusalem," when I finally did sit down and try and make sense of the lyrics…I found that they were good. To put it simply, Good King Wenceslas was good! The guy was not only concerned with the poor, he even made sure his "noble page" didn't do all the work for him! The King was a true leader, walking in the snow, clearing a path for his page to follow. Damn nice, this Senor Wences. Dee-feecult for most leaders, but easy for him! Cut him an extra order of slaw.

Below?

A HALF-DOZEN versions of GOOD KING WENCESLAS, covering a wide range of styles…from traditional folk (Irish Rovers), to faux-Beatles, to Stan Kenton, The Muppet Brass, and the traditional Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Oh yes, and the lovely Ms. McKennitt.

And now a word about the lovely Jane Seymour, who is half-Jewish (on her father's side). Her book "Good King Wenceslas" (with illustrations by Omar Rayyan) gives you an annotated version of the story, and she reads the lyrics on the bonus DVD which includes the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. When I met Jane some months ago, I assumed she was promoting an autobiography, or maybe a new film. I was surprised and delighted that she, like me, was a fan of The 'Slas. I mentioned that I had collected about 30 versions of the song, and would send her a CD of the mp3 files. She signed a promo poster of the book cover for me, in gold ink.

At its best, a Christmas song can reinforce the spirit of caring…and of real sharing. Sadly, if the Good King was around today, his website would be hacked, anarchists and religious fanatics would be plotting his assassination, and a paparazzi camera would be hidden hoping to get a nude picture of the Queen. He'd probably be shocked to find out there are "Christian" bloggers who routinely give away dozens and dozens of in-print and easily buyable Christmas albums. He'd wonder how "Christians" could be Scrooges who coldly steal Christmas music and don't care how miserable the holiday is for thousands of people formerly in the music biz and now out of work, and thousands more having to take low-wage jobs they hate because "music must be free" assholes took away the work they loved.

Jane Seymour's combo book/DVD would make a nice gift; it's beautiful, with great illustrations, and that beats a cold Kindle any day. The six downloads of the song should help you get to know The King, and are brought to you by a blogger who, as December 25th approaches, identifies more and more as neither Christian or Jew, but 100% tree-loving Druid. In other words, don't go hacking a living pine or fir in the forest, you stupid prick. I'm axing you nicely!

Six Versions of GOOD KING WENCESLAS, from traditional to a nice faux-Beatles rendition

DEAR MRS. ROOSEVELT : Dylan covers Guthrie's FDR Tribute

Franklin Roosevelt is the subject of a new movie starring Bill Murray. Unlike the new movie about Lincoln, this one is more of a comedy, and focuses on the sex life of a man who was pretty lively for a polio victim, and someone who had the weight of the world on his shoulders with the Great Depression and then World War II. The movie will probably turn up on PirateBay or KickAss any day now, which hacktivists would tell you is the ultimate "freedom."

They don't know FDR's speech on "The Four Freedoms."

They're too busy invading the freedom of others by thefts and pranks to actually school themselves in economics, politics, social responsibility or The Golden Rule. By warping the concept of "Freedom" these little Hitlers are doing what Adoph did during Roosevelt's era: using greed to trump morality. He took from the Jews and gave to the haters. And the haters cheered. Yes, took Jewish stores and Jewish money and ultimately, Jewish lives. And most of Germany applauded this. Just like so many reasonable people see nothing wrong with insane piracy (not a blog being educational but a torrent throwing every new album and movie and book out there and making a profit for its owners).

Hitler nearly took over the world just by scapegoating and using the Jews. Now take a look at Herr Schmidt of Google, for example, who openly cheated the British out of millions in taxes. Don't bother to Google it, here's a quote from the London Daily Mail the other day: "“The boss of Google last night said he was ‘very proud’ of the elaborate structure that helped the search giant slash more than £200million from its UK tax bill last year."

Let's not forget the German who changed his name to 'Kim Dotcom' and became one of the richest men when he emigrated Down Under...taking his Megaupload millions with him. Money that went into his pocket and not to the artists he stole from...money that he even swindled from premium account payers, who should've gotten the service free since the bastard was making millions on ads alone. Greed can be blinding.

People wonder how the Germans could allow the Jews to be exterminated? Same way dress-up "pirates" and Kim Dotcom-types scapegoat artists and their reps for their own profit. Kill the Jews and that's the "final solution." Get "free music" and books and movies, and that's Nirvana, and you exterminate EVIL record stores, movie rental outlets and book shops! Pretend Sony is a big monopoly...but not Burger King or Tesco, because to get something "free" at Burger King or Tesco you'd have to leave Mommy's basement, and you just might get your ass thrown in jail. So just play on the Internet where it's easy to be goose-stepping over copyright, shouting "we're freedom fighters…music should be free…books…magazines…newspapers…porn…" with the same lack of conscience the SS had in physically stomping the Jews, the gays, Poles, Serbs, Soviets and any others they decided had no rights.

Assange would tell you that he's a freedom fighter, and wants transparency…when it comes to your records, what's on your computer, or what your social security number is. He and the four Swedes from Pirate Bay, and various bratty Hacktivists, all set themselves up to dictate what should be free and and if you don't agree you get victimized. Sounds like these "freedom fighters" are just a new breed of dictators and bully boys. That's because it takes a great man to be in power and not be totally corrupt. A man like Roosevelt. Or Washington, who refused to become King of America and instead helped create a nation based on a "Bill of Rights" and "freedom," where people are free to pursue happiness as long as their happiness doesn't involve hurting someone else or taking away someone else's rights with disdain and derision for the damage done.

On January 6, 1941, amid war caused by insane tyrants and dictators, Franklin Roosevelt delivered his "Four Freedoms" speech. He said:

"We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want….which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear which….means a world-wide reduction of armaments (so) that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor-- anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception -- the moral order...without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

….Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere."

70 years after Roosevelt gave his speech, we are faced with more tyrants than ever. Wannabe's like Saddam, Moammar and Osama didn't think they'd end up dead in the dirt like Hitler or hanging from a rope like Mussolini. Self-entitled egotists always think they're special, just as Assange doesn't want you to look closely at how he makes money or how he gets his sexual pleasures. No, YOU and your bank and your government should let him take all the information he wants. Because he's the great dictator Assange. No different from Putin or the latest lunatic in North Korea or Iran.

Added to these tyrants, we have the Internet bully boys. Whether uploading an entire Beach Boys discography, or re-upping a fresh blog, or tormenting a schoolmate or "getting even" with Gene Simmons for not looking the other way at idiots stealing his music, or hacking a police site and posting a foppish Vendetta mask and taking credit for being an anonymous coward, the message to the victims is: YOU have NO FREEDOM. YOU have no rights. Do as we say OR ELSE." No difference between radical Islam and some bratty Brit in Mommy's basement...it's all intolerance and no respect for the rights of others.

If YOU are in a business that makes money from something that can be downloaded free on the Internet, YOU aren't free to make your living without interference. You, like some shopkeeper giving payoffs to the Mafia, are supposed to live in fear of reprisals...when Roosevelt said we should have nothing to fear but fear itself! YOU are supposed to become the unwilling partner of a Kim Dotcom (of which there are many) who are clever enough to use Hitler or Mussolini tactics and paint themselves as Robin Hoods and "freedom" fighters while pocketing a fortune.

Roosevelt had other ideas of freedom…and "a moral order." His golden rule involved "human rights" everywhere in the world. Including cyberspace. "Human rights" means the right to your property and your privacy, and that what is yours isn't "free" to be "shared" without your permission. It's a tyrant who gives you "Chilling effects" when you ask that your rights be respected. It's the power-made, arrogant bullies, like the Pirate Bay bunch, who laugh at you and spit in your eye when you tell them that what you own shouldn't be "shared" without your permission. Do they care that you're about to go bankrupt, that you are depressed and helpless, or that you want to be paid for your work? They care as much as the Nazis cared about the Jews.

Bob Dylan once said that all the truth in the world adds up to one big lie. It sure does if it's told by somebody like Assange. Or Putin. Or some jerk behind a silly looking effeminate Vendetta mask. Or a "pirate." Dylan's heroes didn't hide in Mommy's basement behind a computer, taking away the rights of others and using the word "freedom" as an excuse to steal. And below, Bob sings "Dear Mrs. Roosevelt," which was written by Woody Guthrie in tribute to the late great Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who fought Hitler and said "Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere." Including the Internet.

Dylan sings Dear Mrs. Roosevelt

ADAM SANDLER TWO "CHANUKAH SONG" SEQUELS + HALLELUJAH SANDY SCREW YA

What do the girls above all have in common?? Guess...

"So many Jews are in show biz. Bruce Springsteen isn't Jewish, but my mother thinks he is."

So sings Adam Sandler, who has written what is arguably the most famous song for the Jewish "Festival of Lights." What else is there? "Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel, I made it out of clay?"

One of the great pastimes of both Jews and Gentiles, is outing Jews…either for pride or pogrom. Either way, there is no question that the small minority has contributed a disproportionate share of great people to the world, including Einstein, Freud, Carl Sagan, Bob Dylan, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Marc Chagall, Modigliani, and some guy named Jesus.

But when the antisemites point to the noses on Mel Brooks or Woody Allen or Groucho Marx, or the gruesome look of Barbra Streisand or the tiny size of Dustin Hoffman…that's when the "well, you know who ELSE is Jewish" game begins, and it includes normal-nosed and downright attractive folks such as Kirk Douglas, Michael Landon, William Shatner, Peter Falk, Rod Serling, Tina Louise, Lauren Bacall, Lisa Kudrow, Winona Ryder, Mayim Bialik, Mila Kunis, Tori Spelling, Paula Abdul, Amanda Peet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alicia Silverstone and Natalie Portman. And Gina Gershon. Among others. Look at the photos ill-ustrating this entry, and tell me if they fit your stereotype of what a Jewish girl looks like. Stereotypes can be wrong, huh! And when people snicker that Jews are weaklings, well, just point to a sliver of land called Israel, defended by some of the fiercest fighters the world has ever known…which goes back to the heritage of Judah Maccabee (not Scottish).

Enter Adam Sandler, with his annoyingly catchy melody and, as you can find below, his ever-increasing sequels to the "who's Jewish" list. Which, naturally enough, includes people who are half-Jewish, like Lenny Kravitz and Courtney Love who, put together sings Sandler, would be "one bad-ass Jew." And so, even if he doesn't swing like Stan Getz or Herb Alpert, or write melodies like Gershwin, or have the rhythm of Max Weinberg, or sing with the power of Jolson (or even Steve Lawrence, or even Eydie Gorme), here's Adam Sandler, doing what he does best…being heard and not seen.

Adam's Chanukah Song Update #2

Adam's Chanukah Song Update #3

UPDATE:

On 12/12/2012 Adam provided one of the highlights of the "Hurricane Sandy" benefit show with his new lyrics for Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

Sandler, doing a kind of Springsteen growl of surliness, actually was better than "The Boss," since this wasn't the umpteenth singing of "Born to Run," there was no fist-pumping, no strumming the guitar like you're slapping wet underwear against a washboard, no stupid-looking soul patch, no bullshit working man's shirt and pants, and no spit-sharing with Little Steven rag-head fatface.

Not to get off on a rant, but Sandler was funnier than Bobby Moynihan and his bomb of a "Drunk Uncle" routine. He was wittier than pompous NBC news-schmuck Brian Williams who is so slimy and self-important and thinks he's so hip with his condescending quips...except this is the asshole who sarcastically told the under-40's in the audience that they had just seen "Uncle Keith Moon" when Pete Townshend had finished performing!

Sandler was also less of a cliche than Bon Jovi or the wearisome self-important Roger Walters. Adam also could handle a solo turn with bare piano backing a lot more interestingly than the fabulous Alicia Keys, who didn't show much charisma, talent, or even beauty during her set. Her voice was weak and thin as she pounded the piano, just some bad cross of Diana Ross and Whitney Houston. We've seen it before, so why the hell is everyone so locked into Keys? She might be good if compared to pompous Kanye West, who was boring with his dumbass nursery-rhyme rapping and absolutely incompetent when he tried to sing. He pranced and sweated all over the stage and made a fool of himself. Time to realize that most rappers and rap songs are pretentious, childish, ignorant and a kick in the balls to Charles Darwin's theory.

Who got the job done that night? Billy Joel, unafraid to show himself in public in his current fat-and-bald state, Paul McCartney still singing pretty well and thankfully shelving "Hey Jude" for the odd choice of "Helter Skelter," and Mick Jagger who wisely sang two numbers and quit (to make sure people wanting more PAID for his concert to be broadcast only a few nights later).

Some outside of New York might not get all the references to the annoying "Squeegee men" (homeless morons who ambush cars at stop lights to demand money for washing the window with filthy water and a greasy rag) or Mayor Bloomberg's legislation that intended to remind people that 32 oz sodas are fattening, unhealthy, and if you can't waddle back to the counter after a 16 oz drink to buy another you are REALLY FUCKED UP. Or Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez who not only fumbled an intended pass, but ended up falling forward into the backside of one of his players.

Adam's HALLELUJAH - SANDY SCREW YA download or listen on line.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

SPEEDOO DIES : EARL CARROLL of THE CADILLACS & COASTERS

"Don't quit your day job," is a cynical remark you often hear in show business.

For Earl Carroll (November 2, 1937 – November 25, 2012) let's adapt a Bob Dylan line instead: "20 years of show biz and they put you on the mop shift."

Yes, the lead singer who was in two of the most popular doo-wop groups of all time, became a janitor in the 1980's, working in a public school (P.S. 87).

Ironically, Carroll began making music in another Manhattan public school; P.S. 139. There he entertained classmates as a member of The Carnations in 1953. They began recording the next year, but since there was already a group by that name, Earl and his friends became The Cadillacs. "Gloria" was their song to gain attention.

They were rehearsing for a show when disk jockey Alan Freed came by to watch. He urged their manager to record a new tune called "Speedoo" and issue it as a single. It became their biggest hit, and Earl's signature tune. That was the power of radio and disc jockeys. Today bands throw songs on YouTube free, and get no response beyond a friend or relative saying "Don't quit your day job."

"Well, they often call me Speedo but my real name is Mr. Earl…"

Back then, the underlying theme of black doo-wop was the search for identity. Even in the most frivolous settings, the singer and listener shared this need for respect. The song actually came from Carroll reminding someone that "Speedoo"was just a nickname. Likewise the self-proclaimed "Duke of Earl" re-invented himself as a somebody "no one can stop." The Drifters described their poverty but held onto the dream of being "On Broadway." The Coasters moaned the comic refrain, "What About Us?"

And so Earl Carroll rose above his sarcastic nickname: "I always liked to take my time, do things at my own pace," Carroll explained. "The other guys would be telling me, Come on, hurry up Speedy."

The Cadillacs changed personnel before they became popular, and even more conflicts with group members after. Their manager added to the confusion by sending out several versions of the band, with an original member fronting a group of hired hands. In one city Earl Carroll and the Cadillacs" might play, while in another "Jesse Powell and The Caddys" and in another, "The Cadillacs," with J.R. (Jimmy) Bailey. Finally in 1959 Bailey emerged as the official lead vocalist.

The Cadillacs' best years were behind them. Earl Carroll speeded along as a member of The Coasters, who became the greatest at rockin' novelty songs. When the hits stopped, the oldies circuit was a decent alternative, especially for a group with a dozen recognizable hits, not just two. But after twenty years of Coasting, the oldies concert market was not so viable, and Earl started his day job in 1982.

Earl was known at P.S. 87….for keeping the place clean. A local kiddie-book author wrote a book about him called "That's Our Custodian." He became a minor celebrity. "You really felt good about keeping the school clean, and then the teeny-weenies, they love you so much,” he told an interviewer in1988. "When they found out I was a rock ’n’ roller – I was on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo with Bill Cosby – the kids couldn’t believe it."

In the 50's and early 60's, before the civil rights movement began to rumble, The Cadillacs and the rest faced segregation indignities in touring the South, and the usual "small print" in record contracts and unfair "deals" from record labels. Where was the freedom? The rights? Things changed in the late 60's, but into the 21st Century, Mr. Earl saw the scales of justice tip and go back down. Copyright's become jeered as "copywrong," and if a man wants to get paid for writing or performing songs, he's told "music should be free." Go get a day job. The big power is not an "evil" record label, but a monopoly such as Google, with their "chilling effects" dealt to anyone trying to prevent their work from being stolen, and "Anonymous" groups who deny rights to the individual by declaring, in essence, "believe what we believe, do things our way, or we'll attack and destroy you." Not exactly the message of Martin Luther King Jr.

Earl Carroll put in his time at the public school, and retired in 2005. He'd gotten The Cadillacs back together for occasional oldies shows during his tenure at the school, but after a long work-week, he and the group could only get bookings on weekends, and in the summer, and often an oldies show only wanted The Cadillacs for "Gloria" and "Speedoo," and then other acts took the stage. Carroll sometimes paid out of his own pocket for transportation, meals and hotel. But that's how the arc went in his lifetime: from doing shows to spark record sales to doing shows because there were no record sales.

He ended up in a public nursing home, suffering from diabetes and finally a stroke. He died a few days ago at the age of 75, a shell of "Speedoo," but hopefully still known and respected as "Mr. Earl." Your download is both "Speedoo" and the inevitable attempt at a spin-off, "Speedoo is Back."

SAPRISTI! SPEEDOO Mr. Earl Carroll Speedoo is Back

FRANK ALAMO - BITCH, MY BITCH! And Lou Gherig's Disease, too

Having passed on without much ink, the death of Jean-Francois Grandin, aka Frank (or "Franck") Alamo, is hereby noted, a month late. He died October 11th of Lou Gherig's disease (ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) which does show the influence of American baseball around the world. Or how diseased we are all becoming. He just missed making it to his birthday (October 12th, 1941).

Alamo wasn't known in England or America because he was an importer. He took English language songs and covered them for the French market. "Leader of the Pack" became "Le Chef De La Bande." While nonsense words were universal, "Da Doo Ron Ron" did require some Franco-filing to become a hit in Paris. Otherwise, Frenchies might've thought the song had something to do with kitten feces ("Ronron" is the name of a cat food in France, and Da Doo is, well, da doo).

It's possible Frank could've made more than francs if he chose to sing an English translation of his biggest French hit, "Biche ma Biche" (aka "Biche oh ma Biche"). Especially if the translation was "Bitch, Oh My Bitch."

The original lines:

"Biche, ô ma biche. Lorsque tu soulignes. Au crayon noir tes jolis yeux.

"Biche ô ma Biche. Moi je m'imagine. Que ce sont deux papillons bleus."

The illfolks translation:

"Bitch, oh, my bitch. Your soul is lost. I've got a black crayon to bring joy to you.

"Bitch, oh my bitch, in my imagination, you could give a butterfly the blues."

Something like that.

OK, the actual translation of the song's title is "Sweets for my Sweet." To which we say "Merde!"

Alamo's peak years were the early 60's. It was a fairly recent John Wayne movie of the day, that led his record label's president to re-name him "Alamo." But by the late 60's, at the same time John Wayne was losing fans with his pro-Vietnam rhetoric, the singer lost interest in music. He owned a car company and focused most of his energy on business ventures. In the 90's, nostalgia for Frank's "ye ye" music (and his Beatles yeah-yeah covers) led him to try and revive his career. Fortunately, unlike Lou Gherig who was struck down while still playing baseball, or Catfish Hunter, who died at 53, Alamo did get back to singing and have his second chance, before the problems associated with his motor neurone disease became too severe. When that happened, well, life can be "biche," ie, sweet, and sometimes, living can be a bitch.

Remembering ALAMO…

FRANK ALAMO Biche oh ma Biche

Monday, November 19, 2012

RAY DAVIES: VESTA VICTORIA IS MY QUEEN

Dear Ray…

Hope you and the Village Green Preservation Society are doing well. Well, we know the Village Green will become part of the Ocean Blue soon! We are too far along with climate change for anyone to think that children born today will survive adulthood without scuba gear.

We won't be around to see that. As sons of Miniver Cheevy, we were always looking happily backward anyway, not only pining for the good old days remembered from youth, but even for ages we never knew. Like the Victorian era of the British Music Hall. That's even better. People our age can tell us, "come on, things were NOT better when we were kids," but nobody's around to scold us for not wanting to live back in 1910.

We can pretend that living when "I'm Henry the 8th" was sung by Harry Champion and not Herman's Hermits, was indeed a golden age. Meanwhile, we can look at picture books from long ago, buy antiques, play old records on vintage equipment or, at least, listen to un-restored recordings on our new-fangled digital players. Thus we can momentarily go back in time (as long as the cell phone is on mute, or the neighbors aren't blaring rap). While this blog has previously paid homage to world-weary Greta Keller, the sophisticated chanteuse from Germany, there's no question: when it comes to old-time singers, Victoria is my Queen. Ray, as a proud Brit, I'm sure you know her full name: Vesta Victoria. She was born on November 26, 1874. She died April 7, 1951, before I was born.

"She was comedy's heroine of woe, whether singing songs as a child who can not get her father to buy her a dog, or as a woman who can not land a husband. One of the greats of both British music halls and American vaudeville, Vesta Victoria warbled in a husky voice that often strayed with delightful guilelessness in and around the tune's key." So says "Comedy Stars on 78 RPM," which mentions that Vesta was making "an astonishing $3,000 a week in 1907" for a United States tour. That's when Variety noted "she remains the magnetic, pretty, buxom character songstress, the idol of the New York public, unexcelled and impossible of imitation." Actually, she was imitated by Ada Jones, who covered several of her tunes for American record companies.

Her classics were recorded over 100 years ago, but in 1931, she was persuaded to record a 78 featuring two medleys of her most famous songs, and that's what you get in the download below. She sounds even more comic and woeful than ever, in dealing with her cast of nasty boyfriends and/or their mothers. "Waiting at the Church" is almost masochistic, isn't it? She sings about lost money and lost love, and the punchline is a bitter jeer at her foolish naivete. And yet, we sympathize and we love her, and we even laugh. "Poor John" isn't much better. Here, she has a potential boyfriend who brings her home to see his mother. And his mother's reaction is the humiliating two words that title the song.

One of the most annoying things on earth is the spoiled child…and yet another of Vesta's biggest hits, "Daddy Wouldn't Buy me a Bow Wow," invites us to laugh at a girl's pouty complaint and embrace her rather than spank her.

Ray, we all know that from the "gay 90's" to the "roaring 20's," people weren't exactly prudish. So nestled in with the spinster songs and kid numbers is another favorite: "It's All Right in the Summertime." It's about her turn as a nude model! Yes, once again, she's sort of the "butt" of the joke. She has no choice but to help her old man by posing for his pictures…even in winter: "with a little red nose and very little clothes," and the stormy wind does blow!

That's about it, Ray. I don't want to go on and on. I hope you like the download, and that others who have never heard of Vesta Victoria get something out of it. There's not much of Vesta Victoria available. Not even enough to fill one re-issue CD. Check a book called "The British Music Hall Discography" and you'll see she made lots of cylinders and 78's, but most of them are dust now. Still, we can whip up dusty memories into almost corporeal reality, and it's a comfort to see a picture of Queen Victoria and think for a moment she's still on the throne, and listen to Vesta Victoria and think she's still on the boards. It's a sherry-type high in these days of Coca-Cola. C-O-L-A, cola.

VESTA'S Last Music Hall Medley

THE SEAGULLS - "DEATH OF A CLOWN"

Most casual visitors to this blog know about Bobby Cole by now…and may share the view here that "Mister Bojangles" was the best single to be released on Columbia's short-lived subsidiary label, Date Records.

While Date didn't last long, it did try to get some attention for a lot of obscure people. The label didn't issue a whole lot of singles between 1966 and 1969 but most of what they issued involved acts most disc jockeys had never heard of before: J.J. Lancaster, Van Trevor, Plant Life, Pretty Prudie, Derek Savage Foundation, The Will-o-Bees, Richard Fudoli, The Music Bachs, Robert Tamkin, Silky and Sage, Free Ferry and Don Meehan.

OK, they also had Peaches and Herb, Argent, and a little something called "Time of the Season" by The Zombies. But those hits weren't enough to keep the label alive. Bobby Cole did pretty well for them with his Top 40 "Mister Bojangles." And "Death of a Clown" by The Seagulls got some airplay, too, though the big push (even ads in the trade mags) was for their debut single "Don't Go Out into the Rain." By the time of "Death of a Clown," Date Records was beginning to show mortality.

The Seagulls were Kenny Young, Kenny Soenberg (aka Kenny Sonn), and June Winter. Was Dave Davies impressed with the cover? Not sure. But Twiggy seemed to enjoy another single of theirs: "Twiggs." They performed it for her, and she even consented to pose with the group. Which didn't help much.

The Seagulls was neither the beginning nor the end for its leader Kenny Young. Before he formed the group, he was a Brill Building songwriter, half of the team behind "Under the Boardwalk," The Drifters hit. Slightly less well known: "Gentlemen Joe's Sidewalk Cafe" recorded by The Status Quo, "Oozi-Oozi-Ooh" and "Please Don't Kiss Me Again," both recorded by The Charmettes, "Kinky Kathy Abernathy" recorded by The Searchers," "Looky Looky My Cookie's Gone" by the Raspberry Pirates, and "Hold The Night" recorded by the San Francisco Earthquake.

He also wrote and recorded under his own name: "Shaga Zooma" for Atco, "Mrs. Green's Ugly Daughter" for Diamond, and "Don't Waste Your Arrows" for MGM.

Young went on to record a few albums for Warner Brothers, and aside from The Seagulls, formed several other groups using animal names: Fox, Squirrels and Yellow Dog. He also has a lot of credits as a producer which includes three albums with Clodagh Rodgers and the superstar-filled albums "Earthrise" and "Spirit of the Forest." His most recent productions are two "Rhythms del Mundo" albums. It's always great to note a talent who hasn't stayed rooted to oldies shows, or left the music business rather than found a way to stay involved and creative within it.

For fans wanting to go back in time for more of this group, The Seagulls did manage three singles (several songs originals written by Kenny Young)…which is one more than Bobby Cole, who recorded his two in 1968. The discs are: "Don't Go Out into the Rain" bw "Hitting the Moon with a Sling Shot" (1966), "Twiggs" bw "Charlie No More" (1967) and "Death of a Clown" bw "Annabel" (1967).

THE SEAGULLS Death of a Clown (cover)

ELSA LANCHESTER and "THE OLD BABY FARMER

Here in mid November, we're right between the birth (October 28, 1902) and death (December 26, 1986) of Elsa Lanchester. She was last heard from on this blog in October of 2007, celebrated for her risque comedy albums. Now it's time to give a nod to her for all the British Music Hall songs she performed, which kept alive the spirit of Vesta Victoria, Marie Lloyd and other charmers she no doubt saw live on stage. When Elsa was on Broadway with her one-woman show, she performed, among many others, "Mrs. Dyer, the Baby Farmer." It appears on her album "Cockney London" (released on vinyl by Verve circa 1958, now a gray area bootleg on CD by Windyridge in the UK).

In a style somewhat in homage of Vesta, Elsa often sang with wavery pitch. Her performance here is almost "campy," probably because the sophisticates in her audience relished decadence and prided themselves on being urbane and shockproof. Prolific murderess Amelia Dyer, the greatest monster of the English-speaking world, gets a coy tribute from the woman who once played opposite Boris Karloff. Her vocal might remind some of the time Roseanne Barr, unintentionally singing "Star Spangled Banner" out of her range, decided the only way out of her embarrassment would be to go for laughs and accentuate her ineptness. Elsa no doubt was aware of the limitations of her voice, and used her acting skills to color the lyrics to best advantage.

From the rather awful piano work of Ray Henderson, to her own wobbling between disgust and amusement over the dire doings of Dyer, Elsa sometimes hits both the bone of pathos and the funny bone on voice alone. When it was penned, and sold to crowds gathered at her hanging, the lyrics were intended to fire up outrage at Dyer's crimes, and to make people happy she was going to die. Over the years, the serious world of England a century ago has often been revised and parodied. From Peter Sellers' comical torture of "My Old Dutch" to Lionel Bart's lovable Fagin and musical comedy version of "Oliver Twist," the idea has been to lighten up the dark. And so "Mrs. Dyer, the Baby Farmer" becomes a black comedy of sorts for Elsa Lanchester. The former Bride of Frankenstein wants to have you in stitches.

ELSA: Mrs. Dyer the Baby Farmer

"MY LIFE" - The Return of IRIS DEMENT

Most of us hipsters scorn America's "Heartland," and cringe with fear and loathing at the term, which brings up images of Norman Rockwell and Grant Wood paintings, corny sayings stitched on pillows, plastic statues of Jesus and posters of Santa, and a pantry full of white bread to be served to redneck racists. But in the right hands, written and sung by the right voice, elements of "family values" and homespun wisdom become a source of pride and purpose. And we remember that the Heartland is also Lincoln and Sandburg, and Davy Crockett and Walt Disney, and Jimmy Stewart and Red Skelton, and honest people doing a day's work, and good dreams of modesty (a chicken in every pot) and of ambition (a man on the moon). Yes, as Paul Simon sang, "I wonder what went wrong." But there's also Iris Dement, singing about what's right.

Listen via the download below to Iris Dement, and "My Life," a song that seems ages old, but was written in 1994, not 1894. The lyrics have a purity and a clarity and a truth that's just hard to find these days (and wasn't so prevalent in early ages, either). Her voice? It's plain and yet it's beautiful; if some sound engineer added a few clicks and pops, you might swear her recordings were from the Woody Guthrie era of the 30's, when the corn and wheat were covered in dust and the nation was in a Depression…but never lost its spirit.

Iris Dement's early recordings on a small indie folk-oriented label, didn't exactly set the woods on fire, but critics were kind, she was nominated for a Grammy, and old fashioned "word of mouth" helped her become popular on tour. That was most important to her, and still is. She sees herself as a comforting singer…and she didn't even bother to sit own and write more songs and put out "new product" for over a decade. This post is keyed to that new album, "Sing the Delta." It's a good one. In singing about the Delta, and about rural life, and life in general, Iris has managed to reach all kinds of people. Just check her touring schedule. Unlike so many acts in her category of folk, country or "rural" music, she isn't merely performing in the South, or the Bible Belt. Her new tour takes her from Charleston, West Virginia to Berkeley California, to Orlando Florida, to the venerable venue of Town Hall in Manhattan, and to Cambridge, Massachusetts.

That's quite an achievement for someone with one semi "hit" in "My Life," almost a generation ago. That was when she got to be on TV for a while. She brought "My Life" to several programs. She always performed it sitting at a piano, looking very much like an awkward schoolgirl at a recital, hitting the notes with practiced determination and singing in a clear voice. Conan O'Brien was one of those who, having witnessed what he might've thought was just another "singer for the last five minutes of the show," actually came over from his desk and respectfully and sincerely thanked her for her moving performance.

You may have heard another song of hers play in the closing credits of a popular movie. "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" was used by the Coen Brothers for "True Grit." Another rather pithy song of hers, may be known to you not by her version but by the one done by David Byrne and Natalie Merchant: "Let the Mystery Be." And let's have a closing word about her from Merle Haggard: "She's the best singer I've ever heard."

"My Life," your download below, comes from a 1998 Australian radio broadcast. Her new album, freely available on the Internet wherever fine albums are stole'd, is also available for sale on iTunes and at her Iris Dement dot.com website.

IRIS DEMENT sings… MY LIFE on Australian Radio 1998

Friday, November 09, 2012

CHRISTINE JORGENSEN: SEX CHANGE AND SPEEDED-UP VOCALS

One of the many wisecracks about the first man to have a successful sex change operation, was "if you can't get a raise, take a cut." After George Jorgensen became Christine…the question of making a living became more important than making water while squatting. Would she just disappear into private life and some low-paying job? Why not use the new-found celebrity to turn her artificial vagina into a real money-maker?

Christine would indeed make a living as an actress and lecturer, and being something of a novelty herself…issued a novelty single. "Crazy Little Men" arrived around the time speeded-up vocals were more popular than sheered-off testicles. Now, there are thousands of sex change operations every month but rarely one novelty song reaching the Top 100.

Over 50 years ago, people guffawed over the "Purple People Eater," the Chipmunks, the Nutty Squirrels, Maymie and Robert's "Ha Ha Hee Hee Ho Ho Hum Hum," and Jesse Lee Turner's "The Little Space Girl," which gave its heroine a chipmunk voice. So why not have a speeded-up space alien greet a transsexual on her trip to the moon?

"Crazy Little Men" was the wackiest song issued by a tranny until Amanda Lear covered "They're Coming to Take Me Away." Alas, neither song slid many coins into the singers' drawers.

Christine's item just didn't sell many copies. As for Amanda, in this age piracy circumcises half the take, and cheap streaming downloads means most listeners hardly spend a penny. Any pre-op trannies out there should realize that you won't be able to pay for a sex change with the spare change given out as music royalties. Save up as both Christine and Amanda did. Get a real job to pay for your operation, because in the music world, you'll be cut off without a cent. In other words, don't expect to Twatify on the money you get from Spotify.

Sapristi! Mooning Men? Christine did it!

Origin of: SETTIN' THE WOODS ON FIRE - HOMER AND JETHRO

Did you know that one of the most popular Hank Williams tunes of all time…was about shitting?

Merle Haggard tells the story:

"Hank was on the road, and they stopped at this Mexican joint. There wasn't a rest stop for miles so Hank went in the woods and took a shit. He said, 'I'm setting the fucking woods on fire!' That was the hottest godamn chili I've ever seen!' Before they'd driven another few miles, Hank had a song."

And when Hank spied the lady above, he wrote "The Log Train." Although you never know, it might've been "Hey, good lookin' watcha got cookin'?" No? "Your Cheatin' Fart?"

Since Hank is amply available all over the place, let's go with a parody version, which better suits a Photoshop photo anyway (no, Google censors, in the original the girl was just bent over, and nowhere near a campfire). Submitted for a shit-eating grin, the sadly neglected Homer and Jethro, who've gotten one decent compilation from an American company (Razor and Tie) and only one from Germany (Bear Family). It's about time for a full box set on these dead guys. Not that it will do them any good, but, to quote a revised line in this parody: "poor ol' Victor needs the money!"

Oh, speaking of needing the money, poor ol' Google has taken to hot-linking certain words. If you foolishly scroll over one of them, a pop-up ad appears. I will do my best to re-write my copy if I see one of these distracting blemishes. Google, of course, does not share the profits with me. They also dictate on YouTube how many pennies they might give for a highly viewed post and don't even start the count if there have been less than 50,000 hits. But let's pretend they're the good guys and the record labels, book companies and movie studios are the only ones cheating the talent and fudging royalty statements and using their power to take the whole pie and leave behind only a few crumbs.

Sapristi! H&J are SETTIN' THE WOODS ON FIRE

Friday, October 19, 2012

George McGovern Dies - Nixon (Frye) Sings Folsom Prison Blues

The headlines today could have been about ex-president George McGovern. But the Marine bomber who became the anti-war candidate in 1972 didn't win the election. The press in 1972 were busy laughing over the impending landslide that would re-elect Richard Nixon, and only two guys, Woodward and Bernstein, seemed serious about pursuing any of the rumors of dirty deeds that "Tricky Dick" was up to.

It would be two years after McGovern lost to Nixon that the Watergate scandal broke, and the President of the United States, sweaty and shaken, scowled his resignation on national television, and not long after, gave his sick smile as he waved a farewell, taking a helicopter to obscurity.

George McGovern's loss to Nixon was a disaster unequaled in American politics. He won only one state, and it wasn't his home state of South Dakota, it was Massachusetts. (The popular vote was a somewhat less humiliating 47 million to 29 million.) Young people and free thinkers wanted to recover from the hell of the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 and the running of Hubert Humphrey against Nixon. Humphrey, you may recall, was the status quo candidate chosen after Robert F. Kennedy was murdered. McCarthy didn't get the nod, nor did "Pigasus," the live pig that the Yippies brought to the convention for a laugh. They were rewarded with tear gas. Phil Ochs was so distraught that he used 1968 as the date of his death on his tombstone for his "Rehearsals for Retirement" album cover.

But for many who grew up with The Beatles, and progressed along with Lennon to political issues and revolution, 1972 was the first time they could vote in a presidential election, and having McGovern running against Nixon and the war seemed to signal one more chance for sanity, good will, and morality. Instead, the war continued, and conservative, backward thinking prevailed. Until Watergate finally drove Nixon out. But a year or so after that, Lennon was admitting on stage, "OK, flower power didn't work...we'll try something else." And for Phil Ochs, there was nothing left to try except making a noose out of a rope.

You can read up on George McGovern, dead at the age of 90, via many sites on the Internet. You can even read books by McGovern himself, including an unusual take on Abraham Lincoln, a tome on world hunger (his cause since 1981 when he left the Senate) and a greatly praised, candid and moving book on the fate of his alcoholic daughter. Here at the Illfolks blog, it's with sadness that his passing is noted, especially the final fade, which included the inevitable "hospice care." When a loved one goes into "hospice care," you accept a certain reality, and the finality, and it's a strange twilight-zone kind of time of mourning, acceptance, and as long as the patient is able, being able to hold on for what is in essence, the long goodbye.

Being a music blog, your download is David Frye's "Folsom Prison Blues," sung as Nixon. On his blistering album, "Richard Nixon: A Fantasy," Frye imagined the long, hellish roasting of Nixon, from conviction to jailing, to even an execution. From having a landslide victory to being buried in scandal and disgrace...that was Richard Nixon, who died years ago pretty much as Mr. McGovern has now...after failing health, and a period of being "unresponsive," as family gathered to await the final breath.

A few extra reporters, a few breaks...it could've been President McGovern in 1972. He lost, but for 40 years after, his run remains a legend for its nobility of purpose. He is mourned as a man of courage and principle. His name is remembered with respect.

David Frye sings: Richard Nixon FOLSOM PRISON BLUES