Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Rockaway Beach

As my brother Jeff continues to make more and more progress every day recovering from a stroke, here's something bound to make him smile. One of his favorite bands (The Ramones) doing one of their best songs in pretty much the most Ramone-y way possible. Little is said, little is changed, just nonstop energy and sneers to go along with the irresistible beat. Rock-n-roll, baby. #TapperStrong


And boy howdy, as a dancer, Joey sure was...one hell of a good lead singer.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Don't Think Twice (It's All Right)

So a good pal sent me this earlier today

and how delightful was that? Sure, Anne Murray's not exactly a heavy-hitter, artistically, but as a pop-loving child of the 70s, I've always had a serious soft spot for her, especially after reading about her learning the hardest of ways why you never want to try to follow Bruce Springsteen on stage, especially not in New York City.

(This was during the brief period after Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez had left the band, when the fantastic Ernest "Boom" Carter was on drums. Springsteen was on fire, of course, and a quarter of the audience left as soon as his set was done; not only was Murray booed when she started her set, by the time her set was over, only a quarter of the crowd was left. Not coincidentally, that was the last time any artist ever even considered letting Bruce Springsteen open for him/her.)

Was that extra little walkdown filigree added to title line really necessary? I don't think so, but hey, quibbles. A more serious annoyance is the fact that they reverse the order of the first two lines, but then, absolutely everybody (except Dylan himself) does that, probably because that's how the lyrics were officially registered. Still, have none of them ever paid attention to (almost) any of Dylan's own recordings? Vexing.

[Yes, I know, in the very early days he would sometimes since it in the printed order, which is undoubtedly why the lyrics were printed in that order. I do not accept this excuse. Rejected!]

I found it an interesting choice for Dylan cover. 'cuz, sure, it's one of Dylan's very greatest songs—and when you consider the rest of us oeuvre, that's a mouthful, and especially staggering considering he was about 21 when he wrote it—but it was never a single for him, much less a hit. Nor was it a big hit for anyone else, unlike so many of his other songs, which were commercial and artistic successes, of course, for the likes of the Byrds and Jimi Hendrix and so on.

Only it turns out it was a successful single, first for Peter, Paul & Mary (who I try to avoid like the plague, hence my semi-deliberate ignorance), going to #9 in 1963. And then even more amazingly, going to #12 two years later and selling over a million copies. Oddly, that later cover seems little more than a footnote now.

Or maybe not so odd, once you hear the damn thing.

As a pop-loving child of the 70s, I have a soft spot for Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. But this...this is not good. Abomination is probably too strong a word. Probably. But maybe not. Yes, it was apparently recorded as a joke. It's not a good one.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

RIP Glen Campbell

There's going to be a lot written about how Glen Campbell was one of the greatest guitarists ever, and that's true. There'll be a lot written about his studio work, his time with the Beach Boys, his huge success in the late 60s and 70s, his television shows, and the terrible sadness of his final years.

And there's going to be a lot written about the Jimmy Webb songs he recorded, as well there should be. A lot of people have called "Witchita Lineman" the greatest pop song ever. I'm not sure I can go along with that...and yet it's pretty hard to disagree. The late Sir William Joel of Long Islandington once described it as "a simple song about an ordinary man thinking extraordinary thoughts" and that's pretty spot damn on. It came about because Campbell had already had a hit with Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and, like Chuck Berry had the previous decade, he clearly saw the commercial value in using a specific location as a hook, so much so that he asked Webb for "another town song." "Do me another song that makes me long for home," Campbell told the songwriter and damn if Webb didn't do exactly that in spades.

If there's a more romantic couplet than

And I need you more than want you
And I want you for all time

Well, I've yet to discover it.