Archive | August, 2011

My Food Emporium Experience

24 Aug

For years my favorite song was the Food Emporium jingle.  So often I would hear people spontaneously break out into song, sharing their own person version of this fabulous song with the world.  It was so much a part of the NY landscape.

Then one day, much to my horror, the jingle just disappeared.  I kept waiting for its return, thinking that this obvious mistake in judgment would be rectified.  It never was.  A few years after this dark cloud settled over our metropolitan airwaves, I found myself in a recording studio, for one of the first times.  One of the first times for work, that is.

I wasn’t producing the session – I was way too young and green for that, but for some reason I was attending it nonetheless.  My boss was recording some jingle for some product that has long escaped my mind.  We were setting up and the singers involved had arrived a bit early.  They were friends with the music house guys so everyone was just hanging around catching up.

I was introduced.  “Margaux, this is Valerie and Nick.  Nick and Val, meet Margaux.”  Um.  It was Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson.  As in Ashford & Simpson.  As in “Solid.”  I was on the verge of gushing or doing something mildly inappropriate when across the room, I overheard a snippet of a totally separate conversation.

What?  What?!  WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!??!

The folks responsible for the Food Emporium jingle were in the room!  I immediately turned my back on Ashford & Simpson and instead turned my full adoration and attention where it belonged. I wanted to know everything about the ‘song.’

I guess the session happened.  I guess I said goodbye to Ashford & Simpson.  It’s really all a blur.  All I remember is that for weeks afterward I had the greatest song in the world in my head again, on constant loop.  I was complete.

I had forgotten about this event till yesterday when I heard that Nick Ashford had died on Monday.  Aside from performing under their own names, Ashford & Simpson were two of the best songwriters out there.  They wrote “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “I’m Every Woman” for godsake!  That’s kind of major.

But to me their most important contribution, of course, was that they were in the room during my momentous Food Emporium discovery.  R.I.P. Nick.  Thank you for being such an important part of my life.


23 Aug

I had a whole plan for today’s post but then Mother Nature told me she wanted to hear Sam Cooke’s “Shake.”  And you know you can’t argue with Mother Nature.

Let’s hope she doesn’t want to listen to this on aut0-repeat.  Oh, and don’t worry, my plan will just be one day late, tomorrow.

Happy 350th Birthday, Staten Island!

22 Aug

Staten Island is 350 years old today!

Way back in 1661, a petition was written by 19 French, Belgian and Dutch families and presented to the Council of New Amsterdam.  It asked for land grants, religious freedom and economic opportunity.  Peter Stuyvesant granted permission and thus, Staten Island was born.

In the years since then Staten Island has had to put up with quite a bit of scorn and I  find that kind of annoying.  Once a long time ago my faux boyfriend and I tried to buy a Frank Lloyd Wright house that was on sale there and because of that I did some time getting to know the place.  Word to the wise:  it’s more than just a landfill.

It’s got big Victorian homes, massive amounts of parkland, tons of trails for hiking and the highest point in New York City.  It’s also the only borough that is entirely alone.  Even my beloved Manhattan shares a border with the Bronx.   Of course this isolation makes it pretty inconvenient.  There’s no subway and well, after all, you can’t overlook that landfill….

But in general, I hope that today of all days, we give our oft-forgotten borough a little love.  It’s not like you turn 350 every day!

Let’s commemorate this occasion with a little Wu-Tang Clan.  Staten Island is where most of them were from – and they are responsible for giving the nickname of “Shaolin” to the place.  So here’s 1993’s “Protect Ya Neck” from their very first record.  It’s not 350 years old, but I think it’ll do.

Everything Works If You Let It

19 Aug

One of my favorite bands is Cheap Trick.  I saw them exactly one million years ago and then I saw them again just a couple of years ago and they blew me away in both eras.  The only part of the more recent performance that I wished was different was if Robin Zander and Tom Petersson (the cute ones) still looked young and hot instead of weathered and mildly hot.   But energy-wise and rockingness-wise, they were 100% on.

I had a ridiculous amount of gems to choose from for today’s post , but with Cheap Trick, I find I always come back to  “Everything Works If You Let It.”  It’s got all the power pop rockin’ rock that you’d expect and it also has one of the most important messages ever for someone like me.  Or for everyone, for that matter.

 Everything will work out if you let it.

Seriously, it’s such a good mindset to have.  And I’ll share a little secret with you.  The words also make for a great argument when trying to convince someone in your life to just let things be, relax.  You just have to tread that fine line between truism and crunchy, new-age truism, but it will be hard for someone to dispute the fact that everything really does work if you let it.

But back to Cheap Trick, who are anything but new-age.  Let’s make this your theme song for the weekend.  If you feel stressed about anything or if you’re worried about anything, play this song.  Report back to me on Monday.


August 16, 1977

16 Aug

You’d have to live under a rock to not know that today is the 34th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.  Heck, even living under a rock you’d probably know it.  At least I’d hope so.  I’m a rather huge Elvis fan so I’m not going to reference some horrid tidbit about the way he died or make fun of the fat years or anything remotely disrespectful.

Nor can I post an Elvis song because I already did so way back in January.  That said, I need to mark the day, of course.  For a few hours earlier, I thought I’d post a song that references Elvis.  There are certainly enough to choose from.  But that didn’t seem worthy of The King.

And then it hit me.  What better tribute can I give than “Lights Out” by Lisa Marie Presley?  I remember when this record came out and how pleasantly surprised I was.  I love her voice and slick production and all, I adore this song.

R.I.P, Elvis.  I’ll heart you always.

Could they look any more alike?

Chester & Lester

15 Aug

Even though it’s disgusting out today, I had a great big burst of sunshine when I got a bicentennial quarter in my change this morning.  If you know anything (or 25 things) about me, you’ll know that I collect bicentennial quarters and they are so rare these days, so when I get one it really is a cause for celebration.

Of course 1976 wasn’t just our nation’s bicentennial.  It was also the year that the brilliant Chet Atkins got the equally brilliant Les Paul out of retirement and the two recorded and released their collaboration, Chester and Lester.  Yes, it’s brilliant.  Actually beyond brilliant.  It would be impossible not to be as they’re two of the most influential and expressive guitarists ever.  There is almost no overdubbing on the album, which kind of blows my mind every time I hear it.

Chet’s twangy country mixed with Les’ jazzy sound are so different, yet work perfectly together.  Plus, their studio banter all over the album, which I adore.  It really is one of those records that everyone should own.  It’s that important.

I couldn’t decide which track to post and as you should know by now, that’s good news because you get two to download.  Here are “It Had To Be You” and “Out of Nowhere.”  If you love them, feel free to thank me by sending me any and all bicentennial quarters you may have lying around.  They’ll have friends here.


Um, Tony Banks?!

14 Aug

At the end of the year I think I’m going to find it interesting to see which artists I never in a million years thought would have made an appearance here, did.  Today’s choice will definitely be on that list.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I have never been much of a prog-rock fan.  I never even went through a phase.  So it won’t come as a surprise that I never bothered to listen to Tony Banks’ solo albums.  (For those of you that even less into prog-rock than I, Tony Banks was a founding member of and driving force in Genesis.)

I recently heard a song from his 1983 solo album, The Fugitive, and immediately regretted always ignoring it.  “By You” is now a new favorite.  Tony’s not a fantastic singer and I’m guessing he kept the songs much simpler than Genesis ones in order to play to his singing.  Whatever his reason, I’m super happy he did because now we have a simple and beautiful song instead of an over-complicated, overly-serious musical composition.

I’ve already had it on repeat for about 20x.  I’m compulsive that way.  I don’t expect you to do that, but aim for at least twice in a row.  So, so nice.  Kind of perfect to listen to with the sound of the rain outside.

That’s the good part.  The scary part is that I guess this means I should check out the rest of The Fugitive.  I love “By You” so why am I dreading this?  I’m trying to get out of my own way and all my pre-conceptions in general….I suppose I can start with Tony Banks.  Wish me luck.