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month of 70’s gpms: thank you for being a friend (andrew gold)
Jan 30th, 2009 by wrekehavoc

faked you out, huh? bet you thought my last day of guilty pleasure mondays month – the 1970’s hits edition – would be something by the fab four, right?

you’d be half right. in a manner of speaking, of course.

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okay, okay. this is a lame homemade video by Dog Knows Who. but i wanted to share the song, which was eventually co-opted by the folks who brought you that uproarious sitcom about happy ladies of a certain age.

(…and how better to complete a month of guilty pleasure mondays that could get me laughed at.)

i love this song, okay? andrew gold — son of marni nixon, whose voice is the one you hear coming out of natalie wood’s mouth in the screen version of west side story as well as audrey hepburn’s in my fair lady and deborah kerr’s in the king and i — has done it all in the music industry. he enjoyed a lot of success on his own as well as in his collaborations with people like linda rondstadt and another completely unsung but magnificent voice known as karla bonoff to name only two.

not sure which was a bigger hit — thank you for being a friend or lonely boy — but i loved them both. they both have solid hooks, though TYFBAF is not exactly a rockin’ song. still, the sentiment is sweet. i always thought andrew gold should have come out with his stuff about four years earlier; i suspect that mellow california sound he made that was so popular in the mid 1970s kind of got mauled by new wave and punk.

but i appreciate it nonetheless, with or without a septaganarian.

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and so there you have it: a whole month of songs that might get me ridiculed in certain circles. thank you all for being tolerant of my little meander into self-indulgence. i suspect i will come back with my usual GPM feature — maybe not this monday since i’ve od’d a bit on them, but soon.

in the meantime, i miss writing about my kids. i’m their mom; it’s my sworn duty to embarrass them as much as humanly possible. i’ll get back to that soon, i’m sure.

but in the meantime, always remember: if you threw a party and invited everyone you knew, you would see the biggest gift would be from me and the card attached would say:

my birthday’s in march.

don’t you forget it 😉

xoxo,

wreke

month of 70’s gpms: mary had a little lamb (paul mccartney)
Jan 29th, 2009 by wrekehavoc

hello, and welcome to one of the biggest search terms that lead people to my blog. don’t know why, of course.

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okay, okay, so this one was released only in the UK. but how many times do you need someone telling you how amazing jet is, or maybe i’m amazed, or even another seriously guilty pleasure of mine, helen wheels?  i’ve already yammered on about venus and mars/rock show.  so i figured i’d take a little meander, again, off the beaten 1970s paul mccartney output track.

the first time i ever heard mccartney’s musical ode to mary, girl with the crazy, clingy sheep, i was watching a TV special called james paul mccartney. i must have been about eight years old, but it made a HUGE impression on me. for years afterward, i would anxiously scan the TV Guide, hoping it would be rebroadcast. and occasionally, it was, at some bizarre hour. i would set my alarm clock, wake up at aforementioned odd hour, and watch it, all the while bemoaning the fact that i had no way of recording it. (this was before the days of VCRs, kiddies. yes, i’m that old.) sure, there was a bizarre number where paul was singing and dancing with a group of half-men/half women split down their middles that i didn’t care much for. but the rest of the music was great, and i especially looked forward to mary had a little lamb.

fast forward about twenty or thirty years.

meet wreke the mom. i would sing this song to my babies. and i would be thrilled listening to them attempt to sing along with me. little babies, you see, can muster the la la parts. the only problem: mom always got teary toward the end of the song, much to the babies’ confusion. the teacher always turns the lamb away, much to the children’s (and the lamb’s) dismay.

But the lamb loved Mary so,
the eager children cry,
And Mary loves the lamb, you know,
the teacher did reply.

mom always loves her little singing lambs.

month of 70’s gpms: instant karma (john lennon)
Jan 28th, 2009 by wrekehavoc

…just add water and stir. voila!

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yes, the obvious john lennon choice would be imagine, one of the most beautiful songs i think i’ve ever heard in my life. blah blah blah. i just like to meander down the path least taken, do things slightly off-kilter. speaking of off-kilter, see yoko knit throughout this entire experience. knit, yoko, knit.

(oh, and to my beloved spouse, who probably would pick #9 dream… or maybe that’s revolution#9, only because he wishes to realize that dream of his: to pick #9 at a deli counter and then walk away, leaving the poor counter guy saying number 9? number 9? number 9? not picking it, hon.)

anyway, instant karma. what the hell was lennon thinking about here? he was thinking about creating a song and releasing it as instantly as possible. he wrote and recorded it the same day, and then he released the single 10 days later – a miracle for anyone who has ever known anything about the recording industry. there’s not much to the song, really;  it’s a simple song that can turn into an endless loop of an earworm if you’re not careful.

crazy trivia point for you crazy trivia people out there: stephen king apparently used part of the chorus of this song to name his novel. how he went from we all shine on to that cheerful, upbeat, happy tome we all know and love as the shining is anyone’s guess.

phil spector produced the song, which is apparent to me as it sounds like it was recorded in a bathroom. he ended up doing a lot of production work for the beatles that year, 1970. i believe this was his first work with them. considering the beatles were not exactly pals at that point in time, i suspect lennon’s speedy work spoiled spector for the rest of the time, which dragged and dragged on immeasureably, i bet. spector’s karma couldn’t possibly have been too instant.

expectations management, people. it’s all about expectations management.

anyway, instant karma. instant guilty pleasure. of course you know who’ll be on the hook for tomorrow, don’t you?

month of 70’s GPMs: this song (george harrison)
Jan 27th, 2009 by wrekehavoc

could be “sugar pie, honey bunch!”

could be “rescue me!”

no, george. it apparently is he’s so fine.

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people often beatify george harrison; he, saint george of the hare krishnas, world citizen of peace, love, and sitar music. and, in truth, there’s plenty good that harrison did in his lifetime (including perhaps the first major concert for a cause), so many musical treasures he created. (i’ll just ignore the entire traveling dingleberry period, which always made me want to barf.)

but then they forget that the man had a wicked sense of humor.

this is the same guy who befriended the monty python crew and ended up producing movies, including my beloved life of brian as well as making cameos and such.

and he definitely set his angst to music in this song, a humorous hit from 1976 which served as public therapy for harrison, who at this time was fighting a legal battle over whether his song  my sweet lord copied the chiffons’ he’s so fine. this pre-MTV video is hilarious, and seeing ronnie wood dressed up as a frumpy housefrau is worth the trip alone. when this song came out, i was just thrilled to have output from george that had nothing to do with indian mysticism. (i skipped over within you without you so many times on my old Sgt Pepper record that it was a shock to me the first time i heard it on a CD.) it’s a bouncy tune that features eric idle shrieking could be “sugar pie honey bunch”… could be “rescue me,” a snarky aside showing that george was a bit tired of the US court system’s analysis of music. i love it; hellboy loves it, too.

anyway, george lost that trial, but george also had the last musical laugh: he ended up buying the rights to he’s so fine, making that song, as well as this song, his own.

month of 70’s GPMs: it don’t come easy (ringo starr)
Jan 26th, 2009 by wrekehavoc

you didn’t think i’d ignore my beloved beatles during a 1970s hits version of Guilty Pleasure Mondays, now, did you?

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there’s definitely plenty of debate about the authorship of it don’t come easy. ringo is credited as co-writer along with his late, great pal george harrison. when you look at ringo’s earlier compositions (like this for example, his first credited), you cannot imagine he’d be capable of composing a song as musically complicated as this one. to be sure, it don’t come easy has a kick-ass sax section that screams a close kinship to savoy truffle, also a harrisong. (not to mention a vintage george guitar solo, all credited, of course.)

did george simply want to send his best pal off with a great start to a solo career? maybe. but whatever the case, ringo pulls this one off way better than george does in the demo, perhaps a guide vocal for his flat-toned pal. (not to mention that the hare krishna! yelled in the middle of the guitar solo of george’s version is rather weird — though if you listen carefully to ringo’s version, you can hear it there as well, albeit better hidden.)

ringo went on to have several other hits in the 1970s — photograph, you’re sixteen (which features macca on kazoo as well as a very young carrie fisher as the love interest in the video),  and the no no song (the latter of which always made me laugh) to note. but none of them rock the way that it don’t come easy does.

i just love the fact that ringo conquered his alcoholism and went on to live a relatively happy life. ringo was always the most grounded and normal of the beatles. his son zak is actually a revolving member of my secret boyfriend list; he is far and away a better drummer than his dad. i’ve seen him hold up the who on more than one occasion, which has got to be a surreal gig for him. (how he goes from oasis to the who is surreal in itself, i suspect.)

but i digress. per usual.

anyhow, i hope i get to see ringo perform with one of his many all-star band outfits sometime before he stops playing. the only other beatle i ever saw live was macca, so i feel an obligation to support the only other living beatle. and i’m sure if i see him, he will probably close the show with this guilty pleasure song of mine. and i wish him continued success. musical success may not come easy, especially as a geezer gets older; but if you’re ringo starr and your best friend george writes you some great material (and credits you for it!), it certainly doesn’t come the hard way.

month of 70's GPMs: let's stay together (al green)
Jan 23rd, 2009 by wrekehavoc

who doesn’t love the reverend al? (no, not that one.)

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al green has an amazingly scratchysmooth, soulful voice. i would probably listen to him sing the phone book and be glad. for years, he tried to sing like his hero jackie wilson (it’s what made his father kick him out of the family band.) he succeeded in secular soul for years…

until he had a sign from G-d in the form of a pan of scalding grits. one married woman who had befriended green threw the aforementioned pan at him while he was getting out of a shower or bath, burning him over a decent portion of his body. she then proceeded to find his gun and shot herself to death.

next thing you know, he’s the reverend al and he’s singing gospel and not walking on the devil’s sidewalk.

every now and again, he jumps back into secular music. his stuff is often covered — most notably the talking heads cover of take me to the river — but ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby.

month of 70's GPMs: evergreen (barbara streisand)
Jan 22nd, 2009 by wrekehavoc

this one will get me laughed out of the he-man woman haters club fer sure.

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She Who Is Like Buttah did not put a lot of songs out in the 1970s that i particularly like. (i went off on one of them back in november, you might recall.) in fact, most of the time, i would prefer to focus on her movies of the 1970s — what’s up doc is one of the funniest films i have ever, ever seen (and which plagues hellboy to this day — whenever he mentions the name of one of his buddies from school, i immediately launch into dialogue from the film):

Howard: It gets kind of complicated now. First, there was this trouble between me and Hugh.
Judge Maxwell: You and me?
Howard: No, not you. Hugh.
Hugh: I am Hugh.
Judge Maxwell: You are me?
Hugh: No, I am Hugh.

yep. i’m sure little hugh can’t wait to come over for a playdate.

anyway, another extremely successful film of bahbra’s was the 1976 remake of a star is born. admittedly, i didn’t like it any of the times around. see, i have a big problem with a story about how a relationship disintegrates when the woman becomes successful and the man is in a period of decline. it grates on me nerves in the way only a wildly sexist plotline can.  yeah, yeah, sure, sure, people loved this remake. and babs does turn in an outstanding performance, though i never was able to suspend my belief long enough that kris kristofferson could be a successful rock star. he has all the charisma of a tub of cookie dough.

but i cannot lie: this academy award-winning AND grammy award-winning monster hit is also an incredibly beautiful song. sure, i found it smarmy when it came out, but i was also 11 years old at the time and easily grossed out by mushy lovesongs. paul williams lyrics are often simply brilliant: love, soft as an easy chair. whodathunkit? and barbara wrote the music, so props to her highness for that.

i wish i could say positive things about more of her music. i mean, anyone has to admit that, regardless of where you stand on her politics, the chick has got pipes. but she has chosen such unadulterated shlock over the years — or at least in the 1970s — that it makes it hard to cheer her on.

but i’m doing it here. bravely, in public.

i know snark awaits me.

bring it.

month of 70’s GPM: take the long way home (supertramp)
Jan 21st, 2009 by wrekehavoc

it was a tough choice. but i know i’m bloody well right.

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take the long way home would be a great song in and of itself. listening to it, however, makes me feel a bit maudlin. i always think about a murder that took place in my hometown in the ’80s. a fine upstanding member of the community, rob marshall, apparently killed his wife maria via contract to collect on an insurance policy. the evidence showed that he had been having an affair and apparently wanted to live happily and wealthily without mrs. marshall.

i still get shivers when i drive past the area where his set-up murder scenario went down. i also can barely look at the hotel where the alleged trysts took place. ick. so. very. sordid. and. awful. mr. marshall is currently eligible for parole in 2014.

anyway, the case became a book which, in turn, became an emmy nominated movie.

so what on earth does this have to do with take the long way home? apparently, maria marshall loved that song, and there’s a dramatic moment in the movie where her eldest son roby figures out that his dad offed his mom, thanks to the song. i never knew maria marshall (though if gossip be true, i knew who the paramour was), but whenever i hear this song, i think sadly of a bunch of boys whose dad was insane enough to kill their mom.

(incidentally, joanna kerns, who played maria in the movie, ended up introducing roby marshall to her growing pains co-star, tracey gold, who later married marshall. cue weird music here.)

anyway, guess i’ve shared not a lot about supertramp, a fabulous british prog-rock import with a roster of songs to make any band green with envy: dreamer (which plays in my head whenever i think of a pal of mine); the logical song; and probably the song that comes neck-and-neck with take the long way home for a place in my heart, give a little bit, which ends up being borrowed for a lot of charitable causes. (i cannot stand the cover of the latter done by the goo goo dolls, even if it was for a relief effort. the band messed up the words, for starters…)

various attempts of the band to get back together haven’t exactly resulted in a lasting musical production. pity, as the davies and hodgson team provided a clever point-counterpoint in their work together.

month of 70's GPM: border song (elton john)
Jan 20th, 2009 by wrekehavoc

this one’s for you, barack obama.

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it’s hard for me to remember a time when elton john wasn’t a chart-topper in the US. but this work, border song, a single from the 1970 album elton john, did only marginally well anywhere.  in fact, my girl ree-ree (aka aretha franklin) covered it the following year and did a bit better with it.

but i simply love this song.

whether you hear it as a song about alienation or about racial harmony, this song simply reaches in and finds something. i have spent countless hours sitting at the piano, playing this song. not as well as elton, of course, but definitely with some intensity. it’s almost like a do-it-yourelf exorcism for me, of sorts.

see, my kids get freaked out sometimes because it is definitely possible for a song to bring me to tears. and there is one song that brings me to tears each and every single time i hear it. this one.  it’s like my own personal prayer to the world:

holy moses, let us live in peace.
let us strive to find a way to make our hatred cease.
there’s a man over there. what’s his colour, i don’t care.
he’s my brother. let us live in peace.

i never thought i would live to see a day when our country would be in such jeopardy the world over. i never thought i’d see a day when the united states would undertake policies that would make me ashamed. i never thought i’d see a day when so many people would be in such horrible straits.

but then again, i never thought i’d live to see a day when an african-american would be elected president of the united states.

so there is hope left.

let us live in peace.

month of 70's GPM: superstition (stevie wonder)
Jan 19th, 2009 by wrekehavoc

and to think that i saw it on sesame street!

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only because happy birthday technically came out in 1980, i’ll pick a different stevie wonder song. (but happy birthday, Dr. King!) let me tell you — picking a stevie wonder pop hit for this is tough. this guy wrote some of the most amazing standards — and he’s still at it today, over 40 years after he started.

so i’ll just pick out superstition, a song originally meant for jeff beck. covered a zillion times by groups as varied as the jonas brothers (gah) and stevie ray vaughn — a phrase you can say about tons of wonder’s works, btw — it’s just a funky little jaunt into the world of old wives and the tales that love them.  when the song was recorded, stevie wasn’t little stevie anymore (the moniker must have driven him nuts when he was a teen), but he wasn’t exactly aged either — 22 or so. his clavinet just kicks, as does the horn section, as well as pretty much every damn thing about the song.

yep. so. damn. hard. to pick between this one and higher ground (for you power ranger fan kids, the red hot chili peppers covered this, not the other way around.)

or even harder to not mention my most very favorite wonder song — favorite, grand poohbah, top 10 favorite songs of all time as well — which he did but which wasn’t a hit. (but a song which i wrote, word for word, in my daughter’s first birthday card. i’m obsessive like that.)

okay, okay. i’m being completely and unalterably gushy. it’s hard for me not to be when it comes to stevie wonder, even though i just called to say i’m pregnant and you are black and i am white are two incredibly sappy songs which even i cannot tolerate. but then again, you get songs like my cherie amour, which played at my wedding when i danced with my daddy — but that song’s from 1969 and doesn’t count…

i’ll stop. but i think you get the picture. i’m a bit crazy about the wonder dude.

…not to be confused with the other wonder dude, whose birth we’re celebrating today.


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