Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Clipse -- "I'm Good" (2009)

Today is a good day
Ice cubes on my chest

When you listen to "I'm Good," you just hear a song.  Maybe you like it, maybe you don't . . . either way, it's just a song to you.

When I listen to "I'm Good," I hear a virtual Christmas fruitcake, full of sonic pecans, raisins, and chunks of pineapple, dates, and cherries.

Every time I stick my thumb into "I'm Good," I pull out a plum -- metaphorically speaking, of course. 

In this case, my plums are not drupe fruits with an epicuticular wax coating that gives them a glaucous appearance, but rather are lines and phrases that pay homage to other rap lyrics.

The lines quoted above are an obvious reference to a famous rap song.  Can you name the song and the rapper who recorded it?  

No?  How about you?

Anyone?  (Bueller?  Bueller?)

Surely you've  heard of the rapper, Ice Cube?  Ice Cube (who was born O'Shea Jackson) was an original member of the greatest gangsta rap group of all time, N.W.A.  After leaving N.W.A., Ice Cube starred in movies (e.g., Boyz n the Hood, Three Kings, and Barbershop), produced and starred in the TV series Are We There Yet?, and had a successful solo career as a rapper. 

One of his big hits as a solo rapper was "It Was a Good Day," which gets a shoutout in the lines quoted above.  

Ice Cube
That's far from the only reference to a famous hiphop lyrics you'll find in "I'm Good."

The first line of today's featured song is "You can find me in the streets," while the first line of 50 Cent megabit, "In Da Club" is "You can find me in the club."  (Coincidence?  I think not?)

50 Cent
"I'm Good" mentions "yellow diamonds," which brings to mind Gucci Mane's "Lemonade," a fabulous rap song that mentions yellow diamonds several times.  (According to Rap Genius -- an authoritative source if I ever did see one -- Gucci sports yellow diamond earrings and a massive diamond pinky ring.)  

Gucci Mane
And who could hear Clipse's line, "Cruisin' on them twenty-twos got me sittin' pretty" and not think of the inimitable T.I.'s great "What You Know," which includes the line, "See me in your city, sittin' pretty."

What does all this mean?  It means that 2 or 3 lines pretty much knows the rap oeuvre cold.

I can't tell you how pleased I am with myself that I know so much about rap that I can pull these references out of my head like others can decipher the lyrics of American Pie.  (Which is child's play . . . just sayin'.) 

You don't master a pop music genre by taking a class or reading a few books, boys and girls.  No, you can have to live the music.

Believe me, it's not easy for an old white guy to live rap music.  Believe me, the expense of going to strip clubs, popping bottles full of bub, and making it rain would discourage a less determined observer.

But if that's what it takes to speak hiphop like a native, then 2 or 3 lines is ready to make the necessary sacrifices.

The Thornton brothers
Clipse is a rap duo that features brothers Gene "No Malice" Thornton and Terrence "Pusha T" Thornton, who hail from Virginia Beach, Virginia.

"I'm Good" was released on Clipse's third studio album, Til the Casket Drops, in 2009.  It features a guest appearance by Pharrell Williams, whose single "Happy" recently became insufferable virtually overnight.

Here's "I'm Good":

Click below to order the song from Amazon:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Come Ons -- "Sunday Drive" (2001)

I know it's a long, long time
Since you've been in my car
Try to make it to Sunday

You can believe this song is about a boy and a girl taking a Sunday drive together.  Or you can wake up and smell the cat food, suckas!

"Sunday Drive" is just one long double entendre.  You know what a double entendre is, don't you, Steve?

A double entendre is a phrase that has two meanings.  Usually the more subtle of the two meanings is suggestive, so the double entendre enables one to communicate a suggestive message -- or as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, an "indelicate meaning" -- and still maintain one's innocence.

There are three possible outcomes when you utter a double entendre.  

Number one, the listener won't get it -- that's not the best outcome, but you can live with that.  

Second, the listener picks up on the suggestive meaning and finds it titillating or humorous.  (That's what you're hoping for, of course.)

Double entendre
Third, the listener picks up on the suggestive meaning and is offended.  No problem -- you just deny that you meant anything off-color, point to the innocent interpretation of what you said, and insist that is the meaning that was intended.  You can also pretend that you are offended that the listener thought you meant anything improper, and accuse him or her of having a dirty mind.

One famous double entendre is the title of Shakespeare's play, Much Ado About Nothing.  It seems that "nothing" is Elizabethan slang for a woman's . . . ummm, this is a little embarrassing . . . for a woman's . . . well, a woman's "no-thing" (or her "o-thing," if you prefer) . . . or to use the Come Ons' word, her "car."

The Come Ons are the third group who appeared on the Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit album that 2 or 3 lines has featured.  If you don't know this already, that album -- which features a dozen or so garage/punk bands from Detroit -- was produced in 2001 by Jack White.

Live a number of the groups featured on that album, the Come Ons have a retro-y sound.  This song relies heavily on a vintage-sounding organ, and relegates the guitar to a secondary role as a rhythm instrument (which is where it belongs).

The Come Ons
Here's the version of "Sunday Drive" that was included on the Come Ons' 2001 album, Hip Check!:

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Detroit Cobras -- "Shout Bama Lama" (2001)

Lord have mercy on my soul
How many chickens have I stole?
One last night and the night before
I'm going back and try to get 
Ten or 'leven more . . .
I love a chicken, baby!

Amen to that, brothers and sisters -- I, too, love a chicken!

Today my go-to chicken comes from Crisp & Juicy, a local carry-out that serves fabulous Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken cooked in ovens fueled by charcoal.  

Crisp & Juicy chicken
A nice leg quarter of Crisp & Juicy chicken with some black beans and rice is hard to beat, boys and girls.  

But back in the day, my #1 seed for chicken was Chicken Annie's . . . or Chicken Mary's.  I could never really tell the difference, which will no doubt shock my high school friends -- I think most locals strongly favor one or the other.

Chicken Annie's and Chicken Mary's are large fried-chicken restaurants located directly across the road from one another out in the middle of nowhere.  (The mailing address for both restaurants is Pittsburg, Kansas, but the only building that's visible from Chicken Mary's is Chicken Annie's, and vice versa.)

Both restaurants were started by women whose coal-miner husbands became physically unable to continue working in the mines.  Chicken Annie's is the older of the two -- it was opened by Annie Pichler in 1934.  Mary Zerngast opened Chicken Mary's about a decade later.

Let's take a close look at Chicken Annie's menu.  (Chicken Mary's is similar.)

You can get one-, two-, three-, and four-piece dark-meat dinners, or dinners with one, two, three, or four chicken breasts.  If you can't decide between white and dark meat, you can get two-, three-, four-, and five-piece mixed dinners.

You can also get dinners featuring three, four, or six wings, and four or six backs.  

No part of the chicken goes unused: the menu offers chicken livers, gizzards, and hearts.  (My son Nick and are partial to chicken hearts, and we always get a side order of hearts to accompany our chicken dinners.)

Dinners are served with two side orders.  You can get everything from French fries to a baked potato to applesauce to cottage cheese to spaghetti.

But I pity the fool who isn't smart enough to opt for a double order of German-style potato salad -- which is wonderfully oily, vinegary, and garlicky.

In 1982, food writer Calvin Trillin wrote a long piece about Chicken Annie's and Chicken Mary's for the New Yorker.   I was stunned, then thrilled when I saw that article -- I would never have dreamed that the famed New Yorker would take notice of the two restaurants.

More recently, the Travel Channel visited Pittsburg and taste-tested both restaurants' fried chicken.  NBC news anchor Brian Williams -- who got his start at the local NBC affiliate -- was featured in that show.

Click here to read more about Annie's, Mary's, and some other local fried-chicken joints. 

By the way, all those restaurants serve bread from Frontenac Bakery, a small local bakery that was started by a coal miner who was injured on the job and had to find another way to make a living.  Click here to read more about Frontenac Bakery.

"Shout Bama Lama" is one of the tracks on Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit, a compilation album that was produced in 2001 by Jack White of the White Stripes.  Click here to read about another song featured on that album.  

The Detroit Cobras, one of the dozen-odd Detroit garage/punk bands whose music is featured on that album, specialize in doing covers of R&B records from the fifties and sixties.

The Detroit Cobras
Believe it or not, there's a blog that focuses on Detroit Cobras covers.  Here's what the author of that blog had to say about hearing "Shout Bamalama" for the first time while driving in his pickup one day:

WHOA -- What the f*ck was that?

So I played it again. WOW!

By this point I am home in my driveway, listening for the 5th time before one of my sons come out to leave -- spots me in my truck -- I invite him in to have a listen with me -- he tells me it's great (to appease me) and leaves.  Kids don't know sh*t about about music anyways.

Damn straight.

"Shout Bamalama" was Otis Redding's second single.  It was released in 1960 on the Confederate Records label.  (My, how times have changed.)

Here's Otis Redding's version of "Shout Bamalama":

Here's the Detroit Cobras cover of the song:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Von Bondies -- "Lack of Communication" (2001)

Baby, I didn't mean you no harm
I just had some fun with some friends
I mean some girls in the city

If by "some friends" the singer meant "some girls," then I think we can be confident what he meant by "some fun."  Or do I have to draw you a picture?

"Lack of Communication" is a good name for this song.  But I'm guessing there's going to be a lot of communication soon between the singer and the woman he is singing to -- and that aforesaid communication will come in the form of divorce papers, or a frying pan upside the head, or perhaps both.

April 22 is an interesting date.

(I started to write "April 22 is sort of an interesting date."  What is wrong with me?  Why did I feel an urge to qualify that statement?  What am I afraid of?  That someone is going to disagree with me?  So what?)

April 22 is an interesting date when you write it "4/22" because 4 = 2 + 2 and 4 = 2 x 2.  (That still works if you're European and write it "22/4" instead of "4/22," which is an incredibly stupid way to write a date.)

It's also an interesting date because of all the interesting people who were born on that date.

Immanuel Kant
Novelist Henry Fielding, who wrote Tom Jones, was born on April 22.  So was famed philosopher Immanuel Kant.  

Two interesting Russians shared a first name and an April 22 birthday -- revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin and  author Vladimir Nabokov (who wrote Lolita).

Also born on today's date were J. Robert Oppenheimer ("Father of the Atomic Bomb"), Green Acres star Eddie Albert, violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin, jazz musician Charlie Mingus, pin-up queen Bettie Page, actor Jack Nicholson, and movie director John Waters (Pink Flamingos).

If you prefer your glass half empty instead of half full, there were a number of interesting deaths on April 22 as well -- including famed photographer Ansel Adams, former president Richard Nixon, newspaper humorist Erma Bombeck, and pro footballer and Army Ranger Pat Tillman.

Porn star (and Ivory Soap
model) Marilyn Chambers
Probably the oddest April 22 fact I have for you is that the most famous porn movie star of her generation, Linda Lovelace (Deep Throat), died on that date -- while the next most famous porn star of that generation, Marilyn Chambers (Behind the Green Door), was born on that date.

I saw Deep Throat when I was a senior in college.  My "Sociology of Mass Media"  professor showed it to the class and had us fill out a questionnaire, the results of which he discussed when he testified for the defense in an obscenity prosecution of the movie.  Our class of some 30 students magically grew to about 300 students that day.

Can you imagine what would happen today if a college professor decided willy-nilly to screen hardcore pornography for his class?  It wouldn't be pretty, boys and girls.

Today I could have chosen to feature a song by Glen Campbell, Peter Frampton, or Richie Havens -- the man who opened at Woodstock.  (The first two were born on April 22, while Havens died on April 22.) 

Or I could have even featured a song by one of the stars that RCA Victor record executive Stephen Shoales (who died on April 22) recruited to that label -- that list includes Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, Homer and Jethro, Hank Snow, Jim Reeves, and Elvis Presley.

Jason Stollsteimer
But I picked a song by the late, great Detroit garage/indie band, the Von Bondies, whose lead vocalist, guitarist, and main songwriter was Jason Stollsteimer -- who was born on this date in 1978.  

Today's featured song is the first track on the Von Bondies' eponymous debut album, which was released in 2001.  (No, I don't know what Von Bondies means.)

No one does garage rock better than Detroiters, and the Von Bondies fit right in with all the great Detroit garage rockers -- the MC5, the Stooges, the White Stripes, the Detroit Cobras, and all the others.

White Stripes' frontman and all-round music genius Jack White was an early supporter of the Von Bondies, and he produced their debut album -- which sounds at times like the MC5 but more often sounds like the White Stripes.

The Von Bondies
According to Aaron Warshaw of Allmusic, "Jason Stollsteimer's vocals are to Jack White what Gene Vincent's were to Eddie Cochran -- cut from the same cloth, but slightly more forceful and aggressive."

White and Stollsteimer had a major falling-out a couple of years after Lack of Communication was released.  The two got into a fight at a record release party at a Detroit club one night in December 2003.

Stollsteimer ended up going to the hospital for treatment of a bloody nose and badly bruised face.  That doesn't sound took bad until you see his mugshot:

Jason Stollsteimer
White's only injuries consisted of cuts to his left hand.  So I guess it's pretty clear who kicked whose ass.

Here's what the MTV.com website had to say about the affair:

A press statement from the Von Bondies' management claims "Stollsteimer was violently attacked by Jack White of the White Stripes without warning or provocation."  It continues: "White approached Stollsteimer during the concert, physically forcing him against the speakers, and began shouting.  Stollsteimer attempted to turn his head [to] face White but refused to engage in conversation.  Visibly angered by Stollsteimer's unwillingness to argue or fight, White spat into Stollsteimer's face and punched him in the head and face repeatedly.  White then forced Stollsteimer to the ground and continued his attack until White was restrained by several crowd members."

The Von Bondies singer filed a complaint against White, who may be hit with misdemeanor assault charges.  White later filed his own complaint, insisting he fought back in self-defense after Stollsteimer threw him to the floor and began choking him.

Jack White was later charged with aggravated assault.  He pled guilty, and was sentenced to attend anger management classes.

Jack White in court
What caused the fight?  White told the judge that Stollsteimer had been bad-mouthing White in the press.  It seems that White took the sole producing credit for the Lack of Communication album when the band felt that Detroit musician/producer Jim Diamond did most of the heavy lifting.

White is one of the palest, skinniest dudes you've ever seen.  Stollsteimer must be a bigger p*ssy than I am if he got pounded by Jack White.

The Von Bondies disbanded in 2011.  Stollsteimer is currently the frontman for Hounds Below.

Here's "Lack of Communication":

Click below to buy a good live version of the song from Amazon:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Blackwood Brothers -- "Peace in the Valley" (1956)

There will be peace in the valley for me

Today is Easter Sunday, so I am featuring a familiar sacred song that I remember from my childhood. 

Most of my childhood memories of church relate to the music that I heard on Sundays -- not only the hymns that were sung during the service, but also the music that I heard on Sunday-morning television or radio as we ate breakfast, got dressed, and drove to church.

The music that I heard when I was visiting my great-grandparents (who lived in the rural community of Goshen, Arkansas) and my dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins -- most of whom attended the local Nazarene church -- was particularly memorable.  It was much more unrestrained than the music I heard in my hometown (Joplin, Missouri), where I attended a somewhat more buttoned-down church.

I loved listening to the Blackwood Brothers and the other male quartets that were often featured on those Sunday-morning television and radio programs, who were usually accompanied by just a piano.

Here's Wally Varner, the long-time pianist for the Blackwoods, playing a snappy little tune called "Happy People" from his Gospel Moods That Thrill album:

I played the piano growing up, which may explain my preference for piano-accompanied gospel music.  

There's really nothing like a good piano accompaniment for a song like "Peace in the Valley."  My apologies to all you folks out there who play guitar or other stringed instruments, but a whole crowd of y'all can't match one accomplished pianist cutting loose on the "King of Instruments."  

My apologies to the ladies as well, but you really can't beat an all-male quartet when it comes to gospel songs.

Elvis with the Blackwood Brothers
I had a low voice, so I loved listening to the bass singers in those quartets.  A good bass could match a good tenor when it came to singing notes that no normal male could hope to reach.  But unlike high tenors, basses never had to worry about having their masculinity questioned.

Few operatic roles call for basses to sing below the second F below middle C, although occasionally a bass has to go another step or two down.  I'm not one to brag, but I can hit a C2 (that's the C that's two octaves below middle C) with ease.  

It's very satisfying to hit a C2 and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you've got plenty of testosterone.  (I'm just sayin' . . .)

"Peace in the Valley" was written in 1937 by Thomas A. Dorsey, a famous composer of gospel songs who had been a successful jazz and blues pianist before he saw the light.  

Dorsey originally wrote the song for Mahalia Jackson.  Red Foley and the Sunshine Boys had a hit with it in 1951, and many other artists have covered it since then -- including Jo Stafford, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and the Blackwood Brothers.

The Blackwood Brothers were formed in 1934 by Mississippi preacher Roy Blackwood, his two brothers (Doyle and James), and his 13-year-old son (R.W.).  Doyle and Roy eventually left the group, and R.W. and one of the replacement singers (Bill Lyles) died in a private plane crash in 1954.  R.W.'s little brother Cecil replaced him, and famous singer J. D. Sumner also joined the quartet.

Here is the 1956 version of the group:

Sumner, who later formed the Stamps Quartet (who toured and recorded with Elvis Presley and sang at his funeral), held the Guinness record for recording the lowest bass note for many years.  

Here's "Peace in the Valley":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Burzum -- "A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit" (1992)

The dreams of the human in sleep
Are dreams of relief
A gate out of hell
Into the void of death
Yet, undisturbed, the human sleep

Your sleep may not be as undisturbed as it once was after you read this 2 or 3 lines.  And I'm not sure you'll be dreaming "dreams of relief" tonight.

Harris isn't just accused of murdering Gerety.  He's accused of shooting Gerety in the stomach, torturing him for two days, decapitating him with a guitar string, and carrying his head around in a canvas bag so he could practice voodoo with it.

I figure Harris must have been a guitarist.  Otherwise, how would he have known how to remove a string from a guitar and use it as a garrote?

Also, guitarists are generally acknowledged to be the psychos of the music world.  You would never catch a drummer or keyboard player doing what Harris is accused of doing to Gerety -- right?

I could write posts featuring songs by psycho guitarists from now until the cows come home.  Ted Nugent is one obvious example of a guitar player who's a little insane in the membrane, but there are many others.

One of them was Øystein Aarseth, a Norwegian guitarist who co-founded the black metal band, Mayhem.  He went by the name Euronymous, which is the name of the mythological Greek daimon -- or "spirit" -- who watches over rotting corpses in the underworld.

In 1991, one of Euronymous's bandmates -- Per "Dead" Ohlin -- committed suicide by slitting his wrists and shooting himself in the head with a shotgun.  (The dude wasn't taking any chances.)  When Euronymous discovered his dead friend, he went to a store and bought a disposable camera so he could take some photos.  Only then did he call the police.

It was rumored that Euronymous had made a stew with Dead's brain and necklaces from bits of his skull.   The band denied the former, but the latter rumor turned out to be true -- Euronymous made several such necklaces for other extreme metal musicians he admired.

Later in 1991, Euronymous opened a record store he named Helvete -- which is Norwegian for "hell."  A younger guitarist named Varg Vikernes became Euronymous's protégé, living in the record store and playing bass guitar for Mayhem.  

Euronymous also signed Vikernes to his record label, Deathlike Silence Productions, and Vikernes released several solo albums under the name Burzum.  ("Burzum" means "darkness" in Black Speech, which is a fictional language created by J. R. R. Tolkien.)

The two men were part of a group of pals that apparently burned down several churches, but their friendship eventually became a rivalry, with each man attempting to be more evil than the other.

Vikernes won the contest decisively.  In early 1993, he stabbed Euronymous 23 times.  He was eventually arrested and convicted of murder, burning down three churches, attempting to burn down a fourth, and possessing over 300 pounds of explosives.

Varg Vikernes on trial
His sentence for all that was 21 years in prison, which seems a little light.  But 21 years is Norway's maximum penalty.  (On the day of his sentencing, two more churches were burned -- presumably by his friends or sympathizers.)

Vikernes had recorded four albums and an EP in 1992 and 1993.  He recorded two more albums while in prison.  (The authorities wouldn't allow him to have a guitar or bass guitar while in prison -- no fools they! -- so those albums feature synthesizers.)

Vikernes was paroled after serving 15 years of his sentence.  Since his release from prison, he has recorded four more Burzum albums.

Varg Vikernes today
According to Allmusic, his post-imprisonment albums "made the switch from . . . jagged-edged black metal to . . . ambient instrumental sounds." and feature "dark synths and menacing, impossible-to-place textural elements."  Certain of his songs have "an almost new age feel."

Vikernes currently lives in France with his wife and children.  (Norway must be pretty relaxed when it comes to conjugal visits -- two of Vikernes's children were born while he was in the poke.)

Vikernes follows a "nationalist heathen ideology."  Some people say he is essentially a neo-Nazi, but he claims that isn't the case.  

I spent a few minutes trying to figure out his religious and political beliefs, and it gave me a headache.  So you're on your own as far as that goes.

But I have to admit that I really like Burzum's music.  You probably think I'm crazy to feel that way about it.  Of course, you probably decided a long time ago that I was crazy.  (If you didn't, you just haven't been paying attention.)

From the Depths of Darkness album cover
You remember Freegal, the free music download service offered by many public libraries?  There are ten Burzum albums available from Freegal -- that's 81 free songs altogether -- so I've got to get busy!

Vikernes has recorded several different versions of "A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit."  It originally appeared on Burzum's eponymous debut album, which was produced by Euronymous -- the man Vikernes murdered -- and released on his record label in 1992.

Here's the newest version of the song, which was released on his 2011 album, From the Depths of Darkness.

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bread -- "The Guitar Man" (1972)

He can make you love
He can make you cry
He will bring you down
And he'll get you high

"The Guitar Man" can do all that.  But wait -- there's more!

He'll also shoot you in the stomach, torture you for two days, decapitate you with a guitar string, and keep your head in a canvas bag so he can practice voodoo on it.

At least that's what James Paul Harris of Topeka, Kansas has been accused of doing to James Gerety about three years ago.  Last week, Harris pled not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.  He's scheduled to go on trial in June.

Here's a picture of Mr. Harris:

Oops -- my mistake.  That's a picture of Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes!  

Here's a picture of Mr. Harris:

Nope -- I'm wrong again.  That's Red Sox 1B-DH Mike Napoli!

Here's Mr. Harris -- I'm pretty sure this time:

You can hardly blame me for being confused, can you?

Shifting gears for a moment, have you noticed that there's a surprising amount of discussion of decapitation on the Internet?  (I'm just sayin'.)

Some of that discussion focuses on just how long those who are decapitated continue to be conscious after their heads are separated from their bodies.  

Studies of rats indicate that the brains of those cute little fellers continue to operate for at least several seconds after losing their heads.  But what about humans?

According to one website, a Dr. Beaurieux conducted a study of the head of criminal Henri Languille, who was guillotined in 1905:

Over the course of 25 to 30 seconds of observation, the physician recorded managing to get Languille to open his eyes and "undeniably" focus them on the doctor's twice by calling the executed man's name.

Charlotte Cordray, about
to lose her head
The same website describes what happened when Charlotte Cordray, who had assassinated Jean-Paul Marat -- one of the most radical voices of the French Revolution -- was beheaded in 1793. 

After her head was severed, the executioner smacked its cheeks while he held it aloft. To the astonishment of the crowd, Corday's cheeks flushed and her facial expression changed into the "unequivocal marks of indignation."

Who knew that a guillotining could be so much fun?

The newspaper stories about James Paul Harris's alleged crime didn't specify whether or not he was a guitar player, but you have to assume he was -- right?  Otherwise, where would he have gotten the guitar string he used to separate Gerety's head from his body?  

I don't think that a non-guitarist would have a clue how to remove a guitar's string and use it as a garrote.  But a guitarist would be able to handle that task in a heartbeat.  So it's safe to assume that Harris was a guitarist.

That doesn't surprise you, does it?  After all, guitarists are generally acknowledged to be the psychos of the music world.

You don't believe me?

Here's Exhibit 1 for the prosecution -- Ted Nugent, one of the greatest rock guitarists to ever strap on a six-string.

Ted Nugent with his mom
Not for nothing was the Detroit native given the nickname "Motor City Madman."  Here are just a few Nugent anecdotes:

 -- In a 1992 radio interview, Nugent -- who loves to hunt -- referred to Heidi Prescott of the Fund for Animals as a "worthless whore" and a "shallow slut," asking "who needs to club a seal, when you can club Heidi?" 

 -- Nugent was not a fan of former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm.  When he performed during her tenure in office, he would frequently interject "Jennifer Granholm, kiss my ass" into his songs, and shoot an arrow at her likeness.  In a 2007 interview, when he was thinking about running for governor of Michigan, he stated that Granholm was "the perfect woman, she is scrotum-less."

 -- As a reward for entertaining U.S. troops in Iraq in 2004, he visited Saddam Hussein's war room. "It was a glorious moment. It looked like something out of Star Wars.  I saw his gold toilet. I shat in his bidet." Nugent then added, "Our failure has been not to Nagasaki them."

 -- During a 2007 tour, Nugent brandished two assault rifles and invited President Barack Obama and California Senator Barbara Boxer to "suck on my machine gun."

Not all guitarists would agree with Nugent's comments, I suppose.  But if you've spent any time around rock 'n' roll bands, you wouldn't be surprised that Nugent is a guitarist.  (You'd never hear a drummer or a keyboard player say any of those things.)

"The Guitar Man" was written by Tulsa native David Gates, who was the lead singer of the soft-rock group Bread.  Bread had about a half-dozen top-ten singles in the early seventies.  "The Guitar Man" was not one of them, but it made it to the #11 spot on the Billboard "Hot 100" in 1972.

The guitarist on "The Guitar Man" was Larry Knechtel who was a stalwart member of the famed group of Los Angeles studio musicians known as "The Wrecking Crew."  Before joining Bread, Knechtel appeared on records by Duane Eddy, Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, the Mamas & the Papas, the Monkees, and the Doors.  

"The Guitar Man" was covered by . . . guess who?

Cake!  I kid you not.  That's right -- a song that was originally recorded by a group called Bread was later covered by a group called Cake.  However, the song was not covered by Cracker or Humble Pie.  Nor was it covered by Alice Donut, the Delicious Pastries, or Moishe's Bagel.

Here's "The Guitar Man":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Brooklyn Bridge -- "Worst That Could Happen" (1968)

Girl, I heard you're getting married . . .
Maybe it's the best thing for you
But it's the worst that could happen to me

Young (and not-so-young) men all over Brooklyn, the greater New York City metropolitan area, and the entire civilized world are singing this song right now.  That's because Brienne Walsh got married today.

Brienne Walsh
Regular readers of 2 or 3 lines know that Brienne -- the creator of the wildly entertaining A Brie Grows in Brooklyn blog -- is a blogger's blogger.  (If you're not a regular reader of 2 or 3 lines, I suggest a daily glass of Metamucil!)

Brienne and her fiancé Caleb
picking up their marriage license
It's not for nothing that I often refer to Brienne as "The Next Big Thing."  Her writing is funny and provocative -- or, to quote her father, "lewd and disturbing." 

I can't wait to read Brienne's account of her big day.  While we're waiting for her to post about the wedding, click here to read what she wrote about her engagement.

I met Brienne and her fiancé, Caleb, for the first time last month.  We had lunch at a laid-back little eatery called Superfine, which is located in the hip Brooklyn neighborhood that is known as "Dumbo."

"Dumbo" stands for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass."  (I kid you not.)

Here's a picture of Brienne and yours truly after that lunch.  (She's the fabulous babe on the left.  I'm not.)

Beauty and the beast
Brienne recently wrote a wry yet touching little essay about her fear that she won't look absolutely perfect in her wedding dress.  Here's a brief excerpt from that piece: 

I called my sister. "I AM NOT WEARING MY WEDDING DRESS!!!  I AM FAT!!!" I screamed when she picked up.

(Click here to read that entire piece.)

Brienne didn't look so fat to me the day we met for lunch.  Of course, she may have been swaddled in multiple layers of Spanx, or duct tape, or whatever.

Here's another of Brienne's wedding posts.  (Caleb's a lucky guy.)

I had never heard of Dumbo until my recent visit, but the neighborhood's residents coined the acronym around 1978.  They hoped such an unattractive name would deter greedy developers from moving in -- HA!!!

Dumbo used to be an industrial area.  Brillo soap pads were once manufactured there, and the cardboard box was invented in a building on Washington Street that is now the home of Etsy.  But the neighborhood has become quite gentrified over the past few decades, and is emerging as one of New York City's premier arts districts.

Here's a picture of the place where I stopped for a beer later that afternoon.  It's called reBar, except the "r" is backwards -- soooo hip!

The bar at reBar
Although Dumbo gets it name from the Manhattan Bridge, it is also very close to the Brooklyn Bridge:

Dumbo residents are whimsical folks.  Someone has dumped a couple of wheelbarrows of sand in a small public park near the riverfront and named the area "Dumbo Beach."

Dumbo Beach
The neighborhood is full of art galleries and performance spaces and trendy bars and restaurants with postindustrial decor.  There are a number of little shops selling cute and useless items, like these notecards:

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I learned that "Worst That Could Happen" was written by the very talented Jimmy Webb -- who also penned "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Up, Up and Away," "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston," and the truly fabulous "MacArthur Park."

"Worst That Could Happen," which was originally recorded by the Fifth Dimension, became a big hit in 1968 for The Brooklyn Bridge.  The group's lead singer, Johnny Maestro (who died of cancer in 2010), had been the lead singer of the Crests, a doo-wop group whose "16 Candles" had reached #2 on the Billboard charts almost ten years earlier.

By the way, you may have thought the title of our featured song was "The Worst That Could Happen," but BMI says it's "Worst That Could Happen."

Jimmy Webb: everyone agrees
that he's one of the all-time greats
"Worst That Could Happen" is one of the several songs by Webb that were inspired by his love affair with Linda Ronstadt's cousin, Susan Ronstadt.  Just like the girl in "Worst That Could Happen," Susan decided to break Webb's heart and marry some other guy.

How many guys are feeling the same way about Brienne Walsh's nuptials?  Plenty, I'm sure.  But we're just going to have to get used to it, fellas . . .

Here's "Worst That Could Happen":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon: