If you like to boogie woogie, I know the place. It's just an old piano and a knocked out bass. The drummer man's a guy they call Eight Beat Mack. And you remember Doc and old "Beat Me Daddy" Slack.
Man it's better than chicken fried in bacon grease Come along with me, boys, it's just down the road a piece.
Ella Mae Morse (1945), The House of Blue Lights. Shows that 'square' and 'daddy-o' and 'dig' were already in use in the '40s. I had been laboring under the misapprehension that this patois first surfaced in Beat/Beatnik circles in the '50s.
Bob Dylan, Mr. Tambourine Man, 1964. Philip Larkin is supposed to have called this the greatest song ever written. Don't believe me? See here:
Like Thwaite, Hartley is insistent that Larkin loved women; nor will she go along with the idea of him as a miser. When she won a place at university as a mature student, Larkin, knowing how hard-up Hartley was, opened a book account for her, and placed a fat sum in it. She is full of stories about him: the time they went to see Louis Armstrong together in Bridlington; the time Larkin arrived at a party clutching a bottle of crème de menthe. She reminds me – so unlikely seeming, this – that he thought Dylan's "Mr Tambourine Man" the best song ever written. Larkin, who once described his physique as being like that of a "pregnant salmon", hated dancing, but at departmental Christmas parties, he would be sure to ask every woman in the room to dance: cleaners, caterers, library assistants. No one was left out.
Last Call, Dave van Ronk. "If I'd been drunk when I was born, I'd be ignorant of sorrow."
(Last night I had) A Wonderful Dream, The Majors. The trick is to find in the flesh one of those dream girls. Some of us got lucky.
This night in 1985 was Rick Nelson's last: the Travelin' Man died in a plane crash. Wikipedia:
Nelson dreaded flying but refused to travel by bus. In May 1985, he decided he needed a private plane and leased a luxurious, fourteen-seat, 1944 Douglas DC-3 that had once belonged to the DuPont family and later to Jerry Lee Lewis. The plane had been plagued by a history of mechanical problems. In one incident, the band was forced to push the plane off the runway after an engine blew, and in another incident, a malfunctioning magneto prevented Nelson from participating in the first Farm Aid concert in Champaign, Illinois.
On December 26, 1985, Nelson and the band left for a three-stop tour of the Southern United States. Following shows in Orlando, Florida, and Guntersville, Alabama, Nelson and band members took off from Guntersville for a New Year's Eve extravaganza in Dallas, Texas. The plane crash-landed northeast of Dallas in De Kalb, Texas, less than two miles from a landing strip, at approximately 5:14 p.m. CST on December 31, 1985, hitting trees as it came to earth. Seven of the nine occupants were killed: Nelson and his companion, Helen Blair; bass guitarist Patrick Woodward, drummer Rick Intveld, keyboardist Andy Chapin, guitarist Bobby Neal, and road manager/soundman Donald Clark Russell. Pilots Ken Ferguson and Brad Rank escaped via cockpit windows, though Ferguson was severely burned.
Merry Christmas everybody. Pour yourself a drink, and enjoy. Me, I'm nursing a Boulevardier. It's a Negroni with cojones: swap out the gin for bourbon. One ounce bourbon, one ounce sweet vermouth, one ounce Campari, straight up or on the rocks, with a twist of orange. A serious libation. It'll melt a snowflake for sure. The vermouth rosso contests the harshness of the bourbon, but then the Campari joins the fight on the side of the bourbon. Or you can think of it as a Manhattan wherein the Campari substitutes for the angostura bitters. That there are people who don't like Campari shows that there is no hope for humanity. An irrational prejudice against artichokes?
The third American in outer space, and the first to orbit the earth, John Glenn passed away the other day at 95. So I raise my glass this Saturday night in salute of a great American hero.
1960's psychedelia explored inner space, but there were a few songs from the '60s about outer space themes. Telstar, an instrumental by the British band, The Tornados, 1962, was presumably in celebration of Telstar, the first communications satellite which got high in '62. (Telstar the song made it high on Earth to the #1 slot on both the U. S. and British charts.)
Speaking of getting high, the Byrd's Eight Miles High, 1966, tells of a trip into the outer or perhaps into the 'inner' or both. I never paid much attention to the obscure lyrics. The Coltranish riffs executed on a 12-string Rickenbacker were what got my attention. Damn if it doesn't sound as raw and fresh as it did back in '66.
John F. Kennedy was assassinated 53 years ago today. Here is The Byrds' tribute to the slain leader. They took a traditional song and redid the lyrics. Here Willie Nelson does a great job with the traditional song. You Dylan aficionados will want to give a listen to young Bob's rendition of the old song.
I was in the eighth grade when Kennedy was gunned down. We were assembled in an auditorium for some reason when the principal came in and announced that the president had been shot. The date was November 22, 1963. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was seated behind my quondam inamorata, Christine W. My love for her was from afar, like that of Don Quixote for the fair Dulcinea, but at the moment I was in close physical proximity to her, studying the back of her blouse through which I could make out the strap of her training bra . . . .
Since those far-off and fabulous days of 'Camelot,' we have learned a lot about Kennedy's dark side. But every man has his 'wobble,' and who among us would want to be exposed to the full light of day? He was a boyhood hero of mine, "the intrepid skipper of the PT 109," as I described him in a school essay. My assessment of him has been dialed downward over the years, but there were traces of greatness about him. He was a resolute commie fighter and a lifetime member of the NRA and Second Amendment defender. In those days, a decent, patriotic American could be a Democrat.
And if it weren't for his inspiration we wouldn't have beaten the Evil Empire in the space race.
It was a tale of two nonentities, Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. Both were little men who wanted to be big men. Oswald, acting alone, shot Kennedy. Ruby, acting alone, shot Oswald. That is the long and the short of it. For details, I refer you to Bugliosi.
And let's not forget that it was a commie who murdered Kennedy.
We 'deplorables' have much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. My hat is off to every one of you who did his bit to defeat Hillary and "fundamentally transform' her into a political nonentity, thereby delivering a stinging rebuke to the destructive Obama and all he stands for. We conservatives now have to keep up the attack on the Left and hold Trump's feet to the fire so that he accomplishes at least some of what he has promised.
Being hung up on the '60s, there is and will be only one clown for me, Bozo the Clown. After Bozo I had no truck with clowns. I'm a serious man. But I can relate to this segment from the Seinfeld episode, "The Fire." It is one of the funniest in the whole series. But I suppose you had to be there. In the '60s I mean. With Bozo. The Clown. Now some songs featuring clowns.
Roy Orbison, In Dreams. "A candy-colored clown they call the sandman . . . ."
James Darren, Goodbye Cruel World. "I'm off to join the circus, gonna be a broken-hearted clown."
Jack Kerouac, Tristessa (written 1955-56, first published in 1960), p. 59:
Since beginningless time and into the never-ending future, men have loved women without telling them, and the Lord has loved them without telling, and the void is not the void because there's nothing to be empty of.
April Stevens' and Nino Tempo's version of Deep Purple became a number one hit in 1963. I liked it when it first came out, and I've enjoyed it ever since. A while back I happened to hear it via Sirius satellite radio and was drawn into it like never before. But its lyrics, penned by Mitchell Parish, are pure sweet kitsch:
When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls And the stars begin to twinkle in the night Through the mist of a memory you wander back to me Breathing my name with a sigh.
In the still of the night once again I hold you tight Though you're gone, your love lives on when moonlight beams And as long as my heart will beat, sweet lover we'll always meet Here in my deep purple dreams.
Kitsch is bad art, but what is the essence of kitsch, and why is it bad? Presumably it is sentimentality that makes kitsch kitsch, and it is this sentimentality that makes kitsch aesthetically and perhaps even morally dubious. One self-indulgently 'wallows' in a song like this, giving into its 'cheap' emotions. The emotions are 'false' and 'faked.' The melody and lyrics are formulaic and predictable, 'catchy.' The listener allows himself to be manipulated by the songwriter who is out to 'push the listener's buttons.' The aesthetic experience is not authentic but vicarious. And so on. Adorno would not approve.
There is great art and there is kitsch. I partake of both, enjoy both, and know the difference. What is wrong with a little kitsch in moderation? No, I don't collect Hummel figurines and my stoa is not carpeted with astroturf. What is sentimentality and what is wrong with it? There is a literature on this, but I've read almost none of it. Who has time?
This brings me to Bob Dylan who was recently awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. Now I've been a Dylan fan from the early '60s. In the '60s I was more than a fan; I was a fanatic who would brook no criticism of his hero. And I still maintain that in the annals of American popular music no one surpasses him as a songwriter.
But the Nobel Prize for Literature? That's a bit much, and an ominous foreshadowing of the death of the book and of quiet reading in this hyperkinetic age of tweets and soundbites. A large theme. Get to it conservative bloggers. Why do I have to do all the work?
Brewer and Shipley, One Toke Over the Line. What you'll be when the shit comes in. Matters feculent bring Brian Leiter to mind. Speculation is running high according to a New York Timespiece that he mailed feces to four philosophers.
October 1st is International Coffee Day. Herewith, some tunes in celebration. Not that I'm drinking coffee now: it's a morning and afternoon drink. I am presently partaking of a potent libation consisting of equal parts of Tequila and Campari with a Fat Tire Fat Funk Ale as chaser.
Commander Cody, Truck Drivin' Man. This one goes out to Sally and Jean and Mary in memory of our California road trip two years ago. "Pour me another cup of coffee/For it is the best in the land/I'll put a nickel in the jukebox/And play that 'Truck Drivin' Man.'"
George Harrison and friends, Absolutely Sweet Marie. By the way, this self-certified Dylanologist can attest that in the first line it is 'railroad GAUGE,' not 'railroad gate.' 'Gauge' is a measure of the width of the track; that's what our boy can't jump. This one goes out to Marie Benson, from the summer of '65. Where are you tonight, sweet Marie?
Remember Fred Neil? One of the luminaries of the '60s folk scene, he didn't do much musically thereafter. Neil is probably best remembered for having penned 'Everybody's Talkin' which was made famous by Harry Nilsson as the theme of Midnight Cowboy. Here is Neil's version. Nilsson's rendition.
Another of my Fred Neil favorites is "Other Side of This Life." Here is Peter, Paul, and Mary's version.
In the twilight glow I see her Blue eyes crying in the rain When we kissed goodbye and parted I knew we'd never meet again.
Love is like a dying ember Only memories remain Through the ages I'll remember Blue eyes crying in the rain.
Now my hair has turned to silver All my life I've loved in vain But I can see her star in heaven Blue eyes crying in the rain.
Someday when we meet up yonder We'll stroll hand in hand again In a land that knows no parting Blue eyes crying in the rain.
Jackson Browne, Doctor My Eyes. Dedicated to Darci M. and our summer of '78.
Doctor, my eyes have seen the years And the slow parade of fears without crying Now I want to understand
I have done all that I could To see the evil and the good without hiding You must help me if you can
Doctor, my eyes Tell me what is wrong Was I unwise to leave them open for so long
'Cause I have wandered through this world And as each moment has unfurled I've been waiting to awaken from these dreams People go just where they will I never noticed them until I got this feeling That it's later than it seems
Doctor, my eyes Tell me what you see I hear their cries Just say if it's too late for me
Doctor, my eyes Cannot see the sky Is this the PRICE for having learned how not to cry?
Neil Diamond, Solitary Man. Johnny Cash does it better. Nothing better than the sound of an acoustic guitar, well-made, well-played, steel-stringed, with fresh strings. This one goes out to Dave Bagwill.
While we have the Big O cued up, here is Oh, Pretty Woman, a contender for greatest R & R song, what with its unique blend of the Dionysian and the tender. Legendary sideman James Burton and Bruce Springsteen trade licks on their Telecasters. Burton was the man behind the guitar fills and leads in the early Ricky Nelson hits such as Hello Mary Lou. This one goes out to my wife Mary Lou on this our 33rd wedding anniversary. "I knew Mary Lou we'd never part/So hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart."
Some of us are old enough to remember when he fought and bragged under the name, 'Cassius Clay.' Later known as Muhammad Ali, the great boxer died yesterday in Scottsdale at age 74. I won't comment on the man except to wonder how much of Donald Trump's braggadoccio and argumentative tactics were inspired by him.
Simon and Garfunkel, The Boxer. "A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest."
Addendum (6/5). The following from Wikipedia. Does it remind you of someone?
Ali regularly taunted and baited his opponents—including Liston, Frazier, and Foreman—before the fight and often during the bout itself. Ali's pre-fight theatrics were almost always highly entertaining, and his words were sometimes cutting, and were largely designed to promote the fight. His antics often targeted a particular psychological trigger or vulnerability in his opponent that would provoke a reaction and cause the opponent to lose focus. He said Frazier was "too dumb to be champion", that he would whip Liston "like his Daddy did", that Terrell was an "Uncle Tom" and that Patterson was a "rabbit." In speaking of how Ali stoked Liston's anger and overconfidence before their first fight, one writer commented that "the most brilliant fight strategy in boxing history was devised by a teenager who had graduated 376 in a class of 391."
Ali typically portrayed himself as the "people's champion" and his opponent as a tool of the (white) establishment (despite the fact that his entourage often had more white faces than his opponents'). During the early part of Ali's career, he built a reputation for predicting rounds in which he would finish opponents, often vowing to crawl across the ring or to leave the country if he lost the bout. Ali admitted he adopted the latter practice from "Gorgeous"George Wagner, a popular professional wrestling champion in the Greater Los Angeles Area who drew thousands of fans to his matches as "the man you love to hate."
ESPN columnist Ralph Wiley called Ali "The King of Trash Talk." In 2013, The Guardian said Ali exemplified boxing's "golden age of trash talking."The Bleacher Report called Clay's description of Sonny Liston smelling like a bear and his vow to donate him to a zoo after he beat him the greatest trash talk line in sports history.
Dylan can, and has, written the sorts of conventional, schmaltzy songs that Mercer, Berlin, and the other contributors to the Great American Songbook wrote. But could they have written songs like the above? And they are only a small sample.
This is partial justification of last week's claim that Dylan is America's greatest writer of popular songs. Bar none. Might there be some generational chauvinism at work here?
25 things you might want to know know about Dylan. Excellent, except for the introductory claim that he is "rock's greatest songwriter." A better description is "America's greatest writer of popular songs." Bar none. We can discuss the criteria later, and consider counterexamples. Maybe this Saturday night. His earliest four or five albums are not in the rock genre. I'll permit quibbling about #5, Bringing It All Back Home (1965), but Bob Dylan (1962), The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963) , The Time's They Are A'Changin' (1964), and Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964) are better classified as folk, not that they sit all that comfortably in this niche.
These early albums are studded with lasting contributions to Americana. This is music with meaning that speaks to the mind and the heart. No Rat Pack crooner Las Vegas lounge lizard stuff here.Two lesser-known compositions both from The Times They Are a'Changin':
North Country Blues. Written from the point of view of a woman and so appropriately sung by the angel-throated Joan Baez.
D. A. Pennebaker on the making of Don't Look Back. I saw it in '67 when it first came out. I just had to see it, just as I had to have all of Dylan's albums, all of his sheet music, and every article and book about him. I was a Dylan fanatic. No longer a fanatic, I remain a fan.
I may be a day late and a dollar short, but here for your auditory amusement are some tunes in celebration or bemoanment of human folly the chief instance of which is romantic love. Who has never been played for a fool by a charming member of the opposite sex? Old age is the sovereign cure for romantic folly and I sincerely recommend it to the young and foolish. Take care to get there.
We'll start with murder. David Dalton (Who Is That Man? In Search of the Real Bob Dylan, Hyperion 2012, pp. 28-29, hyperlinks added!):
Most folk songs had grim, murderous content (and subtext). In Pretty Polly a man lures a young girl from her home with the promise of marriage,and then leads the pregnant girl to an already-dug grave and murders her. In Love Henry a woman poisons her unfaithful lover, observed by an alarmed parrot that she also tries to kill. So it was a bit bizarre that these songs should become part of the sweetened, homogenized new pop music.
[. . .]
The original folk songs were potent, possessed stuff, but the folk trios had figured out how to make this grisly stuff palatable, which only proved that practically anything could be homogenized. Clean-cut guys and girls in crinolines, dressed as if for prom night, sang ancient curse-and-doom tales. Their songs had sweet little melodies, but as in nursery rhymes, there was a dark gothic undercurrent to them -- like Ring Around the Rosies, which happens to be a charming little plague song.
The most famous of these folk songs was the 1958 hit Tom Dooley, a track off a Kingston Trio album which set off the second folk revival [the first was in the early '40s with groups like the Weavers] and was Dylan's initial inspiration for getting involved in folk music. [I prefer Doc Watson's version.] And it was the very success of the syrupy folk trios that inspired Dylan's future manager to assemble one himself: Peter, Paul and Mary. They would make Dylan, the prophet of the folk protest movement, a star and lead to consequences that even he did not foresee. Their version of Blowin' in the Wind would become so successful that it would sound the death knell for the folk protest movement. Ultimately there would be more than sixty versions of it, "all performing the same function," as Michael Gray says, of "anesthetizing Dylan's message."
Be that as it may, it is a great song, one of the anthems of the Civil Rights movement. Its power in no small measure is due to the allusiveness of its lyrics which deliver the protest message without tying it to particular events. It's topical without being topical and marks a difference between Dylan, and say, Phil Ochs.
And now for some love songs.
Gloria Lynne, I Wish You Love. A great version from 1964. Lynne died at 83 in 2013. Here's what Marlene Dietrich does with it.
Ketty Lester, Love Letters. Another great old tune in a 1962 version. The best to my taste.
1. Keith Burgess-Jackson quotes Jamie Glazov on the hatred of Islamists and leftists for St. Valentine's Day. Another very interesting similarity between these two totalitarian movements. Recalling past inamorata of a Saturday night while listening to sentimental songs -- is this not the height of bourgeois self-indulgence when you should be plotting ways to blow up the infidel or bring down capitalism? But we who defend the private life against totalitarian scum must be careful not to retreat too far into the private life. A certain amount of activism and engagement is necessary to keep the totalitarians in check.
2. On Thomas Merton: “All the love and all the death in me are at the moment wound up in Joan Baez’s ‘Silver Dagger,’” the man wrote to his lady love in 1966. “I can’t get it out of my head, day or night. I am obsessed with it. My whole being is saturated with it. The song is myself — and yourself for me, in a way.”
Don't sing love songs, you'll wake my mother She's sleeping here right by my side And in her right hand a silver dagger, She says that I can't be your bride.
All men are false, says my mother, They'll tell you wicked, lovin' lies. The very next evening, they'll court another, Leave you alone to pine and sigh.
My daddy is a handsome devil He's got a chain five miles long, And on every link a heart does dangle Of another maid he's loved and wronged.
Go court another tender maiden, And hope that she will be your wife, For I've been warned, and I've decided To sleep alone all of my life.
The gods had given me almost everything. But I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease. I amused myself with being a FLANEUR, a dandy, a man of fashion. I surrounded myself with the smaller natures and the meaner minds. I became the spendthrift of my own genius, and to waste an eternal youth gave me a curious joy. Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in the search for new sensation. What the paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. Desire, at the end, was a malady, or a madness, or both. I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry aloud on the housetop. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace. There is only one thing for me now, absolute humility.
Compare the words Plato puts in the mouth of Socrates in the Phaedo:
. . . every pleasure and pain has a kind of nail, and nails and pins her [the soul] to the body, and gives her a bodily nature, making her think that whatever the body says is true. (tr. F. J. Church St. 83)
From Oscar Wilde to Plato to Hank Williams here channeled hauntingly through Kurt Nilsen and Willie Nelson:
I'm a rollin' stone all alone and lost For a life of sin I have paid the cost When I pass by all the people say Just another guy on the lost highway
Just a deck of cards and a jug of wine And a woman's lies make a life like mine On the day we met, I went astray I started rollin' down that lost highway
I was just a lad, nearly 22 Neither good nor bad, just a kid like you And now I'm lost, too late to pray Lord I paid the cost, on the lost highway
Now boys don't start your ramblin' 'round On this road of sin are you sorrow bound Take my advice or you'll curse the day. You started rollin' down that lost highway.
When the men on the chessboard Get up and tell you where to go And you've just had some kind of mushroom And your mind is moving low. Go ask Alice I think she'll know. When logic and proportion Have fallen sloppy dead, And the White Knight is talking backwards And the Red Queen's "off with her head!" Remember what the dormouse said: "Feed your head. Feed your head. Feed your head"
. . . Make the white queen run so fast she hasn't got time to make you a wife
'Cause it's time, it's time in time with your time and it's news is captured for the queen to use Move me on to any black square Use me anytime you want Just remember that the goal Is for us all to capture all we want, anywhere
Don't surround yourself with yourself Move on back two squares Send an instant karma to me Initial it with loving care Don't surround yourself
'Cause it's time, it's time in time with your time and it's news is captured for the queen to use . . .
Jimmy Elledge, Funny How Time Slips Away. Born January 8, 1943 in Nashville, Elledge died June 10, 2012 after complications following a stroke. The song, written by Willie Nelson, made the #22 slot on Billboard Hot 100 in 1961, and sold over one million copies. Elledge never had another hit. As a YouTube commenter pointed out, that does sound like Floyd Cramer tickling the ivories. A great song. I always thought it was a female singing.
Rosie and the Originals, Angel Baby, 1960. Perfect for cruising Whittier Boulevard in your '57 Chevy on a Saturday Night.
Norma Tanega, Walkin' My Cat Named 'Dog,' 1966. A forgotten oldie if ever there was one. If you remember this bit of vintage vinyl, one of the strangest songs of the '60s, I'll buy you a beer or a cat named 'dog.' One.
UPDATE 1/17: Dave B. tells me that I owe his wife Ronda a beer:
Yeah she remembered that song from the opening riff.
What a waste of a nice Gibson SG...
You are quite right, Dave: the girl is flailing at a Gibson SG standard. Clapton, a.k.a 'God,' played them before switching over to Fender Strats. I wanted an SG back around '67 or '68 but they were too much in demand. So I 'settled' for a Gibson ES 335TD. But then I did the dumbest thing I ever did a few years later.
Ildefonso Fraga Ozuna is better known as Sunny Ozuna of Sunny and the Sunglows fame. Their big hit was Talk to Me that made the #11 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in October, 1963. It is a cover of Little Willie John's effort of the same name from 1958.
The Sunglows became the Sunliners and came out with Just a Dream.
Baldemar Garza Huerta, also a Tejano, is better known as Freddy Fender.
Merry Christmas everybody. Pour yourself a drink, and enjoy. Me, I'm nursing a Boulevardier. It's a Negroni with cojones: swap out the gin for bourbon. One ounce bourbon, one ounce sweet vermouth, one ounce Campari, straight up or on the rocks, with a twist of orange. A serious libation. The vermouth rosso contests the harshness of the bourbon, but then the Italian joins the fight on the side of the bourbon. Or you can think of it as a Manhattan wherein the Campari substitutes for the angostura bitters. That there are people who don't like Campari shows that there is no hope for humanity.
Larry Verne, Mr. Custer (1960). "What am I doin' here?"
And now a trio of feminist anthems. Marcie Blaine, Bobby's Girl. "And if I was Bobby's girl, what a faithful, thankful girl I'd be." Carol Deene, Johnny Get Angry. Joanie Sommers did it first. "I want a cave man!" Nice kazoo work. k. d. lang's parody. Little Peggy March, I Will Follow Him. "From now until forever."
Meanwhile the guys were bragging of having a girl in every port of call. Dion, The Wanderer (1961). Ricky Nelson, Travelin' Man. (1961)
Addendum: I forgot to link to two Ray Stevens numbers that are sure to rankle the sorry sensibilities of our liberal pals: Come to the USA, God Save Arizona. If you are a liberal shithead do not click on these links! But if if you have any sense you will enjoy them.
W. V. O. Quine's famous collection of essays is named after this song. "From a logical point of view always marry a woman uglier than you." Jimmy Soul extends the thought, ripping off some of the lyrics of the calypso tune.
We are coming up on the 60th anniversary of the death of James Dean. When the young Dean crashed his low slung silver Porsche Spyder on a lonely California highway on September 30, 1955, he catapulted a couple of unknowns into the national spotlight. One of them was Ernie Tripke, one of two California Highway Patrol officers who arrived at the scene. He died in 2010 at the age of 88. But what ever happened to Donald Turnupseed, the driver who turned in front of the speeding Dean, having failed to see him coming? His story is here. In exfoliation of the theme that "speed kills" I present the following for your listening pleasure:
Carly Fiorina is beginning to look good to me, politically speaking. Let's see what we can scrounge up on the Carly/Carla/Carl/Karl/Karla theme.
Carly Simon, You're So Vain. Good video. This one goes out to Donald Trump. I like Trump and his cojones (metaphorically speaking), but a lack of gravitas condemns him. Reagan had the right blend of cojones and gravitas: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
Ray Barretto, El Watusi (an old '60s number featured in Carlito's Way). Don't ask me what it means.
“I graduated from Stanford with a degree in medieval history and philosophy -- there is life after a medieval history and philosophy degree,” she said happily. After graduation, Fiorina said, she was “completely unemployable” so she tried out law school.
“I was an obedient, goody two-shoes middle child,” she said of that decision, explaining that her parents wanted her to go. “Hated law school. Quit law school after one semester. And now my resume reads, ‘Medieval history and philosophy. Law school dropout.” Fiorina then went to work as a secretary. Six months in, two of her male colleagues saw her potential and asked if she wanted to learn the business.
“And still, in 2014, there is no other country on the face of the earth where a young woman can start out as a secretary and become CEO of the largest technology company,” she said.
This is where the politics comes in. “I’m a conservative because I think our policies unlock potential in people and I have seen too many lives and too many livelihoods sacrificed at the altar of liberal ideology and it happens all the time,” she said. Fiorina talked about the evils of bureaucracies and the virtues of entrepreneurship, education, jobs and freedom.
It was 31 years ago today, during a training run. Running pioneer James F. Fixx, author of the wildly successful The Complete Book of Running, keeled over dead of cardiac arrest. He died with his 'boots' on, and not from running but from a bad heart. It's a good bet that his running added years to his life in addition to adding life to his years. I've just pulled my hardbound copy of The Complete Book of Running from the shelf. It's a first edition, 1977, in good condition with dust jacket. I read it when it first came out. Do I hear $1000? Just kidding, it's not for sale. This book and the books of that other pioneer, George Sheehan, certainly made a difference in my life.
The atavism and simplicity and cleansing quality of a good hard run are particularly beneficial for Luftmenschen. Paradoxically, the animality of it releases lofty thoughts.
See here for a comparison of Fixx and Sartre. And here for something on George Sheehan. Now for some 'running' tunes.
Del Shannon, Runaway. Charles Weedon Westover was born 30 December 1934 and is best known for his 1961 #1 hit, "Runaway." Suffering from depression, Shannon committed suicide on February 8, 1990, with a .22-caliber rifle at his home in Santa Clarita, California. Following his death, the Traveling Wilburys honored him by recording a version of "Runaway".
Today, 20 July, is not only the 31th anniversary of Jim Fixx's death, but also the 50th anniversary of the release of Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone. Wikipedia:
The song had a huge impact on Bruce Springsteen, who was 15 years old when he first heard it. Springsteen described the moment during his speech inducting Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and also assessed the long-term significance of "Like a Rolling Stone":
The first time I heard Bob Dylan, I was in the car with my mother listening to WMCA, and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody'd kicked open the door to your mind ... The way that Elvis freed your body, Dylan freed your mind, and showed us that because the music was physical did not mean it was anti-intellect. He had the vision and talent to make a pop song so that it contained the whole world. He invented a new way a pop singer could sound, broke through the limitations of what a recording could achieve, and he changed the face of rock'n'roll for ever and ever "
Dylan's contemporaries in 1965 were both startled and challenged by the single. Paul McCartney remembered going around to John Lennon's house in Weybridge to hear the song. According to McCartney, "It seemed to go on and on forever. It was just beautiful ... He showed all of us that it was possible to go a little further."Frank Zappa had a more extreme reaction: "When I heard 'Like a Rolling Stone', I wanted to quit the music business, because I felt: 'If this wins and it does what it's supposed to do, I don't need to do anything else ...' But it didn't do anything. It sold but nobody responded to it in the way that they should have." Nearly forty years later, in 2003, Elvis Costello commented on the innovative quality of the single. "What a shocking thing to live in a world where there was Manfred Mann and the Supremes and Engelbert Humperdinck and here comes 'Like a Rolling Stone'".
Your humble correspondent was lying in the sand at Huntington Beach, California, when the song came on the radio. It was like nothing else on the radio in those days of the Beatles and the Beach Boys. It 'blew my mind.' What is THAT? And WHO is that? I had been very vaguely aware of some B. Dylan as the writer of PPM's Don't Think Twice. I pronounced the name like 'Dial in.' That memorable summer of '65 I became a Dylan fanatic, researching him at the library and buying all his records. The fanaticism faded with the '60s. But while no longer a fanatic, I remain a fan, 50 years later.
This wonderfully creative but rarely played song by The Lovin' Spoonful dates from 1966. Six O'Clock is one of the songs that captures for me the 'magic' of those fabulous and far-off days. Same goes for Van Morrison and Them's Here Comes the Night (1965). It still sounds as raw and fresh as it did in '65. Tender and yearning, but with the metallic clang of the Dionysian.
Bob Dylan, I Shall be Free. This is the first time I've heard this particular delightful 1962 outtake. A real period piece in the style of Woody Guthrie with appearances by Marilyn Monroe, Anita Ekberg, Sophia Loren, John F. Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean's great granddaughter, fallout shelters . . . .
Del Shannon (Charles Weedon Westover), December 30, 1934 – February 8, 1990, known prmarily for his Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit, Runaway, 1961. "Suffering from depression, Shannon committed suicide on February 8, 1990, with a .22-caliber rifle at his home in Santa Clarita, California, while on a prescription dose of the anti-depressant drug Prozac. Following his death, The Traveling Wilburys honored him by recording a version of "Runaway"." (Wikipedia)
Dalida, O Sole Mio. I think I'm in love. "Dalida (17 January 1933 – 3 May 1987), birth name Iolanda Cristina Gigliotti, was a singer and actress who performed and recorded in more than 10 languages including: French, Arabic, Italian, Greek, German, English, Japanese, Hebrew, Dutch and Spanish." [. . .]On Saturday, 2 May 1987, Dalida committed suicide by overdosing on barbiturates. She left behind a note which read, "La vie m'est insupportable... Pardonnez-moi." ("Life has become unbearable for me... Forgive me.")" (Wikipedia)
The Singing Nun, Dominique, 1963. "Jeanine Deckers (17 October 1933 – 29 March 1985) was a Belgian singer-songwriter and initially a member of the Dominican Order in Belgium (as Sister Luc Gabrielle). She acquired world fame in 1963 as Sœur Sourire (Sister Smile) when she scored a hit with the her French-language song "Dominique". She is sometimes credited as "The Singing Nun". [. . .]
Citing their financial difficulties in a note, she and her companion of ten years, Annie Pécher, both committed suicide by an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol on 29 March 1985. In their suicide note, Decker and Pécher stated they had not given up their faith and wished to be buried together after a church funeral. They were buried together in Cheremont Cemetery in Wavre, Walloon Brabant, the town where they died. The inscription on their tombstone reads "I saw her soul fly across the clouds", a line from Deckers' song "Sister Smile is dead". (Wikipedia)
My favorite suicide song is Shiver Me Timbers by Tom Waits. James Taylor offers a beautiful interpretation. Is it really about suicide at sea? The reference to Martin Eden suggests to me that it is. But you might reasonably disagree.
Santo and Johnny, Sleepwalk (1959). Joe Satriani's cover blows the original and every other cover clean out of the water. Masterful guitar work. But wait a minute! What about old man Les Paul's version?
The Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy opened yesterday and I saw it. I grew up in Southern California in the '60s with all those songs, and so I had to see it. I'm glad I did. Trailer here. But not for the music of which there is little, but for the biography and backstory. The two heroes of the story are Brian Wilson and the woman who saved him, Melinda Ledbetter. The two villains are the abusive father, Murry Wilson, and the crazy shrink, Dr. Landy. It is probably true, though, that were it not for the hard-charging Murry there would have been no Beach Boys. He pushed them and negotiated their contract with Capitol Records.