Yes, I turned that old today. How freaking weird.
On the other hand, as the man said, we all lose our charm in the end.
A great song, I think you'll agree, but I bring it up because UO has an album out -- their first in over a decade -- with a single that's a cover of (of all things) a George Michael song.
I'm not crazy about it, but you can check it out at the link HERE.
And don't let anybody tell you I don't post new music here because I do. So there.
Words fail me.
Seriously, that song is probably impossible to fuck up, but that version is exceptionally right on.
[Okay, kids, please indulge me while I get uncharacteristically serious. And I say this knowing full well that the name of this blog is PowerPop, not Pissed Off Old Leftist Hippie. But the fact is that yesterday I encountered a work of art that affected me profoundly in its terrifying prescience and relevance to our current historical moment, and I would be remiss if I didn't bring it to your attention.
The work of art in question is "September 1, 1939," a poem by W. H. Auden, which I had never previously read (it was posted this week over at the invaluable Hullabaloo blog courtesy of the great Digby), but from which I recognized several references; the line "the normal heart," for example, provided the title for Larry Kramer's great mid-80s play about the Reagan era AIDS pandemic, which suddenly doesn't seem as remote as it once did.
As you can gather, it's about the way the world felt at the time of the title -- Auden actually wrote it a year later, when things were even worse -- which is to say as the forces of global fascism were poised to take over the world. Obviously, anybody with half a brain who wasn't themselves a fascist felt the same as Auden did back then, but because he was an artist he articulated it better than most. As I said, I had never read it before, but because it seemed so familiar, it chilled me to the bone; all I kept thinking after I digested it was a paraphrase of another, earlier and better known, poem: "And what rough totalitarian beast, its hour come at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born."
In any event, I'm sharing it with you now for obvious reasons; this, as far as I'm concerned, is exactly how the United States of America and the world feels right this minute. Let's hope we survive, although frankly I'm not betting on it. -- S.S.]
SEPTEMBER 1, 1939 (W. H. Auden)
Have a great weekend, everybody. Heh.
The song itself dates, obviously, from 1939, and it doesn't seem to have been covered as often as "Over the Rainbow." The Fifth Estate's remake, which reached (to my surprise at this point) Number 11 on the Billboard charts, was essentially a novelty record, and not really typical of the band's more garage-y sound.
I should add that when I was researching this I was convinced that I went to college with a guitarist from the group, but it turns out I was mistaken; I had them confused with some other obscure tri-state area group that had a one-off single around the same time. Can't remember who THOSE guys were, but I think one of my old college bandmates may recall; I'll keep you posted.
The song itself originally dates from the 1934 film Dames, where it was introduced by Dick Powell. The Flamingos version is, of course, one of the great late doo-wop classics. As for Artie's take, which hit Number One in the UK, I must confess that I'm not much of a fan of his solo work, but this particular track is really nice.
I'm cheating a bit here; the song itself -- written by Victor Young (music) and Edward Heyman (lyrics) and introduced in the film One Minute to Zero in 1952 -- is not technically pre-rock, but what the hell; most of the work that made those guys famous was. In any case, it's gorgeous.
I should add that the above was the B-side of the great "Concrete and Clay"; I had the American 45 version and I'm not ashamed to say I wore it out.
That's from the first Zombies album (which is a genuine classic) and the song itself, from the Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess, dates from 1935. It's been covered by countless people over the years, in the rock era most notably by Janis Joplin, but I think this is the definitive version if there is such a thing.
I should add -- and I've said this on previous occasions -- that George Gershwin's early death in 1937, at the age of 38, was the greatest tragedy in the history of American music in the 20th century.
As you can hear, apart from being utterly exquisite, the song is being treated as a little classical piece, as it always deserved.
Fittingly, and I never thought I'd type these words, the album it's on is being released by the classical division of the venerable Decca Records. In the immortal words of Dean Martin, who knew about such things, ain't that a kick in the head?
Have a great weekend, everybody!
...gave me any pleasure whatsoever.
I bring him up at this point in time becaue I had forgotten this 1974 ad from the old Village Voice musicians classified section, which totally cracks me up.
And yes, that's the ad Max Weinberg responded to. Heh.
That was written by Tom Shipley of Brewer and; the bass player was a pre-Eagles Randy Meisner. The band itself appeared on the label of (and were managed by) the guys behind Buffalo Springfield.
I actually owned that 45 (which got respectable airplay in New York City back in my youth). I have a best-of anthology of their stuff somewhere that I probably should re-research at some point soon.
Yes, the performances are a little raggedy -- hey, we hadn't played together in 25 years, and I confess to spending more time figuring out what I was gonna wear to the gig than trying to relearn my bass parts -- but they're raggedy in the right way, and if those four guys aren't having fun I'm no judge of horseflesh.
This is hard for me to write about, for the obvious reason that our beloved drummer Glen Robert Allen -- or as I refer to him, my musical director for the last 50 years -- was very sick at the time of the show, and passed away the following February. I will share one anecdote, however, which speaks volumes about him.
As we were getting ready to go home after the performance, I went up to Glen and said, and I was being heartfelt, "Dude -- thanks. You carried me." And he flashed me a big grin, pointed to the other two members of the band, and said "Nope. WE carried THEM."
My dad's name was Norman, and during that song's run on the charts it was probably the only time he was sexy. (Just kidding, dad).
I should add that I'm mostly posting the song because a certain anti-semite hick nitwit from Maine I'm fond of making justifiable fun of commented on it recently in a way that made it clear he doesn't know the difference between counting eighth notes or remembering the lyrics accurately.
I should also add that the song itself was written by the great John D. Loudermilk, who would deserve to be immortal if he had penned nothing more than "Tobacco Road."
Have a great weekend, everybody!!!
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