Showing posts with label bruce springsteen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bruce springsteen. Show all posts

Friday, July 5, 2019

Keep Politics Out

There was a time when artists just wanted to have a hit. It's true. For a couple of years, The Monkees recorded anything that was laid out before them. Then their egos exploded their brains and they thought they were much more than a hugely successful pre-fab pop group. And then they were done.

There was a time when making good music was the objective. Sure, we had Bob Dylan, but he was drunk on Woody Guthrie songs and a plethora of vomited words. The Beatles might have had something to say, but one couldn't actually tell, because a million people interpreted their lyrics a million different ways. The seventies were essentially a silly time, when anything, no matter how insipid, could become a hit, and did.

Then came the eighties and Bruce Springsteen, who insisted on airing his grievances for the world. The rich boy who bemoaned the plight of people like me, who he could only conjure in his imagination. He had a problem with a president most of us revered, but Bruce was drowning in jewels, so he could afford to bitch from his gated mansion on the hill.

In the two thousands, a perfectly nice country group called The Dixie Chicks couldn't muzzle their lead singer, who was compelled to spill her bitter guts about another president. And we just wanted to hear "Tonight The Heartache's On Me". The Dixie Chicks, like Springsteen, forgot about the music.

I don't want anybody's politics to befoul something as sacred as music. There is an absolutely putrid single that's currently setting download records, called "Shut Up About Politics", and I just want The Stupid Five to shut the hell up. If I have to hear that insipid soundbite one more time, I'll smash a rock through my TV. And I generally like The Five.

Can we have one thing in our lives that isn't political?

Everybody seems to have forgotten that music is supposed to be fun. That's the bane of social media ~ it's ruined one of the precious few organic pleasures in life.

Here's what music is supposed to be:

Friday, April 12, 2019

Music Biographies

I get most of my Kindle books from the library, because I don't want to spend good money on something I won't like, plus it's easy, and I'm on a budget. My preferred genres are music biographies and true crime.

Procuring books from the library does limit my options. If the book is brand-new, the library won't have it. For example, I'm salivating over Randy Travis's memoir, which won't be released until May, which means my library will have sometime in late autumn (I may have to break down and purchase that one.) So I grab whatever's available and looks semi-interesting.

I find that biographies are much more interesting than autobiographies. It's hard to write about one's own life ~ it's a fine line ~ the experiences that mean so much to the writer will be pages that are swiped by the reader. There are exceptions, of course. Two autobiographies I recommend are:

Some memoirs I've read have infuriated me ~ the ones that sink into political grievances, for instance. If one's life is summed up by politics, that's kind of sad. Others have completely bored me (sorry, John Fogerty ~ a ghost writer might have been a judicious choice). 

I've read a ton of memoirs by former rock and country stars, and common themes in all of them are:

  • Sports hobbies, from tennis to race car driving to skiing, consume far too many tedious pages. The reason anyone is reading your book is because we like your music. Talk more about that.
  • After four or five failed marriages, the artist has finally found sublime happiness with a girl thirty years his junior. Here's a tip ~ that's kind of creepy.
  •  Illicit drug consumption is something to regret; not celebrate. Even Keith Richards gets that. It just makes you look pitiful.

Musicians who have journalism degrees think their writing is great. Apparently they missed the class on the prudent use of adjectives. Another annoying literary device is time-skipping. "This reminds me of the time twenty years ago, when I..." You're writing about your life ~ was your life rife with time travel? I sometimes wonder if it's a stream-of-consciousness writing style that no discerning editor dared question.

Some memoirs scream, "I'm an auteur!" Springsteen's book might have been okay, but after about three chapters all I focused on was how hard he was trying to be literary, and I gave up.

I enjoyed Patti Smith's memoir and I barely even know who she is. Because the writing was engaging.

Writing is a muscle that requires constant flexing. I despise lazy writing because I understand how hard writing is. Granted, I'm not paying actual money for most of these books, so maybe I deserve what I get. Everyone isn't good at everything. Being a musical virtuoso doesn't guarantee a mastery of every other artistic endeavor.

My advice to would-be memoirists ~ find a co-writer.

I, however, still love their music:

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Over-Rated Artists

(Just kidding!)

Tonight as I was clicking around my favorite channels on SiriusXM, it struck me that some artists are perhaps misguidedly exalted. Famous for being famous. Celebrated not so much for their music but for their persona. 

Everyone has their own list, and some people will detest me for my choices, but they're mine. And I'm not saying I loathe these guys; I'm just saying they're perhaps a pinch over-rated.

No one loves Bruce Springsteen as much as Bruce Springsteen does. I tried to read his autobiography, but it was so bloviated and precious, I gave up. His cloying exertion to come across as a "real writer" exhausted me. I don't want to be cognizant of an author's writerly struggles ~ I have enough of my own.

I was watching the 10,000 Pyramid sometime in the mid-seventies, and Dick Clark was doing the requisite celebrity interview. Some actor who I've forgotten (as has everyone else) was asked by Dick who the best rock singer was. This guy said, "Bruce Springsteen"; a name I'd never once in my life heard. Dick said something like, "A lot of people would disagree with you," and this flash in the pan responded, "Well, they'd be wrong." The actor in question was clearly from New Jersey. There's something about people from New Jersey ~ they're very sure of their opinions and that their judgements are the correct ones.

I've got nothing personal against Bruce Springsteen ~ he had his best success in the eighties when I was watching MTV, although I'm sure he would disavow those hits, because he's rather above it all, ACT-ually. My only point is that, taken as a whole, his catalog is sub-par. I do like this one, though:

Rolling Stone Magazine love-love-loves Johnny Cash. I'm not entirely sure why, but he did wear a black waistcoat, so there's that. As someone who was heavily steeped in country music in the sixties, I can tell you with certainty that Johnny Cash was not at the top of any country fan's playlist. The truth is, all his songs sounded almost precisely the same. Folsom Prison was a remake of a song he'd originally recorded in the fifties on Sun, and even in 1968 it still had that thump thump thumpety thump, like every single Johnny Cash song in history. The good news is, even I could play that intro on the guitar, and I was a shitty guitar player.

Someone with actual talent:

I do like this song, though:

My meager knowledge of the nineteen fifties confirms for me that music was putrid until Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis came along. I guess there was Perry Como and some chick singing about a doggie in the window...and maybe The Percy Faith Orchestra. The fifties were a staid time, so I can forgive the teens of that era for falling (hard) for someone who had even a semblance of spark. And granted, my perception is colored by the caricature he became, but I never understood Elvis.

I'm puzzled, much as my dad probably was when my older sisters swooned over the grainy black and white image on our TV screen when Elvis serenaded a hound dog on The Steve Allen Show. I'm torn about that appearance, because TV variety shows all the way through the nineteen sixties liked to make fun of rock/pop artists; and in this case the aim appeared to be to humiliate the future king. I'm not on board with that. I guess Steve didn't like Presley usurping Eddie Fisher's popularity.

Nevertheless, I don't "get" Elvis. Maybe it was real, but his on his singles he always sounded like he was posturing...embellishing. The only time I remember him sounding real was on a hit from 1965, "Crying In The Chapel", which also convinced my dad that this dude maybe wasn't so bad after all.

Even leaving aside his Vegas period, Elvis's RCA works were...odd. I don't know if he was popular because of the visuals, because his recordings were badly produced (sorry, Chet Atkins). The mark of a true artist is that you don't have to see them to recognize their artistry. I'd never laid eyes on the Beatles when I heard, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" on my AM radio.

However, I like this one:

These are my top three. There are others, to be sure, but I've probably offended enough people for one night. Maybe I should do a post about the most under-rated artists of all time, but that would be very lengthy ~ actually it would go on forever.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


By1981 I had settled into my new routine, working second shift at the hospital, which was the best job I'd ever had up to that point. As a dedicated scaredy-cat, I'd dipped my toe into the waters of a couple of unknowns -- a year in retail, another year as a government employee, until I stumbled upon my true calling.

My hard and fast rule was that I refused to accede the raising of my kids to a miscellaneous daycare worker. Thus, I was relegated to evening positions that involved the requisite changing of the guard -- a husband who came home from his day job at 3:00 and bluffingly assumed family responsibilities while I trundled off to my clinical night job.

I blithely assumed that a father would have his kids' best interests at heart -- until I came home one night at 10:00 and found the Christmas tree askew and its decorations oddly-placed. Disassembled and reassembled into a half-assed facsimile of the decor I'd lovingly put together but one day before. Apparently Dad had been engrossed in a telephone call with one of his friends while two toddlers laid waste to my painstaking bauble-hanging. Before I'd left for work that day, as the final scenes of the movie "Nine To Five" pranced across my TV screen, I'd admired my prodigious decorating skills, and had decided all was right with the world.

Everyone was asleep, so I didn't interrogate anyone, but two and four-year-olds tend to lie anyway. Trust me, little kids are natural-born liars.

I'd apparently semi-abandoned country music by that time, because the songs I remember from that year are almost entirely pop (or what we referred to as "rock").

For a rock pop fan in 1981, the offerings were awesome. I hate purists. I'm not even a purist and I, of anyone, have the bona fides to be one, if we're talking sixties country. I don't know what rock purists remember from that particular year -- The Who? I always hated The Who. The Stones? The Rolling Stones were already old by then, but they refused to pack it in. I never was a Stones fan, either. I've tried.

No, the best singles from 1981 are songs such as these:

(Still one of the best pop songs ever)

If anyone tries to tell you Hall and Oates are not sublime, they are wrong. Just wrong. 

I didn't even know who Bruce Springsteen was in 1981. I would watch the $20,000 Pyramid in the mornings (remember that?) It was hosted by Dick Clark. Some celebrity contestant -- I don't remember who -- was being interviewed by Dick. Clark asked the guy who his favorite rock artist was, and the dude replied that the best rock artist in the whole wide world was Bruce Springsteen. Dick said, "Well, that's your opinion. A lot of people would disagree with you." I was like, who? That was the first time I'd ever heard the name Bruce Springsteen. I still don't think Bruce is the best rock artist in the whole wide world. He's pretty good, though.

(I could give you the secret to why Springsteen's recordings are so good, but then I'd have to kill you.)

I think we'd gotten a special deal on HBO. At the time, HBO replayed the six same movies approximately ten thousand times. That was great if one really liked the movie. Ask me anything about "Nine To Five". Go ahead. Around that time, somebody (hopefully not Harvey Weinstein) convinced Neil Diamond that what he really needed to do was act. That somebody was sorely mistaken. I love Neil Diamond and I love, love George Strait, but neither of them should have ever taken one step in front of a movie camera. Nevertheless, "The Jazz Singer" became one of HBO's six featured movies, and I watched it and watched it again. Lucie Arnaz played the female lead. It was wallowingly schmaltzy, but it featured some good songs:

Two artists from 1981 would later go on to form a super-group. Here's Jeff Lynne:

In case you don't know, the other was George Harrison. George deserves his own damn post, and his hit from that year doesn't have a decent video. Don't take my omission as disrespecting George, because I respect him to pieces.

Country was fully represented in 1981. Those "purists" probably didn't appreciate these two hits, but they can go to hell. These two singles, especially the second one, will live on forever.

I awoke one cold December morning to my AM radio and a disc jockey saying words that seemed like an awful dream. I think he'd just played Ticket To Ride, and I thought, in my haze, well, that's a blast from the past. 

Then he said John was dead. 

I rolled over and flipped the volume dial on my radio. I still recall that green comforter tucked up to my chin and touching its white-etched flowers with my fingertip. 

And then he played this song. 

This song hurt so much because it was exactly, distinctly, the John who had transformed my life. From the tender age of nine, the very first time I'd heard him through my transistor speakers, John became my first love. 

I'd never lost anyone before I lost John. I was twenty-five years old. You don't lose somebody at twenty-five.

1981 was a good year in so many ways. I had two cute but incorrigible sons who romped around in blue-flannel pajamas. I loved my job. I was finally seeing a way out of crushing debt. Pop music was fun -- like music is supposed to be. 

Life doesn't really care how happy or sad we are:

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sixty-Two -- And Music

I should be in a more reflective mood today, I suppose, since I have turned sixty-two. When my mom was forty, I thought she was ancient. Looking back, forty was actually pretty good. Every birthday is good, and bad, in its own special way. This year I decided to revel in it. I learned well the lesson (thanks Mom) to never call attention to myself. But I decided today to pay attention to myself. I'm pretty easy to please -- I turned on Sirius and searched my favorite channels for songs to mark the day. I found three that essentially sum up my weird musical history:

1. "It's A Beautiful Morning" by the Rascals
2. "I Wish I Could Fall In Love Today" by Barbara Mandrell
3. "Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen

(I danced in my chair to that last one.)

What have I learned this year?

Well, I learned that just when I thought music was all in the past, I still love it. Thank you, Sirius Radio. As I gaze about this room, I see approximately 300 CD's, which I never play. They've become part of the decor. In a bookcase in the hall sits all the albums I've possessed since the mid-sixties. I never ever toss one on the turntable. My external hard drive holds songs I really wanted and didn't have until Amazon offered me anything I ever wanted. I never click on my music player. It took Sirius to remind me that I still love music. I don't have to make any choices other than which of my favorite stations is playing a song I want to hear right now. Based on my Sirius experience, I estimate there are approximately 10,000 songs I really like - give or take a thousand. Of course, when one has been on this earth for sixty-two years, they accumulate a lot of favorites. And they forget a bunch of them.

I've learned that music is my best friend. It'll never have a snit and stomp off because of something I've said or didn't say. If I feel sad, music will accommodate me. If I feel like chair-dancing, shoot, music is right there egging me on. If I want to sing, music offers lots of harmonies, at least one of which I can latch onto.

Life's circle.

Right now on Sirius, The Shirelles are singing, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow". My big sister played that record in 1961. I was six years old and I remember seeing the red 45 spinning on her turntable.

"Oh, Pretty Woman" is playing now. Wow, that song, in 1964, was a revelation. I watched Roy Orbison in his sunglasses perform that song on the Lloyd Thaxton Show in my uncle's dark living room. Nineteen sixty-four essentially set my life's path.

Now I'm hearing "A White Sport Coat". The very first concert I attended was a Marty Robbins performance my mom took me to in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I was maybe five? My mom urged me to go up after the show and get Marty's autograph, but I was too shy.

Most every song I hear dredges up a memory. I wonder sometimes how many memories I've lost that would be recovered if only the right song turned up on my Sirius playlist.

"Norwegian Wood" came from the best Beatles album of all time -- "Rubber Soul". If a voice seeps into one's soul, John Lennon's is the one for me. I think it's an organic thing. I can't explain it.

"Bye Bye Love":  Well, again, 1964. I had a little trio with my two cousins, and this was the only song I got to sing lead on. "There goes my baby..." I can't tell you how proud I was to be able to sing lead on that song.

It's too bad one can't make money knowing music inside and out, because I guess I would have the market cornered. Name a song and I can give you a dissertation on the state of the world when that song was popular. Unfortunately, it's a talent not much in demand. I'm still glad I have it, though.

So, as my birthday winds down, I figured I would post videos of the first three songs I listed in this post:

(Sorry if an ad plays before this song, but somebody (Bruce?) decided that ads before great videos were a good thing):

That one makes me happy, and it's a great finishing touch for today.

Through these sixty-two years I've also heard enough bad songs to know what good songs are. But even the bad songs evoke fond memories, if only because they made me laugh with friends.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ahhh, 1984

The eighties. Some people love 'em, some hate 'em. I loved them. In music, that is. And life in general was pretty good. We had a good president, a more or less unified country. People were essentially happy.

There are times in music that reflect people's state of consciousness. The late sixties were angry, raucous; and thus was the music. The seventies lulled everyone into a quiet catatonia, which gave rise to artists like John Denver and the Carpenters. Times were bad. People had to wait in line to fill their cars with gas. While Jimmy Carter quietly read his Bible in the White House, everyday folk were clawing to put food on the table for their kids and bemoaning that the world was going to hell. The soft strums of Denver's twelve-string helped to quell the bitter bile that rose in people's throats.

The nineties were a blur. No one stood for anything. The nineties were a static line. Not bad; not necessarily good. They just existed.

I am a firm believer that the mood of the populace at any given time can be gleaned from its music. We are reflections of the life we live.

I hadn't yet turned thirty by 1984, so life was alive with possibilities and new wonders. I had two boys who were turning out quite nicely; I never had much money -- I had a little credit union account at the hospital where I worked, in which I would deposit a little money from each paycheck to save for our summer vacation, which invariably took place in the Black Hills of South Dakota -- camping in a pop-up trailer. Camping beneath the tall pines. Granted, I've always been a creature of habit, but if you find a place you love, why only visit it once? The blacktop on the way there was hot and dusty, our car had air conditioning that worked "sometimes" -- at least until it froze up and then we'd roll down the windows and let the hot breath of July whisk the sweat from our sunburned faces. We played Mad Libs, the boys tried their best to annoy one another; we joked and bantered.

And we had the music.

I expected this song to be the number one hit of 1984, as much as we heard it. I mean, as much as we heard it. Over and over and over again. But surprisingly, it was only number six. I eventually formed a raw hate for the song, but that happens anytime one is forced to listen to something ad nauseum. We didn't have choices; no iPods and certainly no cell phones. What? A phone one can take with you? When our camper blew a tire along Highway 83, we couldn't punch up a highway helper. Instead we limped along to the first town on the map; thumped rubber for eighteen miles 'til we got to a truck stop that, mercifully, had a tire in stock that fit. If Van Halen was playing on the radio somewhere along that eighteen-mile chug, I'm sure I punched a tiny fist-sized dent in the car speaker.

I loved Huey Lewis & The News. Huey always seemed to me like the accountant who got pulled onto the stage on karaoke night and was mortified, but decided to just go with it. And he knocked everybody out and found himself the talk of the office come Monday morning. "Who knew?" Good old Hugh from down the hall. The guy with the pocket protector!"

I don't get it, but this song was only number forty-four:

When I first saw this next video, I thought, "what a quirky girl!". Cyndi Lauper was definitely different. She wasn't Madonna (that's a good thing). She was her own self, and nobody was complaining (#15 on the year). Totally the vibe of the eighties:

Culture Club was certainly different, but that was a-okay. Boy George was a pretty girl; soft, feminine. It didn't even cross my mind to make any judgments. I liked their music. This song was number ten for the year:

Confession:  I never saw this movie. I may have seen a part of this movie, but never the whole thing. And that's just not like me. I'm all about guys dancing -- from Saturday Night Fever to Dirty Dancing to Grease. Men won't understand this, but women love to see a guy dancing. It's sexy, maybe because it's so rare. It takes an elegant confidence for a man to get out there and do it. John Travolta did it (twice), Patrick Swayze did it with awesomeness. And Kenny Loggins also did it (in the guise of Kevin Bacon):

And then there is this:

An aside -- practically every movie soundtrack from the eighties featured Kenny Loggins. It was decreed.

Ghostbusters:  Had to buy the t-shirts; my kids demanded them. The red circle crossing out the ghost in the middle. Ghostbusters was a touchstone of the eighties. I didn't get it then; later I watched the movie and still didn't get it. I love Bill Murray, but this movie is essentially lame. It has...count 'em...two laughs in its entirety. It was an eighties thing, which requires no explanation. It just was:

There are two artists who essentially dominated the eighties. Like 'em or loathe them; it's how it was. There are tons of hits from 1984 and I'm just scratching the surface, but let's give credit where it's due. And it's due here:

Courtney Cox was just some girl in a music video who was pulled onstage by Bruce Springsteen. Who knew she would later become mega-rich and would live on in reruns forever. Nevertheless, this video is about Bruce, not Courtney. And Bruce was, only after Lionel (sorry) almost the biggest name of the eighties:

Yep, somebody's sorely missing. Trouble is, he was pathologically private about sharing his music online. Sad for many reasons, but primarily because he had the biggest hit of 1984. I'll try next time around to find something of his to post. Or, failing that, maybe I'll just post his picture.

Nineteen eighty-four:  happiness.

It's gonna be a hard year to beat.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Today's Music

Today's music is whatever "today" means to you. The reason I can't get on board with the real "today's music", is because it doesn't create memories.

I'm drawn to a certain moment in time. Maybe it's not the music, but maybe it is. Or maybe it's a combination of the music and the times I lived it.

My youngest son will be getting married in two weeks. Seriously? I remember when he was eight. I remember sitting in the car at the mall and saying, "Wait, let's not go in yet. I want to hear this song." I remember cluing him in on who Bob Dylan was. I remember exclaiming, "That's Bruce Springsteen!"

Music matters because of who you share it with. Music matters because of the joy of discovery, with somebody who gets it.

I told my son once, "I only like sixties and eighties rock", and he nodded his head. He remembers eighties rock - it's seared into his cerebrum. He remembers how I tuned the FM radio to the rock station on his way home from school. He remembers that we had our television set on MTV and how we were glued to the screen when Peter Gabriel had things siphoning off his brain. He remembers how we laughed at Beavis and Butthead.

I'm feeling a bit wistful right now, because my son is all grown up and I sort of missed it. In two weeks he will be married, and before long he'll have a child he'll share musical memories with, and point out, "That's ....". And his child will tuck that knowledge away in a recess that he or she doesn't even know exists until it all comes tumbling out one day.

So I'm going to post a tribute to my son and to things we shared that maybe he forgot, or maybe he didn't. I really like eighties rock, but I wonder if I like it so much because he and I experienced it together.

I was going to include other videos, but that's for another day. This one pretty much encapsulates the eighties, don't you think?

Here's to you, Matt. I think your subconscious remembers this.

It's a gift that nobody else can give you, and I feel pretty good about that.

Someday you'll share with your son or your daughter. And the tie will bind. And they will laugh and say, "Oh, Grandpa and his old-time music".

But you and I both know.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

NItty Gritty!

I like to write about things that pop (POP!) into my brain at any given moment.

I'm not sure why I thought about the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band tonight, but maybe I was in a reminiscent mood.

When I slid back into country music in the late nineteen eighties, there were a few acts that resonated with me. One of them was the Sweethearts of the Rodeo, a duo that is long gone, except maybe for reunion shows (I honestly have no idea). One was Dwight Yoakam, who grabbed hold of my heart and has never let go. My parents were into George Strait, who I considered a "pretty boy" out of sheer obstinance (I think I was in the second coming of my rebellious stage). An upstart! I snickered. Good lord, I was a moron.

Another was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Oh sure, I'd heard of them. They'd done that awful song about some dude who jumped around and thumped a tambourine against his shin:

Honestly, I never grasped the appeal of that song. It seemed uncomfortable to me - a throwback to the days of Jim Crow. Jerry Jeff Walker wrote that song, and he's written some pretty tasty ones - just not this one. But I understand he's huge in Texas.

My next cognizance of NGDB was notable for the Linda Ronstadt solo in this song (written, by the way, by Rodney Crowell). Interestingly, we hear Linda in this video, but she's apparently not actually there:

And they did that "Circle" album, featuring a bunch of old-time artists that, honestly, I could take or leave. I wasn't in an appreciative frame of mind then. I kinda am now.

NGDT didn't, however, hit their stride until the eighties, when things took off rather rapidly. That's where I came in.

I started to hear songs like this:

I will point out, however, that this song is impossible to dance to. Try it.

And this one (I apologize for the pitifully poor quality of this video):

Don't forget this Bruce Springsteen anthem:

Naturally, my favorite NGDB song doesn't have an actual video. Here it is anyway:

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was a band-savant looking for their niche. They found it in the nineteen eighties.

But one more reason why I love eighties country music.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I Still Want My MTV

Yep, we've been feeling a bit nostalgic lately.  If you read my previous post, you were no doubt transported back in time, to those bygone days, when times were so much more innocent.

Sort of like this:

I'm just kidding, of course.

There were a lot of music videos that particularly struck my fancy (or at least my funny bone) way back in the 1980's.  Here are a few:

I heard this next song one day on my car radio, and it struck me:  this could be a country song  (seriously)!  Of course, that would just ruin it, but I'm just saying, this song is structured like a country song:

I must include two by Springsteen, because both of these videos are nostalgic for me, and one of them features Courteney Cox (because I love trivia):

And this next one just makes me feel good:

In my book, I noted that we choose to remember the '80's as the time of Springsteen and Michael Jackson; when in actuality, they were the time of Genesis and Lionel Richie.  Every time I flipped my TV on, there was Lionel.  Like this:

So, I just wanted to set the record straight on that.

Moving on, however; I don't care who says Huey Lewis and the News are kitschy.  Not to me!  I love them!

And this one was "fun":

Both the hair and the music are excellent on this one; although the split screen tends to make my head throb:

I don't even know how I forgot about this, but in addition to Genesis and Lionel Richie, the 1980's were SO all about Whitney:

BLOGGER'S NOTE:  While I love, love Prince, I definitely do NOT love his stingy ways.  Prince (a Minnesotan, alas, like me) chooses to not make his videos available to anyone.  I do not know why, but I've been down this road before, and I've yet to find an official Prince video online.  And I'm not about to risk a computer virus trying to find a bootleg copy.

Speaking of Genesis (not to change the subject), an unusual phenomenon occurred in the '80's:  Phil Collins discovered (much to his surprise!) that he was suddenly a sex symbol.  And thus, he left his bandmates (and his drum kit) behind, and stepped into the spotlight as a solo artist:

Of course, I didn't forget Michael Jackson!  I succinctly remember all the pre-video hype about Thriller; how MTV got us all worked up with regular news flashes and every-five-minute promos.  I'm not going to post all 13 or so minutes of Thriller, though.  Feel free to search it out on YouTube.  I do like this one a bunch, however (and believe it or not, it's more memorable to me than Thriller ~ maybe it was the moon walk):

I'm realizing that this post is becoming a tome, so I need to stop; although the more I think about MTV videos, the more I say, hey!  That one!  What about that one!  That one was great!

So, I will end by posting a couple that are either fun or just plain cool.  You be the judge:

And my favorite....Yea, Shania did a takeoff of this video, which was actually cool, even if derivative.  But nothing beats the original:

Bottom line, for me, is; I do love the eighties and my MTV.   My music tastes are perhaps odd.  My times were the sixties; the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Motown; the eighties (and my MTV!), and strangely, eighties country (Dwight, George, Nitty Gritty, Rodney, et al).  I know those don't seem to go together, but I just like what I like. 

And I like reliving good times.  Those three categories reflect "good times" for me.  Maybe it was me; maybe it was the music.  Maybe it was just both.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rock & Roll - The Eighties - Part 1

As we've learned from previous posts, the '70's weren't a great decade for music. Oh sure, there were some good songs here and there (as I noted), but overall, the '70's kind of sucked, music-wise.

Plus, I'll admit, in the '80's, MTV was actually showing music videos (a weird concept, I admit). And music videos were new then. So, there was some creativity going on. Believe it or not. I enjoyed MTV back then. But, it all came down to the music. And I liked a lot of the music of the '80's. We can quibble, if you like. But you won't change my mind.

Music does go through cycles. The '60's were inventive; the '80's were re-inventive. The '70's were kind of sluggish. I don't know why. Maybe it was because of Jimmy Carter (ha!) I think maybe the artists of the '70's were like, "Damn! I missed out on all the good years of music! I can't top that! So, maybe I'll just tie a yellow ribbon 'round that old oak tree. Everybody's so sick and tired of Jimmy Carter, they'll buy anything that makes them feel good." Just a theory.

So, herewith, some songs from the '80's:


Here's the CEO of Acme Products, Incorporated, conducting his semi-annual all-staff meeting. All decked out in his dress shirt and tie. "Well, we had a pretty good quarter, sales are up. I know these meetings can get a little dull, and if we didn't give you free donuts, most of you probably wouldn't even be here. Right, Big Larry? But, today, in lieu of the handouts I've prepared, I thought I'd sing you the third-quarter financial report. So, if the HR staff would join me up here. HIT IT, GIRLS!"


Anyone who knows me, knows that Billy Joel is not one of my favorite artists. However, this is one of the few Billy Joel songs that I actually like.

That said, remind me to never go to this garage to get my car serviced! While they're busy wiping down the headlights and acting like they're in the touring company of "Grease", my lug nuts are falling off, and I'm driving off on bare rims. Oh, and that'll be $199.95. Gee, thanks for the headlight cleaning, guys.


By means of clarification, "Purple Rain" and "When Doves Cry" are unavailable on YouTube. I think Prince had them removed. Cuz they were there before. That's okay, though. He's kind of protective of his privacy and what-not. This video will probably be gone before long, too, so I'll just be blogging about a video that's not even there. Thanks for making me look like a fool, Prince.

Anyway, Prince is from Minneapolis. He's the second most famous artist to hail from Minnesota. And deservedly so. I am a big fan of Prince and I'm glad that I could at least post one video from him (at least for the time being). If one looks back on the '80's (fondly, of course), and they try to decide who was the most influential artist of that decade, in hindsight, it wasn't Michael Jackson. Sorry. It was Prince.

This video was shot in Minneapolis. Yes, just another typical day in the neighborhood.


Isn't this just the cheesiest video ever? The first time I saw this video, I wondered if it was some kind of youth worship know, with the "Choose Life" tee shirts and all.

And it seems like kind of a lopsided partnership. Andrew: "Hey! You get all the screen time!" George (hip-thrusting Andrew off the stage): "That's because I have the BLINDINGLY white teeth and the impossibly short shorts!"

And weird that both George Michael and the back-up girls had the exact same hair style. Easy day for the hairdresser, I guess.


Filmed in the 1930's, one doesn't realize that Steve Winwood is actually over 100 years old! Here he was, in his prime, and he even goes back further, back to the 1890's, when he was with the Spencer Davis Group! He's held up well!

This is one of my favorite songs from the era (you know, from the dust bowl days). Nevertheless, in all seriousness, it is one of my favorite songs. I 'm a big Steve Winwood fan.

Let's talk now about two of the most enduring acts from the '80's.

The first:


Here's our San Francisco stockbroker, taking a rare break from his stockbroking duties to visit a nightclub (for the first time).

What's this he sees up on the stage? His alter ego, in a sleeveless white tee shirt, acting all cool and carrying around that microphone. So emboldened, our shy stockbroker decides to choose the frizzy-haired blonde girl in the frilly plus-size tunic to be his dance partner. As he tries to leave the nightclub with his new "girlfriend", he finds that behind every door he opens is a member of the "News" (and behind one door, a steam locomotive!) Eeek! Finally! They find a door that leads to the alley! Whew! That was very spine-tingling! And so he takes Frizzy back to his office to show her his "ticker-tapes". The end.


The Moonlighting Mafioso Band appears here, led by Daryl Hall, wearing his green huge shoulder-padded sports coat. And who knew that the mafia had such rhythm? Those hand-claps seem just like gunshots! So, in essence, rock band/mafia family ~ apparently pretty much the same, in Daryl Hall's world.


The first thing that strikes me about this video is - hey! Look at that hair! I guess that's where Pantene made its fortune. All that conditioner that the boys in the Jovi band were buying. Cuz believe me, when you get those curly perms, you need a LOT of conditioner. I remember that from the eighties.

This video is from back before Jon Bon Jovi decided he was a country artist - ha!

I always liked this one, with Jon attached to the harness, so he could fly out above the audience. They did things BIG in the eighties.


This is no doubt the most inventive video of the eighties. Seeing this kind of makes me wonder if Peter was living in "crazy world" when he filmed this. Cuz, man! This is disorienting! Still good, though!


Maybe it's just me, but I think these guys are hilarious. They were so stupid, and yet, so smart-alecky. What more could you ask for? That's me in a nutshell.....stupid, yet smart-alecky. I guess that's why Beavis is my hero.


This is the video that sealed The Police's fame. Black and white. Sting and his upright bass. Sting the Stalker. I mean, really, if you think about this song, it's really creepy. I need to go peer out my window, to make sure no one is out there on the street.......with an upright bass.


One should never forget how HUGE Michael Jackson was in the eighties. This is from Motown's 30th Anniversary Special. You know, the moonwalk, the single white glove, all that stuff. If only Michael could have maintained that semblance of normalcy. But it was not to be. And now we look at Michael as basically a pervert. And a weirdo. And insane.

But back in the eighties, the only thing we wondered about Michael was why he kept insisting that the CHAIR was not his son.


Here is a young Bruce Springsteen, wearing his bowling shirt. Dancing awkwardly. Basically doing the one-armed dance. Alas, Bruce can no longer do the "one-armed dance", because Bruce is old now.

But this video features the E Street Band, including a weirdly androgynous Clarence Clemens and also that guy from Late Night With Conan O'Brien. I would know his name, except I am unable to stay up that late.

This video is notable for the appearance of Courtney Cox, who later, of course, went on to star in "Friends", and is now WAY richer than Bruce himself. Funny how things work out.

Naive as I was, I actually thought, at the time, that this was a real audience member, plucked out of the crowd to dance (awkwardly) with Bruce. Ah, the media. It manipulates people. I'm WAY smarter than that now. In hindsight.


I just realized that I could have skipped all the other videos and just included this one, since what better representation of the eighties could there be? Look at these guys! Stevie Wonder, Huey Lewis, Cindi Lauper, Springsteen, Bob Dylan (and it was sort of lame that Quincy Jones told him to sing it in more of a "Dylan" style), Joe Perry, Kenny Loggins, Tina Turner, Lionel Ritchie. Michael, off by himself, singing, so no one could touch him. Odd that they included Willie, since I don't know exactly where he fit in the pantheon of eighties rock. Ray Charles - yay! I'm not exactly sure why Dan Ackroyd was there, but, okay! A bunch of Jacksons. Diana Ross. Well, I can't remember them all. But suffice it to say, this is the eighties in a nutshell.

Part two will be forthcoming. As I thought about this topic, I realized that I have only scratched the surface of music videos from the eighties. And watching VH1's program, "Top Videos Of The Eighties" today only made me feel more insecure in my choices.

So, if the seventies rate a two-parter, surely the eighties demand the same courtesy.

But this is a good primer, don't you think?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 - The Year In Music

For someone like me who likes to bitch about the state of music, I have to admit, 2007 was pretty darn good. You just needed to know how to find the good stuff.

I've read a bunch of critics' lists of the best CD's of 2007, and unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to hear them all. The critics could well be right. After all, they did list most of my favorite CD's of the year.

Critics whose opinions I value include Chet Flippo (of course) and Jon Bream, who writes for the Star Tribune. I also like to read Entertainment Weekly's opinions, although their demographic is, admittedly, younger. I also perused the list that No Depression Magazine compiled.

So, here's where we agree:

"Raising Sand" - Alison Krauss & Robert Plant

"Revival" - John Fogerty

"Dwight Sings Buck" - Dwight Yoakam

"Magic" - Bruce Springsteen (the prettiest song of the year, "Girls In Their Summer Clothes")

Some mentioned "The Bluegrass Sessions" by Merle Haggard (produced by Marty Stuart).

At least one list included "In A Perfect World" by Gene Watson.

I would also include The Eagles, "Long Road Out Of Eden" and "Goin' Home - A Tribute To Fats Domino".

I'm sure there must be new artists who are great. I hear there's some British gals who are pretty good.

What I know is, the artists who produced the best music in 2007 (in my opinion) have been around since the 1980's or longer:

Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, John Fogerty, Dwight Yoakam, Bruce Springsteen, Merle Haggard, Gene Watson, The Eagles, Fats Domino.

I don't know what this means. A cynic would say, there are no good new artists on the horizon. I don't believe that. I guess we just don't get a chance to hear the new, good ones.

But thank God for the old ones!

And here's an old one:

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Music That I Like

(originally posted 06-02-06)

Everybody wants to recommend music to everybody else. It’s a primal instinct, I guess.

I’ll grant you, I’m somewhat stuck in the ’80’s, as far as country music is concerned. But that’s not a bad thing. Think about the so-called “country music” that’s being played on the radio now. On second thought, don’t think about it. It’s too horrific to think about.

The ’80’s were a prime time for country. We had people like: George Strait, Alan Jackson, Dwight Yoakam, Randy Travis; people like that whom no one has ever heard of. Let’s see: Who do we have now? Milque-toast Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, some other generic interchangeable singers. Sad.

But the tide is getting ready to turn. It’s usually a 20-year cycle. It’s about time for times to change.

In the meantime, while we’re watching the clock and tearing off pages on our calendars, I’ll recommend some GOOD music. Some is new, some isn’t. All are available on or wherever you choose to purchase your music.

So, here are six:

The Seeger Sessions - Bruce Springsteen: Any time an artist does something that you wouldn’t expect them to do, that is a revelation. Bruce went into the studio with an all-newly assembled band and recorded traditional folk songs. But don’t be deceived. These songs were recorded with attitude. Driving drumbeats, horns. Listen to “Mary, Don’t You Weep”. You’ll be hooked.

Timeless - Martina McBride: Who knew? I thought she just specialized in overwrought pop-country songs. This woman has GREAT taste in music! She’s redone some classic, and dare I say, “timeless” country songs. And she stayed true to the original recordings! Check out “Rose Garden”. Ah, memories.

Highway 101’s Greatest Hits
: Okay, I like my country upfront and not timid. This band didn’t hold back. Paulette Carlson is a Minnesota native! These guys were HUGE in their time, and their songs stand up today. And talk about good taste! They recorded songs written by the likes of Rodney Crowell and Roger Miller. How cool is that? These folks had taste. I recommend “Cry Cry Cry” and “Somewhere Tonight”.

The Essential Foster & Lloyd
: “Crazy Over You” is a song that will always make my top 20 of the best country songs of all time. Like Highway 101, these guys put it all out there. Driving guitars. That “hillbilly-rock” sort of thing. Love them.

Speaking of hillbilly rock, the man himself, Marty Stuart: Country Music is the title of this CD. Oh, what talent. He plays everything - mandolin, guitar; he surrounds himself with the best players any musician could pray for. He has impeccable taste in music. He is one of my musical heroes. You will NOT be disappointed by this CD. Choice cut: “Sundown In Nashville”.

Dwight Yoakam: The MAN. His latest CD, Blame The Vain. I want to write songs like Dwight writes. Alas, it’s only something to aspire to, at this point. On this CD, he’s without his former right-hand man and producer, Pete Anderson, but he still made a helluva of an album. I’m partial to “Intentional Heartache”, but it’s very, very tough to pick the best song.

So, as you can see, I’m somewhat passionate about GOOD music. If you hate country music, you’ll hate these recommendations. If you hate folk music, you may not like Bruce Springsteen’s CD - but you should give it a chance anyway. You might well be surprised.

This music is not “synthesized”. If you like that kind of stuff, okay. If you like real music played by real musicians, give these CD’s a shot.

I never know how to end these blogs, so I’ll just say goodnight.