guilty pleasure monday: ready for love (bad company)
Feb 14th, 2011 by wrekehavoc

happy valentine’s day! here’s something bad…

okay, so it isn’t bad. it’s supergroup bad company, with free’s paul rodgers and simon kirke; mott the hoople’s mick ralph; and king crimson’s boz burrell. none are probably household names to anyone now except for possibly paul rodgers, whose distinctive vocal delivery makes him one of the people on my top ten people i wish i could sing like list. but together, they made it quite big in the ’70s under the management of zeppelin’s infamous peter grant. i suspect a monotone singer whose material included yankee doodle would probably succeed with peter grant, but as these guys were pretty amazing, it’s no wonder, at least not to me.

anyway, i thought of many sappy songs i love. i thought of all sorts of videos with cute kitties and hearts and flowers. i vetoed them all. so if bad company’s not your cup of romantic tea, i’m sorry. i’m sure some easy listening station is playing celine dion right now.

go for it.

guilty pleasure monday: sunshine (go away today) (jonathan edwards)
Feb 7th, 2011 by wrekehavoc

no, not that john edwards.

back in 1971, things were looking grim on the american homefront. the vietnam war was still raging; citizens, particularly the young, were feeling restless and anxious about a world in which they believed was dangerous and in which they were essentially voiceless. remember, back then, you couldn’t vote until you were 21; and yet lots of 18 year olds were being shipped off to fight a war they thought was pointless.  jonathan edwards added his thoughts to the landscape via this wonderful protest song, sunshine.

recent events in egypt have made me think about this song anew. the people are speaking out against a government which they believe is not democratic. i believe that people have the right to determine their own government; i always thought that was what we were taught in school. you know, the whole american revolution thing, right? dropping tea into the harbor? making our own rules?  i mean, as the scholar jeff spicoli once explained:

and yet some on the right — those who champion folks like the modern-day tea party and who claim to love america more than you and i do — are demonizing the protesters.

beck seems to believe that the entire middle east is going to blow.  his inflammatory talk doesn’t give us any ideas as to how to make things better. and frankly, i think he’s played fast and loose with a lot of his so-called data. i find it confusing as well that he seems to not support people forming their own governments. are we happy when religious zealots form a government and rule a nation? no, we are not. but who are we, as america, to tell another nation who should run it and how it should be run? boy, we were so successful putting people into power (iran and egypt, i’m looking at you, among others too numerous to count) that i think we ought to rethink our strategy a bit here.

do i have the answers? of course not. i wish for peace every day; and i wish for people to be free the world over. and i will continue to monitor the events as they unfold.

but i can’t help but hear edwards refrain as i watch the news.

How much does it cost, I’ll buy it
The time is all we’ve lost, I’ll try it
But he can’t even run his own life
I’ll be damned if he’ll run mine, Sunshine

guilty pleasure monday: happy hour (the housemartins)
Jan 31st, 2011 by wrekehavoc

vive le guilty pleasure monday!

for a long while, i tried to make mondays a little more bearable (or awful, depending on your perspective) by sharing one of the songs i adore, a song which could result in ridicule from some of my cooler friends. i wrote about quite a few. and then, i hit a mental snag. did anyone enjoy these things? was i getting bored writing them? am i all out of songs to crow about?

but now, i’m back, and what a good place to be, starting back up again with the housemartins’ most well-known song (well, at least in the US, anyway), happy hour. i have to give paul heaton props; it isn’t every day you end up with a band which sports songs mixing christianity with marxism. but he managed to pull it off for a few years in the 1980s until the band disbanded (and heaton became part of the beautiful south.) another famous alum of the band, norman cook, became more famous later on as fatboy slim.

for reasons i’ll never remember, i always think of an old officemate when i hear happy hour. i don’t think i ever shared an office with anyone so happily before or since. our office had once been a high-level company person’s secure area, complete with some sort of security system at the door (which had been dismantled by the time we rolled in.) i believe my officemate put a defunct nation’s flag over his desk — or was it on the floor as a rug? i don’t remember. but we have always shared the same love of 80’s music as well as all things relatively quirky. i remember when i discovered some 80’s alternative music channel and used to play it all the time, ad infinitem. every time i started it up, it played the same bunch of songs, over and over. but i was so desperate to hear stuff that i played it constantly. and he didn’t mind. (or at least, he never said.)  (this was the mid-90s, you must know, so this was a big deal to find this mini internet pirate radio.) in fact, he was the most tolerant colleague ever. he didn’t care when i went on a jag playing kyle’s mom’s a bitch (NSFW, even though it was SFW in my old office environs. it was a different world back then, kids.) and best of all, when i had hideous morning sickness while (secretly at the time) pregnant with BC, he never said boo when i ended up under my desk, laying on the floor, praying for death.  as a single guy at the time, he probably had no idea what the hell was wrong with me; but in true male fashion, he just let me be until i came up for air.

so i’ll revive my old GPM feature with a hat off to one of my favorite ’80s loving pals. hoping every hour is happy hour for him.

guilty pleasure monday: don’t cry (seal)
Sep 13th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

as a matter of fact, heidi klum has nothing to do with this selection.

september has started off really poorly. two friends of mine have lost parents, and i ache for them. my parents have lost a dear friend who has battled parkinsons for a long, long time.  september 11 continues to remind us that there is still great division in our nation and in our world. and on the really micro level, BC had a fairly miserable first week as a middle schooler, drawing the lucky straw that put her in the one team that has no other girls from her elementary school. (there are three teams in her grade. every other girl from her school is in one of those two teams.) the principal, realizing the error, was willing to move the girl into one of the other teams; but by this time, different supplies are already bought, project assignments are made, lockers are already figured out. the girl has decided to stay put and make the best of things.

on the bright side,  jools has been placed with a teacher about whom i have heard wonderful things, with two of his best girlfriends as classmates. i haven’t heard anything bad from school yet, so i am hopeful that this year will be a good one.  also, our home renovation is complete, and so while i grumble steadily about the amount of work it is to put my home back in order, i am very grateful that we could accomplish this on time and on budget (and that BS and i remain married in spite of the stressful time.)  and, most importantly, everyone in my family seems to be relatively healthy.

in short, i am trying to focus on the bright side of things. but it’s really, really difficult sometimes. yom kippur, the day of atonement, is coming soon, and so i am thinking about all the negative things i might have done during the past year. i am genuinely sorry about plenty of things.

it makes me want to cry.

but i also know that i oughtn’t. and hence, the selection of seal’s don’t cry.

i’m armed with my tissues. but i’m hoping i won’t need to use them.

guilty pleasure monday: i believe in love (dixie chicks)
Sep 6th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

yes, i know. this from the girl who isn’t a country fan.

i always get a bit wistful this time of year. part of it, of course, stems from the recognition that it’s the end of summer and my kids are off to school again… and i am not. part of it is due to the fact that it is the end of the jewish year and the start of the new one (rosh hashanah, for my non-red-sea pedestrian pals.) and the big unavoidable part, as you can gather, is from the fact that september 11 is not far behind.

9/11 is forever burned into my psyche. remember, we had a plane hit the pentagon here in arlington, a plane carrying a friend’s wife and so many, many others. i have written before about the day; it’s something that will never fully evaporate from my consciousness.

but it’s a lot of screaming about what is being sited near that hallowed ground where thousands of lives were lost that has me so sad right now.  a lot of people in this nation are making a perilous leap of hate: they seem to think that the acts of a group of people should be blamed on all people of that religion. that a group of murderous zealots have managed to cause people to hate all muslims is sad. it’s wrong. and it’s unamerican. while i personally wonder whether building such a center so close to the site of the Twin Towers displays a certain insensitivity to some of the families of 9/11 victims, i believe that if they have followed the laws and have gone through the proper channels, the group is within their rights to do so.

but the issue has moved beyond the community center. this situation has highlighted the fact that some americans are broadbrushing all mosques and muslim endeavors as somehow dangerous; and this not only does a great disservice to the millions of our fellow peaceful muslim-americans, but i fear that it also helps to motivate religious zealots with bad intent and justifies their actions.

and i fear all religious zealots.

so yes, today, i selected a country song. if i can keep my mind open about all sorts of things, then maybe others can, too. see, i believe in love: love of my family, love of my friends, love of my nation, love for the people of the world — even those who would hate me for my gender, my religion, my political beliefs… whatever reason.

i hope others believe in love, too.

guilty pleasure monday: we can work it out (stevie wonder)
Aug 30th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

and you know how i usually loathe covers.

i have waxed pretty regularly about my contempt for most cover songs. so many attempts are lackluster imitations of a perfectly good song. and to cover a beatles song takes massive cojones. that, or completely narcissism, i suppose. the sheer perfection of some songs doesn’t stop people from giving it a go. (yesterday is the most covered song. ever.)

that being said, from time to time, someone gets it right. and that one in this case is stevie wonder, no small talent himself. i was reminded of the truly awesome nature of this cover during the gershwin awards program honoring macca last month.  so many of the people singing mccartney’s songs fell flat. (the jonas brothers? REALLY?) but steveland? he rocked the house.

so here’s my end-of-summer present for you. get down; get funky. and get back up again.

(just remember your motrin if that latter bit is challenging for you.)

guilty pleasure monday: amsterdam (crowded house)
Aug 23rd, 2010 by wrekehavoc

ok, not too old. and not very guilty. but very well-loved.

sometimes, what i miss most in a lot of modern rock are signs that there are thinking people behind the songs. don’t get me wrong; i’m not one of those cranky oldsters who thinks that nothing good has been written since the beatles broke up. and while i try to desperately steer my kids toward modern alternative that actually might speak to them, i often come up empty. so much sounds so derivative to me. so much sounds forced to me.

i feel often like i have heard that song before.

and that’s why i was so delighted to listen to crowded house’s new album. sure, the lineup is a bit different — drummer paul hester sadly took his own life a few years back, and neil finn is fronting it without his brother, tim, who was around for woodface, a stellar effort. but i sometimes think of neil finn as the energizer bunny of rock and roll — he just keeps at it. (his son liam, who we saw perform with him on this tour, is following steadily in dad’s footsteps, too — really well, i would add.)

while some of the new effort doesn’t do much for me, there are a few songs that stand out. and the best of the bunch, methinks, is the cerebral amsterdam. apparently, he had one strange, strange day in the netherlands; i’ll let you listen to it and make your own interpretation. i love the poetry of his words and how they fit, hand in glove, with the slow, moody music.

i know i need to give new bands more of a try, and i’ll continue to keep my ears and mind open about it all. but i must confess a certain delight when old faithfuls come out with new and intriguing stuff.

guilty pleasure monday: you do something to me (paul weller)
Aug 16th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

you can thank eastenders for this one.

first, the song.

and then, the explanation.

paul weller is not exactly a household name in america. but plenty of people have heard of the jam and even the style council, two bands in which weller was instrumental. (har de har har. i made a funny pun there, kids. wreke really needs to drink more coffee and stop being such a dork…but i digress.) weller has gone on to become a very respected and awarded artist in britain; pity he hasn’t gotten more attention here in the US.

anyway, what does paul weller have to do with eastenders?

we in the US are seven — yes, seven — years behind what people in the UK see on the long-running soap. people walk the streets on my TV who have since gone on to the end of their storyline. and some people, like my beloved kat and alfie, are actually making their return now (though they’re not gone yet from our storylines here.) kat, the proverbial eastend tart-with-a-heart, and alfie, a goofy but kind wide boy, are meant for each other. but the getting together part? a bit complicated, and it makes for one of the funniest, if not the funniest, eastenders episode ever.

but still, their passion is left, er, unconsummated, despite the insane lengths alfie goes through to try and get a condom in the middle of the night. yet when we realize that moment what a gentleman alfie truly is, paul weller’s song is playing in the background, a languid testament to those deep feelings of love.

i bet this one gets a lot of play at weddings in the UK.

guilty pleasure monday: rainbow high (from the musical “evita”)
Aug 9th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

i want to be Rainbow High!

the other week, i settled in with BC (who was under the weather) and started to tuck into the film version of evita starring madonna and antonio banderas. i attempted to explain the state of politics in argentina in the 1940s; the nature of eva duarte’s poverty-stricken and sad childhood and then subsequent attempts at sleeping her way to the top; and the actual reality of che guevera, who, while an important character in this play, isn’t actually historically present. girlfriend enjoys musicals, as i do, and so i impressed upon her how musicals can also be about serious subjects and not just singing for singing’s sake. and oh, by the way: evita is my absolute favorite musical of all time.

just as eva was meeting juan peron in the movie, girlfriend asked me to turn it off.

ah well. i was a little disappointed, but maybe evita is not a musical for the younger set. (at least, not until disney decides to take a crack at it and make it palatable for kiddies. what a laff riot that would be.) i saw it on broadway in 1981 when i was a few years older than BC. on the occasion of my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, my parents, my brothers, my grandparents, and i drove to new york to see andrew lloyd webber’s masterpiece. i’m pretty sure i saw it when patti lupone starred in it, though i was more accustomed to elaine paige’s voice in the role thanks to the record Middlebro shared with me of the original cast production.

in any event, my grandparents’ 50th wedding celebration was marked by two things: the first, the fact that i fell in love with this musical productions. the second: my brother’s car breaking down high in the parking deck…on that date, which happened to be easter sunday. try to find a tow truck willing to pull you down several stories on easter sunday in manhattan… anyway, let’s just say i have memories of my brothers and father pushing the car down and around the deck until it was low enough for them to work with. i’m pretty sure i ended up taking the Route 9 bus home with my grandparents and my mom while the boys figured things out with the car.

yep, nothing says happy 50th anniversary like an unexpected trip on NJ Transit.

the vocal acrobatics that the role of eva peron requires is astonishing. it is not for the timid. and i was mighty surprised when i heard that madonna was taking the role in the film production. in fact, surprised is not really the word for it; i was disappointed. while i’m not exactly the biggest madonna fan around, i will give her props in several departments; however, her vocal skills would not be among those. and while she wasn’t bad in the role, i felt her take on rainbow high was passionless.

this is a song to be BELTED out; and madonna is carefully working so hard to actually hit the notes that she doesn’t have a chance to infuse them with much emotion. the end of the song is even lowered a few notes, which is a bit jarring to anyone who loves this song.

i guess i should be thankful that a popular performer like madonna took an interest in this musical and shared it with the masses, who might not otherwise have encountered it.

and who knows: maybe one day, BC will watch it all the way through.

guilty pleasure monday: seen the doctor (michael penn)
Aug 2nd, 2010 by wrekehavoc

if any guy on the planet deserves to harbor an inferiority complex, it’s this guy.

check out the video. does the face look a little familiar? sure it does. it looks a little like this:

sean penn
michael penn is the brother of famous actor and apparently chronically-perterbed person sean penn. (whose acting i enjoy, so don’t be a hater.) he is also the brother of the late actor chris penn (whom you may remember from footloose or reservoir dogs, among other movies.) his dad leo penn was an actor and director who courageously refused to point fingers at other actors and directors during the happy-go-lucky mccarthy era and was blacklisted (but certainly made a ton of contributions in spite of that.) his mom, eileen ryan, also an actor, has shown up in all sorts of films as well.

oh, and don’t forget his missus.

aimee mann

(but we won’t even begin to talk about how i worship at the altar for aimee mann…)

yep, michael penn is definitely surrounded by amazingly creative, principled people who aren’t afraid of taking stands on issues, whether one agrees with them or not. but penn has consistently held his own for years and years,  a songwriter who crafts works carefully. he’s not necessarily the guy who will make that 3:05 hit radio-friendly single. but who the hell wants that when you can have literate, musical masterpieces?

anyway, i especially adore seen the doctor. it even has a killer hook: in fact, it sounds like one of those holy grail radio-friendly singles to me. but whatever.  the lyrics are so clever (even though watch him get bleeped for the f-bomb.) seriously, how can you not love lines like:

You’re just a fucking bore
like Dorothy Lamour
dolled up in Singapore
to meet the Commodores
Don’t call me anymore

the imagery alone is worth the price of admission.

anyway, michael penn, while maybe not a household name like, say, ke$hia (Dog help us — gah), is a busy guy, making music for film and television. along with his wife and michael hausman, he is a founder of united musicians, a group formed to help musicians retain the ownership of their own music. which, to me, makes perfect sense.

anyway, i love his melty, earnest voice. i love his thoughtful lyrics. i love it even more when he and mann sing together.

but for today’s guilty pleasure monday, i wanted him to shine on his own.

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