July 22, 2018

Song of the Day #1607

Song of the Day: Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker) features the words and music of Jerome Brailey, Bootsy Collins, and Geoge Clinton, who was born on this date in 1941. Recorded in 1976 by Parliament-Funkadelic (or "P-Funk" for short) for the album, "Mothership Connection," it was the band's first million-selling single. Check out the original "We Want the Funk" extended album mix [YouTube link].

July 21, 2018

Song of the Day #1606

Song of the Day: Fascinated, words and music by Ish Ledesma, was recorded by the freestyle "girl group" Company B and spent four weeks atop the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in March 1987. Check out the single video promo version and the original extended 12" remix.

July 18, 2018

Rand, Darrow, and "The Power to Think"

On Facebook, James Peron posted an interesting article, "Ayn Rand, Nietzsche and the Purposeless Monster." I shared it on FB, but also commented on a couple of points raised by the essay with regard to Rand's understanding of the wider context and similar themes that showed up in the courtroom presentations of Clarence Darrow. For me, the best fictional representation of the latter comes from the 1960 film, "Inherit the Wind." Here's what I had to say:

A very interesting discussion, Jim. Ironically, it shows that Rand as an individualist was still willing to understand the context within which human beings grew---and how that context either nourished, stunted, or utterly distorted what they might become. After all, "We the Living" is a grand-scale indictment of a social context that crushes the possibility for individual enrichment, since it must necessarily corrupt individuals, leading them to a living death---where even the possibility of escape is robbed as you're shot attempting to cross the border (it's original working title was "Airtight"---since dictatorship, in Rand's view, creates an airtight environment in which all that is possible to the individual is suffocated).
On Clarence Darrow, I have to say that, for me, the best fictional representation of him (as Henry Drummond, played by Spencer Tracy) remains "Inherit the Wind," where in his courtroom questioning of the opposing lawyer (the William Jennings Bryan-based character, Matthew Harrison Brady, played by Frederic March), he presents one of the most powerful tributes to the power of the individual human mind you'll ever see on film. [Check it out on] YouTube.

July 16, 2018

Song of the Day #1605

Song of the Day: The Way I Am, words and music by Jacob Kasher Hindlin and Charlie Puth, is the opening track to "Voicenotes," where the artist showcases many influences (including even MJ!). This is the concluding track of our Puth survey, as he headlines tonight at Radio City Music Hall. His newest album's first single [YouTube link] "Attention" [YouTube Rolling Stone link] charted on no fewer than six Billboard charts, from the Adult Contemporary to Mainstream Top 40 and the Hot Dance Club Chart, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. (The song is covered by Pentatonix [YouTube link] on their new 2018 album, "PTX Presents: Top Pop, Vol.1.") This "Voicenotes" song sums up Puth's path, sometimes bullied as a child for being different [YouTube interview with Larry King], working through self-doubt, aware of his anxieties [YouTube link], but still announcing: "Ima tell 'em all that you could either love me or hate me---but that's just the way I am." Indeed [YouTube link]. Check the album track, the official video to the song released on July 9th, and a host of remixes: Maylar & Beat Boy, STVCKS and Dim Wilder, IndianBoyz, and Phillip Maizza [YouTube links]. And for New Yorkers lucky enough to see our featured artist at Radio City [YouTube link]: Have a great time!

July 15, 2018

Song of the Day #1604

Song of the Day: Slow it Down is credited to a host of contributors, and when I first heard it, I said to myself that it sounded like a Hall and Oates composition; my musical instincts were spot on, as among its writers, in addition to Charlie Puth, are Daryl Hall, John Oates, and Sara Allen---of "Sara Smile" fame [YouTube link]. The song actually contains an interpolation of the Hall & Oates hit, "I Can't Go For That" [YouTube link]. Check out the album version of this song [YouTube link].

July 14, 2018

Song of the Day #1603

Song of the Day: LA Girls features the words and music of Sean Douglas, Jason Evigan, Jacob Kasher Hindlin, and Charlie Puth. Another track from Puth's current---and second---solo album, "Voicenotes," the lyrics reflect this Jersey-born artist's East Coast loves. In this song, he yearns for one particular East Coast love, but is suffering from West Coast blues, "messin' with these LA Girls." He yearns to be back on that "Greyhound to NYC." Well, on Monday, Charlie's back in NYC, but tonight his tour stops at the BMHMC Amphitheater at Bald Hill, in Farmingville, Long Island. Check out the album track [YouTube link].

July 13, 2018

Song of the Day #1602

Song of the Day: We Don't Talk Anymore, words and music by Jacob Kasher Hindlin, Selena Gomez, and Charlie Puth, is from Puth's debut album, "Nine Track Mind." A child prodigy, Puth was introduced to classical music by his mother, who began teaching him how to play piano at age 4. He went on to study jazz by age 10, and was a participant in the Count Basie Theatre's Cool School summer youth jazz ensemble by age 12. Manhattan School of Music Pre-College and Berklee College of Music came later. His music embraces multiple genres [YouTube link]. In the liner notes to his debut album, Puth wrote: "I want to dedicate this record to my parents. In 2001, we couldn't afford a dining room table, and my mom and dad came up with the money to purchase a Korg Triton Studio Synthesizer for me. We ate dinner on the floor while my 11-year old self tried to figure out how to sequence 808s and make beats on this very complex piece of hardware. I learned how to produce records with this piano. So without that initial investment on their part, I probably wouldn't have been able to make this album in 2015. So Mom and Dad, here is the return on your investment. Thank you for everything you have ever done for me, and thank you for pushing me." In a culture that is sometimes at war with the gifted and talented, Puth's attitude is a breath of fresh air. In 2015, Charlie was somewhat famous for doing covers of other artist's hits (like this BBC cover of Calvin Harris's "How Deep is Your Love?" [YouTube link]). Tonight, Puth touches down at the Blue Hills Bank Pavillion in Boston, Massachusetts, with special guest Hailee Steinfeld, to perform his own hits. Check out this song's video single from that first album, as well as a live performance during Gomez's Revival Tour, a snippet of a live Manchester performance with a jazz curve ball thrown in to surprise the crowd, a Teen Choice solo live performance, and the Outamatic Remix [YouTube links].

July 12, 2018

Song of the Day #1601

Song of the Day: Sober is credited to a host of writers, including The Futuristics, Charlie Puth and rapper G-Eazy, on whose fourth studio album, "The Beautiful & Damned," this portrait in darkness appears. This is not the first rap track on which Puth has been featured; his collaboration with Wiz Khalifa for "See You Again" (from the 2015 film, "Furious 7"), a poignant tribute to the late actor Paul Walker, remains among the most streamed videos of all time (over 3.45 billion streams!). Check out today's unsettling offical video and a dance remix of the track [YouTube links].

July 11, 2018

Marx, Hayek, and Utopia: Kindle Edition Finally!

For the first time, the first book in my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy," is available in e-book form. SUNY Press had long made it available as a Google ebook on Google Play, but it was not a searchable document. Today, for the first time, my book, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, has been made available in a searchable Kindle Edition! Of course, as editor of an academic journal, on these "wages", I can barely afford to purchase it! But it's still nice to know that "MHU" is now available as an e-book. (Special thanks to Janice Vunk at SUNY for making it all happen!)

mhuamazon.jpg

Soon, I'll have some great news to share about the forthcoming Kindle edition of Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism, because when that finally happens, with the second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical already Kindle-ized, my trilogy will have finally entered the twenty-first century!

Stay tuned!

Song of the Day #1600

Song of the Day: Done for Me, words and music by Jacob Kasher Hindlin, John Ryan, and Charlie Puth and Kehlani, who recorded this duet with Puth for his 2018 sophomore effort, "Voicenotes." A couple of NYC radio stations have declared this Charlie Puth week as he kicks off his first World Tour tonight, beginning in Toronto, Ontario, Canada---on the Budweiser Stage. He will make a Radio City Music Hall stop on Monday, July 16th. In keeping with the spirit of things, I'll be featuring Puth tracks [YouTube link] right through that date. He started doing covers and doing a comic Musical Vlog on YouTube in his early years, and later joined up with young prospects doing covers of his songs [YouTube links]. I am certainly among those who appreciate Perfect Pitch Puth [interview clip with "Kelly and Ryan" on YouTube]. It's been nice watching this child prodigy's musical evolution (perhaps not his "rap" skills or his beatboxing, but certainly his jazz chops) [YouTube links]. So check out the jazz-infused, acoustic version of this song, as well as the video version, and remixes by Syn Cole, James Hype, Oblivious Sound, and a nice mashup with Puth's "How Long" [YouTube links].

July 10, 2018

Song of the Day #1599

Song of the Day: A Time for Love, music by Johnny Mandel, lyrics by Paul Francis Webster, was an Oscar-nominated song from the 1966 film, "An American Dream." It has been treated lovingly by many vocalists and instrumentalists alike, including singer Tony Bennett and pianist Bill Evans [YouTube links]. One of the most sensitive readings of the song, arranged by Sammy Nestico, was recorded by trombonist Bill Watrous [YouTube link]; it was the title song for his 1993 album in tribute to "The Music of Johnny Mandel." Today, I learned of the death on July 2, 2018, of Bill Watrous, trombonist extraordinaire, whose effortless playing would leave you breathless. He was 79 years old. Whether he was playing a lush standard from the Great American Songbook, like "Body and Soul" [YouTube link] or performing a live rendition of "Spain" [YouTube link], with Chick Corea and an all-star 1976 Downbeat Awards Show line-up that included Hubert Laws (on flute), George Benson (on guitar), Stanley Clarke (bass) and Lenny White (drums), Watrous took us to musical heights for which he will be long remembered.

July 07, 2018

Steve Ditko, RIP

I have just learned that on June 29, 2018, Steve Ditko, "the legendary artist who co-created some of the most iconic characters for Marvel Comics"---and even some at DC Comics---died in New York City. He was 90 years old.

I had the great fortune to correspond with Ditko in the months leading up to the publication of an article I was working on for the first of two Journal of Ayn Rand Studies symposia celebrating the Ayn Rand Centenary. I had invited Ditko to contribute to the symposium devoted to the subject, "Ayn Rand: Literary and Cultural Impact," but as I expected, he politely declined, stating that he preferred that his work speak for itself.

But he expressed interest in my work and certainly acknowledged his debt to Rand---a debt that showed up in many of his comic book characters, including Mr. A (as in "A is A") and The Question. His most famous creation was among my favorite comic book heroes---if only because he was situated in real-life New York City: Peter Parker, a boy from Queens, who would become Spider-Man (making his debut in 1962).

Ultimately, I wrote the lead-essay to that Rand centenary symposium, "The Illustrated Rand" which is still available on my home website as a pdf file here. The essay devotes a section to Ditko and the impact that Rand made on his work.

I cherish my correspondence with him and celebrate the gifts he left us.

Song of the Day #1598

Song of the Day: One Kiss features the words and music of Adam Wiles, Jessie Rayez, and Dua Lipa, who contributes the vocals to this Calvin Harris dance track, which hit #1 on the Billboard Dance Club chart on June 2, 2018. Check out the video single and the Oliver Heldens Remix.

July 06, 2018

Song of the Day #1597

Song of the Day: Work Bitch is credited to a host of writers, including will.i.am and the woman who recorded it: Britney Spears. The song peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot Dance / Electronic Songs chart and #2 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club chart. Check out the steamy video of this pulsating dance track, the extended mix [YouTube links], and Britney's recent energetic live Vegas performance of the song on Dick Clark's 2018 New Year's Rockin' Eve [YouTube link].

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