Friday, September 22, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "You Talkin' to Me?" Edition

From 1972, and their sole really good album The Night is Still Young -- featuring lotsa terrific originals and a killer cover of "In the Still of the Night" that shreds the hit oldie version -- please enjoy Sha Na Na and their hilarious and poignant ode to the invention of corrective lenses, the Jeff Barry-produced "Glasses."

Written, played and sung by nice Jewish boy Jon "Bowser" Bauman. A prince.

I bring this up for a reason that is both convoluted (it refers back to yesterday's post) and topical.

Basically, as you may have heard, Jann Wenner -- the former editor/publisher/groupie-in-chief of Rolling Stone magazine -- just got kicked off the board of the Rock Hall of Fame for compiling a book of his interviews with the people he considers the greatest of the great figures in rock history, all of whom are, a coincidence I'm sure, white guys. And then adding insult to injury by titling the thing -- wait for it -- The Masters. Which is not a reference to the golf tournament, obviously.

In any case, speaking of interviews, I was lucky enough to sit down with Bowser around the time the aforementioned Sha Na Na album came out, and although the word master did not immediately spring to mind at the time, it was nonerheless one of my favorite journalistic experiences ever. Dude showed up for our chat out of greaser drag, looking like a second year theology major at Yeshiva University, and proceeded to down a corned beef sandwich and a can of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray while we talked. Needless to say, I was utterly charmed.

For some reason, I haven't been able to find a copy of the interview as it ran in The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, but one part of our conversation is etched in my memory. Specifically, I asked him what product his band used to slick back their hair into those '50s ducks-ass hairdos.

His answer? K-Y Jelly, which despite being designed (or so I've heard) for other purposes makes perfect sense, when you think of it, as it's completely water soluble. To this day, I can't figure why the band never did commercials for the stuff.

But enough of my encounters with greatness. We have an essay question to get to.

So now to business. To wit:

If you could interview any post-WWII rock/pop star, living or dead, who would it be -- and why?

Arbitrary rule: No groups need apply -- only solo performers, or one person from a larger ensemble.

Sorry -- you get to pick either Simon OR Garfunkel, not both of them.

And BTW, in case you're wondering, my choice would be any one of the real people impersonated in this classic SNL bit. I mean, shit -- who wouldn't want to talk to the auteur behind "Me So Horny"?

Okay -- and your choices would be?


And have a great weekend, everybody!!!


Allan Rosenberg said...

Eddie Cochran.

I'd like to know what he had planned for his future which seemed wide open.

Captain Al

paulinca said...

Of modern bands, I would love to interview Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes. I want to know his writing process and who his musical influences are. I've always wanted to know what books sit on his shelves and which writers he considers influences.


ChrisE said...


Re the original interview you did with Jon B: It did not run as a stand-alone feature, it was part of a "Pop Beat" or "Simels Report" column. And I think in the column, it was of two (or three) interviews you had done with musicians around that time that had turned out positively. (I think you explained that you usually had to be "cajoled" into doing them.) If I had to guess, I'd say in 1976, maybe '75 or '74. And, yes, you made the same joke in the column about the KY-jelly as you did today :-)

steve simels said...

ChrisE — I think you’re right, and thanks.

Todd Everett said...

If I could get him in a good mood, Chuck Berry. I’d talk with him about his influences and songwriting. Same with Buddy Holly.

Of acts living and working while I was active, I’ve talked with pretty much everyone* I’d like to. With the explanation that, for instance, I may be underestimating the guy, but I can’t think of how I would carry on an interesting conversation with Elvis Presley. Not to suggest I think he was dumb or shallow; just sheltered. And I’d love to be wrong.

*except Chuck Berry, who I’ve seen several times but never met.

cthulhu said...

Agree with Captain Al; Eddie Cochran would be my top pick.

Second would be Aimee Mann; she has been writing some of the best songs and in particular, bridges in the business for a few decades now, but all the interviews with her I’ve read/heard center around “what’s it like to be a woman in rock?” I want to know a lot more about her songwriting.

Alzo said...

Ike Turner. The Jelly Roll Morton of Rock 'n' Roll. He may not have invented it... or maybe he did.

Anonymous said...

A couple things -
1. At the Hop, Woodstock - iconic
2. Sinatra Sketch - SNL sriĺ has mountains to climb to be relevant these days.
3. Read if you must Wenners bio - Sticky Fingers. First he's a misogyny. Two, born into the wrong sex- nought said
Three - l
Love affair with Mick Jagger
Four - Basically an asshole
R/S Reader subscriber for over 55 years
Wheres,Raul Duke when we need him ?

buzzbabyjesus said...

Chris Hillman comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

Roy Wood
Jimmy Page
Glen Ross Campbell
Shilah Morrow
Levon Helm
Jerry Jeff Walker
Holger Czukay
Danny Hutton
Steve Cropper
Carl Wilson
Johnny Indovina
Jim Keltner or Hal Blaine
Tom Waits
Rick Brown
Leon Russell
Dean Parks
Emmylou Harris
Skunk Baxter
David Bowie


BBJ: Good choice! I've talked to Chris at many of his McCabe's appearances. Very straight forward, not full of himself, and a wealth of experience to draw from. Once sang "Step On Out" with him in my Jeep Cherokee. Nice guy. And attractive.

Anonymous said...

Actually I would like to to interview Ian Hunter. He has had so many ups and downs in his career and still persevered raising a fine family. His songwriting has been strong with earworms.

raising a fine family.

Anonymous said...

My first wife dated Skunk when they were both in school in Upstate NY

BG said...

Amy Winehouse, if for no other reason than to plead with her to get the fuck away from her father.