Archive | June, 2011

A Supernatural Delight

15 Jun

You may have heard that the second of the three eclipses in this crazy, stressful and powerful eclipse season occurred today.  The first was a couple of weeks ago and the third will be in a couple of weeks and were both solar eclipses.  This one is the first lunar eclipse of the year.  It was a really long one too – over an hour and a half – and if you were in anywhere from Eastern Africa to Western Australia it would have been an amazing sight.  Here in good ole NYC, we’ll have to settle for seeing a regular full moon.

There are so many full moon rituals that have existed through the ages, but you’ll have to consult with someone a little more Wicca than me to find any magical spells.  (Or is it magikal?)  But before you hasten to Google, here’s one better suited to us anyway.  Hey, it’s worth a try at least:  dancing.

Here’s Wolfe’s cover of “Dancing in the Moonlight.”  I used to hate it and now I completely love its breeziness.   And just because it’s always fun to compare, here’s the original 1972 version by King Harvest.

The lesson for this second eclipse is clear:  you can’t dance and stay uptight.

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Guess I’m Dumb

14 Jun

Last night I was privileged enough to be invited to see Brian Wilson perform Gershwin songs.  What this meant in Brian Wilson’s world was that I was privileged enough to see Brian Wilson perform a slew of Beach Boys songs (most notably God Only Knows and Caroline, No) and a handful of Gershwin songs which sounded precisely like Beach Boys songs.  Don’t take that as a criticism.  It was stunning and I still have the harmonies of “Rhapsody in Blue” in my head.

As luck would have it, I’ve already done a post on the Beach Boys – one of their lesser known songs, but one of my favorites and hopefully now one of yours.  I’m still not sure if I will be able (or want to) stick to my premise of not repeating artists and Brian Wilson is certainly someone who deserves more space.  But be that as it may, for the time being I am staying the course.

And for this specific post with this specific song, I can give you something just as good.  You know I mean business when I say something is equal to Brian Wilson in any context.

Let’s go back to 1964.  It was the eve of a tour and Brian Wilson had a nervous breakdown.  He decided he couldn’t take the stress of touring and decided to stay home and concentrate on writing and producing.  A super talented (and handsome!) session musician was selected to take his place.  And so, for a short time, Glen Campbell became a Beach Boy.

As a thank you for stepping in so quickly,  Brian gave Glen one of the songs which he had written for the Beach Boys’ next album.  In doing so Brian gave us all a huge gift.  It is hands-down the best Beach Boys song never recorded:   “Guess I’m Dumb” by the impressive (and handsome!) Glen Campbell.

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Abitrary Memories

13 Jun

It’s funny how certain songs can take you back to the most specific, yet completely meaningless, moments.  Dr. Alban’s “Sing Hallelujah” does just that.  Every single time I hear it, I’m transported back a bunch of years.  I was in LA  and sitting in red convertible Mustang rental car with the top down.  (I know…I know…)

We’re stopped at a red light on Wilshire.  I’m in the passenger seat and my crazy Orange Country/Filipino gay art director is driving and my Westchester/Connecticut straight preppy blond copywriter is crunched up in the back seat.  The song is BLASTING and the art director is singing along with it twice as loud.

The weather is perfect and I’m laughing and the copywriter is annoyed at both of us, but in a kind of loving way.  Or at least in a not completely hating us kind of way.  (We were out there for 4 months together, so he was used to this type of thing.)

All of a sudden, I saw a huge rat climb up a palm tree and screamed and the art director looked at me and just sang, “Sing it!”

Then the light turned green.

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Vegetable Man, Where Are You?

12 Jun

I spent a good part of the day wandering around various North Fork farm stands and flower stalls.  I’m still compulsively memorizing all the Victorian meanings of flowers from that book I’ve previously told you about.  I’m pretty good with remembering definitions, but I’m massively unschooled in what the actual flowers look like.   Even common plants elude me.  Although I can tell you with certainty that a tansy (with a ‘t’) means ‘I declare war on you,’ I am just as sure to misidentify a pansy — even though I can tell you it means ‘think of me.’

My current fascination is really out of character.   I’m not someone who plants things.   I hate bugs and dirt and worms.  The meanings behind the plants that the bugs and dirt and worms surround at least give me a reason to try to overcome my squeamishness.   I’m guessing that this phase might not last too long, but I’m simultaneously hoping I’m wrong.

All of this is true but is just a prelude to what I really want to discuss:  Syd Barrett.   It’s about time Syd made an appearance, huh?  One of the original members of Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett was one of the most remarkable musicians in all of rock music.  It was Syd who defined Pink Floyd’s early sound and their first thoroughly revolutionary album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, was Syd through and through.  And through.

It’s hard to envision that the person who wrote almost all their material would no longer be a real member of the band by the second album, but that’s what doing a lot of LSD will do.  Syd’s behavior was becoming increasingly more erratic and pretty soon the band declared he was no longer a member.  Depending on what you believe, he was either schizophrenic, mentally unsound or just reclusive.  After Pink Floyd, he did release a couple of solo records but most of the material was written during his tenure with them.  He really had largely shut down by the time the split had occurred.

For the next 30 years, there was always some dabbling in the music world but none of it took.  He moved home with his mother, painted and gardened and shut out the world.  I wonder if Pink Floyd always suspected that he might one day return to what he was.   “Wish You Were Here” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” are just two of their tributes to Syd.  In any case, he was a crazy diamond who died at age 60 leaving a lot of unanswered questions.

There are so many absolutely brilliant Syd Barrett songs I could pick but I’m going to go with the super psychedelic “Vegetable Man.”  It was supposed to be on Pink Floyd’s second album but wasn’t released.  Of course as it stands as an unreleased track, it’s not as fully realized or well recorded as the singles from the Piper at the Gates of Dawn album (“Arnold Layne,” “See Emily Play”) but it does go perfectly with my plant-obsessive day, no?

I’m also including another version of it by The Soft Boys because that’s a fabulous version (a) and (b) their production shows off the song really well.

Okay, while you’re downloading, I’m going to go eat some fresh-off-the-plant strawberries.  Not surprisingly, strawberries mean ‘perfection.’   Don’t believe me?  Send me some lavender (‘mistrust’).  Sick of me yet?  Yellow carnations.  (‘disdain’).  But beware (oleander), you already know I am familiar with tansies.

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Keep On Truckin’

11 Jun

When you hear Eddie Kendricks voice, it’s usually on one of the massive hits that he and The Temptations had when he was one of their lead singers. He’s the one you hear on “Just My Imagination, “The Way You Do the Things You Do, “Get Ready” and lots more.

I always preferred his solo smash “Keep On Truckin’.”  It’s a great song plus I am kind of obsessed with that phrase. Not in the R. Crumb way. And not in the old jazz way.  But in the disco era way.

I’d really like to bring it back into the vernacular.  I’m just never sure exactly how to use it. Do you say it when you are leaving someplace? When someone is doing something cool that you want to continue? I really don’t know.

Maybe I should just start incorporating into conversations and hope for the best.

I was originally planning to post Eddie Kendricks’ song “Date With the Rain” because, well, it’s classic disco magic and really, who doesn’t love a guy who hides his tears in the rain?  But my fingers started typing without my mind involved and so now you get “Keep On Truckin’.”  And not the “Keep On Truckin’, Part 1” that was the hit which is around 3 and a half minutes, but the full 8 minute extravaganza!

Okay, that’s all I have to say…except, of course, keep on truckin’.

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LANDSLlllllide

10 Jun

It’s hot.  I’m feeling melancholy.   My life may be crashing down on me.  Obviously the song for the day is “Landslide.”

I personally think the original Fleetwood Mac song is one of the greatest songs ever recorded, but there is something about this cover version by Smashing Pumpkins that draws me in.   It’s actually just Billy Corgan and a guitar and the simplicity and rawness and honesty is pretty powerful.  I’m not even a big Smashing Pumpkins fan and I don’t always even like Billy’s voice, but this gets my vote.

All in favor, say aye.

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Naked Furniture

9 Jun

Yesterday, I received some very depressing news.  My most beloved secret email address that only a few special people got – but that all of my blog comments went to – was being discontinued.

Here’s the story.  Follow carefully; it’s awfully complex.

A couple of years ago, I discovered my favorite band in the world, Valley Lodge.  In fact, I discovered them through Twitter.  It’s true!

My friend Calvert & I joined Twitter and started following a small group of really interesting and funny people.  This was before I started using it for the advertising industry folk.  JK!   But you know – people who were involved in art and architecture and design and blogging and comedy.   Teensy little list but very lovingly curated.  Calvert was my main source of finding interesting people to follow in those days and he immediately suggested following the hysterical @mrdavehill .  One day, not long after this, @mrdavehill didn’t post a funny tweet at all.  Instead, he posted a song he had recorded with his band Valley Lodge and it changed my life.

I do not say that lightly.

It was a cover version of the super groovy ’70s hit by Bob Welch, “Sentimental Lady.”  @mrdavehill said that it was downloadable but he totally lied.  It only streamed.  I tweeted him back asking if it was available for download anywhere and he replied with “right click” instructions.  As if I didn’t know that!  Okay, I know I shouldn’t still be mad a his reply.  It was so long ago and he was trying to be nice and helpful.  But, still, he had just insulted the small amount of highly technical knowledge I possessed.  I mean, come on.  Who doesn’t know how to download?

Deep breath.

Turns out my friend Ryan had seen this Twitter exchange.  He tweeted back that I should hit him up on ichat and he’d send me a bunch of their songs. Wait, what?  I was so confused!  How did Ryan…?  What…?

Sure enough, later that morning, Ryan sent me some songs, including the amazing “All of My Loving.”  A couple of days later he met me for lunch.  We had grilled cheese.  And tomato soup.   And then he gave me two actual CDs by Valley Lodge.  He  had just signed them to a multi-million dollar publishing deal.  Well that’s not exactly true, but that is what their songs should command.

I was smitten immediately and wanted to do a video for them.  Ryan hooked me up with @mrdavehill and before you knew it, I was casting a lot of naked men.  And Valley Lodge was playing really loud while they were naked!  Pretty much my version of heaven.

©freshbread

Just one of the guys in the video wasn’t naked.  He was a Bear and for some reason, preferred not to disrobe.  That was cool, I guess.  Maybe he didn’t want to get naked in front of a lot of people and have it filmed.  To each his own.   But here’s what he did like to do in real life:  organize leather invasions.

Leather invasions are where a groups of leather clad guys would invade places like museums, parks, shows, etc.   It was art.  Or as they called it, it was putting the kink back into NYC.   By the end of the shoot, we were pals.  And while I didn’t get a naked Bear in the video, I did get something better than that:  an @leatherinvasion dot com email address.  Amazing.

Since then it’s been a source of unending happiness.  All my blog comments go there.  Or went there.  My Bear is moving on apparently and with his life change, my email address will no longer exist.

Sigh.  ‘leatherinvasion’ is just so much cooler than ‘gmail.’  The only thing that can make me feel any better about this sad, sad, sad turn of events (I’m serious, I’m super bummed), is to watch the video and listen to Valley Lodge non-stop.  It’s kind of the only thing that makes everything all right, always.

Wach this video.

Then you need to download “All of My Loving.”  Right click.

And then, go to the super Valley Lodge website. And then, finally, buy some of their stuff.   Oh, and lastly!  They hardly ever perform, but they playing twice this month!

Now I’m going to send myself a few leatherinvasion emails while I still can.

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