Monday, August 29, 2016

"August 29th - The Beatles Last Ticketed Concert" STFU

Well well well. Oh, well. Well well well...

I'm quoting, of course, a song on John's first solo album. The one that bluntly told fans, "I DON'T BELIEVE IN BEATLES."

And yet, for quite some time, Believers have been using the "50th Anniversary" excuse to drum up their continued love for Ringo, Paul and the late George and John. It's gotten to be a bit much, no? Yes?

It's a triumph that everything The Beatles did 50 years ago is still relevant (to people over 50, at least). But it's also a bit depressing to be reminded of was. Especially when it involves some fairly SO WHAT bits of trivia.


50 Years ago TODAY, The Beatles performed what turned out to be their LAST ticketed show. It was the last time you could buy a ticket and go to a venue and see them. (They would perform a spontaneous live rooftop concert for the "Let it Be" documentary film). The show, ending their USA tour, took place in the Giants' baseball stadium Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. That's 3,000 miles from their first remarkable triumph, the Mets' Shea Stadium (which no longer exists), Queens, New York.

Great. Another excuse for the mainstream media to dust off some old Beatles photos and give older people a chance to read about music that doesn't involve Kanye or Beyonce.

But what do we make of this? Is this 50th anniversary sparking the release of a fabulous live album of that show? A great DVD of it?

At what point in the day will Ringo or Paul give a TWEET about this?

I think we know that if John was around, he'd say, "Be more concerned with what's going on NOW."

He was suggesting this with every solo record he made.

When he began his solo career, he punctuated it with blunt interviews in in two issues of Rolling Stone (later collected in book form as "Lennon Remembers").

Tony Hendra's brutal parody "Magical Misery Tour" (from National Lampoon's "Radio Dinner") used mostly Lennon's own words from that interview against him. If comedy is tragedy + time, then parody might be anger turned inside out. Lennon's rage was turned into a ludicrous tantrum.

Hendra was so close in voice and attitude that the signature line "Genius is Pain" could almost have been lifted directly from a track on John's first solo album. Hendra recalls, "Lennon was the ultimate sacred cow...I have never been so nervous as the night we recorded this cut. It was, to put it mildly, a high-profile assault, and I'd never had the slightest talent for impersonation...I had no idea why I was doing it, only that it was right and new, another of those leaps in the dark. It was frightening even just to attempt it. Lennon might have been sacred, but I was scared."

John was a huge fan of iconoclasts, but there's no report on whether he was a fan of this devastating satire. Fortunately most fans who read John's interview agreed that their hero had a bit too much "self-obsession" (as Hendra called it) and considered the parody pretty valid, and the music very solid (piano by Melissa Manchester, who turns up at the end as an unconvincing Yoko Ono).

Hendra had some electronic help to get the right nasality and pitch (ironically, John would often demand his producer use echo or other tricks to "fuck up me voice" with studio enhancements). A few lines may be beyond the average Beatles fan. Not everyone might know that the "Eastman" mentioned, is Linda McCartney's father, who was suggested by Paul as the right attorney to handle the mess that Apple had become. Some may or may not recall Lennon's tart "Turn Left at Iceland" news conference remark.

Mostly, the lyrics are pretty straightforward, and some taken direct from the interviews:

"I RESENT performing for you fuckers, tell me, what do you know? A lot of faggot middle-class kids wearing long hair and trendy clothes. Look, I'm not your fucking parents and I'm sick of uptight hippies coming knocking at me door with a fucking peace symbol, get this, fuck that, I don't owe you fuckers anything and all I got to say is FUCK YOU. The sky is blue.

"And Mick Jagger, I think that Mick's a joke with all his stupid faggot dancing. I always did. Wiggling his ass you know, it's just a lot of bullshit. And where does he come off saying all those tarty things about The Beatles when every fucking thing we ever did Mick tried to copy and you know we even wrote his second fucking record for him, no, The Stones aren't the same in class as The Beatles either music wise, or power wise, and never ever were. Pardon me, sir!"

"Paul said he hated Yoko, tell me, why should Yoko have to take that kind of shit? Shit from those fucking sons of bitches? George said she gave off evil vibes. I should have beat the fucking shit right out of him. Him with his fucking Hare Krishna.

"Me auntie, she tore up me fucking poems. She just threw the bastards out. I can't forgive her, 'cause she didn't treat me like a fucking genius. Look, you bastards, I'm a genius, like Shakespeare and Beethoven and Van Gogh! Don't you dare criticize my work! "Don't Worry Kyoko" was one of the fucking best rock and roll records ever made! I'm a fucking artist! I'm sensitive as shit! I throw up before I go onstage! I can make a guitar speak! If I could be a fisherman I would, but I can't, because I'm a fucking genius!!

"I was the Walrus! PAUL wasn't the Walrus! I was just saying that to be nice, but I was actually the Walrus! Him and that rubbish he's been singing! Eastman was an animal! A fucking stupid middle-class pig. I won't let fucking animals like that near me! Yoko is a supreme intellectual! I'll tell you why nobody likes her music — because she's a woman and she's Oriental, that's why!

"Where are you Mother! They're trying to crucify me! Genius is Pain...Genius is Pain...(primal screams) Turn left at Iceland...(more screams)"

And speaking of screams...fer cryin' out loud, ENOUGH with the fucking "50th Anniversary of..." Beatles references.

SACRILEGE: John Lennon satire. Instant download or listen on line.

An UN-PC bootleg rarity: Michael Flanders in Jamaica-Face

It's sort of sad that everyone is uptight over ethnic humor. This is especially true of homicidal members of radical Islam. Or, as we might call them, Idiotic Moronic Fanatics.

The IMF forces have done the impossible, succeeding in their mission to intimidate just about everyone everywhere. As in: don't you dare make a drawing of Moe the Hammed. Laughter as a weapon will get a bomb in your office!

Anyone who MIGHT be a Muslim is given a wide berth these days because the person could be a purveyor of a gory death. You just never know who is carrying a sword or a bomb or past-expiration date hummus.

Put it this way, what TV station would be daring enough to run "The Party" or "The Millionaress" with Peter Sellers doing his Indian routine? Even if the Indian is not even Muslim, it's too risky. As for his partner in crime, Spike Milligan, you won't find audio of him sing-songing the old comic poem, "I am a little Hindoo. I do that I kindoo. And where my shirt and pants don't meet, I make my little skindoo."

At one time, "colorful" humor in Great Britain included gleeful impersonations of Pakistani, Indian and Jamaican people. No doubt Spike and Peter simply enjoyed the amusing quality of Indian and Pakistani accents, even as they applied Marmite to their faces. Yes, we get it, it IS, in a way, as awful as Al Jolson blacking up to sing "Mammy" and "Old Black Joe." He meant well, and you can hear the emotion in his voice as he sings as a lonely, sad slave.'s more than a gray area when it involves brown or black skin. It's a lot easier to still laugh at Irish, Italian or Jewish accents, or make fun of the Scots for needing subtitles.

One reason for ethnic comedy is that it is a way of coping with fear. Fear of foreigners. In America, comedians circa 1916 made fun of the immigrants and the assimilating Southern blacks. Blackface even turned up in the British music halls. Immigrants didn't seem to scary if there were jokes involved. To some degree, people were also fascinated by accents, and it made the "odd" immigrants seem harmless. Many jokes in Irish or Jewish dialect were just funny jokes, and inter-changeable. A classic "Irish" joke could be found in a Jewish or Scots jokebook, with just a change in name and dialect.

Done with affection, the comedians using ethnic humor could become superstars. A white team in blackface, "Mack and Moran" sold tons of 78 rpm records, and "Amos and Andy" of course would be the superstars of radio not long after. Chico Marx was just the tip of the ethnic spaghetti pile, and in the 40's and 50's all kinds of accents could be heard on radio and on records: The Mad Russian, Ajax Cassidy, Mrs. Nussbaum, etc.

While part of the humor was, as most humor is, an escape valve and a joyful ridicule, a lot of it was sympathetic, and a lot of it was intended to push for assimilation. The children or grand children of immigrants were proud NOT to sound like Yogi Yorgesson, Stepin Fetchit, Harry Lauder or Mickey Katz. There's a gray line between being proud and ashamed of ethnicity.

One of Flanders & Swann's most beloved little nose-tweaks was called "A Transport of Delight." As most Brits would agree, even at its best, taking a bus (or omnibus) could be a trying experience. Today, it can excruciating.

But even back in Michael and Donald's time, there was another change going on, aside from the increasingly dodgy service. The workers were no longer white. Immigrants were now working the low-wage jobs. And as you'll hear in the rarity below, Flanders took to mimicking this type of worker, in an accent that sort of wavers a bit between Jamaican and Pakistani. It's quite a surprise, because he and his partner rarely touched on ethnic humor. At best, Donald Swann would do some horrid, eccentric song in Greek or Russian, but that was it.

No question, Michael is NOT being racist, he's being a realist. He is also enjoying the comical aspect of the accent he's using.

Note the pun that references then-Prime Minister Hume, and most certainly, the accent Michael uses as the long-dead duo return to life for you, affirming that ethnics are all over and bus service in the 21st Century, like the preceding century, is shite.

Michael and Donald Transport of Delight

Here's Hoping - Paul and Artie One Last Time??

The news over the summer on Paul Simon? That his last album could be his last. The guy's been too great to hint that his last several albums have all sounded alike, with the ethnic rhythms and obscure lyrics. He's also too much of a legend to note that these days, standing in front of a silly menagerie of Afro-Cuban rhythm boys and an egocentric show-off cellist and singing songs in a piping small voice while making peculiar hand gestures in the air has gotten very old. 74 years old, to be exact.

But should he go? NO, because when Muslims attack, when the city streets are flooded, and when some new plague from South America or Africa threatens to wipe us out, WHO the FUCK is going to stand on a stage and sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" if not PAUL SIMON?

"Showbiz doesn't hold any interest for me," Simon declared a few months ago. "None. It's an act of courage to let go. I am going to see what happens if I let go. Then I'm going to see, who am I? Or am I just this person that was defined by what I did?"

He doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'd be content to just hang around the house, getting into humiliating domestic arguments that require the police. Naturally his fans have the answer: go back to your Art. That's with a capital A. Can't we have ONE last re-union of Simon & Garfunkel??

"Here's hoping," they say.

Over here, the response is the amusing parody song "Here's Hoping," done years ago. Inspired by one of the infrequent reunions of the "old friends," it explores the frayed nerves and one-upmanship that the concerts seemed to generate. No matter how wonderful the show might be (such as the legendary Concert in Central Park) there was always the hint that at any moment, a snide remark would lead one or the other to walk off stage.

The threat of violence was always there. You've got a tall, unarmed man slapping his thigh restlessly, and a short guy carrying a chunk of wood.

"Hello darkness, my old friend."

A message left by Art Garfunkel on Paul Simon's answering machine? The prelude to one final "do it for the big money" set of select tours where StubHub tickets magically jump to a thousand bucks? The final "we can't let our hair down" tour where Paul is threadbare above, and Artie confirms that he's permanently tossed the tawny-curly wig and reveals himself to look a bit like Ed Koch?

For those who continue to continue to pretend that friendships never end, and that flowers never bend with the rainfall, I suggest you NOT download this celebration of Simon hating Garfunkel and vice versa.

"Here's Hoping" is by England's "Not the 9 O'Clock News" troupe, recorded over 25 years ago, if not 30. It was apparently performed in concert, not on the show itself. At the time, Paul and Artie were tolerating each other for a tour, which wasn't helped by a British TV interviewer asking Garfunkel about all those great songs he wrote. That's probably why this satire has Paul very prominently declaring HE wrote all the material.

And "Here's Hoping" that nobody steals the Photoshop job above and pretends it's real.

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

NOT S&G "Here's Hoping "

Friday, August 19, 2016

You Ain't Worth the Salt in ANNETTE HANSHAW's Tears

“(You ain’t worth) The Salt in My Tears” was a big hit for Martin Briley. (Happy Birthday to Martin...born on August 17th). But did he make up that clever remark? Uh, no. As he’s admitted, one of the tricks in songwriting is to take a phrase listeners are already familiar with, and use it in a song. Musically speaking, the phrase turned up on vinyl when vinyl was black shellac. “There Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth The Salt Of My Tears” was recorded back in 1928 by Annette Hanshaw.

Catherine Annette Hanshaw (October 18, 1901 – March 13, 1985) recorded over 200 singles in the 20’s and 30’s. Sometimes, so that the glut of material wouldn’t be so obvious, her record abels used pseudonyms. Among the oddest Hanshaw items are the ones credited to “Dot Dare” and “Gay Ellis.” That almost none of them are available today is quite a surprise and a shame. As most fans of old jazz know, at one time Annette was billed as “The Personality Girl.” She was the female rival to Bing Crosby in terms of national popularity. In fact, both of them would record “Ain’t No Sweet Man Is Worth the Salt of My Tears” the same year. Crosby (with the Rhythm Boys) took second billing to the Paul Whiteman orchestra. Bix Beiderbecke was on cornet.

One of the odd quirks of songs back then, was that they didn’t necessarily adhere to today’s accepted patterns of verse and chorus. This song is one long, tuneful and catchy instrumental until Annette turns up towards the end with her jolly slam at the idea of feeling sad about a break-up. And yes, if you’re wondering, the Rhythm Boys version doesn’t alter the song’s lyrics, which makes them seem like a bunch of big homos. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Consult an English professor if you want a definitive answer to why THIS song references "the salt OF my tears," while Briley's more popular version says "the salt IN my tears."

The Hanshaw version is the classic (though a nice one was turned in by Peggy Lee decades later). A catch-phrase Annette used, which isn’t on the single below, was ending a swingin’ tune with a blithe, “That’s all.” (As opposed to “That’s Ill.”)

Annette’s family owned “The Melody Shop” in Mount Kisco, New York, and she was a song plugger there, playing and singing for prospective buyers of sheet music. She performed locally and signed to Pathe in 1926, moving to Columbia in 1928 where they had her grinding out material for all the major and minor labels. A year after she left Pathe, she married Herman Rose, a Pathe exec.

In 1932 she began a two year run on the “Maxwell House Show Boat” radio show. When that ended in 1934, so did her recording career. She simply was sick of it all. As she later said in a less-than-nostalgic interview, she didn’t even like her records: “ I was most unhappy when they were released. I just often cried because I thought they were so poor, mostly because of my work, but a great deal, I suppose, because of the recording. I disliked the business intensely. I loathed it, and I'm ashamed to say I just did it for the money. I loved singing, you know (but) I was terribly nervous when I sang. You just have to be such a ham and love performing, and I happen to be an introvert.”

Annette Hanshaw Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth the Salt Of My Tears

Kid Stuff from Connie Francis

When last we convened, I mentioned the varied career of Connie Francis. Give her credit; she appealed to everyone. If you liked folk music or movie theme songs, if you were Italian or Jewish, if you wanted a pop song sung in a foreign language, if you liked teen pop like “Stupid Cupid” or oldies like “Among My Souvenirs,” a record store owner could direct you to the big Connie Francis rack. Not that she had a big rack. But she was nice looking, wasn’t she?

Probably the most dire examples of Connie's flexibility, are her children's albums. In deference to Connie’s views on piracy, and the blog’s own views on ethical sharing there's only one sample from each lp. Let's allow record dealers and re-issue labels to make a living. Enough with the rationalizations, or acting like Fascistic babies and thinking FREE music is an entitlement and that it does no harm.

“Connie Francis and the Kids Next Door” was an awfully cheap trick. Recorded on MGM’s cheap “Leo the Lion” label, Connie doesn’t even sing on all the tracks. If you were thinking of spending $10 or $20 or whatever JUST to hear Connie Francis try a Jewish accent on “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” fuggedaboutit. That song is sung exclusively by the brats, er, kids. And no, it’s not funny and no threat to the Allan Sherman original.

One must remember (or try to forget) that back in the day, there were horrible singles such as Mitch Miller's "The Children's Marching Song (Nick Nack Paddy Wack) featuring the annoying and brash vocals of pre-pubescent pests.

Connie does guide the little monsters through some other silly pop tunes of the day, including "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" and "Henry VII." Adults and kids singing together is usually a “novelty” at best. Like a pitted olive with an almond stuck in it, an adult-and-kids novelty may be oddly amusing ONCE, but you’d really prefer something else. And you don't want a second helping. Tom Glazer’s “On Top of Spaghetti” comes to mind, or "Consider Yourself" from the Broadway show "Oliver," or anything from “The Sound of Music.” Did you know that Phil Ochs recorded an entire album of kid favorites with “The Campers?” No, he didn’t put his name on that one!

The album notes gamely try to make something more about this brat-worst than it is. It’s not just some contractually obligated experiment Connie Francis was roped into doing; it’s some kind of educational breakthrough. Imagine if YOU were in a record store, pondering whether to buy this thing. The notes might put you over the edge:

“Have you ever heard songs sung in childrenese?

“Childrenese, devised and recently popularized by Dr. Haim Ginott, is a new and understanding way of talking to and with kids.

“Why not the same approach to get through to them musically…that the most understanding and receptive way of singing to children is to sing with them.

“Connie Francis knows this, and a better kid-terpretor of tunes you’ll not find. Having wowed an audience at her own singing debut at the age of four, she is more kid-conscious, musically, than any pop artist around…with six youngsters [4 of them 11 years old, 2 of them 14] adding their sing-along sparkle to Connie’s irresistible talents, the result mirrors the magnetism of the legendary Pied Piper of Hamelin, for you find you’re quickly drawn into the act yourself. A spin or two and you’ll also be do-re-me-ing, hellomuddah-ing and itsybitsyteenieweenieyellowpolkadotbikini-ing!”

Haim Ginott was a highly respected therapist and author at the time, not quite as prone to turning up on TV as often as Dr. Joyce Brothers, but his self-help books were (and probably still are) quite useful....much more than a bunch of kids singing "England Swings" or "Do Re Mi" or "A Spoonful of Sugar" in dodgy stereo.

At one time, it seemed that Top 40 radio’s demographics were geared not only to teenagers, but to the pre-pubescent. How else do you explain The Chipmunks or Herman’s Hermits? Or doo-wop? A budget album back then called “Pops for Tots” collected all the novelty songs that not only amused teenagers, but their kid brothers and sisters, too, things like “The Witch Doctor” and “Western Movies.” One shudders to think that today's 11 year-olds are happily listening to violent rap and chuckling.

Good-hearted Connie went along with all kind of ideas from her record label, including a kiddie concept album about cute animals, like “Pinky the Penguin.” Really, even if the album was officially declared public domain and MGM insisted it would NEVER be released on CD or as an iTunes download, you might not want to hear more than one track. “Pinky the Penguin” is plenty.

Some popular vocalists got some attention late in life (Johnny Cash, for example) and others didn’t (Patti Page). Some 50’s singers are still in high demand (Tony Bennett, for example) and then there’s Connie Francis. It would be nice if the Grammy Awards or Kennedy Center Honors gave Connie a salute. A mention on a blog, plus a download of “Pinky the Penguin” and a Herman’s Hermits cover isn’t quite enough, is it?

Connie and the Kids Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter

Connie Francis Pinky the Penguin

Kahimi Karie - Sex Kitten

Do you get turned on by baby talk? Do you think pouting is arousing? Can a grown woman really get away with acting like a child? Is talking like a six-year-old sexy?

The breathy-sexy stylings of past mistresses French Claudine Longet and Brazilian Astrud Gilberto have been inhaled, and now exhaled by Asian cutie Kahimi Karie.

It's not an easy trick for a singer to sound deliberately flirty and intimate. A come-hither vocal can often be a turn-off.

Kahimi's "I Am a Kitten" may only make you mew-sick. Her purr-view and final "meow" might make you juicier than sushi (or "raw like sashimi"). Or as John McEnroe used to cry, "You have GOT to be kitten!" No kitten? It's up to you.

"I Am a Kitten" was recorded in France and shows the influence of European friends. The full album "Nunki" has varied pleasures and a much more Asian tone. There's a whisper in your ear called "Yubitsugi," the sugary meditation "I'm in the Rain," the guitar pluck and sound-effect plinks of "All is Splashing Now," and "Taiyo To Tsuki" which includes odd click noises that suggests the lady has emerged from the beaded curtain in an exotic geisha house and...she'll be plucking a few more bills from your wallet very soon.

The expert Ms. Karie (born Mari Hiki, March 15, 1968) has been practicing her Shibuya-kei for over a decade, and became a superstar in Japan via "Huming ga kikoeru," the theme song for the anime "Chibimarukochan." Like Astrud Gilberto, Kahimi was an amateur vocalist until coerced by her friends to turn pro. The ex-photographer found that singing softly and whispering lyric lines created an intimacy that better-trained singers couldn't match. While Karie has recorded experimental Asian music and jazz in Japan, she's also performed with many European musicians and as you'd expect from "I am a Kitten," lives in Paris, land of Bardot

Kahimi the Sex Kitten "I Am a Kitten" Instant download, No porn ads or wait time.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Dean's son RICCI MARTIN of "Dino" if not DINO, DESI AND BILLY has died

If Dean Martin was alive, he’d be about 99. Would his heart have taken the strain of having a son die?

Dean’s heart was already broken when his son Dean Paul Martin was killed back in 1987 in a plane crash. It was well documented by his friends (including Jerry Lewis) and his family (including Ricci) that Dean simply never recovered from this tragic loss.

Dean's career was on the skids in 1987 (as were Frank and Sammy’s). An attempt to use work as occupational therapy failed; he was simply depressed and unmotivated in doing the same old crooning songs and drunk-joke patter. He was not, unlike Frank and Sammy, driven to stay in the spotlight even with diminished skills.

Dean became reclusive, to the point where he’d be found sitting alone in a local restaurant, sometimes having a spaghetti dinner, sometimes just sitting at the bar having a drink, his teeth in a glass beside him. “Wussup, waddya doin’,” some old time pal might ask with a grin. Dean's reply: “Waiting to die.”

Dean Paul Martin was the first of Dean's kids to enter show biz. Like Gary Lewis, who was making Dean's former partner Jerry Lewis proud, the young Dean chose bubble gum music for his category. Calling himself “Dino,” hw became a third of “Dino, Desi and Billy.” The trio included Desi Arnaz, Jr. and homely Billy Hinsche. Their top 20 hit in 1965 was “I’m a Fool.” I doubt these guys were even competition for Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. (You remember them? They recorded “Hair On My Chinny Chin Chin (Huff 'n Puff)” on the 1966 album, “If Music Be the Food of Love Prepare for Indigestion.” And don’t think I’m joking!)

Ricci (who died on August 3rd) emerged about a decade after his older brother's hits began to wane. Ricci offered up a debut album in 1977 called “Beached.” His partner in crime was Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, who ironically would marry one of Dean Martin’s daughters, Gina, a decade later. And then get divorced.

“Stop, Look Around” was the single from it. It’s below. It’s just an ordinary song from an ordinary nasal tenor, with a slight bit of Beach Boys harmony tossed in the mix. And since it’s Carl Wilson not Van Dyke Parks, it’s not too fey. But it’s still not too good.

After kicking around for many years, Ricci replaced his dead brother Dino in a re-hash of Dino, Desi and Billy, now simply called “Dino.” Perhaps they thought aging women who remembered the old trio would get wet for them, without slathering some Vaseline in. Maybe "Dino" hoped to attract dyslexics who thought they were going to see Dion.

Interesting how genetics works, or doesn’t. You might get an odd variation on the original (Gary Lewis to Jerry Lewis) or nothing much at all (Sonny and Cher’s kid, for example.)

Following in the chin straps of Frank Sinatra Jr., Ricci in latter middle age put together a tribute to his famous father, and was doomed to that purgatory until he, like Frank Jr., died. He was 62. Frank Jr. (who died about five months ago) was 72.


Spooky Baby James - A Hypodermic Parody

Still creepy after all these years.

Some people love James Taylor, and flock to a show where he'll speak in that soft-spoken voice, stare with the wacky eyebrows raised, and with a crooked grin, sing a mild song, keepin' it mellow.

His last album scored #1 on the Billboard charts, his first #1 since 1970. Talk show hosts were happy to assure him, and the public, that he was still as great as ever. What a triumph. All that's missing now is a Broadway musical about him, titled "SWEET."

"Sweet Baby James" was such a blockbuster disc in 1970 it led to a cottage industry of Taylors (Livingston, Kate and Alex). None of the siblings could rival the heroic, stoic, sad but sweet James. His solo career gave way eventually, briefly, to duets with his wife Carly. There was the catchy "Mockingbird," and other joyful songs that fans still consider as reasons to be cheerful.

All seriousness aside, the back story with Taylor was part of his success. Everyone knew he wasn't in his right mind, but that he got over it and triumphed with easy-going and gentle tunes. Except he and Carly divorced (he still won't even communicate with her) and he had a terrible time with drugs for longer than he or his publicists would admit.

When you consider that Carly (and Joni and Don McLean and Cat Stevens and just about every singer-songwriter from that era) can't get arrested, Taylor's success with "Before This World" last year is an astonishing triumph. He still tours, and still pretty much looks and sounds like himself. You can't argue with success, even if you might wonder what's with the haunted smile and cock-eyed glazed expression.

These days, Taylor has a family audience. There are guys his age of the hippie-to-Yuppie variety, proud to be off pot and into organic shoes made out of hemp. Back in the day, James primarily appealed to women who wanted to mother him, and wean him off drugs with their big soft milky boobies. He also appealed to a few guys who identified with cracking up, doing drugs, and conning women. That would explain peculiar tribute songs at the time such as "Keep Driving James" from Harriet Schock and "Oh James" by Andy Bown.

Back in the 70's he seemed like he might kill himself, but soon he had that self-confident Anthony Perkins smirk. Today he doesn't look like he'd ever think of doing himself in, but he does look like he could stab somebody in a shower.

Look, even George Harrison once admitted, "I never cared for the Sweet Baby." He said it back in the 70's, perhaps still cringing about Taylor having been originally signed to Apple. George did NOT want to take credit for discovering Taylor. The Beatles were often mentioned in that capacity. It's possible he also found something formulaic about Taylor's "pity me" numbers, his predictable strumming, his rather limited singing range, and his limited subject matter. Aside from sunshine and rain, Taylor actually figures people want to hear an ode to "branch water and tomato wine, creosote and turpentine, sour mash and new moon shine, Down on Copperline.").

Yes, here in Illvllle, we acknowledge a survivor, and James Taylor is that. He also turned in a beautifully sardonic turn as an egocentric and somewhat evil God in Randy Newman's "Faust." While sweet dreams and flying machines crashed along the way, and Carly was quite exasperated with the guy, he became that rarity, a living legend.

What becomes a legend most? Parody. Back when he was super-hot, James was given a "tribute" via the National Lampoon "Lemmings" show.

These guys saw through the sensitive singer-songwriter, and as they also did with Neil Young and the countrified Bob Dylan, found reason to be realists, and laugh at their less-than-perfect heroes.

The show was helmed by John Belushi, but the prime star was Christopher Guest, who co-wrote and performed the skewering takes on both Dylan and Taylor. Just how skewering did it get? Well, even in Illville, and even after all this time, a line alluding to Taylor's hypodermic use is cringeworthy. It goes beyond the jabs at Taylor for being a sell-out and womanizer. Listen to the "soulful, moody" Taylor get stubbed via "Highway Toes"…

SKEWERING James Taylor

Connie Francis - "Don't Be a Stupid Cupid!"

Connie Francis.

Probably the first thing that comes to mind, sadly, is that she's the most famous victim of rape.

It was a particularly vicious assault, as a 19 year-old black who kept up a steady stream of jive and self-important psychobabble about his problems with his mother. His mother was Connie's age. She tried to reason with him, listen to his bragging, and explain that she didn't keep a lot of cash in her hotel room, but could get some. "Take my fur coat," she offered, "it's worth a lot." His response: "I ain't takin' that shit, so I'll get caught. Waddya take me for?" Or something like that.

Ultimately, he took great joy in beating her, tying her up, threatening her with a knife, and ransacking the place. She nearly suffocate when he dumped a mattress on top of her, hoping to find treasures under the bed. A tormenting assault ended with a goading, "You ever been with a black man?" and "How did you like it?"

He was never caught. Apparently the police never bothered to check a pattern of hotel break-ins and/or rapes and see, over the years, if somebody they managed to arrest was a likely match to this one.

It took many years for Connie to have the confidence to step out on a stage and resume her career, and this was made even more difficult after nasal surgery gone wrong. For a while, she had no voice at all.

Eventually she made her comeback, less as a nostalgia item and more as a heroic diva.

I mentioned to her that for me, the greatest thing about Connie Francis was that she was everybody's Connie Francis. She recorded albums for most every ethnicity. She sang in foreign languages, too. Connie could revive middle-of-the-road (the now notorious "Who's Sorry Now," which was the title of her book, referencing her tough time) and also sing to "the kids" with trifles like "Stupid Cupid."

Her rather bewildering blitz of vinyl back in the day, included North-polar opposites: "Christmas In My Heart" and "Connie Francis Sings Jewish Favorites." She recorded albums for her own ethnic group ("Italian Favorites") as well as Spanish favorites, German favorites, an album of waltzes, "Hit Songs from the 30's," a collection of movie themes, and even "Country and Western Golden Hits" and "Folk Favorites." How about Connie and a bunch of kids running through Herman's Hermits' "Henry VIII" and "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter?"

Sadly, Connie's tumultuous life would include over a dozen trips to the sanitarium, many involuntary, and a mis-diagnosis of what was causing her mood swings and depression. Inevitably, though there would be many a triumphant concert tour, her audience had aged, and touring became more difficult. She could've used more royalty checks from her hits to compensate for the money she was losing from not being on the road.

As this blog as stated many times, there's a difference between "sharing" and "stealing," and between a responsible use of copyrighted material and the idiocy of insisting everything is "fair use." Which is like a rapist shrugging that what he does is also "fair use," and doesn't do much damage because "all she has to do is take a shower."

Which leads me back to Connie's book, where she mentioned wearing just a robe and being brutally questioned by male cops after the rape, while the perp's semen was still inside her. No, contrary to what some people think, a rape, even a less violent one, produces emotions of rage and shame, frustration and helplessness.

In her book, talks about the rape.

On her website, she talks about the piracy that has robbed her of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

No, the link below is not to every Connie Francis album. Or even one of them. Not even one that's "out of print" and therefore, supposedly, "public domain." After all, there are still a few re-issue companies out there. If they see that an album is long gone, and not available free on the Internet, they just MIGHT offer it on CD with bonus tracks and a great booklet.

So here's Connie, with an amusingly restless musical backing, offering a "public service" spot urging people to drive safely.

CONNIE FRANCIS National Safety Council Spot "