Movies of the Aughts Meme

Jaquandor found this meme here and here. Perhaps I and/or they should have waited until 2009 was over at least, not unlike that 12/4 Entertainment Weekly edition which listed the famous people that died in 2009; nobody dies in December?

Anyway, the point of the exercise is to pick not “The Best” movies of 2000-2009, but one’s favorite films. “This list means nothing, except to me. It’s a list of 50 movies that gave me pleasure over the past decade. I can say without reservation that I would watch any of these again. Would I say that all of them are great films, however great films are supposed to be defined? Probably not. But that’s nothing you need to worry about. Because it’s my list.”

In alphabetical order:

1. About a Boy
2. Almost Famous
3. Amélie
4. American Splendor*
5. Away From Her
6. Bend It Like Beckham
7. Best in Show*
8. Capote
9. Catch Me If You Can
10. Chicago*
11. Chicken Run
12. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
13. Erin Brockovich
14. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind*
15. Far From Heaven
16. Finding Nemo
17. Finding Neverland
18. The 40 Year-Old Virgin
19. High Fidelity*
20. An Inconvenient Truth
21. The Incredibles*
22. Iron Man
23. Juno
24. Little Miss Sunshine
25. Love Actually
26. Man On A Train
27. Mean Girls
28. Milk
29. Once
30. A Prairie Home Companion
31. Pride and Prejudice
32. Punch-Drunk Love
33. Requiem for a Dream*
34. The Rookie
35. The Savages
36. Sicko
37. Sideways
38. Spider-Man
39. Spider-Man 2*
40. Spirited Away
41. Spy Kids
42. The Squid and the Whale
43. The Station Agent*
44. Stranger Than Fiction*
45. Up
46. The Visitor
47. Volver
48. Waitress
49. Whale Rider
50. You Can Count On Me*

But, in fact, I have gotten into a pattern where I DON’T see movies a second time anymore, as I did in in the 1970s and 1980s; more movies, less time. The only film I saw even parts of more than once is The Incredibles. The movies asterisked comprise my “Top 10” list, using the same criteria.

ROG

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November Ramblin’

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about a couple recent podcasts by Arthur at AmeriNZ dealing with the topic, broadly stated: “Are online relationships ‘real’?” I was talking over these podcasts with a couple guys I see on the bus each evening. One suggests that if the relationship generates an action from the other person, then it is a relationship.

Of course, it could be a one-sided relationship. Let’s say you were following Ashton Kutcher on on Twitter and retweeted all of his best lines; unless Ashton reciprocated, it would really be much of a story. But when you are motivated to take some action, and they respond in kind, then certainly, some real human interaction is taking place. I see an article that I believe – because I listen to his podcast, read his blog – that Arthur would interested in for its content. And as often as not, Arthur acknowledges that in some way.

Here’s the odd thing I experienced this fall. There’s a guy in my office. He’s a perfectly nice person. Someone sent out an e-mail asking if we wanted to contribute to a wedding gift. Oh, he’s been engaged? Really? I had no idea. Now this guy sits about 20 feet from my desk, lives (somewhere) in my neighborhood. I say hi to him but I don’t know anything about him, or he much about me, I suspect.

Whereas I know about Scott’s sons, Nigel and new baby Ian, and Greg’s daughters, Norah and Mia; they in turn know a bit about Lydia. I know more about Scott and Greg, and more importantly, interact with them more substantially, than I do the woman who I see on the bus every evening.
***
Wednesday, the wife had a follow-up oral surgery. After the ordeal last year, it seems that six of her lower teeth didn’t have enough gum cover for six of her lower teeth. Without gums, the teeth could rot and fall out. So tissue was removed from one part of her mouth to create gum tissue. She’s recovering amazingly well. The in-laws came to our house this year to help Carol and to celebrate Thanksgiving, which was fine.
***
I was doing research at work a couple months back, when I came across some New York State law:

EDN – Education
Article 17 – INSTRUCTION IN CERTAIN SUBJECTS
801 – Courses of instruction in patriotism and citizenship and in certain historic documents
§ 801. Courses of instruction in patriotism and citizenship and in certain historic documents. 1. In order to promote a spirit of patriotic and civic service and obligation and to foster in the children of the state moral and intellectual qualities which are essential in preparing to meet the obligations of citizenship in peace or in war, the regents of The University of the State of New York shall prescribe courses of instruction in patriotism, citizenship, and human rights issues, with particular attention to the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery (including the freedom trail and underground railroad), the Holocaust, and the mass starvation in Ireland from 1845 to 1850, to be maintained and followed in all the schools of the state. The boards of education and trustees of the several cities and school districts of the state shall require instruction to be given in such courses, by the teachers employed in the schools therein. All pupils attending such schools, over the age of eight years, shall attend upon such instruction.

I did not know that. Surely, this is law that must have been passed long after I attended school – though it seemed we did seem to spend a lot of time on the Irish potato famine. Just found it interesting and can only imagine certain people making political hay over it.
***
The bitter tears of Johnny Cash. The untold story of Johnny Cash, protest singer and Native American activist, and his feud with the music industry
***
Caring for Your Photographic Collections.
***
Hen House Five Plus Two’s In the Mood actually Ray Stevens, the song that first informed me that all music can be done in chicken. The beginning of The Muppets’ Bohemian Rhapsody was a reminder of same.
***
Wonderous invention.

ROG

MOTOWN Question

Continuing the Berry Gordy, Jr./Motown groove:

There have been a number of artists that have appeared on Motown records, including its affiliated labels Tamla, Soul, Gordy, rare earth (yes, named for the band), Mowest and others. These artists include everyone from Sammy Davis Jr. to Soupy Sales to the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr; I actually own one of the latter.

The question is simple: who are your favorite Motown artists? OK, not so simple. Lots of artists only really thrived when they actually left Motown, notably Gladys Knight & the Pips and Michael Jackson. But you don’t need to be as fussy about those boundaries as I inevitably will be.

1. Stevie Wonder – though he hasn’t put out a great album in almost three decades, the albums he put out in the 1960s and especially the 1970s were among the finest ever made. Paul Simon, winning the 1975 Grammy for Album of the year specifically thanked Stevie Wonder for not putting out an album that year. Stevie was busy putting together the double album Songs in the Key of Life. Moreover, stevie still dorsd some decent performances.

2. The Temptations – In the the mid-1960s, they were largely backup singers for David Ruffin (My Girl). The big switch in producers from a wide variety of people, including Smokey Robinson, to Norman Whitfield, corresponded to Dennis Edwards replacing Ruffin, with the group then talking the five-vocalist motif (Can’t Get Next To You). The group seemed to fade in the mid-1970s, but then were revitalized in the early 1980s with the brief reappearance of Ruffin and Eddie Kendrick, when I first saw them live.

3. The Supremes – I was a fan from that very first non-hits album Meet the Supremes, when Florence Ba;lard and Mary Wilson occasionally got a lead, through the big hits period, when the only time Diana Ross relinquished the lead was on some of the more oddball albums (We Remember Sam Cooke; Sing Country, western and Pop; A Bit of Liverpool; Sing Rogers & Hart). Then they became Diana Ross and…, as Flo was replaced by Cindy Birdsall. Diana left for a solo career, and Jean Terrell, gfor a time kept the Supremes on top.

4. Marvin Gaye – one of the most versatile artists, he was popular as both a session drummer early on, then both a solo artist and paired with female singers such as Mary Wells, Kim Weston and most notably Tammi Terrell. Like Wonder, Gaye’s really came into his own when he fought with Berry Gordy to have more control over his career; the initial result was the What’s Going On album. Though some of Gaye’s material got a bit weird, dealing with his divorce in a most public and uncomfortable way, he got back to form with Sexual Healing*. *Yes, this was on Epic records, but it shows up on the Motown anthology.

5. The Jackson 5ive – I initially gave them the short shrift as a teeny-bopper. But the strength of the material, and the performers, carried the day.

6. The Four Tops – this group should rank higher, based just on the strength of the magnificent voice of Levi Stubbs. The problem, I think, is that after Holland-Dozier-Holland left the company, the group didn’t get the good material.

7. Martha & the Vandellas – Most of the female groups got lost in the shadow of the Supremes; too bad, as groups like the Marvelettes and this group did some fine songs.

ROG

Berry Gordy is turning 80


Back in 1998, when I went to Detroit, I visited 2648 West Grand Boulevard. No, “visited” is not the right word; I made a pilgrimage to Hitsville USA, the house that served as the recording studio for a great number of artists recording for Motown Records. It is a physically unimpressive building, even dowdy, but it was the launching pad for a great amount of music that I own, tunes by Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, the Four Tops, the Temptations), Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5ive, and the Supremes, among many others. The visionary for all of this was Berry Gordy, Jr.

Gordy, whose Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bio you can read here, developed songwriters, artists, and underappreciated backup musicians to create music that was not marginalized as “race music” or “soul music”, but in fact became “The Sound of Young America.” This is astonishing: “In 1966, the company’s ‘hit ratio’ – the percentage of records released that made the national charts – was 75%.”

If you bought Motown ALBUMS, as opposed to singles in the 1960s, as I tended to do, you’ll note that not occasionally, the same songs would make it onto more than one artist’s LP. Famously, Gladys Knight & the Pips had a #2 single in 1967 (#1 on the R&B charts) with I Heard It Through the Grapevine; about a year later, Marvin Gaye had a massive #1 hit on both charts with the same song, albeit arranged quite differently, written by Barrett Strong and the late Norman Whitfield. It was the stable of songwriters, including Holland-Dozier-Holland, some of the singer-songwriters such as Robinson, Wonder and Gaye, and less well-known folks who may be the unsung heroes in the saga.

Another writer was Berry Gordy himself. Songs written or co-written by him include:
Do You Love Me by the Contours, covered by Temptations
Try It Baby by Marvin Gaye, covered by the Supremes and the Temptations
I’ll Be There by the Four Tops
You’ve Made Me So Very Happy by Brenda Holloway, covered by Blood, Sweat & Tears
Money by Barrett Strong, covered by the Beatles and many others
You’ve Got What It Takes by Marv Johnson
I Want You Back, ABC, The Love You Save, Mama’s Pearl, Maybe Tomorrow – all Jackson 5ive; songwriters billed as The Corporation (Gordy/Mizell/Richards/Perren)
Even pre-Motown, Gordy had written hits for the late Jackie Wilson, including Reet Petite and Lonely Teardrops

I refer you to this episode of the podcast Coverville, featuring the music of Motown and Berry Gordy; yes, the thank you in the notes (and the fulfilled request of Remove This Doubt by Elvis Costello, the cover of a song from The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland album) is in reference to me.

Also check out this article celebrating not only 50 years of Motown records but also another milestone; Berry Gordy turns 80 on November 28, 2009. ROG

Picture from Life.com, “for personal non-commercial use only”

The Lydster, Part 68: the North Pole


If you are one of those people who just cannot STAND hearing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, or December 1, or the first day of winter, then I highly recommend that you NOT visit Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, NY in mid-September, as our family did. Notice the Merry Christmas on the water mill.

Not only Christmas carols but parts of Messiah by Handel – “For Unto Us Is Born”, e.g. – as well. As the website says, it was “founded in 1949 and designed by Arto Monaco. We are known as the forerunner of present day theme parks in the United States.” And it most definitely felt like that, a pre-Disneyland theme park.

I must say that it was initially disappointing. It was not inexpensive ($17-$19 each) and many of the rides Lydia, at over four feet, was too tall to ride in. Of the two rides she could be on, she tried the (little) roller coaster (with me), and decided that she did not particularly enjoy it.Worse, a train that we ALL could have ridden through the park was closed for repairs.

Ultimately, what made it worthwhile for Lydia were the friendly clowns and animals and snowmen who performed musical bits periodically. It was a little schlocky – OK, it was a LOT schlocky – but it was earnest. There weren’t that many attendees to these mini-shows and the clowns, e.g., would always go to the performances of their costume-clad colleagues.

Ultimately, it was a successful visit because we had a nice getaway from our usual Saturday routine of cleaning and shopping and laundry.

And Lydia got to go to the North Pole! The pole is not some painted stick; it is actually made of ice. This was actually a thrill for my wife, who went to the North Pole when SHE was a child and feared the frozen pole had been turned into a plastic replica. No way!

I should tell you about this production of the Christmas story, told on the loudspeakers, with clearly young actors performing the roles of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Wise Men. Even from the distance – they were up the hill from the little amphitheater we were sitting in – you can tell that at least some of them were cracking up, though they tried to hide it.

But the high point in the trip for the child was Lydia playing on swings, playground equipment and this container of plastic balls she could wade in, things she could do on the local playground or the local McDonald’s. She had a good time, so we had a good time too.

ROG

Thanksgiving QUESTIONS


1. What has been your Thanksgiving tradition? Do you travel? Do people travel to see you? approximately how many people are present?
2. How do you feel about Thanksgiving? Stressed about cleaning or the “perfect” turkey?
3. Do you think having a holiday denoting thanks is a good idea, or are you of the school that we should be thankful ALL the time?
4. what are you most thankful for right now?

For the past decade Thanksgiving has usually meant going to my parents-in-law’s house 75 minutes away. It’s them, us, a couple cousins, and sometimes a neighbor or two. Interesting how it has evolved since I first went to my not yet in-law’s house in 1994, when all four of the adult children always came home to see Mom & Dad. One is now deceased and the others are married with children with one having far distance to travel.

Thanksgiving used to be the most stressful time of the year. Between 1974 and 1993, I probably was at at least 17 different venues. Thanksgiving tended to magnify the unsettledness of my life.

Of course we should always be thankful. And of course we ae not. A day designed to do that doesn’t seem like a terrible idea.

I’m most grateful that I no longer have a gypsy existence on the fourth Thursday in November. Oh yeah, and my wife and my child and my friends and my family and my job…

Pictures from Life.com:

President Dwight D. Eisenhower carving the Thanksgiving turkey while Mamie, John & the rest of the family are cheerfully looking on.
Date taken: November 1953
Photographer: George Skadding

FDR At Thanksgiving
Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt w. his wife Eleanor, serving Thanksgiving turkey to polio patients who drew lots to see who would sit at the Pres.’s table in Georgia Hall at Warm Springs Foundation.
Location: Warm Springs, GA, US
Date taken: November 1938
Photographer: Margaret Bourke-White

Danny Kaye
Thanksgiving Parade
Photographer: Yale Joel

Children eating Thanksgiving dinner at the Great Britain headquarters.
Location: United Kingdom
Date taken: 1942
Photographer: David E. Scherman

ROG

Thanksgiving: turkey

The wife and I got a Thanksgiving e-card last week, one of those Jacquie Lawson things in which the pumpkin’s scooped out to make a pumpkin pie; it gets baked, and a slice with whipped cream is available. And on the top a message saying, “Happy thanksgiving!

Well, you can’t really read much of the enclosed message, only three lines at a time. This one says:

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Both because we’ll be busy over the next few weeks,
and because i am not sure how frequently everyone
on the list checks their email, I am sending this out
early.

As we approach Thanksgiving we realize that we are
very thankful that some of the ancesters of all of
our Jewish friends had refused to acknowledge and
accept that Jesus Christ was, is and always will be
the Messiah – our Lord and Savior. By their denial,
we gentiles were invited ‘in’.What incredible mercy
and grace to know that we will now not perish
whenever the world as we know it ends, but that as
long as we have admitted we are sinners, asked for
forgiveness; repented and continue to be believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ, that we will be saved from the
firey lake…when the judgment day comes. We are
thankful to them – and to Him.
Much Love to all,
The ZZZZZZZ

(The spelling is in the original.)

I was floored. Not only was it amazingly, and almost gleefully, anti-Semitic, it was also theologically daft. In the Bible I read, Jesus came, was crucified and was resurrected so that everyone, Jew and Gentile, could follow. Whether or not Jews 1900 years ago accepted or didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah is utterly irrelevant.

This would be less problematic if it didn’t come from people we need to deal with on a regular basis. Oy.
***
I went food shopping for Thanksgiving on Saturday with the daughter. There were only a couple little wrinkles:
1. I lost the shopping list. Must have set it down when I put on my hat, as I found it as soon as I got home. So I forgot about a third of the items on the list, by count but not by cost.
2. I forgot the discount card from the store. This is not insignificant, as it cut the cost of the turkey in half. So I kept on shopping and counted on the kindness of strangers, in particular, one stranger in front of me in line, to use HIS card, and that worked.
And the third problem, this one not entirely of my making.
3. I had one of those personal metal shopping carts to wield the food home. Unfortunately, one of the wheels came off in the parking lot. This had happened before and was fixed, but evidently, not adequately. Thus I’m holding up the cart where the wheel should be, and three days later, my back is STILL aching from the trip. I should note that the daughter had another cart, and she was very helpful.

ROG

Meme of Solace

I’m sure the title refers to a James Bond film; I’m swiping this from SamauraiFrog.

List 10 musical artists (or bands) you like, in no specific order (do this before reading the questions below). Really, don’t read the questions below until you pick your ten artists!!!

There is something to be said for following the instructions in this case.

1. The Beatles
2. The Beach Boys
3. David Bowie
4. The Rascals
5. The Rolling Stones
6. Linda Ronstadt
7. The Supremes
8. The Temptations
9. Talking Heads
10. The Police

What was the first song you ever heard by 6?

Something early, probably “Different Drum”.

What is your favorite song of 8?

“I Can’t Get Next To You”. From the rowdy opening to the Sly Stone-inspired shared vocals.

What kind of impact has 1 left on your life?

Massive. I have a ton of their albums, both as a group and as solo artists. I know arcane things about their album releases. People say to me, “What album is X song on?” and far more often than not, I’ll say “American or British album?” And then peg both of them. There’s a picture of Lennon in my office and a photo of the Imagine imagine from NYC in my house.

What is your favorite lyric of 5?

Probably the chorus of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. “But if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.” From Let It Bleed, probably my favorite Stones album. The organ noodling of this song during the early funeral sequence of The Big Chill cracked me up, while others in the audience wondered why.

How many times have you seen 4 live?

Never, though I’ve seen them live on TV once or twice.

What is your favorite song by 7?

“Love Is Like An Itchin’ In My Heart”. What an insistent bass line. there’s a version that’s about 30 seconds longer than the single I particularly enjoy.

Is there any song by 3 that makes you sad?

Ashes to Ashes
Time and again I tell myself
I’ll stay clean tonight
But the little green wheels are following me
Oh no, not again

What is your favorite song by 9?

“Making Flippy Floppy”, probably because I saw the Talking Heads during the Speaking in Tongues tour in 1983 or 1984 at SPAC in Saratoga.

When did you first get into 2?

It’s really odd, actually. I had a compilation album with I Get Around and Don’t Worry Baby in 1965, and the Pet Sounds album in 1966, both of which I liked. But I never considered myself a real Beach Boys fan until I got Surf’s Up, which was a mainstay of my freshman year in college, 1971-72. THEN I went back and got into the earlier music, and bought the retrospective albums that came out in the mid-1970s.

How did you get into 3?

I was in my dorm room in my freshman year and somehow won Hunky Dory from my college radio station, WNPC on a radio call-in contest. I liked almost all of it; my roommate Ron only liked Changes.

What is your favorite song by 4?

“It’s Love”, the last song on the Groovin’ album, featuring flute by Hubert Laws, plus a great bass line. When I got a new turntable in 1987, the track ran so close to the label that the album would reject before the song would end; drove me nuts. Actually bought the CD five years ago largely for this one song.

How many times have you seen 9 live?

Once, but it was one of the two greatest shows of my life, along with the Temptations in 1980 or 1981.

What is a good memory concerning 2?

A mixed memory actually. I had this friend named Donna George, and I bought her the Beach Boys box set. Before she died of brain cancer a few years ago, she assigned another friend of hers and me to divvy up her music. I took the Beach Boys box, and I always remember her when I play it.

Is there a song by 8 that makes you sad?

The Temptations with a Lot o’ Soul is full of melancholy songs, but I’ll pick No More Water in the Well.

What is your favorite song of 1?

A truly impossible question. Seriously. It’s dependent on mood, what I’ve listened to recently. I’ll say Got to Get You Into My Life, but reserve the right to change that.

How did you become a fan of 10?

Almost certainly listening to WQBK-FM, Q-104 in Albany, NY, a truly great station that also turned me onto the Talking Heads, the Clash and a lot of other music of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
ROG

MOVIE REVIEW: My One and Only

Hmm. It appears that the movie My One and Only is now available on DVD at least at Target and from Blockbuster. Odd, since I just saw it on Veterans Day at the Spectrum Theatre and in fact it is STILL playing there once a day.
The movie is about Anne Deveraux (Renée Zellweger) who, discovering her philandering husband, Dan (Kevin Bacon) in the act, decides to take her two sons, George (Logan Lerman) and Robbie (Mark Rendall) on an adventure which largely consists of traveling from city to city trying to find a husband for herself. In their “adventure” from their home in New York to Boston to Pittsburgh to St. Louis and eventually Hollywood, she finds guys (played by, among others, Steven Weber and Chris Noth), who seem promising at first.

This is a pleasant enough film. The problem is that, at least until they get to St. Louis, I always thought I was watching Renée rather than Anne. Also the situations had a certain sameness – Robbie gets in the school play, Robbie leaves before the production can be mounted. The other problem is that I thought the travelogue of 1950s-style postcards, which happens in the very beginning of the film – my reveal was hardly a spoiler – both tells too much and seems to be trying too hard to prove the movie is authentic to the period.

Still, the latter part of the film is the most satisfying. You may know that this is the largely true story about a noted actor. I had heard this before I watched it but I had forgotten; it was more satisfying not knowing. This is one of those two and a half stars out of four flicks. Oh, and if you do see it, avoid the trailer – it’s on the movie’s website – which, as these things do, reveals WAY too much.
***
I’ve had a particularly busy stretch. Saturday, November 14, we had the dress rehearsal of the Faure requiem, after four Sunday night rehearsals. Then Saturday night, our friends couldn’t go to to the Albany Symphony and gave us their tickets. So we arranged for a babysitter and went to the Palace Theatre in Albany. On the way in, we happened to see the conductor scurrying to the locale from a pre-concert talk.

The first piece is almost always new, sometimes avant garde, and occasionally just peculiar. Stacy Garrop’s Becoming Medusa, a tone poem, was not only listenable, she actually described the piece competently; too often, I’ve heard composers offer an incoherent rambling. She is the Mellon-supported Composer-Educator Partner.

But the star of the evening was George Li, the pianist on Saint Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2. He showed energy, passion and lyricism in his play. Did I mention he was only 14, and looked about 11? We saw him on our way out of the theater.

Everyone in the audience was offered a glass of wine during intermission, after which, Brahms Symphony No. 2 was performed, which, according to the program “features one of the greatest of all cello melodies in its second movement.”
***
Sunday afternoon, the Faure, which went well.
***
Sunday night, Lydia got sick. She coughed all night, and I could not sleep all night; there IS a correlation. So I stayed home with her Monday all day and half of Tuesday. Played Uno to 1000 (she won) – do you know how long it can take to play Uno to 1000? and also Sorry and Candyland; she’s well enough to need to be occupied. Took her to the doctor on Monday; he recommended a cough syrup I had previously tried, to no great effect, but I tried it again Monday night. She, almost immediately, threw up. Then a few minutes later, threw up again, which was actually, from a medical POV, productive, as she FINALLY stopped coughing.

But I felt obliged to tell the in-laws who were going to watch Lydia Tuesday night, and they opted out.
***
So we had tickets to see The 39 Steps at Proctors Tuesday night, but no babysitter. Carol tried to find friends to go with her to the show, but was ultimately unsuccessful. So I asked my friend the Hoffinator at 4:15 pm if she wanted to go, and she said yes. Had a great time; the review of the show is here.

ROG

Musical Coolness and Lack Thereof QUESTIONS


There was an interesting article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal about Tom Petty: Rock God Or Mere Mortal? “As Tom Petty prepares to release a career-spanning anthology next week, an attempt to determine where he falls in the music pantheon.”

The basic premise is that though he sold a lot of records, maybe because he was prolific with the pop hook, he just seems to lack the “cool” quotient. I’m thinking the way Huey Lewis & the News, even in the height of their success, was uncool. Whereas the late Johnny Cash, on whose second American Recording Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers played on, was “cool”.

This has less to do with talent or chart success as it does with the artist shaking things up musically, as Elvis Costello or Bruce Springsteen were known to do.

There was a chart on the page suggesting coolness, from uncool to very cool, which looked roughly like this (there was also a loudness axis): Bob Seger, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel (sorry, SamuraiFrog), John Mellencamp, AC/DC, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Pretenders, Eagles, Jimmy Buffet. Carlos Santana is about in the middle. Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, Rolling Stones, James Taylor, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, David Byrne, Neil Young, Nick Cave.

First, do you agree with the ranking? I always thought Pretenders were cooler, and James Taylor, not so much. Neil Diamond put an album with producer Rick Rubin a couple years ago, which always seems to enhance the cool factor; it certainly worked for Cash.

Secondly, where would you place Petty on the list? He’s played with George Harrison, Dylan and the aforementioned Cash. He put together his old band Mudcrutch and put out a decent album a couple years ago. I’d say he was at least as “cool” as the Stones, who would be cooler without most of their output of the last couple decades.

Finally, what other artists do you think fall on the “uncool” pantheon unfairly, or on the “cool” list unjustifiably? Let’s face it: Jeff Lynne, even as a Wilbury, has never been particularly cool. But I always thought Linda Ronstadt, who moved from genre to genre, was more cool than she was given credit for.

ROG