Wednesday, April 09, 2014



Legend has it that Johnny Russell's "Obscene Phone Call" single got stalled just inside the Top 100 because…a lot of radio station managers found it obscene. Sad…because while this IS a very creepy single, it does have a typical twist C&W ending. But how many disc jockeys would dare play it, with people turning off their radios and making angry phone calls after the first minute?

In a way, the fate of "The Obscene Phone Call" was typical of Johnny Russell's career...his best stuff either didn't chart, or became a hit for somebody else. Or...he was handed a song that he thought had hit potential...and somebody else's cover became the chartbuster.

Mississippi-born, California-bred John Russell (perhaps "Johnny" was a way to avoid any confusion with "The Lawman" actor John Russell) had his first taste of success in 1960. Only 20 years old (January 23, 1940 – July 3, 2001) his song "In a Mansion Stands My Love" was the B-side to Jim Reeves country smash, "He'll Have to Go." A few years later, and a Russell song did go to the top of the charts: "Act Naturally." Some know it via Ringo (1965) others via Buck (1963). Russell's song "Let's Fall to Pieces Together" was a hit for George Strait.

On his own as a singer, Johnny Russell, like most everyone it seems, was signed to RCA by the legendary Chet Atkins. But Chet couldn't make him a star, not with "Mr. and Mrs. Untrue" or "What a Price," although both received some good radio play. Johnny eventually had a few Top 20 singles: Catfish John" (1972), "Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer" (1973), and "Hello I Love You" (1975). He made the Top 30 in 1978 via "You'll Be Back (Every Night In My Dreams)." That song was more of a hit via the Statler Brothers. In 1980, he was the first to record "He Stopped Loving Her Today," but it was the revised version, sung by the great George Jones, that became one of the all-time classics.

To some inane drones, "did not chart" means failure. Not so. The rotund Mr. Russell had loyal fans who bought his albums, and record labels that saw his potential and kept him on even if a single "did not chart." Aside from selling thousands and thousands of records, Russell was a great favorite in live concert, and was a regular at the Grand Ole Opry. He dabbled in comedy and teamed with Little David Wilkins in 1987 for the single "Butterbeans." The old-timer often worked as an MC at the Opry. One of his favorite gigs was an annual performance at the MS Delta Community College Coliseum, in Moorhead, Mississippi. He played there from 1987 to an unlucky 13th performance in 2000.

By that time, the hefty performer's health had deteriorated thanks to his diet of artery-clogging food, and a benefit concert had to be held for him, headlined by Garth Brooks and Vince Gill. The following year, Russell's legs were amputated due to diabetes. He died less than four months after the operation. As obscene as Southern cooking can be, and it's been lethal to many besides Johnny Russell…he lives on in his recorded legacy, and even in this "obscene" but memorable novelty tune…

Johnny Russell Obscene Phone Call

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In the 50's the biggest slab of record buyers were affluent middle-of-the-roaders who bought "easy listening" Mantovani and Gleason albums. Some were stereophiles, some were bored…so Les Baxter, Esquivel and "stereo demonstration" albums began doing well. Melachrino offered albums to play for "relaxation," "reading" and "dining." Mood music for "romance" was plentiful, including sexy album covers and some with overt titles, including "How to Make Love to a Blonde." Unfortunately, that one was nothing but bland music.

The opposite of bland was what I call "uneasy listening" albums…with corny music played on unusual instruments (Spike Jones, obviously, but also discs by Don Elliot and Jack Fascinato) and "off key" items from Morris Garner (not Errol; deliberately bad piano playing) or Edward and Darlene Edwards (not Paul Weston and Jo Stafford; deliberately bad singing).

In that genre was the minor fad for anti-mood music with titles including "How to Break a Lease." As if Spike Jones wasn't good enough? This novelty album was a surprise hit. The perps, Sid Feller and Don Costa, didn't even put their names on the thing…except way down in small print in the bottom corner of the back sleeve. You can imagine record store owners happily putting the album in the window, with its zany cover and promise of hi-fi hi-jinks. The sequel, "How to Break a Sub-Lease," had the credit "Don Costa's Free Loaders" proudly and prominently on the front and back cover.

So…how lousy is the music here? Very. Both albums (and "More Music to Break a Lease") are collections of shitty 1920's music, sung by a bunch of middle-aged jackasses. The "Sub Lease" album ups the ante a bit by having an undercurrent of party noises in the background. That's how to break a lease: the neighbors begin complaining that YOU are having swingin' parties every night. Haw haw.

Among the many competing albums: "Music to Break Any Mood," which LOOKS like it might be a clever satire of mood music albums in general (the same way Irving Taylor's albums satirized pop music of the day). But…no, not really. The point of most of this was to fool an idiot into paying $4.98 on cover alone. No chance to audition the record first, and no returns accepted.

"Music to Break Any Mood" had the potential to at least be a decent rival to some of those "persuasive percussion" albums…ones featuring a lot of vibraphones, woodblocks, timpani and a maraca or two (at least two). No such luck. As you'll hear, it's just your generic middle-of-the-road stuff. Why don't we do it in the middle-of-the-road? Because it stinks like a dead skunk.

The downloads are just to confirm what you already suspected…that when you buy an album based on the cover alone, you might as well put a hole in the middle of the cover and play the cardboard.

Hail Hail - Roll Out the Barrel Breaking a Lease

Margie - Who's Sorry Now Breaking a Sub Lease

Breaking Your Mood with South Rampart Street Parade/Walkin' My Baby Back Home Breaking Your Mood

John Lennon, the Top 40 and (R.I.P.) EDDIE LAWRENCE


The headline hints of two fairly obscure facts about Eddie Lawrence; he had a Top 40 single "The Old Philosopher," and he voiced the radio commercial for "Pussy Cats," the Harry Nilsson album produced by John Lennon. The radio spot had Eddie in his familiar persona as the wheedling and then bombastic pitchman:

“Hiya, Pussycat,. You say you opened up a bicycle wash and the first six customers drowned? And they picked you up in the wax museum for trying to score with Marie Antoinette? Is that what’s got you down, Pussycat? Well, RISE UP! Get yourself Harry Nilsson’s new album, ‘Pussy Cats,’ produced by John Lennon…."

I interviewed Eddie, and visited him informally several more times. He was a kindly, gentle man. But…as with most comedians, he wasn't exactly fond of the human race; he was a realist. His most famous character, "The Old Philosopher," is a cartoonish but cynical satire of life's miseries and the blind optimism in dealing with it all. Had he chosen to use an evangelist's voice…a Bishop Sheen or Norman Vincent Peale…Eddie could've been classed as another Lenny Bruce. But he would've also been banned from the airwaves! Instead, his Jeckyl and Hyde comedy had him morph from wan sad sack to a manic "motivational speaker" shouting insane pep talks ending with a platitude: "never give up…the ship!"

Born Lawrence Eisler, his first love was painting, and that was the name he used on his canvases, which showed the influence of his esteemed teacher, Fernand Leger. I remember a party at his studio that was a very strange mix of art-types and show biz bananas including veteran comic actors Jack Weston and Lou Jacobi. Wisely realizing that a painting career might have the "starving artist" affect, Eddie worked in vaudeville and on radio. He had a subtle, cerebral style, but also enjoyed offbeat and off-the-wall comedy…and recalled with fondness his days as part of the comedy team "Lawrence and Marley," who were compared to Bob and Ray. John Marley went on to a straight film career, often in menacing, gangster roles. You remember him in "The Godfather," sharing a bed with a horse's head).

It was in 1956 that Eddie's novelty recording "The Old Philosopher" hit the Top 40. It was such a hit, there was even a cover version by Peter Marshall, straight man in the comedy team of Noonan and Marshall. (OK, you know him better as "master of the Hollywood Squares.") Eddie recorded dozens of "Philosopher" routines, but his albums also included other types of audio sketches, using many voices, which were sort of audio versions of Mad Magazine or "Firesign Theater" before there was such a thing.

Eddie "The Old Philosopher" turned up on Steve Allen's show, Carson's "Tonight Show," and many other programs. The gimmick of a sad-sack with a Jolson-esque quaver, and sad strains of "Beautiful Dreamer" playing…seguing into insane march music and violently enthusiastic hyperbole…seemed to fascinate Madison Avenue types. Eddie had a very lucrative career using his Philosopher persona to sell all kinds of products, from huckstering folks into visiting the Claridge Hotel/Casino to promoting the Des Moines Rug Cleaning company. While all this was going on, the Renaissance Philosopher was also painting, writing, and acting on stage. His best known Broadway acting was in "Bells are Ringing." In 1965, he left local New York TV station WPIX (where he was hosting Three Stooges shorts) to write the lyrics for a Broadway show called "Kelly." The show was not, obviously, a hit, but one song from it, "I'll Never Go There Anymore," was covered by a lot of singers. Stephen Sondheim considered it so good, it was on his list of songs he wished he'd written.

The last time I saw Eddie, which was about two year ago, he was looking good (more like 73 than 93, and he even did one of his "Old Philosopher" bits for the gathered guests. He was of course in the company of his radiant wife, who has one of this wonderful Greer Garson-type British accents that you could listen to all day. Below, the original "The Old Philosopher." I'll save Peter Marshall's version for another day. Or month. As Eddie once told me, its origin was when he and another actor began griping about bad breaks…how everything went wrong…and both ended up laughing. It's the little things in life that can drive you to the brink…the broken shoelace, the cut while shaving…little exasperations that sap your will to live. Add to that, bizarre Eddie-twists of hip imagery and edgy oddness. All you can do when confronted by hum drum or utterly insane problems is fight back with equal insanity, like a raging cry of "never give up….THAT SHIP!"

Also, you'll be downloading a cut from "The Jazzy Old Philosopher" a CD he made in the late 80's. The cut is "Stay Away," and it's a list of "People to Avoid." It's an example of hipster misanthropy, with some lines wacko and others just angry, some of it you might find resembling Ken Nordine or George Carlin. It wobbles along (with a bass line behind it) listing irksome idiots. Avoid "anyone who'd powder his sideburns to get a senior citizen discount…anyone who'd order a fox sandwich…anyone who'd frame a Christmas card from a bank…guys from the midwest who say "Who's by you?" There were two "Stay Away" sequels on the CD, and there could've been a dozen more…but he had to include plenty of jazz variations on "The Old Philosopher." And other bizarre items.

It's not too difficult to find much in life that's dismal, or to find that one's fellow man is one irritating bastard…the trick, which Eddie knew, was how to make it funny. Eddie Lawrence (March 2, 1919-March 25, 2014).


THE OLD PHILOSOPHER A List of People... to STAY AWAY from

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Wow, man. If this was 1968, you'd be staring at the above album cover a long time! Even now, it's so trippy and fascinating; four nude chicks in a plastic box on a strange planet or just (ooh) IN YOUR MIND. Back then these sci-femmes had record fans asking "where in the Southwest do we find them?" And does "F.O.B." mean "Fuck Our Bitches?"

As many an lp-cover-lover will bad-breathlessly howl at you, "There's something so COOL about naked chicks on a record album!" As opposed to a naked chick actually on a record collector…which rarely happens.

Back in the 60's, it wasn't that easy to find any chick's naked rack in a record store's racks. Even here, all we get is "side boob" which still can give you a side kick. Most of the full frontal titty pix were on "under the counter" lousy adult comedy albums from obscure guys such as Bub Thomas and Bert Henry. Weird, isn't it…guys could easily get entire magazines (Playboy, Rogue, Nugget, Dude, Gent, Knight, Cavalier, Cavalcade, etc.) for 50 cents or so, but would pay ten times that much to see ONE nudie on an album cover.

OK…it's time to at least make some sort of mention of the group and their semi-hit song. "Smell of Incense" was actually written by two guys (Bob Markley and Ron Morgan) who had come from the fartily-named band "The Laughing Wind" to form the ultra-pretentious "West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band," which, no surprise, somehow involved Van Dyke Parks for a while. Their version of their own song "did not chart," as muffin-eaters like to say, as if it justifies feeling smug about their own mediocrity and failures. What did chart, barely, just outside the Top 40, was the cover by the Dallas band called Southwest F.O.B.

That group included two guys who would go on to greater infamy: Dan Seals and John Colley. They later formed the duo England Dan and John Ford Coley, whose main achievement, let's not forget, is that they weren't Seals and Crofts. Yes, Coley got an L outta there, so people wouldn't pronounce his name like he was a breed of dog.

Via Hip Records, the Fobs ("Freight on Board" is the likely meaning of the initials), offered music very typical of the times. There's the Emenee-like toy keyboard, which was popularized by The Doors. Not exactly a rival to the keyboard on "Light My Fire," the organ riff here sounds more like a parrot knocking its beak against a few notes hoping to tap out the morse code for HELP. Or OVERDOSE

The meandering melody pauses for the chorus and its profoundly hymn-like harmony. It recalls "Spanky and Our Gang" and their pretentious demand: "Give a Damn." It all works, in an ooky-spooky icky-trippy kinda way. As for the lyrics, they reflect the naive era's notion that "enlightenment" is attainable by rollin' doobies. Just cover the smell with…incense. Oh, eat some peppermints afterward, and forget about time, which is only an illusion on a strawberry alarm clock affixed to a chocolate watchband.

As with so many late 60's (and early 70's) hippie dippy trippy songs, the lyrics stand alone about as well as anyone who's had some powerful weed:

"She stood as still as the shadows of stone. She stood on the edge of my mind. I tried to push her away. I shut and locked the door. Her eyes grew large and asking. AND THE SMELL OF INCENSE FILLS HER ROOM.

She stood in the ever present fullness of expectation. What happened to her childhood dreams? The sidewalk smothers us tomorrow."

What it needs is a real ending: "Do not tell me, I am source of your knock-up. The mud elephant wading through the sea leaves no tracks." Oh, sorry, that was The Fugs, who not only wrote better real "beat poetry," but knew how stupid most of it actually was. "Norwegian Wood" seems to have influenced a few lyricists into going into a triter shade of pale. But look, if you're really wasted on pot, you might think the sidewalk can smother you, you concretin. Your recipe for being a total asshole is easy enough; just add "mushrooms."

Download this, and if you actually were part of the late 60's or early 70's world of heavy lyrics and light-headed pot usage you'll find some nostalgia. If you weren't around back then, and are just some fucking goofus with a frog not prog face, who goes to thrift shops to buy what his parents' used to wear, and walks around saying "Oh wow" a lot, and were in the "It's Psych" forum…go find a hat with a human head underneath it, and consider a transplant.

The best thing about Southwest F.O.B. remains the cover, featuring a box of twats. I'd rather be in that box with 'em, smelling something that ain't incense.



The first time I heard a tape of the Friars Club roast for Don Rickles, I got most of the references. Carson mocked Rickles for being "as exciting as watching Kate Smith take a douche." Another line made reference to the vagina of…Kay Armen. Who?

I assumed Kay was either fat and ugly, or some notoriously malodorous starlet that had somehow offended Johnny when she guested on his show. Though she did guest on his show, it 'twas the former. Fortunately for her, and Kate Smith, back then a lot of people simply listened to a lovely voice on the radio or on a record, and didn't care that much about physical charm. This was especially true of singers that specialized in ethnic numbers or "God Bless America."

Born Armenuhi Manoogian, Armen's less than attractive father was a pro wrestler billed as "The Terrible Turk." Her burly brother "Bobby Managoff" also became a pro wrestler. Kay, pretty hefty herself, appeared in a few films including "Hit the Deck"(pictured above) which evidently referred to what happened when sailors heard her stomping footsteps approach. She wrote some songs, none you are likely to know: “Be Good to Yourself,” “My Love and I” and “It’s a Sin to Cry Over You.”

Armen could've become a big star with the irritating novelty song "Come On-a My House." It was written for her by her Armenian cousin Ross Bagdasarian (aka "David Seville") and William Saroyan. It was the more pleasant-looking Rosemary Clooney who made it a hit. Clooney's singing style also had a lot more charm than Madame Armen…just listen to her strident "Ha Ha Ha" novelty.

Only a horse laugh is more irritating than a forced laugh. Whether in a pop song or an opera, anyone going "Ha Ha Ha," and pretending to mean it, should be going to ha-ha hell. Below, Kay's cover/translation of "Chella Lla" which had its last gasp via Connie Francis in the 60's as "Chella'lla." It was popularized in the 50's by Renato Carosone and later Marino Marini. Kay's actually pretending to find revenge hilarious. Oh, there were many annoying songs in the 50's, and this IS one of them.

It ain't over even after the fat lady stops singing. After enduring the song, you get Johnny Carson's Kay Armen joke from the Rickles roast. Remarkably, it got a solid 30 seconds of laughter…a tremendous amount for any joke. It's even more of an achievement considering Johnny was telling it in a room full of jaded comics more likely to mutter "That's funny" than to actually laugh. The dais that night included Flip Wilson, Jackie Vernon, and Jack E. Leonard, and you can hear some admiring mumbling from Fat Jack as everyone yocked the mocking of Fat Kay.


My Fair Lady in DUTCH - Plus Holland's Copyright Thieves

Alrighty then....despite the latest affront to American culture, let's not condemn ALL of Holland. A beer company perpetrated a tasteless act, but not all Dutch people are fat, drunken, tasteless cheap bastards who should drown in the North Sea.

In case you missed the news, a Dutch beer company's new TV ad steals the likenesses of American and British icons (Marilyn Monroe, Presley, etc), places them on a tropical island (so unlike Holland) drinking their horrible fruit-flavored product. Somehow, in this Dutch dream, Kurt Cobain and John Lennon are alive…happy to get loaded on alcohol to the soundtrack of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny." Sun, and good beaches, are unknown in Holland except in their dreams…and fortunately for the Dutch, dreaming is free.

Some say that the Dutch want everything free, which is why their bloggers notoriously give away entire discographies of The Beach Boys and even James Last, and why this beer company figured they didn't need permission from the Cobain, Presley, Monroe or Lennon estates. Yes, these freebie-obsessed cheapsters live up to the name "Netherlands." They are botton feeders and social lepers. "Netherlands" means "Buttocks Lands" full of assholes. Their major cities? Rotterdam is damn full of rotters. Amsterdam is damn full of hamster-dicked fatsos. And Zwolle is where the especially swollen fatsos live. The rest of the world is in awe…of how pathetic the Dutch are. They have prostitutes in every window, marijuana all over the place…and yet these sullen oversized jerks still wish they were in Cal-E-Fornia, wearing cowboy hats and sucking Beach Boy dick. For all the tourists who toss money down to get high and get laid and look at windmills…they remain a cheap bunch of conniving copyright and trademark thieves.

Let's try to understand, that even if they make money, they fear spending it. They need to save up for dikes (no, not the ones half-naked in the windows). They know one day the Muslims in their country will overwhelm them and if they don't convert, they'll need every bit of cash to bribe 'em into letting them leave the country with their precious 1 terrabyte drives of Talking Heads bootlegs…which they can hardly hear over their "talking butts" full of gas. When you make cheese that stinky, you need to keep the air circulating.

The Dutch know…nobody is impressed with tulips, which hardly disguises the smell of a Dutchman. And you'd be embarrassed about the stupid footwear your country is known for, if you lived in Holland….wooden shoe?

Oh, let's lighten up and laugh a little, and forgive the Dutch douches their infantile thievery, and their whining and crying. Acknowledge their suicidal depression about paying for sex and drugs and still being miserable. Paying for anything makes them miserable. Justify their swiping of U.S. and U.K. artists as jealousy over having almost no home grown talent. Actresses? Sylvia Kristel is about it. Musicians? Few attained worldwide fame. Bernard Haitink, the conductor, might be it. Rockers of Dutch extraction aren't exactly prominent either….it's only Van Halen, and I don't fuckin' care about dumbass headbangin' Eddie or other jerky guitar heroes. Sax player Candy Dulfer is ok for a few minutes. Writers? Inventors? Nope. That leaves "Dutch creativity" to a few long-dead artists, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Bosch.

Feel sorry that Holland looks like a hemorrhoid sticking out of both Belgium and Germany, and those countries have far more hit-making singers and composers. Taking pity, I'll say something nice about Holland; it's not as dark and cold as Sweden. Also, the Dutch language isn't quite as gruesome as German, which is "a rather brutal language," as Max Prendergast admitted to Emma Peel.

Which brings me to the tribute…for despite the beer ad, I'm not totally pissed at Holland and their weird religion of cheapness. No, the download below isn't every album Holland ever made (who'd care?). It's a few examples from an album of "My Fair Lady" sung in Dutch! Dutch is so full of gutteral gurgles and snotty consonants, it could be called Phlegmish. Yet, such is the obsession for stealing everything American or British, that they couldn't resist grabbing "My Fair Lady" and singing it in their own language. Insane? Of course, but most of Holland's citizens should be in straitjackets. The show's premise was Professor Higgins teaching Eliza Dolittle PERFECT PRONUNCIATION of ENGLISH. Now how does THAT translate into Dutch?

Listen to"Why Can't The English Teach Their Children How to Speak" in Dutch! And…even more frightful, "I'm an Ordinary Man" (aka "Let A Woman In Your Life.") If you don't know what he's singing about, this Dutch Higgins, with his sudden outbursts, sounds like he's trying to recruit members for the Aryan Nation, hoping to get Germany to make Holland a suburb. This stuff IS bizarrely amusing. Listen to the tracks, and drink some of that Holland beer that is going to get you so high you'll think Cobain and Lennon are still alive. Or….imagine there's no Holland…



Wednesday, March 19, 2014


One of the more improbable heroes in the novelty song world is Jesse Lee Turner. Texas born (in Addicks, 1938) and raised (Boling), the small-town singer recorded "Teenage Misery" on the Fraternity label, but it wasn't miserable enough to challenge the world of teen angels, lonely boys and doo-wop depressives. He scored his hit for Carlton in 1958; "Little Space Girl," was a neat little cash-in on the craze for sci-fi films and chipmunks-type vocals.

Today, affluent little brats dictate who the huge stars are (like Justin Bieber and One Direction). Back then, little kids could, and did, push novelty songs into the Top 20. They insisted Mom and Dad buy "How Much is that Doggie in the Window" or "Witch Doctor" or "The Little Space Girl," which was even covered on the kiddie label Golden Records in 78rpm form. Yes, this IS a very silly song, with simple melody, goofy lyrics, and coy duetting between an exasperated high-voiced echo-chambered hillbilly and a too-cute female alien:

"You've got four arms." "The better to hold you!" "Three lips!" "The better to kiss you!" "Three eyes" "All the better to see! I can really rock and swing, 'cause I've got more of everything! Oh Mr. Earth Man, will you marry me?" Really, things couldn't have been any more stupid if this was a fantasy episode of "The Andy Griffith Show," and a space girl landed in Mayberry. The song, triviasts have noted, was credited to Turner, but actually written by his cousin Floyd Robinson.

I suspect, based on the B-sides and some of his other releases, that Turner's heart was in rockabilly. Fans of that genre will point to "Shake Baby Shake" among others, as evidence of his true talent. "Shotgun Boogie" should've been a hit with all those NRA fans in the red states but it didn't get the radio play it deserved. But…having had a good-sized hit for his minor record label, Jesse Lee quickly made a sequel ("I'm The Little Space Girl's Father)," tried another speed-up sci-fi item ("The Man in the Moon") and issued the topical "Ballad of Billy Sol Estes."

As somebody on his now-defunct website wrote, "'The Ballad' was on it's way to the top of the charts "with a bullet" ...that is until  TIME  Magazine  ran  an  article  about  it, printed  the lyrics, and upset some "very influential people" as they say, in Washington D.C. Virtually overnight the song disappeared from every radio station in the country! You see, Billie Sol Estes was a very important man in politics at that time and the truth, as they say, hurt. In fact, it hurt so much that the song, once destined to be another million seller,  might as well never have been written in the first place!"

And, no, this wasn't a cover of the Phil Ochs song "The Ballad of Billie Sol," this was a Turner original.

The website insists that around this time, "Jesse decided to try Hollywood. His boyish good looks helped him began [sic] an acting career and landed him starring rolls in several TV series and movies. Jesse definitely had an innate rockabilly ability that few had, but his novelty recordings sold better than his attempts at unadulterated rock 'n' roll." Just what TV shows and movies Turner made…IMDB doesn't seem to know.

Jesse did keep trying with novelty singles. A more overt Ray Stevens-type bit of corn is "The Elopers," about a hapless stooge and the idiot chick he wants to run away with. "The Voice Changing Song," with a chunk-a-chunk Johnny Cash type strum, has Jesse doing an imitation of a teenage boy who is embarrassed at how his voice keeps breaking when he tries to introduce himself to a girl.

One of Jesse's last stabs at the singles charts was "Just a Little Girl," a 1975 effort for MCA. The label lists the performers as "Jessie [sic] Lee Turner" and Floyd Robinson Floyd also wrote the song.

As they say at AA, meetings: "Let go, and let God," and so Turner eventually turned from musician to minister. Look, if it worked for George Foreman, why not Jesse Lee? Just what small church he was involved with, or whether his was a traveling road show, I have no idea. He made a soft rumble just under the radar of most people, by issuing an obscure item called "Jesus for President." Was he serious? How do you get a guy on the ballot who hasn't been seen in 2000 years? Registered as Democrat? Republican? Independent? Green Party? What would Jesus do to get on a ballot?

Some of us were amused if not amazed that a fave with a kiddie-hit in 1958, had emerged, some 40 years later, doing sort of a jokey if sincere album about the importance of Jesus…demoting him from Son of God to Presidential Candidate. Jesse's website said he was ready for a comeback: "Jesse began to write Christian lyrics for songs like "Whole Lotta Shaking Going On", "Great Balls Of Fire ", "House Of The Rising Sun " ….and has now been singing (Jesus-themed) songs… in churches all over the nation for over 10 years and it's time for the next step. He is finally ready to offer his music to the world, through 6 separate CD's! It's… time to praise the Lord with some good old fashion Rock & Roll! Like Jesse screams..."Oh, I feel good"!!! Contact Jesse to Minister at Your Church or Event."

Sadly, "Jesus for President" didn't get much attention and and Jesse's modest website disappeared from the planet. Only the faithful will believe that it may return in time for Easter.

And so while a few of us ask, "Jesse Where Art Thou?" here are two tidbits that remain pretty memorable, way beyond the good-but-typical rockabilly stuff he did...

Jesse Lee Turner... Jesus for President

And... Little Space Girl


There's a good and a sad reason for this post. Sophia Loren? She's not known as a vocalist, so it's a good reason to give her some attention here. Circa 1960 her best known vocalizing was with Peter Sellers on some light and silly songs. They starred in a forgettable movie together, and Sellers was hopelessly smitten with her. She was flattered but not interested. As the 70's began, she was cast as Aldonza in the film version of "Man of La Mancha," a bloated, ill-fated Hollywood mess.

Her high point was the angry reality-check hurled at Don Quixote. The Don seems to be wearing rose-tinted glasses, deciding a whore named Aldonza is actually "Dulcinea," the chaste beauty who will inspire his chase for the impossible dream. Sophia's voice and her command of English are just about adequate (English as a second language is confirmed by her pronunciation of "whore"). It does take a trained Broadway star to both sing and act at the same time, but this is still a show-stopping number thanks to the strong lyrics and music...and look at the photo...she's worth every penny she charges...and more!

I'm not a big fan of "show tunes," and for years, thought "Man of La Mancha" was just some corny musical with a war horse hit song ("Impossible Dream") tearfully sung way too often on "Britain's Got Talent"-type shows. Persuaded to attend the Broadway revival, I was dazzled by Marin Mazzie as Aldonza, and moved by the dark drama of the show, which doesn't turn a blind eye to the delusions we all create for ourselves on the way to the grave. Put it this way, there was no rape scene in "Mame" or "Hello Dolly." PS, in the context of the show, "Impossible Dream" actually can bring a tear to your eye, and have you leaping to your feet to give the singer (Brian Stokes Mitchell) a standing ovation. PPS, that very nice lady Ms. Marin is now in the new Woody Allen musical "Bullets of Broadway," currently in previews, and I hope it's a huge hit.

The music was written by Mitch Leigh, with lyrics by Joe Darion.

Mr. Leigh died a few days ago. He was born Irwin Michnick in Brooklyn (January 30, 1928 – March 16, 2014). Probably the first time anyone took notice of him was in 1955 when he supplied the jazz for comedian and radio personality Jean Shepherd's "Into the Unknown with Jazz Music" lp. The late 50's was a time for "word jazz" of various types, including albums featuring Kenneth Rexroth and Ken Nordine. Leigh and Shepherd got some cult interest, but Mitch made his living as creative director of Music Makers, Inc. He composed commercial jingles including the music accompanying the catch-phrase for a frozen cake company, "Nobody Doesn't Like Sara Lee." Which was pretty damn accurate, come to think of it.

Fast forward ten years, and a made-for-TV play called "I Don Quixote" became Leigh and Darion's smash hit "Man of La Mancha,"making a huge star of Richard Kiley. It was the last hurrah for Joan Diener as Aldonza…who had captivated audiences in "Kismet" a decade earlier.

Unfortunately Mitch Leigh's subsequent shows, no matter who wrote the words, either closed before getting to Broadway, or shuttered within a few weeks of receiving poor reviews: "Chu Chem," "Cry For Us All," "Home Sweet Homer" and "Sarava." The latter managed to reach 101 performances mostly because of a relentless TV ad campaign that brainwashed some people, Latinos most likely, into buying tickets. I remember seeing those ads and not wanting to go even if the seats were free. Other disappointments were "Ain't Broadway Grand" with words by Lee Adams, and "Halloween" partnering with Sidney Michaels. Leigh's shows often had strong lead stars but not even Yul Brynner or Jose Ferrer could save a production after it got withering notices in the New York Times.

There probably are some great songs in those shows that never got an "original cast album" release. There's no question that "Impossible Dream" is immortal…and if you want to name a song that moves the plot and defines the character's emotions, "Aldonza" is a terrific example. Here's to the late great Mitch Leigh, and to one of the great ladies of the screen, Italy's premiere gift of cinematic beauty to the world, Sophia Loren.

SOPHIA LOREN gives a reality check: ALDONZA


Below, your download of "All I Really Want," as performed live at The Old Waldorf.

Now, why would someone as famous as Tim Curry be here, on the blog of less renown? Because his solo career didn't get the attention it could have, and even a "Best of" CD on A&M was remaindered very quickly. Still known musically for "Rocky Horror," and as an actor, Tim's "straight" albums have been unjustly ignored. I can understand why; he disappointed gays and cultists expecting nothing but campy "Rocky Horror" stuff. His rock style was still too tongue-in-cheek and over-the-top for average rock fans who expected Alice Cooper (very masculine despite the name and make-up) or Mick Jagger (who was clearly hetero despite the"faggot dancing").

Case in point, "All I Really Want," Tim's cover of a classic Joni Mitchell song. With his bombastic trombone-raucous voice, he stomps all over what was originally a cutesy number strummed by an earnest folkie. He sings in italics at times, which makes it a bit campy, BUT…he doesn't stomp in high heels. He also made sure to change some female gender words to male gender in the song.

When I interviewed him, back when the album was new, I asked him if he was deliberately separating himself from his Sweet Transvestite character in "Rocky Horror." Yes, he admitted. He changed "Rip my stockings (in some jukebox dive)" to "bop till I drop"because he very much wanted to present himself as a straight-forward (accent I guess on straight) rocker.

He presented himself as very straight at the interview…not a hint of flamboyance, not even some kind of Mick Jagger or Warren Beatty apricot nylon scarf. He was dressed conservatively in black slacks and a white shirt, with a skinny tie hanging undone around an open collar. As for Bonnie Miss Mitchell (Bon Joni), Tim admitted, "I found a certain sense of self in her songs," and he had a good time changing the phrasing to satirize and reflect it: "All I really really want our love to do, is to bring out the best in ME. And in you, too." Even if the effect is a bit tart and Bette Midler-catty, he still resisted any hint of transgender. "I want to knit you a sweater" becomes "I want a hand up your sweater."

Unfortunately for Mr. Curry, the occasional wry cover version ("Harlem On My Mind" by Irving Berlin), or song reeking of flamboyant costume choices ("Birds of a Feather") went just a bit too far for some straights, which is quite ironic considering that Tim worked with Alice Cooper's producer Dick Wagner. To me, his songs weren't overly fruity, just playful in the same spirit as Jagger's "queer sounding" numbers such as "Miss You," or "When The Whip Comes Down."

All he really, really wanted to do…was to be a rock star…bringing out the best in himself…and entertaining you, too.

Tim Curry Live All I Really Want

Sunday, March 09, 2014


"Ding Ding Ding!"

Seriously. You remember Ol' Blue Eyes. Asked for his opinion on rock and roll, he called it "The most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear."

I think his reasoning was that…rock doesn't "swing," and the lyrics don't usually include "dooby-dooby-doo." Or, yes, "Ding Ding Ding." But when rock and pop took over the Top 100 in the 60's, Frank began to pick out and customize cover versions. In THIS case, The Chairman of the Board simply erased some of Simon's lyrics and added new ones. Ay, ya think Frankie was gonna dis Joe DiMaggio? No no no! PS, there were too many lyrics in that wacky little Jew's original version, so Frank cut a full minute out. Ding Ding Ding!

So DIG the NEW lyrics, the kind that could make this tune worth singin' at Jilly's.

Frank sounds proud of himself, like he improved a tepid rock tune and made it...COOL! The guy still wished he was doing Cole Porter stuff, I'll bet. The guy who wrote "Strangers in the Night" recalled finally getting a chance to meet Ol' Blues Eyes. He introduced himself as the author of what was one of Frank's few Top 20 hits of the 60's...and Frank glared at him and walked away.

Despite this thuggish behavior (and my friend Bobby Cole told a few stories about just how much of a prick Frank could be), I got nothing against the father of Woody and Mia's child. The guy did have a way with a dark ballad (gotta love his miserable concept albums, such as "Where Are You?"). It's just…well, it's been many months since the last "ILL-USTRATED SONG" was posted here, and this one really needs no words of description. Just listen for yourself at how he's changed a rock tune into something…that really swings.


No egocentric passwords using the blogger's last name. No "tip jar" requests for the blogger's "hard work." No idiot capcha codes. No use of a "service" that wants you to pay to be a "premium" member for faster downloads. No money being made here on somebody else's song….no money taken away from the artist, either.

Daylight Savings Hell, and "Sock It To Me Sunshine" The Curtain Call

Today is Sunday, and it's a day of rest…but also exhaustion, since the government-enforced "Daylight Savings" has screwed up everyone's circadian rhythms. Have you finished changing every clock and wrist watch because the government is run by Fascists who actually rule TIME ITSELF??

Speaking of screwed up rhythms, the download below: "Sock it to Me Sunshine."

It's offered here as a sticky tribute to two of the worst things on the planet: "Daylight Savings" (which marks the end of freezing and the beginning of burning) and "Sunshine Pop," a brainless musical form from the late 60's. "Sunshine Pop" suggested you could get a natural high off rainbows, butterflies and paisley blouses. It was incense without the pot. It was maple syrup instead of Southern Comfort. It was psychedelic music dumped into the middle-of-the-road and run over by a kiddie calliope. You were expected to go out to a park or the beach with this melty ear wax trickling its treacle from your transistor radio, Soon you'd be overdosing on cans of sugary soft drinks, feeling "sun dazed," and staring at clouds (without getting to know them). You'd be "feeling groovy," and thinking about getting real trippy IF you knew the way to San Jose

Essentially lame, despite the "psychedelic" names, most of these sunshine stomach-acid bands dressed like preppies. The guys had on sweaters and white pants. The "chicks" maybe wore miniskirts and a sweater with some beads around their necks or a chain with a peace symbol. Some of these bands looked middle-aged…like The Fifth Dimension. Many seemed to get signed to record labels that were looking for something harmless "that the kids might like," to replace low-selling crap from Mitch Miller, The Four Lads or Acker Bilk.

"Sock it To Me Sunshine" by the Curtain Call, turned up on Dot in April of 1968., nobody figured they were named for a dot on a piece of paper that actually was LSD.

In 1968, Dot was a sad, out of touch record label; they were still releasing singles by Pat Boone, The Mills Brothers and Rosemary Clooney. Rosie was trying to remain current with stillborn ballads including "One Less Bell to Answer," and having less success with each attempt. The label still believed in instrumentals...Muzak versions of pop hits ("Mrs. Robinson" from Sound Symposium), Billy Vaughn (why, in 1968, release a cover of "St. James Infirmary") and Neil Hefti (the bouncy theme from "The Odd Couple" movie).

Not sure what the hell they were doing, they signed "hep" bands with funny names or wacky-named songs, and hoped for the best. How about "Dooley Vs the Ferris Wheel" from the Irish Republican Army? How about "Reptilian Mindblower" from Boots Brown and The Pfugelpipers? Surely somebody wants "Baja California" by the Chuck Barris Syndicate? The Dot Have-Nots tried cover versions of popular hits ("Leaving on a Jet Plane" by Dick St. John and "Alfie" from the Anita Kerr Singers). They even threw money at a few famous movie and TV personalities. Mia Farrow released "Lullaby from Rosemary's Baby" and Leonard Nimoy had "I'd Love Making Love to You."

"Laugh In" was a big TV hit, with its sunny, harmless brand of "counter-cultural" comedy, with flower-power ditz Goldie Hawn, lantern-jawed Ruth Buzzi as a spinster, and Arte Johnson doing a Nazi soldier apparently on leave from "Hogan's Heroes," with the cute catch-phrase, "Verrry interesting." Many of the "Laugh-In" bunch issued cash-in singles, and the sexual soul phrase "Sock It To Me" was now Judy Carne's comic signal for water dumped on her head…some kind of sitcom bukakke.

Also cashing in on "Laugh In" was "Sock It To Me Sunshine" (b/w "Say What You See") from The Curtain Call. Everything terrible about "sunshine pop" is in this song, thanks to its borrowings not only from "Laugh-In," but from the retro-crap "Winchester Cathedral" and the craze for anything from the 20's (movie theaters were pushing everything from "Bonnie and Clyde" to "Thoroughly Modern Millie"). It's got campy Chipmunks-meet-the-Andrews-Sisters vocals, baja marimba noodlings, whizzy wolf whistles, fruity brass and the rest of the pungent faux-vaudeville cheese. And like most things left out in the sun, in under two minutes, this overripe item starts to stink.

A word about "sunshine pop." The word is: shit. The vinyl for even the better examples of it (The Fifth Dimension's "Up Up and Away," or the tongue-in-chic Harper's Bizarre versions of Randy Newman songs) should be melted down for potato chip dishes. Any man who clasps his pudgy hands with delight at the sound of this drek probably has a hole in his head…self-lobotomized by a 45 rpm adapter spindle. PS, The Association's "Along Comes Mary," or The Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreaming" are too dark to be "sunshine pop."

The Curtain Call, getting some Top 100 action for "Sock it to Me Sunshine," stole another phrase off "Laugh In," and tried for a follow-up about "Beautiful Downtown Burbank." The flip was the odious "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby." Another single, "Philadelphia Heartache" b/w "Country Living" launched and sank in 1969. No Curtain Calls.

Dot, incidentally, issued a full length album called "Uncle Bill Socks It To Ya," another cash-in on the "Laugh In" phrase. It also tried to exploit the retro-craze for zany 20's and 30's comedy film anarchists (in this case W.C. Fields). College campuses were rediscovering Fields, The Marx Brothers and Laurel & Hardy...with new books about the legends, and cash-ins a'plenty. "Uncle Bill" (a Fields look-alike named Burt Wilson) was backed on that album by (get ready) "The Peppermint Trolley Co" and he covered "Yummy Yummy Yummy."

Triviasts have noted that a few members of Bread (make that white bread…) and Pleasure Faire were involved in the production of some of The Curtain Call material. For that they don't deserve any curtain calls, just lots of ripe tomatoes.

"Daylight Savings" is an irritating ploy by Capitalist assholes to push people outside longer, to consume more hot dogs, spend more hours spending money at the mall, and wasting money on trips to Disneyland and other tourist traps. "Daylight Savings" means most any hour of the day you can get side-swiped by obnoxious bastards on inline skates and skateboards, tangled up in the leashes of senile morons walking their yappy dogs, or given an ear-ache from motorcyclists whizzing by or jackasses loitering loudly in front of your house consuming a lot of beer.

The idea is to enjoy the extra SUNSHINE. Which is fine if you're twelve, but a headache for almost everyone else. And, also fine if you're twelve, and a headache otherwise, is SUNSHINE POP, especially when it's poop like "Sock It To Me Sunshine."

After a long, brutally unpleasant winter where there was constant rain and flooding in England, and horrifying blizzards in America (in some places, you couldn't manage three days in a row without an interruption for snow), the reward is longer days, blinding sun and blistering heat. Soon humidity will be clinging to you like a snot-covered maggot. The air, as Spike Milligan once described it, so thick you can squeeze the sweat out of it. There's a good reason for the phrase "hell on Earth." And "Daylight Savings Time" is the beginning of it.

Sock It To Me Sunshine THE CURTAIN CALL

KISS OFF: "I Can't Take You Back" The Hall of Fame and Run-a-Rounds

My take on KISS getting into the Hall of Fame…only to bicker over who is onstage playing? Well, I was there when they were at the height of their fame, and at the time, I spent over an hour with each individual member for interviews. Yeah, they're worth inducting for their stage show, make-up, and the $$$ they made with double platinum albums and world-wide hysteria. Not because their music was any good.

And yeah, the ORIGINAL members should be inducted, because that's when they were famous. That's when they actually had hits. Those were the years when the band formed their identity. That Ace and Peter were easy to replace, and the replacements have been at it for some 15 years now…OK, very nice, stepping into the make-up the other guys wore. But KISS now is a nostalgia act, even with original lead singers Gene and Paul still fronting it.

Ace was the one who instantly alerted fans NOT to buy tickets to the Rock and Hall show (if they were expecting him and Peter). His reasoning was sound. Why the hell should he put on his famous make-up and be on stage…where some other guy is ALSO wearing the same make-up? That's like two prima donnas going to the Oscars and wearing the same dress. Peter Criss quickly fell in line behind Ace. What, he's gonna be in his cat make-up and sit behind drums, and right next to him, some pussy also has a drum kit and make-up??

Ace and Peter have been gone a long time…let's not forget that there was also Bruce Kulick (who was lead guitarist for about a decade) or the first drummer to replace Peter Criss: Eric Carr. Carr was also around for some ten years or more.

What could've been the solution? Perhaps…having each incarnation do one song. Which would be a revelation to non-KISS fans, who probably couldn't name, or sing along to ONE song, much less TWO. Surely, Ace is not so spaced out that he doesn't recognize the reality that he WAS replaced for some 25 years. (Just don't call him Surely). And if the other guys are fine with Peter's tell-all book, then prove it. There also seems to be some questions about "Hall of Fame" rules…which seem to suggest that only original members of a band can be inducted, although replacements can appear on stage…but I'm too bored to research that point. There's no question that Ace is the guy who initially said NO…which is why Ace is the guy you see in the illustration above.

Since this year's "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" show promises to be as tepid, absurd and boring as most all of them, with poor choices of inclusion, pompous speeches and woefully fabricated "highlight" moments…perhaps this cornball show from nowhere-land (Cleveland) does need the huge build-up of the great KISS band arguing and bitching right up to…who knows, "this magic moment" when they do follow my advice, and each play a song?? I use the term "this magic moment" because, really, the whole thing is as pointless and nauseating as to mention that there was a "Jay" helming "The Americans" before and after Jay Black had his hits with them, and the group still does oldies show with yet another "Jay."

I know, you want my take on the KISS guys and what they were like in person. (Shut up, I know you do). No surprise, Gene and Paul were the most egomaniacal, with Gene at least showing more charisma. Like Howard Stern, he kept up a lively mix of opinionated bullshit, amusing stories, and a good dose of humor. Ace? About as down to Earth as a druggy spaceman could be. He also had a good sense of humor (to go with his admittedly peculiar and comical speaking voice…which I recall as sort of Jay Leno imitating Frank Fontaine's "Crazy Guggenheim" character). Peter was the "regular guy," very likable and easy to talk to. Though not a fan of their music, I liked those guys, and, if was being paid, wouldn't mind talking again to three of the four.

Since KISS is a famous band, there's no need to "introduce" them with a download. So…here's the Run-A-Rounds, an obscure bunch of garage shoegazers who recorded circa 1967 on the indie Manel label. The chosen song, quite relevant to Gene and Paul's views on Ace and Peter, is "I Can't Take You Back." But perhaps your view is closer to another Run-A-Rounds song called…"I Couldn't Care Less."

"There's so much to forget. There's so much on my mind…your request seems unreasonable, after you did me so much dirt…I can't take you back…I can't take you back…should have learned a lesson. Don't play friend against a friend…"



Why pay $20 or $40 or even $100 for a mediocre album of jazz pop played by a very ordinary trio? Why, so a record collector faux-hipster can show it to his friends! Then, with an elbow to the ribs, he guffaws and says "See that guy at the piano? It's REALLY a WOMAN! Haw haw haw…"

The problem here is that most record collectors have no friends. That's the point of record collecting…to have a special room full of cool vinyl with maybe, some "action figures" on a whatnot shelf along with a real cool non-working Victrola on a pedestal. Or, hey, maybe a false-phallus…the kind of dildo and harness that Tipton, pianist-sans-penis, used on her women. Which, since a woman isn't around the average record collector, the record collector can use to go fuck himself.

Guess which album is a collector's item, and which doesn't? Right. The record with Billy and two bosomy babes is pricey, and the one with an ordinary, generic female cover girl, ain't.

So what was the deal on Billy Tipton? I actually did read the book about him/her, cleverly titled "Suits Me," all about how Dorothy Tipton used to find work as a pianist by dressing as a man…and because she also happened to be a lesbian, kept up the secret in private life. Tipton had a few obscure relatives who knew the secret, and since the musician was almost unknown outside of small clubs, and only recorded a few albums for budget labels, no reporters went prying into his pants. The biography about Tipton is fairly slim and hasn't much to say, since the pianist wasn't a swinger, didn't play lesbian clubs, wasn't crusading for transgender rights, didn't surgically change sex, and simply seemed to be nothing more than a somewhat androgynous-looking minor lounge act. And nobody was questioning major lounge acts like Wayne Newton, who in the 60's looked like a dyke.

A few of Tipton's wives talked to the author of the book…but what could they say? They claimed "Billy" never took a shower with them, undressed in the bathroom and made love in the dark. They said they had no idea about Billy's secret, but they might be lying, not wanting to be known as freaky old dykes. Whatever, Tipton had an uninteresting life playing boring clubs and playing fairly crappy familiar jazz tunes that were mostly middle-of-the-road with a dash of Dixieland. Even in retirement, and into the 80's (Tipton died January 21, 1989), "Billy" stayed in the closet. Let's remember that Hilary Swank's "Boys Don't Cry" didn't arrive for another decade. So who knows if Billy was afraid of embarrassment or getting beaten to death.

Only when Tipton died did the news come out that the local musician had led a secret life…and that the stiff in the morgue never had a stiff that couldn't be stored in a bedroom drawer.

Your download? A sample of Billy Tipton's music…which is professional, competent, and not very interesting. Sort of like Wayne Newton albums of nearly the same vintage. Say, Billy looks a bit like Wayne, doesn't he? Not that there's anything wrong with that…


Wednesday, February 19, 2014


How about a song that became a big hit…after a complete lyrical re-write?

In 1953, Georgie Shaw and Tex Ritter both recorded "Let Me Go, Devil," written by country singer and songwriter Jenny Lou Carson. Jenny was the first woman to write a #1 country hit ("You Two-Timed Me One Time Too Often"). Her redundant tune about demon rum:


"Let me go, let me go, let me go, devil. Stay away, stay away, stay away from my soul!
I got so low, got so low, yes so low, devil. I let you, evil you, get control!

...I lost my pride, lost my friends, it's the end, Devil. Let me go let me go, let me go!"
I'm gonna fight, gonna fight, with my might, Devil. Gotta win over sin if I can.
I've been a fool, yes a fool, just your tool, Devil. A disgrace to the race of man!

The song did ok with the country market, but that was about it. Music producer Mitch Miller was aware of the song, though, and liked the waltz melody, if not the lyrics. In addition to producing records, he was working on the hour-long TV series "Studio One." For an episode about a disc jockey trying to help catch a killer, he needed an ironic song that could be played over and over. And, no, there was no line of dialogue about "Play "Misty" for me."

New lyrics turned "Let Me Go, Devil" into "Let Me Go, Lover," and that was the title for the show's November 15, 1954 episode starring Joe Maross, Cliff Norton and Connie Sawyer. The number was sung by an unknown but promising 18 year-old New Jersey native named Joan Weber. After the broadcast, people were asking disc jockeys to play the song, and hunting for it at local record stores. They quickly got their wish. The original 78rpm pressing adds: "From the "Studio One" TV Production," and credits it to "Hill- J.L. Carson."

Hill? That was one, if not all of the song writing team of Fred Wise, Kay Twomey and Ben Weisman, who apparently chose Al Hill as a space-saving pseudonym when they doctored songs. Of the three, only Ben Weisman had a strong solo career, having a hand in over 50 songs recorded by Elvis Presley. Did it really take three people to switch around a country ballad about alcoholism into a universal song of love's anguish?

Let me go, let me go, let me go, lover. Let me be, set me free from your spell.
You make me weep, cut me deep, I can't sleep, lover. I was cursed from the first day I fell!
…Please turn me loose, what's the use, let me go, lover. Let me go, let me go, let me go!

Within a month, the Joan Weber Columbia recording was on the Billboard charts, with competition from Teresa Brewer (her Coral single hit #6 and the credit for it read: Jenny Lou Carson- Special Lyrics by Al Hill) and lilting Patti Page (who reached #10 for Mercury). Peggy Lee, on Decca, reached #26). There was also a version from the Doo Wop group The Counts (on Dot), and Columbia even competed with their own budding star with a 78rpm from Ruby Murray. (Within a few years, there would also be covers by Wanda Jackson, Dean Martin, The Valiants and Connie Francis).

Weber's version was the most dramatic, which reflected Mitch Miller's love of stark, lay-it-in-their-laps vocals (Frankie Laine and Johnnie Ray were also on Columbia). Over the years, most singers use Patti Page's take as the role model, singing without angst, but as a wistful, mild-mannered sweetheart. Patti used that style on her biggest hits…the one about the rather stoic girl who watches her boyfriend get stolen away ("Tennessee Waltz") or the girl who watches her lover marry somebody else ("I Went To Your Wedding.")

Joan Weber's follow-up was actually a demo that had been sent to Miller, "Marionette." More in keeping with the country flavor of "Let Me Go, Lover," Columbia released her take on the stark C&W tune "Gone," but nothing much happened. Some say the problem was motherhood. Joan was visibly pregnant when she made a few TV appearances promoting "Let Me Go Lover," and after the birth of her daughter, couldn't put her full attention on music. Some say her band-leader husband, out of protection or jealousy or control, took over as her manager (from veteran Eddie Joy). With limited connections, her new manager couldn't get Joan booked at top clubs that only dealt with big-time operators with a vast roster of talent. Others say that Weber was simply too young for stardom and became more mentally fragile as more demands were placed on her. It's not known when she turned up at the Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey, but she died there in 1981, only 45 years old.

Ending this on an insane but humorous note, it was no doubt Hank Snow's cover version of the new lyrics ("Let Me Go, Lover" was sung as "Let Me Go, Woman") that inspired "Let Me Go, Blubber" by the song-butchering "thinking man's hillbillies," Homer and Jethro. The fat lady in question probably was dating both of them at the same time. Hoping to loosen her grip on them, they insist, "You're too fat in the first place, you know it's true. You're too fat in the second place, too!"

Georgie Shaw, Joan Weber, Tex Ritter, Hank Snow, Peggy Lee, Teresa Brewer, Homer & Jethro LET ME GO LOVER, WOMAN, BLUBBER, DEVIL….


The craze for electronic pop was ignited circa 1966 when Gershon Kingsley and Jean-Jacques Perry issued "The In Sound From Way Out." Walter Carlos (later Wendy Carlos) scored a major hit with "Switched on Bach" soon after. Yes, there were experiments with classical electronic music (notably Morton Subotnick's "Silver Apples of the Moon") and an all-electronic soundtrack of blips was prominent in the 1956 Leslie Nielsen-Anne Francis classic "Forbidden Planet" (which MGM didn't think to issue on vinyl at the time). But…it really was the 60's drug culture that led record store owners and record labels to unleash a ton of "incredibly strange" albums of accessible and usually pretty dopey moog albums.

Success came for those who melded electronic burps and zaps with rock and pop music. 1969-1970 were golden years for Moog albums, with "Moog" by Dick Hyman, "Moog Espana" from Sid Bass, "The Moog Strikes Bach" by Hans Wurman, "Well-Tempered Synthesizer"by Walter Carlos, "Moogie Woogie" by the Zeet Band, "Pop Electronique" by Cecil Leuter, and "Electronic Love" from The Electronic Concept Orchestra. Plus….Martin Denny's "Exotic Moog" Mort Garson's "Electronic Hair Pieces" Hugo Montenegro's "Moog Power" Marty Gold's "Moog Plays the Beatles" and Moog Machine's "Switched-on Rock." You can add George Harrison's "Electronic Sound" if you like. In 1971, Emerson, Lake and Palmer began annoying people with their overblown progrock crap (which didn't seem like overblown progrock crap at the time…ooh, what a lucky man owned their albums). And in 1972…the single 'Popcorn" was all over the airwaves, like butter up Maria Schneider's asshole. (Yes, "Last Tango in Paris" came out in 1972)

1972 was the year the most amusing of the electronic Erik Satie albums appeared. Satie was, like electronic music, a discovery of stoners. He was considered a very minor composer until the 70's, when a few classical pianists released albums of his work. That these became best-sellers was probably due to the college crowd adopting Satie as their favorite "serious" composer. The wonderfully eccentric Frenchman rivaled Frank Zappa for strangely named instrumental pieces, like "Flabby Preludes for a Dog." The same Music 101 kids who were calling Procol Harum and Jethro Tull "classic rock" (you'll remember the latter's "Passion Play" with an actual ballerina on the cover) loved having something cooler than Bach's "Air on a G String" or Pachelbel's "Canon." They found it especially in the soothing but strange "Gnossiennes." A gnossienne, if you care to look in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, refers to "a moment of awareness that someone you've known for years still has a private and mysterious inner life…"

Yes, even as my record collection kept growing and growing, I made more room not only for progrock, of course, but for electronic music albums and Mr. Satie. I recall William Masselos getting there first, with a great album on RCA, and Aldo Ciccolini straining my wallet by issuing a series of Satie's works on Angel. And not too long after that, came the inevitable Satie electronic versions.

On Procol Harum's first label, Deram, "The Electronic Spirit of Erik Satie" was a sleek gatefold album credited to The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Orchestra. In the spirit of the idiot times, the album notes tried to be far out, man, even mystical, with a dash of R. Crumb humor: "The arranger felt the actual presence of Satie in the room with him while he was scoring. (Erik's spirit would hover around the room and, at times, reach over his shoulder and guide his pencil along the score page, shouting directions in his ear "B flat not B natural, you dummy!")….All the wave forms, modulation mixes, oscillations and permutations have never been duplicated since, and the Moog player, who was entirely unfamiliar with the instrument at the time, has no recollection of having done the album whatsoever!"

Your sample below offers five short pieces from "Sports and Amusements," a suite of silliness that includes, in order: La Balançoire (The Seesaw) La Chasse (The Hunt) , Comédie Italianne (The Italian Comedy), Le Réveil de la Mariée (The Arrival of the Bride) and Colin Maillard (Blindman's Bluff). The producers thoughtfully included both a French and an English announcer to introduce the title of each piece.

Lastly, the original album cover just had some colorful smears on the cover visualizing what electronic sound might look like…the exotic Erik has been Photoshopped in.

Five un-flabby electronic pieces from: ELECTRONIC SPIRIT OF SATIE


"Gatsby's World: Turned On Joplin" was issued on ABC in 1974, the same year that RCA's Tomita released "Snowflakes are Dancing." Moog fans were still digesting the tireless Walter Carlos' "Switched on Bach 2" from the previous year.

The craze for moog was winding down, and really, it was a little late for the unknown Chris Stone to amuse anyone with yet another "let's moog up music that shouldn't be moog'd" album.

The reason for electronic versions of Scott Joplin rags was to cash in on the surprise success of the soundtrack to Paul Newman and Robert Redford's "The Sting." Hey, if Nonesuch could release a "serious" album of somebody playing ragtime pieces, claiming that Scott's stuff was just as intricate to play as Bach, then what the hell….

Take already corny and silly ragtime music…and add some wacky moog-doodling and gurgling to it…and what can you lose? Ask ABC's accountants. I don't think this thing sold a whole lotta copies (mine was a promo, as you see). Still, in small doses, it's definitely a fun novelty.

Selling to a college audience, the cover (with some guy holding a bottle of hooch and another hanging over a toilet) makes sure to imply that you can get wasted listening to the music. I can't say I played this one through over an entire side very often, but I did sneak the best track, "The Entertainer," onto the radio air waves once in a while. PS, nice of 'em to try and interest the college market by the allusion to "The Great Gatsby." Or were they afraid of a lawsuit if they linked this as some kind of switched-on "Sting" soundtrack??

ENTERTAINER: from Chris Stone

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Sunday, February 09, 2014


February 9th, 1964…The Beatles appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

This is big nostalgia...for people 55 to 75. That's kind of a narrow demographic to hype, but the two surviving Beatles fall into that age bracket, and, happily, Beatles music is still so popular that people of all ages can celebrate their achievement. PS, it sure beats the other 50th anniversary...the assassination of JFK. Yes, I remember both...and this 50th certainly brings back more pleasant memories. "Beatlemania," it must be remembered, was ignited in America and may indeed have been sparked by a need to seize on something to get over the young president's death and rejuvinate the nation's optimism and youthful spirit...yeah yeah yeah!

America's feverish enthusiasm for The Beatles reached its peak when the Fab Four hit the Sullivan show on February 9th. Would they live up to the hysteria? Damn right! This triumphant show, with the screaming girls and the ebullient foursome handing in a charismatic set of performances, confirmed a new era of rock…and the rest really is history.

It was pretty much after the Sullivan show that the earlier Beatles hits known only in England, including "She Loves You" and "Please Please Me" turned up in America on obscure labels such as Swan and Tollie. Soon many obscure labels were cashing in on The Beatles.

It seemed every other record was either a Beatles cover or some kind of silly novelty. Capitol itself had Donna Lynn's "My Boyfriend Got a Beatles Haircut." There were plenty of Beatles Backlash tracks, too. It was a toss-up here, between tossing a bunch of the idiot tunes onto the blog, or the green-eyed envy numbers. Since the latter are a bit more obscure, they won. So let's listen to some of the grousers and dreamers who tried to reference The Beatles and get some girls to pay attention. But no, these shits never hit the fans.

The five finalists:

1. I'm Better Than The Beatles. Brad Berwick hoped enough haters would buy his little ditty, but nobody was listening.

2. I Wanna Be a Beatle by Gene Cornish and The Unbeetables (get it?). At least this one is kind of harmless in stealing from "She Loves You" and seeming about to riff into "I Wanna Be Your Man." It's actually kind of complimentary…

3. Beatle Maniacs by Ray Ruff and the Checkmates. Another jealous Buddy Holly-type grumbles, "The Beatles, they're the worst…" and tries to show that insipid rockabilly is much better. Yeah, there's also some line about his girl not caring about him because he doesn't have "shaggy hair."

4. The Beatle Bomb. After stealing a chunk of "She Loves You," the lead singer of The Exterminators, with a pretty horrific British accent, moans "By Jove I'll get them yet," and the band plays a somewhat clever but awful combo of surf music and a classic funeral march. Can this stubborn "bomb" of twangy guitar music defeat the Mersey sound? "Oh no" "Yeah yeah" "Oh no" "Yeah yeah yeah…by Jove I think we've done it!" Yes, if you mean created a cult item a few collectors would pay big bucks for decades later.

5. "It's Comin Thru The Doors" by Bobby and the Blue Jays is a dig at the "clanging banging Limey Liverpool sound." The lyrics somehow reduces the Fab Four to three, as Bobby chronicles the beginning of the band that refused to go to a barber and now have somehow stolen his girl, and worse: "Oooh, they wanna hold my hand." A very confused fellow, this lead singer.

The 50th Anniversary of "Beatlemania" is supposed to make you nostalgic, make you buy Beatles merchandise, and, hopefully, make you feel good that something from your childhood still holds up as relevant. A hotel convention in New York was devoted to dealers trying to sell old memorabilia (like a can of Beatles hair spray for $3,000). Paul, Ringo and the widows of John and George did appear on TV for a "Lifetime Achievement Award," and David Letterman, had a "Beatles week" of shows…but wasn't able to get Paul and Ringo to turn up (Sean Lennon, yes).

And yes, if you go to a taping of Letterman's show, it's impossible not to look around and think, "So...this is where The Ed Sullivan Show was broadcast...The Beatles were right on THAT stage..."

Everybody who was alive back then, including me, has had at least a few conversations with others about that extremely unique period in time. Last night I did play a few hours of Beatles addition to checking out some of the cash-ins. I also played tracks from the latest "Beatles at the BBC" album...still wondering why, 50 years later, Capitol and Emi were so sparse about "Beatle Rarities," live tracks and other "bootleg-type" stuff.

Wasn't that a time? Talk to any of us over 50 guys, and you'll hear more or less the same we danced around the room to "I Want to Hold Your Hand," how we were glued to Ed Sullivan and our transistor radios (what an image), and how, with varying degrees of affluence, we bought not only the vinyl, but Beatles collector cards, magazines, toys and games. Yeah (yeah yeah) I combed my hair down, and experimented with a Liverpool accent. One thing I didn't do was show my allegiance by wearing some stupid pin like "I Like Paul." My large pin said "Help Stamp Out Beetles," which I bought as a joke-novelty. So what happened; I got chased down the street by a gang of girls who didn't notice the typo and/or didn't think it was funny. And I was too young to appreciate being chased down the street by a gang of girls.

I'm glad that John, George, Paul and Ringo kept getting better with every album...something no other music act ever did. To be surprised, every year in the 60's, with something not only new but pioneering, was amazing. Unlike the teen idols for most any other generation, my guys turned out to be true artists, still amazing, and still beloved, after 50 years. Then there are the five sour-pusses below...but give 'em a round of applause as they return from obscurity thanks to the Fab Four they couldn't beat...

FIVE "BEATLES BACKLASH" TRACKS...hear Brad Berwick, Ray Ruff, The Exterminators, The Unbeetables and Bobby and the Blue Jays... ...Guys sulking, sneering and dreaming about Beatles fame!


Just last month, I paid tribute to Richard Hayman. When my piece appeared on this blog, he was already in a hospice in New York. And if you know anything about a hospice, or New York, it's where you go when the odds of living are against you.

About the only thing that you can do for a guy who is 93 and dying, is make things as pleasant as possible. The right hospice can do it with attentive nurses and some mild "activities" for the ambulatory or reasonably awake (TV set in the room, a wheelchair ride into a recreation area for bingo games or volunteer entertainers to stage shows). Perhaps somebody put on a Richard Hayman album for everyone, and then pointed to the guy for one last round of applause. Mr. Hayman passed away a few days ago, February 5. Thus ended his marriage of 53 years…and he left behind two daughters and four grandchildren.

Perhaps Hayman's most enduring performance was back in 1978 at Madison Square Garden with the American Symphony Orchestra. William Shatner joined him for "Starship Encounters," an evening of pops music that included Stravinsky's "Firebird" (with laser lights), theme songs from classic movies (including "Star Wars") and Captain Kirk reading from Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End."

Your download is a triple-play of tunes well titled for this sad occasion: "Never Again," "The Perfect Song" and "A Night of Stars." Though we won't see him again, and "The Perfect Song" is hardly even memorable much less perfect, how sentimental it would be to walk out into a "Night of Stars" and imagine Mr. Hayman's spirit spiraling to some distant heaven. What you'll hear is indeed "heavenly" music from another era…a time when life's stresses and pains could quaintly be soothed simply by "beautiful…easy listening" melodies, and…a drink. Let me quote from the liner notes to "Let's Get Together," the album from which these come, and from which last month I lifted the much more precocious and atypical track, "Turkey Mambo."

"Like the selection of drinks on the menu of a swank cocktail lounge, this selection of music for after 5pm relaxation runs the gamut of pleasure….Melody for every taste and temperament designed to wear off the day's tensions, is Hayman's "Mission Accomplished." Richard Hayman's harmonica is interwoven into many of the melodies like the tinkling, cooling ice chips that put that extra sparkle into an evening's drink." Now you know why one of my ambitions was to write album notes! Alas, by the time I got hired to do some, the CD age had forced me down to less than 500 words, and the mp3 age meant…none at all. Am I bitter? How can I be, when I can listen to fucking "easy listening" music from Richard Hayman? "I'd like to order my drink, bartender. And turn down that Jay-Z junk you've been playing…I can hardly hear my iPod and 'The Perfect Song.'"

Richard Hayman Three tracks from "Let's Get Together," featuring "The Perfect Song."

PUTTING ON THE RIZ - One"MORE" Look at Ortolani

If you're the type that actually looks at the songwriter credits on a 45 rpm, or pays attention when movie credits tell you the composer of the soundtrack, then you instantly knew the name Riz Ortalani when you saw it on the obit page: "He's a composer. I've heard that guy's stuff, haven't I?"

Sure you have. Ortolani scored a variety of films in the 60's. These included: 7th Dawn (1964), Yellow Rolls Royce (1964), Old Shatterhand (1964), Castle of Blood (1964), The Glory Guys (1965), The Spy with a Cold Nose (1966), Africa Addio (1966), The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom (1968) and Anzio (1968).

He was active in the 70's and 80's, but mostly with exploitation films and obscure Italian horror movies and westerns…one of his most beloved being the immortal "Cannibal Holocaust." A song from "Madron" (1970) got some attention: "Till Love Touches Your Life," and Placido Domingo performed Riz's music for the 1985 film "Christopher Columbus." While not particularly well known, as a celebrity, in comparison to Henry Mancini, Elmer Bernstein or even Jerry Goldsmith, the maestro was revered in his native Italy and seen often on TV there, conducting his great music.

Actually, his first film score turned out to be his most famous internationally, and the one yielding a Top Ten single. This was for "Mondo Cane," and the title track was "More." What you'll hear below, is Riziero Ortolani's own preferred version, conducted by him (and that may be Riz on the piano, too). It's the version I remember best, having gotten it on a United Artists movie theme compilation album, one that featured many now-deceased masters of movie music. So, no ridiculous schmaltzy English lyrics for this version. The album cover is to your right...

Probably The Rizman's second best-known song, which turned up in "The Yellow Rolls Royce" is the irritating, almost stereotypically Italian "Let's Forget About Tomorrow (for tomorrow never comes)" which may have been more tolerable in its original form as "Forget Domani."

It's always nice to have a little of Riz Orolani (March 25 1926-January 23, 2014) on the iPod, "More" or less. I know this is a short obit for him, but you didn't want any more "More"-onic puns, did you? And no jokes about Riz winning some awards in the shape of effeminate naked boys.

Put On the Riz: MORE as conducted by the composer himself.

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Would you buy an album of two harpists and a lounge orchestra playing such war-horses as "Me and My Shadow," "I Got Rhythm" and "Lady of Spain?" Of course not. But stick a picture of "little person" Billy Barty struggling with a harp….and call it "HAVE HARP…CAN'T TRAVEL…" and you've got an eye-catching oddity. That's why, at the very least, the album can still sell for $10 or $20 in a record store.

A catchy album cover: that was the game back in the late 50's and early 60's. Record stores were choked-full of middle of the road albums for white-bred people who couldn't take classical or jazz…and wanted "easy listening" instead. The trouble was, it was too easy for outfits like the 101 Strings to churn out hundreds of mood music collections at a buck each. To get people to pay higher, record labels needed an attractive girl on the cover, or a famous name, or...both (in the case of Capitol's Jackie Gleason collection). Offbeat humor to grab the eye? That could work, too! By the time some goofus checked the back to see if Billy Barty was actually playing harp and doing some comedy as he did with Spike Jones, it didn't matter. "Oh what the hell, this does seem kinda interesting…"

The Stanley-Johnson Orchestra (note the hyphen, which is absent on the album cover) was owned and operated by Ray Stanley and Hal Johnson. Their main attraction, at least for this album, was the dual harp combo of Dorothy Remsen and Catherine Johnk. So there's the second flaw of the album cover...the gag makes it seem there's only one harp when there's two. A third flaw is that dopey "Spectra-Sonic Sound" note, with the color trick people into thinking they're getting stereo. A fourth flaw is the idea anyone can find or catch a bus in Los Angeles.

Behind the two harpists the small orchestra consists of Mike Ruben and Clifford Hills on bass, Jeff Lewis and Paul Smith on piano, Haakon Bergh on flute, and a percussion team of Jerry Williams, Gene Estes and Frank Flynn.

This album is posted as a public service. While every lp-cover-lover would buy it for Barty, some might hold off and ask, "But how's the music?" You've got samples below. One sampler has the always sprightly (for some reason they added choo-choo train noises) "Holiday for Strings." It's the only remotely humorous track, if you consider train noises amusing. It was written by David Rose, who played it constantly when he was conducting the band for Red Skelton's TV series. It's followed by "Greensleeves," which gets a fairly anemic reading here.

The other download has another two tracks: "En Kelohenu" and "Beyond the Sea." Typical of lounge albums of the day, the idea was often to appeal to every ethnic group possible…and to try and sell a whole album because of one track. Customer: "Do you have "Beyond the Sea" in a nice, instrumental version, without some horrible French guy singing it, or Bobby Darin whooping it up?" "Why let me check the catalog…hmm…it's on THIS soft music album…you might like some of the other tracks, too…"

"En Kelohenu" is not Hawaiian, it's Hebrew, and an attempt to lure Jewish buyers. The spelling for the song isn't that close to the original Hebrew, but there's a variety of ways to start off, including "Ein" or "Ain" and the last word can be Kelohanu or Keloheinu. The song is mostly restricted (pardon the expression) to Friday night and Saturday morning services in synagogue. Everybody joins in (unlike this rather gentle and elegant music-box version).

Translation: "There is none like our God." Most any kid who ever sat through a service waiting to get his hands on some sponge cake and grape juice, at least knows the next three couplets: "Ein kadoneinu, ein kemalkeinu, ein kemosheinu." It's just more of the same: "None like our Lord. None like our King. None like our Savior." Which is fine as long as the next lines aren't the Muslim-esque, "And OUR king is the best and we'll kill you infidels if you don't agree."



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

PETE SEEGER DIED - Talking...Over the Hills, Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

The greatest of the folkies passed on the other day.

Pete Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) was justly praised in the press, and on national TV news shows, for spending so much of his 94 years preserving the heritage of American folk music, lending his name and fame to important causes, and declaring himself ready to sing a protest song or raise the spirits of the people wherever and whenever he could.

You'll find the details of his life in many obits on the Internet, and reminders of some of the songs that inspired those that came after him (Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen, etc.) These include "Turn Turn Turn" made popular by The Byrds, the much-covered "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," and "We Shall Overcome." An ardent, enthusiastic fan of all music, his adaptations of old folk songs and ethnic oddities (such as the re-done and re-titled "Wimoweh") helped make "The Weavers" one of the most successful folk groups of all time.

He was the epitome of the folk singer…traveling all over this land, singing to young and old, a repertoire of tunes for any occasion, and unlike singers of today, music that everyone could sing along to. A singer-songwriter such as Harry Chapin or Joni Mitchell might have the crowd sing to one number ("All My Life's a Circle," "Circle Game") but with Pete, you could sing to most all of them, and with his voice not as strong in his 80's and 90's, he was pretty glad when people did.

His remarkable energy and enthusiasm kept him going almost to the end. He was still performing in concerts at 94, still riding the Hudson River and reminding people about conservation, and ruggedly chopping wood for his rural home in upstate New York until about 10 days before he died. How many 94 year-old men are out chopping wood during a Polar Vortex?? Maybe he should've eased up on the wood shopping. But Pete Seeger was not the kind of guy to ease up on anything.

I mentioned to him, of course, my admiration for his support of Phil Ochs…and shared a few personal joys about his work. First was his humor. People don't talk about it that much, because most of his popular songs are more spiritual or political. But the first song of his that really impressed me was "Talking Blues," which was part of the folk tradition of "rap," a talk set to minimal music. His "Talking Blues" most likely inspired the similar ones from Dylan and Ochs, but it's less a protest than just a lotta fun. That's Fred Hellerman lending his "greasy" guitar to the proceedings. On the same Weavers album, Pete performed a simple piece called "Over the Hills," on a recorder. And I wanted to learn to play that tune on a recorder, too, and I did.

So Pete inspired me to add the recorder to the list of instruments I was trying to learn, and to nearly memorize "Talking Blues" to amuse my friends. He also inspired me to a lifestyle of social protest and general muckraking, so of all the things he could've signed, I asked him to sign my CD of "Waist Deep in The Big Muddy and Other Love Songs."

This was his comeback album. Eclipsed by folkies gone electric, and a wide range of protest songs by younger artists, he returned to prominence with this anti-Vietnam anti-Lyndon Johnson song that was also a return to his roots as a rabble-rouser and figure of controversy. Would he be allowed to sing it on "The Smothers Brothers Hour?" The brothers, who had turned from comical folkies to conscientious objectors (much more than their rival "Laugh-In") were intent on bringing back guys like Pete, and Mort Sahl, and Joan Baez.

"Waist Deep" was kind of the official re-emergence of Pete Seeger...and he didn't stop there. Decade after decade he was still active, still a force, and fortunately, he was well-rewarded with tributes, awards, and that Springsteen album a few years ago. He could be counted on, even in his 90's, to appear at important benefits, singing "This Land is Your Land" or another iconic song or two, so his death isn't just a reminder of a life well lived, but a life cut short…a remarkable thing to say about someone 94 years old. Only a few months ago he was autographing a new book about his life and his songs. Go find the ending of the film "The Grapes of Wrath," and watch the little speech Henry Fonda makes as Tom Joad. I'll paraphrase it this way; wherever there's a fight for what's right, Pete's music can be there. It can be there in two ways, let's not forget: by playing Pete Seeger's recordings or…by lifting up your head and singing it yourself, right out loud.

Below, "Waist Deep," and I've combined "Talking Blues" with, ending the little tribute, the gentle "Over the Hills."