Monday, April 29, 2013

GEORGE JONES Last Gasp: Sings "He Stopped Loving Her Today" March 2013

"You never know when you're gonna pass away," George Jones said on his 80th birthday. He admitted, "If anybody should've been gone a long time ago…" odds would've been on him.

That quote, as well as a performance of "He Stopped Loving Her Today" about a month before he died, make up the download below

And the image below? Damn sad when his website reflected that he was "No Show Jones" for the last time....and there were tickets still being sold for concerts he would never, ever play.

"They call me 'No Show Jones,'" was how The Possum often opened his gigs, a triumphant chuckle at his own expense, comparing his nickname to the more theatrical ones from Kenny, Johnny and the others who wore costumes and were far better known to mainstream America. George? His years with Tammy Wynette were the last in which he fussed with an on stage wardrobe. After that, and sober in his golden years, he looked like any guy in the audience, wearing what looked like Haggar slacks and some semi-garish leisure shirt. Everybody could identify with that common-named guy on stage. Only the hair spray that turned his white-hair into a kind of meringue, was any sign that he was a performer. Aside from that voice.

The lead line from USA Today's obit:

"Hank Williams may have set country music's mythology and Johnny Cash its attitude, but Jones gave the genre its ultimate voice. With recordings that spanned 50 years...Jones influenced generations of country singers and was considered by many to be the greatest of them all." Yes, some 168 times on the charts, from 1955's "Why Baby Why" to "Country Boy" in 2010 with Charlie Daniels…and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

But was he revered the way Hank and Johnny were? Not really. Because he was pure country and rarely had a crossover hit. And because his private life was not of romantic or heroic tragedy, but the humiliation of self-described insanity, paranoia, and pathetic drunken failure. Horribly enough, while enjoying his greatest success, the Award-winning "He Stopped Loving Her Today," George was too drunk or coked to perform on TV or in shows, could be found sitting in a car dirty and incoherent, was in debt by a million dollars, and often talking in tongues — — voices in his head coming out like Donald Duck or Walter Brennan. Riding a lawn mower to a liquor store because his car keys had been taken from him, was typical of the average drunken fool, not a "tragic star." Altercations with highway cops, and blackout rages at women did not get him sympathy in the press and those around him shunned him as they would any hopeless alkie. Abandoned by his band, divorced three times, he barely had a friend in the world...and the only one had him hauled away to a mental hospital.

There may have been glamor for the "Man in Black" who was photographed in almost heroic poses of defiance and despair as he fought his demons, but things were just ugly for "The Possum," until his fourth marriage in the early 80's, and sober middle-age. But even then, he lacked a manager and a music producer to give him the direction Johnny Cash had, and get him the broader audience he deserved.

Jones was often given that left-handed compliment of, "I don't like country music, but I like your stuff." Indeed, George was one of the very few singers who could save even weak material. Frank Sinatra said he was "the second greatest singer in America," and if the two had anything in common, it was a directness on stage. Sinatra didn't dress up much beyond the average guy either, except for a tux in Vegas. Sinatra sang in a way that made the lyrics matter, and he could get the best nuance out of any line. Keith Richards, Linda Ronstadt…there were a lot of varied artists lining up to get a chance to duet with George Jones. His peers admired him too. Waylon Jennings: “If we all could sound like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones."

More than sounding like George Jones…a singer should sing as if that song is being sung right from the heart, right at the moment, made up on the spot. I must've heard dozens of different live versions of "He Stopped Loving Her Today" in concert, and you know, George did not sing it the same way twice. He never phoned it in. He found some way of keeping it fresh. Even on the version below, which is sadly more of a last gasp than singing, he's performing like it's the very first time...and like he just wrote it himself.

Jones fans knew this, and even as he changed record labels over the years, they supported him, and bought those sometimes disappointing and pretty chintzy CDs which usually had just 10 tracks on them and a number of clinkers. George did himself no favors...letting his producer choose 25 tracks which would then be cut to 10, but not showing that much interest in the recording process. Live shows, and singing the classic hits seemed to give him more satisfaction. He admitted in his autobiography that writing about the songs and how he selected them was not worth any time or effort. And sadly enough, aside from a specific concept album in which an Elvis Costello or James Taylor contributed a key number, the Jones albums of the 90's had an awful lot of hacky tunes on them cobbled by Nashville B-listers more often than a Curly Putman or a Rodney Crowell. There were exceptions, enough to keep him signed to a label and keep fans hoping for that "great" album (the way Sinatra would sometimes turn in a fresh classic satisfying from start to finish). What turned up in stores was not enough to get him on "The Tonight Show" too often, in the Top 10 on the charts, or in a venue beyond country fairs. A realist, though bitter about the direction of country music in general, George accepted his current status and appreciated those loyal fans. Just watch him on one of those infrequent live-show DVDS...they are a joy to watch...he's enjoying himself on stage as much as the crowd is.

George wrote in his autobiography, "Through it all I kept reading articles that said I was the greatest country singer alive…I was always appreciative, but I never understood how such a supposedly good singer could be such a troubled person. My talent, though it brought me fame and fortune, never brought me peace of mind."

George did have talent...a wealth and variety of it. Though known for "weepers," George's catalog runs the gamut from typical country tunes ("The Race is On") and gospel numbers to frisky novelties ("White Lightning" has some pretty zany sound effects). He was good at honky tonk regrets ("She Thinks I Still Care" written by Dickey Lee) and Leonard Cohen was a big fan of one of George's latter-day hits, "Choices."

Like Sinatra, George Jones aged to perfection; his inflections and his baritone got better in his 40's and 50's. Just as Sinatra's Columbia sides are quite pale compared to the ones for Capitol, a lot of what George did during his early days with Starday and Mercury and Musicor isn't as deeply artistic and satisfying as his later work on Epic and MCA. "White Lightning" and "Race is On" isn't what made him a legend; "He Stopped Loving Her Today" is.

Ironically George looked very good in his later years. If you take a look at photos and concert footage from the 70's, or 80''s, you'll note the deep lines in his face…which disappeared when he was actually in his 70's. And yet he didn't seem like, as Dolly Parton once noted of Kenny Rogers, he'd spent a lot of time at "Jiffy Suck" getting his skin ironed and Botox'd. But in his last years, suffering from respiratory problems, his voice was no longer strong. And so it was that he planned unlucky 2013 as his "farewell" year, and announced his final touring schedule.

This picture here…

I have dozens and dozens of George's albums and CDs. The CDs are in many many pages…I don't have room to keep everything in jewel cases anymore. I also have an autographed picture from George's days at MCA, and a more recent card signed in gold ink. The man was pure gold.

George reflects on being 80... and sings "He Stopped Loving Her Today," March, 2013.


Tom Jones was grateful.

George Jones was grateful.

Paul McCartney and Linda loved his "Farm."

Curly Putman's had an impact on many people in many ways. That's what happens when you're a good family man, and friend, and one of the greatest songwriters in the world. Curly Putman is the man behind two of the most memorable songs in the history of country music: "Green Green Grass of Home" and "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

Tom Jones may have been doomed to being a silly Vegas lounge act doing "What's New Pussycat" and "It's Not Unusual" if it wasn't for the chance to ride a Curly Putman ballad to the top of the charts. As for George Jones, the man's career, his entire persona, was changed by that "weeper" that is now regarded as simply the best C&W song of all time.

A few days ago, when the faded, brave George Jones became a "no show" trying to complete a final tour, the obits dutifully mentioned "He Stopped Loving Her Today," and Curly "Putnam." It's a shame that Curly's probably the most well-known typing error on record labels and in discographies. Hell, turn to page 316 and 317 of George Jones' paperback autobiography, and it's "PutNAM" twice. The New York Times' obit for George turned this into a typo variation: "Curly PuRNAM."

CURLY PUTMAN is the man's name. PUTMAN!

And no, he didn't get his nickname for being "Curly," a bald stooge! If you check his album covers, you'll see that he had dark curly hair. Born Claude Putman in Alabama in 1930, he pursued his "elusive dreams" of being a songwriter while keeping his day job selling Thom McCann shoes. In Nashville he had a few tunes covered by Marion Worth and Charlie Walker, but could barely leave shoe business for show business, working for a record store, and gigging in local bands at night. At the age of 34, he finally got a break working as a song plugger for Tree Publishing. There, he pushed a song he wrote: "Green Green Grass of Home."

It was recorded by Johnny Darrell, which led to a cover by Porter Wagoner, which led to Tom Jones making it a ten million-selling world-wide crossover hit. "He Stopped Loving Her Today" was first recorded by Johnny Russell…but ultimately, re-worked and revised at the request of producer Billy Sherrill, this co-write with Bobby Braddock became the trademark for George Jones in 1980. USA Today noted, it "revived Jones'career and perhaps saved his life. It gave him his first No. 1 hit in five years and won four awards from the Country Music Association, including Song of the Year. It also gave him the first of his two Grammys."

George, so drunk he kept singing the melody for "Help Me Make it Through the Night," thought the song too "morbid" even by C&W standards, and couldn't even put together a few lyric lines in a row. "I couldn't get it," George recalled. "I had been able to sing while drunk all of my life…but I could never speak without slurring when drunk. What we needed to complete that song was the narration, but Billy could never catch me sober enough to record four simple lines."

Jones would record other Putman tunes, including 'Wino the Clown," but many other artists were having success with Curly's work, too. The name PUTMAN, either solo, or on a co-credit, was on The Kendalls’ “It Don’t Feel Like Sinnin’ to Me,” Ricky Van Shelton’s “I Meant Every Word He Said,” T. Graham Brown’s “I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again,” Ferlin Husky’s “Just for You,” and Dolly Parton's first chart single "Dumb Blonde," a song that continues to get fresh cover versions all the time thanks to the huge number of dumb blondes on "American Idol." Over the years, new C&W talent has picked up on Curly's songs, too. “There’s a New Kid in Town” has been covered by Alan Jackson, Kathy Mattea, George Strait and Trisha Yearwood.

You get a dozen examples of Curly's songwriting below: "Let's Keep It That Way" (Annie Murray), "Ballad of Two Brothers" (Autry Inman), "Six Foot Deep Six Foot Down" (George Jones), "My Elusive Dreams" (Glen Campbell and Bobbie Gentry), "The Older the Violin The Sweeter the Music" (Hank Thompson), "Divorce" (Tammy Wynette), "He Stopped Loving Her Today" (Marie O'Brien), "Change My Mind" (Waylon Jennings), 'You Can't Have Your Kate and Edith Too" (Statler Brothers), "It's a Cheating Situation" (Dale Watson and Kelly Willis), "You Never Cross My Mind" (Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn) and a b-side from Curly himself, "Take It All Off."

Only a few years ago Curly put out a CD called "Write 'em Sad -Sing 'em Lonesome." None of us buy many CDs anymore. I bought this one, which features guest appearances from Dolly Parton, Deborah Allen and Sarah Johns.

The CD contains his versions of three of my favorite Putman songs of all time, "Green Green Grass of Home," "Radio Lover" and "Wino the Clown." Those three are unabashed story-songs with punchline endings, and don't fool yourself, the man is the Alfred Hitchcock of country music. He may write 'em sad, but he also writes 'em wicked…knowing how to keep a listener in suspense till the final lines which can bring chills or tears.

Oh. Did I forget to mention the connection between Curly and Macca? Well, just go to the opening page of CurlyPutman dot com, and you can read about "Junior's Farm," which is where Paul and Linda stayed in 1974. There's another dotcom to visit as well: A portion of the sales from Curly's CD go to the Sean Putman Memorial Fund, and you'll find out all about it at that site.



When Curly Putman writes 'em sad…and when George Jones sings 'em spooky and gruesome…that's usually it. Nobody else touches 'em or even tries.

An exception is the Irish country singer Mick Flavin, the only guy who has covered BOTH "Wino the Clown" and "Radio Lover," a pair of O.Henry-type numbers from the pen of Mr. Putman.

Call it a tribute to Curly, more than an attempt to get the better of George. George, by the way, could've had a second career as a spoken arts narrator. As great as his singing is, he had an eerie way with those spoken passages that some C&W tunes required!

"Wino the Clown" in the Jones version is tenderly from the heart, ripe with pathos, as few knew the pains of alcoholism any better or worse than he did. George's take on "Radio Lover" has that grim possum grin about it. You get the idea that George relishes the dark, dark tragedy and revenge of the tale, and can't wait to get to the punchline.

The Flavin versions are nice covers. "Wino," with the appropriate squeamy violin, is dry-eyed but touching. "Radio Lover"becomes more of a gruesome news item than a campfire horror story.

Mick's humble beginnings in a farmhouse in Ballinamuk in the late 50's included playing Tex Ritter and Hank Williams singles on his record player. He got a guitar from a local music store in Longford, and while working as a carpenter, began to play in local bands. In 1978 he managed to tour with some dates in America, and soon had his first record deal in Ireland. He's recorded over a dozen albums of country music, and anyone with the talent and taste to choose the works of Curly Putman is well worth anyone's attention. The two sample songs are on "As Good As I Once Was," his "best of" 2 CD set.



Friday, April 19, 2013


Timely trivia: with the recent death of Annette Funicello, and Paul Anka hitting the talk show circuit to promote his autobiography "My Way," the blog finally gets around to mentioning the origin of Johnny Carson's iconic "The Tonight Show" theme. Which was recycled from Anka's "It's Really Love," a minor tune that Annette once sang. Which was itself recycled from Paul's instrumental called "Toot Sweet," perhaps titled as a tribute to the tootin' Salvatore "Tutti" Camarata, the Disney orchestra leader and arranger. "Toot Sweet" was recorded by Camarata on the Disney "Vista" label, under the name Tutti's Trumpets.

When Annette happened to sing during a hayride moment on a "Mickey Mouse Club" episode, and fans demanded the tune be released as a single, "Tutti" became her patient tutor and taught her how to sing along to a guide track. Though her voice would never be distinctive, and she remained a personality more than a singer, for a while there was great demand for new Annette singles and albums.

You probably know that briefly Paul and Annette were an item, and they sang songs to each other, which dribbled onto the charts for a while. Annette's hit was "Tall Paul" and Anka warbled "Puppy Love" her way. Her second album, released on Disney's Buena Vista label in 1960, was titled "Annette Sings Anka."

Two years later, and Paul learned that quiz show host Johnny Carson, was taking over "The Tonight Show," and wanted a new theme song. Paul checked his catalog for something handy, and sent Johnny his instrumental, "Toot Sweet."

Anka (writing on page 153 of his new book) has oddly forgotten this fact; that the song he handed Johnny was over two years old. He writes: "I thought of Johnny Carson when I was writing the Tonight Show theme. I thought cool, late night, big band, and the rest was easy…" No, he didn't write that theme for Johnny! But embellishing his brilliance as a writer is nothing new for Anka. He's often said that "My Way" was another mystic, magical creation, and all he had to do was channel Frank's personality. He told Tavis Smiley only last week that he knocked out "My Way" in one night, inspired by learning that Frank was going to retire after one more album. Anka, determined to be on that album, sat up all night to hatch the hit. OK. Paul didn't add that the music to "My Way" was not his at all. The shrewd Mr. Anka was buying up music for his company, and that happened to include a French-language pop hit of the day.

Johnny, an avid drummer and big band fan, liked Anka's instrumental (apparently he never heard Annette's song at all) but thought the arrangement pop-dinky. It was more kiddie-daytime, and not a hip tune for late night. Johnny had the idea to kickstart the theme with a sharp little drum solo, and swing the tempo. Anka didn't mind, and even offered Johnny a co-write. This was done, Anka admitted (to Tavis Smiley) to ice Skitch Henderson out of the picture. Skitch was Johnny's band leader back then, and was angling to get involved in the theme song. But Johnny getting the co-write credit sealed the deal. It meant Anka-Carson would split the approximately $200 royalty given for EACH NIGHT'S PERFORMANCE of the song. Johnny was aware of original "Tonight Show" host Steve Allen's bonanza in having written his own theme song, "This Could Be The Start of Something Big." Carson wasn't such a superstar back then that he couldn't use an extra $500 a week in theme song royalties. Who knew if he'd last even a year or two in trying to replace a legend like Paar? And who expected any host to last more than a few years grinding out shows night after night? Steve Allen and Jack Paar had both felt the strain fairly quickly.

As it turned out, for over 30 years, fans loved that opening minute of "The Tonight Show," and Johnny and Paul had to love the big royalty checks that ended up being worth millions. The big bucks Johnny got would later influence many, including Red Skelton, Jackie Gleason, Joan Rivers and Craig Ferguson, to hum, co-write or completely write their TV theme song. Below, the original "Toot Sweet," Annette's version with lyrics, and the swingin' "Tonight Show" theme with the famous opening drum solo.



Australia loved this Canadian star: in 1990 she had three different albums in the charts there at the same time. Apparently no other female singer has ever done that down there, not even Olivia Newton-John. That same year, her song "Working Man" was a Top 20 hit in the U.K.

Rita MacNeil (May 28, 1944 – April 16, 2013) was a legend in her own country, for both traditional folk songs and for her brand of country. She was planning a series of summer concerts at her home base, "The Tea Room" in Big Pond, but died following a surgical operation involving some kind of seemingly minor infection. I can only quote the late Brother Theodore, who observed, "The bad hospitals let you die, and the good hospitals kill you."

Which isn't to say that Rita was killed, but it should serve as a warning that one must be in very good health to withstand an operation! My grandfather didn't survive what I suppose was a routine gall bladder operation, but he, like Ms. MacNeil, was overweight and nearly 70.

Rita's first album arrived in 1975, but it wasn't until 1987 that she went Platinum in Canada with "Flying On Your Own," her breakout hit. That song was quickly covered by the photogenic Anne Murray. Rita's next seven albums were Platinum as well in the frozen North, and she could still hit Gold once in a while later in her career: "Porch Songs" in 1995 (which featured her last Top 20 single, "Rolling Thunder), and "Mining the Soul" in 2000. She continued to release new albums including "Pocket Full of Dreams" in 2008 and "Saving Grace" just last year.

Rita's death set flags to half-mast in Cape Breton and other areas of Nova Scotia, because she was in touch with the average "Working Man," and that included the mines. Nova Scotia was, after all, the scene of one of the most notorious mining disasters of all time, memorialized in Peggy Seeger's "Ballad of Springhill." MacNeil also bonded with those who appreciated a great voice, and great personality, and the fact that she looked like a neighbor or a friend, and not Anne Murray. She didn't act like a star. She was humble and still could could get nervous before a show. A few years ago she remarked, "When I'm out onstage…it's still intimidating…as corny as that sounds, on the eve of my 60th birthday it hasn't changed and I don't suspect it ever will."

Anne Murray, on hearing the news, said: "“I am deeply saddened by the loss of a dear sweet woman and a gifted singer-songwriter who represented women and her beloved Nova Scotia so eloquently in her songs."

Farewell to Rita... Farewell to Nova Scotia


Heckfire, Uncle Jed, who wouldn't want to have SEVEN pit bulls!

Shazam! SEVEN pit bulls killing a two year-old that crawled into the backyard? Well, that's life.

GAH-LEE, Sergeant, ever' one o' them dawgs is needed, because somebody might hop the fence and steal some flat tires, or the rusty barbecue grill, or the kinda moldy pile of hangman's rope that hasn't been used since (Lester) Maddox in the days of old.

If there's anything more American (more Southern-American in fact) than owning big loud automatic weapons of death it's owning big loud vicious killer dogs! Yeah, maybe a two-year old gets mauled and killed once in a while. Plenty more ready to come out of the baby-makin' place, ya know, and if ya start young enough, ya'll gonna end up with more kids than dogs fah sure!

WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? 18 year-old, Summer Laminack, that's who.

It happened in little ole Ellabell, Georgia, where, proudly, "four generations of the same family shared the home including...two uncles who are still young boys."

Summer, who will surely go on to star in an episode of "Jerry Springer" or "Maury Povich," is being defended as only 18, and not really neglectful or anythin' like that. It was just "a tragic accident." Like dropping the bottle of Jack Daniels in the parking lot because you were walking and chewing tobacco at the same time.

It would be downright un-patriotic to send this little lady to jail, or school, or anyplace besides Home Sweet Home, where there's always the sound of insane barking and howling like a rebel yell, which gives everyone a feeling of security. Listen, no matter how poor, white trash and stoopid ya might be, if ya own yo'self a set of dawgs, yo, then ya are sumpin'. Hope nobody takes 'em away. Bet their names are Big Dan, Little Dan, Dan-Bobby, Dan-Billy, Dan-Blasted, Dan-Dang and Dan-Cracker.

Rest easy, Friends. This Summer, Summer will still be home, as free as, oh, Casey Anthony. She'll be drinkin' some Red Bull and Mountain Dew, and pickin' her next Baby Papa out of six or seven neighborhood uncles or cousins. Come on, look at the mug shot. She looks right sorry the whole thing happened, don't she? IF by some mizzable mizzcarriage a' Southern justice, they keep houndin' this little lady for being a good American and owning seven pit bulls, why, we'll just have to go over to SHIT KICKER-STARTER, and start fussin' feudin' and puttin' out the word: SEND LAWYERS, GUNS AND WELFARE MONEY! The dog shit has hit the fan!

Who Let the Dogs Out? Summer Laminack. Hey Maury, introduce her to the Baha Men, and get the paternity tests ready!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


Everyone seems thrilled that there's a new season of "Mad Men," a trendy "retro" show about the advertising world several generations ago. Oooh, what will happen to Don Draper this season! Who doesn't give a damn about Jon Hamm? Maybe a few of you who stop here now and then to check out obscure artists like..."The Flagpole Singers," who put out a concept album about the ad world, nearly 50 years ago!

Yeah, there's always been a fascination with the big bucks, highly creative, ultra-cynical world of advertising, probably since the late 50's when TV ad revenue paved Madison Avenue gold. The TV ad boom was unprecedented, and ad agencies were where bright college grads wanted to be. Even now, most having a choice of writing for TV or writing TV ads, will choose the latter. Ad agencies changed the way people thought and how they bought and what they bought. And they still do, as so many people buy insurance or invest in a product just because of an animated gekko or a quacking duck. They sure buy terrible brands of beer only because of ad campaign propaganda.

The black vinyl mirror exposed all this. In the late 50's band leader Lester Lanin put out an entire album of "dance" versions of TV and radio jingles (radio holding on via teen-pop music on the transistor radio). Louis Nye offered a spoken word album about the advertising game. Julius Monk's reviews consistently lampooned Madison Avenue (including a memorable sketch on hawking cigarettes, written by a pre-Jose Jimenez Bill Dana). There was Stan Freberg of course, while Homer & Jethro and Spike Jones both came up with lampoons based on the toothpaste catch-phrase "Look Ma, No Cavities." And…coming in a bit too late (although TV's Darren Stephens of "Bewitched" was an ad man and many shows based on his attempts to come up with new campaigns for his creepy clients), The Flagpole Singers offered a concept album about Mad Men and their products, recorded in February of 1964.

The idea was to skewer Madison Avenue via folk songs (since Allan Sherman's "My Son the Folk Singer" had done so well). Mad magazine-type comedy writers Norman Blagman and Sam Bobrick auditioned to find three singers (which did include folkie veteran Martin Ambrose), and knocked out songs about the grey-flannel suit guys with their button-down shirts. Nevermind that Bob Peck (a Tom Lehrer-wanna be) had already put out a comedy album with "Grey Flannel" in the title, and Newhart had a lock on being the "button-down mind."

The Flagpole SIngers sang about Mad Men taking tranquilizers, and how easy it is to make people pay attention to a bra ad…and really, if you like those two songs, go help out some struggling record seller and add the entire album to your collection. I just didn't want to be an even worse drone than an ad agency employee and have to digitize the rest and tweak the sound and upload it all (especially since I don' have Bromo Seltzer, Brioschi, or Bufferin around here…just to name three products drilled into my head by commercials to the point where I'd never buy them, just for spite.) You see some vintage bra and tranquilizer ads on this page…and seductive and eye-catching they are, insidiously enough. Much more than the songs about bra selling and taking tranquilizers you'll find below.

The cover of the album seems to reference both print and TV advertising…an ad campaign that always featured people carrying around their "nest egg" for savings, a model who wore an eye patch and hawked a band of shirt, and the guy in the business suit who seemed to fly, attache case and all, down into his favorite rental car as soon as he arrived at the airport.

Oh, those were the days…when Madison Avenue realized its power, gave six-figure salaries to its top brain-benders, and could have an entire nation happily singing along to "Eat too much, drink too much, take…" or "When the prices go up, up, up…" It was also a time when record companies didn't flinch about tossing novelty albums into the stores, even by unknowns. After all, eager buyers could browse the racks…and were desperate for audio entertainment because their favorite TV shows were…full of commercials. For the Flagpole Singers, local New York radio personailty Gene Klavan (without his partner Finch) offered album notes which included….

"It is obvious that these guys are trying to destroy the advertising industry. Here are twelve delightfully conceived, remarkably arranged, beautifully executed kicks…."

Two Songs Together in One Mp3 File: Best Brassiere Ads and Tranquilizers


Last month the blog posted about the Marx Brothers trying to get past customs officials via bogus Maurice Chevalier impersonations. Know what? Even the French singer's record label pulled a "fake Chevalier" routine!

When the 30's romantic singer had a comeback in the 50's thanks in part to the movie "Gigi," MGM decided to re-package some Chevalier songs for a "new" album. The idea was to cull all the songs with females in the title ("Cecilia," "Margie," "Dinah,") and play on the "Gigi" hit song "Thank Heaven for Little Girls." Let's just show Maurice with grown up girls! But…

"Do we really need to pay Maurice to pose for a re-issue album cover photo?" PAY Chevalier, ehh? Nah!

Take a look at the album cover. The guy might as well have hidden his face behind a passport! If there weren't already enough Internet hoaxes, this blog would be claiming that the model was actually Zeppo Marx. Not even Snopes could undo the damage!

The album cover is really more entertaining than the music. Maurice Chevalier was a charming fellow, and he and his outrageous French accent can still be amusing for a song or two. Just how many of these songs with women's names you'll want to hear…well…you'll judge for yourself as you slowly turn as stiff as a washboard. Or pasteboard. Or skateboard.

Chevalier's THANK HEAVEN FOR GIRLS GIRL GIRLS album He sings songs with GIRL names: Margie, Cecilia, Dinah etc. etc.

THE WORKER - Fischer-Z For the late PETER WORKMAN

There's been a spate of famous people deaths lately, most not needing an extra mention on this blog of less renown. Among the diverse dead: Margaret Thatcher, Annette Funicello, Carl "The Truth" Williams, Roger Ebert, and cult film directors Bigas Luna and Jess Franco.

Peter Workman died on April 7th, at the age of 74. You never heard of him, but you probably bought some of his books, especially if you wanted to give a somewhat quirky gift to someone, like "Banana Grams" or "Origami on the Go" or "Cake Doctor." Workman Publishing specialized in "novelty" titles and had the good sense and marketing skills to turn B. Kliban, a quirky Playboy cartoonist, into a best-selling author via a book of whimsical and weird tabby cat drawings. Wisely, Workman did indeed market t-shirts…as well as sheets, mugs, desk calendars and even shower curtains based on Kliban's cartoons. But the merch was driven by a book first, and that's changing now.

Workman, married to the same woman for 50 years, a charitable man who worked with Human Rights Watch, the ACLU and the Anti-Defamation League, may have died at the right time -- if a man's worth is tied to his accomplishments in his work. Because his work empire has peaked. The book world is going the way of the music biz. Bookstores are dying the way record shops did, and there's a cheapening of the product and a contempt for anyone trying to make a living at it. Ebooks will empty book shelves the way mp3's cleared out cabinets of CDs, and with less to manufacture or ship, more people will be out of work.

Scott Turow, the lawyer and best-selling author, recently wrote about "The Slow Death" of authors (and publishing) in a New York Times editorial. He underlined the "horrifying" problems and "menace" of Google, Amazon, piracy and the anti-copyright "crisis" caused by greed, self-entitlement and ignorance.

Turow ended with a report on what's happening in Russia: "I visited Moscow and met with a group of authors who described the sad fate of writing as a livelihood in Russia. There is only a handful of publishers left, while e-publishing is savaged by instantaneous piracy that goes almost completely unpoliced. As a result, in the country of Tolstoy and Chekhov, few Russians, let alone Westerners, can name a contemporary Russian author whose work regularly affects the national conversation." Don't get me started on how Putin and Russia are crippling the USA and UK by being SO nice to pirates and SUCH defebders of "Internet Freedom" by giving away ebooks, avi files and mp3s via torrents, forums and blogs. Putin offers a safe-haven for criminals operating in Croatia and any place where copyright and human rights can be violated, and what's going on is just as sick as the Mexican cartels that murder women and children and intimidate politicians and law enforcement so that idiots in America can get high. The Capitalist system which IS about free enterprise within copyright and respect for workers, is being destroyed by cartels who give access to illegal merchandise and are perceived as being so fucking cool. (End of rant).

For Workman Publishing to survive at all, they'll have to be more of a toy and game company, selling more 365-jokes-a-day calendars, and hope a new quirky cartoonist can parlay books into merch. But where will this stuff sell? Barnes & Noble, even by changing their bookstores into Starbucks-selling cafes, and offering their Nook, has shut down branches…frantic in trying to compete with Amazon and their Kindle.

I remember sending Peter Workman a book proposal, and to get his attention, including a photo of my cat (a tabby similar but not as fat as a Kliban cat) on a Kliban cat pillow case. I never did get a book published by Workman, but he sent a nice personal rejection letter.

To justify saying anything at all about Peter Workman on this music blog, there has to be an obligatory music download, and it's…"The Worker." I choose it to honor the Workman name, his indie publishing empire, and workers who read as they ride into town for a day at the office.

Lyrics: "…he hated journey on the train. Always been the same. Looking out windows. Second class and second best What a waste of time…The worker, the worker The worker, the worker. Always kiss the wife goodbye .Often wonder why. At seven in the morning…What a waste of time…" It's by short-lived but well-loved Fischer-Z, which was a quirky group that had a lead vocalist (John Watts) who seemed intent on singing in the highest, most hapless voice possible. A psych major, he infused his particular brand of pop-psych with a madness-dash of reggae as you can hear on this, the band's 1979 hit.