Sunday, August 31, 2014

Go Home Productions -- "Shannon Stone" (2007)

We started dancing
And love put us into a groove
But now he's with somebody new

I wish I could explain to you how I found today's featured track, but I can't.  It's a mystery to me.

It all started when I was looking for Julian Cope songs on Freegal a couple of weeks ago.  Exactly why I was looking for Julian Cope songs on Freegal is a question I simply can't answer.

Julian Cope
It's possible that I was looking for Jules Shear songs on Freegal and confused the two performers.  But I can't imagine why I would have been looking for Jules Shear songs either, so going down that path just takes us all the way 'round the mulberry bush back to where we began, doesn't it?

(For some reason -- not necessarily a good reason -- I am reminded of the famous Groucho Marx line in the 1930 Marx Brothers movie, Animal Crackers: "One morning, I shot an elephant in my pajamas.  How he got in my pajamas, I don't know.")

To make a long story short (not my usual practice), I ended up on Soundcloud listening to a Go Home Productions mashup that incorporates samples of Julian Cope's 1987 UK hit single, "Trampolene." 

Mashups are like potato chips -- you can't stop after just one.  That mashup eventually led me to this one, which opens with a snippet from a Jim Morrison poem titled "Stoned Immaculate," which was set to music on the last Doors studio album, An American Prayer.  (That album was released in 1978, seven years after Morrison died.)

(Get it?)
But most of "Shannon Stone" -- you get the joke behind the title, don't you? -- is a combination of "Let the Music Play," the 1983 hit by freestyle/dance-pop queen Shannon with the instrumental track of "Gimme Shelter," which is arguably the best Rolling Stones' song ever.

At first blush, these two songs couldn't be more dissimilar.  Pairing Shannon's glitzy, drum-machine-propelled post-disco dance-pop hit with the gritty yet spaced-out guitar of Keith Richards and the drums of Charlie Watts sounds like the ultimate apples-and-oranges combination.

But it works, boys and girls -- you can't believe how well it works.  You could almost believe that some genius dreamed up both songs at the same time, intending all along that they be combined into one integrated whole.

What inspired the producer of this mashup to pair up these two tracks?  I have no friggin' idea.  It's unfathomable to me that anyone would ever think to put Shannon together with the Stones. 

Charlie Watts and Keith Richards
It wasn't hard to make the tempos of the two tracks match up.  The tempo of the resulting mix is about 120 beats per minute, which is almost exactly the original tempo of "Gimme Shelter."  I think the producer may have sped up "Let the Music Play" just a bit -- it's original tempo is closer to 116 beats per second. 

The chord structure of the two songs isn't the same, but they mesh very nicely.

The two dissimilar halves of "Shannon Stone" fit so well together that you would think you're listening to a live performance.

It reminds me a little bit of watching the Doors perform "Touch Me" on The Ed Sullivan Show, which took Jim Morrison and his mates pounding away like crazy with a dozen-plus middle-aged guys in suits playing violins, saxophones, trumpets, and trombones.  

Go Home Productions (or "GHP") is really just Mark Vidler, an English producer, DJ, and all-around audio-video whiz.  After producing hundreds of traditional mashups, he's now making mashups that not only mix the music of different artists but also video of those artists performing.

Mark Vidler
We're going to feature several other GHP mashups in upcoming 2 or 3 lines posts.    So if you didn't like this one, there's probably no point in you checking back in for the next couple of weeks.

I had never heard of Shannon until I listened to this mashup, but she was a big deal.  "Let the Music play" could be a Madonna song -- Madonna's first hit single, "Holiday," was released at about the same time.

Here's "Let the Music Play":

And here's the instrumental track to "Gimme Shelter," which is as good as anything Keef and Charlie and the boys ever did:

Here's "Shannon Stone":

Click here and scroll down to download "Shannon Stone" and the entire This Was Pop (2002-2007) album for free.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Human League -- "Don't You Want Me" (1981)

I picked you out, I shook you up
And turned you around
Turned you into someone new

Svengali, a character in George du Maurier's 1895 novel Trilby, exploits and manipulates the title character -- who is a young English girl -- making her into a famous singer.  Since then, the term "Svengali" has been used to describe someone (usually an older male) who dominates and controls a singer, actress, or other performer (usually a younger female).

In "Don't You Want Me," a modern-day Svengali transforms a humble cocktail waitress into . . . what exactly?  

The answer to that question isn't clear.  Perhaps her transformation had more to do with emotional maturity than with fame or fortune -- he made her a star, but more importantly he taught her about love. 

In his 1980 television special, Comedy Is Not Pretty, Steve Martin played such a Svengali.  "They come to me as girls," he told the audience.  "But they leave me as . . . boys."  (Martin's character later showed his savor faire when a waiter asked him if he and his female companion would like red or white wine with dinner.  But man-of-the-world Martin had a better idea:  "Do you have any beige wine?  Or maybe a nice plaid wine?")

The lyrics to "Don't You Want Me" -- which were penned by the Human League's lead singer, Philip Oakey -- were inspired by a story in a teenage girl's magazine.  Oakey originally conceived it as a male solo.  

But after seeing the 1976 remake of A Star Is Born (in which Kris Kristofferson portrayed a somewhat benign Svengali), he decided to turn the song into a duet.  Susan Ann Sulley, one of the group's two female backup singers, was picked to record the female character's part.

Oakey hated the take of the song that was released.  He thought it was too soft and poppy, and argued against releasing it as the fourth single from the group's third studio album, Dare.  

But "Don't You Want Me" was a huge hit for the British synth poppers, reaching the #1 spot on the pop charts in both the UK and the United States.  (The stubborn Philip Oakey still thinks the song is overrated.)

By the way, the song is not autobiographical.  Susan All Sulley was only 17 years old when the song was recorded -- which was too young under UK law for her to work as a cocktail waitress.

The first verse of "Don't You Want Me" is sung by a male, and the second verse is sung by a female.  Marc Costanzo of the Canadian group Len was inspired by this song to use the same structure when he wrote Len's 1999 hit, "Steal My Sunshine."  (Marc sings the first verse and his sister Sharon sings the second verse.)

Here's the official music video for "Don't You Want Me":

Click below to order the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Andrea True Connection -- "More, More, More" (1976)

But if you want to know how I really feel
Get the cameras rollin'
Get the action goin'

Andrea True (who was born Andrea Marie Truden) was a porn star who later became a disco singer.

Andrea was born in 1943 in Nashville.  She attended Saint Cecilia Academy, a tony all-girls Catholic high school, then moved to New York City in hopes of becoming a movie star.

Andrea True
Andrea landed a few minor roles in mainstream movies -- for example, she was an extra in The Way We Were -- but eventually accepted an invitation to star in adult movies.  She eventually starred in more than fifty hardcore porn films.

Andrea True's porn oeuvre included Double Header, Doctor Feelgood, The Wetter the Better, and -- this is one I really want to see -- Sexual Freedom in the Ozarks.

Andrea also appeared in Deep Throat, Part II -- the R-rated sequel to the most famous and widely-viewed adult film of all time.  In her 1980 autobiography, the late Linda Lovelace -- the star of Deep Throat -- describes Andrea as "much too smart to be doing what she did for a living," and tells how she tried to organize porn stars into a union.

In the mid-seventies, while at the height of her porn career, Andrea was hired to do commercials for a real estate company in Jamaica.  While she was there, the country was plunged into a political crisis, and she was unable to leave until things were sorted out.

So she asked songwriter and record producer Gregg Diamond to come to Jamaica and produce a track for her.  The result of their collaboration was "More, More, More," which climbed all the way to #4 on the Billboard "Hot 100."

Andrea True eventually recorded three albums.  The first one was moderately successful, but the next two were flops.  After her third album failed to sell, she returned to doing porn.  But she was a bit long in the tooth by then -- she was almost 40 -- and her comeback attempt was unsuccessful.  

Andrea then developed a goiter on her vocal cords, which prevented her from making a singing comeback as well.  She eventually moved to south Florida, where she worked as a drug counselor and gave psychic readings.  

In 1999, the Canadian group Len released "Steal My Sunshine," which sampled "More, More, More."  Click here to read the previous 2 or 3 lines, which featured "Steal My Sunshine."

"Steal My Sunshine" was released on Len's
You Can't Stop the Bum Rush album
 The success of "Steal My Sunshine" resulted in royalties and publicity for Andrea True.  She also appeared in the 2005 documentary, Inside Deep Throat, which examined the impact of that famous adult film on American society.  

I was a senior at Rice University in Houston when Deep Throat was released.  I didn't have to go to my neighborhood porn theater and pay to see that movie.  Instead, I got to view it for free in my "Sociology of Mass Media" class.   

The local prosecuting attorney filed an obscenity complaint against the theater that was showing the movie in Houston, and my sociology professor -- the late Chad Gordon -- was hired to be an expert witness for the defense.  So he had our class watch the movie one day and fill out questionnaires about what we thought about it.  (You can best believe no one skipped class that day.)  

Professor Gordon testified that our answers to those questionnaires showed that Deep Throat was not obscene in the eyes of local college students, whose opinions on that topic should count just as much as the opinions of the little old ladies who attended the local Baptist churches.

I don't know how much our professor's testimony had to do with it, but the obscenity prosecution ended up in a hung jury.  The same thing happened when the prosecutor decided to retry the case.  After the second hung jury, the prosecutor gave up, making Houston and all of Harris County, Texas, safe for fans of adult films.  

Professor Gordon died in 2007.  Here's an excerpt from a Rice University student newspaper's story about him:

Former sociology department chair Chad Gordon, who was with the sociology department since its inception in the 1970s, passed away in late May after fighting cancer. . . . He was an assistant professor of sociology at Harvard before he came to Rice in 1970.
Sociology professor William Martin said Gordon was well-known for his courses on human sexuality and television called “Sex with Chad” and “TV with Chad,” respectively.
“[He taught] courses that were quite popular and a little different from the other offerings in our department,” Martin said.
Gordon had a creative teaching style and would take students to cemeteries and funeral home museums when he taught a course on death, Martin said.  He said Gordon also integrated progressive media into his course about television, often using TV clips, which were not considered a teaching tool at the time he began teaching it.
Sewall Hall, home of Rice's
Sociology Department
Martin said the last course Gordon taught on death and dying resonated on a very personal level.
“He taught his death and dying course when he was quite aware, and his students were aware, that he had a fatal disease,” Martin said.  “He was very candid about that, and I’m sure that was significant for the students as well.”
Gordon was also known for the band he formed during his early years at Rice and his strikingly colored motorcycle that he could be seen driving around the campus, Martin said.  Additionally, Gordon was known for the pool parties he threw at his house, and for being a “free spirit.”  He loved spicy food, and his friends would engage in contests with him to see who could eat the greatest amount of spicy food in one sitting, Martin said.
He said Gordon was a compassionate man who had a lasting impact on each student.

“[Gordon] seemed always to be in a good mood,” Martin said. “He always had a twinkle in his eye.”
The late Chad Gordon
Here's more about Gordon:
The road to Rice for Gordon ran through Hollywood (California) High School in the early '50s and Harvard University in the '60s. The bicoastal influences on his career at Rice – which included being named the first chair of the university's sociology department – can't be missed.  

During the '70s he led a rock band aptly named "Chi Square and the Degrees of Freedom"; spearheaded a search for the hottest food in the city through the auspices of the "Hot Food Club"; and taught courses on topics ranging from "death and dying" to "sexuality and the social order" (commonly known as "Sex with Chad").
From the 1970 Rice University yearbook
“When word began to spread that Chad was retiring, students appealed to the sociology department to try to get him to stay on, noting that they consider it a vital part of their education to take one of his courses ,” said fellow sociology professor Bill Martin. “At the last meeting of his sexuality class, members of the department each made a statement about his contributions over the years, and the students presented him with a huge poster they had signed with the central message being ‘I had Sex with Chad and it was good for me.”’
As for Andrea True, she died of heart failure at a Kingston, New York, hospital in 2011.  She was 68 years old.

Here's "More, More, More":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Len -- "Steal My Sunshine" (1999)

I was lying on the grass
On Sunday morning of last week
Indulging in my self-defeat

The architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe famously said "Less is more."  The reverse of that aphorism -- "More is less" -- is equally true.

If you don't believe that, just look at the most recent 2 or 3 lines -- the one that featured Carrie Underwood's "Two Black Cadillacs."

I jumped from a tiresome discussion of another Carrie Underwood revenge song ("Before He Cheats"), to a tiresome rehash of Bill Clinton's shenanigans, to a tiresome presentation of some of the implausible interpretations (or "interoperations," if you prefer) of "Two Black Cadillacs" that were posted on a popular website by fans of the song, to a tiresome rant about Ralph Waldo Emerson.   

And what did all the time and effort I invested in that post produce?  

A big steaming pile of hot mess -- that's what it produced.

To date, I've written about over 600 songs on 2 or 3 lines.  You would think things would be running pretty efficiently by now, but I seem to be backsliding into excess blather and wasted motion.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about the venerable hymn, "Come, Labor On," which certainly was apropos -- because 2 or 3 lines is seemingly becoming more and more labored.   

The next few posts are going to be very different -- tight and economical and sans the excessive excess that characterized the "Two Black Cadillacs" post.

Siblings Marc and Sharon Costanzo
Len is a Canadian band that is the brainchild of Marc Costanzo (who later became a successful record company executive) and his sister Sharon, who played bass and shared vocal duties with her sibling.

I may have heard Len's "Steal My Sunshine" when it was released back in 1999, but I certainly don't remember it from then.  Lucky for you that I heard it on the radio last month, when I was vacationing on Cape Cod -- it's a pretty irresistible record.

The idea for "Steal My Sunshine" was born when Marc Costanzo went to a rave with some friends and happened to hear the old disco hit, "More, More, More," by the Andrea True Connection.   He decided to loop part of that record's bridge and use it as the basis for a new song.

After Marc wrote "Steal My Sunshine," he and Sharon recorded it on a half-inch tape recorder.  (Sharon plays bass and shared vocal duties with her brother.)  Marc was underwhelmed by the recording, and Sharon stuck the tape in a closet -- or maybe under a bed.  (Sources vary.)  Eventually the song ended up on Len's first major-label album, You Can't Stop the Bum Rush.

Marc Costanzo modeled "Steal My Sunshine" on The Human League's 1981 hit, "Don't You Want Me."  Both songs feature alternating male and female vocals.

The lyrics to "Steal My Sunshine" are pretty random.  Here's an example:

Now the fuzzy stare from not being there
On a confusing morning week
Impaired my tribal lunar speak

(Say what?)

Here's the official music video for "Steal My Sunshine":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, August 22, 2014

Carrie Underwood -- "Two Black Cadillacs" (2012)

And the preacher said he was a good man
And his brother said he was a good friend
But the women in the two black veils didn't bother to cry

Let me give all you males out there a little advice.  You most definitely do not want to give Carrie Underwood a reason to be p*ssed off at you.

Last year, 2 or 3 lines featured Miz Underwood's 2006 hit, "Before He Cheats."  In that song, the singer catches her boyfriend slow dancing with a bleached-blond tramp -- et tu, Carrie? -- and then goes all medieval on his shiny new pickup truck.

Carrie Underwood
To wit:

1.  She keys the side of the pickup;

2.  She carves her name into his leather seats with a knife;

3.  She takes a Louisville Slugger to his headlights; and

4.  She slashes all four of his tires.

As I pointed out at the time, if a man had released a song glorifying revenge against a woman, he would have no doubt been crucified in the press.  But apparently the New York Times and Huffington Post and MSNBC have no problem with a song that glorifies violence and vigilantism as long as it's a female dishing it out to a male.

By the way, "Before He Cheats" was the #1 song on the Billboard "Hot Country Songs" chart for five weeks and won the 2007 Grammy for "Country Song of the Year."  It eventually sold some four million digital downloads.

So I guess we shouldn't be surprised that Carrie Underwood released another revenge song a few years later -- namely, "Two Black Cadillacs," from her Blown Away album, which 2 or 3 lines is featuring today.  

I heard today's featured song for the first time while driving home from Cape Cod last month.  I was driving south through Westchester County, NY, on the Taconic State Parkway, obsessively hitting the "scan" button on my car radio, when "Two Black Cadillacs" caught my attention.

The song is about two women who meet at a funeral after conspiring to kill the man who is one's husband and the other's lover.  

How did the wife found out about the girlfriend?  Her dopey husband pulled the oldest boner in the book -- he called or texted the girlfriend on his cell phone and didn't delete her number:

Two months ago his wife called the number on his phone
Turns out he'd been lying to both of them for so long
They decided then he’d never get away with doing this to them

The two of them introduce themselves, exchange a few pleasantries, and plot to murder the unsuspecting bozo who's buffing them both.  

The song doesn't specify how they did the dirty deed.  If you want all the gory details, you have to watch the music video:

Does the video remind you just a little of Christine, the Stephen King novel about the classic car that kills a bunch of people after it becomes possessed by a dead man's evil spirit?

To say the video is a bit confusing is the understatement of the year.  For one thing, it's not clear whether Carrie Underwood's character is the wife or the girlfriend.

And according to the song, "the first and last time [the two women] saw each other face to face" was at the cemetery.  But in the video, both women are present when the dude receives the coup de grace from the black Cadillac.

But let's not get all hung up on petty details.  After all, as our old friend Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

The extremely brown-eyed
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson was so full of sh*t that his eyes were brown.  Just sayin'.  

Here is the interpretation that was voted #1 by those who visited this website.  (Whoever wrote this has a vivd imagination, possibly fueled by reading too many romance novels.)

Carrie plays the unassuming lover who finds out that her man is married when his wife calls her number from his cell phone.  Distraught with heartache and then an embittered, passionate anger, both women plot to get their revenge.  While Carrie's character manipulates the man into a dark alleyway . . . the wife drives into the ally and corners her unsuspecting husband.  Pleading for his life, the husband yells, "No, don't do it," but the plan must be completed to lay the heartache to rest.  Revving up the engine the wife finishes the blood crimson deed by ramming him into the ally wall. 

In a seeming reference to the 70's and 80's ghost car movies such as Christine, the car has spookily healed its damage and the now dead husband is forever stuck to the car in his ghostly state and a servant to the forever blood-stained damaged women.

Some of the interpretations of the song are from outer space.  Like this one, which is so out there that it's mind-boggling:

"THEY had a secret to hide" . . . RIGHT?  That being said . . . yes he was married . . . and yes there was a girl friend . . . But . . . what if [the] wife and Carrie were in love and the only way to be together was to kill him . . . so they did.

Or this one, which is equally absurd:

I think the plot is more sinister than what it appears.  I think that the wife and mistress knew about each other.  One took care of him during the day and the other at night.  I think the phone number was to some child pronography and the 2 women could not tolerate that at all and killed him.

Spelling is not a strength of the people who post to that website:

That is exactly why you don't mess with woman!  If you cheat on your wife, you're basically looking death strait in the face.

This one not only misspells "alley" but also mangles the famous William Congreve quote:

Ummm he was run over by a car it was a trap the girlfriend lured him to an ally and his wife (in a car) ran him over :)
Hell Has No Fury like a woman's scorn

(Close, but no cigar)
Finally, here's my absolute favorite:

Interoperate it how you want.  It means what you want it to mean.

That's sooooo deep, isn't it?  And I don't know how I've lived so long without using the word "interoperate."

The Clintons' Bedford Hills manse
By the way, the Taconic State Parkway -- the road I was driving on when I first heard "Two Black Cadillacs" -- passes just west of Bedford Hills, a tony suburb that is home to Bill and Hillary Clinton, who bought an $11 million mansion there a few years ago.  (The house is 7000 square situated on 20 acres, and comes equipped with a heated pool, wine cellar, stable, and two guest houses.)  

So I suddenly had a vision of Hillary and Monica Lewinsky, both in black veils, attending Bubba's funeral after conspiring to off the horny old galoot:

Or Hillary and Paula Jones:

Or Hillary and Gennifer Flowers:

Or Hillary and Kathleen Willey:

Or Hillary and Bill's current paramour, who Secret Service agents describe as a busty blonde known as "Energizer":

Or Hillary and . . . well, you get the idea.

Once more, here's "Two Black Cadillacs":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Doug Sahm -- "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" (1973)

Here I am walking down 66
Wish she hadn't done me this way

A couple of weeks ago, 2 or 3 lines featured the original recording of "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone," which was a #1 country hit for Charley Pride in 1970.  Today we're featuring Doug Sahm's cover of the song, which was released on his 1973 album, Doug Sahm and Band.

This is the seventh (and last) 2 or 3 lines post about my family's trip to San Antonio earlier this summer to attend a dinner celebrating my sister's wedding.  

We were in San Antonio for less than 36 hours.  I think it's pretty amazing that I was able to milk two weeks' worth of posts out of such a brief trip.

The Bexar County Courthouse:
"Go, Spurs, Go"
I took a lot of photos while I was in San Antonio -- most while I was walking or biking along San Antonio's wonderful Paseo del Rio ("River Walk").  I only used a small number of them in the previous six posts, so I'll cram as many of the rest of them as I can into this 2 or 3 lines

A detail from the Ace Mart mural
(from Southtown, San Antonio)
San Antonio is where Doug Sahm was born and where he is buried, and he is a product of the Alamo City's diverse musical culture.    

Sahm, who died of a heart attack when he was 58, was a remarkably versatile musician.

The Tower of the Americas (built for
the 1968 "Hemisfair" World Fair)
On the Doug Sahm and Band album, he not only handled the lead vocals but also played electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bajo sexto (a Mexican 12-string guitar tuned in fourths), bass guitar, organ, piano, and fiddle.  

A River Walk mosaic depicting
 the San Antonio skyline
Sahm has been one of my personal favorites ever since I found the Sir Douglas Quintet's 1968 Mendocino album in the three-for-a-dollar cutout bin at a discount store in my hometown several years after it was released.

I figured the band's two radio hits -- "She's About a Mover" and "Mendocino" -- were worth 33 cents.  But there was a lot more to like on that album.

A building on South Presa Street
in San Antonio's Southtown
Sahm's first three solo albums -- Doug Sahm and Band, Texas Tornado and Groover's Paradise -- were released while I was a college student in Texas.  They helped me survive my law-school years in Boston.  (I'm not sure which was worse -- going to law school or living in Boston.)

In memory of Doug Sahm:
"Ars Longa, Vita Brevis"
Here's an excerpt from Austin journalist Margaret Moser's tribute to Sahm -- one of the many that appeared in print after Sahm's death:

If Texas had such designation, Douglas Wayne Sahm would be the State Musician of Texas. Even before his death on November 18, the genial, 58-year-old musician had been making music for almost of his entire life, a Southwestern renaissance man for modern times.  He was "Little Doug Sahm," playing guitar, fiddle, triple-neck steel guitar, and mandolin in country dance halls and sitting on Hank Williams' knee.  He was the Sir Douglas Quintet, scoring three Top 10 hits in the late Sixties.

A great blue heron on the
San Antonio River
When he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1968, Baron Wolman's photograph of Sahm wearing a cowboy hat and long hair with young Shawn Sahm on his knee, it single-handedly created the image of the cosmic cowboy for the nation and the world.  It's almost laughably quaint to explain today why the cowboy hat and long hair were such an anomaly back then, but dang if Doug Sahm, then based in San Francisco, didn't make the dread redneck look cool.  The Byrds and Burrito Brothers could wear all the satin Nudie shirts they wanted; Sahm and company were the real item. The cowboy hat and long hair became his lifelong look, uniquely Texas, uniquely Doug.

Waiting for some real San
Antonio breakfast tacos
Sahm was a revered figure in Austin.  But Austin eventually became much too crowded and a little too twee for Sahm's taste.  At heart, Sahm was a San Antonio guy, not an Austin guy.

Texas patriot José Antonio Navarro
Margaret Moser's tribute acknowledged Sahm's San Antonio roots:

If it seems odd to focus on Sahm's style of dress and choice of hats, remember that he was a native of San Antonio, and San Antonio style is like no other.  The lowrider culture he grew up around valued pampered cars as much as a well-cut suit and he rubbed shoulders with country boys whose idea of dressing up was a string tie and polished cowboy boots.  The black show bands that Sahm admired from afar and later joined wore matching suits and did dance steps with the music.  In time, these disparate influences all melded into Sahm's unique vision of Texas music, but it could have happened only in one place -- San Antonio.

Paseo del Rio flowers
San Antonio is a melting pot -- roughly equal parts white, black, and brown -- and its music reflects its population.  As Sahm's biographer, Joseph Levy, has written:

It’s almost impossible to classify Sahm and his music as one style or another.  Country, rock, Western swing, Tex-Mex, polka, and blues all form part of the Sir Douglas mix.  Sahm himself said, “I’m a part of Willie Nelson's world and at the same time I’m a part of the Grateful Dead's.  I don’t ever stay in one bag. . . .  I have all these aliases.  Wayne Douglas.  Doug Saldaña.  Saldaña is the name the Mexicans gave me. They said that I had so much Mexican in me that I needed a Mexican name."

Another River Walk artwork
Bob Dylan, who assisted with the vocals on Doug Sahm and Band, was a close friend of Sahm and a great admirer of his music:

Doug was like me, maybe the only figure from that period of time that I connected with.  His was a big soul.  He had a hit record, "She’s About a Mover," and I had a hit record ["Like a Rolling Stone"] at the same time.  So we became buddies back then, and we played the same kind of music.  We never really broke apart.  We always hooked up at certain intervals in our lives. . . . I’d never met anyone who’d played on stage with Hank Williams before, let alone someone my own age. . . . I miss Doug.  He got caught in the grind.  He should still be here.

Here's Doug Sahm's version of "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone." 

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bob Crewe Generation -- "Music To Watch Girls By" (1966)

It's not entirely unprecedented for a 2 or 3 lines not to begin with two or three lines from a song's lyrics, but it is certainly unusual.  

The only exception to our usual practice of starting off every 2 or 3 lines post with a quote from the words of the featured song was this year's annual "29 Posts in 28 Days" series, which featured instrumentals.  But this 2 or 3 lines concerns a very special occasion, so I think doing something out of the ordinary is more than justified.

Earlier this summer, my family and I went to San Antonio to attend a dinner in celebration of my sister Terri's and recent marriage to Julie.

Here's a photo of Terri, my daughters Sarah and Caroline (both of whom are getting married this fall), and Julie at that dinner:

Terri, Sarah, Caroline, and Julie
The dinner took place at a Marriott hotel just blocks from the Alamo and the San Antonio Paseo del Rio ("River Walk"), which is home to this peacock and a number of other exotic birds:

To be more specific, the dinner was held in a simple old limestone structure that was once the home of San Antonio's German-English School, which was founded in 1858.

About one third of the city's residents at that time were of German ancestry, and they wanted their children to be fluent in German and English.  

But as the city's German-American community became more assimilated, there was less need for such a school, and it closed its doors in 1903.  

The old school is most famous as the site where U.S. President George H. W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and Mexican President Carlos Salinas signed the North American Free Trade Agreement -- better known as NAFTA -- in 1992.  

Salinas, Bush, and Mulroney (standing)
Once the agreement was formally ratified, it eliminated most tariffs and other trade barriers between the three nations, creating the largest free-trade bloc in the world.   

Before our dinner, we enjoyed cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in a shady courtyard adjacent to the old school buildings while a vibraphone and guitar duo entertained us.

The first number they played was today's featured song, "Music to Watch Girls by," which was originally composed for a Diet Pepsi commercial.

"Music to Watch Girls By" was Bob Crewe's first top 40 hit under his own name.  Crewe is best known as the producer and co-writer of a number of the Four Seasons' hit singles -- including "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," and "Rag Doll," of which reached #1 on the Billboard "Hot 100."

Crewe also produced hit songs for many other recording artists, including Lesley Gore, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, and Oliver.  He co-wrote Labelle's huge hit "Lady Marmalade," and also co-wrote and recorded the sound track for "Hanoi Jane" Fonda's cult classic, Barbarella.

Bob Crewe during a Four
Seasons recording session
Crewe's strangest career move was his collaboration with crazy man Sir Monti Rock III, a celebrity-hairdresser-turned-singer whose uninhibited antics were a highlight of The Tonight Show when I was in high school.  Together, the two men formed the disco group, Disco-Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes, whose "Get Dancin'" was a top-ten hit in 1974.

Instrumental cover versions of "Music to Watch Girls By" were recorded by Billy Vaughn, Chet Atkins, and Al Hirt, while Andy Williams had a hit with a version that featured these opening lines:

The boys watch the girls 
While the girls watch the boys 
Who watch the girls go by

Here's the Andy Williams cover, which is accompanied by clips from a number of movies from the sixties.  (Watch this video and you might think the song's title is "Music to Watch Girls' Booties By.")

Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy recorded an instrumental version called "Music to Watch Space Girls By."

Here's the original "Music to Watch Girls By." (Times have really changed since 1966, boys and girls.)

Click below to buy the song from Amazon: