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A real toe tapper

Published Wednesday, January 20, 2016 @ 11:58 PM EST
Jan 20 2016

In observance of Star Trek's 50th anniversary, a concert event, Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage, is now booked in over 100 cities and will stop in Pittsburgh at the Benedum Center on March 1. The video above features a clip from the show at Royal Albert Hall, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

To be honest, my dream Trek musical experience would be a live orchestra playing to a presentation of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but this should do.

The official PR release says "This lavish production includes an impressive live symphony orchestra and international solo instruments. People of all ages and backgrounds will experience the franchise’s groundbreaking and wildly popular musical achievements while the most iconic Star Trek film and TV footage is simultaneously beamed in high definition to a 40-foot wide screen.

"The concert will feature some of the greatest music written for the franchise including music from Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and much more. This never-before-seen concert event is perfect for music lovers, filmgoers, science-fiction fans and anyone looking for an exciting and unique concert experience."

Reviews have been good; the two-hour concert has one intermission and features 29 themes from the various Trek series, films, and video games.

Speaking of space music, notice the similarities between James Horner's main title for Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) and for Wrath of Khan (1982).

The BBTS score has been called "unplayable" by those musicians unfortunate enough to have been tasked to perform it in concert. Since the movie was produced by Roger Corman, the orchestra only had two takes, and the brass section is noticeably ragged and somewhat breathless by the end.

Such problems aren't apparent in TWOK- more rehearsal and studio time, one supposes, as well as Horner shifting some of the more complex parts to string instruments.

Categories: Battle Beyond the Stars, James Horner, Music, Roger Corman, Star Trek, Video, YouTube

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This almost makes the music tolerable

Published Friday, November 20, 2015 @ 4:50 PM EST
Nov 20 2015

Categories: Dance, Music, Video, YouTube

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Quotes of the day: Irving Berlin

Published Sunday, May 10, 2015 @ 8:11 PM EDT
May 10 2015

Irving Berlin (born Israel Isidore Beilin, May 11, 1888 – September 22, 1989) was a Russian-born Jewish-American composer and lyricist. Widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history, his music forms a great part of the Great American Songbook. He published his first song, "Marie from Sunny Italy", in 1907, receiving 37 cents for the publishing rights, and had his first major international hit, "Alexander's Ragtime Band" in 1911. Composer George Gershwin called him "the greatest songwriter that has ever lived," and composer Jerome Kern concluded that "Irving Berlin has no place in American music- he is American music." (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


After you get what you want you don't want it.

Everybody ought to have a lower East Side in their life.

I got lost but look what I found.

Life is 10 percent what you make it, and 90 percent how you take it.

Music is so important. It changes thinking, it influences everybody, whether they know it or not. Music knows no boundary lines.

Never hate a song that's sold a half million copies.

Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.

Talent is only a starting point.

The mob is always right.

The reason American composers have done nothing highly significant is because they won't write American music.

The toughest thing about success is that you've got to keep on being a success.

The world would not be in such a snarl,
Had Marx been Groucho instead of Karl.

There is an element of truth in every idea that lasts long enough to be called corny.

There's no business like show business.



(May 11 is also the birthday of Salvador Dali.)

Categories: Irving Berlin, Music, Quotes of the day, YouTube

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What a wonderful world

Published Sunday, August 03, 2014 @ 9:18 PM EDT
Aug 03 2014

Some of you young folks been saying to me, "Hey Pops, what you mean 'What a wonderful world'? How about all them wars all over the place? You call them wonderful? And how about hunger and pollution? That ain't so wonderful either." Well how about listening to old Pops for a minute. Seems to me, it ain't the world that's so bad but what we're doin' to it. And all I'm saying is, see, what a wonderful world it would be if only we'd give it a chance. Love baby, love. That's the secret, yeah. If lots more of us loved each other, we'd solve lots more problems. And then this world would be better. That's wha' ol' Pops keeps saying.
Spoken intro to "What a Wonderful World" (1970 version)

(Biography of Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971) at PBS' "Jazz" site.)

(Today is also the birthday of Barack Obama.)

Categories: Louis Armstrong, Music, Quotes of the day, YouTube

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Now THIS is an error message

Published Friday, July 11, 2014 @ 3:48 PM EDT
Jul 11 2014

(Mediocre Laboratories' web form error message.)

From the guy who invented and sold Woot!, meh.com.

Categories: Computers, meh.com, Music, Video, WTF?, YouTube

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Quotes of the day: Bob Dylan

Published Saturday, May 24, 2014 @ 5:52 AM EDT
May 24 2014

Bob Dylan (b. Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) is an American musician, singer-songwriter, artist, and writer. He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly reluctant figurehead of social unrest. A number of Dylan's early songs, such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'," became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. Leaving behind his initial base in the culture of the folk music revival, Dylan's six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone" radically altered the parameters of popular music in 1965. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.

All this talk about equality. The only thing people really have in common is that they are all going to die.

And don't criticize what you can't understand.

Behind every beautiful thing, there's some kind of pain.

Chaos is a friend of mine.

Colleges are like old-age homes, except for the fact that more people die in colleges.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside and it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'

Don't matter how much money you got, there's only two kinds of people: there's saved people and there's lost people.

Everything passes. Everything changes. Just do what you think you should do.

I believe strongly in everyone's right to defend themselves by every means necessary.

I have no message for anyone. My songs are only me talking to myself.

I once loved a woman, a child I am told
I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul.
But don't think twice, it's all right.

I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.

Just because you like my stuff doesn't mean I owe you anything.

Money doesn't talk, it swears.

Morality has nothing in common with politics.

People dissect my songs like rabbits but they all miss the point.

People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties. They are still being passed around- the music and the ideas.

Sometimes it's not enough to know what things mean. Sometimes you have to know what things don't mean.

The cost of liberty is high, and young people should understand that before they start spending their life with all those gadgets.

The first way to answer the questions in the song ('Blowin' in the Wind') is by asking them. But lots of people first have to find the wind.

To live outside the law, you must be honest.

We may not be able to defeat these swine, but we don't have to join them.

You can't be wise and in love at the same time.

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

The official Bob Dylan web site.

Categories: Bob Dylan, Music, Peter, Paul and Mary, Video, YouTube

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Cleaning off the desktop III: A helicopter, the Tamiami, and Girls With Guns

Published Sunday, May 11, 2014 @ 8:26 AM EDT
May 11 2014

We were living in Philadelphia in the summer of 1985, and the television was on as background noise. A "Miami Vice" rerun was airing. I'd caught a few minutes of the series earlier in the year and, frankly, it wasn't on my must-see list. Anyway, I was working on something when I heard a car engine gunned, followed by a hard cut to Tommy Shaw's driving "Girls With Guns."

I looked up to see a tracking shot of speeding convertible. After a few seconds, it became obvious the tracking vehicle was a helicopter, perfectly matching the speed of the auto. I slowly became aware that there weren't any edits... this was one long honking aerial shot.

It runs for a total of 79 seconds, an eternity in a filmed television series. I couldn't find many details. The episode, "Glades," was the ninth in the series' first season. It originally aired on November 30, 1984; I apparently caught the rerun on June 21, 1985. The show was directed Stan Lathan (who would later go on to direct 122 episodes of "The Steve Harvey Show"), and the director of photography was Duke Callahan, who was also the D.P. on the motion picture Conan The Barbarian. The helicopter pilot and cameraman were uncredited.

The segment starts on the west side of Miami and continues along the Tamiami Highway. My guess is the director told the stars to drive themselves to the location that day, and he told the DP to grab a camera, get a helicopter, and get him some filler because the episode timed out short.

Or, it could have been a deliberate attempt to create a shot so impressive an old fart like me would remember it nearly 30 years later when he accidentally encountered it on the web.

Here's the link to the full song.

Categories: Classic, Cleaning off the desktop, Music, TV, Video, YouTube

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Idina nails it

Published Tuesday, March 04, 2014 @ 12:25 PM EST
Mar 04 2014

Forget the Oscars. This is the best version.

(YouTube video: Jimmy Fallon, Idina Menzel and The Roots perform "Let It Go" on classroom instruments!)

The song as it appears in the film was undoubtedly assembled from multiple takes and enhanced electronically- a necessity when you're planning to exhibit it in huge IMAX venues with several thousands watts of audio amplification.

(YouTube video: Idina Menzel performs "Let It Go" in "Frozen.")

Frankly, her Oscar performance wasn't her best... having John Travolta mangle her name didn't help. Think about it- you're following Bette Midler, you're the last musical performer of the night, singing what everyone expects to win the Oscar for Best Song, the live orchestra is in a recording studio over a mile away, and "Let It Go" (which its authors say was specifically written to be "Idina's Badass Song") is the Power Ballad from Hell, ranging from F3 to E♭5.

Go ahead... follow along...

(YouTube video: Let It Go arranged by Larry Moore)

Anyway, it was nice to see her actually enjoying herself with Fallon and The Roots.

Categories: Frozen, Idina Menzel, Jimmy Fallon, Music, Video, YouTube

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Cleaning off the desktop

Published Sunday, February 23, 2014 @ 7:58 AM EST
Feb 23 2014


"Some people, when they're slightly feverish and taking strong antibiotcs, have exotic dreams. I dream of digital rights management."

"Sounds exciting."

"Not the way we implement it."



They used a text-analysis program to measure the tone of articles in USA Today between 2007 and 2009, and found that especially positive articles predicted a downturn in the Dow Jones Industrial Average between a week and a month later. The researchers also analyzed all twenty-one U.S. Presidential inaugural addresses between 1933 and 2009, and found that Presidents who waxed optimistic about the future saw a rise in unemployment and a slowdown in economic growth during their terms in office. It’s perhaps too strong to suggest that positive thinking, alone, produced these large macroeconomic changes, but the staggering results in this most recent paper are consistent with more than a decade’s worth of studies in Oettingen’s lab. (The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking)



Just a reminder- Abe Vigoda's birthday is tomorrow. Get your party supplies today.



When the next crisis happens, and by the nature of markets, it will happen again, the government will do the only rational thing it can, and once again step in and save the institutions with taxpayer money. The economy will again be wrecked and the average family will again pay the costs.

The bankers won't suffer much, not personally. That's the real stupidity tax, and we are all paying. The Powerball lottery: Is it really a stupidity tax?.


(YouTube video: a great Vivaldi/Disney mashup.)


Beware the meeping angels.

Categories: Cartoons, Cleaning off the desktop, Music, YouTube

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Published Wednesday, January 08, 2014 @ 6:17 AM EST
Jan 08 2014

Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 - August 16, 1977) was an American singer, musician, and actor. One of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as "The King of Rock and Roll", or simply, "The King". Presley is one of the most celebrated musicians of 20th century. Commercially successful in many genres, including pop, blues and gospel, he is the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music. He was nominated for 14 Grammys and won three, receiving the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36. He has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine.

Don't let your head get too big, it'll break your neck.

Don't criticize what you don't understand, son. You never walked in that man's shoes

I believe the key to happiness is: someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.

I don't feel I'll live a long life. That's why I have to get what I can from every day.

I don't know anything about music. In my line, you don't have to.

I have no use for bodyguards, but I have a very special use for two highly trained certified public accountants.

I was training to be an electrician. I suppose I got wired the wrong way round somewhere along the line.

I'd never do anything vulgar before an audience. My mother wouldn't permit it.

Music should be something that makes you gotta move, inside or outside.

My voice is ordinary. If I stand still while I'm singing, I might as well go back to driving a truck.

Rhythm is something you either have or don't have, but when you have it you have it all over.

Singers come and go, but if you're a good actor, you can last a long time.

Talent is being able to sell what you're feeling.

The image is one thing and the human being is another. It's very hard to live up to an image.

The Lord can give, and the Lord can take away. I might be herding sheep next year.

The only thing worse than watchin' a bad movie is bein' in one.

There is nothing more notable in Socrates than that he found time, when he was an old man, to learn music and dancing, and thought it time well spent.

Those movies sure got me into a rut.

Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't goin' away.

When things go wrong, don't go with them.

When you're a celebrity, people treat you nicer. The bad part is, they also tell you what they think you want to hear, which ain't always the truth.

You only pass through this life once; you don't come back for an encore.


Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century. He introduced the beat to everything, music, language, clothes, it's a whole new social revolution- the 60s comes from it.
-Leonard Bernstein

We're the Axis of Elvis.
-John Lileks

America is Elvis Presley- the most beautiful, talented, rebellious nation in the history of Earth. And now, you're in your Vegas years. You've squeezed yourself into a white jumpsuit, you're wheezing your way through 'Love Me Tender' and you might be about to pass away bloated on the toilet. But you're still the King.
-John Oliver

He was a unique artist… an original in an area of imitators.
-Mick Jagger

A lot of people have accused Elvis of stealing the black man's music, when in fact almost every black solo entertainer copied his stage mannerisms from Elvis.
-Jackie Wilson

On a scale of one to ten, I would rate him eleven.
-Sammy Davis, Jr.

Before Elvis, there was nothing.
-John Lennon


Categories: Elvis, Music, Video, YouTube

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The most talented human on earth

Published Monday, June 10, 2013 @ 11:29 AM EDT
Jun 10 2013

(YouTube video: "It's Bigger," the opening number from the 2013 Tony Awards.)

Watch Neil Patrick Harris' jaw-dropping performance at last night's Tony Awards show- eight minutes of stunning perfection that includes singing, dancing, a ten-second costume change, an acrobatic leap through a hoop, nearly having his ear bitten by Mike Tyson, a trick that mystifyingly transports him in under ten seconds to the back of the cavernous Radio City Music Hall, plus the choruses from every musical currently on Broadway.

Mr. Harris is unique. I know of no other performer with these stellar abilities, in addition to being intellectually brilliant, self-deprecating and dedicated to his family.

He turns 40 this Saturday- at 40, I began having difficultly bending at the knees.

Here's to his continued success.

Categories: Music, Neil Patrick Harris, Tony Awards

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Quotes of the day: Francis Albert Sinatra

Published Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 4:58 AM EDT
May 14 2013

Baritone Frank Sinatra (December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998) was indisputably the 20th century's greatest singer of popular song. Though influenced by Bing Crosby's crooning, and by learning from trombonist Tommy Dorsey's breath control and blues singer Billie Holiday's rhythmic swing, Frank Sinatra mainstreamed the concept of singing colloquially, treating lyrics as personal statements and handling melodies with the ease of a jazz improviser. His best work is standards- Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and the Gershwins- but Sinatra, despite his 1957 denunciation of rock & roll as degenerate, recorded songs by the likes of Stevie Wonder, George Harrison, Jimmy Webb, and Billy Joel. Not only did his freely interpretive approach pave the way for the idiosyncrasies of rock singing, but with his character- a mix of tough-guy cool and romantic vulnerability- he became the first true pop idol, a superstar who through his music established a persona audiences found compelling and true. (Click for full article.)


Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy.

Being an 18-karat manic-depressive and having lived a life of violent emotional contradictions, I have an overacute capacity for sadness as well as elation.

Cock your hat- angles are attitudes.

Fear is the enemy of logic. There is no more debilitating, crushing, self-defeating, sickening thing in the world- to an individual or to a nation.

For years I've nursed a secret desire to spend the Fourth of July in a double hammock with a swingin' redheaded broad... but I could never find me a double hammock.

Hell hath no fury like a hustler with a literary agent.

How can a free people make decisions without facts? If the press reports world news as they report about me, we're in trouble.

Hunger is inexcusable in a world where grain rots in silos and butter turns rancid while being held for favorable commodity indices.

I believe that God knows what each of us wants and needs. It's not necessary for us to make it to church on Sunday to reach Him. You can find Him anyplace. And if that sounds heretical, my source is pretty good: Matthew, Five to Seven, The Sermon on the Mount.

I like intelligent women. When you go out, it shouldn't be a staring contest.

If you possess something but you can't give it away, then you don't possess it... it possesses you.

I'm gonna live 'til I die.

I'm not one of those complicated, mixed-up cats. I'm not looking for the secret to life... I just go on from day to day, taking what comes.

I'm not unmindful of a man's seeming need for faith; I'm for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers, or a bottle of Jack Daniel's. But to me religion is a deeply personal thing in which man and God go it alone together, without the witch doctor in the middle.

I'm supposed to have a Ph.D on the subject of women. But the truth is I've flunked more often than not. I'm very fond of women; I admire them. But, like all men, I don't understand them.

I've always had a theory that whenever guys and gals start swinging, they begin to lose interest in conquering the world.

People often remark that I'm pretty lucky. Luck is only important in so far as getting the chance to sell yourself at the right moment. After that, you've got to have talent and know how to use it.

Put your sunglasses on, because you ain't going home 'til the morning comes.

Stop worrying about communism; just get rid of the conditions that nurture it.

What I do with my life is of my own doing. I live it the best way I can.

Whatever else has been said about me personally is unimportant. When I sing, I believe. I'm honest.

When lip service to some mysterious deity permits bestiality on Wednesday and absolution on Sunday, cash me out.

You can be the most artistically perfect performer in the world, but an audience is like a broad- if you're indifferent, endsville.

You gotta love livin', baby, 'cause dyin' is a pain in the ass.

(YouTube video: "Fly Me to the Moon")

(Today is also the birthday of Gustave Flaubert)

Categories: Frank Sinatra, Music, Video, YouTube

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My faith in the 21st century is restored...

Published Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 6:22 AM EDT
May 13 2013

The first Canadian commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield, is scheduled to return to earth this evening with U.S. astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko.

Hadfield's been in orbit for 148 days, and during that time he's not only done whatever it this they do on the ISS, he's maintained constant contact with the people of this strange little blue ball via Twitter and other media. But he obviously saved the best for last.

(YouTube video: "A Space Oddity," from the ISS.

Godspeed, guys. May you have a safe and uneventful landing.

And eat your heart out, William Shatner.

Categories: Chris Hadfield, ISS, Music, NASA, Video, YouTube

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Chaka Khan is 60 today

Published Saturday, March 23, 2013 @ 8:39 AM EDT
Mar 23 2013

(YouTube video: The Wrath of Chaka Khan)

Categories: Chaka Khan, Music, Star Trek, William Shatner, YouTube

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49 years ago today...

Published Saturday, February 09, 2013 @ 7:41 AM EST
Feb 09 2013

The Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. The show was watched by 73 million people.

Trivia: The Beatles' performances and recordings of "Till There Was You," the love ballad from the Broadway musical "The Music Man," earned writer Meredith Willson more money than all of the show's royalties combined. The Fab Four wanted something in their repertoire that would appeal to parents and critics. Sir Paul McCartney now owns the publishing and performance rights to Meredith Willson’s music catalog.

Categories: Ed Sullivan, Meredith Willson, Music, Paul McCartney, The Beatles, Video, YouTube

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A pair of parodies

Published Wednesday, October 24, 2012 @ 8:28 AM EDT
Oct 24 2012

It's the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Allan Sherman's first record album, My Son, The Folk Singer, which broke sales records and hit number one on the 1962 Billboard pop album chart.

I was eight when I first heard Allan Sherman.

I memorized all of the songs on all his albums.

That should explain a great deal.

Sherman is best known for his hit single Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah. My favorite Sherman pieces aren't even complete songs, but medleys comprised of two or four lines, or a single verse, concatenated, recorded before a live audience, and positioned as the last track on the record.

Herewith are Shticks and Stones from My Son, The Folk Singer, and Shticks of One and a Half a Dozen of the Other from My Son, The Celebrity.

For those of you not familiar with early 60s culture, you may need to click the links which following to appreciate the references to Levittown, David Susskind, Geritol, Billy Sol, and Metrecal.. As for the Medicare reference, the songs were recorded prior to the program's creation in 1965.

Also note my cats were fascinated by the pigeon in the second video. Turn down the sound, put it on an endless loop, and watch the ensuring hilarity.

Categories: Allan Sherman, Music, Video, YouTube

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Fifteen years...

Published Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 8:42 AM EDT
Oct 12 2012

Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer/songwriter, activist, and humanitarian. After traveling and living in numerous locations while growing up in his military family, Denver began his music career in folk music groups in the late 1960s. His greatest commercial success was as a solo singer. Throughout his life, Denver recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of which he composed. He performed primarily with an acoustic guitar and sang about his joy in nature, his enthusiasm for music, and relationship trials. Denver's music appeared on a variety of charts, including country and western, the Billboard Hot 100, and adult contemporary, in all earning him 12 gold and 4 platinum albums with his signature songs "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "Annie's Song", "Rocky Mountain High", and "Sunshine on My Shoulders".

Denver further starred in films and several notable television specials in the 1970s and 1980s. In the following decades, he continued to record, but also focused on calling attention to environmental issues, lent his vocal support to space exploration, and testified in front of Congress to protest censorship in music. He was known for his love of the state of Colorado, which he sang about numerous times. He lived in Aspen, Colorado, for much of his life, and influenced the governor to name him Poet Laureate of the state in 1974. The Colorado state legislature also adopted "Rocky Mountain High" as one of its state songs in 2007. Denver was an avid pilot, and died while flying his personal aircraft at the age of 53. Denver was one of the most popular acoustic artists of the 1970s. (Click for full article.)

Perhaps love is like a resting place
A shelter from the storm
It exists to give you comfort
It is there to keep you warm
And in those times of trouble
When you are most alone
The memory of love will bring you home

Perhaps love is like a window
Perhaps an open door
It invites you to come closer
It wants to show you more
And even if you lose yourself
And don't know what to do
The memory of love will see you through

Oh, love to some is like a cloud
To some as strong as steel
For some a way of living
For some a way to feel
And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don't know

Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of change
Like a fire when it's cold outside
Or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you.

And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don't know

Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of change
Like a fire when it's cold outside
Or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you.

Categories: John Denver, Music, Video, YouTube

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Lydia The Tattooed Lady. Annotated.

Published Wednesday, October 03, 2012 @ 2:44 AM EDT
Oct 03 2012

(YouTube video: "Lydia the Tattooed Lady,")

Yesterday was Groucho's birthday, and every other year or so I post this clip of him singing Lydia, the Tattooed Lady from the classic Marx Brothers film At The Circus.

I was just about to re-post the video when I remembered an e-mail I had received from a reader the last time I published it. A 21-year-old college student asked if Lydia was a "gibberish" song, because many of the lyrics made no sense to him.

No sense?

Lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg was at the top of his form when he wrote Lydia. It's fiendishly clever, invoking historical and contemporary references, and he effortlessly blends them with oblique asides describing Lydia's impressive physical characteristics. The result was an instant classic.

I watched the video again, and then it dawned on me... if my young reader had failed to pay attention during his history, literature, and geography classes, he just wouldn't get it.

So, if you've listened to Lydia and found yourself not only tapping your toes but scratching your head, here are the lyrics. With footnotes.

There will be a quiz later, so please pay attention.

Lydia The Tattooed Lady
(music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg,
the guys who also did "Over the Rainbow.")

Ah, this meeting brings back memories. Childhood days... Lemonade! Romance! My life was wrapped around the circus... Her name was Lydia. I met her at the World's Fair in 1900 (marked down from 1940). Ah, Lydia...

She was the most glorious creature under the sun...
du Barry!(2)
Rolled into one...


Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady
She has eyes that folks adore so,
And a torso even more so.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia.(4)
Oh Lydia The Queen of Tattoo.
On her back is The Battle of Waterloo,(5).
Beside it The Wreck of the Hesperus(6) too.
And proudly above waves the red, white, and blue(7).
You can learn a lot from Lydia!


When her robe is unfurled she will show you the world,
If you step up and tell her where.
For a dime you can see Kankakee(8) or Paree(9),
Or Washington Crossing The Delaware.(10)


Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Oh Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
When her muscles start relaxin',
Up the hill comes Andrew Jackson.(11)
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia.
Oh Lydia the queen of them all.
For two bits(12) she will do a mazurka(13) in jazz,
With a view of Niagara(14) that nobody has.
And on a clear day you can see Alcatraz.(15)
You can learn a lot from Lydia!


Come along and see Buffalo Bill(16) with his lasso.
Just a little classic by Mendel Picasso.(17)
Here is Captain Spaulding(18) exploring the Amazon(19).
Here's Godiva,(20) but with her pajamas on.


Here is Grover Whalen,(21) unveilin' the Trylon.(22),
Over on the West Coast we have Treasure Island.(23)
Here's Najinsky(24) a-doin' the rhumba.(25)
Here's her social security numba.

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia
Oh Lydia the champ of them all.
She once swept an Admiral clear off his feet.
The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat.
And now the old boy's in command of the fleet,
For he went and married Lydia!

I said Lydia...
He said Lydia...
I said Lydia...
We said Lydia...
La la!


 (1) Thaïs, a stunningly beautiful and rich fourth century courtesan who lived in Roman-controlled Alexandria, Egypt. She eventually saw the error of her ways, converted to Christianity, gave her money to the church, spent three years immured in a convent cell as extreme penance, and died 15 days after her release.

 (2) Jeanne Bécu, a.k.a. Madame du Barry (August 19, 1743 - December 8, 1793), the stunningly beautiful and, alas, final Maîtresse-en-titre (chief mistress) of King Louis XV. She was convicted of treason for helping people flee the French Revolution and was beheaded on the guillotine.

 (3) Greta Garbo, born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson, (September 18, 1905 – April 15, 1990), the stunningly beautiful Swedish film actress and international star. She made fewer than 30 films during her 1920-1941 career, retired at the age of 36, and spent her remaining years shunning publicity.

 (4)A book or set of books containing articles on various topics, usually in alphabetical arrangement, covering all branches of knowledge or, less commonly, all aspects of one subject.

 (5)The military engagement in which an imperial French army under the command of Emperor Napoleon was defeated by the armies of the Seventh Coalition on June 18, 1815.

 (6)The Wreck of the Hesperus is a narrative poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow describing... well, bottom line, we're talking about a tattoo of a wrecked, ice-covered ship on a reef with a dead little girl tied to a broken, floating mast.

 (7)The colors of the U.S. flag, a reference to the flag itself, or a reference to the country.

 (8)Kankakee, Illinois, a city about 60 miles south southwest of Chicago.

 (9)Paree (Paris), France's capital and largest city.

 (10)German-American artist Emanuel Gottlieb's 1851 oil-on-canvas painting depicting, with numerous inaccuracies and anachronisms, then-General George Washington standing in a boat, leading his troops in the Christmas 1776 sneak attack against Hessian mercenaries stationed in Trenton, New Jersey.

(11)Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845), the seventh President of the United States, serving two terms from 1829 to 1837. He's best known as the guy on the $20 bill and the first President someone tried to assassinate. Prior to entering politics, he was a noted military leader whose exploits included leading his troops up a steep hill near Tohopeka, Alabama on the March 27, 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend during the War of 1812. (The War of 1812 lasted until 1815.)
The reader is encouraged to learn more about Jackson. His presidency makes the current situation in Washington look like a 60s' hippie love-in. Old Hickory was ill-tempered, unforgiving, and the target of vicious personal attacks. During the 1828 election, his opponents called him a jackass. Political cartoonist Thomas Nast later used the jackass to characterize members of Jackson's then newly-formed Democratic party, a symbol that remains to this day. Jackson had been involved in numerous duels and had so many bullets lodged in various body parts that it was said he "rattled like a bag of marbles."

(12)25 cents. The etymology is left as an exercise for the reader.

(13)An upbeat Polish folk dance.

(14)Niagara Falls, the three cataracts located on the border of New York state and the province of Ontario, Canada.

(15)The island in San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary operated there from 1933 to 1963.

(16)William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody (February 26, 1846 – January 10, 1917), whose eponymous wild west shows toured the U.S. and Europe.

(17)Either badly-punctuated references to geneticist Gregor Mendel and artist Pablo Picasso, or lyricist Harburg coupling the last name of a world famous artist to a funny-sounding Jewish first name. You know, like Shlomo Warhol. Come to think of it, Shlomo Picasso is funnier.

(18)The character Groucho portrayed in the stage play and film Animal Crackers.

(19)The river in South America, not the website.

(20)In 1028, Lady Godiva repeatedly asked her husband Leofric (the Earl of Mercia) to not pass along to the impoverished citizens of Coventry the taxes levied on him by the King of England, Edward the Confessor. ("Trickle down" had a different meaning then.) Leo told Lady G that if she'd ride naked through the town market on a horse, he'd nix the tax hike. The next day she did just that. Leofric kept his promise and eliminated all taxes in Coventry except for those related to boarding horses. The bits about her covering her, uh, bits, with her long flowing hair- and the story that Tom the Tailor was struck blind when he took a peek as she passed by his shop (the origin of "Peeping Tom")- are later embellishments.

(21)President of the New York World Fair Corporation.

(22)One of two large structures located at the center of the 1939 World's Fair in New York.

(23)A man-made island in San Francisco Bay between San Francisco and Oakland.

(24)Vaslav Nijinsky (March 12, 1889 or 1890 – April 8, 1950), considered by many to be the greatest male dancer of the early 20th century.

(25)A style of ballroom dancing based on the Cuban bolero-son. Not to be confused with the terminal emulation software. Or the autonomous robot vacuum cleaner.

Categories: Groucho Marx, History, Lydia, The Tattooed Lady, Music, Video, YouTube

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Three decades of iconic wonderfulness

Published Tuesday, October 02, 2012 @ 6:18 AM EDT
Oct 02 2012

Late Night with David Letterman observed the 30th anniversary of the iconic disco tune It's Raining Men yesterday with a big end-of-show production number featuring surviving Weather Girl Martha Wash; Paul Shaffer on keyboards; an augmented CBS orchestra; six(!) backup singers; three female dancers; and three male acrobats suspended from ceiling-mounted silk streamers.

No wonder it's Homer Simpson's favorite song.

Why Letterman, you may ask? The song was co-written by Shaffer, the late night host's sidekick/bandleader, and was featured early in the run of Letterman's late night show on NBC- episode 174, which aired on January 12, 1983.

Originally written in 1979 by Shaffer and Paul Jabara, the song was rejected by Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Cher, and Barbra Streisand. Martha Wash and the late Izora Armstead, originally performing as "Two Tons O' Fun," became "The Weather Girls" and released "Men" in October, 1982.

An international hit, it sold 6 million copies worldwide. While it reached #1 on the US disco chart, it only climbed to #46 on the Billboard Hot 100. In April 2001, Geri Halliwell released a cover version that was used in the film Bridget Jones' Diary. It was a big hit in the UK and Europe, but received little airplay in the US.

Used for decades in dozens of films and television episodes, "Men"'s most recent reincarnation is in the Broadway production of the stage musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert- The Musical. It was performed by the show's cast, plus Wash and Shaffer, at the 2011 Tony Awards.

The clip from last night is at the bottom of this post.

My all-time favorite version remains this one. The quality leaves a bit to be desired and the audio is slightly out of sync for the first minute or so, but it's, well, two tons o' fun. Watch the audience, especially when Martha heads into their midst and intimidates those in the aisle seats with her powerful gospel soprano. As Letterman commented later in the show, "They ripped the roof off the joint."

(YouTube video: The Weather Girls perform live on NBC's "Late Night with David Letterman" in January, 1983.)

(YouTube video: Martha Wash and Paul Shaffer lead a lavish (for late night TV) 30th anniversary performance on CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman".)

Categories: David Letterman, It's Raining Men, Martha Wash, Music, Paul Shaffer, Video, YouTube

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Klingon Style

Published Saturday, September 29, 2012 @ 4:17 PM EDT
Sep 29 2012

(YouTube video: Star Trek parody of "Gangnam Style")

You're welcome.

Categories: Music, Star Trek, WTF?, YouTube

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It's Raining Mitt!

Published Saturday, September 22, 2012 @ 8:36 AM EDT
Sep 22 2012

(YouTube video: Martin Short sings "It's Raining Mitt")

He likes firing people
("I like being able to fire people...")
Doesn't care about the very poor
("I'm not concerned about the very poor...")
He's wealthy and good-looking
("My name is Mitt Romney...")
Yes, that's I guy I'm for

When campaigning in the Deep South
He pretends to like eating grits
Rick Santorum's gone post-mortem 'cause
It's gonna start raining Mitt

It's raining Mitt
Holy heaven
Everyone needs a hit- of Mitt
Under Romney
There's a future in sight
Where all our trees are the right height

It's raining Mitt
What a wager
I'll make you a ten
Thousand dollar bet
So white, rich and fit
It's stormin' for a moment Mitt

President Obama
Mitt Romney says you're to blame
For too much federal spending
Though your healthcare plans look the same
I don't know economics
But when Mitt mentions income tax
Then I guess he must know something
Since his wife drives two Cadillacs
(She drives two Cadillacs!)

It's raining Mitt
I ain't lyin'
It's raining Mitt
No s**t
It's raining Mitt
Let's show the kind of Mitt that we are
And tie the dog to the roof of our car
Mitt, hallelujah
It's raining Mitt...
Good God it's raining mitt, yeah...

Categories: David Letterman, Martin Short, Mitt Romney, Music, Politics, Video, YouTube

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Still waiting for the answers

Published Tuesday, August 28, 2012 @ 10:04 AM EDT
Aug 28 2012

(YouTube video: Peter, Paul and Mary perform "Blowin' in the Wind" at the August 28, 1983 March on Washington.)

Categories: History, Martin Luther King, Jr., Music, Peter, Paul and Mary, Politics, Video, YouTube

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The King

Published Thursday, August 16, 2012 @ 6:42 AM EDT
Aug 16 2012

(Video:"Viva Las Vegas")

(Video:"In The Ghetto")


Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is commonly known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King".

Presley is regarded as one of the most important figures of 20th-century popular culture. He had a versatile voice and unusually wide success encompassing many genres, including country, pop ballads, gospel, and blues. He is the best- selling solo artist in the history of popular music. Nominated for 14 competitive Grammys, he won three (surprisingly, all in the gospel genre), and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36. He has been inducted into four music halls of fame.

Presley was scheduled to fly out of Memphis on the evening of August 16, 1977, to begin another tour. That afternoon, he was discovered, unresponsive, on his bathroom floor. Attempts to revive him failed, and death was officially pronounced at 3:30 pm at Baptist Memorial Hospital.

Presley's funeral was held at Graceland, on Thursday, August 18. Outside the gates, a car plowed into a group of fans, killing two women and critically injuring a third. Approximately 80,000 people lined the processional route to Forest Hill Cemetery, where Presley was buried next to his mother. Following an attempt to steal the singer's body in late August, the remains of both Elvis Presley and his mother were reburied in Graceland's Meditation Garden on October 2.

Graceland was opened to the public in 1982. Attracting over half a million visitors annually, it is the second most-visited home in the United States, after the White House. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2006. (Click for full Wikipedia article.)


It was one of the handful of "where were you" moments that occur in a lifetime. In August, 1977 I was working in a now-defunct typesetting shop in Bethel Park, less than two miles from my current home. At the time, though, we were living hand-to-mouth in West Mifflin, with a 17-month old baby and another due in about two months.

I was getting reading to leave to catch the trolley to downtown when the phone rang. This could not be good news. A bill collector? A baby deciding to arrive ahead of time?

No- the voice on the line said The King was dead.

The trolley and bus ride home, usually a solitary activity, was instead a rolling conversation with fellow riders about Elvis' unfortunate demise and how a major contributor to the soundtrack of our lives was gone.

That was 35 years ago, and Elvis- who paved the way for all the one-name wonders that followed- is still The King.

Categories: Elvis, Movies, Music, YouTube

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Remembering "The best bass player ever"

Published Thursday, August 02, 2012 @ 2:24 AM EDT
Aug 02 2012

James Lee Jamerson (January 29, 1936 - August 2, 1983) was the uncredited bassist on most of Motown Records' hits in the 1960s and early 1970s. He is now regarded, along with fellow Motown bassist and Pittsburgh native Bob Babbitt, as one of the most influential bass players in modern music history. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

Starting in 1959, Jameson found steady work at Berry Gordy's Hitsville U.S.A. studio, home of the Motown record label. There he became a member of a core of studio musicians who informally called themselves The Funk Brothers. The small, close-knit group performed on most Motown recordings during the 1960s. Jamerson's earliest Motown sessions were performed on double bass, but in the early 1960s he switched to a Fender Precision electric bass

Jamerson, like most of the other Funk Brothers, were jazz musicians who had been recruited by Gordy. For many years, they maintained a typical schedule of recording during the day at Motown's small garage "Studio A" (which they nicknamed "the Snakepit"), then playing gigs in the jazz clubs at night. They also occasionally toured the U.S. with Motown artists. For most of their career, the members of the Funk Brothers went uncredited on Motown singles and albums, and their share of record sales was considerably less than the artists or the label received. Eventually, Motown placed Jamerson on a $1,000 per week retainer.

Jamerson's discography at Motown is a catalog of the major soul hits of the 1960s and 1970s, including "Shotgun" by Junior Walker & the All Stars; "For Once in My Life", "I Was Made To Love Her" by Stevie Wonder; "Going to a Go-Go" by The Miracles; "My Girl" by The Temptations, "Dancing in the Street" by Martha and the Vandellas; "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Gladys Knight and the Pips, and later by Marvin Gaye; "Reach Out I'll Be There" and "Bernadette" by the Four Tops; and "You Can't Hurry Love" by The Supremes. According to fellow Funk Brothers in the 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Gaye was desperate to have Jamerson play on "What's Going On", and went to several bars to find the bassist. When he did, he brought Jamerson to the studio, who then played the classic line while lying flat on his back, a feat prospective Motown bassists had to duplicate if they wanted to join the Funk Brothers.

Some sources claim Jamerson played on roughly 95 per cent of Motown recordings between 1962 and 1968. He eventually performed on nearly 30 number one pop hits— surpassing the record commonly attributed to The Beatles. On the R&B charts, nearly 70 of his performances went to the top. (via Wikipedia).

This YouTube video consists of just the vocal and bass track of the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell hit "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." The complex bass line was improvised by Jamerson during the recording session, and is one of the best examples of the bass countermelodies that helped to give Motown its distinctive sound. The recording isn't the best, but it reveals Jamerson's talent and personality.

From the mid to late 60s, Jamerson split recording duties with native Pittsburgher Bob Babbit, who died on July 16 of this year.

Categories: Bob Babbitt, James Jamerson, Marvin Gaye, Motown, Music, Tammi Terrell, YouTube

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Eligible for Social Security

Published Saturday, July 28, 2012 @ 6:36 AM EDT
Jul 28 2012

Jonathan Edwards (born July 28, 1946; Aitkin, Minnesota) talks about Sunshine:

Categories: Eligible for Social Security, Jonathan Edwards, Music, Politics, Video, YouTube

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