Category Archives: music

My Randy Newman Story

I made a cryptic comment about Randy Newman the other day. It was supposed to be something I’d bring up when I wrote about it at some future date, maybe in November, on Newman’s birthday. But my friend Rocco, who I’ve known since our FantaCo days in the early ’80s, asked about it, as well as confirming that I went with him to see that dismal Joe Jackson concert in ’89. And since today is Rocco’s birthday, I’ll tell the story now.

I was in the Poughkeepsie, New York train station, coming home from a conference c. 1999. Poughkeepsie’s about halfway between Albany and New York City, along the Hudson River.

I see walking into the ticket area a guy, a woman and a couple kids. That’s Randy Newman. Isn’t it Randy Newman? I LOVE Randy Newman!

If it’s Randy Newman, I know what I’m going to say to him. Continue reading My Randy Newman Story

Stevie Wonder is 60


Stevie Wonder is 60 years old today. Only 60? Seems that he’s been around forever. I guess that’s what happens when you’re dubbed the “12-year-old genius.” Wish I had the time to indicate all of his significance in my musical life. Among other things, I’ve stated that he and Paul Simon were THE two most important artists in my record collection in the 1970s. Here are just some highlights.

Really don’t remember the earlier singles, such as “Fingertips, Part 2”, except as an oldie. The first song I recall listened to, on the radio, was Uptight (Everything’s Alright) in 1966. I loved it! Later, I got an album from my sister’s godfather, of all people, of Bill Cosby called Silver Throat, where he sings a parody of Uptight called Little Old Man.

My sister owned the 1966 album Down to Earth, containing the title track and A Place In the Sun, the latter a song written by Stevie that everyone at the time seemed compelled to cover. I owned 1970’s Signed Sealed Delivered.

Possibly my favorite Wonder song in the early years was 1967’s “I Was Made to Love Her”

I owned the so-so 1967 Someday At Christmas, though it contains THE great secular Christmas tune, “What Christmas Means to Me.” Continue reading Stevie Wonder is 60

Music Meme

An odd series of circumstances has gotten me writing about music far more than usual. I’d picked this meme for Monday, then needed a Q for Tuesday. I realized that I wanted to do birthday things for Billy Joel, Bono/U2 and tomorrow’s topic. I once said that sometimes the blog pieces write themselves; well, occasionally, the blog ORDER does likewise.

Here’s a meme from SamuraiFrog, also done by Scott and Jaquandor.

1. What are you listening to right now?
The Beatles Mono Box. Specifically the Past Masters, the singles, B-sides, etc.

2. What song(s) make(s) you sad?
Goodness, LOTS of songs make me sad. There are whole categories: requiems (requia?) from Mozart to Faure; certain romantic songs – such as Stay With Me by Lorraine Ellison or Gone Away by Roberta Flack. Sometimes, songs that I love that I hadn’t heard lately make me cry, such as the Blue Moon solo on Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love.

3. What is the most annoying song in the world?
Honey by Bobby Goldsboro. Wait, it’s Dominick the Donkey.

4. Your all time favorite band?
Beatles (all time)

5. Your newly discovered band is?
I don’t know that there is one. The new music I get tends to be the same artists I’ve been buying. For instance, Levon Helm from the Band. indeed, anyone I DO discover tends to be a solo artist, such as Corrinne Bailey Rae, whose album The Sea I recommend.

6. Best female voice?
Julie Andrews. Or maybe Judy Collins.

7. Best male voice?
Nat King Cole.

8. Music type you find yourself listening to most?
Fairly eclectic, but rock mostly.

9. What do you listen to, to hype you up?
Anything with an insistent baseline, such as The Spencer Davis Group’s Keep On Running.

10. What do you listen to when you want to calm down?
Classical music, probably Bach.

11. Last gig/concert you went to?
Springsteen, last year.

12. Band you find yourself listening to the most right now?
Well, RIGHT now, I tend to listen to people whose birthday is in this week in May: Bono (U2), Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, David Byrne (Talking Heads).

13. Most hated band?
I don’t think about bands I dislike. They tend to slip out of my mind.

14. Song that makes you think?
LOTS of songs make me think. Lenten songs, for one group.

15. Band that you think the world should love as much as you do?
I don’t care what other people like; they can do what they want.

16. Coolest music video?
Ever? “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel. But I haven’t watched them in forever.

17. Music video with the most babe watch?
Robert Palmer’s? Have no idea.

18. What do you play/would you play in the bedroom to spice things up?
Mozart.

19. Can you play a musical instrument?
Kazoo.

20. Ever been in a mosh pit?
No.

21. Are you in a band?
No, but I’m in a choir. But in junior high, we tried to form a band called Ralphie’s Moonies. Had a hit song called “Pool Shark” that I still remember.

23. Ever dated a musician?
Yes. My wife played the clarinet in high school. Also, I went out with a singer for a time.

28. Do you wish yourself that you were a musician?
Some days. Or maybe I am.<11–more–>

29. Best chick band you know of?
The Dixie Chicks, I guess.
Continue reading Music Meme

Q is for Queen


When I first heard the songs of the rock group Queen in the mid-1970s, I thought it was a very good group with songs such as:
*Killer Queen (#12 on the Billboard charts in the United States in 1975)
*You’re My Best Friend (#9 in 1976)
*Bicycle Race (#24 in 1978) – hey, I ride sometimes
*the rockabilly sensibilities of Crazy Little Thing Called Love (the group’s first #1, in 1980)
*Play The Game (#42 in 1980)
*the bass line-insistent Another One Bites The Dust (another #1, in 1980)
*the goofy fun of Flash (as in Gordon) (#42 in 1981)

Then Freddie Mercury died of AIDS in 1991 Continue reading Q is for Queen

Island Album

The fact that’ it’s Bono’s 50th birthday today reminded me of a conversation I had in 1988 with a friend of mine, who, as it turns out, I saw last month for the first time in months. I was making my list of maybe 20 island albums, and I placed on the roster on the list Joshua Tree by U2. My friend was practically incensed. “You can’t put that album on! It’s only a year old!”

OK, fair enough. It’s 2010. It’s still on the list.

In the past week or so, I’ve listened to all the U2 CDs I have on CD, only about nine of them, and it continues to be the one that is solid throughout.
Continue reading Island Album

I Admit I Like Billy Joel


One of my colleagues, knowing my affection for music, was telling me about a Billy Joel song called We Didn’t Start the Fire, which you can hear here, after a short ad. I was never a huge fan of the song. But she explained to me that the historical references in the piece made her want to look up the background behind those events. So, I have rethought the song and deem it OK, especially after I came across this teacher’s guide to it.

Actually, I rather like Billy Joel, even though it was never really cool to like Billy Joel. The only time I saw him live in New Paltz in 1974 (I think). Buzzy Linhart opened for him. Joel and the entourage got lost getting to New Paltz and was over two hours late. Billy was practically glued to his piano bench. The song I love most from that period was Captain Jack.

Subsequently, I bought several BJ albums. In fact, when I FINALLY bought a CD player Continue reading I Admit I Like Billy Joel

April Ramblin'

Fun Interpretation of the Google Books Settlement

What I love about my Bible study: we talk a LOT about current affairs. Part of the conversation recently, in reading the 23rd Psalm, was “What IS evil?’ One of the examples I thought of was the deliberate misrepresentation of the truth with the intent to incite.

We also were distressed about the new Arizona immigration law Two thoughts on that. Remember the Sun City (video) album from the 1980s? Sun City was the resort town in South Africa, which, during apartheid came to symbolize the difference in conditions for blacks and whites. On that album was the song, Let Me See Your ID (video).

The other thing is that famous quote by theologian Martin Niemöller
“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
Having been profiled one or twice (yeah, right), this really disturbs me.
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MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow: FOX News, GOP further ‘the un-mooring of politics from fact’ (video)
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Gunn High School Sings Away Kansas Hate Group known as the Westboro Baptist Church (video).
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The vengeance of Bernie Goldberg on the Daily Show (Link to video). I don’t recall Goldberg being quite so wack when he was on CBS.
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Plaque in honor of activist William Moore unveiled. He was a civil rights activist from around my hometown of Binghamton, NY, who was murdered in Alabama in 1963. The local branch of the Congress of Racial Equality, with which my father worked, was named after him. It even rhymed: The William L. Moore chapter of CORE.
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Very soon, you can listen to the sounds of the cosmos yourself. All of the data from the SETI program will soon be available at setiQuest.org to download or play.
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New national park quarters unveiled: U.S. Mint debuts designs for the first five coins in its America the Beautiful Quarters Program, which will honor 56 national parks. The rest will be released through 2021. I probably WON’T collect them; still haven’t found most of the 2009 quarters.
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MAD Artist Jack Davis’ Illustrations of NBC’s 1965-66 Season for TV Guide is really cool, especially if you remember the shows, which I do.
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Angelina Jolie is in the summer movie I can’t wait to see, Salt, which was filmed in part in Albany, NY. The filming caused massive traffic delays for days.
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Siren’s Crush Receives Rave Reviews from NAMM (short video). This is my niece’s group; Rebecca is the brunette female.
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My friend Deborah, who I met in 1977 in Manhattan, and who’s been living in France for the past quarter century, recently bought a beautiful old stone house in Brittany with a plan of partly financing the loan by renting it out as a holiday home.

The Kan ar Vouac’h website and its listing on VRBO are finally done, and she’s hoping to be putting the final touches on buying the final necessaries over the month of May.

I’m told it’s a lovely and reasonable place to stay in Brittany.
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Retiree Bathtub Test

During a visit to my doctor, I asked him, “How do you determine whether or not a retiree should be put in an old age home?”

“Well,” he said, “we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the retiree and ask him or her to empty the bathtub”

“Oh, I understand,” I said. “A normal person would use the bucket because it is bigger than the spoon or the teacup.”

“No” he said. “A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?”

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