Bobby, Dean, Frank and Tony

The awful awesomeness of Bobby Darin

He wanted so badly to be taken seriously. I like to think that it was after the recording of this program that he began thinking of farther off fields to explore. (Not a linear expression, internet pedants.)
 

 

He acquits himself in it perfectly well, of course. It was just all made of awkward, even for a Jack Benny episode, and even with the understanding that Darin really was a fan. It's fun to watch, though! I didn't mean to post something with the idea that it would be just terrible to see.

Recently I'd been wishing there was a recording of him doing "I've Got the World on a String," but when I found one, it disappointed me. It's much too slow, like his version of "Fly Me to the Moon," only less touching. Michael Bublé emulated him beautifully for "Call Me Irresponsible," but made the best "I've Got the World on a String," really, by doing his own thing. Only, when I hear that one, I want to hear Darin, so. I keep hoping one day another "lost" recording will appear or be resurrected from the fire. Along with "Danke Schöen," and a few others.

He did slow torchy songs right, though, no doubt about it. So for Bobby Darin's birthday, touching some of us in the special place, here's "The Other Half of Me."

 

I think of him as someone who put grace into his efforts, and was always reaching a little bit farther than he could grasp, which, I think, is what we should all do. Maybe in the end he just gave up, but if so, it wasn't until after he'd poured the best of himself into his life and his work and created a quiet but solid legacy.


Irregular vinyl LP review

These are just phone pix with an old phone. I didn't have the energy for more better ones because I canned food today. And made a lot of chili. But someone on Google+ posted some of those really funny tragic album covers a little while ago, and I thought, well, these aren't tragic, but they are pretty interesting or odd. I've shared a couple before in lists of things.

If I'm too lazy to note the year of these albums as I type, I'll go back in and edit later. I canned food today, did I tell you that? 

First, there were these LP compilations; instant music collections for people who wanted to appear cool without having to actually work at it. The covers demonstrate how to be cool in case anyone needs extra help. I have several; here are two of my favorites.

Jackie

If Jackie Gleason presented it, it had class. I realize that for people who saw him only as Ralph Kramden or who just have no idea who this is at all, that's hard to grasp. But he was an arbiter of musical taste for awhile. The young woman's bag and gloves are of the evening dress variety, and those glasses were swank. These people drank wine. So this album would be good for those nights when the ashtrays were freshly emptied, the pillows fluffed on the naugahyde couch, and the Gallo Rosé was ready to pour.

Cocktail
This compilation is by The Dell Trio. Last time I looked them up, this album is what appeared. But it's been awhile. No matter. Despite the details on the previous cover, I think this one tried to appeal to a more cosmopolitan set. But that must be some music, because they've already abandoned their drinks to it. However, she's going to get distracted by something in a minute, which will annoy him, because he was just getting somewhere. He should have encouraged her to drink more of that old-fashioned first, maybe teasingly offered her an olive from his martini. 


Here are a couple of ladies who knew just what I am talking about. Olelee

I will admit that I don't actually understand this cover, and it might be obvious to everyone else. But to me, the surprising thing is that Peggy doesn't have a matador on each arm, because I am fairly certain she could take two on at once.

Doris
Latin music was for lovers, you know, back in the 60s. And when people listened to it, they could pretend they were sexy. Or maybe actually be sexy; what do I know? I know that Doris Day was, and that despite the happy homemaker reputation she developed onscreen, there's probably a reason she was making this face, just out of camera view to the right. 

Men didn't have to look sexy to sell albums the way women seemed to. I'm not sure what exactly it was they needed to convey, though...

This album won a Grammy Award in 1959 for best design. And by design they mean this actual cover right here. Frank
Frank is a sad clown. Probably because he was still working off his contractual obligations to Capitol Records before moving on to his own Reprise label. I dunno.

This is one of my favorite album covers of all time, but not because of the front. Happydean

Chatty Cathy was a really big deal around the time this record came out, and whoever designed this had the driest sense of humor in the world because I hadn't started talking yet. But anyway. The liner notes on the back are by the sublime and unequaled Stan Cornyn, who said this, "Martin: the biggest sex symbol to hit neighborhood taverns since the heyday of the Rheingold Girl, may she in our secret imaginations requiescat in flagrante delicto."

And then there was Tom. Tomcaesars

Did you know that Tom Jones once lived in the Bel-Air mansion previously occupied by Dean Martin and did you further know they had the same birthday, 23 years apart? If Dean Martin had been only 31 when Happiness was Dean Martin was produced, I guess that wouldn't have been Chatty Cathy he was holding.

Nice sandals, Tom.


musically auspicious...birthday tribute/G+ writing challenge pt 1

You can read this without the beginning, but if you wanna read the beginning, it's the first segment here. (it's 1395 words, but one of my favorite pieces of writing.) And tomorrow, or maybe, um, well, soon, there's a bit more to come. 

Jack came around the counter then and sat down. "Tommy, Vinny probably didn't tell you the coolest thing of all about Tom Jones."

Vinny looked puzzled. "You got me there, Jack."

"Well, do you know his birthday? June 7. Dean Martin could be Tom Jones' dad, but they were born on the same day, at least."

"I never did know that, Jack. Got any more, born on that day?"

"Actually, I know of two. The actor Liam Neeson and…" Jack hesitated. "Another singer, as a matter of fact."

"Who is it?" demanded Tommy, "Julie London? She's a good one."

Jack laughed. "No, not quite. It's Prince." He watched as Vinny and Tommy worked out who he meant.

Vinny spoke first. "You mean that little guy, sang all them dirty songs back in the 80s? He was born on Dean Martin's birthday?" 

Tommy laughed. "I remember, "Little Red Corvette." Yeah, that guy, he's really sharp. I don't know if I woulda said he's cool like Dino, though."

"Or Tom Jones?" Jack mused. "Tom Jones sang a Prince song, as a matter of fact. So that's something."

Vinny stared at him. "Tom Jones sang what, one of the dirty ones? You're kidding."

"He did." Jack said, "Let me go get my phone, I'll show you." He stood up and headed for the counter.

Tommy asked Vinny, "What does he mean, he'll show you? How's he gonna do that with the phone?"

"His cell phone, Tommy. Don't you know anything? His phone is smart. Smarter than you, I guess. It's got the internet on it." 

Jack returned, and the three of them huddled around his phone as he called up a YouTube video of Tom Jones singing the Prince hit, "Kiss." Vinny and Tommy stared, open-mouthed, and watched the whole thing without speaking. 

  

Then Vinny said, "Well, that was back before he got old, anyway." He shook his head. "I don't know what else to say."

"It wasn't 'Delilah,' that's for sure," Tommy muttered. "Hey, can you get Dean Martin on this thing?"

Vinny rolled his eyes. "It's the internet, Tommy. And it's Jack. He's probably already got it saved on there someplace, right Jack?"

"Righto, Vinnarino."

"Don't call me that."

"Okay. Here. You'll like this." Jack pressed play, and they all leaned in again. 

 

"That's good stuff there," Tommy said. 

Vinny and Jack nodded. "Yeah," they both said. 

All three sat quietly for a moment, then Tommy said, "You get porn on that thing?" 

Vinny clipped him on the ear and asked, "What's the matter with you, Tommy?"

Jack just shook his head and laughed, heading back to work as the two old men started arguing again. 

 


Dream Lover part 6011

That's "sixty-eleven," by the way. 

I will be catching up to 1992 in the birthday countdown tomorrow. Haven't felt well these past few days, and also I am stuck using the wee PC laptop in the evenings, which is limiting and frustrating. Always appreciative to have it, never thrilled by its sheer inelegance and awkward text formatting. 

So. Bobby Darin. If you've read my blog since 2003, and who hasn't? you know he's one of my favorite, or I should rather say, most cherished topics. Today is the anniversary of his birth, precisely four months after my mother's birth, and were it not for a quirk of fate, it's likely they'd both be alive today, in the December of their years, at 76. Instead, he died at age 37, and she at age 53.  

Bobby Darin is the reason for so much of what I appreciate musically and sensually. That can't be overstated. Even though he was always on the radio and somewhat in the consciousness of anyone who enjoyed 50s and 60s music, I "discovered" him in high school in the early 80s, when I heard "Mack the Knife" on some TV program and fell rapturously in love with it. But that song isn't the thing about the thing. It was the flipside, "Beyond the Sea," which did it for me. Mom made me listen to it. I don't know what the original flipside was, but with oldies, they'd just stick another hit on so you got to enjoy two old things you knew on one record. And it blew me away. No, it grabbed me and pulled me in.

So during an era when I was enjoying the Cars, the Go-Gos, Cameo, The Gap Band, and any New Wave thing I could find on broadcast TV, I fell in love with Bobby Darin, and, by extension, a whole world I'd barely paid any attention to while growing up. All that jazz was background noise, and then suddenly it was just what I needed. 

He was short, arrogant, and wore a hairpiece. My vague memories of him from childhood were the same I had of the other singers of his ilk; terrible hair, terrible suits, a terrible need to fit in where they no longer belonged. But I've outlived him now by nearly a decade, and believe me, I get it, the whole thing. 

Because I was wrong. We were wrong. The young people, in whose world we no longer entirely belong, need to own their space, and they need to do it their own way. But their space is so much smaller than they think it is. And it is a hell of a lot less cool than they think it is, because they're still constantly defining, judging, measuring, and they take themselves oh so seriously while they're at it, more, I think, with each generation, because each generation has the burden of so much more knowledge than did the previous one. 

It's only a burden if you let it be, though, and at my age, it's very freeing to let quite a lot of that go. It's much sexier. After all, 47 is the new 37, don'tcha know. 

My 13 year-old dim bulb son made a pop culture reference today in his virtual classroom that only the teacher and one other kid understood. Score! But also kind of a bummer. I said, "I think we should know pop culture, at least, that is twice as old as our age, so the older you get, the farther back you're able to go. Right now, you can go back around 30 years and I can go back around 90 years." 

Whoa! Tin Pan Alley! But this is what I think. 

There is a piece of my soul wrapped around my love for Bobby Darin, which began just about 30 years ago this month. It was just the beginning. I'd been exposed to many genres of much quality music my whole life, but that was the year I began discovering it as an adult. 

That year, Charlotte Williams and I carefully constructed a list of the composite male. Basically, think Jeremy Northam on paper, before anyone knew who he was. Well, that's probably still my physical ideal, but I no longer match my personal ideal so that's something to confront, and besides, I know a great deal more about men these days. I now know why I found Bobby Darin so sexy and still do, even though it made me vaguely uncomfortable to admit it in 1982. It's also not an overstatement to say he's one of the reasons I think men are wonderful, the little dears. Because of Bobby Darin, I know that a man can be any height and have any amount of hair and really know how to make a woman drop her jaw in desire for him, for his manhood. It's one of my favorite aspects of humanity. 

This live recording has much less polish and depth than the recording I first loved, but I think it's a treat for his birthday. 
  

Here are a couple others I really love more now, though, which are in my file library here, and on the other computer I'd know how to make them play inline:

I'm Beginning to See the Light

The More I See You

and you know, I've always wished there was a recording of him singing "Danke Schoen." He had the rights to the song, and gave it to young Wayne Newton to record for his new label, TM Records. I've read that Darin did actually do a recording of it, but that the tapes were lost in a warehouse fire in the late 60s. So, I don't know. Sigh. 

Don't look now, but the record's over.


I've Got A Crush On You and this thing about men

Okay, this is Frank singing for Columbia Records in 1948. He was 32ish. This is a little over 3 minutes long.

I've Got A Crush On You

And here he is for his own label, Reprise Records, in 1960. He was 44ish. And it's about a minute shorter, which is too bad, but it's because there's not so much horn action.

I've Got A Crush On You

I mean, you see what I'm saying here? They're both very good. But only one of them sends me. 

Youth is wasted on the wrong people. 

 

 


Music in the background while browsing Amazon

You see, because I'm not 14 or 74, I don't spend a great deal of time in shopping malls. I wouldn't know Adele if she bit me. I honestly don't know much about Alec Baldwin, who said this earlier? But I do know Dino...

dino
dinocard

Deanshow

And I know who I think would go down easier.

Just kidding, movie dude. Love your TCM thing with Robert Osborne.


A real blog post: Not actually about Elvis

I'm trying to decide which singer I'd have had a crush on if I was 30 in 1965. This would mean my formative music years came between 1950-1955, when crooners and 3 and 4-part harmonies were heavily featured on the radio. Bing Crosby, Frankie Laine, The Ames Brothers, Nat King Cole, Jo Stafford, Eddie Fisher, The Four Aces, just a bit of Dean Martin, and the beginning of Frank Sinatra's comeback. 

"Rock Around the Clock" was released July 9, 1955. No way I wouldn't have loved that and launched into that sound, having previously dug the swing and bebop I heard around the house. But nobody swooned over Bill Haley, as far as I know. 

 

Me being me, it's quite likely I've have been married by then. So the next ten years would be filled with clotheslines of diapers, learning to make over the old furniture my husband and I found on weekend hunting trips, listening to the radio and saving money for a TV. Now and then attempting to be glamorous in the late evening after the kids were in bed. Going to movies, of course!

I hope that doesn't sound depressing. It's how things were, for most women, a little easier or a little harder depending. Hopefully I wouldn't have married a man who thought of me as a golden ticket inside a candy bar wrapper, only to realize later that marriage and children would require patience, effort, and dedication, instead of being a trip to a magical wonderland with all the hard icky things shoved into a drawer out of sight. That's how things often are, as well. 

Back to music and singers. My musical taste is a perfect fusion of my parents' tastes, with a bit of my time period thrown in. If they were born around 1910 instead of 32 and 36, they'd have been witness to the birth of popular song on radio, the developing pop orchestra sound, lots of slow sentimental love songs mixed with ragtime and a certain amount of kitsch. They'd be used to hearing singers belt out tunes through megaphones, and marvel when that was no longer necessary. They'd listen to the radio every evening, and, of course, would also own a gramophone player. I'd have had Rudy Vallee and Bing Crosby and maybe Jimmie Rodgers records passed along to me that I'd eventually share with my own kids when they were little. 

Vallee

My husband would be into Leonard Bernstein, and he'd dig post-Romantic, Modern, and probably Neoclassic classical music. Maybe some West Coast jazz, which I'd try to like but mostly I'd listen to pretending I didn't feel a little restless. He'd sometimes indulge my taste for crooners, rock and roll, and what was then still called "race music," but I'd end up listening to it and singing along mostly while he was at work and I was at home surrounded by endless mounds of baby laundry.

So, all of that together brings me to age 30 in 1965, a pivotal year in many areas of pop culture. And probably around the time I'd start reforming my own identity. 

Seriously, as I grow older, I realize that while I was right about us all being partly nature and partly nurture, nature takes the lead, eventually.  My nature is to let other people have their way most of the time, and just indulge myself in the quieter solitary hours. But I've spent the past 15 years continually having to give myself permission to do that.

Hair

When I was little, I remember my mom listening to her Tom Jones record, Live in Las Vegas. She told me she wished she could see him in concert. Lots of her friends would rather see Elvis Presley, and she couldn't understand at all what they saw in him. I remember studying that album cover and thinking about what she said.

Live-In-Las-Vegas

I decided she was right, but then, I was seeing Elvis from a 1970ish point of view. His best years were already behind him, poor man.

Elvis_july_1970

Tom Jones is totally a better singer than Elvis was, but Elvis was so weighed down by his circumstances, wasn't he? I'd have enjoyed hearing him in later years, as we've had the opportunity to do with Frank Sinatra (post-bitter My Way years,) Tony Bennett, and, well, Tom Jones. There's no question he had a good voice. But when Elvis was in his heyday, I doubt I'd have liked him anymore than my mom did, though I'm a bit more broad-minded about music and appearances, I think. 

You know who Elvis thought was cool? Dean Martin. It's true. And in 1965, Dean was 48 years old, sexist and silly, but still smart, charming, and well, sexy. 

 

 Me being me, I think I'd have "discovered" him in those TV years, and crushed on him the way I'd surely be crushing on all the handsome Western stars and sitcom fathers. Who knows where that discovery would have led? Well, used record shops, mostly. The weekly TV variety show, of course. And looking through the newspaper for late night movie listings so I could revisit his younger years. I'd still have loathed Jerry Lewis, though. 

Epilogue: A dozen years after giving birth in 1965 to someone a little like me but with more of a wandering spirit and aching soul, my record collection would cover WWII big bands through late 60s Motown, yet the car radio would be tuned to disco dance music unless no one else was around. Then it would be all about me and Dean, singing along with the 8-Track player. 

4d00029ce371a_110247n


My Love

I got new tires for my car today, after 4 1/4 years and 59,000 miles. My car's name is Ava Gardner and I love her like Sinatra loved Gardner, only without the yelling or the outsized manhood. But the tires were a bit overdue and I feel bad for letting her down for so long. 

So here's a song to let her know how I feel, and to thank her for working so well on the way home when, on two separate occasions, someone pulled out in front of me with no room so that I had to brake really hard in order to not run into them. 

aswinginaffair
Car

Ohio, here we come. 

 


Memories Are Made of This

When I hear music like this I'm transported back in time to a quiet afternoon spent in my grandpa's tavern: sipping fruity "pop" from 10 ounce glass bottles, trailing my fingers through the sand on the big long shuffleboard table, watching the moving waterfall on the big Hamm's clock on the wall behind the bar. This song was actually released the year I was born, but of course, it all ran together for me back then, just as it does now. 

hitsagain

Dean Martin, born June 7, 1917. 

That world is so distant now; another time and place, sure, but it feels practically like another dimension I can no longer get to. At least we still have the music, though. 

 (and it's a Dean Martin extravaganza at my right-brain Tumblr page today.)


Burt, Billy, and Me, middle-aged sex and the tao

This is rather long and probably a bit chaotic. I keep being interrupted, and my mind is on so many things. So my brain got fuzzy when I tried to edit. Oh, well. You'll read it as a gift to me, and be rewarded with music at the end.

Completing my 46th trip around the sun today. If you're near my age there is one thing we have in common. No matter how cool your family was 40 or so years ago—and mine was, Dad listening to Ray Charles & old jazz, Mom into Motown, brothers playing Beatles records and more—there was still one constant in all our lives at that time. Burt Bacharach. 

Okay, and Laugh-In, unless your parents were the kind who thought that sort of thing was wicked. And talk of the moon landing, Vietnam, Liz and Richard, sure. 

But really, Burt Bacharach. I napped to him, is what I remember. I enjoyed his particular style very much, especially when rendered by the smooth jewel-toned Dionne Warwick, or the Fifth Dimension or one of those other vocal groups that made with the groovily blended harmonies back then. I never gave any thought to any of this, though. It was just background music for the times. Later on, if you asked me what I thought of it, I'd have remembered it all as distinctively bland, unexciting, good for listening to while dozing on a summer afternoon. Taken and smoothed out even further, it became what we then referred to as "elevator music."

Oh, and Billy May! I always liked his sound, but if I could conjur the typical listener of a Billy May record back in those days, it would have to be someone I'd make fun of, just a little. The kind of guy eventually known as Leisure Suit Larry. Or someone's uncle and aunt, the childless ones in a really sharp-looking apartment which came straight out of a catalog, but none of the chairs were comfortable. 

To me, back then, cool was only what young people were into, except not the ones who went around in ragged jeans that covered their dirty bare feet. Because that was just never cool, no matter how much your cannabis-addled brain thought so. Anyway.

Of course I was, as we all are early on, a young idiot. I had natural good taste, but didn't understand or appreciate it. And by the time I started to figure it out, there was no one else to share it with, not for a long time. 

The world's a bit more open-minded now, but when I was growing up, the Cult of Youth controlled everything. The baby boomers were in charge, and they were never going to grow up. At least, not grow up and turn into their parents. I didn't know it at the time, but their parents were laughing at them. To continue with music. How could you find anything sexy in "Paint it Black," when you were making out to "Tuxedo Junction" 20-25 years earlier? How could punk music 15 years later sound like anything but noise next to your cool jazz and bossa nova records? But that was the past, and to a young person in the 70s, that past looked sterile and uptight, though it was actually anything but. People like me who were interested in both present and previous eras were oddities back then. The Happy Days nostalgia for certain aspects of the 1950s was a fairly new type of phenomenon, and once that was over, the past was just old again.

All my favorite singers now were considered has-beens or jokes when I was young. They were not respected. They couldn't keep up with the rapidly changing times, and the ones who tried just looked awkward and out-of-place. Nothing was respected when I was very young except whatever someone had just thought of the day before. Many young people know better now, as they're exposed to so much more, but it's still a basic aspect of youth. And when they discover something that's been around awhile, they discover it as though they're the first ones to see how great it is. Young people discovered Tony Bennett and swing music and rockabilly…in the 90s, and acted as though they were gifting these phenomena to the world. As though, because they made the discovery, these things were worth appreciating as they never had been before. They eat them up and spit them out, though, and the turnover is remarkably fast. I am just barely, but barely, old enough to remember when a cultural era outlasted a shopping season. 

When you're young and filled with furious sexual energy, you think your time, the best time, the only time, is now. But all you're really doing is releasing excess energy, and you don't find out until later how good it can feel to burn and seethe and hang onto the energy, stretching it out to an aching point like the tempo of a great song. You think that when you're older, you won't feel sexy, no one else will look sexy, and you won't even care, but of course none of that is true at all. You know who already knew that when I was a kid? Billy May. 

He took this Burt Bacharach song that just everybody was recording when I was a little kid, and he made sex out of it. Don't laugh. It's easy to just write it off as cheesy ephemera of the Disposable Era. Listen to it with your eyes closed, instead, and think about what your parents knew that you thought they didn't know. Er, maybe don't picture them knowing it, though. 

The Look Of Love

I remember now and then while growing up, hearing some older person joke, "young people think they invented sex." Already my young adult children think there are things I might not get, or would find shocking. This is, of course, partly because as parents we shield these things from them so carefully when they're little. So when they discover it, they first assume we must not have known about it at all, since we never mentioned it. But of course there is nothing new under the sun. (And rule 34 was around well before the internet. Young people just gave it a new name.) 

But this is about music, and the point is, it was often and usually about sex, even though we didn't always get that when we were kids. It's just icky when you're little, a nearly violently biological imperative in young adulthood, and then, well, something quite different in middle age, quite spectacular if you let it be so. 

It's kinda like booze. Young people tend to like fruity or fizzy beverages. Even though I had a fairly well-developed palate when I was younger, the first time I tasted a martini, I was sort of depressed by it. How could that be the magical drink people sang about and glorified? I went for gimlets, instead; crisp and dry, but with a familiar fruity essence. However, the combination of gin and dry vermouth is a taste best acquired with seasoning, and once you've acquired that taste, so much of the rest seems cheap and cloying. All the best stuff is like that. Think of the various spiritual disciplines that aren't even available to students until after they hit forty. Your mind starts to stretch for real only when it starts to slow down a little bit. 

So when you look back at who you were 10, 15, 20 years ago, during the wine cooler days, Nirvana and NIN, and Alice in Chains, hopefully there's only a little melancholy, not too much regret and especially not any longing at all for better days gone by. The best is yet to come. 

The Best Is Yet To Come

(Talk about not getting it. This song just seemed sleazy to me when I was a young adult. Now it seduces me.)

Maybe there'll even be an opportunity to recapture a little youthful energy to enjoy in the delectable middle years. Now that you know so much better what you should be doing with it. No reason at all you can't still enjoy this (track chosen fairly randomly and hilariously,)

That's Not My Name

While really starting to appreciate this as well: 

I Wish I Were In Love Again

 


Limewire, Wild Cherry, Mint Car, Daiquiri

As a piece of writing, this is kind of a mess. But I think you'll enjoy it, anyway. 

Limewire, which I hadn't thought of in years, is dead. Ten years ago, we tried out Napster, but when Limewire came out a little bit later just as the original Napster was taking a dirt nap, I jumped on board and had a good ride for a little while. 

 Before Lars Ulrich took control of how we discovered new music for awhile, I made some remarkable discoveries through Limewire. One day, I wanted to hear more Bobby Darin music, but there were only limited choices on CD, and I knew there must be something I was missing. Of course, this was before YouTube, certainly before YouTube became what it is today. 

I typed Bobby Darin into the search window and saw quite a few names of songs I'd never heard by anyone before. It was very exciting. 

When was this, 8 or 9 years ago? We were living in the crazy old house in Rumson, I was using the 2000 Bondi Blue iMac, and for some mysterious reason, I was alone at the time, the first time, I heard this song. 

darin 

I can't express how it made me feel. It's physical. I've played this song hundreds of times since then, and I still catch my breath when it begins. 

My research showed that, at that time, it was available only on out-of-print collections. Same with the next song I fell in love with, which I described as causing me to need to change my clothes. 

standards

I searched for other recordings of these songs, and discovered/rediscovered other old recording artists. I learned which orchestra leaders tended toward which style of composition, and how to tell the differences between them. Because of those songs, I embraced a much larger segment of music than before, and began expanding my interests, which, really, were already fairly expansive for someone my age at that time. 

So many of us did. File-sharing clients changed the way we discovered new and old music, but more importantly, they allowed us to discover So Much More than ever before. 

I never lived near a cool college radio station. I didn't have cable TV when MTV was launched. I didn't gain access to the music I was searching for in my youth until someone introduced me to all the best stuff 1989 had to offer, stuff I'd never known how to find before. The Top 40 was all I was previously allowed to have, as a corporate citizen. And then through the early part of the 90s, we got our cool new music from MTV's 120 Minutes hosted by Dave Kendall. But it got more difficult again for a few years until the web had grown enough for everybody to start sharing with each other. 

Until, that is, Lars Ulrich and the record companies tried to put a stop to the collective groove. 

Twice in the 80s, my record collection was stolen. Limewire allowed me to find recordings of old favorites that I'd never been able to replace because they were old, out of print, or rare. 

24groovygreats

Why pay 45 dollars to some random used book store owner for a used recording of something that had once cost me 3.98? And part of me felt that I should not have to pay for them again, because I already had, before someone else took them from me.

Which brings me to Wild Cherry, and "Mint Car."

Remember Wild Cherry? 

wildcherry

Yeah, the rest of the album that song is on is just truly awful. But I paid 4 whole dollars for it in 1975 so I could have that song. There was no way for me to know then how the rest of it would sound. So often, a musical group would come up with a good song or two, but the record producer would need them released on an LP, so they put in a lot of schlock filler along with it. You could only be certain an album would be any good if you knew a whole lot about the band first, and even then, it was sometimes a miss. That's why I usually bought 78 cent singles. Other people made fun of me for not buying a lot of LPs, but I couldn't afford all that filler. 

Hard to believe, but this was still true in the 90s, for awhile. I mean, take The Cure. What Cure fan won't just buy whatever they call an album? Disintegration? Brilliant. Mixed Up? Yeah, okay, remixes, but really cool ones. That guy can play guitar, man. Wish was different, but darkly fun.  But then came Wild Mood Swings. The single "Mint Car" was a hit, but the album tanked. 

The_Cure_-_Wild_Mood_Swings

I think it's because it wasn't "Curish" enough. If you listen to it now, nearly 15 years later, it's really not bad. But it's kind of uneven and not all that inspiring. And even in 1996, which is the year we got the internet at our house, getting to hear that album ahead of time would not be an easy thing to do. 

Okay. For years, I didn't understand why all these ladies swooned over Michael Bublé. I didn't want anybody else, someone much younger than me, singing Frank, Dean, and Bobby's hits. And his contemporary pop music, which was all I really knew of him, seemed like romance novel pablum. But at some point, very into comparing everyone's version of "Fly Me To The Moon" or some such old song, I took a fresh listen to Bublé. I think he'd grown up a bit more by this time. And he actually made me sigh. I could tell, you know, he gets it. 

Do you think I would have gone out and bought a Michael Bublé recording in this age of ours if I hadn't gotten a very good listen first? No way. But I did, and then I did. 

Change is always in a state of acceleration. People who want to make money off everybody else always try to grab onto the latest new thing, define it, control it, repackage it to sell. Well, sure, that's enterprising. But we're moving too fast for most of them these days, and spreading out too far and wide. They hate that we don't really need them to get what we want, but basically, if they will just offer a good product honestly and not seriously piss me off by telling me that is the one way I should own something, I'll still often buy what they're selling. That's how a competitive marketplace works best. It's why I'm willing to pay a monthly fee for satellite radio. Choices spur the economy, not limitations. They don't get to sell me only pre-packaged advertising-sponsored schlock through my car radio anymore, because I get to choose another musical path, in fact, I get to choose several paths, in the car, on the computer, and on TV. And no more paying 15 dollars for a CD to which I've hardly been introduced.  

So anyway. The world wide web is a complex and amazing thing. Thanks, Limewire (with a nod to Napster,) for Bobby Darin, and Kay Kendall, and Billy May, for, finally, letting me again hear 24 Groovy Greats, and most importantly, for your part in helping the rest of us get to know each other through the music we love to share. You were stoppable, but really, we are not, anymore, and you had a hand in that.  

Picture 1

 


unusual beauty?

From LIFE archives. 

Frank and Dean, Making Beautiful Music

"I don't discuss his girl with Frank or who he's going to marry. All I discuss are movies, TV, golf and drinking." –Dean Martin, date unknown. Pictured: The stars, photographed in a recording studio by LIFE's Allan Grant, take a cigarette break during the recording of Sleep Warm in 1958. The album was re-released in 1963 with a much more direct title: Dean Martin Sings/Sinatra Conducts.



Lights, Camera, Fedora

"He likes to pretend that he cannot remember lyrics and, blowing a line while singing, will gaze appealingly heavenward and plead, 'Don't just look down. Help me!' When he is on stage with other famous folk, the air is likely to clatter with competitive ad libs, many of which have been polished to perfection by re-use.... A favorite Martin target is his ex-teammate. 'These muscles,' he will declare, flexing his abundant supply, 'I got them from carrying Jerry Lewis for 10 years.'" —From LIFE's "Make-a-Million Martin," 12/22/1958. Pictured: Martin on the set of an unknown production that year.




two excerpts from last year's November novel

Over at the card table, Tommy and Vinny were arguing again. Oddly, it was about who put on a better show; Tom Jones or Engelbert Humperdinck.

“Did you know that Engelbert Humperdinck’s real name was Arnold? Who goes from Arnold to Engelbert? Somebody who takes himself way too seriously, that’s who!” Tommy shook his head mournfully. “Tom never did that. That’s why he still has a career.”

Vinny laughed, shuffling the cards slowly and deliberately, as he always did. He’s never in a hurry. “Some producer or agent named him that, that’s all. It’s what they did back in those days. Didn’t you ever think about what name you’d take to become a big star, Tommy?”

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