Music Throwback Saturday: A World Without Love

As I waded through The Billboard of Number One Hits, I noticed that A World Without Love by Peter and Gordon (#1 on June 27, 1964) was immediately followed by I Get Around by the Beach Boys (#1 for two weeks starting July 4, 1964). They appear in reverse order on an album I bought from the Capitol Record Club way back in 1965 or 1966 called Big Hits of from ENGLAND AND USA.

The story of A World Without Love is probably familiar to fans of a certain group Continue reading

Talking about the LGBTQ rights journey

During the first Sunday in June’s adult education class at church, a couple folks led a discussion on the journey we have taken individually in our understanding of issues involving LGBTQ rights. There were no right or wrong answers, just a safe place to share.

I talked about one guy, Vito Mastrogiovanni, who was “out” when I was in high school, although there were more gay men that I knew personally who were not out at the time.

There was the gay fellow in college, my next door neighbor in the dorm, who was openly hostile to me, seemingly for no reason. I later concluded that perhaps it wasn’t exactly my race but rather how especially judgmental black people, especially in the church, could be. And I was a nominal Christian at that point.

I mentioned being in Boys in the Band, and how transformative that was.

Others shared their stories. More than one told of same-gender couples who they knew. Though those pairings weren’t publicly couples in those days, most people knew.

One older gay man talked about acceptance, and sometimes lack thereof, from his family. In the 1970s, his mother couldn’t understand his sudden distaste for orange juice. I too mentioned boycotting it, over the fact that Anita Bryant was the spokesperson for Florida oranges.

One man was curious about the term “gay” when it used to mean happy. Some of the gay folks explained that it was almost like code, where it would mean different things to different audiences. The Wikipedia article discusses its evolution. A reference to the Kinks song ‘David Watts’: “The lines ‘he is so gay and fancy free’ attest to the ambiguity of the word’s meaning at that time, with the second meaning evident only for those in the know.”

Some in the group also mentioned how the term homosexual had become distasteful and anachronistic, rather like “colored” or “Negro” for black people. Moreover, homosexual, in a shortened form was a slur, and the word was a term that had been associated with a people who the psychiatric community had once called diseased.

It was, I must say, a very brave conversation, and I’m glad I was able to participate, only because the Gay Men’s Chorus was singing during the church service, which meant the chancel choir didn’t need to rehearse.

American releases of The Beatles albums

Cultural Sonar had this article Stop Knocking the American Releases of The Beatles, Already. The premise that Dave Dexter Jr “understood the American record market.

“He knew that the UK Beatles albums, with their subtle, artsy cover photos and astute liner notes would not grab the attention of American teenagers. He replaced them with splashy photo collages and BIG, BOLD TYPE, USUALLY IN ALL CAPS… He also tweaked the music itself… to make The Beatles positively jump out of American transistor radios, car stereos, and phonographs.”

The biggest contention about the US albums is this: “Dex took even greater liberties with the track listings. In Britain, Beatles albums contained 14 songs each [except A Hard Day’s Night, which had 13], and never included singles… But in America, anything above 11 songs on an LP meant higher royalty payments to the artist, and singles were used to drive album sales. So while EMI in Britain released seven Beatles albums and thirteen singles between 1962 and 1966, it only took Dex half as long (from 1964 to ‘66) to carve all that material into ten Beatles LPs for Capitol!”

Meh. I will concede that Meet the Beatles, Capitol Records’ initial foray into Beatlemania – totally acting as though the VeeJay album Introducing the Beatles album did not exist – was/is a fine album.

I’ll allow for the value of the American version of Rubber Soul, which, to this day, my friend Fred Hembeck prefers. This quote got my attention, especially since both Brian Wilson (June 20) and Paul McCartney (June 18) are celebrating their 75th birthdays this month. “When… Wilson says that Rubber Soul inspired him to make Pet Sounds, he’s referring to the folkier, acoustic-heavy American version that Dex assembled.”

I’ll even make the case for the Help soundtrack, with the seven songs from Side 1 of the UK Help album plus five instrumentals.

But these three albums have something in common: they have 12 songs, rather than the 11 that the other albums before Sgt. Pepper contain. So Side 2 of the other albums seemed inadequate to me much of the time, just a bit too short.

Moreover, for reasons too complicated to go into here, the A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack on United Artist and the misleading title Something New, the third Capitol album, have several tracks in common, which bugged me. Yet certain songs were never on a Capitol album in the 1960s.

Notably, From Me To You was an early, pivotal UK single that could have been on The Beatles Second Album or The Early Beatles (Capitol’s variation on Introducing…); Misery and There’s A Place; and I’m Down, the B-side of the Help single that should have been on Yesterday and Today, between Act Naturally and Day Tripper, which are in the same key.

Other songs never on a Capitol/Apple album before the group broke up: the Love Me Do single version; A Hard Day’s Night; Sie Liebt Dich, a German-language version of She Loves You; The Inner Light, the B-side of Lady Madonna; and the single version of Get Back.

So I’ll still listen to those American releases, but mostly, I have been won over by the original UK versions.

Real respect for the American flag

americanflagclothingAfter the election last year, my friend Steve noted: “I’ve only got one thing to say about the American flag:
We’ve been ‘burning’ it as a culture for decades via commercialized use of the image on everything —and I mean everything.” I totally agree, and have mentioned it on these pages before.

He pointed to section 176 of the U.S. Flag Code:

§176. Respect for flag

…(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. Continue reading

W is for Junior Walker and the All-Stars

Among the wealth of artists that performed on the Motown labels in 1960s, I probably know about Junior Walker the least. He was born Autry DeWalt-Mixom, Jr. in Blythesville, Arkansas on 14 June 1931. He grew up in South Bend, Indiana.

He started his band, the Jumping Jacks, and his good friend, drummer Billy Nicks, had a group, the Rhythm Rockers, but the two would play on each other’s gigs. Since Nicks had a local TV show in South Bend, he asked Walker to join his band.

When Nicks got drafted, Walker convinced the group to move to Battle Creek, Michigan. After some personnel and name changes, the All Stars were signed by Harvey Fuqua to his Harvey records. “Fuqua’s labels were taken over by Motown’s Berry Gordy, and Jr. Walker & the All Stars [the usual spelling] became members of the Motown family, recording for their Soul imprint in 1964.”

The group’s first big hit was “Shotgun” in 1965, which “uses only one chord throughout the entire song — A-flat seventh. Other songs featuring this same structure (or non-structure) are Chain of Fools and Land of 1000 Dances.” The song is in the Grammy and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame. The All Stars were in a particular groove. The song appeared in several movies, including Malcolm X.

I have this Motown LP box set that explains that there was a songwriter – it doesn’t identify who, but it was either Johnny Bristol, who discovered the group; Fuqua, who took Bristol’s suggestion; or a guy named Vernon Bullock. The songwriter pitched the song to Junior, but he said it wasn’t his thing.

The next year, the songwriter said he still had that song, and Walker reluctantly agreed to record “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” in 1969. “A Motown quality control meeting rejected this song for single release, but radio station DJs made the track popular, resulting in Motown releasing it as a single.”

Junior Walker died of cancer on 23 November 1995 at the age of 64 in Battle Creek.

Listen to:

Shotgun, #4 pop, #1 rhythm & blues for four weeks in 1965 here or here

(I’m A) Road Runner, #20 pop, #4 r&b in 1966 here or here

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), #18 pop, #3 r&b in 1966 here or here

What Does It Take (To Win Your Love), #4 pop, #1 r&b for two weeks in 1969 here or here

These Eyes, #16 pop, # r&b for two weeks in 1969 here or here

Urgent (Foreigner, with Jr. Walker on sax solo), #3 pop in 1981, here or here

Urgent, 1983, appears in 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan, here or here

Round 20 of ABC Wednesday.

James Comey testimony as entertainment

I guess I’m not zeitgeisty enough – no, I don’t think it’s a word – because the anticipation over former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8 made me oddly uncomfortable.

As an old poli sci major who sat in front the TV set for HOURS taking in all the nuance of the various committees investigating Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal back in the 1970s, I suppose I should be happy that the American public is interested in a civics lesson.

But it was more like theater, specifically a movie theater, where comedian/late night host Stephen Colbert is seen eating from a bag of popcorn. As the Boston Globe put it, “Comey’s testimony puts Washington in party mode.” As some conservative website noted, “The hearing was treated like a major sporting event by D.C. locals, who lined up to gain entrance to local establishments for standing-room only viewing parties.”

And it wasn’t limited to the District of Columbia. “Festivities” seemed to be particularly popular on the West Coast, with folks at bars in time for the 7 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time event.

At the end of the day, almost no one was convinced of anything they hadn’t been thinking before except that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) seemed befuddled. Those who dislike the regime think that impeachment is just around the corner. Those on the other side believe they’re, in the words of Lou Dobbs, “No crime, No evidence.” Comey was just a “disgruntled employee.” I saw that specific description a lot.

At the end of the day, it’s what Bob Woodward, Washington Post editor, and one of the reporters who helped bring down Nixon said on CBS News This Morning: “We know 5, maybe 10 percent of what we will know” when the various investigations are over.

No, there was no smoking gun, yet. Nor was the regime “vindicated”; saw THAT word a lot, especially on the Twitter feed #MAGA, where I actually read:
“He is bringing back respect and class to this country
#proudAmerican #TRUMPPENCE2020 #MAGA #BUILDTHEWALL #YESTRAVELBAN #DTS#JOBSJOBSJOBS #OBAMASFORPRISON2017 #CLINTONSFORPRISON2017 #STOPTHELEAKS#STOPFAKENEWS #CNNVERYFAKENEWS #MSNBCFAKENEWS #CBSFAKENEWS #ABCFAKENEWS#NYTIMESFAKENEWS #WASHINGTONPOSTFAKENEWS #LATIMESFAKENEWS #USATODAYFAKENEWS#GOOGLEFAKENEWS #YAHOOFAKENEWS”

Regardless of the results of the investigations, his secret isn’t that he lies. It’s that he crowds out the truth. “The question isn’t whether you’re winning the argument — it’s whether you’re dominating and driving the coverage of the argument.”

I will acknowledge that clearing the room of other people, then being asked by a person in a superior position if you would consider taking a particular action reeks to high heaven, to my mind.

Watergate took a LONG time to unravel, over two years from the break-in to the resignation. This Russia influence/election rigging thing is going to take awhile too. It won’t be solved with a few hours of testimony, but people want more rapid gratification when it simply not how these things work. Or, as some folks interviewed on NBC News this week acknowledged, “It’s too complicated.”

I think, like those in the slow cooking movement, we ought to take our time and let the facts simmer, with the evidence determining the results of the investigation. Because no one still supporting the regime will convince those who don’t of a damn thing, and pretty much vice versa.

The dreary Dear Diary dilemma

A friend of mine asked me if I remembered the name of some guy I knew and who she went out with briefly many years ago. I remembered his first name, but, alas, not his last.

So I went into this briefcase have in the attic that has a bunch of diaries I kept. They are incredibly, and sometimes boringly complete, starting in the early 1970s and ending in the mid-1980s. But the period of this brief romance is not covered, in large part because a whole bunch of these notebooks were destroyed in a flood in the storage area of my apartment building in the mid-1990s.

Having opened them up, I’m trying to ascertain what to do with them. On the one hand, there is a treasure trove of dates when I saw various concerts, movies, plays, and what I thought of them at the time. I saw Judy Collins in 1982 in Glens Falls. How did I get there and who did I go with?

Or the 1987 Comic Con in San Diego, where I wrote about various panels I attended and who I hung out with.

On the other hand, a lot of it, I expect, is boring as heck.

On the third hand, maybe it’ll be surprising and insightful.

On the fourth hand, I was 19 in the early books. How insightful could I possibly have been?

On the fifth hand, it might remind me of people, people I once cared about, lost in memory and time.

On the sixth hand, it might remind me of people, people I once cared about, lost in memory and time for a reason.

I could come up with more hands, but you get the idea.

Some of it, I imagine, would be fodder for that roman a clef I once threatened to write. Or for this blog. Figuring out the cost/benefit analysis is difficult.

I’ll probably wade into one of these when totally bereft of content here and see what, if any, I’d wish to share, then probably burn it.

Music Throwback: Nights in White Satin

Perusing my Across the Charts book of the Billboard charts of the 1960s, I noticed that the single Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues only got up to #103 on the US charts in early 1968. This was the first single off their second album Days of Future Past.

The group changed greatly between its first album, The Magnificent Moodies from 1965, and the second, both in terms of musical style and personnel. Denny Laine, who sang lead vocals on the group’s first big hit, a cover of Go Now, is best known as later being a mainstay of Paul McCartney’s OTHER band, Wings.

From Songfacts:
Nights in White Satin was written by Justin Hayward, who joined the band the previous year after Denny Laine left the group. He got the idea for the song after someone gave him a set of white satin sheets, and wrote it in his bed-sit at Bayswater. Haywood told the Daily Express Saturday magazine May 3, 2008: ‘I wrote our most famous song, Nights in White Satin when I was 19. It was a series of random thoughts and was quite autobiographical. It was a very emotional time as I was at the end of one big love affair and the start of another. A lot of that came out in the song.'”

From the Wikipedia:
“The album, plus two singles therefrom, Nights in White Satin and Tuesday Afternoon…, took time to find an audience. In the Moody Blues’ native Britain, the two singles from the album didn’t initially catch on; Nights in White Satin made only No. 19 on the British singles chart in early 1968, and Tuesday Afternoon didn’t chart at all.

“However, the British public learned to appreciate Nights in White Satin subsequently; it made No. 9 on the UK singles chart on re-issue in December 1972 and No. 14 on the charts on another reissue at the end of 1979, and is now regarded as the Moody Blues signature song by British audiences. In the US, Nights in White Satin did not make the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968, although it reached No. 2 on re-release in 1972; Tuesday Afternoon was more successful on initial release stateside, peaking at No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100.”

I am fascinated that a song that was pretty much of a dud in one release can become a hit four years later. It was apparently music ahead of its time.

LISTEN to:

Tuesday Afternoon HERE

Nights in White Satin (single) HERE or HERE

Nights in White Satin (album cut) HERE

June rambling #1: Seven and Seven Is


Geez, I forgot to mention that I got together with some former JEOPARDY! contestants on the first Friday in May at a bar in Albany. I remember that because I had to rush from the First Friday event at my church. Anyway, nice people. Yes, and smart.

Mark Evanier writes about being The Advocate — “the functional person who handles everything for the sick person. I had to watch over their needs, get them whatever they required, intervene with the hospital and caregivers when necessary and run the aspects of their lives they could no longer handle, including personal finances. In simpler terms, I had to just be there for them.” Maybe I got a little teary.

I was going to write why I think the US pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement won’t be that bad, since mayors and governors and industry will step up. But with The Weekly Sift guy explaining The Paris Agreement is like my church’s pledge drive, plus what John Oliver said (or here), and what Ben & Jerry wrote and what Arthur wrote, I’m not feeling compelled.

Covfefe department: Do trademarks present an ethical violation? These probably do. Plus the swamp and failed Twitter intervention and the corrosive privilege of the most mocked man in the world.

Chuck Miller, my former Times Union blogger buddy – we’re still buds, but he’s not with the TU blogs anymore, explained in these pages in early April. Anyway, he is doing a new thing, and I am mentioned. The only problem is that he didn’t link to a certain song, so I did, below.

Chuck also writes about Teri Conroy, who also used to be in the TU blog farm. I’ve met her and she really IS a saint.

Su-sieee! Mac, one our ABC Wednesday participants: “Am I allowed to say I’m a cancer survivor when I didn’t know I had cancer?”

My local library branch (Pine Hills in Albany) gets a new art installation every few months. Among the artists this go round is Peach Tao, whose dinosaur woodcuts are really cool. I went to the opening on June 2. The art will be there until October 28.

Jaquandor has been doing his Bad Joke Friday for a while. Some are quite terrible. So naturally, sometimes I encourage him.

Albert Pujols became the ninth hitter in Major League Baseball to hit 600 or more home runs. Once I could have told you ALL the guys with 500+ homers, which used to be a lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame. But as a result of the era of performance-enhancing drugs, Bonds and Sosa, for two, have not yet made it.
1 Barry Bonds 762
2 Hank Aaron * 755
3 Babe Ruth * 714
4 Alex Rodriguez 696
5 Willie Mays * 660
6 Ken Griffey, Jr.* 630
7 Jim Thome 612
8 Sammy Sosa 609

What Does Wonder Woman Actually Represent? and Revisiting the story that redefined her. Reckon Eddie and I need to see this movie.

The first shopping cart was introduced in OKC 80 years ago this week.

MUSIC

Dustbury expands on my reference to Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.

Liverpool Plays Pepper (link good only in June 2017) and When I’m Sixty-Four – MonaLisa Twins and Sgt. Pepper at 50.

Hey, Animaniacs, shouldn’t it be 50 state capitals, plus the federal one?

K-Chuck Radio: The Adjustments of Popular Songs.

Seven and Seven Is – Love. (CM)

How Gregg Allman and Cher stunned Canisius High ‘assembly’ in 1976.

Musicians I have seen perform live

Y’know, just a torrent of people were doing this thing on Facebook, and presumably elsewhere, where one picks out nine concerts they’ve been to, and one they have not.

And it’s made me cranky. It’s not just that it is a litmus test about “How well you know me?” It’s the premise of something going viral based on lying, I guess, that’s put me off. Or maybe I’m just a contrarian.

The pushback I’VE seen about this phenomenon has been more about that it’s braggadocio, which I understand. I’ve just been lucky, I reckon. I used to go to the certain festivals where I listened to multiple artists, so that helped, a LOT. Also, there have been some great series of FREE music in Albany over the years.

Making the list has also been a real test for me to recall how many artists I actually HAVE seen, because memory. Suddenly it’s “Oh, yeah, I saw Don McLean at the Dutchess County Fair in the 1970s!” Or “Roberta Flack was at the Palace Theatre on First Night in Albany in the 1990s!”

I never saw the Grateful Dead, but I WAS at this show:

November 6, 1975 Elting Gym, SUNY, New Paltz, NY Kingfish/Keith and Donna
Kingfish and Keith and Donna toured the East Coast in November. In the Bay Area, with Jerry Garcia a regular in nightclubs since 1970, Deadheads were very casual about the opportunity to see Grateful Dead spinoffs. In the East, however, the chance to see 4 members of The Dead (Weir, Kreutzmann, Keith and Donna) plus an ex-New Rider (Dave Torbert) in the same night was somewhat of a big deal. The Kingfish/Keith and Donna bill played medium sized theaters that neither band could have played at home.

So I’ve decided that you can try to guess which of these artists, who I have been present when they performed live at some point in my life, that I’ve seen more than once. Or not, it’s up to you. I THINK it’s five, but, you know, that memory thing again.

Joan Armatrading
Joan Baez
Bridget Ball and Chris Shaw
Marcia Ball
Tony Bennett
Blotto
David Bromberg
Jackson Browne
Dave Brubeck
Marc Cohn
Judy Collins
Chick Corea
Elvis Costello
Crosby, Stills, and Nash
Bob Dylan
Jonathan Edwards
Roberta Flack
Bela Fleck
The Four Tops
Keith and Donna Godchaux
The Go-Go’s
The Grand Slambovians
Nanci Griffith
Herbie Hancock
John Hiatt
Joe Jackson
Elton John
Billy Joel
Kingfish
Diana Krall
Alison Krauss
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Amos Lee
Sean Lennon
Lyle Lovett
Paul McCartney
Bobby McFerrin
Don McLean
Joni Mitchell
Neville Brothers
No Doubt
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Jean-Luc Ponty
Billy Preston
John Prine
The Roches
Linda Ronstadt
Santana
Boz Scaggs
Seals and Crofts
John Sebastian
Pete Seeger
Paul Simon
The Slambovian Circus of Dreams
The Specials
Bruce Springsteen
Slam Stewart
Sweet Honey in the Rock
Talking Heads
James Taylor
Koko Taylor
Livingston Taylor
The Temptations
They Might Be Giants
McCoy Tyner
Loudon Wainwright III
Lucinda Williams
Maria Zemantauski

And if you know I’ve left off someone, please let me know. It’s not just possible, it’s extremely likely.

If I HAD participated, the band I would have lied about was The Who, who were in Albany, maybe three blocks from where I was was working in 1995, but I didn’t see them.

My complaint notwithstanding, there are some clever variations on the theme, such as the “nine professions that I dated (one lie).” Or “Here are nine people who will lose their protected coverage under AHCA/Trumpcare and one who won’t. Guess which one.” Choice #10 being “Any member of the US Congress.”