Tag Archives: music

Headlines Du Jour ► Sunday, October 12, 2014

Howdy, Headliners! Today’s birthday belongs to James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, whose name may not be familiar, but his song Jock-A-Mo is immediately recognizable, covered by Dr. John, Cyndi Lauper, The Grateful Dead, and The Dixie Cups, among many others. Among the Headlines Du Jour of yesteryear:

Here is today’s Headlines Du Jour:















Kelly Invents Contradiction Between Obama
Calling Attack “Act Of Terror” And Panetta
Saying Terrorists Were Involved In The Attack




Headlines Du Jour is a leisure-time activity of Not Now Silly, home of the
Steam-Powered Word-0-Matic, and your rest stop on the Information
Highway. Use our valuable bandwidth to post your news comments in
today’s open thread.

Headlines Du Jour ► Friday, December 27, 2013

Earlier this week, when I introduced robot drones to collect the daily headlines, little did I know how smoothly things would run in the Not Now Silly news room. Now when I wake up, the robots have already returned and the headlines are waiting on my desk. If I could only find a robot with news sense to cull the bad headlines — and then post this to the blog — I could sleep in. 

I’m also going to need a never-ending supply of AAA batteries; these suckers use a lot of power. No matter, let’s get right to today’s Headlines Du Jour.


As fewer people read newspapers, more share their front pages


Texas bar bans gay men over ‘safety risk’ for
dancing to country music instead of hip-hop

Advocates in Florida Gather Enough Signatures to Put Medical Cannabis Legalization to a Vote


Mike Huckabee is either a clueless fool or a brazen liar

Fox News’ 5 worst moments of 2013

Fox News Spent 2013 Worrying About “Wussification”


McDonald’s shuts down
heavily-criticized employee
resources site


Racist Ohio Teacher Suspended After Telling Student ‘We Don’t Need Another Black President’

New Mexico Tea Party Patriots Leader: Blacks
Should Stop ‘Bitching And Moaning’ About Slavery

The Most Clueless Racists of 2013

Detroit has seen an uptick in history buffs and photographers
visiting its ruins since its bankruptcy filing.


Detroit’s abandoned buildings draw tourists instead of developers

After a century, Michigan Central
train station’s last
stop in limbo


8 very old sites in the New World


30 Songs That Changed the Course Of Musical History


No charges after family member’s gun fatally shoots 2-month-old on Christmas Eve

Florida man shot and killed by stray bullet from neighbor’s backyard gun range


Du Jour is a leisure-time activity of Not Now Silly, home of the
Steam-Powered Word-0-Matic, and your rest stop on the Information
Highway. Use our valuable bandwidth to post your news comments in
today’s open thread.

Happy Birthday, Brian Wilson: Genius ► A Musical Appreciation

There’s no point in writing a Brian Wilson biography; every one knows the high points of his life. What started as a love of the four-part harmonies of The Four Freshmen consumed a lad in Hawthorne, California, who went on to write music that defined several generations. As the leader of The Beach Boys and beyond Brian Wilson has created true art in the form of music. For me it’s sufficient that Brian Wilson’s music is the background to so many of my memories. His music will stand the test of time, but it’s an absolute bonus that he’s come back around to playing music again, both without and with The Beach Boys. Celebrating their 50th Anniversary The Beach Boys are touring again, with Bruce Johnston and David Marks. Too bad Glen Campbell couldn’t join them. They have also released a new album, “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” which will be a fitting capstone to their career, if they decide to wrap it up.

Brian Wilson still has the ability to write an instant classic:

The first 45 I ever bought (kids, ask your parents) was “I Get Around,”
because it was all the money I had left over after buying “The Best of
the Lovin’ Spoonful.” I have been a huge Beach Boys, Brian Wilson fan ever since; collecting bootlegs like I also did with The Beatles. One of the things that I have found thrilling is that 20 years ago, starting with the 4-CD box set of “Good Vibrations; Thirty Years of The Beach Boys,” the band has been releasing alternative takes and works-in-progress in the studio. [Sadly, that box can’t be shared on Spotify.] It was also done with The Pet Sounds Sessions and culminated in the semi-recent massive box for The SMiLE sessions. These give the listener the total Fly on the Wall experience. With SMiLE, we can hear just how close Brian Wilson really was to releasing his Magnum Opus. Collectors of bootlegs have, over the years, put together the fragments based on scant evidence. It’s great to finally hear SMiLE as Brian envisioned. It was worth the wait.

SMiLE took his sanity and some 35 years to finally finish, but Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys are back and, if show biz metrics mean anything, back on the top of the game. This week The Beach Boys broke a record set by The Beatles. As Billboard tells us:

 As their reunion set, “That’s Why God Made the Radio” (their first album of all-new material since 1992), bursts onto the chart at No. 3,
the Beach Boys break a record by expanding their span of Billboard
200 top 10s to 49 years and one week. They first graced the top 10
with “Surfin’ U.S.A.” the week of June 15, 1963.

Beach Boys’ stretch between their first week in the Billboard 200
top 10 to their most recent is now the longest among groups, passing
the Beatles, whose top 10 span covers 47 years, seven months and
three weeks. The Fab Four first entered the top bracket when “Meet
the Beatles” rocketed 92-3 on the Feb. 8, 1964, chart at the
blastoff of Beatlemania. The group most recently appeared in the top
10 with “1” the week of Oct. 1, 2011.

 Now with sell-out concerts and current hits on the radio. Here’s a Brian Wilson Jukebox for your listening pleasure, with some rarities, some well-known songs, and some versions you’ve never heard before:

 As always, CRANK IT UP!!!


For people who are as certifiably insane as I am, here is every version of Heroes and Villains I could find. Set on crossfade and you will never need another song. Ever!

Musical Appreciation ► Paul McCartney

There is no denying that Paul McCartney has written a wealth of music that will stand the test of time. As we listen to Beethoven and Bach long after their lifetimes, we will be listening to the music of Paul McCartney.

Here’s a small Paul McCartney Jukebox:

As always: CRANK IT UP!!!

Uncle Russ Gibb

And, just because it pisses Mark Koldys-Johnny Dollar off, I am going to link to other versions of this story again.

Uncle Russ Gibb

Here’s what I find funny: I have made no claims, yet Johnny Dollar has gone out of his way to refute them.

J$ asked one person one question (or had a confederate ask one
question) and then spun out an entire new conspiracy theory. While, that’s
hardly journalism, it’s par for the course for Markie K and the Sycophant Five.

I only ever told this to ONE journalist. The resultant article that came
out was so garbled, I never told it again “on the record.” Therefore, every other
version I have read is second hand, or a re-writing of the
original post. Each has managed to garble the story further.
However, and I stress, only one person ever bothered to ask me any questions and I answered them all honestly.

However, I am most grateful that Markie K and the Sycophant Five, along with their patron Mark Koldys-Johnny Dollar are such loyal followers of my Aunty Em Ericann Blog.

What’s left of The Grande Ballroom; Picture by author 2010
The Grande Ballroom on opening night of a whole new era.

The Music of Detroit ► Unpacking My Detroit ► Part Four

The BBC produced a nice little documentary on the music of Detroit, Michigan. Includes contributions from Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, George Clinton, Martha Reeves, John Sinclair and the MC5, among others. This is the music of my youth.

Sadly Part Four of this documentary cannot be embedded. However, it wraps up here.

Previous Entries:

Unpacking My Detroit ► Part One
Unpacking My Detroit ► Part Two
Unpacking My Detroit ► Part Three


Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be ► My Days With John Sinclair

Musical Interlude ► Happy Birthday Harry Nilsson

Dateline June 15, 1941 – A happy father had a son*, Harry Edward Nilsson III.

There was a time I listed my Top Three artists as Frank Sinatra, Frank Zappa, and Harry Nilsson. Who knew that Sinatra would outlive the other two?

I first learned of Harry Nilsson the same way much of ‘Merka did, when The Beatles name-checked him twice during their ’68 press conference to announce the formation of Apple. Wait! What? Who? The Harry Nilsson Web Pages picks up the story: 

The album came to the attention of the Beatles (through Derek Taylor their press agent). At the press conference to announce the formation of Apple, the Beatles were asked “Who is your favorite American artist?” to which John Lennon replied, “Harry Nilsson.” When asked “What is your favorite American group?” Paul McCartney replied, “Harry Nilsson.”

Harry’s arrangement of “You Can’t Do That” weaves some 20-something other Beatles’ songs in and around the Lennon-McCartney melody.It needs to be heard to know why The Beatles were so knocked out by it.

The great irony of Harry Nilsson’s all-too-short artistic career is that while he is an amazing songwriter, the two songs he is best known for were not written by him: “Without You” was written by two of the members of Badfinger and was originally recorded by that group, while “Everybody’s Talkin'” was written by Fred Neil.

That’s why we’ll start with songs Harry wrote. Here’s a rare version of “Coconut” created for one of his his BBC shows. All vocals are Harry re-recorded specifically for this ‘video’ and the instrumentation is minimalist. to say the least:

Many people have covered Nilsson’s “One.” His version followed by the obscure Chris Clark on the even more obscure Motown subsidiary label Weed, because that’s what this LP was apparently fueled by.

Here is a rare tee vee appearance of Harry’s on The Smother’s Brothers Comedy Hour. Harry was a good friend of The Smothers Bothers, which is why he thought he and John Lennon could heckle them at The Troubadour, but we won’t rehash THAT story. “Think About Your Troubles,” the second song here, is personally one of my favourite Harry Nilsson songs. I like the circular story. I like how it sums up this larger dynamic than the listener and then says, “You  think you’re the center of the universe? Well, I got news for you.” The third song is from the upcoming “The Point” cartoon, which is remembered fondly by many big kids.

Another rarity from his BBC tee vee special is this medley of three covers intertwined, Walk Right Walk, Cathy’s Clown, Let The Good Times Roll all recorded with 3-part harmony done by Harry himself.

Here’s the very obscure Miss Butter’s Lament, written by fellow Canadian Bob Segarini.

When Harry Met John resulted in Pussy Cats, an album that marked the nadir of Harry’s career. Yet there are still some true gems on this LP. Harry makes his ravaged voice work for this incredibly emotional cover of Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers To Cross.

I could go on and on, but this makes a good starting point for Harry Nilsson if you are just getting to know him.

*1941, by Harry Nilsson

Musical Appreciation ► Cole Porter

An example of a “coal porter,”
a man who delivers the coal.
© 2012 Friedrich Seidenstücker,
from the MoMa collection
Another example of a coal
porter is a rail car for coal.
It’s my opinion that no ‘Merkin songwriter has ever been more
deft at the lyric than Cole Porter.
While there are many wonderful things to praise in his music, I would like to
praise his wordplay and his sense of the rhythm of the syllables of spoken,
contemporary English, while imbuing that honest, simple language with more than
a hint of sophistication. His love of language is clear in his lyrics. I have always wondered whether he got his penchant for playing with words because his name is, in fact, a pun, not unlike Aunty Em Ericann.
With a string of songs ranging from “I Get A Kick Out Of You” to “You’re The Top” to “Don’t Fence Me In” to “When We Begin The Beguine” to “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)” to “Night and Day” to “Anything Goes” to “Let’s Misbehave” there are so many wonderful Porter lyrics, so let’s get started and break some of them down to celebrate Cole’s 121st birthday.
Ella Fitzgerald has agreed to help me out with this first set of lyrics with “Anything Goes.” Take it away, Ella:

Look at the cadence of these words and the tune, which we all know by heart, just fall into place, that’s how closely locked the words are with the actual rhythms of the song. And, look at where the rhymes fall: both at the ends of lines and within the middle. And, in the middle of the middles are other rhyming words. Look:

In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
was looked on as something shocking.
Now heaven knows, anything goes.
Good authors too who once knew better words,
now only use four-letter words writing prose,
anything goes.
The world has gone mad today,
and good´s bad today, and black´s white today,
and day´s night today,
When most guys today that women prize today
are just silly gigolos.
So though I´m not a great romancer,
I know that you´re bound to answer
when I propose, anything goes.
Isn’t that tasty?

Louis Armstrong and my fellow Canadian Oscar Peterson will be demonstrating a whole different sly word play with “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love),” which, in 1928, was considered quite risqué for its time. Armstrong sings more different verses than anyone else in this almost 9 minute version and every one of them is clever as all hell.

One of my favourite Cole Porter tunes has to be “You’re The Top” also from the Broadway show “Anything Goes.” It’s filled with clever wordplay, funny pop cultural references which would have, in its time, been known by everyone in the audience, and a wonderful sentiment all wrapped up in that wonderful sense of cadence that the words have on their own. This time Cole Porter has agreed to sing his own song for us and he’s asked us all to sing along:

At words poetic, I’m so pathetic
That I always have found it best,
Instead of getting ’em off my chest,
To let ’em rest unexpressed,
I hate parading my serenading
As I’ll probably miss a bar,
But if this ditty is not so pretty
At least it’ll tell you
How great you are.

You’re the top!
You’re the Coliseum.
You’re the top!
You’re the Louver Museum.
You’re a melody from a symphony by Strauss
You’re a Bendel bonnet,
A Shakespeare’s sonnet,
You’re Mickey Mouse.
You’re the Nile,
You’re the Tower of Pisa,
You’re the smile on the Mona Lisa
I’m a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if, baby, I’m the bottom you’re the top!

Your words poetic are not pathetic.
On the other hand, babe, you shine,
And I can feel after every line
A thrill divine
Down my spine.
Now gifted humans like Vincent Youmans
Might think that your song is bad,
But I got a notion
I’ll second the motion
And this is what I’m going to add;

You’re the top!
You’re Mahatma Gandhi.
You’re the top!
You’re Napoleon Brandy.
You’re the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You’re the National Gallery
You’re Garbo’s salary,
You’re cellophane.
You’re sublime,
You’re turkey dinner,
You’re the time, 

of a Derby winner.
I’m a toy balloon that’s fated soon to pop
But if, baby, I’m the bottom,
You’re the top!

You’re the top!
You’re an arrow collar
You’re the top!
You’re a Coolidge dollar,
You’re the nimble tread
Of the feet of Fred Astaire,
You’re an O’Neill drama,
You’re Whistler’s mama!
You’re camembert.
You’re a rose,
You’re Inferno’s Dante,
You’re the nose
On the great Durante.
I’m just in a way,
As the French would say, “de trop”.
But if, baby, I’m the bottom,
You’re the top!

You’re the top!
You’re a dance in Bali.
You’re the top!
You’re a hot tamale.
You’re an angel, you,
Simply too, too, too diveen,
You’re a Boticcelli,
You’re Keats,
You’re Shelly!
You’re Ovaltine!
You’re a boom,
You’re the dam at Boulder,
You’re the moon,
Over Mae West’s shoulder,
I’m the nominee of the G.O.P.
But if, baby, I’m the bottom,
You’re the top!

You’re the top!
You’re a Waldorf salad.
You’re the top!
You’re a Berlin ballad.
You’re the boats that glide
On the sleepy Zuider Zee,
You’re an old Dutch master,
You’re Lady Astor,
You’re broccoli!
You’re romance,
You’re the steppes of Russia,
You’re the pants, on a Roxy usher,
I’m a broken doll, a fol-de-rol, a flop,
But if, baby, I’m the bottom,
You’re the top!

That’s poetry. And it’s such a clever use of the English language. They don’t make songwriters like that anymore.

Here are some more classic interpretations of Cole Porter songs. I’ve also included a few instrumentals, one parody, a few unearthed gems sung by Cole himself (who wasn’t much of a singer), and two totally different versions and arrangements by Julie London, so you can also hear what a terrific tunesmith he was. Cole Porter is The Tops!

Musical Interlude ► Papa John Creach

Dateline May 28, 1917 – Papa John Creach, violinist, was born on this day and would have turned 95, had he not had the misfortune of dying in 1994. Creach was in Hot Tuna, Jefferson Airplane, and Jefferson Starship, but had been playing clubs since the mid-’30s, much older than the musicians he would eventually play with.
Here’s a Papa John jukebox:
Aunty Em!!! Aunty Em!!!

I’m going to sting you, Bumble Bee.

Some HOT HOT HOT Hot Tuna, from the movie “Fillmore: The Last Days:”

For those so inclined, here’s a Hot Tuna concert from 1968 that lasts an hour and 20 minutes:

Papa John was also in Dinosaurs with Merl Saunders, Peter Albin, and Vince Littleton:

Another tasty rendition of a classic:

And here he is adding to the psychedelia with Jefferson Airplane:

Today’s blog post is dedicated to Vermont Dave, who does odd jobs around here and is a big Hot Tuna fan. Thanks Dave.

Another Magical Tee Vee Moment ► David Frost Interviews Paul McCartney

Dateline: May 18, 1964 – Paul McCartney is interviewed by David Frost in the full flush of Beatlemania.

It’s so funny they were talking about a possible retirement in 2010. who knew that 5 decades later Paul would still be making music and still making fans scream?

Thanks for all the music, Paul.

National Velvet ► Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be

During my long career as a professional writer, there have been times that I was on staff and on a publication’s masthead and other times that I freelanced. As a freelancer, I would take just about any job that involved jamming words together. Once I wrote an entire work of fiction for a corporate brochure that made Scarborough, Ontario, Canada sound like a great place to live and work. It was fiction because I didn’t really feel that Scarborough was a great place to live and work. Despite my dislike for Scarberia, as it is derisively called, the brochure won an award by the City of Scarborough, which couldn’t read through to the sarcasm.  Another of my freelance jobs was writing for record companies. Occasionally these were the dry sales sheets, 200 words tops, which the salesmen would use to get the rack-jobbers to stock the LP. These were boring and tedious to write, but I could bang off up to 10 a day. However, my favourite writing for record companies was when I was hired to write artist biographies. These always involved meeting and interviewing the artists and I liked to spend as much time as possible with the artist/band before I ever sat down to write. And that’s how I came to meet National Velvet, when I was hired to write their biography.

Aside from the actual music, artist bios are one of the most important calling cards a band and/or record company has.
Before the first note of music is even heard, the artist biography is
often fully digested. Artist bios are a tricky business. Every word must
be right. The bio needs to capture the essence of the band or artists. It needs to make the reader WANT to play the record. It needs to tell you everything you need to know about the band, yet retain some mystery that can only be solved by listening to the music. There is no formula for writing an artists’ bio. Every one is different because every artist is different.

National Velvet were more different than most. NV was a Canadian Goth band before Goth was named Goth. Intrepid Records, distributed by Capital Records Canada, was preparing the release of their first National Velvet LP and hired me to write the bio. I spent about a week with the band, on and off. I went to a few rehearsals, met them in a coffee shop or two, and then someone’s living room. I took notes on how they interacted while recording all their words for posterity. When I felt I had enough, I went back to my belfry to write. One of the things I was struck with after re-reading all the notes I had taken (and which I still have and just used to refreshed my memory) is how thoughtful the band was about their place in the city, the music industry, the record business. I decided that the band’s thoughtful considerations deserved a thoughtful consideration in the biography, which I would blend with the dark, back alleys of the city. Sort of The Dark Knight meets The Hudsucker Proxy.

When I finally had a 1st draft I was happy with I showed it to the record company, the client.  That’s how it worked. Once I had something I liked, I would show it to the client who would tell me whether they liked the path I was on. If so, we’d kick the first draft around 5 or 10 or 15 times, until everyone was happy with the final product. If, in the alternative, the client hated it I would be back at square one, using their ideas to form an entirely new first draft.

In this case Intrepid Records didn’t much like the bio. While it managed to capture the band and the dark underbelly of the city, it came across as far too portentous, far too weighty.  They said, “We like everything about it, except it’s far too serious. What if we made it a cartoon instead?”

It must be noted that the band was not my client. I only had to make the
record company happy. If the band liked the biography the record company
chose to represent them with, that it was a happy bonus.

I wasn’t sure how this raw-edged Goth band would like being turned into a cartoon, but that was hardly my problem. The record company was paying the shots and I won’t get paid until they approve a final draft. So I go back to my belfry with a new task: Create a band biography that is dark without being serious because it needs to come off as a cartoon while, at the same time, capture the essence of these individuals.  Amazingly, that’s just what I did. I used contact sheets of the band’s photo session to create a comic book featuring the band collectively and individually. The words inside the word balloons were their own words. The words of the comic book narrator (me) conveyed the dark throb of the city surrounding the band, while the off-camera record company exec kept putting his 2 cents in for the commercial considerations. Yeah, I know; it was weird as hell. When I went back with that new 1st draft I was fully prepared for them to reject it and throw me out of the office forever.

However, that’s not what happened. It was one of the few times in my career that a first draft of something was also the last draft. Everyone loved it except me. It’s not that I didn’t like the words I wrote, or the concept. It had always been the execution that bothered me. It was supposed to mimic a comic book, but I felt there was only a passing resemblance to a comic book. A typed narration at the bottom, with intentional strike-outs over intentional typos was not part of my concept.

No matter. I got paid.

Skip ahead some 25 years. . . .

Skip ahead some 25 years and my son, who was so much of a National Velvet fan when he was a teen that he bought the LP, tells me he’s going to be seeing National Velvet in Ottawa and will be taking one of the biographies I gave him a million years ago with him.

He returned with a happy surprise: The band not only autographed the bio, but part of the inscription was praise for the concept that I felt never worked properly.


Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

And thanks, Justin!!!

Here’s National Velvet’s big hit!!! Flesh Under Skin!!!