Sunday, October 19, 2014

When Patti Dahlstrom was nearly killed by Paul Williams

Paul Williams rushed to the bleeding Patti Dahlstrom, crying, "What have I done??"

Patti, dazed and bleeding, remembers now, "His voice became faint..." Slipping in and out of consciousness, she barely heard him say "Patti, an ambulance is on its way..."

You know Paul Williams. His songwriting credits include a lot of MOR ballads. But he didn't write "Killing Me Softly," and he was hoping he hadn't killed Patti Dahlstrom.

Paul did write "kill me now" romance songs that rock critics hated. These include: "Evergreen" as cooed by Stresiand, "We've Only Just Begun" as mewled by The Carpenters, and the silly "An Old Fashioned Love Song" (Three Dog Night).

He wrote "You And Me Against the World" covered by Helen "Hear Me Roar" Reddy. If you're still not repulsed, how about "Rainbow Connection" sung by The Muppets?

Yeah, that Paul Williams...who redeemed himself with a sense of humor in films (he was paired with giant comedian Pat McCormick in "Smokey and the Bandit") and the cult classic "Phantom of the Paradise."

Back when Patti was lying on the ground, her face smashed and bleeding, they were both young songwriters just beginning to get breaks. They often played their newest songs for each other. Patti's style wasn't as kitschy-coo as Paul's. So, did they come to blows over artistic direction? Did they have some kind of lethal argument?

No, Paul was showing off his Cunningham Bugatti, bright red with beige leather interior: "Paul started out and fairly fast, I think, probably 80 miles an hour on that turning twisting road. But it didn't feel that fast because the car was built to race, and holding the ground that well, the curving of the road felt natural and easy..."

Until he lost traction. "I remembered flying out of that car when the rear wheel hit a curb and broke the axle. I dreamed it. But back then all I had was Paul's description, "I looked up and you were over my head about eight feet and being thrown about twenty feet away.” And she heard a voice say "the odds are 50,000 to 1 that the doctors can save the left side of your face..."

The full details of the accident, and the faith that pulled her through it, is in her book "Traveling With Jesus: Learning on the Road of Life." It's not exactly a huge book...at 13,000 words it's more of a very long feature magazine piece. That makes it a quick, good read. Check pattidahlstrombooks.com for the download link.

And for those who don't yet know Patti Dahlstrom...check the CD re-issue of her best songs. She's been recorded by Thelma Houston, Cilla Black, and Shirley Bassey among others. She and Paul both have had a song covered by Helen Reddy. In Patti's case, it's "Emotion," English lyrics comfortably atop the melody from Veronique Sanson. Patti recorded four solo albums...featuring rollicking Southern rock, earthy songs about life and love, and much more. "I Never Did" is one of her classy ballads, and you'll find it below, from the original vinyl.

PATTI I NEVER DID

Grow Old Along With Disease - Glen Campbell and John

One of the most depressing songs John Lennon wrote is one of his last. "Grow Old Along With Me," his re-write of Browning, is literally a sad recording. You'd think John could've afforded a top quality portable tape recorder. The existing vocal, souped up to sound like an ELO outtake, is woeful and thin, with what sounds like a battered school auditorium piano.

It's also sad because not long after he made the demo, he was demolished.

John loved New York City. He wanted to live in America, land of the free. America believes in the freedom to bear arms, sell guns to just about anyone, and New York doesn't have a death penalty no matter what the murderer did.

Is it possible to listen to that song and not feel the deep irony of John, 40 years old, NOT growing old with Yoko? With us? Not being around the way Bob Dylan is, or Leonard Cohen, or Elton John or Paul McCartney?

It's a tribute to John that this is one of the most-covered of his comeback era songs. And who is the most prominent performer with a version of it? Glen Campbell, who sang it after his Alzheimer's diagnosis. It's pretty wrenching to hear a guy singing about growing old...when he knows he's also going to grow addled, and his wife could be living with a guy who has no idea who she is, and vice versa.

Flip Wilson once said that the cost of living is going up, and the chance of living's going down.

"Grow Old Along With Me," if you can avoid a bullet, some other act of violence, AIDS, Ebola, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's....

Here in October, Campbell has just released his final recording and video. It's "I'm Not Gonna Miss you." One critic, Ed Masley, reviewed it with many a reference to John Lennon:

"A gospel-flavored piano intro echoing John Lennon's "Isolation" is met by ethereal, Beatlesque harmonies before the country crooner takes the spotlight, candidly addressing what he's going through with "I'm still here but yet I'm gone / I don't play guitar or sing my songs / It never defined who I am / The man who loved you 'til the end." Now addressing his wife, he sings, "You're the last person I will love / You're the last face I will recall / And best of all / I'm not gonna miss you." Then he hits you with the sort of slide guitar part George Harrison might have added to a Lennon record."

Quite so. But the video directed by James Keach is more like Johnny Cash's "Hurt," with clips of the young man and close-ups of the puffy, battered face of a man grown old.

You can find that one on YouTube via Glen's own channel (a few pennies in royalties do go to him for a certain amount of plays). As for the older "Grow Old Along With Me," that's below.

John Lennon cover version by Glen Campbell

Thursday, October 09, 2014

ELEANOR McEVOY - THE BEST

The other night, I was listening to Eleanor McEvoy's album "Snapshots." It's 15 years old. It's a classic and it's more than that. It has such depth, so much to offer, that hearing this was almost like a new experience. I was struck by the production on "Sophie," a tour-de-force with its counterpoint of Eleanor's aching voice and the brutal reality of power chords on the piano. At times it reverses, with the piano becoming delicate in nuance, as she drives home the stark rhymes about this anorexic, tragic heroine…"dying…" "…can't stop crying…"

I remember being in a record store (remember those?) that had a bunch of sale bins. A girl was looking through the CDs of the unknown artists on sale, hoping to score something interesting for a few dollars. I was with my lady, who, irony enough, had introduced me to McEvoy this very way. She said, "This looks interesting..." and I bought it. As we checked the boxes, I noticed a copy of "Snapshots." Eleanor's albums were often in the sale bin, to my chagrin. Eleanor's not very well known in America and CDs and promo copies were often available for a few dollars. I flashed the album to my lady. The girl next to me said, "She's good?" I said, "She's great." "Oh? What's she like?" Thinking of a reference she might understand, I said, "Imagine a totally depressed Sinead O'Connor."

At the time, 1999, McEvoy was known for heartbreakingly intimate angst, if she was known for anything. "Only A Woman's Heart" was (and remains) her biggest hit. "My heart is low…my heart is so low…" Like Paul Simon, the best songs on the early albums tended to be somber, if not grim: "Go Now." "Please, Heart, You're Killing Me." "Whisper a Prayer to the Moon." Her love songs were in a minor key, including the haunting and humble, "You'll Hear Better Songs Than This." She wrote questioning, ironic pieces on religion ("Ave Maria") and she bettered Paul's "Slip Sliding Away" with the faster-paced "Days Roll By." And yes, she had several songs about people dying.

Fast forward 5 years. With great anticipation, I went to see her perform live. Would she be darkly morbid? Harrowing? Would she be some kind of wreck barely able to get through a set without throwing a bitter tantrum or breaking down in tears? To my surprise, Eleanor presented a very balanced show of the dark tunes and the gradually increasing lighter ones. She had an easy rapport with the audience, and without flashy looks or costume, won over the room with her personality. She could play guitar, piano and violin, too. It was then that I realized Eleanor McEvoy is quite simply, the best. Who else could I see for well-written and performed songs, in no genre more specific than "rock?" Joni Mitchell would be a competing name but even in 2004 Joni was a recluse.

That night, October 9th, she performed a stark number she only sings if she happens to be doing a gig on that date. "Anyone know what day it is?" she asked. She was expecting a cue for the song. But I was the first to speak up, and I said, "Yes…it's John Lennon's birthday." "Oh? Really? I didn't know that." Then she launched into a song that is both rich and spare, beautiful in its simplicity, deep in the chord changes, profoundly simple in sketching in the sparse details of a girl gone missing, with hopeful, hopeless signs placed around the neighborhood by her family. I often play it for people as their introduction to this artist.

More recently, she played a gig within 200 miles of me (it happens so rarely, since she mostly performs in Ireland). I made sure to go. I literally fight a torrential downpour to see her. More than ever, Eleanor McEvoy was the complete, consummate artist, with a wonderfully varied show that she performed for a very diverse audience of young and old, eccentric individuals and complete families, sober and darkly intense loners and some burly guys who'd visited the lobby bar before the show to down a few beers. They all loved her show, and I was in love with her, in an admiring way, as you just had to be in the presence of such a virtuoso. She not only performed on an array of instruments but even sang a number in French. She also offered a few covers…for which she brought enhancement and new insight in her choice of tempo and inflection.

As I did previously, I was so happy to have a few moments with her after the show to chat with her. Some artists hide after a show, exhausted. Some are shy by nature. Some have a genius that can also be difficult. She signed CDs in the lobby, had an easy smile, was gracious, had a charming humility…again…what else can I say…she's the best.

And so, on John Lennon's birthday, here's the October 9th song. The music didn't die when John did. There are some out there who are continuing his legacy of highly personal, extremely artistic songs. I'm glad to say that this still young, but so mature artist has carved her own unique identity while maintaining an enviable touring schedule in both her native Ireland and in England, Australia and throughout Europe, and does it her way…with releases on her own label…produced with all the time and sonic care she knows her music is worth. I'm glad to say that previous posts of "October 9th" on this blog have introduced a lot of people to Eleanor's work, and I've heard from quite a few people who said, "I never heard her before…I listened to the song over and over…she's wonderful…I want to get her albums. I'd love to see her in person."

It's a simple and yet dramatic song. I'm glad to say that she's blossomed into an artist with a full range of material. Like even our own master of gloom, Leonard Cohen does these days, she offers a show that, even with some dark songs, leaves everyone satisfied, gratified, uplifted, and...smiling.

OCTOBER 9th Listen on line, no pop-ups, porn ads or wait time.

TALKIN' BASEBALL - YANKEES EDITION - A Salute to Derek Jeter

Oh, why the fuck NOT.

Everybody's done it. For an entire baseball season, people have not only been saluting "The Captain," Derek Jeter, but giving this multi-millionaire expensive gifts and tons of money. He goes to a town to play a few games, and the opposing team gives him a car, or a big check for his charity organization, or some silly space-wasting trinket like a painting of himself or a trophy.

Isn't it nice that thanks to technology and the Internet, one can give a gift that takes up no space? And costs nothing to the giver? Here ya go, Derek, a download of "Talkin' Baseball," the Yankees edition.

The song, basically just a list of player names, reflects just how deeply sports fans take their favorite game and "heroes." No matter the country, and whether it's football, soccer, tennis, or bouncing 50 feet on a race track wearing metal blades, people admire SPORTS HEROES.

Pardon me while I elaborate on how this goes well beyond a novelty song of player names.

One of the strangest things about baseball is the amount of inane souvenir-collecting and memorabilia connected to it. Go on eBay and you'll see it..."relic" cards with a piece of shirt glued to it, autographed (forged) baseballs (usually backed up by some claim of "forensics!") and sweaty crap and inert wood used in games ("authentic jersey...a bat used in the game...a glove...).

Many baseball fans are transvestites. A transvestite derives pleasure from wearing unlikely garments. Nothing is more unlikely than a fat, out of shape slob going to a baseball game wearing the jersey, or ENTIRE UNIFORM of his favorite player. What the fuck, it's not even Halloween. You're DRESSING UP for the vicarious thrill of PRETENDING TO BE WHAT YOU ARE NOT?????

Many baseball fans are latent homosexuals. Or something. Why, WHY in the world, collect little cards with MEN'S PICTURES ON THEM?? You'd think it would be a phase, and one might outgrow it, but, no, baseball cards are feverishly collected by adults, and huge amounts of money are spent on shameless fake-collectibles like "silver edition" cards, "limited edition" ones, ones with some piece of shiny shit or hologram on it, etc. The bottom line is still...the worship and fascination of collecting cards with MEN on them, often their faces. I must confess that I have some baseball cards, myself, but not the new guys. I mostly collect cards of ugly vintage players (Don Mossi is a favorite) and ones with odd names (John Wockenfuss, for example).

Totally within the bounds of a psychiatrist's couch, talking about odd names...is the warm, fuzzy glow baseball fans have in just SAYING THE NAMES OF THEIR FAVORITE PLAYERS. It's almost pornographic. If a woman set up a "dirty talk" phone line, and merely purred, "Van Lingle Mungo..." she'd make a fortune.

Van Lingle Mungo, a little known player, was made famous via a mournful jazz-pop tune that collected player names. This led to "Talkin' Baseball," an irritatingly catchy Terry Cashman number that bounced along with nothing but the names of players. Few of them were particularly amusing, like Herb Hash. It didn't matter. And it led to the piece below, the YANKEES edition.

All seriousness aside, I was vaguely caught up in the 20th, and last season of Derek Jeter. I made sure to catch his last game at Yankee Stadium. In one of the most famous storybook endings in baseball history, reliable David Robinson managed to blow a save (that's a term, not a person), gave up several homers (none of them Simpson) and set up the "bottom of the ninth" for Derek to win the game. Nevermind that the Yankees, yet again, didn't make the playoffs. It was a triumph for Derek Jeter, who certainly is a classy guy. I mean, he gives autographed baseballs to the chicks who happily do a one-night stand with him.

The good thing is that for 20 years, Jeter never flaunted his enviable sex life, was NEVER thrown out of a game for arguing with an ump, and quietly tallied up remarkable stats that will be in the record books and "Hall of Fame" forever. My favorite thing about him, is that he insisted on playing a tape of Bob Sheppard when he came to bat. Sheppard, "The Voice of God," was the Yankees stadium announcer for probably 80 years. He had a distinctive voice. If not the "Voice of God," it could've been the voice of St. Peter announcing people through the pearly gates. When Bob died, and a new, boring announcer arrived (same situation recently with Don Pardo being replaced on "Saturday Night Live"), Jeter didn't allow it. He went with Yankee tradition. Sheppard's voice, on tape, continued to announce, "Now batting for the New York Yankees, Number Two, Derek Jee-ter."

It's kind of odd how something as unimportant as a "game" can become inspirational, and such a part of life (even in the off-season). It's downright peculiar that singing a bunch of baseball player names can bring a smile, an almost post-coital satisfaction to some people. Including you? Download this and find out...

Talkin' Yankee Baseball Players, including Derek Jeter

Spotify Crooks: "ARE YOU MAKIN' ANY MONEY?" Paul Whiteman Jimmy Buffett

One artist you'd never expect to find on this blog is Jimmy Buffett. Buffy The Music Slayer isn't in need of publicity. He's among the wealthiest celebrities thanks to diverse enterprises and the "parrot heads" who like sappy music and think sipping margaritas on a beach is heaven.

But, no matter how much money you make, you can still feel pissed off when some greedy corporation or incompetent bureaucrats take what belongs to you.

Jimmy's joined the artists angry at SPOTIFY. Aka Spotty Pie, this Internet giant rose from the swamps of "good ideas gone bad" (as Google did, as eBay did) to become a colossal monster. Websites are immune from morality thanks to both weak government laws. The idea is to make it easy to make a killing. Hedge fund weasels search for Dr. Frankenstein-types who can build a monster...investing in a crooked scheme like SPOTIFY can bring in a fortune. SPOTIFY declared itself "the new paradigm" as record stores went under and radio stations wilted. Internet music thieves happily insisted SPOTIFY meant: it was all right to steal all the music. From Totally Fucked Up blogs getting link-ads or Paypal donations, to forums run by Seniormole-types who were never in the music industry but knew everything about it, the word was: "It's ok for us to offer downloads of every Beach Boys album, and all new releases...the artists will make money by touring their asses off, t-shirt sales at gigs, and...SPOTTY PIE!

SPOTIFY, radio without trusted disc jockeys to hip you to artists you might like, pays the shittiest rates around, and blames it on overhead. "Once we get really big," they claim, "we'll pay better." Which is like Google announcing they'll stop spying. Or eBay announcing they'll stop allowing bootlegs and forgeries or letting kids see or buy porn just by typing in "nude" or "boobs." Nope, greed is greed. We see it with all the monster sites, like Amazon, where Bozo Bezos has the nerve to refuse to carry certain books, DVDS or CDs unless the companies accept his low rates and obnoxious terms.

A friend of mine, with five major label albums to his credit, muttered to me recently, "I'd like to pull my stuff off SPOTIFY...I'm not making anything. But their contracts are twisted and their grip is tight." Many artists have pointed to a huge amount of hits and only pennies to show for it. (Not unlike Google's evil YouTube, which is mostly bootleggers hoisting stuff in hopes of getting a fortune in royalties on material they don't own...only to get checks for chump change).

Continue, Buffy:

And so, not wishing to harm Mr. B. any further with even ONE sample song from his vast collection of sound-alike tunes about getting drunk and loafing around on the beach, the download below is the Depression Era classic, "Are You Makin' Any Money?"

The answer, for anyone on SPOTIFY, is a resounding NO.

But anyone who calls themselves Devil Ass, Zinfuck, Christer the Blister, Hans Demented, Mephisto, Seniormole, Ziggy Fart Dust, or other evil or stupid names in forums or torrents, would answer, "Oh, but your music is being heard, and that's the most important thing. Give away your music for FREE and for our entertainment. We, of course, in our jobs, dictate our price and don't do a damn thing unless we get paid for it."

Hey Spotify Are You Makin' Any Money?