Monday, December 31, 2012

Hogie's Heroes: Milton DeLugg

Sorry I've been absent from posting here, but the holiday season always finds me running on fumes until I am reborn like a phoenix with the rolling over of the yearly odometer. I did decide to pop in one last update before 2013, albeit a slightly odd one that chronologically really belongs back in my bits about early childhood.

A short while back, I made a Facebook post of The Fleshtones' version of "Hooray For Santa Claus" the theme song for "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" . (Being a fan of both The Fleshtones and cheezy kid cinema, how could I resist?) Fellow artist Danny Hellman responded by posting a video clip from the movie "Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon", which aside from having a similarly unlikely genre mashup movie title also sported music from the same composer...Milton DeLugg. This had the welcome effect of scratching the nearly 40 year old itch of me trying to figure out what the incredibly strange cartoon movie I had seen as a small child was. I managed to find it on Amazon streaming and gave it a rent.

My memories did not fail me, this cartoon is AGGRESSIVELY weird. It features a street urchin named Ricky who teams up with a dog, a toy soldier and Swift's Gulliver to travel by rocket to a planet called "The Star Of Hope". Said planet is populated by semi abstract looking alien people who've been displaced and are persecuted by the robots they created to serve them. It was a 60's Japanese Japanese import (Apparently Hayao Miyazaki got his start here as an inbetweener, and pitched ideas that were eventually used in the ending.) but has a wild variety of styles, sometimes seeming like an Eastern European experimental film. Oh yeah, and Darla Hood of The Little Rascals dubs in the voice of a princess in the American version. Fun stuff.

Lest this sound too much like something more appropriate for the Cartoon Brew website, let me say something about the music. It TOTALLY matches the film, despite not being the original score. (Which I've heard some of, and it's fine but pales in comparison.) DeLugg totally knows how to throw everything in. The 94 year old music veteran who's been both the musical director of The Gong Show and the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade gives you kid choruses, brassy discordant horns, instruments you can't identify and a lot of stuff that wouldn't sound out of place in Bob Crewe's "Barabarella" soundtrack. It certainly helped burn this fun flick into my young mind.

A New Year's Wish (for Somebody)

I myself will be hunkering down at home.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom

This is my mother's all-time favorite Bruce Springsteen song.

And this is the song that makes me think of her more than any other.

Happy birthday, sweet lady.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (Ralph Vaughan Williams)

Something to wake up with and close out the week.  


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Different Words, Same Tears

Dennis Jay is a cowboy singer who is both an actual cowboy and an actual singer. I met him some years back at a music jam, and we hit it off, mainly by way of some impromptu Buddy Holly duets. (Buddy Holly is the way to many a Texan's heart.)  Dennis is one ornery sonofabitch, and one hell of a singer, and if he ain't achieved legend status it's probably due more the orneriness than to the singing. His album Primicia was produced and co-written in places by the great Dave McKittrick (he who is producing and co-writing in places the future album by me, the one that shares the name of this blog), and part of what makes their partnership work is Dave's ability to bring out the heart and soul of every performer he works with, ornery or otherwise. Dennis is a guy who takes no shit and can be tough to take (and I love him dearly for it), but in his singing you hear the aching of a man who has known a lot of heartbreak and loneliness. Which is what you should expect from the best cowboy singers.

These videos were shot by me two summers ago in Dave's studio, where Dennis was performing for an appreciative live audience one Sunday afternoon. Buy Dennis's EP Primicia when you get a chance. His voice deserves to be heard.

I Don't Think So Anymore

What obsessive heartbreak sounds like.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Novice and His Guitar

Guest Post by Sean Williams and cross-posted at his blog, Endless Joints and Wiffle Ball Bats

My life  has always been saturated with some kind of music, whether it was my dad blasting Coltrane or Pink Floyd on the weekends or my mom and her Motown cassettes that would eat away the hours on long car rides. I've been singing in choirs and a cappella groups for over ten years, and I listen to an unusual range of genres and styles. The one musical aspect of my life that has always been lacking is an instrument. I played cello for a year in elementary school and the trombone for four years, and I was mediocre at both, to put it generously. Since my early instrumental failures I have never attempted to play another instrument until recently, when I decided to try my hand at acoustic guitar.

I began in the summer, and needless to say I was terrible. It took me weeks just to establish basic chords  and more weeks to string a song together. In spite of my ponderous progress I have managed to string together a few simple songs and am slowly noticing improvement, and hopefully by next summer I'll be able to play with some degree of skill. I didn't know what "action" was, and barre chords remain a nightmare, but in comparison to where I began, I am a modern-day Clapton.

I began playing on my black Takamine Jasmine, a cheap guitar with strings that are noticeably rusted, and promptly discovered that playing guitar was a moderately painful exercise, at least for someone who squeezed down on every string like he was trying to make the instrument surrender. In the end, the  guitar remained unbroken and my fingertips had developed some blue-ribbon weals. I stubbornly proceeded, because I am a methodical, inefficient mule when it comes to these things and I rarely circumvent a wall that I could just try to punch through it. Calluses came slowly, and the discordant plangs and scrapes of the guitar became incrementally more noticeable as an attempt to play music. My dad would stop downstairs and nod with a hint of approval, and my dog gradually ceased fleeing the room when I stomped in, guitar in hand.

I don't want to give the impression that I'm good, because that would not be close to the truth. For me, playing the guitar is still a physical struggle, and every transition from chord to chord offers a chance to screw up. More important than the sound is the fun I'm having, something I could not confess to in the early days of playing. The instrument was a chore, and I loved the idea of it but didn't enjoy trying to bend it to my will. I look forward to grabbing my guitar and just banging out chords, singing off-key to songs that are well above my vocal range (my version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" is essentially me just warbling well into my falsetto while loudly and ponderously clanking out chords. Thank God my parents are tolerant people) and keeping my family up at night. I had my doubts at first, but playing has really become a great musical outlet for me.

One last note before I wrap this post up is the influence of my uncle, who plays guitar well and has always pushed me musically. I have taken to playing his old 1978 (or thereabouts I think, he can correct me) Hondo II, this beat up piece of wood that sounds better than it should and is easy to play. I think this is the thing to remember about music-whether you're awful at it or a virtuoso, it carries a history and connections that can only be loved.

She Might Fade Away

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Greatest Xmas and/or Headphone Album, Ever.

Play on Repeat until the pain stops: If you can only listen to one song:

Beatles Christmas Record - 1969

The finale.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

DIY Slide Guitar for Pyromaniacs

I'm at my ancestral estate for the holidays. One of the stranger things I found in my storage unit -- strange in that I had forgotten I had them, not that they're any stranger than any of the other stuff I found in there -- were two empty bottles of Wegmans brand balsamic vinegar. Why did I save these things? Uh … oh, that's right, because I lost my glass guitar slides in a flood a few years ago and still haven't made these bottles into their replacements.


Don't let the pricks at Guitar Center fool you -- the best metal slides for playing slide guitar are sold at Sears for six bucks. Glass slides are a little trickier -- Coricidin aspirin bottles [whose production was discontinued decades ago] are considered the gold standard, but I prefer to make my own. It's fun, cheap, allows you to choose the color, shape and thickness of your slide … and it involves igniting kerosene and then playing with the object you just lit on fire. What's not to like?

Now, you really, really … really shouldn't do this; it's dangerous. But, here's how I used to do it:

1. Find a bottle that comfortably fits my left ring finger; I had a full-finger slide and a knuckle one for being able to play chords and slide at the same time. I don't think I ever used the knuckle one after the first week of having it, as 1. I am not, nor shall I ever be, Muddy Waters, and 2. knuckle slide is far more effective as comfort -- knowing that you have it as an option -- than whatever benefit you would gain if it was ever actually deployed; it's like the U.S. Navy's nuclear submarine fleet in your guitar case.

2. Clean and dry it out.

3. Secure an exacto knife on a stack of books set to the height of the bottle where I want the slide cut off, with a smidge extra for sanding.

4. Turn the bottle to score it nice and even.

5. Wrap a piece of string around the score line, add about an inch extra.

6. Soak string in kerosene.

7. Tie string securely around the score line [go wash the flammable liquid off your hands] and LIGHT ON FIRE FOR FUCKSAKE BE CAREFUL MILO.

8. Wearing gloves, hold the base of the bottle. Rotate it slowly and let the string burn until it goes out. [BTW, I hope we're outside; I'm trying to recall if we ever tried simply rolling the bottle on the driveway rather than hold it.]

9. Probably repeat step 6-8; wine and vinegar bottles are thick.

10. Once the burn line is pretty eaten away but the glass is still looking/smelling hot, take the slide end of the bottle and either bonk the base against something flat but forgiving [CAREFULLY] or dunk it into a bucket of cold water [DELIBERATELY].

11. File and then buff the jagged edge of the bottleneck until you can't hurt anything but your ears with it.

Beatles Christmas Record - 1968

The "White Album" of these records, wherein the Beatles recorded all their parts solo.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Bye-bye to one NoVa home (18 yrs) and hallo new one (see video)

We used to play the same crumbling club as emmet swimming: the long-gone Planet Nova. You're now stuck with that info.


On a night like this
I deserve to get kissed
At least once or twice

Beatles Christmas Record - 1967


This was the last Christmas record the Beatles recorded together as a group.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I Believe in This and It’s Been Tested by Research

NPR reports on the tenth anniversary of Joe Strummer's death. Hard to believe it's been that long. You're missed, Joe.

Beatles Christmas Record - 1966

This is my favorite of all the records. It's on the edge of surreal, with a heavy Goons influence. A precursor of Monty Python. Plus some very lovely little Christmas-y moments.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Nostalgia Alert Addendum

My friend Celia Kelly Bredenbeck made such a great comment at Facebook about last night's Christmas post that I thought it deserved to be showcased here as a reply. Take it away...

Beatles Christmas Record - 1965

You can smell the pot cloud from here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Nostalgia Alert - "Ave Maria"

I hate to risk the annoyance of my hipper colleagues here on the blog, but I do have to throw in at least a little bit of You-Know-Whatmas music. I'll try to mitigate that annoyance by starting out saying that when I was a kid, the Christmas season was a particularly lonesome and sad time for me. I have no idea why. I had four siblings, I had generous parents who bought us just about everything we asked for, plus more (and near-zero the rest of the year). I liked trees and lights and the smell of pine and I loved the Grinch and Rudolph and even that dope Frosty, once I figured out that his cartoon was designed by a MAD artist (Paul Coker, Jr.).  Right up into adulthood I had a difficult time with the holiday, as many people do, but I could never quite figure out exactly why.  (More after the jump.)

The Beatles Christmas Record - 1964

Monday, December 17, 2012


The greatest raconteurs of the twentieth century are, of course, Orson Welles, Keith Richards and Rowdy Roddy Piper. [I rate raconteurs by the accuracy of their Chief Wahoo McDaniel impersonation above all else.] I just found a bookmark of the following video clip from an early '90s Hunter S. Thompson video and thought I'd share:
The stunned, uncomprehending look on Keith's face at 2:18 is truly delicious, like he just discovered his grandmother was really his mother or something.

One of the strangest knock-on effects of Richards releasing LIFE -- which is a good read because of its faults, a curious mix of minute detail and no sense that our author has ever considered the big picture those details make, even now [this might be like expecting a virus to learn its lesson] -- is that he seems to have run out of anecdotes to tell with the relish he used to have. It doesn't seem to be solely an age/health/elder-statesman status issue; compare the above to this 1989 tape. Very strange that a musician content to grind through the same set list of 50-30 year old songs every night now seems bored with talking about his own life in interviews.

Not an interview, just a semi-rare MAIN OFFENDER-era concert of Richards and the X-Pensive Winos. I wouldn't cross a stadium parking lot for free tickets to a Rolling Stones show, but I would stand in line for the chance to pay full retail to see the Winos live. Not stand in line overnight, much less for weeks, but I would make an effort for that band. Respect to any group that can make "Connection" rock and swing hard.

Hogie's Heroes: Alice Cooper

Okay, so now the 70's are becoming the 80's. The process started several years before the odometer rolled over but now extends to the point that it isn't just a question of the "New Wave" seeming "New", but also one of it's predecessors starting to seem "Old". Long hair and beards on men were no longer all that out of the mainstream, nor was kicking back casually in t-shirts and jeans. I mean, Hell, that's how half my teachers in school looked. The future of what rock music would look like was lurching forward from London, the New York City Bowery and in many ways Berlin. If we think of periods of rock culture in terms of "What Was David Bowie Lookin' Like?" (Which is an analogy which holds up well for several decades.) the hippie longhair look of Hunky Dory was old hat, the cartoony glam of Ziggy Stardust had been rendered kid friendly by KISS, so Station to Station and icy teutonic cool here we come.

At this point as an adolescent in northern Vermont, I was vaguely aware that there was some strange German band called "Kraftwerk" that looked like Joseph Goebbel's glee club, but even CHOM out of Montreal wasn't giving them much airplay and I was a few years away from figuring out how to receive the college station out of Burlington. Thus it was that in a weird way the closest I came to buying a new wave record in 1980 was...Alice Cooper.

Cooper had ended the 70's as a fairly successful mainstream entertainer whose once shocking stage persona was now deemed safe enough to appear on The Muppet Show and in a Marvel comic book. Recovering from a hard bout with alcoholism, Cooper possibly sensed a shift in the air and wanted a change. At any rate, the greasepaint came off, the hair got slicked back and synthesizers got front loaded. Still being something of a scifi geek at the time, I was a big enough fan of the song "Clones (We're ALL)" to buy the first of his troika of new wave inspired albums "Flush the Fashion"

This was edgy stuff for not quite high school yet me, with it's splatter paint lettering and the word "Flush" right there in the title. Probably the scariest part was the less new-wavey song "Pain" which had lines like "I'm the filthiest word at the vandalized grave". This was the first record I was openly afraid to play if my Mom was in earshot, lest she have me committed. (She's still used to me listening to my 8-track of ABBA'S "Super Trooper" at this point.) It would get a lot worse, but not for a little bit.

The Beatles Christmas Records - 1963

In which the boys are excited and amused by this, their first year of success, and are probably sure it won't last longer than a few more weeks.

Friday, December 14, 2012

When we're ready for a little cheering up ...

.... I'm just going to park this here for you.

Mad World

Hogie's heroes: CHOM 97.7

Okay, so we're coming out of the 70's. My parents have divorced and I've moved with my Mom to live with my Stepfather at her Grandparents' house in St. Albans Vermont. St. Albans is about 15 miles from the U.S. border with the Canadian province of Quebec and I remember going to school with a lot of kids with French last names. While Quebec has a rich cultural heritage, from the American perspective it's main draws were:

Beer: Before the rise of microbrews, the main "Status" beer back in the day was Canadian beer personally imported from Canada. You could get Canadian beer in American supermarkets, but it wasn't as strong as the stuff sold in the provinces. Show up at a party with a case of Brador and you were hot stuff.

Strippers: Sometimes called "The Bangkok of North America" Quebec sure has a lot of strippers. While St. Catherine street in Montreal probably has the most, strip clubs can turn up in towns that amount to little more than a general store and a post office. Consequently, most of my trips to Quebec have been for bachelor parties.

Music: Montreal is by far the nearest large city to St. Albans, and thus a major concert destination. Also, back when I was in high school it's English language rock station was pretty much the main place to hear new music in the days before MTV.

CHOM hews to the classic rock format these days, but it used to have more new music in the mix. This had a major effect on Northern Vermont tastes in rock, as a lot of the new music being played was Canadian. While acts like Rush, Heart, and Loverboy broke through to the American mainstream, a lot of stuff that was popular at school was never made a dent in the rest of the country. I think the locals sort of liked the regional nature of that. To this day April Wine and The Tragically Hip remain major concert draws for younger Boomers and older Gen Xers. Here's a smattering of what the early 80's sounded like if you went to my school:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hogie's Heroes: ABBA

Okay, after the last post, this is going to seem like an abrupt musical U-turn, but really it isn't.

Probably the next musical act I remember getting into was ABBA. This was largely from the influence of a neighbor friend who was a few years older than me. (And wrote a comic that I drew in 7th grade.) They may not seem much like KISS but hear me out: They had four members, a band name made up out of four capital letters, they wore too much makeup, they were togged out in goofy outfits and in the mid late 70's they were enormously popular. They may not have had as much cachet with straight boys, but this was years before my friend struggled with dating, joined a seminary and finally came out of the what did I know? (His collection of broadway musical soundtracks should've been a tip off. Heterosexual teen males are not THAT into Godspell.)

But hey, good on him for sharing some catchy Swede pop. They were unscary enough that my parents kept buying me ABBA 8-tracks, presumably to keep me away from drugs and Satan or whatever they thought KISS would lead to.

Despertarse, Muchachos

Me rompe el corazon y me deja triste 
¿Qué es lo que debo hacer?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Playlist for the Unemployable

I miss the days when I found out that [it was a hard decision for them to make .... but] I didn't get a job by receiving a form letter instead of a mass emailer/press release about the company's new hire. Let's all be sad:

OK, after that Mats song, it's impossible to make a mix of songs about job searching/unemployment/recessions that's not "I Need A Goddamn Job" over and over for, say, six months. Did I miss any good ones? [Friday update] I did; thank you John: and Steve: [Even the most rudimentary major/minor arpeggios sound great with enough tremolo]:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hogie's Heroes: KISS

Okay, let's get this over with...

For at least my generation, saying that as an adolescent boy you dug KISS is a non revelation on the scale of saying that one day you discovered you liked boobies. They were the boy band for boys, replacing non threatening sexuality with comic book theatrics. The question wasn't "Who's the dreamiest?" but rather "Who could beat The Silver Surfer in a fight?" I don't currently own any KISS records, but when I was 10 years old "Destroyer" worked as my gateway drug to contemporary pop and rock. In the late 70's they were enormous. Even girls listened to them! (This explains why GWAR never achieved similar success. Who could imagine them releasing "Beth"?)

So there's not really much for me to say that hasn't been said. I have Six Degrees of Separation from them in that my wife's cousin was the late Brooke Ostrander, who was a member of Wicked Lester, the band that would eventually morph into KISS. (He managed to live a happy life despite this Pete Best status.) Rather than link to a song you've probably already heard, here's Gene Simmons on the Mike Douglas show back in 1974. It's kind of fun seeing a young Simmons as a skinny geek in Halloween togs looking more like one of his future fans than a grumpy old millionaire.

Administrative Note

There may not be a single soul in the world besides myself who cares one whit about this, but I am suspending both the "Morning Moptops" and "Quiet Good Night" features that have been a daily feature on this blog. They were intended as disciplinary tools for myself to make sure ABANDONED AND HEARTBROKE was constantly active and updated, rather than just sitting idle for days. But with the arrival of The Guys -- Curt, Milo, Steve, and Rob (if I can get his ass to post something already) -- the exercise becomes less necessary. It doesn't mean the features will be gone for good (and in fact Milo will be thrilled to know that all next week I will be posting all the Beatles Christmas records), but they will be scaled back to being occasional features, like my "This is Elvis" posts.

The Guys are hereby informed that they are free to set up their own regular features, or just post whatever comes to mind, whenever they want. And if there is anyone who does care a whit about anything that gets posted on this blog and would like to see anything posted in particular, email us or reply here and let us know.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Awkward Band and Musician Photos

I can't remember how I found this Facebook page, but it's a gem.

Band photos are the only thing a band can botch up worse than the actual performance of music.

OK, OK, fair's fair.

Good Night Las Vegas, Wherever You Are.

It was difficult to think of something sweeter than seeing the criminally underrated Juan Manuel Marquez finally get his revenge against Manny Pacquiao and the boxing judging system in Nevada -- for a second or two, I really did think a sniper had shot Pacman as JMM landed the platonic ideal of a ringt-hand counterpunch -- to cap off the evening, but then the mighty Bob Levin emailed me a link to the above music video, illustrating a slab of Clarence Williams' Stompers hot jazz titled "What's The Matter Now?" Flappers are always cute, even with their dukes up.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Uncle John's Band

Earlier this year, my most excellent nephew Sean Williams told me he wanted one day to cover Dylan's "Girl from the North Country" as a duet. I did him one better, suggesting we get into a studio and record it. Over the summer he and I went to see the most excellent David McKittrick, who not only generously donated his producer time but also his exquisite guitar skills. And just the other day the most excellent Morgan Henry (he who is my hero) laid down a great bass track.

It's a bare-bones, unfinished mix, and later Dave will bring in drums and pretty up the whole thing, but I couldn't wait to get the vocal tracks out there for all to hear.

Girl from the North Country (rough mix)

Friday, December 7, 2012


Hi, sorry I'm late. Despite his unfortunate John Lennon fetish, our blog übërführër has shown excellent taste in contributors here so thank you for inviting li'l ol' me, Mr. [not that John Williams or that] John Williams [either].

[Which John Williams do I have to blow to get an album of the guitarist playing solo arrangements of the composer's themes to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman, The Long Goodbye, etc.?]

So, album packaging. Until recently, it was impossible for music to exist without some visual element; vinyl, cassettes, CDs, 8-tracks -- all physical media make a visual statement before you hear the first second of the sound they contain. Intentional or not, the blankest package makes as much of a statement about what it contains as records with quad-panel gatefolds and illustrations that would make the Old Masters of the Chevy Van weep, curse Gawd and break their airbrushes over their knees. Would Live At Leeds or Damaged be as badass if they traded covers with Visions of the Emerald Beyond or Moving Pictures? Would Rock For Light be more iconic and influential today if it had a cover that actually reflected its contents?


Even the design of the actual media can make a statement -- you show me a jiveass retro-pop band and I'll show you a 2012 CD published with a pastiche of some decades-old LP's label, implying that today's CD should be thought of in the same context as the classic pop music that the band rips off in the actual recordings. If you ask around long enough you'll discover that you know at least one person who has a firm opinion about which CDs look the coolest when seen spinning in their disc player.

[Whoa, I bet this one looks cool spinning in the player. I would buy a copy of Bernard Hermann's score for Vertigo if I knew the CD's face would produce the movie's iconic swirling when it was played.]

I recently helped a friend reunite her CDs and jewel cases in order to sell them, and I quickly came to appreciate the discs/artists who had the decency to feature identifying names on the CD itself. I noted that there was a marked drop-off in legible credits on albums made since the MP3's debut -- is this because we've given up on the album as a single unit of entertainment, something to enjoy on its own terms, offline? Is the commercial CD becoming as disposable as the blank CD, something to be ripped to your computer to experience and if you keep the disc at all it's in case your hard drive fails and you lose your MP3s? Or, have designers and producers figure "why bother writing the name of the band/album/tracks on the CD when iTunes will do all that for people the second they open the case for the first time and pop the CD into their disc drives?" and make the physical object aesthetically pleasing with no obligation to the music it contains.

thanks for nothing/nothing for thanks.

One of my favorite pastimes is shitting all over Sgt. Pepper and anyone who cites it as the best thing ever recorded -- The first generation or two of listeners were listening to it with their eyes at least as much as with their ears, and the following generations mindlessly accepted Pepper's supremacy as gospel. Take a look at the album's track listing -- now, really, how many of these songs can you remember all the way through, as compared to the songs on Revolver or Rubber Soul?

Anyway, lately I've been branching out to dump on the White Album, which is almost as much of a triumph of packaging over music as its predecessor. Hey man, this one is all about the substance, man, not some fancy covers -- that's why the cover is almost blank … but with some cool embossing for the band name … and each copy getting stamped with its own individual serial number … and a double-sided poster of the band … and glossy headshots each Beatle … uh, yeah. ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC, MAN. The packaging actually does serve the music quite well in many ways -- The Beatles is an album without a group shot of the band for good reason; even the poster is made of solo photos of each Beatle, the glossies looking like the work of four different photographers -- but let's stop pretending that its package steps back and lets the music speak for itself, contra Pepper. One of the many things the Beatles will eventually be held accountable for in The Hague of popular culture once their headlock on our society finally slips is popularizing the concept of ostentatious austerity, the humble brag as objet d'art.

If you squint hard enough, this looks just like the glamourshot of Thoreau used in the first edition of Walden.

NEXT: A probably hypocritical list of the best [read: my favorite] LP packages of all time.

A Quiet Good Night - It Happened

"It Happened" was a song Yoko Ono wrote and recorded in 1974, while she and John Lennon were in the throes of their 18 month separation.

 "It Happened" was a song John loved. "It's a hit." "No way." "You wanna bet? I'll make it a hit," he said. I remember thinking, "Why this one?" John had found the song amongst my old tapes two weeks before the night.
 The song was released as the B-side of "Walking on Thin Ice", a dance single by Yoko that John had been working on the night of his murder. Its intro features audio of the couple walking through Central Park while being filmed for a future video project. "It's fun, innit?", asks John. Yoko agrees. "I like all this."

Stick around for that, and for the beautiful guitar work.

Hogan's Heroes: Rick Springfield

Okay, this one might be stretching the "Heroes" part of these headers a bit, but indulge me.

In the early 70's the big thing in Saturday morning kid shows was to throw in some pop music, presumably to get older sisters to watch (I was an only child and cannot vouch for this.) Certainly the animation company Filmation was on board with this, having had their licensed cartoon "The Archie Show" produce a #1 hit single with "Sugar, Sugar" in 1969. Filmation was big on licensing stuff, and in 1972 they produced the animated Brady Bunch spinoff "The Brady Kids". The following year they made a spinoff of their spinoff using a couple characters from the episode "Teachers Pet". "The Brady Kids" had been weird enough, with the titular brood hanging out with a magical mynah bird and a twin pair of panda cubs, but it had nothing on it's follow up "Mission: Magic!".

"Mission Magic" featured a teacher named "Miss Tickle" who ran secret meetings for her students called "The Adventurers Club". You can be excused for thinking that this sounds sketchy as all get out, but rather than being a sexual predator, Miss Tickle was a kind of magical witch type (This still sounds close to what Jack Chick's religious tracts used to warn us about public education.). Anyhoo, each week Miss tickle would round up her ethnically diverse cluster of students for a special learning session that would start by receiving a message through a magical gramophone from...RICK SPRINGFIELD!

This used to confuse the crap out of me as a kid because although it was clear he was supposed to be a real person, I had no idea who the hell he was. (Most of America was in the same boat.) I could only presume that the real Rick Springfield was some kind Australian who sang songs and probably didn't really live in an alternate magical dimension with a blue owl on his shoulder and have adventures with witch teachers and their students who arrived in said dimension through a magical door drawn on a chalkboard. (I mean I was just guessing. I didn't know a lot about rock stars and what they got up to at that point in my life.)

Flash forward 8 years and Springfield has a #1 single with "Jessie' Girl". While lady folk like my wife were all "Hey, it's Dr Noah Drake from General Hospital!" I was all "Hey, it's that cartoon magic dimension owl guy!"

Here's the catchy theme song:

Yer Morning Moptops - John Lennon 1980

"Dear Yoko" - home video

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Quiet Good Night - Happy Birthday Kathleen

 Remember when, we were younger when
You would wait for me at school
Teacher's friends and brazen sins
And I was often cruel
But you always believed in me
You thought I was the best
And now that I got you alone
Let me get this off my chest

Pick a melody
Then count from one to ten
I make a rhyme up
Then we will try again
To laugh or cry or give a sigh
To past that might have been
And how much I really love my baby sister

Hogie's Heroes: Vince Guaraldi

Hey how could I post about my childhood experiences with music without mentioning this generously mustached fellow? Only the most hard hearted crank wouldn't have fond memories of Guaraldi's theme music to the Peanuts cartoons. Vince's soundtracks struck just the right balance of jazzy modernism and cartoony fun. I imagine for a whole generation, hearing these tunes evokes a Pavlovian craving for a raspberry zinger. His untimely death in 1976 at the age of 47 sadly pointed towards the gradual decline of the series. ("Flashbeagle" anyone?)

That all said, despite this being the holiday season I'm not going to post a song from "A Charlie Brown Christmas". Those are sufficiently ubiquitous that I can pretty much guarantee that some store near you is playing "Christmas Time is Here"even as I type these words. Instead I thought I'd post my favorite song of his which actually wasn't in a Peanuts special. (In fact though, producer Lee Mendelson hearing this song is what got Guaraldi the gig.) Recorded for the album "Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus" (Inspired by the movie of the same name.) "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" was released as a B-side to the bossa nova single "Samba de Orpheus", "Cast" got a whole new lease on life when radio DJs started flipping the record over and playing it. It eventually went on to win the Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition.

Although it was recorded several years before I was born, it was still a radio mainstay in the 70's and never fails to make me smile.

Yer Morning Moptops - John Lennon 1980

"Help Me to Help Myself"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Somber Good Night - Dave Brubeck

"Kathy's Waltz": from which some claim the Beatles drew, ah... inspiration for "All My Loving"

Hogie's Heroes: Paul Mauriat

The lattice of coincidence strikes! John just posted about his childhood radio experiences the night before my planned radio posting. No big deal. Aside from our shared love of The CBS Radio Mystery Theater (The first thing I went out of my way to listen to on the radio as a kid.) I'm talking about my Mom's ever present easy listening station.

My parents had mostly stopped buying records for themselves by the time I entered the picture (Except for a few Roger Whitaker 8-tracks. Mom sure loved her some Roger Whitaker.) and had ceded the record player to me. Dad really wasn't a big music guy and was gone working most of the day, but Mom would put on the radio for hours at a time playing the easy listening station. Do these even still exist? It seems like most of them switched to the "Oldies" format awhile back. (And the definition of "Oldies" seems to have crept from Bobby Vinton to Phil Collins.) In the early 70's before most of the pre-rock generation were pushing up daisies it was a pretty common format. You'd get a mix of The Ray Conniff Singers, Ferrante and Teicher, Andre Kostelanetz and the like. It tended to lean towards strings-heavy songs designed to soothe the nerves of an older generation fretting over those long haired kids.

Still, there were some acknowledgments of modernity. If they weren't orchestral rearrangements of "Yesterday" and the like, they were recently recorded baroque affairs filled with harpsichords and horn sections. Something new enough some kids might buy it, but not oo scary for their parents. Paul Mauriat's take on "Love is Blue" is a fairly representative example of this. That sound was pretty much ever present at that time, and listening to it takes me back to shopping at Mammoth Mart in the Greenfield Plaza or watching TV ads. This is as close as it gets to a sonic time machine for my early childhood.

Yer Morning Moptops - John Lennon 1980

Watching the Wheels (acoustic)

They're gonna look back at the Beatles and the Stones and all those guys as relics. The days when those bands were just all men will be on the newsreels, you know. They will be showing pictures of the guy with lipstick wriggling his ass and the four guys with the evil black make-up on their eyes trying to look raunchy. That's gonna be the joke in the future, not a couple singing together or living and working together.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Quiet Good Night - Was it in a Dream

10 Classic AM Homework Songs

My school experience as a kid was not all it could have been. I was bright and talented and sensitive, but also gawky, shy, and insecure as hell. (Oh, the more things change...) Mostly, I was lonely. I had four siblings and a number of friends, but in most areas of my life I walked my own path. My adolescent, pre-girl, pre-guitar obsessions consisted of STAR TREK, comic books, and radio (TV was more a necessity than a hobby). For a few years my most prized possession was a crummy little AM clock radio, not unlike the one pictured above, and night or day you would find me tuned into New York City's 77 WABC, 66 WNBC, or 710 WOR. The first two stations were for music, but WOR was the home of my beloved CBS Radio Mystery Theater, hosted by E.G. Marshall.

As for music: in the days before I could afford my own records, and before I had formed any real opinions on what kind of music I liked, I listened loyally to WABC and WNBC, the former having once been the biggest and most famous Top 40 radio station in the country, and the latter known best for launching Howard Stern into stardom. On fall nights, that crummy little clock radio was a comfort to a kid who was mostly fraught with fear about the impending school day, and for some reason some songs stand out in my memory more than others -- not because I liked all of them all that much, certainly, but because they were played so often they got stuck between my ears. So when you go through this list, think of these songs not as old nostalgic favorites but as companions, for better or worse, on nights when I most needed to keep my heart from faltering.

1. The Eagles, "New Kid in Town"
2. Leo Sayer, "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing"
3. Electric Light Orchestra, "Do Ya"
4. Andrew Gold, "Lonely Boy"
5. Bob Welch, "Sentimental Lady"
6. Diana Ross, "Theme from Mahogany"
7. Donna Summer, "Last Dance"
8. Aerosmith, "Dream On"
9. Kansas, "Dust in the Wind"
10. Carole King, "It's Too Late"

UPDATE: Rich Kurlantzick, one of my older brother's schoolfriends, posted his own list on my Facebook wall, so seeing as he went to all that effort I am adding it here.

1. Gerry Rafferty, "Baker Street"
2. 10cc, "I'm Not in Love" 
3. Pablo Cruise, "Love Will Find A Way"
4. Bob Seger, "Night Moves"
5. Looking Glass, "Brandy"
6. America, "Ventura Highway"
7. Jackson Browne, "Fountain of Sorrow"
8. Steely Dan, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number"
9. Donna Summer, "MacArthur Park"
10. Earth, Wind, and Fire, "September"

Hogie's Heroes: Simon & Garfunkel

While my parents were pretty much the main gatekeepers of music when I was little, we did briefly have a period where several college girls were renting rooms from us. I mainly remember them playing Simon & Garfunkel in their rooms all the time. This was probably more acceptable with my parents than if it had been the Doors or Led Zeppelin. Hard to say how heavy their tastes ran. At the time we had a neighbor who was a cop, and our rebellious coeds alternately told me was "The Fuzz" or "The Pig". This lead to a "Kids Say The Darnedest Things" moment where, while my Mom and I were visiting the aforementioned neighbor, I pointed at him and started yelling "Fuzzy Pig! Fuzzy Pig!"

Anyhoo, I enjoyed the Simon & Garfunkel that filtered out of their rooms. I especially liked this song, mostly on the basis that I thought it was funny that a guy was singing about being a rock. (This is many years before I heard The Mothers of Invention.)

Yer Morning Moptops - John Lennon 1980

I'd go through periods of panic, because I was not in Billboard or being seen at Studio 54 with Mick and Bianca. I mean, I didn't exist anymore. And I realized there was a life without it. I thought, "This reminds me of being 15!" I didn't have to write songs at 15. I wrote if I wanted to. That's when I suddenly could do it again with ease. All the songs that are on Double Fantasy all came within a period of 3 weeks.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Quiet Good Night - "Canarios", John Williams

Suggested by Sean Thomas Williams


 "My daddy knew a lot of guitar players, and most of them didn't work, so he said, `You should make your mind up to either be a guitar player or an electrician, but I never saw a guitar player that was worth a damn." - Elvis on Tour, 1972
A website featuring all of Elvis Presley's guitars

Hogie's Heroes: Tennessee Ernie Ford

Just to preface: I pretty much decided that I'd blog here about music that I'd experienced chronologically starting from early childhood. Beyond Puff the Magic Dragon or those Power book and record sets, I wasn't much of an independent record purchaser in early elementary school. So we're mostly dealing with my parents' record collection at this point...hence we're a few years away from rockin' out. My parents didn't have edgy tastes.

As a kid I always kept coming back to Mom's Tennessee Ernie Ford records. Like Herb Alpert, a lot of the songs were funny and kid friendly. Ford's warm drawl reminded me of my Uncle from Texas, an easy natured guy who loved fishing and jelly donuts. Given that Ford's music served as the aural equivalent of comfort food, it's ironic that the one song he sang I still remember is a dark portrait of the hopelessness of working poverty. Hell, the song even positions Ford as a badass that you wouldn't want to run into! Still it's a snappy little cover of depressing, and I remember it well enough that I surprised my wife by singing along to it when it popped up at the end of an episode of Mad Men. (She was impressed and a little disturbed.)

Yer Morning Moptops - The George 'n' Bob Show

A personally significant selection this morning.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Jazzy Good Night - Why Don't You Do Right

Peggy Lee and Benny Goodman.

Jessica Rabbit's song.

Hogie's Heroes: Glen Campbell

When I was a little kid I remember I used to watch Glen Campbell's variety show while clutching my plastic toy guitar. The guitar was so big (Almost the size of a real one.) that I had to strum it facing me because my little arm didn't fit around the body properly.

And speaking of bigness and music, a few years back I picked up some Glen Campbell records at the thrift store, and I found myself primarily drawn to the songs written by Jimmy Webb. (He of MacArthur Park fame.) His songs aren't just big, they are HUUUUGE. (As Paris Hilton might say.) Glen couldn't sound any more intense here than if he was dumping gasoline on his head and striking a match.

Yer Morning Moptops - Where Did Our Love Go?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Jazzy Good Night - "Gershwin"

Arling & Cameron, "Gershwin"

Hogie's Heroes: Herb Alpert

Steve here. The first music I can remember really liking was Herb Alpert. In part because it was funny sounding. I defy you to listen to "Tijuana Taxi" without coming up with a cartoon in your head. The other part was that the album I was listening to was "Whipped Cream and Other Delights" which famously featured a ridiculously hot Dolores Erickson nude and covered with the afore mentioned whipped cream. I think that album cover bumped me up puberty-wise by a few years.

Sadly, that album didn't have what would become my favorite Alpert piece, his glorious mashup with Burt Bacharach. Say what you want about the new version of Casino Royale, but Chris Cornell can't match this.

Yer Morning Moptops - "12 Bar Original"

The legendary jam.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Li'l Punks

Toddler wear, vintage clothing store, New Hope, PA

Hello hello

Steve Hogan here. I'm humbly accepting John's invite to contribute to his music blog. I do so as a guy who, like John loves music, but unlike John sucks at actually creating any. Seriously, I still need to get beyond merely learning how to tune the ukulele my wife bought me. I blame my parents for being too cheapjack for me to get a band instrument, as well as elementary school music classes having us sing stuff like this: Yes, yes, it's all very cute when there's an adorable moppet involved, but when you're a man cub pushing ten, this is the sonic equivalent of Ralphie being forced to wear the pink bunny costume at Christmas. I went through classes sullenly mouthing words and not singing so much. When I started to do a lot of theater in high school, I'd swear they staged "Once Upon a Mattress" just so they could have a musical where I'd play a mute king who sang in pantomime.

So as I post here keep in mind that at best, a friend in high school taught me how to play the main riff from Black Sabbath's "Paranoid". That's right, a song whose guitarist was MISSING TWO FINGER TIPS. Whuckachuckawhuckachukca dahdahdah!

Yer Morning Moptops - Your Outside is In

The Feelies - "Everybody's Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)"

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Guitar Town

Hey, check this out. You can go on a 3D Google Maps tour of my favorite guitar store in the world, Action Music in Falls Church, VA. If you love vintage, this is your favorite store, too.

Soundalike Central

"Always the Sun": the Stranglers' weird decision to channel Lou Reed's singing voice (he does have one).

Yer Morning Moptops - Paul Sings All Things Must Pass

Didn't realize yesterday was George's birthday.

CORRECTION: anniversary of his death.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Quiet Good Night - Luciana Souza

On the Other Hand, LPs Were Great

Check out Sergeant Pepper with its cut-outs and photos and lyrics. You could buy it that way for decades.

Oh, and look what came with The Beatles (The White Album) LP. There was a big poster, too. Compare the LP to the shitty cassette version. (My copy came with the cases scotch-taped together.)

London Calling was a thang of beauty. In addition to the great front and back design, you got these great hand-written lyrics on the sleeves. (click to embiggen)

Even bands I didn't much like at the time had some cool stuff. Led Zep's Physical Graffiti had push-pull sleeve action, with images and letters appearing in  the little windows.

So did the Stones' Some Girls, which got them in copyright trouble with the likes of Lucille Ball, and they hadda re-do the cover as a result.

And I always loved Tull's Stand Up.

Yer missin' out with yer MP3s and yer I-Tunes, kids.

Nostalgia Proof: Cassette Tapes

Hate 'em, don't miss 'em.

The tangling, the warping, the hiss. 

The massive amount of time it took to make a mixtape.

The crappy sound quality, the inordinate cost.

The stupid record companies shuffling the song order of an album just so it would fit on a cassette. (That should be "She's the One", not "Night".)

To hell with 'em. Good riddance.

Oh, and screw VHS, too.

And CDs, while we're at it.

Yer Morning Moptops - Your Mammie Will Scold

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Quiet Good Night - Straighter Than Narrow

Harry Nilsson, "Me and My Arrow" from The Point (1971)

Crowded House

This blog will soon have three new contributors. Stay tuned.

Yer Morning Moptops - Two Foot Small

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Quiet Good Night - Dinah II

Sorry to say, there was all of one view of last night's Dinah Good-Night video. You guys are missing out, I'm tellin' ya! Here's another chance.


 This 9 to 5 bullshit don't let you forget
Whose suicide you're on.
- Paul Westerberg, "World Class Fad"

Swipe File

Garbage's "Stupid Girl"

has the same drum riff as

The Clash's "Train in Vain"

Yer Morning Moptops - 25 Fingers

Paul and his other collaborator with famous glasses.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Quiet Good Night - Flying High

"I Was Never Part of That Scene"

Joey and Marky Ramone on The Joe Franklin Show, 1988

The Weenie List

1. Scott Stapp
2. Nickelback
3. Mike Love
4. John Mayer
5. Kid Rock
6. Axl Rose
7. Coldplay
8. Yngwie
9. Glenn Frey
10. Bono

EDIT: Li'l Davey McKitrrick of Church Falls, W. Va. writes: "But we need some reasons for each listed weenie! Snark brother--snark away!"

Reasons after the jump.

Pretty Good for A Bad Girl

Great interview here with burlesque singer-songwriter Sabrina Chap. I met Sabrina at a wedding this past summer and she was cool and funny as hell. And her work is brilliant.

"Never Been A Bad Girl"

I'm a white straight male, and sad to say, I have behaved in my time as a totally clueless white straight male asshole, so what I can add to or comment about Sabrina's eloquent complaints is pretty much zero. Here's something: most guys I know who play music would not be able to handle the added pressures and hassles as women who play music. They would crumble and cry like babies. This is a fact.

"We Are the Parade"

What I do know is good music, and good musicians, and Sabrina Chap is one of the best. She deserves to be rich and famous as hell, so go to her website and buy all her albums, and go see her live. And tell her hi!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Yer Morning Moptops - Many Rivers to Cross

Produced by John Lennon for Harry's Pussycats album, and features the same string arrangement used for "#9 Dream".

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Quiet Good Night - Bumpin' on Sunset


In January of 1964, Colonel Parker talked Elvis into buying the presidential yacht Potomac, once used by Franklin Roosevelt. The idea was to give away the yacht for charity (and publicity), but Elvis and the Colonel soon realized that no one wanted a 'gift' that would serve no useful purpose and would be expensive for charities to maintain. Eventually, the yacht was accepted by Danny Thomas on behalf of Saint Jude Hospital.

"In the end the event generated a good deal of publicity, but Elvis was furious nonetheless. What had the old man been thinking, buying this piece of shit that nobody wanted and turning him into a laughingstock in the eyes of the world? He had agreed to it, it was true; as a student of history, and as an admirer of Roosevelt and Churchill and General MacArthur, he had been proud to purchase the boat on which the great issues of the Second World War had been discussed. But the way this thing had gone, he was beginning to wonder if maybe Colonel was slipping. And besides, what did the old man mean, interrupting his Las Vegas vacation?"
  - Peter Guralnick, Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley

Yer Morning Moptops - How Do You Plead?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Quiet Good Night - "I Walked"

Spooky and beautiful.

Close to My Chest - 10 Songs Featuring Accordion

It's a good bet that the first musical instrument I ever heard  up close was the accordion. My Dad had learned to play it during his childhood, and he brought it out every so often to amuse his five kids.  I loved when he played, because I loved how warm the accordion sounded, and I loved the strange and exotic songs he'd wheeze out, most of which were polkas and German folk songs. But interestingly, it was not me but my sister Mary Ann who decided to follow in Dad's footsteps, at least for awhile. I wish she had kept at it.

The older us kids got, the more Dad's accordion became a running gag. Every time one of us had a recital, or a play, or some event where we were going to perform or be recognized, Dad would jokingly threaten that at some point during the proceedings, an announcement would come over the PA that a 'special guest' would give an accordion performance. My sisters were duly (and humorously) horrified, and I kind of wished he'd do it, just once. When this classic cartoon first appeared, you can bet that we couldn't share it with Dad fast enough.

But I think the jokes and teasing eventually took their toll, because by the time grandchildren had entered the picture my dad had sold off his accordion, and that was that. Over the years I have asked him if he would ever want to take up the instrument again, and once we even offered to buy him a concertina, but he just isn't interested. I think a part of him is sad about it, maybe, and wishes perhaps that his children hadn't given him such a hard time about it, which I can completely understand. (On the other hand, he may have simply decided he hated the dumb thing. It is tough to read my pop sometimes.)

Either way, the absence of my dad's accordion is a bit sad for me, because I miss his playing and whenever I hear an accordion, especially in a pop song, my first thought is of Dad sitting in the living room in a suit and tie, playing something warm and funny and totally corny. I wouldn't mind hearing him play it just one more time, and maybe even jam with him a little. (see photo above) In the meantime, here's a list of songs that evoke to one degree or another those warm, fun, long-lost living room performances. Bravo, Dad, bravo.

One thing about this list -- I avoided stuff like zydeco or cajun songs, not because I don't care for them but because that isn't the style my dad used to play. These songs resemble the same warm, kindly feel of his accordion, which isn't something I can readily explain or illustrate. But that should answer any questions about why certain songs or genres have not been included. And, no, I am not including "Squeezebox".

1. "Memories" - Van Morrison
2. "Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" - Live version - Bruce Springsteen
3. "Oh My Heart" - R.E.M.
4. "C'est la Vie" - Greg Lake
5. "Liz Radley" - The Jam
6. "Withered and Died" - Linda Thompson
7. "Done with Bonaparte" - Mark Knopfler
8. "Backstreet Girl" - Rolling Stones
9.  "Leslie Anne Levine" - Decemberists
10. "Constant Craving" - kd lang

SPECIAL ADDED BONUS. "The Injun Song" - featured prominently in my sister's lesson book, and in her repertoire. Dumbest and funniest song she has ever heard, let along played, and oh, not the least bit offensive nor racist, heck no.

EDIT: Dad (and Mom's) response to this post:

John:  We just spent two hours or so listenting to Bruce on your link!    We especially enjoyed the Seeger Sessions Band! What a treat! Thank you so much!

Your thoughts on my accordion playing were very moving;  I treasure them!

We're going to keep the link up so we can hear some more!
 From what I can glean, I sent my parents on a fun-filled Springsteen YouTube fest. Which is great!

Still don't know why he abandoned the accordion,  though.