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September 23, 2019

Song of the Day #1681

Song of the Day: Let Me Take You Dancing features the words and music of Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams. Though this year's Dance Party focused on the Golden Anniversary of Woodstock and its artists, this 1978 dance track takes us full circle---since we started our Fourth Annual Summer Music Festival with Bryan Adams's "Summer of '69", we end it with an Adams recording that, believe it or not, was one of the most memorable disco hits of the decade following Woodstock. Unfortunately, Adams has actively worked to suppress all digital uploads of this song to any site, including YouTube. The original John Luongo 12" dance remix sped Bryan's 18-year old voice up to 122 BPMs without access to the voice compression technology of today---thus making young Bryan sound even younger (or as one critic put it: like a "Disco Chipmunk"). So, hanging onto the last four hours of summer by an eyelash, I can only provide you with the instrumental 12" vinyl version, three snippets from Jim Vallance's website, a snippet of the single's "lost" 3rd verse [Facebook link] and cover versions by David Karr and Vicki Shepard [YouTube links]. We conclude this year's festival with the song's main lyric: "Let me take you dancing, let me steal your heart tonight. Let me take you dancing, all night long." Till next summer...

September 22, 2019

Song of the Day #1680

Song of the Day: Whiskey Cavalier ("Love Me Again"), words and music by Steve Booker and John Newman, was the main title to this 2019 sleek spy comedy-drama with Scott Foley and Lauren Cohan that I actually enjoyed in its 13-episode run on the ABC network---which meant, of course, that the show would be cancelled. The song was actually released by John Newman in 2013 for the album, "Tribute." It can be heard as part of the "Intro Opening" to the show, and in its entirety in this clip with scenes from the series, as well as in its original music video [YouTube links]. Enjoy tonight's Emmy Awards!

September 21, 2019

Song of the Day #1679

Song of the Day: I Want to Take You Higher, words and music by Sly Stone was actually the "B" side to "Stand!", the first bona fide Woodstock performance [YouTube link] I featured in this year's Summer Music Festival, coinciding with the Golden Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. Even as a "B" side, "I Want to Take You Higher" hit the Top 40 chart in 1970 for both Sly and the Family stone and Ike and Tina Turner, who did a cover of the song [YouTube links]. This song was one of the highlights of "Woodstock: The Director's Cut", an expanded version of the 1970 Oscar-winning Best Documentary Feature. Check out the Woodstock performance [YouTube link], which took place in the wee hours of Sunday, 17 August 1969. It's the final entry in our Fiftieth Anniversary Tribute to Woodstock. Tomorrow's entry marks the 71st Annual Emmy Awards, but we return in the wee hours of 23 September 2019, to conclude this year's Summer Music Festival with the same artist who opened it---all before the Autumnal Equinox hits the East Coast of the United States at 3:50 AM.

September 16, 2019

Song of the Day #1678

Song of the Day: Sucker is credited to six writers, three of whom constitute the group that recorded it in 2019: The Jonas Brothers. Today happens to be Nick Jonas's birthday; he turns 27, the baby of the bunch. (His brother Kevin Jonas is 31 and his brother Joe Jonas turned 30 on August 15, the date that Woodstock turned 50!) This is the first song recorded by the brothers in six years---and it went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 2019. Check out the music video and a few dance remixes by: DJ Lacqua, Fraze, and the Barry Harris Sweet Dreams & Andy Ajar Video Club Mix.

September 13, 2019

Song of the Day #1677

Song of the Day: Amazing Grace is a Christian hymn that was published in 1779, written by John Newton. If there had been recording technology back then, I think we could fairly say that there would have been thousands of recordings of this song by now. Since the advent of recording, AllMusic estimates that there have been at least 1,000 recordings of this hymn. Our Summer Music Festival (Woodstock Golden Anniversary Edition) continues with this rendition [YouTube link] by Arlo Guthrie, who closed his six-song set at 12:25 am on Saturday, 16 August 2019. Given this week's nineteenth installment in my annual WTC Remembrance Series, I could think of fewer themes more appropriate to feature this weekend. Also check out this bagpipe rendition [YouTube link], which features a montage of 9/11 images in tribute to the 343 firefighters who paid the ultimate price on that day---so that others might live. [Ed.: Hat Tip to my friend Kurt Keefner, who mentions that the words of this song were matched in 1835 to the melody of "New Britain" by William Walker.]

September 06, 2019

Song of the Day #1676

Song of the Day: The "Fish" Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag, written by Country Joe McDonald, was first released as part of a 1965 extended play vinyl, "Rag Baby Talking Issue No. 1," recorded by Country Joe and the Fish. In 1967, it became the title song of this psychedelic rock band's second studio album. With its biting satire, this was one of the most iconic counterculture protest songs ever recorded in opposition to the war in Vietnam. And so our Summer Music Festival (Woodstock Anniversary Edition) continues with this classic song. Check out the original EP version and then the unedited live Woodstock performance [YouTube links] that ended the group's Saturday afternoon set on 16 August 2019.

September 04, 2019

Song of the Day #1675

Song of the Day: Bootylicious features the words and music of Rob Fusari, Falonte Moore, and Beyonce Knowles, who turns 38 today. This was the third single from the 2001 album "Survivor" by Destiny's Child, the "girl group" which consisted of Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, and Beyonce. The song actually features a sample from "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks (who makes a cameo in the music video) and went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 2001. To date, amazingly, it is the last song by a "girl group" to achieve a #1 hit in the United States. Though the word "bootylicious" was first used by rapper Snoop Dogg in 1992, this song's title became so much a part of the American vernacular that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2004! Check out the Matthew Rolston-directed music video [YouTube link], where Destiny's Child and their supporting dancers perform choreography made famous by Michael Jackson. A Rockwilder remix [YouTube link], featuring a rap by the 2019 Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award recipient, Missy Elliott, was featured in the 2001 MTV musical, "Carmen: A Hip Hopera." The song was also featured in two prominent "mash-ups": one with Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and the other with Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" [YouTube links].

September 02, 2019

Song of the Day #1674

Song of the Day: Sundream, words and music credited to the alternative dance group, Rufus du Sol, is featured on their debut album, "Atlas". It is Labor Day today, which makes it all the more ironic that it was on this date in 1946 that Ayn Rand began writing a book she had initially entitled "The Strike"; it became Atlas Shrugged, which was published by Random House in 1957. (The December 2019 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies will feature a symposium on the novel, in honor of its 60+ year anniversary!) And this date shows up in the novel several times as well, which is why September 2nd has been called, in some circles, "Atlas Shrugged Day." This song, with an almost ambient dance groove, features a line reminiscent of the book as it tells us to "fall into the Atlas"---just one of the reasons I've highlighted it today. The album itself debuted at #1 on the Australian album chart on 19 August 2013, and this was the fourth single issued from it. Check out the official video, and several remixes: Claptone, Hayden James, X3SR, Classix, and Casino Gold. I know two people, including somebody very, very special to me, who are celebrating their birthdays today---and you know who you are! My love always ...

August 31, 2019

Song of the Day #1673

Song of the Day: Brown Eyed Girl features the music and lyrics of Van Morrison, who took this song into the Billboard Top Ten in 1967. From the album "Blowin' Your Mind!", the song became a signature tune for Morrison. My all-time favorite of his remains his very jazzy "Moondance," which was recorded fifty years ago this month and was the title track to his album, released in January 1970 [YouTube link], though the single wasn't released until 1977! But this one is a classic rock staple, from the "original" Summer of Love. Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer turns 74 years old. Check out the original album version and live in concert at the BBC Radio Theatre [YouTube links].

August 30, 2019

Song of the Day #1672

Song of the Day: Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, composed by Stephen Stills, appeared on the 1969 debut album of Crosby, Stills, and Nash (Neil Young performed with them at Woodstock, but only as part of their "Electric Set"). The song is literally constructed as a suite, but it is also a play on the phrase "Sweet Judy Blue Eyes," which refers to Stills's former girlfriend, singer/songwriter, Judy Collins. Check out the album version and their acoustic performance at Woodstock [YouTube links], both ending with that absolutely infectious "doo-doo-doo-da-doo" heard in the suite's coda.

August 29, 2019

Song of the Day #1671

Song of the Day: Don't Matter To Me is credited to numerous writers including Paul Anka, Aubrey "Drake" Graham, and Michael Jackson, who was born on this date in 1958. As I explained in my essay, "Michael Jackson: Man or Monster in the Mirror," published on Notablog on the tenth anniversary of MJ's death this past June, I believe that even if it could be proven that some artists engaged in destructive behavior during their lives, it need not erase our appreciation of the art they created. Ultimately, it's something that each person has to decide for themselves. But the case of Michael Jackson is particularly troublesome because there are so many contemporary artists who have openly acknowledged how deeply they were influenced by him. One of these artists, Drake, had been very vocal in his acknowledgment of MJ's influence on his music [MTV clip]---so much so that he asked the Jackson estate if he could include samples from a previously unreleased MJ song for his 2018 album, "Scorpion". Today's "Song of the Day" is that "collaboration"---a duet that drove the track into the Top Ten on Billboard's Hot 100 and R&B/Hip Hop charts. It's not as if allegations of MJ's exploits with children were unknown prior to the release of the documentary, "Leaving Neverland"; but in the film's wake, Drake decided to remove this song from his setlist on his current world tour in support of his album. Jackson's lyrical contribution to the track is now all the more ironic: "All of a sudden you say you don't want me no more. All of a sudden you say that I closed the door. It don't matter to me. It don't matter to me what you say." Even MTV, on which MJ made a huge impact, has been pressured to strip his name from the Video Vanguard Award at its VMAs. Protests from his most recent accusers may have led MTV to drop his name during the presentation of the Award this past Monday. But this year's recipient, Missy Elliott, would have none of it---her epic performance and acceptance speech proudly paid tribute in both choreography and words to MJ [YouTube links]. She even thanked MJ's sister Janet for all her support through the years.

For reasons I explained in June, I continue to celebrate MJ's artistry. Deep down, I'm sure Drake still acknowledges Jackson's impact on his music. But if he fears a public backlash or feels that guilty about this particular song appearing on his album to the point that he won't even perform the "duet" publicly, maybe he ought to send all the proceeds he made off this Certified Gold Single to charities supporting victims of child abuse, as SNL's Pete Davidson [YouTube link] once bitingly suggested. Either way, I remain undaunted in highlighting Jackson's contributions, even if they are featured on present or future posthumously released singles. Check out this track's original music video, with its haunting MJ vocal chorus. And then check out the Zanderz dance remix [YouTube links].

August 26, 2019

Grant That I May Not Criticize My Neighbor ...

. . . until I Have Walked a Mile in His Moccasins.

So says a plaque on my wall, by my desk, in my home office. In response to several Facebook threads documenting a recent visit to New York City by a dear friend of mine, Ryan Neugebauer, I received some feedback from other folks who were a bit upset that I had not done X, Y, or Z in the past with them but somehow had found a way to go on the Staten Island Ferry and see the fireworks in Coney Island with Ryan, while he was here in NYC. My response was restricted to Facebook, but I decided to post it on Notablog because as a secondary, unintended consequence, it seems to have resonated with lots of folks, especially those who deal with various disabilities and who are exhausted having to explain their constraints over and over again even to loved ones. Here is what I said on Facebook:

Folks, I'm really sorry I have to even post something like this as I don't like talking too much about my private life or its constraints, but it seems that quite a few friends have gotten upset because they saw that Lo and Behold, Chris Matthew Sciabarra was OUT OF THE HOUSE FOR ONE NIGHT and how dare I do such a thing when I've not been able to do X, Y, or Z, when asked by somebody else.
This post is not directed to any person in particular, but to the situation in general. Given the number of FB messages I've received and my inability to address every single one of them, I think this is better. For those of you who truly understand (and I know who you are... so don't even think of apologizing), no explanation is necessary. But for those who don't really know what I've gone through, even though I'm not inclined to justify one minute of my life, here it goes:
A dear friend of mine, Ryan Neugebauer, made his first trip to NYC, and on one of the nights of his visit, my sister was kind enough to drive over to Staten Island so we could take the ferry and see the skyline of NYC, and to get back in time to the see the fireworks in Coney Island. A very New York experience, indeed.
And I had a lot of fun.
But for somebody who has undergone 60+ surgeries and who talked about it extensively in a "Folks" interview (see here), it might seem odd, as I put it in my post with Ryan, that I was able to get out at all. I even remarked that "some nights they actually let me out."
I haven't been on the Staten Island Ferry since before 9/11---that's twenty years or more; I've been to about ten or so concerts or films in ten years. I am a Yankee fanatic who has yet to see the New Yankee Stadium, even though it's been open for ten years. I don't remember the last time I went to any of NYC's museums.
What it takes to get out of this apartment is nearly two days of starvation in order to ATTEMPT it, and a carefully laid-out plan that involves logistics with regard to accessibility to a restroom!
So please: Just celebrate with me for a few minutes the fact that I was able to get out one night and have a damn good time with a great friend. Anyone else who is a friend certainly knows that, unless I'm scheduled for a surgical procedure, the door is open. Which is why I have folks come through these parts to visit for a few hours at a time, AT MY HOME, which puts the least pressure on me, to have a good time with caring friends. You are no less loved because you didn't go on the Staten Island Ferry with me.
We all seem to carry crosses in life; everybody has their issues and problems. Cliches though these are, I truly can't and won't criticize my neighbor until I've walked a mile in their moccasins.
Though I'm being flattered in a way to be loved by so many, let me emphasize: Before you get all depressed that you didn't get to go on the Ferry with me, please take a look at my song of the day today: You Need to Calm Down. If you personalize the fact that I couldn't get out with any one of you on some other night, I can't do anything to help you out of your depression. Every day, every hour, changes contexts for me. And dialectical guy that I am, I have to evaluate every thing I do according to the constraints of the context of every day I live.
DO NOT FEEL SORRY FOR ME. I neither ask nor seek your pity or permission. I do the best that I can.
Having the stars align for one night of fun with one special friend is not a statement against any other special friend I have. And Lord knows I have a lot of folks here and elsewhere with whom I share very close bonds and who have been amazingly supportive, both spiritually and materially, over the years. For this, I am profoundly grateful.
But cut me some slack. Life is too short.

I added a postscript to the FB thread, because my post seems to have led in an uptick in shares on the "Folks" website of my interview from January 2018:

Thanks to everyone who has responded to this post and for all the support I received here and privately. I decided to post this comment on my own Notablog; apparently, just by including a link to the "Folks" interview here, in just four hours time, it has gone from 307 shares to 360 shares [and growing by the hour, apparently] at the Folks website. And though this post was not meant to be a public service announcement, I am happy that it may have resonated especially with those who have to deal with a disability and find special ways to cope with its constraints. Love to all...

And for the record, there are a ton of photos on Facebook of my night out with Ryan, but here are two pics of us on the Staten Island Ferry---one on the way to Manhattan, the other on the way back to Staten Island:

RyanChris1S.jpg


RyanChris2S.jpg

Ed. (10 September 2019): My FB post resulted in an uptick of "shares" on the site of "Folks", "an online magazine dedicated to telling the stories of remarkable people who refuse to be defined by their health issues." Shares increased from 307 on the day of this post to 456 today. I'm delighted that more "folks" had a chance to read the Robert Lerose-penned profile of me on that site---and if it helped or enlightened anyone, I'm very grateful.

Song of the Day #1670

Song of the Day: You Need to Calm Down features the words and music of Joel Little and Taylor Swift, who released this as the second single off her new album, "Lover." Swift ties Ariana Grande with ten nominations each for tonight's MTV Video Music Awards. The truly bold video single [YouTube link] to this infectious song has more cameos than one can count and its message of tolerance (which extends even to her long-time feud with Katy Perry!) has led to over 100 million views on YouTube alone. Check out Swift's live "Prime Day" performance of the song as well [YouTube link]. And check out the Video Music Awards tonight! Missy Elliot will be the recipient of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. In three days, we'll be marking the 61st anniversary of MJ's birth with a new song that has an interesting history.

August 24, 2019

Song of the Day #1669

Song of the Day: White Rabbit, words and music by Grace Slick, was featured on the 1967 Jefferson Airplane album, "Surrealistic Pillow." The Top Ten song was actually first performed by Slick when she was with the Great Society, a San Francisco band. Check out that first recording, with its long instrumental introduction [YouTube link] (from "Live at the Matrix") and then the Jefferson Airplane version [YouTube link]. Jefferson Airplane appeared at Woodstock on Sunday morning, 17 August 1969, and this was the penultimate song in their set [YouTube link].

August 20, 2019

Song of the Day #1668

Song of the Day: Bad Guy, words and music by Finneas O'Connell and his sister, Billie Eilish (O'Connell), appears on Eilish's macabre #1 debut album "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" It sat at #2 for nine nonconsecutive weeks (a Billboard chart record!) before unseating "Old Town Road," which broke all records on the Hot 100 for its 19 weeks atop that chart. The single got a much-needed shot of adrenaline when Justin Bieber joined Eilish in a remix (Bieber did much the same for "Despacito"). With its infectious hook and beat, it's a quirky song (with an even more quirky video [YouTube links]). Also check out the remix video with Justin Bieber, and dance remixes by Trap Nation and Sasha Vector. Duh.

August 18, 2019

Song of the Day #1667

Song of the Day: Spinning Wheel was written by the Canadian lead vocalist David Clayton-Thomas of that quintessential jazz-rock hybrid band, Blood, Sweat, & Tears. The song's studio version peaked at #2 in 1969 [YouTube link]; it was from the group's eponymous album "Blood, Sweat, & Tears," which won the 1970 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. They stretched out in their performance of the song at the Woodstock Festival [YouTube link] in the wee hours of this very day, fifty years ago.

August 17, 2019

Song of the Day #1666

Song of the Day: Green River, words and music by John Fogerty, was the title track to the third studio album of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The song was a Certified Gold Single that peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Check out the single version [YouTube link] and the live version [YouTube link] of the song, which the group performed on this very day fifty years ago at Woodstock (it was the second song in their set, which lasted from 12:30 a.m. to 1:20 a.m.). The song has been heard in several films through the years, including "The Post" (2017), in which it is used anachronistically---since it plays over a scene in 1966 Vietnam, three years before this single was released! One film that it was not heard in was "Easy Rider," which debuted on 14 July 1969 (during the same month that our song of the day was also released). This is therefore the Golden Anniversary Summer of a landmark "counterculture" film, which starred Peter Fonda, who, died at the age of 79 yesterday (16 August 2019). Fonda considered himself a part of the counterculture of the 1960s and was "Born to Be Wild" [YouTube link], indeed. It was all the more ironic then that, in 1999, he would receive a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor for a Miniseries (for the Showtime movie version of Barbara Branden's book, "The Passion of Ayn Rand"), playing Frank O'Connor, opposite Helen Mirren, who assumed the role of his wife, Ayn Rand, and who would go on to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Movie.

August 16, 2019

Song of the Day #1665

Song of the Day: Lady Madonna, credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, was a Top Five hit in 1968. The Beatles may have been going through some troubles, which led to their inevitable breakup in 1970, but their music lived on in the voices of several Woodstock performers. Richie Havens, who opened up the Woodstock festival on 15 August 1969, performed a few Beatles covers in his marathon set, such as "With a Little Help from My Friends" (and he needed a little help with the lyrics!) and a medley of "Strawberry Fields Forever and Hey Jude" [YouTube links]. This Beatles song was also a part of his repertoire, but not performed live at Woodstock. I feature it today nonetheless because it gives us a chance to say Happy Birthday to a different Lady Madonna, who, was born on this date 61 years ago---a full eleven years before the festival took place. Madonna would go on to rock the charts of the 1980s and beyond, along with such artists as Prince, George Michael, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston, all of whom are now gone. But Madonna is still kickin' in 2019, scoring her ninth #1 album on the Billboard Hot 200, "Madame X," which debuted at #1 in 58 countries on iTunes in the last week of June. But getting back to this year's Summer Music theme, check out a rendition of our song of the day by the guy who kicked off the Woodstock festival, Richie Havens [YouTube link] (though the highlight of his set was, undoubtedly, the improvised "Freedom" [YouTube link], based on the Negro spiritual, "Motherless Child"). The Brooklyn-born Havens died in April 2013, and his ashes were later scattered on August 18th of that year, across the Woodstock site, that 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, to coincide with the festival's anniversary. Finally, let's not forget the original rendition of this classic song by the Beatles [YouTube link].

August 15, 2019

Song of the Day #1664

Song of the Day: Pinball Wizard, words and music by Pete Townshend, was featured on "Tommy," the rock opera recorded by The Who in 1969. Check out the original album version [YouTube link]. Today marks the first of four days coinciding with the Golden Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival. I will be focusing primarily on some of the songs and artists who appeared at that festival (with one quasi-exception tomorrow). But our Woodstock tribute will continue until the end of the Summer (in September). Since I will be posting entries over these next four days, which coincide with the dates of the original festival, I think we should note a few things about Woodstock itself---given the bad press it received with its legendary rampant drug use and "free love" in the mud on open display.

This festival took place on Max Yasgur's 600-acre farm in Bethel, New York. Having received $75,000 for the use of his private land for the very public festival, Yasgur, who was a pro-Vietnam War conservative, was also deeply committed to the American principle of free expression. He addressed the crowd that had come to his property and openly celebrated the "kids" in attendance at the event [YouTube link]. He observed correctly that this was one of the largest gatherings of youth "ever assembled in one place"---one marked by no violence, despite some very real "inconveniences" (like severe rainstorms and shortages of both food and toilets). Even the local community rose to the occasion; the largely conservative, rural town residents, who would not have ordinarily sat down with anyone from the "hippie" generation, gladly donated food, water, and other resources to aid the young people who were overwhelmed by the sheer size and unpredictable scope of the event and its hardships. Even the Medical Corps of the armed forces flew in supplies---to monumental applause from the hundreds of thousands of people who were there.

The Summer of '69---which we have been commemorating in this year's installment of our Summer Music Festival---is a study in contrasts (Ayn Rand herself saw it as a battle between "Apollo" and "Dionysus"). But it is also a study in convergence. In July 1969, two human beings walked on the surface of the moon for the first time, while in August 1969, nearly half-a-million human beings embraced the music and message of a festival, featuring more than 30 artists and/or bands, embracing 'cosmic' peace (I'm sure some of the participants thought they were walking on the moon themselves, at various times over that four-day period!). Whatever one's attitudes toward the views of that era, of its culture or its "counterculture", this remarkable convergence of events demonstrated what was possible when people reached across a "generation gap." At Woodstock, the "counterculture" [pdf to one of my encyclopedia entries]---many of them left-wingers who were not particularly enamored by the institution of private property---nevertheless assembled on private land to very publicly voice not just their disenchantment with the Vietnam War and the draft, but to nonviolently celebrate "peace" and "love" through the music of their day, at the end of one of the most turbulent, violent decades in American history. In the summer of 1969 alone, there were thousands of military and civilian casualties in Southeast Asia, not to mention ongoing unrest and violence at home, including a sensational murder spree in early August committed by the Manson cult that led to the horrific deaths of five people in Los Angeles (including actress Sharon Tate, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant). And yet, for all its "countercultural" hoopla, only two people died at Woodstock (one from a drug overdose; another from a tractor accident). It's as if a Wizard had simply waved a wand to show, in a single unforgettable summer, what was possible---in the stars and on earth---when people of different ages, backgrounds, views, and perspectives could claim to have "come in peace for all mankind."

And so we kick off the height of our Woodstock Summer with a song of Wizardry. It was featured about half-way through The Who's set at the festival [YouTube link], in the wee hours of 17 August 1969, followed by what has become known as the "Abbie Hoffman incident" [YouTube link] (one of the few disruptions during any musical set, not counting delays due to pouring rain!). Of course, for those of us who saw the 1975 film version of "Tommy," it's not possible to forget Elton John's performance of this song [YouTube link] or its re-imagining in this year's Elton biopic "Rocketman" [YouTube link]. But wizards work magic, and in that summer, fifty years ago, there was pure magic on display in so many significant ways.

August 10, 2019

Song of the Day #1663

Song of the Day: I'm Going Home features the words and music of the late rock guitarist Alvin Lee of Ten Years After. Lee had always marvelled at the fast fret work of the jazz guitarists he emulated, including Django Reinhardt, Barney Kessel, John McLaughlin, and Joe Pass. At Woodstock, he provides us with a truly adrenaline-fueled guitar solo, incorporating snippets of "Blue Suede Shoes," "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," and John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom." Check out the version from their album "Undead" and the rockin' live performance at Woodstock [YouTube links].

August 09, 2019

Song of the Day #1662

Song of the Day: Higher Love features the words and music of Will Jennings and Steve Winwood, who took this song from his album "Back in the High Life" to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August of 1986. The female vocals on the single were provided by Chaka Khan, who also appeared in the music video [YouTube link]. Tomorrow, we get back to our Woodstock Edition of the Summer Music Festival, but today, we mark the date, 56 years ago, when Whitney Houston was born. It turns out that despite having left a remarkable discography to posterity, Whitney actually recorded this song in 1990 (produced by Narada Michael Walden) for her third studio album, "I'm Your Baby Tonight" (and what a great song that was [YouTube link]!), but it appeared only on the album's Japanese release. So her current single is the first posthumously released recording to hit the Hot 100 since her untimely death in 2012. Check out Whitney's live performance of the song and the Kygo-produced remix released last month as well as the slammin' Stormby Club Mix [YouTube links]. The song is already a Top 5 Dance Club Track, peaking at #2 as well on the Hot Dance / Electronic Songs Chart.

August 08, 2019

Song of the Day #1661

Song of the Day: If I Can't Have You features the words and music of Teddy Geiger, Scott Harris, Nate Mercereau, and Shawn Mendes, who turns 21 today! Check out the video single and several remixes by Galoski, MT SOUL, and the Bass Brothers. And Happy Birthday, young man!

August 03, 2019

Song of the Day #1660

Song of the Day: The Oscar ("Maybe September"), music by Percy Faith, lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, was featured in the 1966 movie, with an all-star cast, including Tony Bennett, who made his film debut and sang its theme song. The song appears on two of Tony's albums: "The Movie Song Album" and the second of two albums he did with the jazz piano legend Bill Evans, "Together Again". Check out the original version and the Evans collaboration [YouTube links]. And Happy 93rd Birthday to Tony!

August 02, 2019

Song of the Day #1659

Song of the Day: Going Up the Country, words and music by Canned Heat, was a remake of sorts of the 1928 "Bull Doze Blues" [YouTube link] by blues musician Henry Thomas. Their version of this song was recorded for their third album, "Living the Blues" and became an international hit. Check out the single version and the Woodstock festival version of this rollicking blues-rock romp [YouTube links].

July 30, 2019

Song of the Day #1658

Song of the Day: Old Town Road (Remix), words and music by Kiowa Roukema and Montero Hill (aka Lil Nas X) with a sampled beat from "34 Ghosts IV" [YouTube link] by Nine Inch Nails (credited to the Oscar-winning duo of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross), breaks the all-time Billboard Hot 100 record today, logging its seventeenth straight week at #1. It passes both "Despacito" (by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, featuring Justin Bieber) and "One Sweet Day" (by Mariah Carey and Boys II Men), each of which held the previous #1 record at sixteen consecutive weeks. Lil Nas X paid $30 for the right to use the Nine Inch Nails sample and added Billy Ray Cyrus to the performance, producing one of the most interesting crossover sounds, merging elements of country, rock, and rap. And I'm just going to say it: Whoever dreamed that a song that started as a meme [YouTube link], which went viral, featuring the 57-year old country-singing father of Miley Cyrus and the 20-year old African American rapper who recently came out would be the longest running #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 charts? Goes to show you---life offers us a rainbow of possibilities! But it helps if your song is really catchy. Check out the mini-movie video version of the song [YouTube link] (with some hilarious cameos) and the truly infectious single version [YouTube link].

July 26, 2019

Song of the Day #1657

Song of the Day: We Shall Overcome is a gospel song descended from a 1900 hymn by Charles Albert Tindley and other African American spirituals. It was sung by many folk singers, such as Pete Seeger, Frank Hamilton, Joe Glazer, and others, as a protest song during the civil rights era. But it was the Staten Island-born Joan Baez, who had first met and befriended Martin Luther King, Jr. back in 1956, that would become most associated with this song. A civil rights and antiwar activist, she sang it at the 1963 March on Washington, near the base of the Lincoln Memorial, in front of 300,000 people. During her set at Woodstock, the visibly pregnant Baez spoke eloquently about how her husband at the time, David Harris, who opposed conscription [YouTube link to a Johnny Carson interview with Ayn Rand, who opposed both the draft and the Vietnam War], was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for draft evasion in July 1969. (He would later be paroled in October 1970). So it was no coincidence that she'd close her own Woodstock set with this song [YouTube link] in the wee hours of Saturday, August 16, 1969.

July 24, 2019

Song of the Day #1656

Song of the Day: Let's Get Loud, words and music by Gloria Estefan and Kike Santander, was featured on Jennifer Lopez's 1999 debut album, "On the 6." Though the song was not released officially as a single, it was a Top 40 hit on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. Today, the Bronx-born Jenny from the block, like Woodstock---a child of 1969---turns 50 years old! Check out the album version and remixes by Kung Pow, Castle Hill, and D.MD Strong [YouTube links].

July 20, 2019

Song of the Day #1655

Song of the Day: Moon Maiden, words and music by Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, was commissioned by the ABC News Network to debut on the day of the Apollo 11 moon landing and moon walk. Awaiting the first walk upon the surface of the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, while Michael Collins orbited above in "Columbia," the command module, ABC anchor Frank Reynolds introduced the piece. This performance by Duke was actually recorded live on 15 July 2019 but aired on the ABC network on this date fifty years ago, after the lunar module, "Eagle," touched down in the Sea of Tranquility. Check out the rare footage of its debut by Duke Ellington and a later studio recording [YouTube links] with Duke "speaking" the lyrics, accompanied by his own playing on the vibes-sounding celeste. As a 9-year old kid, I cannot even begin to describe the level of utter elation I felt watching the grainy images of human beings on the surface of a celestial body other than the Earth. I had followed the space program from the earliest moments of my consciousness of such things (the politics of it never crossed my mind at the time); I remembered John Glenn's orbit around the earth, the Apollo 1 fire, and the Christmas Eve moon orbit of Apollo 8. But nothing could compare to the excitement I felt watching my TV fifty years ago this day [YouTube link], the sense of awe I felt hearing Neil Armstrong's first words on the lunar surface, and the sense of hope that was inspired in me, hearing him enunciate the words on the lunar plaque: "We came in peace for all mankind" [YouTube link]. It gave credence to Robert Browning's poetic tribute to human potential: "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?" The promise of that which seemed impossible made real inspired me to use that line from "Andrea del Sarto" as an epigraph to Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, the first book in my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy."

July 19, 2019

Song of the Day #1654

Song of the Day: Dark Star, lyrics by Robert Hunter, music by the lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia and his bandmates, is best remembered in its 23+ minute rendition [YouTube link] from their 1969 live album, "Live/Dead," which blended psychedelia, jazz, and jam elements. By contrast, the original single version, at 2 minutes and 44 seconds [YouTube link] sold only 500 copies and "sank like a stone," as band member Phil Lesh put it. The song was also a respectable 19-minute highlight from their set at Woodstock [YouTube link]. Today's "Dark Star" is a prelude to our commemoration tomorrow of a fundamentally bright cosmic event in human history.

July 12, 2019

Song of the Day #1653

Song of the Day: Evil Ways, words and music by jazz guitarist Clarence "Sonny" Henry, was originally recorded in 1967 by jazz percusionist Willie Bobo [YouTube link] for his 1967 album "Bobo Motion." It was later recorded by the group Santana, led by Mexican American Carlos Santana, who pioneered a fusion of rock and roll with Latin jazz. Gregg Rolie provides both the vocals and the Hammond organ solo. The song appears on the band's self-titled debut album, which was released on August 30, 1969, only two weeks after their performance of it at the Woodstock Festival [YouTube link] on August 16th. "Evil Ways" wasn't released as a single until December 30, 1969, becoming the group's first Top 40 and Top 10 hit. Check out the the really cool, studio version, as well as covers by the Village Callers, Johnny Mathis and jazz saxophonist Stanley Turrentine [YouTube links].

July 07, 2019

Joao Gilberto, RIP

I learned earlier today that Joao Gilberto, who, along with Antonio Carlos Jobim, was one of the most important figures in the creation of the sounds of samba and bossa nova, died yesterday at the age of 88. He was one of my all-time favorite artists. In fact, his trailblazing album with jazz saxophonist, Stan Getz, "Getz/Gilberto," would go on to win the 1965 Grammy for Album of the Year, Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group, and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. Its famous single, "The Girl From Ipanema," which featured vocals in Portuguese from Joao and in English from Joao's wife, Astrud Gilberto, would go on to win the 1965 Grammy for Record of the Year. The album remains one of my all-time favorites---one of those recordings that, if necessary, I would take to a Desert Island with me. I couldn't put up a "Song of the Day" in honor of Gilberto, because I've featured him so much on "My Favorite Songs." Among the songs that I have highlighted through the years, featuring Gilberto's magic touch, check out:

"The Girl from Ipanema" [listen here]

"So Danco Samba" [listen here]

"Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado) [listen here]

"Desafinado" [listen here]

"O Grande Amour" [listen here]

"Vivo Sonhando" [listen here]

"Doralice" [listen here]

"Bim Bom" (written by Joao) [listen here for Joao's version and here for the classic Brasil 66 recording of it]

"Para Machuchar Meu Coracao (To Hurt My Heart)" [listen here]

"Meditation" [listen here]

There are so many others... just type his name in "YouTube" and you'll be introduced to a world of musical genius.

July 05, 2019

Song of the Day #1652

Song of the Day: Ball and Chain was a hit record in the early 1960s for its writer: Big Mama Thornton [YouTube link]. It was later recorded by Janis Joplin in 1967-1968 with Big Brother and the Holding Company for the 1968 album "Cheap Thrills" [YouTube link], which went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 Album Chart. She performed the bluesy song famously at Monterey Pop and as the finale to her own set at Woodstock [YouTube links].

July 04, 2019

Song of the Day #1651

Song of the Day: The Star-Spangled Banner features lyrics taken from an 1814 poem by Francis Scott Key, "Defence of Fort M'Henry," written during the War of 1812, with music based on a popular British drinking song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men's social club for amateur musicians. In truth, my personal all-time favorite "patriotic" song remains "America the Beautiful" (especially as delivered by the great Ray Charles [YouTube link]). Quite apart from the controversies that have surrounded the U.S. national anthem over the years (and to all my 'anarchist' friends, chill a moment!)---from those who claim that one of its rarely sung stanzas expresses racist content to those who have taken to kneeling during its presentation prior to sports events---I have marvelled at the way it has been performed by some of the most diverse artists through the years, including Yankee stadium stalwart, the late opera singer Robert Merrill, the late Whitney Houston [YouTube links], who delivered a heartfelt rendition at the 1991 Super Bowl XXV, and the "controversial" Latin-tinged, acoustic version performed in Detroit in Game 5 of the 1968 World Series by Jose Feliciano [YouTube link]. His version became the first recorded rendition of the anthem that ever charted on the Billboard Hot 100 (peaking at #50; Whitney's version peaked at #20). But in keeping with the theme of our 2019 Summer Music Festival, there remains one truly electrifying instrumental rendition of the anthem by rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, who performed as the last artist to appear at Woodstock [YouTube link]. To some, this performance was a sacrilege; to others, it was a sign of the turbulent and violent era to which it spoke. Hendrix actually plays a couple of notes from 'Taps' to drive home the point of a nation at war abroad---and at home. Nearly all the critical commentators on the event have viewed this as the most iconic performance of the four-day festival. It reflects both the fireworks of its time and, in a twist of irony, the fireworks set off on this day in 1776 when American rebels---whatever their own flaws, embodied in the contradictions of their time---pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, in declaring their independence from the British Empire. A Happy and Safe Independence Day to all!

Postscript #1: Context: I'm a native Brooklynite and a lover of film scores.

Having been on the Brooklyn Promenade back in 1983, when there was a fireworks display to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, I thought I'd never see a better fireworks display. But the Macy's Fireworks display tonight, which focused its attention on NYC's East River and the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the world's great, iconic spans, against the backdrop of some of the greatest film themes ever written (by everyone from Alfred Newman and Max Steiner to Elmer Bernstein and John Williams) was one of the best I've ever seen.

If the program hasn't reached your time zone yet, I'm sure it will be on YouTube or the NBC site soon. But definitely check it out! You won't be disappointed. Truly wonderful. (Yes, and they even included the love theme from "The Godfather." :) )

Postscript #2: Here is a link on YouTube, starts about 16 seconds in, from the national anthem to Alfred Newman's Fox Fanfare to Casablanca (Steiner), and so forth. Somebody on the YouTube thread objected to "The Godfather" being included. But what's America without the Family? ;) And don't miss Jennifer Hudson's wonderful rendition of "Over the Rainbow," which includes the rarely heard opening verse or that absolutely spectacular John Williams segment. At 55 mins., the fireworks display is shown again, with an introduction by historian David McCllough, discussing the Brooklyn Bridge---built by immigrants---completed in May 1883.

Postscript #3 (6 July 2019): Remarkably, one reader interpreted the fireworks display as symbolizing the destruction of the Bridge. My response was light-hearted, but I think it made a few essential points. As I stated:

Maybe you need a high-definition television. :) I mean, they were by no means "covering" the bridge [with explosives]. They were cascading off the bridge like waterfalls; they were shooting straight out of the cathedral towers of the bridge. And they were---believe it or not---in complete sync with the magnificent film score medley; even during the love theme to "The Godfather" there were red, heart-like shapes forming over the bridge; rainbow colors accompanied "Over the Rainbow", and "celestial" shapes accompanied the John Williams segment, and so forth. But as I said: To each his own. I opened the original thread about this fireworks display with "Context": That I was a native Brooklynite and a lover of film scores. I was also there when the Grucci Family celebrated the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge; here is a link to that fireworks display; Macy's actually adapted the very same "waterfall" and cathedral firework effects from that celebration, as a paean to the Centennial display. Why on earth are we debating this display as if it were a symbol of celebration or nihilism? Inquiring minds want to know...

The reader responded that there was a distinct difference in context between the 1983 display and any displays after 2001. I replied:

Well I appreciate that; but I truly am not interpreting this as some kind of expression of post-9/11 terrorism. Remember that part of the glory of fireworks on the Fourth of July is that despite all the explosives, the iconic image still stands (whether it be the flag in "The Star-Spangled Banner" or the Brooklyn Bridge). To me, the effects highlighted the Bridge and its glory; to you, it is destruction. I just think we should agree to disagree. You're no less a Brooklynite if you despised the display then or now. Cheers!

July 01, 2019

Song of the Day #1650

Song of the Day: Heart of Glass features the words and music of Chris Stein and Debbie Harry, who as the lead singer of the new wave group, Blondie, took this song to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979. The song is featured on the band's third studio album, "Parallel Lines" (1978). Check out the Stanley Dorfman-directed video, the 12" dance remix, the Shep Pettibone 1988 remix, and the Philip Glass "Crabtree" remix. In 2014, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, with producer Bob Sinclar recorded a charity single cover version of this song; check out the video. But in my mind, I always hear the voice of Debbie Harry, who today celebrates her 74th birthday!

June 28, 2019

Song of the Day #1649

I introduced this song and essay on Facebook with the following preface: Whatever your social, religious, philosophical, or cultural views, if you embrace the basic principles embodied in this country's "Declaration of Independence"---and its enunciation of the individual's rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness---then it is time to take a "Stand" for Stonewall on its Fiftieth Anniversary. Indeed, as the lyrics to today's song of the day state: "Stand! You've been sitting much too long. There's a permanent crease in your right and wrong." Check it out:

Song of the Day: Stand!, words and music by Sly Stone, was recorded by Sly and the Family Stone in 1969. This was the title song to the group's fourth studio album and was the last song they played on their set list at Woodstock---this year's first bona fide Woodstock Golden Anniversary moment, the theme of our 2019 Summer Music Festival. It was also a song that was featured on the jukebox of the Stonewall Inn, which in the wee hours of this very day, fifty years ago, was raided for the umpteenth time by the New York City Police Department. Perhaps the police didn't get the payola they expected from the Mafia-owners of the bar, since bars that served alcohol to people engaging in "disorderly conduct" (code for simply being gay) would be denied a liquor license in New York City. But this time, the patrons had had enough; they were, indeed, 'mad as hell and not going to take this anymore' [YouTube link]. They pushed back, rioted, and fought for six days in a siege against political oppression---giving birth to the modern gay liberation movement.

For those who are uncomfortable with this whole subject, as if it were some "leftist" expression of "identity politics," we need to make one thing perfectly clear (a phrase often attributed to President Richard Nixon, who took the White House fifty years ago this year): Both "liberals" (going all the way back to the policies of FDR) and "conservatives" (of both the McCarthyite and religious right variety) have played a part in crafting repressive laws in the United States aimed at crushing homosexuality. It is neither our job nor our responsibility to change the minds of those who find "alternative lifestyles" repugnant or who believe that same-sex relationships are a sign of "sickness" or "sin". Whatever one's cultural, religious, philosophical, or political views, it all comes down to liberty. If one values human liberty, one must recognize that state-sponsored terrorism against individuals---simply because of who they love or how they love---continues to this day across the world. Seventy countries still maintain laws that make it illegal to engage in same-sex sexual activity, and so-called "leftist" regimes have been among the most repressive, in this regard. Whether in the name of politics or religion, these countries have used imprisonment, flogging, and torture to punish those who are different, and in ten countries, execution---by stoning, hanging, beheading, or being thrown off buildings---is government policy, legitimized by various states' interpretations of Islamic law. The battle cry of Stonewall is as prescient today as it was fifty years ago. Indeed, "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." And those who value liberty need to embrace a future in which the Rainbow Railroad [CBS News link] is no longer required to save those who are being persecuted in other countries for their sexual orientation.

In the United States, there were heroes in the battle for individual rights prior to Stonewall, who fought government entrapment and discrimination against "the love that dare not speak its name"---going all the way back to the 1920s, with the Society for Human Rights and into the 1950s, with organizations such as the Daughters of Bilitis, the Mattachine Society, and, among individuals, the courageous Frank Kameny, who challenged "The Lavender Scare" [PBS video link].

But the significance of the Stonewall Uprising by a group of individuals who were too often marginalized and brutalized by the police, the courts, and the culture-at-large is that, in its fundamental premises, it was based upon a sacrosanct libertarian principle: that every human being, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, race, or sexual orientation, has a right to equal protection under the law, a right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness, without infringement by the coercive, oppressive tools used by municipal, state, and federal governmental institutions. This month, New York City's Police Commissioner James O'Neill apologized for the NYPD's actions fifty years ago at the Stonewall. This was no mere nod to "political correctness." The commissioner recognized that "[t]he actions taken by the NYPD were wrong, plain and simple. The actions were discriminatory and oppressive and for that I apologize." Even the New York Yankees unveiled a plaque in Monument Park to commemorate this date in history.

We can listen to the lyrics of today's song as an expression of the libertarian spirit of the Stonewall Rebellion: "Stand! There's a cross for you to bear. Things to go through if you're going anywhere. Stand! For the things you know are right. It’s the truth that the truth makes them so uptight. … Stand! You've been sitting much too long. There's a permanent crease in your right and wrong. … Stand! They will try to make you crawl. And they know what you're saying makes sense and all. Stand! Don't you know that you are free. Well at least in your mind if you want to be. ... Stand! Stand! Stand!" I stand in solidarity with those brave men and women who fought for their rights half-a-century ago on this day. Check out the album version of this song and its energetic performance by the group at Woodstock [YouTube link].

Postscript (29 June 2019) Justin Raimondo, Outlaw, RIP. Justin lost his battle with lung cancer and has died at the age of 67, on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. I knew JR from way back when---going all the way back to when he wrote that monograph for Students for a Libertarian Society, "In Praise of Outlaws: Rebuilding Gay Liberation," which saw Stonewall and the rise of the gay liberation movement as a distinctively libertarian event. And he was right. A lightening rod for many people, antiwar.com was his passion, and though we had our disagreements through the years, he was always fighting against the policy of "perpetual war for perpetual peace."

Postscript #2 (30 June 2019): In another thread on Facebook, I had a bit of a discussion with regard to whether the struggle for "gay rights" is over in the United States, and I made the same point in that thread that I make here in my Notablog post: Seventy countries across the world still treat same-sex activities as a crime punishable by imprisonment, flogging, and torture, and ten of those countries treat it as a crime punishable by execution (beheading, hanging, and being thrown off buildings).

It was suggested that I might be implicitly advocating trying to intervene in those other countries to change their domestic policies; as a firm non-interventionist in foreign policy, I am totally against such intervention even for the purpose of human rights abuses abroad. But that does not mean that I favor the long history of foreign aid policies practiced by the United States, which involves expropriating the American taxpayer for the purpose of sending "foreign aid" to despotic regimes abroad, like Saudi Arabia, which are then required to use that "foreign aid" to purchase US munitions, which they can use in their wholesale slaughter of people in Yemen and elsewhere. US relationships with such despotic regimes is legion, and our current President believes "it is good for the economy."

Considering that the Saudis gave us 17 of the 19 hijackers who flew planes into the Twin Towers and elsewhere and that they were probably complicit in the 9/11 attack, I would say that what might be "good for the economy" is most definitely not good for the stability of the Middle East and other hot-spots around the globe, where the US has a record that even Trump himself once said was not so "innocent."

No, we cannot change the domestic policies of foreign governments that engage in violations of human rights. But that doesn't mean the U.S. taxpayer should be subsidizing them. This is not a battle for "gay rights"; it is a battle for individual rights, and individual rights don't cease at the borders of the United States.

But yes, Stonewall 50 is a a cause for celebration for all those who believe that individual rights apply to every person regardless of sexual orientation. And I stand in solidarity will all those who sacrificed their lives over the past century to get this country to recognize those rights.

Postscript #3 (1 July 2019): I added this comment to a Facebook post by Tom Palmer, who provided a link to a fine 2016 article by David Boaz, "Capitalism, Not Socialism, Led to Gay Rights:

Good piece by David Boaz and thanks for posting, Tom!

I've heard from quite a few of my very orthodox Marxist colleagues over the years who believe that homosexuality is one of the decadent offshoots of capitalism (guess they missed all that stuff that went on in the ancient world) and that it would wither away, like the state, under full communism.

They also leave out the part that gulags will play in helping the withering-away process.

Of course, orthodox Marxists actually reject the whole development of 'identity politics' (which the fight for same-sex individual rights is most certainly not) as a way of obfuscating the "essential" conflict between proletarians and capitalists.

I've argued this past weekend that the Stonewall Rebellion was in its essence a libertarian expression of the fight for the individual's right to live his or her own life, socialize in privately-owned establishments without police harassment, and pursue happiness without the interference of state-sanctioned terrorism. That fight goes on globally and even within this country; the battle for "gay rights" is not over, as James Kirchick says in "The Atlantic." If it is over, I invite anyone to go into the reddest of red states (or any sections in "blue" states in which "tolerance" is not a key cultural value), holding hands with their partner, and in open spaces, sharing a romantic kiss as the sun sets. Then we'll take a poll and see how many folks get their heads bashed in.

On all these issues of markets having changed traditional notions of the family, women, and sexuality, over time, I highly recommend the work of Steve Horwitz, especially his book Hayek's Modern Family: Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions and, of course, his essay in The Dialectics of Liberty: "The Dialectic of Culture and Markets in Expanding Family Freedom." Check out the abstract here.

I agree that the essential political and legal battles have been won, but changing political culture and mores is a long-term process, and often leads to a kind of political/legal backlash against which one must always be vigilant.

And as a noninterventionist in foreign affairs, while I would never advocate interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries, the fact remains that seventy countries still categorize homosexuality as a crime punishable by imprisonment, flogging, and torture, and in ten of those countries, it is punishable by execution (beheading, hanging, or being thrown off buildings). No, the US has no business being the world's policeman on violations of human rights, but the least it could do is to stop expropriating its taxpayers into providing "foreign military aid" (a fancy phrase to describe providing U.S. financial assistance to foreign governments that are then obligated to purchase U.S.-manufactured munitions) to reactionary governments, such as Saudi Arabia, which has a horrendous human rights record, and is using all those munitions to slaughter people in Yemen.

Ah, but our President says it's "good for the economy."

June 25, 2019

Song of the Day #1648

Song of the Day: Who Is It? features the words and music of Michael Jackson, from the 1991 album, "Dangerous." On this day, ten years ago, the artist tragically died. As I note in today's Notablog essay, "Michael Jackson Ten Years After: Man or Monster in the Mirror," there are still reasons to celebrate the art of somebody, even if it should be discovered that they may have done something in their lives that was terribly destructive. This particular track went to #1 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club chart. Its various versions provide different hues of interpretation; check out the original David Fincher-directed music video and his beat box interpretation of the song in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, which became the basis of one of the song's remixes, and then hit the dance floor with the slammin' Brothers in Rhythm House Mix, the Brothers Cool Dub, Moby's Tribal Mix and Moby's Lakeside Dub [YouTube links]. RIP, MJ.

Michael Jackson - Ten Years After: Man or Monster in the Mirror?

This essay makes its Notablog debut on the tenth anniversary of the tragic death of Michael Jackson. It can also be found in the essay section of my home page here. It deals with one of the most difficult issues we face in evaluating art---and its creator.

Can Bad People Create Good Art?

Writing in The New York Times, Charles McGrath asks: "Can bad people create good art? If that question pops up on an exam or at a dinner party, you might want to be wary. The obvious answer---so obvious that it practically goes without saying, and ought to make the examinee suspicious---is that bad people, or at least people who think and behave in ways most of us find abhorrent, make good art all the time." McGrath then gives us a laundry list of folks who are frequently cited as pretty bad people who created good art, among them such notorious anti-Semites as the proto-fascist Ezra Pound, composer Richard Wagner, who "once wrote that Jews were by definition incapable of art," and Edgar Degas, whose anti-Semitism led him to defend "the French court that falsely convicted Alfred Dreyfus." (And Lord forbid any of you should respond with a slight nod of aesthetic approval to just one of these paintings, for it will only prove that you are a secret admirer of young Adolf!)

But the list of "bad artists" who may have created "good art" is legion: There's Norman Mailer who "in a rage once tried to kill one of his wives"; the "painter Caravaggio and the poet and playwright Ben Jonson [who] both killed men in duels or brawls"; Jean Genet, gay prostitute and petty thief; Arthur Rimbaud, who flaunted all the conventions of his time; Gustave Flaubert, who "paid for sex with boys," and so it goes.

We can add to that list: Director Roman Polanski, who fled the United States after pleading guilty to a statutory rape charge, but who gave us the classic horror flick, "Rosemary's Baby,"; the great neo-noir mystery "Chinatown," and "The Pianist," a harrowing biopic of Holocaust survivor Waldyslaw Szpilman (played by Oscar-winning Best Actor Adrien Brody). Most recently, let's not forget: Producer Harvey Weinstein, who may not have been an artist, but who produced Oscar Award-winning films and Tony Award-winning plays, and was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a series of horrific allegations leading to his arrest on charges of rape and sexual assault---practically giving birth to the #MeToo Movement; R&B singing sensation R. Kelly, who was once indicted (and found not guilty) on charges of child pornography, only to be re-indicted this past Februrary on ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse; funk musician Rick James, who gave it to us with "Super Freak," only to end up in prison on everything from draft evasion to rampant drug use that led to kidnapping and sexual assault convictions; long-beloved comedian Bill Cosby, who is now serving a three-to-ten year sentence for aggravated indecent assault.

In the ideological sphere, honorable mention goes to Dalton Trumbo, among the blacklisted Hollywood Ten, whose trials and tribulations were the subject of a fine 2015 film starring Bryan Cranston, which doesn't once mention that Trumbo was an apologist for the Stalinist purges of the 1930s. But it does remind us of what a gifted writer he could be, when you see re-created scenes from the momentous 1960 epic "Spartacus." And let's not forget Kate Smith, whose recording of "God Bless America" has now forever been banned from Yankee Stadium during the seventh-inning stretch, because she recorded a couple of records almost ninety years ago (in 1931) with racist lyrics.

Indeed, once we open up that ideological and historical can of worms, we're faced with calls to obliterate various monuments to the American revolutionaries who fought for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, including Thomas Jefferson, who, despite penning the Declaration of Independence and speaking out against slavery, owned over 600 slaves himself, freeing only seven in his lifetime.

Human beings are a complicated lot. As McGrath points out, however, it is very misleading to ascribe "badness" and "goodness" especially in the context of artists and art, because these concepts can have different referents: they can point either to the person's moral worth or to the aesthetic merit of that person's work. Take Wagner. For this film score fan, the impact of Wagner on the art of the score is immeasurable. Even "[t]he conductor Daniel Barenboim, a Jew, is a champion of Wagner's music, for example, and has made a point of playing it in Israel, where it is hardly welcome. His defense is that while Wagner may have been reprehensible, his music is not. Barenboim likes to say that Wagner did not compose a single note that is anti-Semitic." McGrath states further that "the disconnect between art and morality goes further than that: not only can a 'bad' person write a good novel or paint a good picture, but a good picture or a good novel can depict a very bad thing. Think of Picasso's Guernica or Nabokov's Lolita, an exceptionally good novel about the sexual abuse of a minor, described in a way that makes the protagonist seem almost sympathetic."

McGrath recognizes that art, like ideas, is one of those realms of human experience that can inspire us, enlarging "our understanding and our sympathies." He hits upon an even more interesting point when he states, in almost Randian fashion, that "the creation of truly great art requires a degree of concentration, commitment, dedication, and preoccupation---of selfishness, in a word---that sets that artist apart and makes him not an outlaw, exactly, but a law unto himself." Of course, from a Randian standpoint, there is a virtue of selfishness, even if it is typically viewed as a vice. And it needn't mean that the artist qua selfish is necessarily tortured or bad. Yet, it is nevertheless true that many artists have been tortured souls throughout the centuries. Finding ways to express their inner conflicts and tensions through the sheer act of creation can provide for a kind of cathartic experience. For those of us who respond to that art, it provides a form of objectification that allows us to appreciate the art work on its own terms, whatever the moral merits of the person who created it.

But comedian Pete Davidson scored a few points in the Gallows Humor Department in one of those "Weekend Update" segments on "Saturday Night Live" [YouTube link]. "Once we start doing our research," he quipped, "we're not gonna have much left, you know, because it seems like all really talented people are sick." Well, I wouldn't go that far. Moreover, not every artist has a cesspool for a soul. Thank goodness.

But when we admire a piece of art, whether it be a painting hanging on the wall of a museum or a work of music, we don't have to contemplate how lost, how tortured, or how awful the artist may have been as a person when they engaged in the act of creation. If the work speaks to us, whether we respond to it on the level of "sense of life" or just because of our mood on that particular day, what we are responding to is that work, not necessarily to the person who created it.

Distinguishing Between the Creator and the Creation

If we focus long enough on the artist, rather than the art, or the writer, rather than what is written, we might be led to airbrush out of existence some of the most important and influential artists or intellectuals---be they "good" or "bad"---throughout human history. This is a subject that hits close to home for a scholar such as myself. In my work, I have spent much time analyzing the legacies of many individuals whose ideas stand in diametric opposition to one another. Though I stand by the dialectical mantra that "context matters"--that is, though I am inclined to place the work of a thinker within the larger context of that thinker's life and the culture within which that thinker came to maturity, all of which helps us to better understand his or her ideas---it would never lead me to dismiss that thinker's work on the basis of their personal or cultural context. Let's take Karl Marx as an example; many have focused on evidence that he "lived in filth and neglected his own children." That may be true. But I would not treat his work with a sweeping ad hominem dismissal---especially since one of my goals has been to grapple with his intellectual legacy and his use of a dialectical method of social analysis, so important to my own project of rescuing dialectics for libertarian theory. And, as a Rand scholar, I have had to face all sorts of criticisms of Rand the person---from those who despise her work, and who dismiss it wholesale on the basis of her questionable personal attitudes toward everything from Beethoven to homosexuality, or who view her as nothing more than a pop-novelist and cult-leader who had a scandalous sexual affair with her protege, Nathaniel Branden, twenty-five years her junior, which destroyed their personal and professional relationship, and which she never acknowledged publicly. And on the other side of that equation, I've had to come to grips with those Rand acolytes who dismiss all of Branden's work on the importance of self-esteem to human survival, because he lied repeatedly to Rand as that relationship dissolved, thus showing him, and, by extension, his ideas, as, at best, hypocritical, or at worst, a sign that he was nothing other than a self-aggrandizing con man.

Michael Jackson and "Leaving Neverland"

And so, finally, we come to the subject of Michael Jackson, the boy who became a man before his time, as he led his brothers in the Jackson Five straight into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and who, as a solo artist, amassed a discography that has sold hundreds of millions of records worldwide, giving him his own place in that same famed hall. Jackson's impact on music, dance, fashion, and culture has influenced scores of artists over the past fifty years. His music has been sampled, reinterpreted, and resurrected by everyone from Justin Timberlake and Drake to Alien Ant Farm, Chris Cornell, and the 2Cellos [YouTube links].

But there were those allegations that first emerged in 1993, when police descended on his Neverland Ranch, investigating claims that Jackson had molested a 13-year old boy. An exhaustive search found no incriminating evidence, though a civil case brought by the boy in question, Jordan Chandler, and his parents, was eventually settled out of court. Later, in 2005, Jackson was charged with the child molestation of Gavin Arvizo, serving alcohol to a minor, conspiracy, and kidnapping, facing twenty years in prison. His homes were ransacked by the LAPD, but nothing incriminating was found, and an in-depth investigation by the FBI came up with no evidence of wrongdoing. In the end, Jackson was acquitted of all charges.

As Forbes magazine reported, however, choreographer Wade Robson had testified in the 2005 trial under oath, that as a child and young adolescent, in the many years that he knew Michael Jackson, the artist had never touched him inappropriately or sexually abused him. James Safechuck, who spent time with Jackson in the 1980s, also defended Jackson back in the 1993 case. Various events thereafter occurred which led these two men to eventually file suits against the Jackson Estate, nearly four years after Jackson's tragic death on June 25, 2009 (a decade ago this very day), seeking $1.5 billion in damages, claiming that they had, in fact, been sexually abused by Jackson: Robson, when he was between 7 and 14 years of age; Safechuck, when he was 10 to 12 years of age. Both the Robson and Safechuck cases were dismissed in probate court.

On January 25, 2019, at the Sundance Film Festival, the documentary, "Leaving Neverland," directed by Dan Reed, featuring both Robson and Safechuck, as well as some of their relatives, made its debut. HBO showed the four-hour documentary over two nights in March 2019, followed by an Oprah Winfrey-hosted special, with Reed, Robson, and Safechuck as guests. I watched the documentary in full and the "After Neverland" Winfrey interviews, and was left feeling deeply saddened and sick at heart. The dead cannot defend themselves, and the documentary offered no cross-examination, no counter-testimony [YouTube links], and no alternative narratives [Quora Digest link]. But that didn't take away the sting of hearing the shattering testaments or of observing the body language of the two men as they painted shockingly graphic portraits of their sexual abuse by someone who had befriended them, groomed them, and subsequently betrayed their trust.

If none of what they say is true, it is a travesty to the memory of a man, who was probably abused as a child himself, and who went on to raise millions of dollars in humanitarian aid for children worldwide with his "We Are the World" single (co-written with Lionel Richie) and his Heal the World Foundation.

If only 10% of what they say is true, it is a horrifying portrait indeed. But for the sake of this essay, which marks the tenth anniversary of the tragic death of a truly unique artist, let's say it's all true.

What does this mean for those of us who grew up listening and dancing to Michael Jackson's music?

Reassessing Jackson's Artistry? Reassessing Myself?

Michael Jackson's music was, for all intents and purposes, like the coming-of-age soundtrack of my youth.

Indeed, I can tell you that as a 9-year old kid, in December of 1969, I sat in front of my black and white television and was inspired to see somebody about my own age stepping out onto the stage of the "Ed Sullivan Show" to belt out "I Want You Back" [YouTube link] like he was an old pro. I can't count the number of times, as a mobile DJ in my college years, how I lit up the dance floor with the propulsive beats of the Jacksons' "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" or "Walk Right Now" [YouTube links] or how I got a group of tired teachers up at a school reunion to dance over and over again to "The Way You Make Me Feel" [YouTube link]. Or how MJ drew me into a world of romantic intrigue with his "Heartbreak Hotel" (aka "This Place Hotel") [YouTube link]. Or, more personally, how I danced, with a blind date, to the disco beats of "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" and "Rock with You" [YouTube link] from MJ's pathbreaking solo album, "Off The Wall." Or how awestruck I was when I saw him on the "Motown 25" special doing his sensational signature Moonwalk to "Billie Jean" [YouTube link] (predictably, on the recent "Motown 60" special, he was practically airbrushed out of existence). Or the first time I saw the chilling, thrilling video to the title track of the album [YouTube link] from which "Billie Jean" emerged, the all-time global best-selling "Thriller." Or that first sensuous kiss I experienced with somebody, in a moment of intimacy, listening to the "Quiet Storm" sounds of "The Lady in My Life" [YouTube link] from that same album.

I saw MJ perform live in concert two times, once with his brothers (on the "Victory Tour") and once as a solo artist (on the "Bad" tour). He was a lion on stage, the quintessential song-and-dance man of his generation who merged the grace of Astaire and Kelly with the grit of the street. Filled with irrepressible energy that fueled more than two hours of one greatest hit after another, his choreography was staggering to watch, his vocals were purer than anything you'd hear even on a carefully produced studio album. Even my mother went to those shows, she loved him so much!

So, where does this leave me? Am I to feel guilty that my foot still starts to tap, almost involuntarily, every time I hear that bass line that opens "Billie Jean" or "Bad"?

Maybe Michael Jackson was really trying to tell us something literally when he sang, "I'm bad, I'm bad, you know it." Or maybe when he metamorphized into that monster in the "Thriller" video, he was giving us a glimpse of the horror within. Or maybe he was telling us something even more personal when he sang: "I'm gonna make a change for once in my life. ... I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself. And make a change."

Perhaps he was that Man in The Mirror [YouTube link], who was incapable of taming the monster within. Perhaps not. All I know is that my heart broke when I heard of his death on the radio ten years ago this day, and my heart breaks today every time I hear one of his songs. I can't erase what he did or may have done to those children, but I am equally incapable of erasing the part his music played in my life. And so, today, I can only be brutally honest: I highlight one of his recordings as my "Song of the Day"---"Who Is It?"---still wondering who he really was, but unflinching in my appreciation of his artistry.

June 21, 2019

Song of the Day #1647

Song of the Day: Summer of '69 features the words and music of Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams, who recorded this song for his 1984 album, "Reckless." New York City celebrates the Summer Solstice, which comes to the Northern Hemisphere at 11:54 a.m. (EDT)---which means that Notablog begins its Fourth Annual Summer Music Festival (Woodstock Fiftieth Anniversary Edition). I'm not here to debate the moral underbelly of the "Apollonian" moon landing (which, as a child who grew up in awe of the space program, I will also celebrate in song) versus the "Dionysian" mudfest that was the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, as Ayn Rand once contrasted these events (though Jeff Riggenbach once called the Woodstock generation among "the disowned children of Ayn Rand"). This year's festival will run mostly on a weekly basis from the first to the last day of summer. It will place special emphasis on the participating Woodstock artists and the songs they recorded in that era. With some notable exceptions (marking a few birthdays, for example), Notablog will also mark the Golden Anniversary of some of the defining events of the Summer of '69. Our first song is not from that era, but its very title speaks to the year of our focus---when I was only nine years old---though Adams himself has long maintained that the number "69" in the title had less to do with the year and far more to do with a particular love-making position. This single went to the Top Five on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1985; check out the Bryan Adams recording [YouTube link]. As is customary, I will open and close our annual Music Festival with songs from the same artist, so don't forget Bryan, since we'll be returning to him on the last day of summer (it was Chubby Checker who bookended the 2018 Notablog Summer Music Festival).

June 17, 2019

Song of the Day #1646

Song of the Day: Big City Blues, words and music by Adrienne Anderson, appears on "2:00 AM Paradise Cafe," Barry Manilow's fourteenth studio album. In what is one of his best albums, the artist---who turns 76 today---brings together a host of jazz musicians, including pianist Bill Mays, baritone sax player Gerry Mulligan, drummer Shelly Manne, bassist George Duvivier, and guitarist Mundell Lowe, whose pleasant pickings can be heard at the beginning and end of today's recording. The 1984 album is one of Manilow's finest, including the gorgeous "When October Goes," based partially on an unfinished lyric from the great Johnny Mercer and a melody composed by Manilow. The album also includes two wonderful duets: one with the Divine One, Sarah Vaughan, and the other---today's Song of the Day---with Mel Torme, who left us twenty years ago (June 5, 1999). Check out this Manilow and Mel duet [YouTube link] in honor of today's birthday boy.

June 09, 2019

Song of the Day #1645

Song of the Day: The Music Man ("Seventy-Six Trombones"), music and lyrics by Meredith Wilson, is one of the rousing highlights from this 1957 Tony Award-winning musical, starring Robert Preston (who won for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical) and Barbara Cook (who won for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical). The cast album would go on to win a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. In October 2020, a revival of the musical, starring the irrepressible Hugh Jackman, will make its debut on Broadway. (Jackman actually performed "Rock Island" [YouTube link] with LL Cool J and T.I. on the 2014 Tony Awards, giving us a glimpse into the "rap" nature of one of the classic opening numbers to the musical!) Check out the original Broadway cast version of today's song from the musical and the 1962 film version [YouTube links], both led by the great Robert Preston. And I'm one to enjoy even one [YouTube link], let alone seventy-six, trombones. Enjoy the Tony Award's celebration of the Broadway stage tonight!

June 08, 2019

Song of the Day #1644

Song of the Day: Cabaret ("Maybe This Time"), music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, was one of the winning songs not included in the original 1966 Broadway musical, which nonetheless won a total of eight out of the eleven Tony Awards for which it was nominated: Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role (Joel Grey), Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role (Peg Murray), Best Choreography, Best Scenic Design, and Best Costume Design. I wasn't fortunate enough to see the original Broadway production, but I did see its absolutely spectacular 1998 revival, which won Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (the stupendous Alan Cumming), Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (Natasha Richardson), and Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role (Ron Rifkin)---four awards out of a total of an additional ten nominations. The musical derives from the 1951 play, "I Am a Camera," which itself was adapted from the short story by Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye to Berlin. This song made its way from the film into the musical revival and it remains one of its highlights, sung by the character Sally Bowles. Check out the rendition sung by Natasha Richardson in the 1998 reboot, and, of course, the Oscar-winning Best Actress performance of Liza Minelli [YouTube links], in the Bob Fosse-directed 1972 film adaptation. Today starts a two-day tribute to the 2019 Tony Awards, hosted by James Corden, which will air on Sunday, June 9th, on the CBS Network.

June 07, 2019

Song of the Day #1643

Song of the Day: Le Grind, composed by Prince, is from his "Black Album" (aka "The Funk Bible"), which was recorded in 1986-87, but not released until 1994, largely because the artist believed it was created under the influence of an "evil" demonic entity "Spooky Electric." With all honesty, it's hard to figure out precisely what was so evil about this funk-heavy track with the same sensuous lyrics we'd all come to expect from The Artist. Despite his tragic death in 2016, his music lives on. Today would have been his sixty-first birthday. Check out the rare track on YouTube.

June 06, 2019

Song of the Day #1642

Song of the Day: I Love You, words and music by Cole Porter, was the #1 song on this day, June 6, 1944, for the fifth week in a row, as sung by Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra. The song came from Porter's 1944 stage musical "Mexican Hayride." It was first recorded by Wilbur Evans (who played the character David) in that musical, but it was Bing Crosby's recording of the song that took it to the top of the charts. This weekend, other musicals will be honored at the Tony Awards. But it is of particular interest that the American public had embraced a sentimental song of love for the five weeks leading up to the Allied invasion of Normandy, the largest air, land, and sea invasion in human history that proved to be the beginning of the end of World War II. That war, which led to estimated fatalities of 70 to 85 million people, may have signified the "nadir of the Old Right"---but it also brought forth the intellectual seeds of a libertarian resurgence in the decades to come. Nevertheless, I post this song today as an expression of love to my own family members who fought and died in that most horrific of wars, and in honor of those who survived that battle on the beaches of Normandy, and who have returned to those beaches today, to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of that invasion, knowing that, in the words of Herman Wouk: "The beginning of the end of war lies in remembrance." Check out the original Wilbur Evans version of this song and the #1 Bing Crosby hit [YouTube links] that serenaded Americans at home, who listened to the music on the radio, with news bulletins that, they prayed, would move the world one step closer to peace.

May 20, 2019

Song of the Day #1641

Song of the Day: Take Me Home, words and music by Michelle Aller and Bob Etsy, was a Top Ten Pop and Dance track for Cher in 1979, making an impact as well on the Adult Contemporary and Hot Soul Singles charts. She turns 73 years old today! The title single from Cher's fifteenth solo studio album was pure unadulterated disco, just one of the many genres of popular music from Cher's long and remarkable career, celebrated even today on Broadway. A recent Kennedy Center Honoree, she was serenaded by Adam Lambert [YouTube link] at the induction ceremony, who sang "Believe"---the biggest song of Cher's long career---as a ballad. Check out the rare original video of today's song and the Casablanca 12" vinyl extended mix. Happy birthday to the Oscar-winning actress, Grammy-winning singer, and three-time Golden Globe Award winner!

May 17, 2019

Politically Incorrect: Dennis Miller & Don Rickles on Frank Sinatra

A friend sent me a link to a Dennis Miller monologue on his dinner with Frank Sinatra. It really has to be watched to be appreciated. Miller recounts that this was toward the end of Sinatra's life, and that comedian Don Rickles remarked that Frank was suffering from Sicilian Alzheimer's Disease: "He only remembers the grudges."

Folks could never get away with that kind of humor today. But this is worth a watch; check it out on YouTube.

May 14, 2019

Song of the Day #1640

Song of the Day: The Tim Conway Show ("Main Theme") was composed by Dan and Lois Dalton, for the short-lived 1970 CBS-TV series that re-united Tim Conway and Joe Flynn (check out parts one and two of "Mail Contract") from their multi-year stint as part of the ensemble that made up "McHale's Navy," a TV show that I watched religiously from age 2 through age 6. It starred Oscar-winning actor Ernest Borgnine as Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale and introduced me to the hilariously funny Emmy-winning actor and writer Tim Conway, who played Ensign Parker [YouTube link]. Conway would go on to a comedic career that encompassed classic stints on "The Carol Burnett Show" [YouTube link to "Went with the Wind!"] to his own variety show [YouTube link]. Today, the funnyman died at the age of 85. RIP, Tim [YouTube links].

May 13, 2019

Song of the Day #1639

Song of the Day: The Man Who Knew Too Much ("Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)"), words and music by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, made its debut in Alfred Hitchock's 1956 remake (with James Stewart and Doris Day) of his own 1934 film. The song became central to the plot of that suspenseful remake, and it was the great Doris Day who sang it numerous times in that film, taking it to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It won the Oscar for Best Original Song and became Day's signature tune and the theme to her TV show, which ran from 1968 to 1973. Doris Day passed away today at the age of 97. A powerhouse and often underrated talent, she will be remembered for her work in film, television, and song, and as one of the most humane defenders of our domestic pets and family members. For years, folks lobbied to get her that honorary Oscar that forever eluded her. Now her charming legacy belongs to the ages. Check out this song as performed in the film, not once, but twice and in its studio version [YouTube links]. RIP, Doris.

Postscript (8 June 2019): I just wanted to alert those who are interested that Turner Classic Movies is running a 24-hour marathon of Doris Day films tomorrow (June 9th) starting at 6 am Eastern time (more information here).

Artists Seen and Unseen

On Facebook, I was prompted by my cousin Michael J. Turzilli, to participate in a game of sorts, in which one lists twenty bands/artists one has seen in concert, which includes one lie. Folks were invited to leave a comment on who they think is the lie. Here was my list---but after lots of guesses and countless Facebook PMs, I spilled the answer. Scroll down.

Here's my list:

1. Stevie Wonder
2. Michael Jackson
3. Chick Corea
4. Chuck Mangione
5. Joe Pass
6. Charlie Puth
7. Bruno Mars
8. Justin Timberlake
9. Michel Legrand
10. Benny Goodman
11. Sting
12. Phil Woods
13. Stephane Grappelli
14. Bill Evans
15. Pink
16. Prince
17. Madonna
18. Barbra Streisand
19. Sarah Vaughan
20. John Williams and the New York Philharmonic

The one artist I didn't see, to my great dismay, was #19, Sarah Vaughan. In honor of The Divine One---the singer of whom Frank Sinatra once said: "Sassy is so good ... that when I listen to her I want to cut my wrists with a dull razor"---I'm re-highlighting my "Song of the Day #1079," in which jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan gives a Master Class in the Art of Scatting.

I literally taped this off my own television back in 1974, when I was 14 years old, from "In Performance at Wolf Trap", a live-recorded concert for PBS, where Sassy's voice shows its four-octave range. Years later, I was able to digitize it. Check out "Scattin' the Blues."

May 09, 2019

Song of the Day #1638

Song of the Day: Only The Good Die Young, words and music by Billy Joel, was the third single from the artist's 1977 album, "The Stranger." Tonight, the Bronx-born Joel is rockin' Madison Square Garden in celebration of his 70th birthday! Apparently, the Good Live On! One of my all-time favorite Joel tracks, check it out on YouTube. And Happy Birthday, Billy!

April 21, 2019

Happy Passover and Happy Easter to the Westerners

Well, it's just after midnight here in New York City, and the ABC Network is showing "The Ten Commandments," and Chuck Heston (as Moses) just parted the Red Sea, all of which can mean only one thing: A Happy Passover to all my Jewish friends and a Happy Easter to all my Western Christian friends. (Yes, I was going to say "A Happy Western Easter", but my dear friend, Roger Bissell, said that the phrase sounded a bit like an oxymoron.)

Either way, for those who celebrate, enjoy the holidays, and for those who don't, embrace the joys of Spring (though my tree pollen allergies put a damper on its joys!). Next week, it will be "Christos Anesti" to all my Eastern Orthodox friends, something with which I'm much more familiar, having been baptized Greek Orthodox not too long after I was born!

Postscript (added on 22 April 2019, from Facebook):

I wrote on Sanford Ikeda's timeline, after he commented that he couldn't believe how few Biblical films were on television this weekend; I figured I'd share my reply to him here---because the link I posted is still (to me) hilarious:

I agree! Something was very wrong with TV this weekend. I saw more listings for slasher films and films of demonic possession than any Biblical epics.
However, as noted, "The Ten Commandments" was on the ABC network on Saturday night, and while "Demetrius and the Gladiators" played on FX Movie Channel, "The Robe" was nowhere to be found---either in its widescreen or flat-screen versions (the latter, far better acted version of that classic, hasn't been seen in about 30 years on any station!).
However, the great "Ben-Hur" was making its rounds last week on the big screen for its 60th anniversary, so it too was nowhere to be found (TCM regularly plays "Ben-Hur": it was shown around Christmas, during their "Sword and Sandals" January feature, and again during their "31 Days of Oscar" in February).
But TCM did play "The Silver Chalice" (with Paul Newman) and "Barabbas" (with Anthony Quinn) in the early afternoon, and, at night, after "Easter Parade", they played the Nicholas Ray-directed "King of Kings" (1961)---with the blond-haired, blue-eyed Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus, the film that sent Oprah Winfrey to confession because after she saw it, she felt she had sinned for having 'lusted after Jesus'. The was followed by the silent DeMille version with H.B. Warner as Jesus (known as "The King of Kings").
But an obscure cable channel did play the 1965 epic, "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (with Max von Sydow as Jesus, who would become Father Merrin in 1973's "The Exorcist"), of which I caught only the last scenes---starting with the absolutely classic lines uttered by John Wayne as the Centurion. The film is filled with cameos from many Hollywood stars, but the Duke sounds like he just got off his horse in some old Western: "Truly this man was the son of Gaad."
And that's your sparse Biblical movie round-up for this past holiday weekend!

March 29, 2019

Song of the Day #1637

Song of the Day: Time of the Season, composed by keyboard player, Rod Agent, is one of the featured tracks on the album, "Odessey and Oracle," by The Zombies, who will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The song was recorded in 1967 at the Abbey Road Studios, right after the Beatles finished recording "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Argent actually used the mellotron and piano left behind by John Lennon from the "Sgt. Pepper's" session. The album and the song have an unusual history. With the word "Odessey" misspelled on the psychedelic art cover designed by Terry Quirk, the album didn't do well in its 1968 release in Great Britain. It was Al Kooper, formerly of Blood, Sweat, and Tears, who urged producer Clive Davis at Columbia Records to release the album in the U.S. on a subsidiary label. This song caught on, first with a disc jockey in Boise, Idaho, and eventually throughout the United States, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. With lyrics that include a nod to Gershwin's "Summertime" and a bass line like that of "Stand by Me," the song eventually propelled the album to plantinum status, with over two million copies sold. It has been covered by artists as diverse as the Dave Matthews Band, and jazz artists Curt Elling and Cassandra Wilson. But nothing is as definitive as the Zombies' truly classic recording [YouTube links]. Thanks to my friend John F. Welsh for sharing all this wonderful trivia with me, as I prepared to honor this year's crop of R&R Hall of Famers. We'll have a chance to see the broadcast of this year's ceremonies on HBO in about a month.

March 28, 2019

Song of the Day #1636

Song of the Day: The Thrill of it All, words and music by Bryan Ferry, opens the 1974 Roxy Music album, "Country Life"---considered a milestone in the history of British art rock, one of the reasons for their upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Check out the 6+ minute album version [YouTube link]. Today is Opening Day for the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, and I can't think of a better phrase ("the thrill of it all") to sum up this baseball fan's enthusiasm about the upcoming season. [Ed.: Great Opening for New York: Mariano Rivera throws out ceremonial first pitch and the Yanks win at Home, 7-2 over the Orioles, and the Mets win on the road, with former Yankee Robinson Cano driving in 2 runs to give de Grom his first win, 2-0 over the Nationals!]

March 27, 2019

Song of the Day #1635

Song of the Day: Paranoid Android is credited to the English alternative rock group Radiohead. It was the lead single from the group's third studio album, "OK Computer" (1997). The 6+ minute song has four distinct sections that were drawn from three different compositions, each written by a different member of the band. What emerges from its varied rhythms and its series of minor keys, its multi-track choral vocals and a showcased Jonny Greenwood guitar solo, is a musical totality that lands squarely in the realm of progressive rock. Check out the animated video for the track [YouTube link].

March 26, 2019

Song of the Day #1634

Song of the Day: Lovesong is credited to Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson, Roger O'Donnell, Boris Williams, and Lol Tolhurst, known collectively as the alternative rock band, The Cure. It was the third single released from their eighth studio album, "Disintegration" (1989). Check out the single version, the music video version, and the extended mix, as well as a cover version by Adele [YouTube links].

March 25, 2019

Song of the Day #1633

Song of the Day: Stand Back was written and recorded by Stevie Nicks for her second solo studio album, "The Wild Heart" (1983). In 1998, she entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. This year, she is honored for her solo work. Check out the song's official video and its "Disco Purrfection Version" [YouTube links].

March 24, 2019

Song of the Day #1632

Song of the Day: What Have You Done for Me Lately?, words and music by Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Janet Jackson, was the lead single from Janet's 1986 album, "Control." The album certainly highlighted Janet's determined vocals and its videos became a showcase for her glittering choreography. This song's video was choreographed by Paula Abdul. Check out the video single, its 12" mix, and its super-extended mix [YouTube links]. This week, Miss Jackson finally joins her famous brothers in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

March 23, 2019

Song of the Day #1631

Song of the Day: Pour Some Sugar On Me is credited to Joe Elliott, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, Phil Collen, Steve Clark, and Rick Savage, and was a hit single from the 12x platinum-selling 1987 album, "Hysteria", by English hard rock band Def Leppard. Today kicks off our seven-day tribute to the seven inductees, which constitute the Class of 2019, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I'm paying special attention to this year's induction ceremony because it is taking place for the fourth time in the last five years in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Center. An HBO special of the event will air on April 27, 2019. Each day over the next week, I will devote to one of the inductees en route to the March 29th ceremony. I could think of no better song to kick off our tribute than one that's hot, sticky, and sweet. Check out the official video of the song and the extended version [YouTube links].

March 04, 2019

Song of the Day #1630

Song of the Day: Beverly Hills 90210 ("Main Theme") [YouTube link], composed by John E. Davis, opened up the coming-of-age television teen drama during its ten-year run on Fox. It was a guilty pleasure, I admit, but I watched all ten seasons, and at least one of its various spin-offs ("Melrose Place"). As in all teen-age soap operas, the series had one brooding young male character, and in '90210', it was Dylan McKay, played by Luke Perry, who died today at the age of 52, due to complications from a massive stroke. The only person I ever actually visited from that zip code was Nathaniel Branden, back in 1999. Today, however, is a date seared into my own memory---for my own father died on March 4, 1972, at the age of 55 from a massive coronary. As you get older, it's only natural that you are reminded of your own mortality, but at the age of 59, you tend to think that this happens to folks older than you. At some point, of course, the mathematics tend to outweigh the thoughts. Still, at 52, Perry is another person gone too soon. RIP, Luke. RIP, Dad.

February 27, 2019

The Dialectics of Liberty: A New Anthology is On The Way!

It is my distinct honor---and pleasure---to formally announce a forthcoming book: The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, a trailblazing collection of essays by a diverse group of scholars, coming from a variety of disciplines and perspectives. The anthology has been coedited by Roger E. Bissell, Chris Matthew Sciabarra, and Edward W. Younkins. It is slated for publication by Lexington Books in June 2019 and it is sure to be a provocative read for anyone interested in liberty and the contexts that nourish---or undermine---it.

Readers can find the book's home page here (which is redirected from both Dialectics of Liberty.com and Dialectics and Liberty.com). As we state on our abstracts page:

These essays explore ways that liberty can be better defended using a dialectical approach, a mode of analysis that grasps the full context of philosophical, cultural, and social factors requisite to the sustenance of human freedom. The contributors represent a variety of disciplines and perspectives who apply explicitly dialectical tools to a classical liberal / libertarian analysis of social and cultural issues. By conjoining a dialectical method, typically associated with the socialist left, to a defense of individual liberty, typically associated with the libertarian right, this anthology challenges contemporary attitudes on both ends of the political spectrum.

Abstracts for all the articles that are included in the anthology can be found here and contributor biographies can be found here. For those who just can't wait to read through those links, here is a glimpse of what to expect:

Table of Contents

Introduction - Roger E. Bissell, Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Edward W. Younkins

Part I: Foundations and Systems of Liberty

Chapter 1: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism - Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Chapter 2: Freedom and Flourishing: Toward a Synthesis of Traditions and Disciplines - Edward W. Younkins

Chapter 3: The Unchained Dialectic and the Renewal of Libertarian Inquiry - John F. Welsh

Chapter 4: Whence Natural Rights? - Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas B. Rasmussen

Chapter 5: Dialogical Arguments for Libertarian Rights - Stephan Kinsella

Chapter 6: Dialectical Psychology: The Road to Depassement - Robert L. Campbell

Part II: Government, Economy, and Culture

Chapter 7: Don Lavoie's Dialectical Liberalism - Nathan Goodman

Chapter 8: Free Speech, Rhetoric, and a Free Economy - Deirdre Nansen McCloskey

Chapter 9: Exploring the Interconnections of Politics, Economics, and Culture - Robert Higgs

Chapter 10: Context Matters: Finding a Home for Labor-Managed Enterprise - David L. Prychitko

Chapter 11: The Dialectic of Culture and Markets in Expanding Family Freedom - Steven Horwitz

Chapter 12: Up from Oppression: Triumph and Tragedy in the Great American Songbook - Roger E. Bissell

Part III: Justice, Liberation, and Rights

Chapter 13: Why Libertarians Should Be Social Justice Warriors - Roderick T. Long

Chapter 14: Radical Liberalism and Social Liberation - Gary Chartier

Chapter 15: Social Equality and Liberty - Billy Christmas

Chapter 16: Formal vs. Substantive Statism: A Matter of Context - Kevin A. Carson

Chapter 17: The Political Is Interpersonal: An Interpretation and Defense of Libertarian Immediatism - Jason Lee Byas

Chapter 18: Aesthetics, Ritual, Property, and Fish: A Dialectical Approach to the Evolutionary Foundations of Property - Troy Camplin

Index

About the Editors and Contributors

********************

Anyone taking a look at the contributors to this book might be scratching their heads a bit, wondering how some of the authors associated with the volume may very well not associate themselves with the views of other authors herein represented. Let me say by way of introduction, that this collection falls under the category of "Big Tent" classical liberalism / libertarianism: It is not presented as a monolithic view of what a dialectical approach to human freedom must be. Rather, it is a sign of the fruitful interplay of ideas and theories that might result when classical liberal and libertarian thinkers adopt a context-sensitive dialectical approach, making their political project a living research program that will necessarily generate a variety of perspectives, united only in their ideological commitment to freedom and their methodological commitment to a dialectical sensibility.

I should just add that this is purely an announcement: I'd like to save the debates for when the book is published and folks actually have a chance to read the essays, before passing judgments, either positive or negative on the contents of the volume. I know that our authors would greatly appreciate critical feedback; but nothing advances human knowledge when judgments are reached on the basis of reading short abstracts or brief biographies. Suffice it to say: We are going to have plenty of time and many forums in which to debate the contents of this book.

For now, I would simply like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to my hard-working fellow editors, and our remarkable group of superb scholars, whose commitment to the project has been a delight to behold.

So many more Notablog posts with further information on the forthcoming book to come ...

Postscript: This Notablog announcement was shared on Facebook by quite a few people, reaching potentially thousands of readers. I'm delighted by the response, and added a few points in several threads. The most important point I made, however, was in response to some folks who criticized the inclusion of people whose views they oppose. Here was my response:

If I may add a point: One of the reasons that folks as diverse as Stephan Kinsella and Kevin Carson are in the same volume is because each applies a dialectical sensibility to the topic of their essays; we wanted a volume that would represent the wide range of perspectives and disciplines that might be engaged in a genuinely radical classical liberal / libertarian research program.
And if I may be so bold: I think that the volume constitutes a virtual paradigmatic shift in its explicit embrace of a dialectical sensibility in furtherance of a radical libertarian social theory. From the early 1980s through to the publication of my Dialectics and Liberty trilogy (from 1995 to 2000), I felt like "the voice of one crying in the wilderness." But I argued that many classical liberals and contemporary libertarians had already embraced a dialectical approach to libertarian social theory, even if they had not named it as such. That today, 30+ years after I started this project, I am a co-editor of a volume that features such talented scholars who are not afraid to utter the words "dialectic" and "liberty" in the same sentence is of great significance to me. I'm very proud to be associated with this project, and prouder still of the work that each author contributed to it. It's a Big Tent folks: Get under it! :)

Postscript II: The debate over the contents and its contributors has continued, so I made the following observation on one of the Facebook threads:

I have to admit that if this is how worked up folks are getting over the list of contents and contributors, i just can't imagine what will happen when the book is actually released and its contents are actually read, comprehended, and commented upon.
As a matter of fact, even I don't agree with every essay in the book; this is of little consequence, however. What was more important to me was to amass a group of writers from every discipline and a variety of perspectives, who demonstrated an attention to the larger context within which freedom might be nourished---or undermined. There is not a single author in this book who does not qualify on those grounds. I may disagree with the way some folks apply certain dialectical tools of analysis to their subject matter, but in a sense, the book itself is an example of the very "dialectics" of liberty it proposes, at least in terms of its original intent of meaning: that in viewing the issues at hand, we look at them from as many different vantage points and on many different levels of generality as is possible, to reveal relationships that might be obscured by one-dimensional readings.
Even in disagreeing with this or that author, it is my hope that folks, especially those who adhere to classical liberal / libertarian ideas, might actually embrace the "rivalrous" readings offered in this volume, in much the same way that they embrace the "rivalrous competition" they extol as one of the virtues of free markets. Embrace the differences; you don't have to agree. But celebrate the fact that the editors had the audacity to put this volume together and that the contributors, even those that found themselves on opposite sides of certain issues, were courageous enough to be a part of what is sure to be a provocative, trailblazing anthology.
As I said: If this is the reaction we're getting from a Table of Contents, abstracts, and biographies, I can only imagine what might happen when the volume comes out in June! Mount Vesuvius ain't got nothin' on us! :)

This post was shared on quite a few Facebook pages, and also noted on several blogs, including that of Center for a Stateless Society, Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Austro-Athenian Empire, and StephanKinsella.com.

February 25, 2019

Song of the Day #1629

Song of the Day: The Monkees ("Main Theme" or "Hey, Hey, We're the Monkees"), words and music by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, was the theme song of the TV show "The Monkees," that I regularly watched as a child. On February 21st, Peter Tork, one of the quartet's original members, passed away. Check out the memorable theme [YouTube link].

February 24, 2019

Song of the Day #1628

Song of the Day: Yentl ("Papa Can You Hear Me?") features the lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman and the music of the late Michel Legrand, who would have turned 87 today. I still feel the sadness of his passing. How apropos then to conclude our Film Music February tribute on Oscar Day with a song from this man who died on January 26th, days before our annual tribute began. He gave so much to the art of the score throughout his illustrious career. This song comes from the 1983 film, directed by and starring Barbra Streisand, who became the first woman to win a Golden Globe Directing Award (for a Musical or Comedy), as the film itself took home Globe honors for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy). This particular song, along with "The Way He Makes Me Feel," was Oscar-nominated for Best Original Song, but lost out to "Flashdance: What a Feeling." But Legrand and the Bergmans took home the Oscar for Best Original Score (Adaptation). Tonight, composers and lyricists will take home awards for scoring and songs at the 91st Annual Academy Awards. And we'll be back next year for another Film Music February tribute. For now, check out this song as heard in the 1983 film [YouTube link].

February 23, 2019

Song of the Day #1627

Song of the Day: Sharky's Machine ("High Energy") [YouTube link] was composed by Bob Florence for the jazz-infused soundtrack to this 1981 thriller, directed by and starring Burt Reynolds. Reynolds is sure to be among those mentioned in the "In Memoriam" segment of tomorrow night's broadcast of the Academy Awards. This particular track from the film is performed with blazing heat by the Doc Severinsen Band.

February 22, 2019

Song of the Day #1626

Song of the Day: Christmas in Connecticut ("The Wish That I Wish Tonight"), music by M. K. Jerome, lyrics by Jack Scholl, is heard over the opening credits to this 1945 film, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, and Sydney Greenstreet. Check out the music in the title sequence and as sung by Dennis Morgan in the film. The song was also a hit for the Ray Noble Orchestra with vocalist Trudy Erwin and Jo Stafford [YouTube links].

February 21, 2019

Song of the Day #1625

Song of the Day: The Godfather, Part III ("Promise Me You'll Remember"), words and music by Carmine Coppola and John Bettis, was the love theme from the concluding part of the Francis Ford Coppola "Godfather" trilogy. Nominated for "Best Original Song" at both the Golden Globe Awards and the Academy Awards, it was performed on the film's soundtrack [YouTube link] by Harry Connick, Jr.

February 20, 2019

Song of the Day #1624

Song of the Day: To Catch a Thief ("Main Title") [YouTube link], composed by Lyn Martin, provides a lively opening to this visually stunning 1955 Alfred Hitchcock film, starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. This was one of four films that Grant did with Hitchcock and one of three films that Kelly did with Hitchcock. The pairing of Grant and Kelly in a Hitchcock [YouTube "Dick Cavett" interview clip] film with the French Riviera as backdrop thrills audiences with romance, suspense, and literal fireworks [YouTube link]. Today is the 100th anniversary of my mother's birth; she passed away in 1995, but not even a five-year bout with lung cancer could dull the intensity of her love for Cary Grant (she would practically fall over from excitement, watching Cary run in Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" famous crop-duster scene! [YouTube link]). So this one's for Mom... and for Cary!

February 19, 2019

Song of the Day #1673

Song of the Day: Airport ("Emergency Landing") [YouTube link], composed by Alfred Newman, is a musical highlight from the 1970 film that originated the "disaster genre" that would come to dominate the decade. This was the last film Newman scored prior to his death on February 17th of that year, a month before he would have turned 70 and less than a month before the release of this film (on March 5, 1970). Nominated for forty-five Oscars throughout his scoring career, Newman would go on to win nine Academy Awards for Best Original Score, third behind Walt Disney, with twenty-six, and art director/production designer Cedric Gibbons, with eleven.

February 18, 2019

Song of the Day #1672

Song of the Day: El Cid ("Palace Music") [YouTube link], composed by Miklos Rozsa, is a gentle theme for flute and guitar for the soundtrack to the 1961 Anthony Mann-directed epic (which was lovingly restored by Martin Scorsese in 1993), starring Charlton Heston in the title role and Sophia Loren as Dona Ximena. For his gorgeous cinematic soundtrack,Rozsa received an Oscar nomination as well as for Best Original Song ("The Falcon and the Dove"), losing to Henry Mancini in both categories (who won for "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Moon River," respectively).

February 17, 2019

Song of the Day #1671

Song of the Day: Ben-Hur ("Anno Domini") [YouTube link] composed by Miklos Rozsa, comes immediately after the "Overture" in the 1959 Biblical epic, which still holds the all-time Oscar record with 11 Academy Awards, including "Best Picture" (tied by "Titanic" and "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" except "Ben-Hur" is the only one among these that includes two Oscars for acting categories). This cue opens with the score's famous three-note motif and serves as the backdrop for the narration [YouTube link], which tells us the story of Rome's occupation of Judea, a prelude to the Nativity scene [YouTube link]. Director William Wyler bookends this "Tale of the Christ" with the birth and crucifixion of Jesus [YouTube link], whose presence is felt throughout the film, without ever seeing his face or hearing his voice---except through the expressions and experiences of the other characters. Known as the first "intimate epic" [pdf], this film remains my all-time favorite with my all-time favorite score, and it's become a tradition of sorts for me to highlight a cue from this soundtrack on this date, my birthday. Unlike the film, however, I'm not yet 60! Not that there's anything wrong with that [YouTube link]. For those who haven't seen the finest film version of the classic Lew Wallace tale, it will be shown as part of TCM's 31 Days of Oscar tomorrow afternoon.

February 16, 2019

Song of the Day #1670

Song of the Day: Love, Simon ("Roller Coaster"), words and music by Jack Antonoff and John Hill, can be heard on the soundtrack to this endearing coming-of-age 2018 film. The Bleachers' song (not to be confused with that great jazz track [mp3 track] by that illustrious duo Carl Barry and Joanne Barry, my jazz guitar brother and jazz vocalist sister-in-law, nepotism aside) is a retro-80s-sounding rock track [YouTube link]. It first appeared on the Bleachers' debut album, "Strange Desire" and was also heard in the second season finale of the Netflix series, "13 Reasons Why."

February 15, 2019

Song of the Day #1669

Song of the Day: Home Room ("Going Home") [site link] was composed by my colleague and friend, Michael Gordon Shapiro, for a 2002 film, starring Erika Christensen, Busy Phillips, and Victor Garber, dealing with the traumatic psychological effects in the aftermath of a school shooting. It is a phenomenon that continues to haunt American society (yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting), and Shapiro brings to it an understated poignancy that reflects the tragic, numbing sense of loss that one would expect in a score of this nature.

February 14, 2019

Song of the Day #1668

Song of the Day: Dr. Zhivago ("Lara's Theme") [YouTube link], composed by Maurice Jarre for his Oscar-winning soundtrack to the 1965 film, remains one of the most famous, sprawling romantic melodies to emerge from the cinema. From the David Lean-directed epic, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie and based on the Boris Pasternak novel, with the Russian revolution as backdrop, the theme can also be heard with accompanying film clips and in a jazz arrangement by the Harry James Band [YouTube links]. But it was by request of singer Connie Francis that a vocal version (with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster) materialized as "Somewhere My Love" (nominated in 1967 for Grammy Song of the Year). It was recorded first by Ray Conniff and the Singers (who took it to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100), and also by Connie Francis and Andy Williams [YouTube links]. Whatever melancholy one might find in the lyrics, I want to wish a Happy Valentine's Day to all!

February 13, 2019

Song of the Day #1667

Song of the Day: Two for the Road ("Something for Audrey") [YouTube link], composed by Henry Mancini, is only one of the lush, romantic tracks from the utterly gorgeous score for this 1967 film, starring Audrey Hepburn, with whom Mancini had a musical love affair. Mancini received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Score, and long considered the title song [YouTube links] from the film his all-time favorite and it's one of my all-time favorites too!). The film also stars the late Albert Finney, who passed away on February 7, 2019 at the age of 82 [YouTube links from one of Finney's best moments in "Erin Brockovich," for which he received one of his five Oscar nominations]. The Stanley Donen-directed flick was experimental for its day, since it told its story of a twelve-year marriage (the principals played by Hepburn and Finney) in a nonlinear fashion. This was Hepburn's third Donen-directed film (the others were "Funny Face" and "Charade," the latter featuring another great Mancini score [YouTube link]). Today's Film Music February entry is just preparing you for a romantic tomorrow.

February 12, 2019

Song of the Day #1666

Song of the Day: Soldier in the Rain ("Love Theme") [YouTube link], composed by Henry Mancini, is one of the maestro's most beautifully orchestrated film themes. It can be heard in this 1960 film starring Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen, an unlikely pair, indeed. Adapted from the William Goldman novel by Blake Edwards and Maurice Richlin, the film has a lot to say about the special bonds of friendship that can be forged between folks who often march to a different beat. Today begins a two-day appreciation for Mancini's melodic movie music.

February 11, 2019

Song of the Day #1665

Song of the Day: The Adventures of Robin Hood ("Main Title") [YouTube link] is the rousing opening composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold for the truly wonderful 1938 film, starring the great swashbuckling Errol Flynn and his steadfast co-star Olivia de Havilland, with whom he appeared in eight films. She is still going strong at 102 years of age. I highlighted a classic cue from this Korngold Oscar-winning soundtrack back in 2007, but the Main Title still shines as memorable movie music.

February 10, 2019

Dispensing Advice on Relationships

No, I'm not the next Ann Landers or Dear Abby, but I figured I'd pass on this advice, given on a Facebook thread, to Notablog readers as well. My friend Nick Manley who started a Facebook discussion on the difficulties of being in relationships when one is a "radical political type" who tends "to categorize whole groups of people as friends or enemies to a degree that more centrist and less conflictual minded political types generally don't." I dispensed a little personal advice (which pertains to friendships as much as it does to romantic relationships):

All I can say is that I have rarely been in relationships with folks who agreed with me ideologically (it's not as if there is a multitude of "dialectical libertarians" out there); I tend to have a live-and-let-live attitude in this area. There are many areas where people can find commonality: "sense of life", likes and dislikes on a wide palette that goes from food to film to music, etc.

So, being "dialectical" about it: Don't 'reify' any single aspect of any single person and let it represent the whole person. Look at the person's whole context in conjunction with your own; I tend to look for commonality on a very wide scale. Life does not have to be an intellectual dog fight. If you are going to make friends or enemies on a strictly ideological litmus test, you'll be a very lonely person---for absolutely no reason at all. Complementary or even deep ideological differences should not be "deal-breakers" in human relationships; people are much more than what they believe (or claim to believe). Why seal yourself off from folks just because you disagree over politics?!

Song of the Day #1664

Song of the Day: The Wind and the Lion ("Love Theme") [YouTube link] composed by Jerry Goldsmith, is a highlight from the Oscar-nominated and Grammy-nominated Best Original Score, from this 1975 film, starring Sean Connery and Candice Bergen. Tonight the Grammy Awards will present yet another Original Score award. Today would have been Goldsmith's 90th birthday and it is only fitting that he is among the illustrious composers who have been honored by the Recording Academy with nominations in this category.

February 09, 2019

Song of the Day #1663

Song of the Day: The Detective ("Main Theme") [YouTube link] was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, the 90th anniversary of whose birth we honor over the next two days. This cue opens the 1968 neo-noir film version of the Roderick Thorp novel. It stars Frank Sinatra, and the title theme has a touch of that Sinatra swagger.

February 08, 2019

Song of the Day #1662

Song of the Day: The Post ("The Presses Roll") [YouTube link] was composed by John Williams for the 2017 Steven Spielberg-directed film, focusing on the controversial publication of "The Pentagon Papers," which revealed the extent to which the U.S. government had engaged in a systematic policy of disinformation in its conduct of the Vietnam War. Tom Hanks (as Ben Bradlee) and Meryl Streep (as Katharine Graham) give fine performances as the principals who published these classified documents in The Washington Post, which, with The New York Times, went on to win its First Amendment case in a 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court decision. Today, our birthday boy, John Williams, turns 87 years old. He is the consummate maestro whose cue, here, can make even the functions of a printing press sound heroic.

February 07, 2019

Song of the Day #1661

Song of the Day: Cactus Flower ("The Time for Love is Anytime"), words and music by Cynthia Weil and Quincy Jones, is delivered with sass by Sarah Vaughan. This song opens the 1969 film starring Ingrid Bergman, Walter Matthau, and Goldie Hawn, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Check out the Divine One's vocals for the film's main theme [YouTube link].

February 06, 2019

Song of the Day #1660

Song of the Day: The Firm ("The Death of Love and Trust") [YouTube link], composed by pianist Dave Grusin, is one of the jazziest, most sensual cues from the Oscar-nominated soundtrack to this 1993 film, directed by Sydney Pollack and based on the John Grisham novel. The film stars Tom Cruise and a strong supporting cast.

February 05, 2019

Song of the Day #1659

Song of the Day: The Red Shoes ("Ballet of the Red Shoes") [YouTube link] was composed by Brian Easdale, who went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Score for this highly stylized 1948 film, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Easdale was the first British composer to win in this category. The film also earned a well-deserved Oscar for Art Direction. The wonderful Moira Shearer plays the role of Victoria Page [YouTube link from "The Birdcage"], and her dancing in this particular ballet, choreographed by Robert Helpmann, influenced a generation of people who were inspired to become professional dancers. An adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson tale, this iconic film underwent a magnificent restoration in 2006, and has been praised by directors as diverse as Brian DePalma and Martin Scorsese.

February 04, 2019

Song of the Day #1658

Song of the Day: Furious 7 ("See You Again"), words and music by Andrew Ceder, Justin Franks, Cameron Thomaz, and Charlie Puth, who provides the vocals to match Wiz Khalifa's poignant rap tribute to Paul Walker, who had portrayed the protagonist in the series (Brian O'Conner), and who tragically died in an automobile accident before this 2015 film was released. This lead single from the film's soundtrack spent 12 nonconsecutive weeks at #1, tying Eminem's Oscar-winning "Lose Yourself" and the Black Eyed Peas "Boom-Boom-Pow", as the longest-running rap track atop the Billboard Hot 100. It is among the most streamed and most viewed videos (exceeding three billion views) in history, and was among the best-selling singles of 2015. We did a Puth spotlight this past summer. Check out the video single and a live performance of it at Berklee by Charlie and in concert (at 01:23:10).

February 03, 2019

Song of the Day #1657

Song of the Day: Bohemian Rhapsody ("We Will Rock You"/"We Are the Champions") are two separate songs that have often been paired when heard on the radio, going all the way back to their 1977 debut on the Queen album, "News of the World." The first song is credited to Brian May, the second to Freddie Mercury. With its "Boom, Boom, Clap" beginning, and its anthemic sound, "We Will Rock You" has probably become the most sampled track in history for use at sports-stadium events. It was also part of the last medley performed by a reunited Queen at the Live Aid charity concert at Wembley Stadium on July 13, 1985 [YouTube link]. In 2005, Queen's 20+ minute set [YouTube link] was voted by sixty artists, journalists, and music industry executives as the greatest live performance in the history of rock. It is also only one of the highlights of this 2018 Oscar-nominated Best Picture, one of the most emotionally-wrenching paeans to the tortured soul and artistic genius of Freddie Mercury, played courageously and poignantly by the Oscar-nominated Rami Malek, who has already won Best Actor Awards for his performance from the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. I confess that the film often left me a slobbering mess, in terms of its emotional impact, which speaks to its powerful cinematic portrait of Mercury. Check out this remarkable side-by-side comparison of the Live Aid performance and its depiction in the 2018 film [YouTube link]. And also check out the original album recording [YouTube link]. Today, in Atlanta, where the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots will be vying for the Super Bowl Championship, one team is going to rock the other and declare "We Are the Champions."

Postscript: Love them or hate them, Brady does it again, as the Pats win their Sixth Super Bowl Title (with Brady wearing five of those rings). And celebrating the 50th anniversary of his own Super Bowl win, former New York Jets QB Joe Namath brings the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the podium.

February 02, 2019

Song of the Day #1656

Song of the Day: Groundhog Day ("I Got You Babe"), words and music by Sonny Bono, was a huge hit for Sonny & Cher, peaking at #1 for three weeks in August 1965. It is also the song heard over and over again in this 1993 film that TV weatherman Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) wakes up to every morning in a seemingly endless time-loop, covering the findings of Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day, which just so happens to be today! (In New York, we rely on Staten Island Chuck, who has had a habit of biting past NYC Mayors.) Here's to the Groundhogs that do not see their shadows; we can use an early Spring!

February 01, 2019

Song of the Day #1655

Song of the Day: Call Me By Your Name ("Mystery of Love"), words and music by Sufjan Stevens, was a 2017 Oscar nominee for Best Original Song. Based on the Andre Aciman novel, this coming-of-age drama, starring the young and talented Best Actor-nominated Timothee Chalamet (a graduate of Brooklyn's LaGuardia High School) will tug at your heartstrings. The film also features wonderful performances by Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg (whose scene with his son near the end of the film is itself worth the price of admission) [YouTube link, spoiler alert!]. Check out the song, accompanied with film clips [YouTube link]. So we begin this year's 15th Annual Film Music February en route to the Oscar Awards on February 24, 2019 with a song from one of last year's "Best Picture"-nominated films. Let's remember that Film Music February includes not only film score cues and original songs featured in film, but also songs previously recorded that found life again in film soundtracks. So be prepared for a very wide variety of music over the next 24 days! Today also begins TCM's annual 31 Days of Oscar!

January 30, 2019

Michel Legrand: A Notablog Index

On January 26, 2019, the world lost a gifted composer, musician, arranger, and conductor: Michel Legrand. I offered my thoughts in a tribute to the maestro on that day. I was asked by several people if I would not mind providing an index to the various Legrand compositions that I've highlighted over the years. There are scores of songs in "My Favorite Songs" that provide us with Legrand renditions of non-Legrand compositions (most from the Great American Songbook). This list is limited just to Legrand compositions performed by Legrand, other instrumentalists, or singers with whom Legrand collaborated.

These are Notablog entries, wherein you should find a link to the full song or an excerpt (since in the old days, you couldn't get anything but an excerpt off the Internet):

Brian's Song [13 September 2007]

Cinq Jours en Juin [24 February 2017]

Dingo (Paris Walking II) [24 February 2018]

How Do You Keep the Music Playing? [18 March 2005]

Images [16 January 2005] (but go here as well)

I Will Say Goodbye [16 July 2014]

Monsanto Legrand Jazz Interlude [19 September 2013] (This particular tune was recorded by me when I was 12 years old on an audio cassette recorder placed close to the TV speaker; it features such musicians as Stan Getz, J. J. Johnson, and Dave Grusin, and was recorded off of a 1972 Monsanto-sponsored special on Michel Legrand, which is not available anywhere except the Library of Congress and on my site. My version includes my brother's dog Shannon, who barks in the middle of the bass solo.)

Never Say Never Again ("Main Title") [24 February 2014]

Once Upon a Summertime [22 June 2006]

Once You've Been in Love [13 August 2005]

Paris Was Made for Lovers [15 November 2015]

The Summer Knows [20 September 2004]

Summer Me, Winter Me [21 June 2007]

The Thomas Crown Affair ("Chess Scene") [14 February 2018]

What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? [1 September 2004] This was the very first song on the list that became "My Favorite Songs."

You Must Believe In Spring [20 March 2005]

This is just a small sample of Legrand's magic; I will be featuring his work for many years to come. Watch this space. For now, just enjoy the music!

Postscript: Check out this wonderful essay by Howard Reich on The Sublime Poetry of Michel Legrand's Film Music" and this Guardian interview.

January 29, 2019

Song of the Day #1654

Song of the Day: Baby, Come to Me, composed by Rod Temperton, and produced by Quincy Jones, both of them at the top of their craft, made its debut on "Every Home Should Have One," a 1981 Patti Austin album, in which Patti duets with James Ingram, who died today at the age of 66. Ironically, there is a connection between Ingram and Michel Legrand, who I honored in a tribute on January 26, 2019, when he passed away. Ingram sang with Austin on the first recorded rendition of the Legrand-Bergmans' Oscar-nominated song, "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" [YouTube link], from the 1982 film, "Best Friends." Today's "Song of the Day" duet, which predates the film duet, only reached #72 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1982. But it was regularly heard by fans of the ABC soap opera hit, "General
Hospital
," as the love theme for the character Luke Spencer, and in October 1982, it was re-released, reaching #1 by February 1983 on the Hot 100 chart. Check out the lovely single [YouTube link]. RIP, James. Your velvety voice will be missed.

January 26, 2019

Michel Legrand: Legendary Composer, RIP

Ordinarily, to mark the death of somebody, especially somebody from the enchanting world of music, I'd put up a "Song of the Day." As it happens, I am days away from beginning my fifteenth annual Film Music February, which will culminate on February 24, 2019, the date of the 91st Academy Awards. And it was on that date in 1932 that one of the greatest composers of our time was born: Michel Legrand. So, appropriately, I have planned and will post one of his many wonderful compositions to conclude my film music tribute next month. Today, he died at the age of 86.

In truth, however, I have featured scores of his compositions throughout these last fifteen years. In fact, on September 1, 2004, my very first Song of the Day was "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" [YouTube link to Michel's arrangement caressed by the Divine One, Sarah Vaughan]. It began a "Song of the Day" practice that has continued to this day (now well into the 1600s!]. With the romantic lyrics of his frequent collaborators, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and the melodic loveliness of Legrand's music, that song has remained one of my all-time favorites. That Oscar-nominated masterpiece from the 1969 film, "The Happy Ending," lost out to "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head." But Legrand would earn three Oscars, including one from "The Thomas Crown Affair" (for which he won for Best Original Song, "The Windmills of Your Mind") and one each for the lush orchestrations of "Summer of '42" and "Yentl" [YouTube links].

I had the honor of seeing Legrand perform live at Hunter College in April 1996; I went backstage to shake his hands, ever-so-gently, after he had played a grand piano in a remarkably energetic two-hour performance of so many of his greatest compositions. I told him that the year before, in April 1995, my mother had passed away, after a five-year bout with lung cancer, and that one of the joys of her life was his music, which she listened to almost to the very day she died. He was so genuinely moved, and I was deeply touched by the endearing and comforting expression on his face. He could not thank me enough for what I had said to him.

I felt as if I were in the presence not merely of genius and boundless talent, but of a man of genuine human grace.

Let me remind those who may think of Legrand as a "film score composer" that he was also one of the greatest jazz musicians, arrangers, and conductors of his generation---indeed, of all time. His "Legrand Jazz" is a milestone recording of its genre, featuring such jazz greats as Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and John Coltrane (check out Side One and Side Two on YouTube). And if you have not heard Legrand's Grammy-winning three-movement suite, "Images," with alto saxophone soloist Phil Woods, you're in for a treat. The album itself won the 1976 Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album and the suite won a Grammy for "Best Instrumental Composition." Turn up the volume, and get ready to blow a hole through your ceiling [YouTube link].

Today, sadly, I feel as if the news of Legrand's passing has blown a hole through my heart. But the legacy of his music will swiftly turn the heartache back into joy. RIP, Michel, with love.

January 01, 2019

Song of the Day #1653

Song of the Day: Ringing in a Brand New Year, words and music by Billy Ward, was recorded by Billy Ward and His Dominoes in 1953 [YouTube link]. The song was later recorded as "Bringing in a Brand New Year" by both Charles Brown and B. B. King [YouTube links]. Whether you're bringing it or ringing it, a Happy New Year to One and All!

December 25, 2018

Song of the Day #1652

Song of the Day: Christmas Swing [YouTube link], composed by Django Reinhardt, was recorded by the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, with the immortal Django on guitar and the legendary Stephane Grappelli on violin. You can swing your way into Christmas Day, watching Santa make all his stops on NORAD, in keeping with the situation [Yarn clip]. A very Merry Christmas, with peace on earth, and good will to one and all.

December 14, 2018

Song of the Day #1651

Song of the Day: Guess Who I Saw Today, music by Murray Grand, lyrics by Elisse Boyd, was originally written for "New Faces of 1952," a Broadway musical revue by Leonard Sillman, and sung by June Carroll [YouTube link]. The song was later recorded in 1957 by both Carmen McRae and Eydie Gorme [YouTube links]. But it became a signature tune for jazz song stylist Nancy Wilson, who recorded the song for her second album, "Something Wonderful," released in 1960. I learned today that Nancy Wilson passed away yesterday at the age of 81 after a long illness. One of my all-time favorite singers, whose music filled the air of my youth, Nancy Wilson was one of those singers with a truly distinctive style. Check out the album version of this song, with its Billy May arrangement, as well as two live presentations, which combine her singular interpretive style with an understanding of both the comedic and dramatic elements of performance: a 1987 Newport Jazz Festival appearance and a 1994 concert (with a tip of the hat to "Miss Otis Regrets") [YouTube links]. RIP, Nancy. You will be greatly missed.

December 12, 2018

Song of the Day #1650

Song of the Day: Ain't She Sweet, music by Milton Ager, lyrics by Jack Yellen, was published in 1927 and became a Tin Pan Alley standard. In 1962, it was recorded by Frank Sinatra for a Neal Hefti-conducted album, "Sinatra and Swingin' Brass." For those who remember my Frank Sinatra Centenary Tribute, today marks the 103rd anniversary of Sinatra's birth. Check out this wonderful rendition of a timeless classic [YouTube link].

December 11, 2018

Song of the Day #1649

Song of the Day: Psycho ("Main Title"), composed by Bernard Herrmann, is heard over the opening credits to the 1960 classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller. This is just a little precursor of what is to come in our fifteenth annual Film Music February, which celebrates songs, cues, and other music heard in the movies---en route to the Oscar broadcast on February 24, 2019. I post this entry today, however, for two reasons: First, it comes from a film that was featured in my very first Film Music February tribute (which highlighted the "Murder" that occurs in the famous shower scene). Second, for film fans who might remember, this is the exact time and date on which the action of this film begins: at 2:43 p.m. on December 11th (a Friday in the film, a Tuesday this year). A classic Herrmann score for a classic Hitchcock film. And tune in to Notablog for the 2019 Film Music February tribute!

December 09, 2018

Song of the Day #1648

Song of the Day: Young Man with a Horn ("Get Happy"), music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ted Koehler, was introduced by Ruth Etting in the 1930 Broadway musical "The Nine-Fifteen Revue." It was performed by Kirk Douglas (dubbed by the great Harry James), who turns 102 today, in this 1950 film, based on the novel by Dororthy Baker, and inspired by the life of jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. Check out the film clip (with the legendary Hoagy Carmichael on piano) and vocal versions from Judy Garland (from the 1950 film "Summer Stock") and Ella Fitzgerald. [YouTube links]. And a Happy Birthday to one of the greats!

December 02, 2018

Song of the Day #1647

Song of the Day: Change features the words and music of Johan Carlsson, Ross Golan, and Charlie Puth, who turns 27 today. The moment I heard the opening chords of the song, without even looking at the track listing off of "Voicenotes," Puth's second studio album, I thought to myself that it sounded like a James Taylor song. And sure enough, Puth duets with Taylor on this song. I celebrated Puth's music this past summer, and anyone in pop music who can incorporate a Bill Evans chordal phrase into his compositions [YouTube link] has earned his way into my musical heart. Check out the album version with Taylor, Puth's live concert performance with acoustic guitar accompaniment (at 37 minutes in), and his live March for Our Lives performance [YouTube links].

November 22, 2018

Song of the Day #1646

Song of the Day: I've Got Plenty To Be Thankful For, words and music by Irving Berlin, made its debut in the 1942 film, "Holiday Inn." The soundtrack features some truly wonderful gems that would make their way into the Great American Songbook. This particular tune was sung in the film by Bing Crosby, accompanied by Bob Crosby and his Orchestra [YouTube link]. It's just my way of saying "Happy Thanksgiving" to one and all.

October 10, 2018

Song of the Day #1645

Song of the Day: Suffer features the words and music of Breyan Isaac and Charlie Puth, who recorded this song for his debut album, "Nine Track Mind." Check out the album version, the extended video single, and then check out how well Charlie tickles the ivories on some bluesy, jazzy live versions from Radio City Music Hall and the Live Nation-recorded stop in Saint Paul, Minnesota (at 1:00 exactly). I put this song up tonight in honor of the New York Yankee fans... who had to "suffer" the loss of their division series to the Boston Red Sox, who now move on to face the Houston Astros for the American League Pennant. All 100-game winning teams, but only the ones who win in these short series get to move toward a World Series ring. I'm not bitter. But "Go Houston!" And wait till next year!

October 02, 2018

Song of the Day #1644

Song of the Day: J'aime Paris au Mois de Mai ("I Love Paris in May") features the words and music of Pierre Roche and Charles Aznavour, who passed away yesterday, October 1, 2018, at the age of 94. Known as the "French Frank Sinatra," he was the writer (or co-writer) of over a thousand songs, sold over 180 million albums worldwide and appeared in over 80 films. This particular song was first recorded by Aznavour in 1956 [YouTube link], but it is also featured in a collection of Aznavour's hits, re-interpreted in a jazz setting, that he re-recorded in 1998 for the album "Jazznavour." Check out this wonderful duet with the incomparable jazz singer Diane Reeves [YouTube link]. RIP, Charles Aznavour.

September 25, 2018

Dance and The Revolution: Emma, Chubby, and Dick

On Facebook, in introducing the last song ("Let's Twist Again") in my "Summer Dance Party," I said:

I just know some of you cringe at the frivolity of my "Song of the Day" entries, but as Rosa Luxemburg once said: "If I can't dance, I don't want to be a part of your revolution." And so our Summer Dance Party ends with the same artist who kicked it off: Chubby Checker. The Autumnal Equinox arrives at 9:54pm ET, at which point you'll want to "Twist Again... like we did last summer"

Well, I made a mistake folks. Of course, that statement about dance and the revolution is derived from Emma Goldman, as my friends and colleagues, Susan Love Brown and Joel Schlosberg pointed out in the thread. In fact, Joel pointed to an essay by Alix Kates Shulman, "Dances with Feminists" (published initially in Women's Review of Books 9, no. 3, December 1991), published online on The Emma Goldman Papers, which casts doubt that Goldman ever uttered those words in precisely that fashion.

Switching gears, and also as part of that thread, another friend of mine, Kurt Keefner, raised the point that Chubby Checker ripped off the original Hank Ballard version of "The Twist," and of course, one can see the similarity in the recordings (and I mentioned the Ballard version in my first Summer Dance Party entry). But I pointed out that cover versions are rich in the history of music:

This happens quite a bit sometimes. And sometimes you can get two megahits from the same song: "Light My Fire" (The Doors; Jose Feliciano); "MacArthur Park" (Richard Harris!!!, Donna Summer); "I Saw Her [Him] Standing There" (The Beatles; Tiffany); "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (The Supremes; Vanilla Fudge; Kim Wilde; Reba McEntire); "You Can't Hurry Love" (The Supremes; Phil Collins); "Walk This Way" (Aerosmith; Run-D.M.C.); "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" (Gladys Knight and the Pips; Marvin Gaye); "For Once in My Life" (Stevie Wonder; Tony Bennett); "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye; Diana Ross; Inner Life); "Twist and Shout" (the Isley Brothers; the Beatles)---and the list goes on and on and on. And let's not forget how many early R&B hits were remade by a guy named Elvis Presley who took them to another chart level entirely.

But I brought the discussion back to "The Twist", which set off a worldwide dance revolution of its own, and the force behind its revolutionary impact on pop music, Dick Clark:

You can definitely compare the two [versions of "The Twist"] and see the similarities; why one gets the hit and the other doesn't is difficult to measure. Ballard's version went to #28 on the Hot 100. But Checker's version set off a dance craze that went worldwide. In fact, his version is the only single in the history of the Billboard charts to reach #1 on the Hot 100 in two different "Hit Parade" runs: once in 1960 and again in 1962, riding the crest of Twist-mania. Billboard magazine credits it as the biggest hit of the decade. But here's the best explanation of why Ballard's version didn't become the hit that Checker's version became. Yeah, Checker's version had that driving sax and those rolling drums, but ultimately, it went to the top because of a guy named Dick Clark. From Wikipedia:
The [Ballard version of the] song became popular on a Baltimore television dance show hosted by local DJ Buddy Dean; Dean recommended the song to Dick Clark, host of the national "American Bandstand." When the song proved popular with his audience, Clark attempted to book Ballard to perform on the show. Ballard was unavailable, and Clark searched for a local artist to record the song. He settled on Checker, whose voice was very similar to Ballard's. Checker's version featured Buddy Savitt on sax and Ellis Tollin on drums, with backing vocals by the Dreamlovers. Exposure for the song on "American Bandstand" and on "The Dick Clark Saturday Night Show" helped propel the song to the top of the American charts.
And this was only one example of the power of Dick Clark and "American Bandstand" and its impact on pop music culture.
P.S. - I bet Ballard was kicking himself in the head for a while for not having made himself available on that day!

So, I hope I've straightened out some things here; either way, ever the dialectician, as far as I am concerned, there will be no political revolution dedicated to liberty unless it preserves and extends the cultural revolution that the dance embodies. So, yep, whether it was Emma Goldman who ever said it, or Rosa Luxemburg, or some entrepreneurial T-shirt-making rabble-rouser, I can say with confidence: "If I can't dance, I don't want to be a part of anybody's revolution"---including the libertarian one I favor!

September 22, 2018

Song of the Day #1643

Song of the Day: Let's Twist Again, words and music by Kal Mann and Dave Appell, recorded by Chubby Checker, would go on to win a Grammy for Best Rock and Roll Recording. This 1961 track brings our Third Annual Summer Dance Party to a conclusion. We've come full circle: We started with Checker and we conclude with Checker. As the opening lyric says: "Let's Twist Again, like we did last summer." And so we will . . . next summer! The Autumnal Equinox arrives at 9:54 p.m. ET, so listen to this original 1961 hit [YouTube link]---and go out dancing!

September 21, 2018

Song of the Day #1642

Song of the Day: Rock Around the Clock, words and music by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers, was not the first rock and roll record, but it became an anthem for the rebellious young generation of the mid-1950s. The best known recording of it, by Bill Haley and His Comets, would rocket to #1 on Billboard-tracked sales and radio airplay, as well as #3 on top-selling R&B singles. Check out the original rockin' single [YouTube link].

September 20, 2018

Song of the Day #1641

Song of the Day: At the Hop, words and music by Artie Singer, John Medora, and David White, was originally called "Do the Bop," but when Dick Clark heard it, he suggested a title change, and after it premiered on his "American Bandstand," this 1957 recording by Danny and the Juniors would go on to #1 on the Hot 100 and the R&B Best Sellers list, and #3 on the Country chart. This huge rock and roll / doo-wop hit opens up the final weekend of our Summer Dance Party, where we will go back to the era that started this year's annual dance tribute. Check out the original single version as well as one of its many covers in later years, including a rendition by Sha Na Na heard at the 1969 Woodstock Festival [YouTube link] and that of Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids, who perform it on the soundtrack (as "Herby and the Heartbeats") to the 1973 George Lucas film, "American Graffiti" [YouTube film clip].

September 19, 2018

Song of the Day #1640

Song of the Day: Summertime Magic, words and music by Donald Glover and Ludwig Goransson, was recorded by Childish Gambino (actual name: Donald Glover) for his 2018 EP "Summer Pack." Check out this slow summer jam, along with several remixes by FalconDap, Raspo, and P.A.F.F. [YouTube links].

September 18, 2018

Song of the Day #1639

Song of the Day: Stranger in My House, words and music by Shep Crawford and Shae Jones, was recorded by Tamia, who took the song to the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Song chart in 2001. The song was featured on the artist's second studio album, "A Nu Day" and became a Top Ten hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B/Hip Hop Singles charts. Check out the original ballad album version, and then its titanic transformation into a dance classic with remixes by Thunderpuss, Maurice, and Hex Hector [YouTube links].

September 17, 2018

Song of the Day #1638

Song of the Day: Surviving: A Family in Crisis ("Main Theme") [YouTube link], composed by the late, great James Horner, is heard sparingly over the opening credits and in variations throughout this painful, heartbreaking 1985 television movie on teenage suicide [YouTube link to film]. The film, which was later released in edited form on VHS as "Tragedy" (it remains unreleased on DVD), features a stellar cast that included Ellen Burstyn, Marsha Mason, Paul Sorvino, and a young River Phoenix. It centers on the tragic dual suicide of teenage characters, played by Zach Galligan and Molly Ringwald. Horner's score provides the perfect backdrop for this haunting film, which was originally shown on ABC. Tonight, television honors its best at the 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on the NBC network.

September 16, 2018

Song of the Day #1637

Song of the Day: Levels features the words and music of a host of writers, including the songwriting team known as The Monsters and the Strangerz. The 2015 song appears only on "Nick Jonas X2," the reissue of his second eponymous album, "Nick Jonas" (2014). With this song hitting #1 on the Hot Dance Club Chart, today's birthday boy Jonas actually matched Madonna in career #1 dance tracks the year this was released (2015) due in part to remixes by Alex Ghenea, Steven Redant, and Jump Smokers [YouTube links]. Check out the original funk-laden video single as well.

September 15, 2018

Song of the Day #1636

Song of the Day: Too Late, words and music by Bob Carter and Junior Giscombe, is featured on Junior's first album, "Ji", which spawned the 1982 mega-hit, "Mama Used to Say." Both of these songs were Top 10 R&B hits. This artist was one of the first British R&B singers from the U.K. to climb the U.S. charts. Check out the original 12" extended mix [YouTube links].

September 14, 2018

Song of the Day #1635

Song of the Day: My, My, My features the words and music of James Alan Ghaleb, Oscar Gorres, Brett McLaughlin, and Troye Sivan, on whose 2018 album "Bloom" this #1 Hot Dance Club song appears. Check out the single video version, and live performances on SNL, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show", and "Live with Kelly and Ryan" on September 5th. Then check out a series of dance remixes: the Throttle Remix, Hot Chip Remix, U-Go Boy Remix, and the Cliak Remix. We're taking this year's Annual Summer Dance Party right through the last day of summer, so stay tuned for the next eight days!

September 08, 2018

Song of the Day #1634

Song of the Day: I'm Not Gonna Let You, words and music by Marston Freeman and Colonel Abrams, was a #1 1986 Dance Club hit, from a #1 Dance Club album, which was the artist's self-titled debut recording that included yesterday's "Trapped" as well. Check out the original 12" extended mix [YouTube link].

September 07, 2018

Song of the Day #1633

Song of the Day: Trapped, words and music by Marston Freeman and Colonel Abrams, topped the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart on this date in September 1985. Abrams, who died tragically in 2016 at the age of 67, was one of the luminaries of the "house music" trends of the 1980s. Check out the single version of his signature tune and the extended remix. This is the first of two entries for a Colonel Abrams weekend!

September 06, 2018

Song of the Day #1632

Song of the Day: Sharky's Machine ("Love Theme"), words and music by Cliff Crofford, John Durrill, Snuff Garrett, and Bobby Troup, appears on the wonderful jazz soundtrack to this action-packed 1981 thriller directed by and starring Burt Reynolds (in the title role). Reynolds passed away today at the age of 82. The song is delivered in Sassy fashion by Sarah Vaughan. Check out the Divine One on YouTube. RIP, Burt.

September 04, 2018

Song of the Day #1631

Song of the Day: Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) features the words and music of Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, Terius "The Dream" Nash, Thaddis Harrell, and Beyonce Knowles, who was born on this date in 1981. The song, from the artist's 2008 album, "I Am ... Sasha Fierce," went to #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club chart, spent 7 weeks atop the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart and 4 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100. It went on to win Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best R&B Song, becoming one of the biggest selling singles of all time. Its black-and-white video won the MTV-VMA Video of the Year, as well as the awards for Best Choreography and Best Editing (that was the year that Kanye West swiped a VMA from Taylor Swift to give it to Beyonce for Best Female Video). It also won Video of the Year honors from BET and the MTV Europe Music Awards, among others. Check out the original video single, the Dave Aude Remix, and several hilarious paradoies: the first by Joe Jonas, another by Charlie Puth, but by far, the best was an absolutely insane SNL skit [Vimeo link], featuring Beyonce with Justin Timberlake, Adam Samberg, Bobby Moynihan, Darryl Hammond, and host Paul Rudd.

September 03, 2018

Song of the Day #1630

Song of the Day: Dr. Beat, words and music by Enrique A. Garcia, was the first international single released by Miami Sound Machine, led by Gloria Estefan, from their first English-language album, "Eyes of Innocence" (1984). The song reached the top 20 of the U.S. Hot Dance Club chart, only a tiny hint of the many mega-hits to come from MSM and Gloria Estefan, in her long solo career (and featured as well in the 2015 musical, "On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan"). Check out the original video single, the full 12" extended mix, and a Mylo vs. Miami Sound Machine Mash-up of "Drop the Pressure" and "Dr. Beat" [YouTube links].

September 02, 2018

Song of the Day #1629

Song of the Day: Shame, words and music by John H. Fitch, Jr. and Reuben Cross, was a Top 10 Billboard Hot 100, R&B, and Dance Club hit for Evelyn "Champagne" King. From her 1977 album, "Smooth Talk," the track became one of her all-time signature songs. Other renditions of the song were recorded, first for the 1994 soundtrack to "A Low Down Dirty Shame," by the soul duo Zhane and then by Kim Wilde in a more faithful-to-the-original 1996 version [YouTube links]. But neither version tops the original, in my view. Check out the original 12" vinyl version of this classic from the Disco era [YouTube link].

September 01, 2018

Song of the Day #1628

Song of the Day: Do Me Right, words and music by Nidra Beard and William Shelby, was another hit from Dynasty's 1980 album, "Adventures in the Land of Music." Check out the album version [YouTube link], which sports that classic SOLAR sound.

August 31, 2018

Song of the Day #1627

Song of the Day: I've Just Begun To Love You, words and music by William Shelby and Ricky Smith, was featured on the 1980 album, "Adventures in the Land of Music," by the SOLAR-label R&B group, Dynasty. This song was the highest charting track in the Dynasty single discography, a Top Ten R&B hit. Check out the Extended 12" Mix [YouTube link]. What's a Summer without a little SOLAR power?

August 30, 2018

Song of the Day #1626

Song of the Day: I Like Me Better features the words and music of Kobalt and Lauv, who provides the vocals on this melodic mid-tempo dance track. The song, from the artist's second studio album, "I Met You When I Was 18 (The Playlist)," took a record 35 weeks to reach the Top Ten on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart. Check out the official video version, a version performed live by the artist at this year's MTV Video Music Awards, and several dance remixes by TRU Concept, Kaan Pars, and Paul Gannon.

August 29, 2018

The Dialectics of Liberty: A Forthcoming Collection

I am honored to announce that our contract with Lexington Books, a subsidiary of Rowman & Littlefield, has been signed, sealed, and delivered [Hat Tip to Stevie! YouTube link] and that a superb new collection entitled The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom will be published in 2019-2020.

The book, co-edited by Roger E. Bissell, Edward W. Younkins, and yours truly, features the contributions of eighteen extraordinary scholars in fields as diverse as aesthetics, business, economics, higher education, history, the humanities, law, philosophy, politics, psychology, and social theory. Despite spirited disagreements among them, and the diversity of perspectives represented, all of our authors work under the Big Tent that is "dialectical libertarianism"---a form of social analysis that seeks to understand the larger dynamic and systemic context within which freedom is nourished and sustained.

The homepage we have developed is sparse right now, because we are in the process of collecting, editing, and organizing essays from our contributors and integrating them into an organic unity; in other words, you might say that the very creation of this trailblazing volume will be an unfolding dialectical process---so, for now, we are purposely not providing a list of our contributors. That will come in time; indeed, very soon, we'll unveil our stellar cast of authors.

But the news of the book's acceptance for publication was just too wonderful not to share with you. I look forward to filling in the blanks very soon. But most importantly, I look forward to the publication of the volume itself.

And speaking only for myself, as a person who felt as if his was the voice of one crying in the wilderness over the past forty years, in championing the very notion of a "dialectical libertarianism" with my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy" (Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, and Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism), I have immense personal satisfaction in having played a part in bringing together this remarkable group of contributors from whom I've learned so much---and who have honored us with their presence in what promises to be one of the most important and provocative contributions to the scholarly literature of its generation.

Song of the Day #1625

Song of the Day: Speed Demon features the words and music of Michael Jackson, who was born sixty years ago on this date in 1958. This track from Jackson's 1987 album, "Bad," was never released as a single, but it is memorable for its funk-rock music video, featured on the artist's "Moonwalker" 1988 video anthology. Check out the album version, the fun video with its cool animation, the Extended Alternate Mix, the Dilemmachine Edit, the DMC Remix, and the Nero Remix included on the 25th anniversary edition of "Bad" [YouTube links]. The song has even been covered by British heavy metal band Xerath [YouTube link].

August 28, 2018

Song of the Day #1624

Song of the Day: LovE is LovE is LovE is credited to Darrell Brown, Lindy Robbins, Toby Gad, and LeAnn Rimes, who turns 36 today. And today also begins an eight-day extended Labor Day weekend stretch of hits for our Summer Dance Party. This was the third Rimes single to hit #1 on the Hot Dance Club Chart (the other two #1 Dance Hits preceding this one were "What I Cannot Change" [YouTube link] from 2009, and "Long Live Love" from the same album as this song, "Remnants," released in 2017). Check out the original single and then listen to its transformation to a dance floor hit in three remixes: the Dave Aude Disco Remix, the Drew G Remix, and the Maruo Mozart Remix.

August 25, 2018

Song of the Day #1623

Song of the Day: West Side Story ("Symphonic Dances") [YouTube link], composed, arranged, and conducted for the concert stage by the great Leonard Bernstein, is derived from his score for the classic musical. Here, Bernstein lifts his baton to lead the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (for which he was the Musical Director from 1958 to 1969) at Lincoln Center, which was built over the very terrain on which the movie version of this classic Broadway musical was filmed. He actually made his debut conducting the Philharmonic on November 14, 1943 at Carnegie Hall, on a few hours notice, when conductor Bruno Walter came down with the flu. On that date, he led the orchestra in a challenging program that included Richard Strauss's "Don Quixote," along with works by Schumann, Wagner, and Miklos Rozsa---and was met with enthusiastic applause and critical acclaim. In this 1976 clip, the composer interweaves so many of the wonderful themes from the musical, illustrating his distinct ability to integrate elements of classical, jazz, Latin, and other idioms into his repertoire. So in keeping with our Summer Dance Party theme, this gives you dance of another kind entirely. Let us hail the Maestro, in a Centenary Tribute on the date of his birth, one hundred years ago today.

August 24, 2018

Song of the Day #1622

Song of the Day: Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs was written by legendary composer Leonard Bernstein, the centenary of whose birth we celebrate this weekend---as we take a little break from our Summer Dance Party. This ensemble piece was originally written for Woody Herman before the breakup of his band. Its premier performance was shown on the CBS show "Omnibus: The World of Jazz" [Vimeo show link] on October 16, 1955. Dedicated to clarinet great Benny Goodman, Bernstein recorded the piece with the King of Swing in 1963 [YouTube link]. The piece suggests a three-movement classical composition, its first two movements typical of the Baroque form, its final movement based on a series of jazz "riffs." It is the kind of piece that was the perfect incarnation of Bernstein's and Goodman's penchant for crossing over from classical to jazz and back. Stay tuned: Tomorrow is Lenny's Centenary.

August 20, 2018

Song of the Day #1621

Song of the Day: Filthy features the words and music of Larrance Dopson, James Fauntleroy, Floyd Nathaniel Hills, Timothy Mosley, and Justin Timberlake, who released this electro-funk track as the lead single from his 2018 album "Man of the Woods." It was the first song featured in his medley of hits in this year's Super Bowl Half-Time Show [YouTube link]. Tonight, the futuristic video of this song is nominated in the category of "Best Choreography" on the MTV Video Music Awards. The song made an impact on six Billboard charts, becoming a Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit. Check out the innovative video, the single version, the Lord 'n Club remix, and the Workout remix [YouTube links].

August 18, 2018

Song of the Day #1620

Song of the Day: I Turn to You features the words and music of Billy Steinberg, Rick Nowels, and Melanie Chisholm---aka "Melanie C" or "Sporty Spice," one of the five original Spice Girls. She recorded this 1999 song for her first solo album, "Northern Star." She was the first woman to top the U.K. charts as part of a quintet, quartet, duo, and solo artist, racking up eleven #1 U.K. singles in the process. Check out the single mix, a music video mix, the Hex Hector 12" Club Mix and the Techno Mix to this catchy tune [YouTube links].

August 17, 2018

Song of the Day #1619

Song of the Day: Let it Whip, words and music by Leon "Ndugu" Chancler and Reggie Andrews, was recorded by the Dazz Band for their 1982 album, "Keep It Live." The song held the #1 spot on the R&B chart for five nonconsecutive weeks and peaked at #2 on the Hot Dance Club Chart and #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would go on to win the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Check out the funky album version and the extended 12" remix [YouTube links].

August 16, 2018

Song of the Day #1618

Song of the Day: Respect was written by Otis Redding, who recorded the song in 1965 [YouTube link]. But it was in 1967, that Aretha Franklin recorded a version of this tune that went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became her signature song, featured on her album "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You." Franklin would go on to win her first two (out of eighteen) Grammy Awards for her rendition, for "Best Rhythm & Blues Recording" and "Best Rhythm and Blues, Vocal Performance, Female"---in the latter category, the first of an unprecedented eight consecutive wins, and a record-holding 11 wins out of a record-holding 23 nominations. The song was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame (in 1998), added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry (in 2002), and rated #5 on the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The Memphis-born Aretha herself became the first female inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in 1987). On a date that marks the sixtieth birthday of the Queen of Pop (Madonna), the forty-fifth anniversary of the passing of "The King" (Elvis Presley), as well as the seventieth anniversary of the death of the Bambino and Sultan of Swat (Babe Ruth), we have lost the Queen of Soul today at the age of 76. Ironically, I had already programmed this song for later in our 2018 "Summer Dance Party"---but moving it up to today is so much more apropos. Check out Aretha's soul-shaking recorded version of this classic, along with two live performances, one in Detroit and the other in Paris (at 16:33) [YouTube links].

Song of the Day #1617

Song of the Day: Like a Virgin, words and music by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, was the title, lead single from the second studio album released by Madonna, who was born on this date sixty years ago. This song, produced by Chic-alum, Nile Rodgers, featured an almost Billie Jean-like bass line (which MJ freely admitted was inspired by the Hall & Oates hit, "I Can't Go For That"). It was among the most talked-about singles the moment it hit the airwaves, made all the more scandalous when Madonna performed it in a wedding dress on the very first MTA Annual Video Music Awards show in 1984 [YouTube link], writhing and floor-thrusting her way into music history. It would become the entertainer's first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as the Billboard Hot Dance Club charts. It's hard to believe that among the three most iconic figures in 1980s pop music, all of whom were born within three months of one another in 1958 (Prince and Michael Jackson are the other two), Madonna is the only one alive to celebrate her 60th birthday. Check out the original single, the original video, the original 12" extended dance mix, as well as her live performance (where a lick from "Billie Jean" is heard) on "The Virgin Tour" [YouTube links]. The Queen of Pop would later pay tribute to the fallen King at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards [YouTube links]. Having seen Madonna in tour back in 2004, it was clear to me then that she'd have enough energy to perform for many years to come. Happy birthday!

August 15, 2018

Song of the Day #1616

Song of the Day: Toothbrush features the words and music of Ilya Salmanzadeh, James Alan Ghaleb, Rickard Goransson, and Joe Jonas, who turns 29 years of age today. The song, with its rhythmic groove, was recorded by DNCE for their debut 2015 EP, "Swaay." Check out the single video version, Higher Self Remix, and Aldi Waani Remix [YouTube links].

August 11, 2018

Song of the Day #1615

Song of the Day: I Want Your Love, words and music by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, was a #1 1978 Hot Dance Club hit by Chic, from their classic Disco album, "C'est Chic." In 2006, Jody Watley recorded a cover for her 2006 album "The Makeover," and it too went to #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club chart. Check out the Chic classic album version, the extended 12" mix of the Watley cover version, and a 2015 Lady Gaga version as well [YouTube links]. These various renditions only show how that dirty word, "Disco," has profoundly influenced dance music through today, from House to Hi-NRG, from Eurobeat and Techno to EDM, its sounds continue to resonate.

August 10, 2018

Song of the Day #1614

Song of the Day: Rhythm Nation features the words and music of Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Janet Jackson, who released this song from her 1989 album, "Rhythm Nation 1814." It peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 but topped both the R&B/Hip Hop and Dance Club charts. The video for the song received MTV Video Music Awards for "Best Choreography" and "Best Dance Video." It also won a Grammy as part of Jackson's long-form "Rhythm Nation 1814" video. This week the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce is honoring people who have had various ties to Harlem's history, and both Janet and "The Divine One," Sarah Vaughan, are among the honorees. This song remains one of Janet's best and one of my all-time favorite Janet Jackson tracks, with its killer bass line and melodic hook. Check out the single version and the classic black-and-white video [YouTube links].

August 04, 2018

Song of the Day #1613

Song of the Day: Don't Go Breaking My Heart, words and music by Stephen Wrabel, is the lead single to a forthcoming 2018 album by the Backstreet Boys. The boy band has grown up, but still has a flair for the rhythmic and the melodic. Check out the video single and a nice saxed-up sexy Dave Aude dance remix [YouTube links]. Also check out their recent appearance on "The Tonight Show" where they performed one of their golden goldies, "I Want it That Way" with toy instruments [YouTube links].

August 03, 2018

Song of the Day #1612

Song of the Day: Lost in Japan features the words and music of Teddy Geiger, Scott Harris, Nate Mercereau, and Shawn Mendes, who turns 20 years old on August 8th! This track is featured on Mendes's self-titled 2018 album (which spawned the hit single "In My Blood," covered by his one-time-tourmate, Charlie Puth [YouTube links]). Mendes tells us he was inspired by the music of Justin Timberlake (especially JT's "Justified"). Mendes provides us with a strong JT-like falsetto over a bass-infused groove. Check out the single version and the especially slick dance remix [YouTube links].

July 29, 2018

Song of the Day #1611

Song of the Day: Love is Like an Itching In My Heart, written by the famous Holland-Dozier-Holland team, was another Billboard Top Ten Hot 100 and Hot R&B hit from "The Supremes A' Go Go" album. The 1966 single was an uptempo dance hit, released in April of that year but making its television debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on May 1st. Check out the single version and the television performance as we conclude our Supremes Weekend [YouTube links].

July 28, 2018

Song of the Day #1610

Song of the Day: You Can't Hurry Love was another #1 hit for the Holland-Dozzier-Holland songwriting team, recorded in 1966 by The Supremes for their album, "The Supremes A' Go-Go." Billboard magazine named this song #19 on their list of the 100 Greatest Girl Group songs of all time! In 1982, Phil Collins would take this song to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 yet again. Check out Phil's memorable version and then take a listen to the original Motown hit by Diana Ross and the Supremes [YouTube links].

July 27, 2018

Song of the Day #1609

Song of the Day: You Keep Me Hangin' On was composed by the Holland-Dozzier-Holland songwriting team for the supreme Motown "Girl Group": The Supremes. The group took the 1966 song (from the album, "The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozzier-Holland") to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was recorded by other acts who also charted successfully: Vanilla Fudge (whose version hit the Top Ten in 1967), Kim Wilde (who hit #1 with her version in 1987), and Reba McEntire (who took the Love to Infinity "Classic Paradise" remix of the song to #2 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club chart) [YouTube links]. But that truly classic Motown sound is still delivered by the original Supremes hit [YouTube link]. And what a nice way to start a Supremes Weekend!

July 24, 2018

Song of the Day #1608

Song of the Day: Waiting for Tonight, words and music by Maria Christensen, Michael Garvin, and Phil Temple, and was originally recorded in 1997 by the "Girl Group" 3rd Party [YouTube link]. Two years later, it was recorded by Jennifer Lopez, today's birthday girl, who took the song to #1 on the Billboard Dance Club chart, her first chart-topper on that chart. From her album, "On the 6," the song received the MTV Video Award for Best Dance Video. The Latin House arranged-song was critically acclaimed by many as the best of J-Lo's career. Check out J-Lo video version of the song and the Hot Hex Hector extended remix [YouTube links].

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 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 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

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

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].

July 04, 2018

Song of the Day #1596

Song of the Day: Back in the U.S.A. features the words and music and classic sound of Chuck Berry. It's a quintessential Independence Day song. Check out the original Chuck Berry version and a 1978 hit Linda Ronstadt version as well. The two of them did a live version on the occasion of Berry's sixtieth birthday, with Keith Richards on backup vocals [YouTube links].

July 03, 2018

Song of the Day #1595

Song of the Day: Self-Control, words and music by Giancarlo Bigazzi, Raffaele Riefoli and Steve Piccolo, was the biggest international hit in the career of singer Laura Branigan, who was born on this date in 1952. Tragically, she died at the age of 52 from a brain aneurysm in August 2004. This was the title track to her third album, hitting #4 on the 1984 Billboard Hot 100, and peaking at #2 on the Hot Dance Club Chart. Check out the extended 12" remix and the video single [YouTube links], which was directed by William Friedkin (director of such films as "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist"). The song was also used for a key opening scene to "American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace" [YouTube link], with Darren Criss giving an award-worthy unsettling performance as spree killer Andrew Cunanan.

July 02, 2018

Song of the Day #1594

Song of the Day: I Love Music, words and music by the Philly soul team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, was featured on the 1975 album, "Family Renunion," by the O'Jays. This iconic '70s dance track ("Part One") was a Top 5 Hot 100 hit and a #1 Billboard R&B chart hit. But in its full-length album version ("Part One" and "Part Two"), it spent eight weeks atop the Hot Dance Club chart. It was also featured on the soundtracks to "Carlito's Way" (1993) and "Pride" (2007). A little trivia: The solo bongo intro was played by comedian Bill Cosby and the "Get it On" chorus was sung by Cleavon Little. Check out the album version and the extended 12" version in all their '70s Disco Glory [YouTube].

July 01, 2018

Song of the Day #1593

Song of the Day: Self-Image [YouTube link], composed by jazz trumpeter David Allan, is featured on one of the landmark jazz guitar albums in jazz history: Sounds of Synanon, an album which was released on this date in 1962. We may be in the middle of a Summer Dance Party---in which case, get close to a partner and feel this music in a jazzy slow jam. As Downbeat writer John Tynan tells us in the liner notes to the album from which it came: "There are times in the ironic drama of Life when happiness and fulfillment bloom out of misery and despair." Tynan explains that "the seeds of [this] music were planted in seven individuals whose lives had been blighted by drug addiction." Among them were pianist Arnold Ross, baritone horn player Greg Dykes, bassist Ronald Clark, drummer Bill Crawford, bongo player Candy Latson, trumpeter Dave Allan, and the man whose career soared to the legendary heights of jazz genius: guitarist Joe Pass. This marked the first vinyl album on which Pass was ever featured, and jazz historian Leonard Feather would say, with no apprehension, in his July 1962 Downbeat review that the Pacific Jazz label had "discovered a major jazz talent" in Joe Pass. In this selection, each of the players reveals a depth of emotion that is deeply touching. Of course, Pass shines, but it is Dave Allan, who composed the piece, who truly provides us with a poignant, heart-breaking "self-image" that will stay with you long after you've listened to it. Check it out on the link above or at this YouTube link as well.

June 30, 2018

Song of the Day #1592

Song of the Day: Hitch it to the Horse, words and music by Jesse James, was a 1968 pop and R&B hit for Fantastic Johnny C. (Johnny Corley). Drawing on the James-penned hit, "The Horse," which we featured on Triple Crown Day, this song implores us to do "the funky walk." Check out the original single and a 2003 cover by Latin jazz artist Poncho Sanchez, which features a nice sax solo to accompany its soulful funky beat [YouTube links].

June 29, 2018

Song of the Day #1591

Song of the Day: Shake Your Groove Thing, words and music by Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren, was a 1978-79 Peaches and Herb hit that made the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Disco chart. This song has made its impact on popular culture, featured in various film and television shows throughout the years. Check out the single version, the album version, and the original 12" remix [YouTube links]. We're beginning an extended "Song of the Day" run that will take us right through July 4th. So no excuses: Shake your groove thing!

June 28, 2018

Song of the Day #1590

Song of the Day: It's Your Thing, words and music by Ronald Isley, O'Kelley Isley, Jr., and Rudolph Isley, otherwise known as the Isley Brothers, was released in February 1969. This song, from the album, "It's Our Thing," would reach #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B charts, and would go on to win a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. It was one of the singles featured on the jukebox at the Stonewall Inn, which was raided by police in the early morning hours of June 28th of that year, in what proved to be the final act of state violence against this private establishment catering to a largely gay and lesbian clientele. With lyrics such as "It's your thing, do what you wanna do! I can't tell you who to sock it to! I'm not trying to run your life, I know you wanna do what's right. Give your love now, to whoever you choose. How can you lose!"---it became a perfect funk anthem to celebrate the birth of the modern gay liberation movement as the Stonewall Inn patrons fought back in defense of their rights to live their own lives in liberty and to pursue their own happiness, without social or political oppression or the need for the Mafia-owned bar to continue making police pay-offs---a libertarian moment if ever there were one!

June 27, 2018

Song of the Day #1589

Song of the Day: Bloom features the words and music of Brett McLaughlin, Oscar Holter, Peter Svensson, and Troye Sivan Millet, a 23-year old South African-born Australian who used social media to "come out" [YouTube link] and to gain an impressive pop following with his music. But even Ian McKellen was impressed as was Larry King [YouTube links to Larry King interviews]. He recorded this title song for his forthcoming second album. He provides us with an exercise in human authenticity in a revealing interview for Billboard's 2018 Pride Issue. Tomorrow, we'll have more to say about the 'prideful' meaning of these dates in late June. For now, check out the song's original video single, Cliak Remix, Mysterio Remix, and Craig Welsh Remix.

June 25, 2018

Song of the Day #1588

Song of the Day: Scream features the words and music of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and siblings Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson, whose recording of this duet was released in May 1995. The critically acclaimed video would go on to win three MTV Video Music Awards (for "Best Dance Video," "Best Choreography," and "Best Art Direction"), as well as a Grammy Award for Best Music Video. Check out the original video single, the Flyte Tyme Remix and the Naughty Remix (featuring a rap by Treach of Naughty by Nature) [YouTube links]. On this day, nine years ago, MJ was "gone too soon." This song gave his sister a chance to provide a touching tribute to her brother at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards [YouTube link], as Janet matched the choreographic moves of MJ live on stage, with the video to this #1 Dance Club Song as her background. And for an extra treat, check out a classic Disconet medley of some of MJ's hits put to a fine video edit [YouTube]---giving us a glimpse of why he was one of the finest "song and dance men" of his generation.

June 24, 2018

Song of the Day #1587

Song of the Day: Man in the Mirror, featuring the words and music of Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard, was the fourth of five consecutive #1 singles released from Michael Jackson's "Bad," the 1987 solo album that followed the massive success of "Thriller," still the biggest-selling album in music history. This song features not only Jackson's classic vocals [a cappella link], but the background vocals of Garrett (who sang a duet with Jackson on the album's first #1 hit, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You"), The Winan's, and the Andrae Crouch Choir. Check out the single version, the extended version, the official video version, and the inevitable dance remix. Also check out his performance of the song at the 1988 Grammy Awards (which followed a jazzy live performance of the third #1 single from the same album, "The Way You Make Me Feel") [YouTube links]. This begins a two-day tribute to MJ in remembrance of his untimely passing on June 25, 2009.

June 23, 2018

Song of the Day #1586

Song of the Day: Unbreak My Heart, words and music by Diane Warren, was one of the most successful singles in the history of the Billboard charts. Produced by David Foster and recorded by Toni Braxton for her album "Secrets," she went on to win the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. As a power ballad, the song spent 11 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, 14 weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary Chart, but in several dance remixes, it attained the #1 spot on the Dance Club Chart for four weeks. Check out the video ballad version, and then, get back on that dance floor with the Frankie Knuckles Radio edit, the full Frankie Knuckles 12" Remix, the Soul-Hex Vocal Anthem mix, and a live performance at the 1996 Billboard Music Awards that combined the ballad and dance sounds of an unforgettable hit.

June 22, 2018

Louis Prima Sets Billboard Record

From Billboard magazine comes some interesting news for long-time Louis Prima fans. Because of the contemporary penchant for sampling, it appears that Louis Prima, legendary jazz trumpeter, singer, composer, and bandleader, who died in August 1978, and whose last appearance on the Hot 100 was on February 13, 1961, for the #15 song "Wonderland by Night" [YouTube link] has just set a record. The new hip hop group, Kids See Ghosts, made up of Kanye West and Kid Cudi, has heavily sampled from Prima's 1936 recording of "What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swingin')" [YouTube link], for their own song "4th Dimension" [YouTube link].

That song debuts at #42 on the Hot 100 this week, which "ends a record break of 57 years, four months and two weeks between Hot 100 appearances" for Prima.

For somebody who once sang "I Ain't Got Nobody" [YouTube link] as part of a medley with "Just a Gigolo", one thing is clear: He's got a record he may hold on to for a very long time!

Song of the Day #1585

Song of the Day: Turn the Beat Around, words and music by Gerald Jackson and Peter Jackson, was recorded by Vicki Sue Robinson for her 1976 debut album "Never Gonna Let You Go." A bona fide Disco Classic with a raw percussive edge, this single went to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent four weeks at #1 on the Dance Club Chart. Check out the original extended mix [YouTube link]. The song was subsequently covered by Laura Branigan and Gloria Estefan [YouTube links], whose version also went to #1 on the Dance Club Chart in 1994.

June 21, 2018

Song of the Day #1584

Song of the Day: The Twist features the words and music of Hank Ballard and it was Hank Ballard and the Midnighters [YouTube link] who first recorded this song as a B-sided single in 1959. That original version peaked at #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. Later that year, along came a gentleman named Chubby Checker, whose cover version hit the top of the Hot 100 in September 1960 and again in January 1962, leading Billboard to declare it the "biggest hit" of the 1960s. "The Twist" was also the name of the dance that sparked a wordwide dance craze. Even at 2 years old, I was twisting and turning to the sounds of this mega-hit. In 2018, it was among six songs named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's inaugural class of singles recognized as having influenced the course of rock. With the summer solstice having arrived today in the Northern Hemisphere at 6:07 a.m. ET, this song kicks off our Third Annual Summer Dance Party, which unlike previous celebrations, will be highlighting dance hits from the 1950s through today, with special emphasis on the hits of yesteryear. Check out the original Chubby Checker #1 hit [YouTube link].

June 17, 2018

Song of the Day #1583

Song of the Day: You're Looking Hot Tonight features the words and music of Barry Manilow, who celebrates his 75th birthday today. He opens his Vegas residency this weekend with concerts at Westgate Las Vegas. We've not officially started our Third Annual Summer Dance Party, but I figured it would be nice to post a rare 1983 dance track from Manilow. Check out the single version and then listen to the superior dance remix offered by Disconet [YouTube link].

June 10, 2018

Song of the Day #1582

Song of the Day: Dear Evan Hansen ("You Will Be Found"), words and music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, is a musical highlight from this 2017 Tony Award-winning Best Musical. With lead vocals by Tony-Award winning "Best Actor in a Musical," Ben Platt, the song is an inspiring call to "let the sun come streaming in" when "the dark comes crashing through." Tonight, another musical will take the top award at the Tony Awards. For now, we can enjoy a gem from last year's winner, featured on the Broadway cast album [YouTube link].

June 09, 2018

Song of the Day #1581

Song of the Day: The Horse, words and music by Jesse James, was a million-selling #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. It was technically the instrumental B-side of the 1968 single "Love is All Right" [YouTube link], by Cliff Nobles and Company. A slice of Philadelphia soul at its best, it boasts a horn section that went on to become the group MFSB. I provide this second "Song of the Day" for one reason only: Today, the Horse, Justify, vies for a place in Thoroughbred Racing History, looking for a win at the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes to take the Triple Crown. Go Justify! And check out this classic instrumental [YouTube link]. [Ed: And Justify becomes the 13th Horse in History, and only the second undefeated Thoroughbred, to win the Triple Crown!]

Song of the Day #1580

Song of the Day: Summer: The Donna Summer Musical ("Heaven Knows") features the words and music of Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte, and Donna Summer, whose recording of this 1978 song (with the background vocals of The Brooklyn Dreams and lead vocals by Joe "Bean" Esposito) reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Chart, and was a Top Ten R&B hit. The song, from Summer's album "Live and More", is also featured in "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical," which boasts two Tony nominations for Leading Actress and Featured Actress in a Musical (LaChange and Ariana DeBose, respectively, who play Donna at different points in her life). Check out the original Summer single, an alternative take with Esposito singing the lead vocal, the original 12" single version, the 12" Purrfection Version, and finally, "The MacArthur Park Suite," of which this song was a part (13:26 in the suite) [YouTube links].

June 08, 2018

Song of the Day #1579

Song of the Day: Broadway Gondolier ("Lulu's Back in Town"), words by Al Dubin, music by Harry Warren, is from the 1935 Warner Brothers film musical. Powell provides the vocals, with the Mills Brothers, for this song in the movie [YouTube link]. The song was also performed by Fats Waller, the Hi-Lo's with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra and in a swinging take by Mel Torme [YouTube links]. With the Tony Awards being broadcast on CBS on Sunday night, this is a Broadway weekend, even if this particular song didn't come from a Broadway show!

June 07, 2018

Song of the Day #1578

Song of the Day: Erotic City features the words and music of Prince, the sixtieth anniversary of whose birth we celebrate today. Recorded by Prince and the Revolution in 1984, this song was released as the B-side to the Purple One's classic "Let's Go Crazy." And I can think of no song more appropriate to showing the "naughty side" of this Naughty Boy. The song, with co-lead vocals by Sheila E., is not freely available on the web, but you can hear an excerpt at Amazon.com.

May 20, 2018

Song of the Day #1577

Song of the Day: That's the Way Love Goes features the words and music of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Charles Bobbit, and Janet Jackson, with samples credited to James Brown, Fred Wesley, and John "Jabo" Starks. This sensual Grammy-winning R&B downtempo song was the lead single from Jackson's fifth studio album, "Janet," topping the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks (the longest reign atop that chart of any Jackson family member!), and remains the only single in chart history to debut at #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Airplay Chart. Check out the music video and the soulful album version [YouTube links]. At the end of a weekend of Royal love, and with Justify now vying for a Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Royalty, tonight Janet ("Miss Jackson, If you're Nasty") will offer up a bit of American musical royalty with a medley of her hits as she receives the Icon Trophy on the Billboard Music Awards, televised on NBC.

May 14, 2018

Song of the Day #1576

Song of the Day: As Long as I'm Singin' features the words and music of Bobby Darin, who was born on this date in 1936. Recorded in 1964, it was one of those songs that went unreleased in Darin's tragically short lifetime (he died at the age of 37). The song can be heard on the soundtrack to the 2004 Kevin Spacey-biopic of Darin,"Beyond the Sea." But the original recording showcases Darin's swingin' ways. Gone but never forgotten. Check it out on YouTube.

May 13, 2018

Song of the Day #1575

Song of the Day: Mama Said, words and music by Luther Dixon and Willie Denson, was a huge hit for the Shirelles, who took the song to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart. It has been covered by many artists through the years, but the original Girl Group hit remains my favorite. What better way to wish all the mothers out there "Happy Mother's Day." Check it out on YouTube.

May 12, 2018

Song of the Day #1574

Song of the Day: How Long features the words and music of James Kasher Hindin, Justin Franks, and Charlie Puth, who recorded this song for inclusion on his long-awaited second studio album, "Voicenotes," which was released yesterday, May 11, 2018. The 26-year old Puth, a New Jersey native, is a talented artist, with perfect pitch, who graduated from Manhattan School of Music Pre-College, where he majored in jazz piano, with a classical music minor. He later earned a degree from Berklee College of Music. I first noticed this guy when he performed "Attention" on "The Tonight Show," hosted by Jimmy Fallon. He played an electric piano solo that exhibited some really nice jazz chops; the song eventually was a Top 5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, followed by the equally hook-laden "How Long" [YouTube link]. As if speaking to his jazz roots, one of the lyrics to the chorus of this song is "How Long Has This Been Going On?"---a clear allusion to the great Gershwin standard. Bravo, Charlie! Great new album! [Ed.: And for a chuckle, check out the Trump Mix [YouTube link].]

May 05, 2018

Song of the Day #1573

Song of the Day: Livin' on a Prayer, words and music by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, and Desmond Child, went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Album Rock Track charts and became a signature song for the American rock band, Bon Jovi. Check out the hit song as well as a hilarious Karaoke version at a gas station [YouTube links]. Congratulations to the band for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14th; the ceremony is being televised tonight by HBO.

March 31, 2018

Song of the Day #1572

Song of the Day: Ciaconna (from "Partita in D-minor for Violin No. 2"), BMV 1004, is the last part of a five-movement partita (sometimes rendered in its French spelling as "Chaconne," each part corresponding to a dance of the time), written by German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, who was born in 1685 on this date, at least according to the Gregorian calendar. One of the greatest composers of all time, Bach wrote music that was definitive of the Baroque period. This work has a special place in my heart, and I was able to track it down with the help of my friend Roger E. Bissell. The intensity of the piece is displayed by violinists Hillary Hahn and the great Itzhak Perlman [YouTube links]. It has also been played by classical guitarists Andres Segovia and Julian Bream [YouTube links]. Ironically, however, I was first made aware of the piece due to an extraordinary video posted on YouTube in memory of jazz guitarist Joe Pass. It was recorded at the Adelaide Festival S.A. (sometime between 1-8 March 1990). It is heard during a seminar that included Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco Pena, blues guitarist Leo Kottke, classical guitarist John Williams (not the film score composer, whose birthday we celebrated last month as part of my annual Film Music February series), and jazz guitarist Joe Pass. Beginning at around 2:15 in the 5:26 minute video, we are reminded that the classical masters were basically improvisers: they came up with a main theme and then "improvised" variations on the theme, which were written down. Guitarist Williams is obviously fascinated by the spontaneous improvisation of the jazz artist, and to illustrate the spontaneity and brilliance of the process, he lays down the basic melodic structure of the Chaconne, and invites Pass to improvise simultaneously over that melody. Pass throws in a few jazz licks that get a chuckle out of the audience, but the whole video provides us with a lesson on the universality of music. Check out the video clip here [YouTube link]. The piece can also be heard throughout the eerie 1946 film, with Peter Lorre, "The Beast with Five Fingers" [YouTube trailer].

March 09, 2018

Song of the Day #1571

Song of the Day: When You're Smiling/The Sheik of Araby is a Tin Pan Alley duet made famous by the rip-roaring pair of Louis Prima and Keely Smith. Keely Smith would have been 90 years old today. "When You're Smiling" was written by Larry Shay, Mark Fisher, and Joe Goodwin in 1928; "The Sheik of Araby" featured the music of Ted Snyder and the lyrics of Harry B. Smith and Francis Wheeler, and was a response in song to the popularity of "The Sheik," which starred the smoldering silent screen star, Rudolph Valentino. Greatly influenced by Louis Armstrong, trumpeter and vocalist Louis Prima, a native of New Orleans, brought a spicy touch of Sicily to the popular sounds of jazz and early rhythm and blues. In fact, it was in the largely Italian-owned social clubs of the city that Prima learned much of the vernacular of early jazz. But it was in the magic pairing of Prima with jazz singer Keely Smith that the two would launch one of the earliest and most successful lounge acts on the Las Vegas strip. Though the pair divorced in 1961, their studio and live recordings were legendary. Prima died in 1978 at the age of 67, and Smith died at the age of 89 in December 2017. But at their height, they were selling out five shows a night at the Sahara in Vegas. Check out their duet of this classic medley (with smokin' saxman Sam Butera) and Smith's own 1958 live recording of it as well [YouTube links].

March 05, 2018

Song of the Day #1570

Song of the Day: The Champion features the music and lyrics of Chris DeStefano, Brett James, Christopher Bridges, and Carrie Underwood, who recorded this song to open NBC's coverage of Super Bowl LII, but it was used by NBC throughout the 2018 Winter Olympics, which ended on 25 February 2018, and is an appropriate post-Oscar tribute to all those who took home statuettes last night. Check out the Champion vocal pipes of Underwood in the Super Bowl opening and in the official video, which features a rap by Bridges (aka Ludacris) [YouTube links].

March 04, 2018

Song of the Day #1569

Song of the Day: Star Wars: The Last Jedi ("A New Alliance") [YouTube link], composed by John Williams, constitutes proof that a Jedi master composer can continue to provide new thematic content to a long-time Star Wars franchise with which he has been associated since 1977. In this cue from one of this year's Oscar-nominated scores to the latest installment of the franchise, we hear a familiar theme, but The Maestro takes us in other directions, transporting us into a galaxy, far, far away, as our annual film music tribute comes to a conclusion. At 86 years old, Williams earns his 51st Oscar nomination with this score; he is only four years younger than the Academy Awards. So, until next year's Film Score February, enjoy the 90th Annual Academy Awards, hosted for the second consecutive year by Jimmy Kimmel. And May the Force Be With You!

March 03, 2018

Song of the Day #1568

Song of the Day: The Omen ("Ave Satani"), composed by Jerry Goldsmith, whose birthday we celebrated on February 10th, is the theme that opens the devilishly scary original 1976 film, "The Omen," starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick. The film would spawn two sequels, and a 2006 reboot. This song actually received an Oscar nomination in the Best Original Song category, the only song sung in Latin to ever be so nominated---though it would lose to "Evergreen" from the Streisand version of "A Star is Born". Goldsmith still walked away with a well-deserved Oscar for Best Original Score, because it did everything that could ever be asked of a soundtrack: contributing to and augmenting the things we see on the screen. And that it does quite well! Now, let me be clear about one thing; I've been called many things by many folks: a Hegelian, a Marxist, even a nutjob, but one thing I am not is a "Satanist," even if I'm highlighting this song on this day. I am a fan of many film genres and their corresponding scores---horror films among them. And this is certainly one of the most eerie soundtracks to ever be honored in this category---definitely not something to listen to before you go to bed, unless you want 666 nightmares before dawn! Check it out on YouTube. Don't say I didn't warn you! Now here's a bit of ironic horror cinema trivia: On this date, March 3rd in 1692, Elizabeth Selwyn, accused of being a witch, was "Burned at the Stake in Whitewood, Massachusetts" [a metal track from "Horror Classics and Other Tributes to the Darkside" by Those Left Behind]. Before the flames consumed her, she cast a Satanic curse on the town to last for all eternity (spoiler alert: nothing lasts forever). Well, that's how the 1960 British film "City of the Dead" [YouTube film link] opens. It is known to some horror film fans as "Horror Hotel" (which was slightly edited for its American audience) and scared the daylights out of me when I first saw it as a kid. As did "The Omen" [YouTube film clip]. All the more appropriate then to feature this selection from Goldsmith's Oscar-winning score on this devilish date (called "The Witches' Sabbath" in "The City of the Dead")!

March 02, 2018

Song of the Day #1567

Song of the Day: Ferdinand ("Home") features the words and music of Justin Tranter, Nick Monson, and Nick Jonas, who sings the lead from this song, which was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, but is not among the nominees for this year's "Best Original Song" Oscar category. It is, however, a highlight from the 2017 3D-animated flick, "Ferdinand." Check it out on YouTube.

March 01, 2018

Song of the Day #1566

Song of the Day: Me, Myself, & Irene ("Totalimmortal") was originally recorded by AFI, and featured on their extended play album, "All Hallow's E.P." The song was subsequently covered by The Offspring, and heard over the closing credits for this "black comedy," released in 2000, starring Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger. Check out the original and its Offspring [YouTube links].

February 28, 2018

Song of the Day #1565

Song of the Day: Batman ("Batdance"), composed by Prince, uses the Batman hook [YouTube link] from the campy 1960s TV show I grew up watching, starring the late Adam West as our Caped Crusader. This song was featured in the Tim Burton-directed 1989 Batman reboot, starring Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as an over-the-top off-the-wall Joker. Check out the official music video [YouTube link].

February 27, 2018

Song of the Day #1564

Song of the Day: The Dead Pool ("San Francisco Night") [YouTube link], composed by Lalo Schifrin, is featured over the end credits for the 1988 film, which was the fifth and final installment in the "Dirty Harry" series. This particular film Includes an unforgettable car chase in which Clint Eastwood's Harry Callahan, driving his unmarked Oldsmobile 98 squad car, is pursued by a bomb-loaded electric race buggy. As far as film scores go, you know you're in an Eastwood movie, because it is almost always jazzy, and Schifrin's soundtrack doesn't disappoint.


February 26, 2018

Song of the Day #1563

Song of the Day: The Giant Behemoth ("Main Title") [YouTube link at 1:15], composed by Edwin Astley (no relation to Rick), opens this Eugene Lourie-directed 1959 film, in which a prehistoric beast terrorizes London. Lourie also directed the similarly themed 1953 monster movie, "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms," in which the prehistoric beast terrorizes Manhattan (even though the monster is ultimately defeated in Coney Island, Brooklyn. He obviously picked the wrong place to go on a monster rampage!). This film includes classic stop-action animation by Willis O'Brien, of "King Kong" fame (whereas the "20,000 Fathoms" film featured that same technique used by one of O'Brien's greatest students: Ray Harryhausen).

February 25, 2018

Song of the Day #1562

Song of the Day: Hollywood Canteen ("What Are You Doin' the Rest of Your Life?"), words by Ted Koehler, music by Burton Lane, can be heard in this 1944 film performed by Jack Carson and Jane Wyman (with the Jimmy Dorsey orchestra) [YouTube link]. Not to be confused with, perhaps, my favorite song of all time, the very first entry ever featured on "My Favorite Songs" (written by yesterday's birthday boy, Michel Legrand), this song, nonetheless, is a musical highlight of the Canteen film. It was also recorded in 1945 by Vaughn Monroe [YouTube link].

February 24, 2018

Song of the Day #1561

Song of the Day: Dingo ("Paris Walking II") [YouTube link] was composed by the only Michel Legrand, who turns 86 today. His jazzy score to this 1992 Australian film is all the more significant because it features the trumpet work of the only Miles Davis, who also stars in the film and received co-composing credits. Michel will be making a four-night stop at the Blue Note jazz club in NYC in April! Happy birthday, Michel!

February 23, 2018

Song of the Day #1560

Song of the Day: Imitation of Life ("Main Theme"), music by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Paul Francis Webster, is sung in the title sequence by Earl Grant (who has a Nat King Cole-ish delivery). It is a lovely song from one of the signature Douglas Sirk films of the 1950s. The 1959 film stars Lana Turner and John Gavin. Check out the theme over the opening credits [YouTube link].

February 22, 2018

Song of the Day #1559

Song of the Day: To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar ("Turn it Out"), words and music by Shep Pettibone and Steve Feldman, is sung by Labelle, led by the soaring pipes of Patti Labelle. This dance track was featured in the 1995 comedy, which starred gender-bending Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo. Shake that booty on YouTube. And then check out "The Bomb" 12-inch remix [YouTube link].

February 21, 2018

Song of the Day #1558

Song of the Day: Courage Under Fire ("Main Title") [YouTube link] was composed by the late James Horner for this 1996 film starring Denzel Washington. The theme features certain phrases that are quintessentially Horner (such unique phrases are a hallmark of virtually all composers, whether for the concert stage or the silver screen). Gone too soon, James Horner left a body of work that has withstood the test of time.

February 20, 2018

Song of the Day #1557

Song of the Day: The Bourne Identity ("Main Theme") [YouTube link], composed by John Powell, gives us that pulsating, suspenseful motif we've come to expect from the film franchise. Matt Damon takes on the role of Jason Bourne in this 2002 film, the first film in the Bourne film series. He would go on to star in four of the five films in the series thus far.

February 19, 2018

Song of the Day #1556

Song of the Day: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Vocal), composed by Frank DeVol and Bobby Helfer, was derived from one of the rock-oriented themes from the soundtrack to the 1962 thriller starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. This single was actually released, featuring both Debbie Burton (who dubbed the singing voice of the young Baby Jane Hudson in the film) and Bette Davis. The single can be heard here and here [YouTube links]. Susan Sarandon, playing Bette Davis, nails it in Episode 4 of the series, "Feud," a miniseries on the legendary feud between the two actresses. Check out Davis's performance of this on the Andy Williams show in 1962, as well as a "mashup" of the Davis and Sarandon versions [YouTube links].

February 18, 2018

Song of the Day #1555

Song of the Day: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ ("Chariot Race") [YouTube film clip], music by Carl Davis (for the restored 1987 version), highlights the rousing chariot race from the 1925 epic silent version of the famous Lew Wallace novel. The film stars Ramon Navarro as Judah Ben-Hur and Francis X. Bushman as Messala; they battle it out in one of the finest silent screen action sequences ever filmed. It is noteworthy that the 1959 Oscar champ, with its glorious film score by Miklos Rozsa, has no musical accompaniment for its famed chariot race [YouTube film clip excerpt], which was staged by famed Hollywood stuntman Yakima Canutt. It was a terrific choice, artistically speaking, because the audience is engulfed by the sounds of the arena---its gruesome violence depicted by the clashing chariots, their riders and horses, and thousands of extras, none of it generated by CGI effects. A silent film, however, had no such luxury; Carl Davis's soundtrack provides the audience with a dramatic motif that augments the action we view on screen. A genuine triumph. One other piece of cinema trivia: In this 1925 silent epic, William Wyler was an uncredited Assistant Director, and A. Arnold Gillespie was an uncredited set designer for the art department. Both Wyler and Gillespie would go on to win Oscars for the 1959 version, in the categories of Directing and Visual Effects, respectively.

February 17, 2018

Song of the Day #1554

Song of the Day: Ben-Hur ("The Mother's Love") [YouTube link], composed by Miklos Rozsa, is one of the most melancholy themes from this William Wyler-directed 1959 blockbuster, which won a record 11 Oscars, including a well-deserved one for its magnificent score. Equaled but not surpassed by "Titanic" and "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" in its Oscar tally, this epic is the only film among those holding the record to have won Oscars in the acting categories---one for Charlton Heston as Best Actor (in the role of Judah Ben-Hur) and the other for Hugh Griffith as Best Supporting Actor (in the role of Sheik Ilderim). Heston has the distinction of appearing in what is considered to be the last of the "classic" costume epics ("The Ten Commandments") and this, the first of the modern intimate "thinking man's" epics ("Ben-Hur"), noted for providing deep characterization amidst grand spectacle. Ironically, in both films, actress Martha Scott played Charlton Heston's mother (and today's theme captures "the mother's love" so poignantly). It's become a tradition during my annual film music tribute, which started way back in 2005, to pick a cue on this date, my birthday, from my all-time favorite film and film score---and I have no intention of changing that tradition anytime soon. How appropriate to highlight this selection especially for "the mother's love" that gave me life and nurtured me as I grew to maturity. Today also happens to be the 32nd Annual American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement Awards, in both theatrical releases and television, hosted by TCM's Ben Mankiewicz. Apropos, among the 11 Oscars received by "Ben-Hur" was one for "Best Color Cinematography" by Robert Surtees. For this year's TCM "31 Days of Oscar" celebration, films are being featured by Oscar Award category each day. "Ben-Hur" is the final film---in the climactic final category of "Best Picture"---in TCM's annual tribute, scheduled for 2:45 a.m. ET on March 4th. It's the most obvious period at the end of any cinema sentence, since it is still among the most honored films in Oscar history.

February 16, 2018

Song of the Day #1553

Song of the Day: Where Eagles Dare ("Main Theme") [YouTube link] was composed by Ron Goodwin for this 1968 British World War II film. The military thematic content is accentuated here, a musical set-up for the story to come. The film starred an international cast, which included Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. From the screenplay based on the novel by Alistair Maclean to the stunt work of the legendary Yakima Cannutt (who plays no small role in tomorrow's entry in our series), this film bursts with talent. "Broadsword calling Danny Boy!" [YouTube link].

February 15, 2018

Song of the Day #1552

Song of the Day: Cinderella ("A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes"), words and music by Mack David, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston, was sung by the character Cinderalla (vocalist Ilene Woods). It was on this date in 1950 that the Disney film, "Cinderalla," was released. This is one of the loveliest songs to emerge from the Disney musical catalogue. Listen to the original animated version of this song [YouTube link] and then check out an instrumental rendition that is among my favorites; it was recorded by the Rob Mounsey Orchestra for the album, "Jazz Loves Disney" [YouTube link].

February 14, 2018

Song of the Day #1551

Song of the Day: The Thomas Crown Affair ("Chess Scene") [YouTube link], composed by Michel Legrand, is featured in the original 1968 version of the film, starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. In this particular scene, the music augments the chemistry and sensuality between the stars. After viewing this sexually charged scene, you'll never again look at the game of chess the same. It's a nice way to celebrate those loving hormones often generated by Valentine's Day. Legrand lost the Oscar for Best Original Score, but got one for Best Original Song (along with lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman) for the film's classic tune, "The Windmills of Your Mind" sung by Sting in the fine 1999 remake [YouTube link]).

Postscript: On Facebook, I added two comments on Michel Legrand:

And speaking of Michel Legrand (whose birthday I'll celebrate later this month as part of the Film Music February salute): a pair of "Olympic Athletes from Russia" did a lovely figure skating routine last night to an orchestral version of the Legrand theme to "Summer of '42". Beautiful.
Legrand is one of the most brilliant composers, arrangers, and conductors of the modern age. I saw him in concert many years ago at Hunter College, and actually went back stage to shake his hands (ever so lightly, because they were numb from having played his butt off for nearly 2 hours).
In any event, for those who have fallen in love with his film scores, there is a whole other side to him, which started with "Legrand Jazz", and has gone on till this day. His album with Sarah Vaughan, for example, is outstanding---the orchestrations beyond belief.
But one of his finest compositions is a three-movement orchestral piece, "Images," with Phil Woods as the featured alto saxophonist. The unison lines that Woods and Legrand play are breathtaking, and the improvisation within the piece is just remarkable (I didn't appreciate the level of improvisational brilliance until I heard a second recorded performance of this piece, certainly wonderful, but with a French alto saxman Herve Meschinet, who, as far as I am concerned, couldn't touch the dexterity and fluidity of Woods.)
In any event, the album ("Images"), on which the Woods version appears, received a Grammy Award for "Best Jazz Ensemble Album" in 1976, and the track, "Images," received the Grammy for "Best Instrumental Composition", both well deserved. You can check out the piece, in all its virtuosity, on YouTube. It is best heard with the volume all the way up, during the day---so as not to provoke the neighbors from calling the police.

February 13, 2018

Song of the Day #1550

Song of the Day: From the Terrace ("Love Theme") [Film Score Monthly excerpt link] was composed by Elmer Bernstein for this Paul Newman-Joanne Woodward 1960 film. The theme serves as the main title and can be heard in full at the beginning of this YouTube film link. This cue provides us with an example of Bernstein's capacity to write soaring, lush, and passionate themes.

February 12, 2018

Song of the Day #1549

Song of the Day: My Fair Lady ("On the Street Where You Live"), music by Frederick Lowe, lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, was a highlight in the 1956 Broadway musical (in which it was sung by John Michael King [YouTube link], and in the 1964 film version, where is was sung by Bill Shirley, dubbing for actor Jeremy Brett. Check out the film score version here [YouTube link]. But I provide this additional "Song of the Day" today because I've just learned of the death of singer Vic Damone, another singer who was deeply influenced by Ol' Blue Eyes, who said of Damone that he had "the best pipes in the business." The Brooklyn-born Damone recorded the most popular version of this song, which went to #4 on the Billboard chart. Check it out on YouTube.

Song of the Day #1548

Song of the Day: The Rat Race ("Main Title" / "Soundtrack Suite") [YouTube link] was composed by Elmer Bernstein for the 1960 film, featuring Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds. It provides yet another taste of the jazzy sounds for which the composer was well known. Curtis plays a jazz saxophonist named Pete Hammond, Jr. in the film (one year after having played another jazz saxophonist named Josephine in the gender-bending comedy classic, "Some Like It Hot"), and he gets support from real-life jazz saxmen, Sam Butera and Gerry Mulligan.

February 11, 2018

Song of the Day #1547

Song of the Day: The Man with the Golden Arm ("Main Theme") [YouTube link] was composed by Elmer Bernstein for the 1955 film featuring Frank Sinatra as a struggling heroin addict. The soundtrack has been characterized by some as the #1 jazz-infused score, due to Bernstein's integration of elements of West Coast Jazz and Afro-jazz. Also check out the theme as heard in the opening credits to the film. We'll be spending a little time with Bernstein's scores [a YouTube link to one of his rejected scores] over the next few days.

February 10, 2018

Song of the Day #1546

Song of the Day: Air Force One ("Main Title/The Parachutes") [YouTube link] was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, who was born on this date in 1929. This theme is featured in the Wolfgang Peterson-directed 1997 film, which stars Harrison Ford as President James Marshall, whose Air Force One plane gets hijacked by Russian nationalists, led by Egor Korshunov, played to the villainous hilt by Gary Oldman (who is nominated for a Best Actor Oscar this year for his performance as Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour"). The original score by Randy Newman was rejected by the studio and Goldsmith produced this heroic soundtrack in a miraculously swift twelve days.

February 09, 2018

Song of the Day #1545

Song of the Day: Peter Rabbit ("Feel It Still") is credited to the band that recorded it, Portugal. The Man (with credit for interpolations from "Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes). The song, from the band's album, "Woodstock," reached #1 on six major Billboard charts, while being featured in several commercials and the soundtrack to the 2018 animated flick that hits theaters today, "Peter Rabbit"---about the famous "rascal rebel rabbit," with featured voice roles by Sia and James Corden, the host of this year's Grammy Awards. A Grammy winner in the category of "Best Pop Duo/Group Performance," this song is a pop-oriented, funky track with a retro feel. Check out the official video, and its use in two trailers to the film [YouTube link]. "Ooh, woo, I'm a rebel just for kicks now..." Irresistible.

February 08, 2018

Song of the Day #1544

Song of the Day: The Poseidon Adventure ("Main Title"), composed by birthday boy John Williams, opens the Irwin Allen-produced 1972 film. Allen was known as the Master of Disaster, and this disaster film, featuring a stellar ensemble cast, is one of the best. For this soundtrack, Williams, who turns 86 today, received an Oscar nomination in the category of Best Original Score, one of his remarkable 51 Oscar nominations---second only to Walt Disney, with 59 Oscar nominations. Though Disney's winning percentage is greater (22 wins out of 59 nominations to Williams's 5 wins out of 51 nominations), Williams is the most nominated living person in Oscar history. And how appropriate it is to celebrate a Williams birthday as the 2018 Winter Olympics begin; after all, he even wrote one of the famed Olympic themes [YouTube link].

February 07, 2018

Song of the Day #1543

Song of the Day: The Big Country ("Main Theme") [YouTube link], composed by Jerome Moross, opens the sprawling William Wyler-directed 1958 Western, starring Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, Carroll Baker, and Burl Ives, who won a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. And if it weren't for the relationship forged between Wyler and Heston in this film, Chuck would never have gone on to Oscar glory in "Ben-Hur." The Moross score received an Oscar nomination (but it lost to Dimitri Tiomkin's score for "The Old Man and the Sea").

February 06, 2018

Song of the Day #1542

Song of the Day: Sully ("Sully Reflects") [YouTube link] is credited to a musical collaboration between director Clint Eastwood, Christian Jacob, and the Tierney Sutton Band. It has that jazzy feel that one associates with all things Eastwood. This 2016 film tells the story of the Miracle on the Hudson in very personal terms. Tom Hanks gives us a measured, steady performance in the role of pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. At a time when the sight of any plane flying low over Manhattan Island would elicit a post-9/11 traumatic reaction, this is the story of a genuinely heroic Hudson River landing in which not a single person lost their life.

February 05, 2018

Song of the Day #1541

Song of the Day: Sunflower ("Main Title") [YouTube link], composed by Henry Mancini, opens up the 1970 Italian film ("I Girosoli"), starring Sophia Loren. This is truly a Mancini Musical Moment, just another example of why he was one of the most melodic composers in the history of film scoring. The soundtrack received an Oscar nomination for "Best Original Score" but lost out to the score from "Love Story."

February 04, 2018

Song of the Day #1540

Song of the Day: Say Something features the words and music of Larrance Dopson, Floyd Nathaniel Hills, Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley, Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake, who recorded this duet for JT's newly released album, "Man of the Woods." We interrupt our Film Music February tribute briefly only because JT will be doing the Half-Time show for Super Bowl Sunday. There should be no "wardrobe malfunctions" [YouTube link] this time around! Check out the official video to this electro-country-rock tune. Stapleton and Timberlake are no strangers to one another, having performed a duet melody at the Country Music Awards in 2015 [YouTube link]. And then check out today's game between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. Ugh. What's a New York football fan to do with that match up?! So, go JT! [Ed.: Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles on their First Super Bowl Win and to JT for Killin' It during Half-Time!]

Song of the Day #1539

Song of the Day: Eye for an Eye ("Main Title") [YouTube link], composed by James Newton Howard, opens up the 1996 thriller based on Erika Holzer's suspenseful novel of the same name. The film stars Sally Field and Kiefer Sutherland, in a role that is neither Jack Bauer-like nor Presidential. He's a sleaze and, well, I won't spoil it for you. But "an eye for an eye"...

February 03, 2018

Song of the Day #1538

Song of the Day: The Ten Commandments ("Go, Proclaim Liberty!") [YouTube link], composed by Elmer Bernstein, is featured in the final scene to the Cecil B. DeMille epic story of Moses (played by Charlton Heston). The 1956 film received Oscar accolades for its eye-popping special effects. Till this day, I have a tendency to call any epic visual effect a "Red Sea Moment" [YouTube link].

February 02, 2018

Song of the Day #1537

Song of the Day: Against Time ("Main Theme") [site link], composed by my colleague and friend Michael Gordon Shapiro, is a sensitive orchestral theme to a 2001 film starring Oscar-winning actor Robert Loggia, as well as Craig T. Nelson and John Amos. The film was originally titled "All Over Again," but was released in 2007 as "Against Time." Shapiro's touching score is a quintessential example of how scoring can enhance a film's emotional impact. This main theme is only one example of his many gifts (for those who own a DVD copy of the film, the "Deleted Opening Music" can be found in the "Special Features" section, but this lovely theme can be heard in variations throughout the film). Somewhat ironically, it is fitting to feature a song from a time travel movie on a day when groundhogs are telling us how much more time we have to wait for Spring!

February 01, 2018

Song of the Day #1536

Song of the Day: Speed, words and music by Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, is the title theme of a 1994 thriller, starring Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, and Sandra Bullock. This hard-rocking song is classic Idol, a perfect match for a hard-rocking film. Check out the official video (featuring some scenes from the film) as we kick Film Music February into high gear!

January 31, 2018

Song of the Day #1535

Song of the Day: Rosemary's Baby ("Main Title") [YouTube link], composed by Krzysztof Komeda, features the vocals of "Rosemary Woodhouse" herself: actress Mia Farrow. This creepy, haunting theme opens the equally creepy, haunting 1968 horror film, directed by Roman Polanski and produced by William Castle. The film is based on the 1967 novel by Ira Levin, among whose influences was Ayn Rand. Rand loved his first novel, A Kiss Before Dying, but went ballistic over this horror classic, viewing it as an embodiment of the Middle Age's obscene "spirit." Rand may not have been a fan of horror movies, but this film is one of the most intense psychological thrillers of its era. "All of them witches!"

January 30, 2018

Song of the Day #1534

Song of the Day: Evita ("Don't Cry for Me Argentina") features the lyrics of Tim Rice and the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, who, along with Leonard Bernstein, was honored on Sunday night, January 28, 2018, at the Grammy Awards. This song was famously delivered in the original 1979 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical production of "Evita," by Tony Award-winning Patti LuPone, who played the lead role of the Argentine political figure, Eva Peron. LuPone revisited this song at the Grammy Awards ceremony on Sunday [see her brilliant Grammy performance here]. Check out LuPone's rendition from the Broadway cast album, and Madonna's performance in the 1996 film version, as well as its inevitable dance remix [YouTube links], which went to #1 on the Billboard dance chart. Even though this song is from a Broadway production, it appeared in a film, which is why it's part of our Film Music February tribute en route to the Oscars. As part of this annual series, we cover everything from songs and cues to main themes and source music.

January 29, 2018

Song of the Day #1533

Song of the Day: West Side Story ("Cool"), music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, is one of the highlights to the score of the Broadway musical and 1961 Oscar-winning film version of "West Side Story." Yesterday, the Grammys celebrated the contributions of the great Leonard Bernstein, in this, the year of his centenary (I will feature some classic Bernstein around the time of his 100th birthday on August 25th). The very talented Ben Platt---who won a Tony Award for "Dear Evan Hansen" and yesterday, as part of the cast, he was a winner in the Grammy category of "Best Musical Theater Album"---sang "Somewhere" [check out his tribute here from the famed score]. Three cheers to the Grammys for featuring music not confined to the pop charts and for providing us a smooth transition (albeit an early kick-off) to Film Music February, our annual tribute to film score music as we approach the 90th Academy Awards. Check out the film version of this song [YouTube link], with the lead sung by Tucker Smith as the "Jets" character "Ice," highlighted by the brilliant choreography of Jerome Robbins. Word has it that director Steven Spielberg has acquired the rights to remake this musical classic, which won 10 Academy Awards, the most of any movie musical. Spielberg is certainly one of my all-time favorite directors. And his relationship with composer John Williams has added such depth to even his most popcorn-friendly summer blockbusters. We've been assured that the remake will retain the Bernstein score, but the only question I have is: Why would anyone want to remake "West Side Story"? (On another topic, actually a postscript to our Bruno-fest, which concluded yesterday, Grammy Day: Mars won everything for which he was nominated in a clean sweep! Six Grammys, including "Song," "Record," and "Album" of the Year! Can I pick 'em, or what?)

January 28, 2018

Song of the Day #1532

Song of the Day: That's What I Like, credited to an ensemble of writers, including Philip Lawrence, Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, and Bruno Mars, is nominated for "Song of the Year," "Best R&B Song," and "Best R&B Performance," at this year's 60th Annual Grammy Awards, which will be televised tonight on CBS. Bruno is scheduled to perform on the show; whether he wins or not, he's obviously got a fan in me! Check out the album version, the video single, a remix featuring Ludacris and Gucci Mane, and a house remix by Lightstruck and Sir Eri.

January 27, 2018

Song of the Day #1531

Song of the Day: Calling All My Lovelies, words and music by the Bruno Mars crew, is one of those soulful "molasses-slow" grooves from "24K Magic," the Grammy-nominated "Best R&B Album of the Year" by Bruno Mars. On this track, even Oscar-award winning actress Halle Berry makes a cameo appearance. Check out the album version [YouTube link] and a live performance at the Apollo [DailyMotion link, around the 16-minute mark].

January 26, 2018

Song of the Day #1530

Song of the Day: Perm, words and music by Bruno Mars and his group of writers, is one of the highlights from "24K Magic," nominated in the Grammy category of "Album of the Year." This track definitely channels James Brown. It is an infectious, playful throwback, like the album from which it comes. Check out the album version [YouTube link], a live performance at the Apollo [DailyMotion link, around the 10-minute mark], where Bruno shows off a few Brown moves, and a Car Pool Karaoke version with James Corden [YouTube links], who will host this year's Grammy Awards. "Throw some Perm on your attitude ... you gotta relax!"

January 25, 2018

Song of the Day #1529

Song of the Day: Versace on the Floor, words and music by an ensemble of writers (including some of the Hooligans), led by Bruno Mars, is a slow, sensuous gem from "24K Magic," which has garnered six Grammy nominations in various categories for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, to be broadcast this Sunday, January 28th, from Madison Square Garden in New York City. This artist has consciously integrated the diverse sounds of everything from doo wop to classic rock to hip hop in his music, richly influenced by an eclectic group of musical heroes, including Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Prince (check out last year's Prince tribute with The Time at the Grammys on VIMEO), James Brown, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley, whom he impersonated as a child. It is reflected in his compositions, singing, dancing, and live performances. I'll be featuring a few more tracks from this 2017 album, one of my favorites of the year, from one of my favorite artists and concert performers, leading up to the Grammys. Let's call it a mini-Bruno-fest to follow our mini-Django-fest. (And to answer those who asked the tacky question: No, this is not the "Main Title" to the new Ryan Murphy-produced series, "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.") Check out the album version, the video version, a live performance at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, and a David Guetta remix [YouTube links].

January 24, 2018

Song of the Day #1528

Song of the Day: Bossa Dorado, composed by French guitarist and violinist Dorado Schmitt, is a fitting exploration of "gypsy jazz," which owes its origins to the great jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, whose birthday we celebrated yesterday. It shows the remarkable range of Django's influence on jazz. Accordian player Ludovic Beier delivers a wonderful live take on this Schmitt composition [YouTube link], which fuses gypsy jazz with a Latin feel. Beier has been influenced by everyone from Django to Toots Thielemans and Chick Corea.

January 23, 2018

Song of the Day #1527

Song of the Day: Djangology [YouTube link] was composed by the legendary gypsy jazz guitarist, Django Reinhardt, who was born on this date in 1910. He was one of the first Europeans to contribute significantly to an American musical idiom, especially with his initial work as a member of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France (which featured another immortal musician: jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli). And for a man who suffered with two paralyzed fingers on his left hand, Django played more notes with a thumb and two fingers than most others with full-functioning digits! He would have been perfect for an interview in Folks! Django influenced artists from many genres, including Les Paul, Jeff Beck, Chet Atkins, Joe Pass, and countless others. Tomorrow, we'll feature another instrumentalist greatly influenced by the Master.

January 20, 2018

Folks Interview: "How the Queen of Selfishness Taught Me to Accept My Disability"

Freelance writer Robert Lerose recently interviewed me for Folks, an online magazine "dedicated to telling the stories of remarkable people who refuse to be defined by their health issues." The interview is featured in this week's edition and can be read here---though for some reason, it also appears here. (Disclaimer: I am not responsible for the title of the essay or the accompanying links provided at either site.)

The piece focuses on my lifelong medical adventures with the congenital gastro-vascular disorder, Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome (SMAS); an intestinal by-pass (known as a duodenojejunostomy), performed by the gifted surgeon, Dr. Bochetto, saved my life at the age of 14.

I was diagnosed with this extremely rare condition when I was literally near death. It was my family physician, Dr. Karounos, who did a GI Series in his office (they did that back then!), and who suggested after years of misdiagnosis, that I might have SMAS. It was the great Japanese doctor, Hiromi Shinya, who nailed the diagnosis with an upper tract endoscopic procedure known as an esaphagogastroduodenoscopy. As the pioneer of gastrointestinal endoscopic and colonoscopic techniques, Dr. Shinya developed and taught its most fundamental principles to a whole generation of doctors who, to this day, stand on his "Atlas"-like shoulders (including the utterly brilliant, affable, terrific, musical[!], Dr. Mark Cwern, one of Dr. Shinya's proteges, who has supervised so much of my quality healthcare for nearly three decades now).

There have been severe complications caused by this condition and the body's manner of coping with the surgical changes that were necessary to my survival. Today, on the eve of my 58th birthday, with 60+ surgical procedures since that 1974 surgery, I am alive and kickin', thanks to the efforts of so many wonderful physicians and the love and support of family and friends.

Interestingly, in all my years on this planet, I have never heard this condition mentioned anywhere. It was only recently that I saw its potentially devastating effects dramatized in Episode 2 of the first season of "The Good Doctor," starring Freddie Highmore as Dr. Shaun Murphy, a brilliant surgical resident at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital, who just so happens to have autism and savant syndrome. In the episode, Murphy is able to visualize in his mind certain troubling symptoms present in one of his young patients. It sends him running to the child’s house, banging on the door in the middle of the night to the consternation of the child’s parents. He refuses to leave unless he can see the child to make sure she is okay. As it turns out, he saves the child’s life because he correctly diagnoses her as having a terminal condition in which the small intestine is twisted around the Superior Mesenteric Artery.

This was the first time in my entire life that I ever saw anyone in any medium—be it film, television, radio, or literature—even mention or suggest the condition known as Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome. The disorder is that rare. It is my hope that the mere mention of SMAS on national television might bring more attention to its causes, treatment, and perhaps, someday, to its complete eradication from the human condition.

My deepest appreciation to Robert Lerose for making "folks" aware of this medical problem---and of the possibility that individuals can survive and flourish despite the limitations that they may face from health issues. Again, check out the interview at Folks.

I'd also like to express my gratitude to my friend Don Hauptman, who thought my story was worth telling, and who put Robert Lerose in touch with me. (Only once before this interview, back in 2005, had I discussed the impact of Ayn Rand on my capacity to deal with---and transcend some of the limitations of---a lifelong disability. See here.)

Postscript: Various folks shared my Facebook post of this interview, and there have been so many wonderful comments from so many caring people. Some of the comments have been hilarious. My friend Steve Horwitz, for example, picked up on one of the phrases in my interview and said: "I am amused that Chris Matthew Sciabarra chose this turn of phrase to describe his inner life: 'I am constitutionally incapable of keeping anything in.'" As I remarked in my reply to Steve, I chose that phrase quite consciously. I guess my inner life or my way of dealing with things emotionally is a reflection, in part, of, uh, the nature of my physical disability.

But one comment that I found interesting came from a discussion with regard to an individual who, like Dr. Shaun Murphy in "The Good Doctor" (mentioned above) is on the autism spectrum. Some folks think there is just no comparison between a person suffering a neurological disorder versus a person like myself, who has had 60+ surgeries for a congenital gastro-vascular condition. I responded:

I've learned one thing about the nature of disability, and perhaps it is a lesson that comes from economics: one cannot make interpersonal comparisons of utility or disutility. If you have a disability, the nature of that disability is almost irrelevant, from the perspective of "Mine is worse than yours." If it is your disability, it is something you must come to terms with, and it is as much a 'burden' for a person who has a gastro-vascular disorder as it is for a person who has a neurological one.
I would like to think that my interview has a more universal message: that it is possible to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities, regardless of the limitations that one faces, and to make the most of them.

I emphasized that point of "interpersonal comparisons of utility" in another comment in the same Facebook thread, where I declared that there was no room for shame in thinking that one's problems seem to be minute in comparison to the problems faced by others:

We all can be Stoic in the face of life's difficulties, but no amount of pretending can cover the real pain each of us feels carrying the burdens of health and other problems that are unique to each of us in our own lives. To use an old metaphor, we all seem to have some cross that we are carrying---the trick is not to allow yourself to be crucified on it. But as long as it is your cross that you're carrying, it is still your cross---and each person knows how heavy the burdens can be. Economists are correct: No room for interpersonal comparisons of utility or disutility; let us just be happy that we can have friends and build a community around the idea that there is something heroic about celebrating that which is good, creative, and productive inside each of us. That's one of the gifts I got from Rand's work.
As I said in another thread, I'm, uh, constitutionally incapable of keeping anything in, including the words that come flowing out of my own mouth! Best to get it off your chest, your gut, your mind, whatever! It's positively unhealthy to hold back, especially with those who can be empathetic and supportive.

The Facebook post has been shared by quite a few people, and the Folks story has over 150 shares already. My friend David Boaz remarked: "I am amused to discover that my good friend Chris Sciabarra first encountered the work of Ayn Rand in his days at John Dewey High School. This is an interesting interview about how Rand and Nathaniel Branden helped him deal with a congenital illness that has plagued him throughout his very productive life." I replied:

I chuckled at your opening remark. :)
Regarding having discovered Rand at John Dewey High School (and we all know how much Rand loved Dewey as a pragmatist philosopher), I do have to say that the school was truly the embodiment of individualism in education---we were able to construct our major around five 6-week cycle semesters, which were specialized courses in virtually every discipline, with vigorous independent study. Back then, it was truly one of the gems of the NYC public school system!

January 13, 2018

Song of the Day #1526

Song of the Day: They All Laughed, music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, was first heard in the 1937 film "Shall We Dance," where Ginger Rogers introduced it before joining her legendary dance partner Fred Astaire in a classic routine [YouTube links]. This standard from the Great American Songbook has been recorded by many wonderful jazz artists from Ella to Sassy [YouTube links]. In last night's PBS broadcast of "Tony Bennett: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song," a wealth of talent performed to honor Tony as the newest recipient of the award. As the first "interpretive singer" to be so honored, Tony opened up his own set with this standard. His rendition last night swung hard, but YouTube has a few versions at more moderate swing tempos, from "The Essential George Gershwin," a 1999 live version with Tony's long-time pianist Ralph Sharon, and in a peppy duet with Lady Gaga from their album, "Cheek to Cheek" [YouTube links].

January 08, 2018

Golden Globes and Golden Memories

I watched the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards last night, and enjoyed the festivities; as most folks know, we are fast approaching that time of the year when I begin my annual tribute to film music (dubbed "Film Music February", which, this year, will run from February 1 till March 4, the date of the 90th Annual Academy Awards). In any event, I posted this comment on the site of the Miklos Rozsa Society today; we were asked: "Can You Remember the Moment You Discovered Rozsa and His Music," and I replied:

I don't remember the first date exactly, but my mother had the collectible soundtrack with accompanying book [to "Ben-Hur"], having seen the film around Christmas 1959 in New York City at the Loew's State Theatre (where the film debuted in November of that year). I was born in February 1960, so I was most likely serenaded by Rozsa while still awaiting my entrance into this world. Later on, maybe when I was around 5 years old, I had manifested a real love for music, listening to everything from Chubby Checker and Joey Dee to Ahmad Jahmal, Joe Pass, and the soundtrack to "Ben-Hur." Indeed, by the time I saw the film in its re-release at the Palace Theatre in NYC in 1969, I knew virtually every note of the soundtrack, and had fallen in love with it. It only predisposed me to utterly fall in love with the film, which remains my all-time favorite till this day.
I tell the story of my first encounter with that epic film, my all-time favorite, here and explain why it's my all-time favorite, here.

I look forward to this year's Film Music February, as my entries are already locked and loaded, awaiting release on Notablog. It should be fun.

I also hope to publish my long-awaited comparative review of the 2016 version of "Ben-Hur" with its predecessors sometime later in the spring--when the snow has disappeared from the streets of Brooklyn, and Easter is in the air!

Postscript [9 January 2018]: My pal, Michael Shapiro, says that Rozsa's film score to "El Cid kicks Ben-Hur's butt, musically speaking," and I replied:

Well, it's hard to argue with Rozsa versus Rozsa; I love the score to "El Cid" too much to say anything negative about it. I suspect it's just a personal thing... how I connected with "Ben-Hur" as a child (maybe even before being born!), and how it made such a huge impression on me before even seeing the film. (I think I can say, however, that "Ben-Hur" is the superior film; but there's no doubt that "El Cid" is beautiful to look at---Sophia Loren alone is beautiful to look at!---and a heroic tale.)

Michael raised the "deus ex machina problem" of the film, and I responded:

I deal with that "deus ex machina" problem in my essay on the subject. At least I think I do. I think that Wyler loads the 1959 film with remarkable symbolism every step of the way, which can be viewed in strictly secular terms, especially in the manner in which he uses water, blood, stone, light, and darkness. The Biblical "miracle" in the film is depicted by the cleansing of leprosy. But that can be viewed as a metaphor for the real "miracle" that takes place in Judah Ben-Hur's soul, his tale one that mirrors the "Tale of the Christ," which bookends the film.
It's truly an amazing and intimate epic that uses the Biblical subtext to show the transformation of an individual, as he goes from a prince among his people to an unjustly condemned man who eventually vanquishes his enemy in an empty victory, which embitters him and consumes him with hatred and vengeance. By film's end, the events he witnesses remove "the sword" from his hand and spirit, as he finds a road to individual redemption.
I find the film very uplifting on so many levels. A really excellent book on the subject, edited by Barbara Ryan and Milette Shamir is Bigger than Ben-Hur: The Book, Its Adaptations, & Their Audiences. I don't agree with every essay, but I think it clearly shows that, as my own essay suggests, even "atheists" can appreciate this very earthly tale of struggle and triumph.

I added:

Wyler once said that it took a Jew to make a really good film about Christ. Considering his resume, he also said he took on the film because he wanted to have the experience of making a "Cecil B. DeMille" film. The irony is that in many ways, he retains the spectacle of a DeMille film, but ushers in the first "intimate epic" of its time, which would change the nature of epics thereafter (witness "Spartacus", for example, released in 1960).
A little bit of trivia: Wyler was an uncredited assistant on the 1925 silent version of "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ."

Still...

There could have been no Wyler, no "Spartacus", and so forth, without a DeMille. (For that matter, DeMille had a soft spot in his heart for a young woman named Ayn Rand; and Rand and her husband-to-be, Frank O'Connor, were extras in, of all DeMille films, the silent version of "The King of Kings.")
DeMille often said that the key to success in his Biblical costume dramas was to have just the right mixture of scripture... and sex---and you'll find that on display in everything from "Sign of the Cross" to "Samson and Delilah," and the two versions (silent and sound) of "The Ten Commandments."

January 05, 2018

Song of the Day #1525

Song of the Day: Finesse has quite a few contributors to its words and music, including Philip Lawrence, Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, and Bruno Mars, who recorded this song for his superb third solo album, "24K Magic" (and I've got a few more fav tracks I'll be featuring soon). He kills it in concert (he certainly did at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Live at the Apollo in Harlem [DailyMotion link; can be viewed about 7 minutes in]). The song, like the album on which it is featured, is an exercise in throwback; this one harks back to the New Jack Swing sound of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Check out the album version and a new remix [YouTube links] just released yesterday, featuring rapper Cardi B, in a video tribute to "In Living Color." Jennifer Lopez, one of the original "Fly Girls," responded to the homage with a clip from the famed Wayans-produced TV show.

January 01, 2018

Song of the Day #1524

Song of the Day: My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year) features the music of Paul Horner and the lyrics of Peggy Lee, who recorded this song for a Christmas album. There are few songs that express as many good wishes for the new year as this one. Check out the recordings by Peggy Lee and a cover by Regina Spektor [YouTube links]. A Happy and Healthy New Year to All!

December 25, 2017

Song of the Day #1523

Song of the Day: The Christmas Blues, words and music by David Holt and Sammy Cahn, is, yes, a bluesy song for this Christmas, recorded most famously by Dean Martin [YouTube link] and heard on the "L.A. Confidential" soundtrack. It was later recorded by Jo Stafford [YouTube link]. Don't let the blues get you down [link to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" Medley by jazz pianist David Benoit; hat tip to Alexandra York]! A very Merry Christmas with peace on earth and goodwill to one and all!

December 24, 2017

Song of the Day #1522

Song of the Day: Snow, words and music by Irving Berlin, was originally written for the Broadway musical, "Call Me Madam," with the title "Free," but it was eventually dropped, and resurrected with some new lyrics for the 1954 film, "White Christmas." In the film, it is sung by Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Vera-Ellen [YouTube link]. My gut instincts tell me that New York City is going to have a lot of that white stuff this winter. But nothing warms the heart more than a little dusting on Christmas Eve, the silence of the night brightened with twinkling Christmas decorations. Right now, it looks like New York City is going to have a mixture of a Wet and slightly White Christmas this year; but that doesn't mean we can't track Santa on NORAD in his global travels!

December 13, 2017

Song of the Day #1521

Song of the Day: Night Fever is a song written and recorded by the Brothers Gibb (or as they are more famously referred to as "The Bee Gees"). It made its first appearance on the mega-soundtrack to the 1977 hit movie, "Saturday Night Fever," a film that was released forty years ago this week. I did a 30th anniversary salute to the soundtrack, so there weren't many other tunes to choose from---but there is no better one to feature than the one that seems to have inspired the very title of the pathbreaking film, which brought international fame to John Travolta who, as Tony Manero, hustled his way onto the dance floor of Brooklyn's 2001 Odyssey disco (which later became a gay dance club named Spectrum and today is a Chinese restaurant). Check out the classic original recording by the Bee Gees and then the scene in which it is heard in the film [YouTube links].

December 12, 2017

Song of the Day #1520

Song of the Day: The Birth of the Blues, music by Ray Henderson, lyrics by Buddy G. DeSylva and Lew Brown, was incorporated into the 1926 Broadway revue, "George White's Sandals." It has been recorded by many artists throughout the years, including the 1926 version by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra [YouTube link]. But today is the birthday of Ol' Blue Eyes, who himself was deeply influenced by jazz and the blues. And what better way to celebrate it than with one of Frank Sinatra's hits (it spent five weeks on the Billboard charts). Take a listen to Sinatra's solo recording from 1952 [YouTube link] and then, watch a very special live TV rendition on "The Edsel Show," with Louis Armstrong [YouTube link].

November 23, 2017

Song of the Day #1519

Song of the Day: It's a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving ("Thanksgiving Theme") [YouTube link], music composed and performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio for this 1973 animated feature, is one of those recognizable jazz themes long associated with all things "Peanuts." Thanksgiving is often viewed as the kick-off to the holiday season (though nowadays, stores seem to be putting up holiday decorations before Labor Day!). Despite much heartache over the past year, I never fail to count the many blessings for which I am thankful---loving family and friends, warm memories, passionate work, the wonderful food on this holiday that only a loving home can provide--and, of course, the sweetness of all the music I have celebrated in "My Favorite Songs." A Happy Thanksgiving to All!

October 31, 2017

Song of the Day #1518

Song of the Day: Ghosts, words and music by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley, was first featured on Jackson's album, "HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I," but can also be found on a newly released album, "Scream," just in time for Halloween. In fact, many of the songs from this new compilation album could be heard in the most recent MJ animated special, "Michael Jackson's Halloween," seen on CBS last week. It was also the basis of an ambitious video written by MJ and Stephen King, and directed by Stan Winston. A short form of the video can be found on YouTube. Also check out Mousse T's Club Mix, the DJ Rmx extended version, and the Stepper's Mix. And for old time's sake, check out the King of All King of Pop Videos, the John Landis-directed short film for "Thriller" [YouTube link], featuring the great Vincent Price, and recently named by Billboard magazine as the #1 Halloween-themed recording. Check out the video version prepared for "This is It" and the Steve Aoki Remix too! And have a Happy Halloween!

October 25, 2017

Song of the Day #1517

Song of the Day: Blueberry Hill, music by Vincent Rose, lyrics by Larry Stock and Al Lewis, was a big hit for the Big Man: Fats Domino, who died yesterday at the age of 89. This song was a staple of the 1940s swing era, but became an early rock and roll classic when Domino recorded it in 1956. The song went to #2 on the Top 40, and was at #1 on the R&B chart for 11 weeks, selling an estimated 5 million copies worldwide. Check out the original Domino single [YouTube link].

October 01, 2017

Song of the Day #1516

Song of the Day: Jazz Samba [YouTube link], composed by one of the best, the arranger and composer, Claus Ogerman, can be heard on "Intermodulation" (1966), one of the finest duet albums ever recorded, featuring the incomparable Bill Evans on piano and the equally incomparable Jim Hall on guitar. Perhaps my favorite track on this album is "All Across the City," a lovely Hall composition [YouTube link], but this one, in which the great guitarist provides comp support for Evans's swinging ways, is, to my knowledge, probably the only samba that Evans ever recorded. I'm sure this piece would have been on any playlist of my dear friend, the late Michael Southern, given his passion for the great Evans.

September 29, 2017

Michael Southern: Triumphs and Tragedy

In May 1981, I had earned my undergraduate degree magna cum laude from New York University, with a triple major in politics, economics, and history (with honors). To say I was stoked to have been accepted to the NYU doctoral program in politics, where I would go on in 1983, to earn a master's degree in political theory, and in 1988, a Ph.D. with distinction in political theory, philosophy, and methodology, is an understatement. I was positively ecstatic.

I had, by this time, laid out a path of professional goals that merged my passionate libertarian political convictions with a rigorous course of study that would include seminars and colloquia with scholars that only New York University could offer. I would study with such Austrian-school economists as Israel Kirzner, Mario Rizzo, Don Lavoie, and others, as well as leftist political and social theorists such as Bertell Ollman and Wolf Heydebrand. In this combustible intersection of ideas, there would emerge the seeds of what would become a life-long commitment to the development of a "dialectical libertarianism", and a trilogy of books---Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, and Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism---that would articulate the foundations of that approach.

Alas, these scholarly goals were made all the more joyful to achieve because of so many individuals whose lives touched mine in ways that were fundamental both to my intellectual and personal growth as a human being.

One of these individuals was a guy named Michael Southern. It was September 1981, my first day as an NYU graduate student, when I walked into Professor Israel Kirzner's seminar on the "History of Economic Thought." Looking around the room, few seats were available, so I found myself sitting next to Michael. When Kirzner finished his first lecture, logically structured as one would expect from any esteemed student of the great Ludwig von Mises, I introduced myself to Michael. He seemed a little shy at first, but I think he was genuinely surprised by my friendliness and that unmistakable Brooklyn accent. We went to a local cafe and talked for a very long time. I got to know a lot about him in that first encounter.

I learned, for example, that he was two years older than me, almost to the day: I was born on February 17, 1960; he was born on February 23, 1958. I also learned that he hailed from Massachusetts, and was a rabid Boston Red Sox fan. Back then, that was almost a non-starter for me.

After all, I was and remain a New York Yankees fanatic. We jousted and dueled over the Curse of the Bambino, and argued about who really deserved the American League MVP for the 1978 baseball season: the Red Sox hot-hitting outfielder Jim Rice or the Yankee pitching ace, and Cy Young Award winner, Ron Guidry, who went 25-3, with a 1.74 ERA. In 1978, the Yankees were 14 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in July, and on the last day of the season, they found themselves in a tie for first place. And, I argued, no man was more valuable to that team than Guidry, who had pitched back-to-back two-hit shutouts against Boston down the stretch, and won the deciding extra 163rd game of the season, enabling the Yanks to advance to the AL Championship series against the Kansas City Royals, and ultimately to win their second straight World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Michael was going on and on about Rice's hitting. Blah, blah, blah.

In any event, it wasn't Guidry's victory that was the most memorable aspect of that deciding game; it was a miraculous 3-run homer hit over Fenway Park's Green Monster by the Yankee shortstop Bucky "F*&%ing" Dent, as Michael put it, who had hit a measly four homers prior to this game throughout the entire season. But that homer lifted the Yanks ahead for good. I guess Michael was still a little bitter. For Dent, apparently, was as beloved by Boston fans as Bill "F*&%ing" Buckner, whose fielding error in Game Six of the 1986 World Series, ultimately allowed the New York Mets to win the trophy in Game Seven. Even this diehard Yankees fan reveled in Boston's loss that year! Oh was it fun locking horns with Michael on these issues.

Animated baseball disagreements aside, it was clear that Michael and I had a lot in common; we were both avid fans of Ayn Rand, devoted readers of Nathaniel Branden, extremely interested in politics and culture, lovers of film and of music from jazz to progressive rock. All he had to say was that he had seen my favorite jazz pianist Bill Evans perform live, and that he had fallen in love with the emotional depth of his music, and I just knew that there was something very special about this man.

Over time, our friendship deepened; he'd tell me about some trouble he was having with a girl he was dating, I'd tell him about my own dating woes; we talked about our families, our friends, our goals, our triumphs, and our tragedies. He had extraordinary qualities about him; he was perceptive, intelligent, gentle, kind, compassionate, and had a great sense of humor.

By holiday time in December, that sense of humor manifested itself on both sides of the baseball divide. Michael gifted me a Jim Rice T-shirt, which I own till this day, and I gifted him a Ron Guidry T-shirt. Such was the nature of our developing affection for one another.

He had taken a waiter's job at the Cheese Cellar on East 54th Street in Manhattan, which became a regular stop for me and my family. The waiter's service was terrific, I might add. As he got to know my jazz guitarist brother Carl and jazz vocalist sister-in-law Joanne, and saw them perform at so many jazz clubs in Manhattan, loving their music, he eventually offered to do a website for them (as he would eventually develop my own website---all for free).

But something was troubling him deeply, early in that first semester, as the class with Kirzner continued. I'm paraphrasing the conversation from memory, but it went something like this. He said to me: "I can see you coming from blocks away. You just have a way about you. It's in your walk. Your step. It's never timid, but it's not overbearing. It's just the walk of a man comfortable in his own body, walking purposefully to his destination, wherever that might be. The way you walk is a bit of an inspiration to me. I just don't walk that way. I don't feel that way inside."

My walk? Lord . . . I'd never even given a second thought to the way I walked. And here, my friend was telling me that there was something in my walk that inspired him, and that made him focus on the things that he felt he lacked. He had attended weekend Intensives in New York run by Nathaniel Branden and his wife Devers Branden, and felt that they had tapped into something that needed greater attention.

I was no professional, but I was becoming a very dear and trusted friend. I tried to help him through it, with long phone conversations into the wee hours, but he seemed stuck, unable to get through a term paper for Kirzner's class. It was then that he made a momentous decision that I figured spelled the end of a friendship; he decided he was too overwhelmed by the course, that something deeper was at work, and that he needed help. As he put it later in "My Years with Nathaniel Branden," a deeply personal essay written for The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies symposium, "Nathaniel Branden: His Work and Legacy":

For the third time, I'd finished reading The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Breaking Free, and The Disowned Self, all books by Nathaniel Branden. I placed my meager belongings in a backpack, went to the Registrar's Office at New York University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, officially withdrew from Graduate School, booked a flight, and in two days landed at Los Angeles International airport; I had come to be a client of Nathaniel Branden.
Prior to my time at NYU, I had finished an undergraduate degree with honors. I was thrilled when I got accepted to NYU, to study the history of economic thought under Israel Kirzner, who had been a student of Ludwig von Mises­---both being giants in the field to me. And as it all nicely fell into place, I froze.
I don't ever remember this happening to me before. While Kirzner's class was better than even I had anticipated, I couldn't write the paper for the course. I sat at home, or at the library with ten and twelve books piled up in front of me, but I couldn't begin. Anything I thought about writing seemed trivial after a little research. I began to panic so that the more I tried to push myself, the greater the feeling that whatever I produced wouldn't be enough. I tried everything I knew to get myself "back on track." I believed I had something to offer, but I was paralyzed, much like an actor might experience stage fright. I spoke with Kirzner, and he was kind and logical and gave me some suggestions, but I was too in awe of him to show just how lost I was in terms of generating a paper. It seemed an emotional block, not an intellectual one; how could I ask for his help for an emotional problem? I understood the coursework, and the books on his reading list. I just couldn't seem to create.
...
Sitting in an outdoor cafe in the Village I reached in my backpack for The Disowned Self. I ordered coffee, threw the waiter a gigantic tip so he'd leave me alone, lit a cigarette (you could do that back then), and read the entire book, slowly, making notes; the lights and noise of the West Village turned on around me as night fell.
The next day I headed for Los Angeles, wanting to resolve, heal, and grow. I was beginning to suspect that I had had a particularly difficult childhood, and had responded to it by shutting down huge parts of myself.

To my surprise, Michael and I never lost touch. He was in therapy with Nathaniel Branden, and making strides. Every so often, we'd speak, not so much about the details of his therapy, but more about how he was challenging himself to keep moving . . . forward. Sometimes a month would pass, or two, and he'd call, and it was as if the last conversation had occurred only an hour ago; we picked up where we left off, never missing a beat. And during this period, as I faced my own trials and tribulations---with everything from relationships to my health problems (an outgrowth of a congenital intestinal condition)---he was as present and tuned-in to me, as I was to him. This was never a one-way street; the friendship that I thought would be lost by distance, had intensified. And the feeling that he was a "brotha from another mutha" only deepened. It was clear that we loved one another as only brothers could---something that geographic distance did nothing to alter.

As Michael explained in that wonderful essay of his, he was able to work through so many of his problems; he credited Nathaniel Branden and Devers Branden with saving years of his life. He would become an intern for Branden and then an office manager at Branden's Biocentric Institute in Beverly Hills, California. He'd go back to school to earn a master of science in management from Lesley College and a master of science in information systems from Boston University. As a technology specialist, he did wonderful work for Fortune 500 companies.

Through all the years, our friendship only grew. He would go on to develop my website, and the original website of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. In fact, he was a member of the JARS family from its beginnings in 1999, as we unveiled the website on the day that our first issue was published. While I remained with NYU as a Visiting Scholar for twenty years (I guess you could say I bleed "violet"), he would travel the world. He was never so far away, however, that he didn't participate once or twice in my cyberseminars on "Dialectics and Liberty." Eventually he married, and even moved back to New York City for a while, living in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.

There were bumps along the way---though never between us. His marriage didn't work out, his work took him out of New York again, and his interests, especially in the history of the Holocaust, took him to other countries. But again, geographic distance never seemed to interfere with our friendship. Eventually, he came back to the states, and his software expertise gave him many job opportunities, including business with a company in Detroit, Michigan, where he worked for several years.

Indeed, his software expertise was certainly highly valued by JARS; the two of us worked hard in 2015-2016 as he created a brand spanking-new website for the journal, which made its debut with the Nathaniel Branden symposium, to which he contributed that enormously revealing and enlightening essay.

In many ways, writing that essay was, for Michael, a catharsis of sorts; while it served the greater symposium's purpose of understanding the work and legacy of Branden, it also served as a profoundly personal statement of how Michael stood up courageously to the challenges he faced. It was a commitment to a life of promise, of so much more to come.

Immediately after the debut of the new JARS site and the publication of our Branden symposium, Michael began working on a prototype to finally revamp my website, which, he said, "embarrassed" him because he'd become so much more sophisticated in his software development. We had so many plans for so many projects.

But, of course, life always seemed to get in the way of smooth transitions. As my own health problems became more difficult to bear, he spent as many hours on the phone with me in 2016, as I had spent on the phone with him in 1981, except that now, we both knew each other so well that we could complete each other's sentences, anticipate each other's thoughts. Thirty-five-plus years will do that.

We last spoke in early September about the website and a few other issues; Lord knows, we still had our differences with regard to sports teams (though I was enough of a good sport to congratulate him back in 2004, when his Red Sox finally beat the Yankees, and went on to win their first World Series since 1918). We even had developed a few political differences. But nothing ever affected our mutual love, admiration, and respect for one another. When I'd call him on the phone, he'd answer "Chris!"---as if with an exclamation point. There was always joy in his voice when he heard mine on the other end of the phone. And if I needed to cry because of a slew of unending medical or personal problems, the gentility with which he treated me was just the medicine I needed.

We last corresponded on September 11th. A few days passed by, and I hadn't heard back from him, so I wrote him again. Still, no reply.

I figured he was busy or traveling, but it was unlike him not to reply to an email. So on the weekend of September 23rd, I called him on both his personal and business lines and left voice mail. It was comforting to hear his voice, even if it was automated, telling callers to leave a message. So I left messages. And still, no reply.

On Tuesday, September 26th, I got an email from his cousin, who lived in Waco, Texas, where Michael had been staying. She told me to give her a call. My heart dropped. I knew that this meant something had happened to Michael; maybe he was in a hospital. Maybe something worse. I called her immediately.

She told me that Michael had been pursuing new business in Detroit, a city where he had once worked for so many years.

And then she told me that his body was found at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 19th; he had been killed by gunshots. Police are investigating the crime as a homicide.

I have suffered many losses in my life. I lost my father suddenly to a massive coronary, when I was 12 years old. I lost my Uncle Sam, who was like a second father to me, in 1994, to prostate cancer. I lost my mother in 1995, before my first two books were published, after five years of being one of her primary care-givers, as she struggled with the ravages of lung cancer and the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. I've lost many loving friends and relatives over the years, in circumstances that were painful and difficult.

But absolutely nothing could have possibly prepared me for the grief that I felt upon hearing that one of my best friends in the whole wide world had just lost his life by a wanton act of brutality. I had the phone in my hands, tears streaming down my face, stunned, shocked, horrified, feeling literally destroyed. My heart had not been broken; it had felt as if it had been completely shattered. I still can't quite wrap my mind around this event.

Michael's funeral is scheduled for Monday, October 2, 2017 in Waco, Texas. My health issues prevent me from attending his funeral. But my heart goes out to his family and friends, who so loved him, and who suffer with unimaginable grief.

I pray that justice will be done, and that the murderer will be apprehended.

But nothing will bring Michael back.

The December 2017 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies will be dedicated to Murray Franck (1946-2017), who died this past July, and to Michael Southern (1958-2017). Both of these men were part of the JARS family from the very beginning, and deserve to be so honored. But they were both among the dearest human beings and friends I've ever known. To have lost both of them within two months of one another is unbelievable. But to have lost Michael in such a violent manner is just beyond tragic. He didn't deserve this ending. The pain of this loss is almost unbearable.

Rest in peace, dear friend. You made such a difference in the lives of so many people. And you made a difference in my life. I will honor you and remember you for the rest of my days. And I will miss you until the day I die.

Postscript (October 2, 2017): I posted a link to this tribute to Facebook, and was comforted by how many folks have shared the post and shared their condolences with me, both publicly and privately; I added this to my own Facebook thread:

Thanks to everyone who shared my post and who have expressed their condolences to me, both privately and publicly, here and elsewhere. Anyone who was fortunate to know Michael was blessed by his presence in their lives. And I express my condolences to all of you for this loss.
Today is Michael's funeral in Waco, Texas. It's also a day that I awake to hear that this country has just experienced the worst mass shooting in its history, this time in Las Vegas, with over 50 people shot to death and over 200 injured. Not counting the folks I knew who were murdered on 9/11, I have never had the experience of having lost a loved one to a shooting. This morning, I send my empathy and condolences to those who are mourning the deaths of their own loved ones who have died in this massacre.
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Savagery and brutality have always been a part of the human condition; that is not a comforting thought, however. What is comforting is that there are still far more people in this world who care and who will not give into the fear of such carnage, even when it hits so close to home.

September 22, 2017

Song of the Day #1515

Song of the Day: Disturbia, words and music by Brian Kennedy, Chris Brown, Robert Allen, and Andrew Merritt, is featured on Rihanna's 2008 album "Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded." This song went to #1 on four Billboard charts, including the Hot 100 and the Hot Dance Club Songs (almost 9 years ago to the day!). Check out the original video, the 12" remix, the Magnifikate Remix, the Daniel Brown remix, the Techno Remix, and finally, the DONK Remix, which makes the Techno Remix sound chill by comparison! Our Second Annual Summer Dance Series concludes today, since the season ends with the Autumnal Equinox at 4:02 p.m. But we ain't disturbia-ed... we're going out dancing!

September 21, 2017

Song of the Day #1514

Song of the Day: Make Me, words and music by Rodney Jerkins, Thomas Lumpkins, Michaela Shilo, Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers and Janet Jackson, was the 19th #1 Hot Dance Club single of Janet's career. The song appears on Janet's 2009 album, "Number Ones." Check out the video version (where Miss Jackson, if your Nasty, shows us she can still move and groove!). And her paean to her late brother Michael is clear; when she says "Don't stop til you get it up," she is, no doubt, tipping her hat to "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" [YouTube link]. Check out a few other remixes: the Moto Blanco Video Remix, DJ Dan Audio Remix, Dave Aude Club Mix, and Ralphi's Martini Mix. The Autumnal Equinox (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) doesn't arrive in NYC till 4:02 p.m. tomorrow, so expect one final song as our Second Annual Summer Dance Series concludes.

September 20, 2017

Song of the Day #1513

Song of the Day: Turn Up the Music has ten credited writers, but the one I'll focus on is the man who recorded this super dance single: Chris Brown. It appears on Brown's 2012 album, "Fortune." Check out the video single, the Roc Hound Club Mix, the Miami Life Remix. and the remix version with Rihanna (yes, Rihanna!).

September 19, 2017

Song of the Day #1512

Song of the Day: Fantastic Voyage features words and music credited to the 9-member band that recorded it: Lakeside. This was the title song to the band's 1980 SOLAR-label album. This #1 R&B dance track offers us some early hip hop touches steeped in a deep bass line. Indeed, it makes you want to "come along, pack your bags, get on up and jam y'all," as we take that "fantastic voyage . . . to the land of funk." Check out the original extended mix [YouTube link].

September 18, 2017

Song of the Day #1511

Song of the Day: Diggy [YouTube link with lyrics], by Spencer Ludwig, is featured on the "Target" commercial "Vibes" [YouTube link] focusing on "Leggie Moves." Having just watched the Emmy Awards, honoring excellence in television, I figured it would be nice to note some danceable music on TV commercials! Check out the full video version as well, in keeping with the Summer Dance Party theme that started way back in June. We're in the final few days of the season, and promise to go out dancing every day until summer ends!

September 17, 2017

Song of the Day #1510

Song of the Day: Feud ("Main Theme") [YouTube link], composed by Mac Quayle, is heard in the title sequence to one of the best of this past season's TV minseries (as is another one of my favorites: "The Night Of"), focusing on the "feud" between legendary actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, which reached its climax in the production of the classic horror-fest "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" Susan Sarandon (as Bette) and Jessica Lange (as Joan) deliver fine performances, and both are nominated in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Television Movie. And Quayle has earned nominations for "Outstanding Original Dramatic Score" and for "Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music"; in fact, the opening credits have been nominated for "Outstanding Main Title Design," giving "Feud" a total of 18 Emmy Award Nominations. Check out the Emmy Awards tonight on CBS.

September 16, 2017

Song of the Day #1509

Song of the Day: Jealous features the words and music of Nolan Lambroza, Simon Wilcox, and Nick Jonas, who was born on this date in 1992. God, they're getting younger and younger in this survey of dance music, aren't they? The 25-year old scored a #1 Hot Dance Club Hit in January 2015 with this song. Check out the video, the version featuring Tinashe (along with the E-man and Ikon remix of it), a gospel rendition, the Anda Remix, the hot Rooftop Boys Remix, House Remix, Club Killers Deep House Mix, Ugo Remix, and the DYAGO remix.

September 15, 2017

Song of the Day #1508

Song of the Day: Look What You Made Me Do features the words and lyrics of Jack Antonoff, Fred Fairbass, Richard Fairbass, Rob Manzoli, and Taylor Swift, whose video of this song made its debut on the MTV Video Music Awards on August 27th. The lead single from Swift's forthcoming "Reputation" album is already #1 on the Hot 100. Check out the killer video [YouTube link] to this infectious song, which broke the all-time record for views within a 24-hour period. And then listen to a few remixes by Vylet, Vincy, and Tom Damage [YouTube links]. Even young Andrew Foy is fingerpickin' this one already [YouTube link]. And Look What Taylor Made Me Do: Expect a song a day right up until the last hours of summer!!!

September 09, 2017

Song of the Day #1507

Song of the Day: No Frills Love, words and music by Arthur Baker, Gary Henry, and Tina B., was recorded by "Dreamgirls" Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday. The recording went to #1 on the Billboard Dance chart in 1986 and hit #1 again a decade later with the 1996 Anthem Mix [YouTube link]. Check out the original 12" remix, the Love to Infinity Mix, and even one that is dedicated to Channing Tatum [YouTube links].

September 08, 2017

Song of the Day #1506

Song of the Day: Places features the words and music of Greek DJ Xenia Ghali and singer-songwriter Raquel Castro, who recorded this song and hit the #1 position on the Billboard Dance Club chart on May 6, 2017. Check out the official video, the Extended Mix, and Lynn Wood 'We Love the '90s' Club Mix.

September 05, 2017

Song of the Day #1505

Song of the Day: The Fugitive ("Judgment Day, Part 2, Finale") [YouTube TV clip, Spoiler Alert!], composed by Dominic Frontiere, is the music that highlights the climax of the 120 episodes of one of the most iconic "TV Noir" shows in the history of the medium: "The Fugitive," which ended its four-season run on Tuesday, August 29, 1967, in front of over 78 million viewers. It was the largest audience to watch any show in TV history up to that date [YouTube, Leonard Goldberg interview]. But in the "Epilog" of that famed Quinn Martin production, narrator William Conrad tells us that it was "Tuesday, September 5th, the Day the Running Stopped" [YouTube TV clip]. And in those closing moments, the haunting theme of the show, composed by Pete Rugolo, re-emerges, as it must. Frontiere, who was a great fan of Rugolo from the days when he arranged and composed for the Stan Kenton Orchestra, got the chance to complete the score to the climactic finale. Cheers to a great series, its great score, and its unforgettable finale [YouTube link to the final two episodes in their entirety], which concluded, in narrative legend, fifty years ago, on this date.

September 04, 2017

Song of the Day #1504

Song of the Day: Crazy in Love features the words and music of Rich Harrison, Eugene Record, Shawn Carter (aka Jay Z), and Beyonce Knowles, who was born on this date in 1981. This was the lead single from Beyonce's 2003 debut solo album, "Dangerously in Love," and it is highlighted by a guest rap from the man she'd marry in 2008, Jay Z. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached the peak of the Dance Club chart on September 13, 2003 due to a few stylish dance remixes. Check out the original video single, the Pat.No. 2K13 Mix, the Fare Soldi Remix, and the DJ Stylezz Mix, and for those who want to slow it up a bit, there's the "Fifty Shades of Grey" rendition (re-recorded in 2015 for the soundtrack to that hit film) [YouTube links]. Happy birthday, Queen Bee!

September 03, 2017

Song of the Day #1503

Song of the Day: Let Me Love You features the words and music of Andrew Watt, Ali Tamposi, Brian Lee, Louis Bell, and William Grigahcine, aka DJ Snake, on whose 2016 album, "Encore" this song appears. The song, written in C-minor, hit the Top 5 on five Billboard charts, while also breaking the Top 20 on two additional charts, including the Hot Dance Club Songs chart. It features vocalist Justin Bieber and can be heard in a plethora of mixes. Check out the official video and a video with Bieber and Selena Gomez, as well as the remix featuring Sean Paul and R. Kelly. And then the DJs Take Over the World with: the Marshmello Remix, Tom Westy Remix, R3hab Remix, Don Diablo Remix, Slander & B-Sides Remix, Danny Dove vs. Offset Remix, Audio/Zedd Remix, Murper Future House Remix, Faruk Sabanci Remix, Tom Budin Remix, Albert Yam C.B. Remix, JustinTechN9 Deep House Mix, DJ Kavesh Latin House Remix, and finally, the Andry J Future House Remix.

September 02, 2017

Song of the Day #1502

Song of the Day: Fine China, words and music by Eric Bellinger, Leon "Roccstar" Youngblood, Sevyn Streeter, and Chris Brown, whose throwback sound on this lead single from the album "X" is inspired by the likes of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Sam Cooke. Check out the official video with its storyline, and then listen to the bluesy dance single, with its sensual sleaze beat, a version featuring the rapper, Common with its "Rock with You" and "Billie Jean" MJ samples), and the Chris Madem Disco Remix. For some, this is "Atlas Shrugged Day"; but it's also the birthday of someone I love very dearly... and you know who you are. Just like "fine china."

September 01, 2017

Song of the Day #1501

Song of the Day: I Specialize in Love words and music by Lotti Golden and Richard Scher, was an international dance hit by Sharon Brown. In 1982, it peaked at #2 on the Billboard Dance Club chart. Check out the classic 12" remix and a later "Dirty House" remix [YouTube links]. In 1995, the girl group Expose released a rendition of the song that hit the Top Ten of the Hot Dance Club Play chart. Check out the album version and the dance remix [YouTube links]. Today, we kick off an extended Labor Day Summer Dance weekend.

August 29, 2017

Song of the Day #1500

Song of the Day: They Don't Care About Us features the words and music of Michael Jackson who was born on this date in 1958. The song was a Top 5 hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales Chart in 1996, and was the fifth single from MJ's album, "HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I." This is the 1500th "Song of the Day" I have posted, in the wake of a Texas-sized catastrophe at home and continuing problems abroad. My heart goes out to all who are suffering. Though some of the lyrics from this twenty-plus year-old song come from mixed premises, MJ's message is certainly prescient: "They Don't Really Care About Us." Check out the video version, the more chill Love to Infinity's Walk in the Park Mix, and the house-heavy Love to Infinity Classic Paradise Remix. There is also a wonderful instrumental version by the 2Cellos [YouTube links]. Finally, check out this tribute and that one by Ricardo Walker's crew to MJ's dancing. [YouTube link].

August 28, 2017

Song of the Day #1499

Song of the Day: Long Live Love features the words and music of Darrell Brown, Mark Batson, and LeAnn Rimes, who was born on this date in 1982. The song by this country-crossover artist is featured on the 2016 album, "Remnants," and hit the summit of the Billboard Dance Chart on March 4, 2017. Check out the original single, a live "Today" performance, and then dance your butt off to the Dave Aude Club Remix, the Deville Remix, and the Drew G Remix.

August 27, 2017

Song of the Day #1498

Song of the Day: Wild Thoughts is credited to nearly a dozen musicians, chief among them DJ Kaled, on whose 2017 album, "Grateful," it appears. The song features vocals by Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, with some heavy sampling from the legendary Santana's guitar riffs from the song "Maria Maria." Check out the official video, which is nominated for "Video of the Year" on tonight's MTV Video Music Awards. Also check out the Marco Tolo Remix, the Dancehall Remix, and the Deep House Remix.

August 26, 2017

Song of the Day #1497

Song of the Day: Dancer, words and music by Gino Soccio, appeared on his 1979 debut album, "Outline." The song quickly climbed the Billboard Dance Club chart, peaking at #1 for six weeks. In all my years of being an on-again, off-again mobile DJ (1979 till the late 1980s, and Gema LaBoccetta ought to know since she was one of my DJ partners back in the day!), I can say that the 1977-1984 period was undoubtedly my favorite (and most of these songs already grace "My Favorite Songs" since I started the list back in 2004). 1979 was one of the greatest years of the Disco Era (check out this famous Disconet 1979 Medley [YouTube link], where Soccio's tune gets a hat tip at 05:18). And the 1982-1983 period brought back much excitement to the dance floor, due especially to the 11 weeks that all of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance cuts held the top spot on the Billboard Dance Club chart. It is simply not true that all disco/dance music was mind-numbing in its beats and oblivious to the social problems of the day (some of it was actually remarkably prescient in its social commentary, like, for example, Machine's terrific "There But For the Grace of God Go I" [YouTube link]). But the Disco era sported a variety of creative tempos and rhythms, which have influenced all dance music since, from hip hop to house to techno. This track, however, dispenses with social commentary, and is unapologetically propulsive in its beat and simple in its "message": "Let your body free now . . . Try to take it higher." Check out the original 12" remix [YouTube links].

August 20, 2017

Song of the Day #1496

Song of the Day: Make That Move, words and music by Kevin Spencer, William Shelby, and Ricky Smith, was recorded by Shalamar for their 1980 album, "Three For Love." This Shalamar song, with its irresistible hook, truly embodies the quintessential soulful "SOLAR" ("Sounds of Los Angeles") sound. Check out the original extended Top Ten R&B Dance mix [YouTube link]. I was asked what inspired this mini-SOLAR tribute within our Summer Dance Party, and the full truth finally comes out, for it concludes, as it should, on the eve of tomorrow's Solar Eclipse, which will be visible across the United States.

August 19, 2017

Song of the Day #1495

Song of the Day: I Owe You One, words and music by Joey Gallo and Leon Sylvers III, appears on "Big Fun," the 1979 album that first featured the "classic" Shalamar line-up of Howard Hewett, Jeffrey Daniel, and Jody Watley. The album also included hits that have made "My Favorite Songs" previously, such as "Right in the Socket" and "The Second Time Around." Check out the sweet original extended mix of this R&B Dance track [YouTube link].

August 18, 2017

Song of the Day #1494

On Facebook, I opened this weekend's Summer Dance Party with the following preface: This weekend we take a trip down memory lane to celebrate one of the best groups and record labels of the Disco Era. The group: Shalamar. The label: SOLAR. The Music: Divine.

Song of the Day: Take That To the Bank, words and music by Kevin Spencer and Leon Sylvers III, was recorded by the SOLAR-label supergroup Shalamar, which originally featured Gerald Brown, Jeffrey Daniel, and Jody Watley. This song has been sampled many times in dance music history, and appeared on Shalamar's second album, "Disco Gardens" (1978). For a group that released two of its first three albums in August of their respective years, it's all the more apropos to celebrate a Shalamar disco weekend in August. We kick off a three-song arc with this Old School dance club gem on YouTube.

August 16, 2017

Song of the Day #1493

Song of the Day: Everybody features the words and music of today's birthday girl, Madonna. Released in 1982, it was included on her 1983 eponymous debut album. With 45 number one songs on the Billboard Dance Club chart, she is the artist with the most #1 singles on that chart. She also holds the record for 157 number one singles on all Billboard charts combined. So for her 59th birthday, it's nice to go back to her first bona fide dance hit (it peaked at #3 on the Dance chart). Check out the original video, the 12" remix, and the "You Can Dance" Remix.

August 15, 2017

Song of the Day #1492

Song of the Day: Body Moves features the words and music of Rami Yacoub, Albin Nedler, Kristoffer Fogelmark, and Joe Jonas, who was born on this date in 1989. Yes, he's a tot! This song by DNCE, the band that brought us "Cake By the Ocean," went to #2 on the Billboard Dance Club Singles Chart in January 2017. Check out the video single and the Victoria's Secret video version; and then we've got a host of remixes by Alex Shik, Kay Stafford at the Ibiza Beach Club, Eric Kupper and the Damien Hall Dub Mix.

August 12, 2017

Song of the Day #1491

Song of the Day: Falling in Love, words and music by J. Bratton and D. Drewry, was a top 30 Dance and R&B hit for Sybil in 1986. As her debut single, it had a slick sound and a lot of soul. Check out the remix and the more extended Club Mix.

August 11, 2017

Song of the Day #1490

Song of the Day: Despacito, words and music by Luis ("Fonsi") Rodriguez, Erika Ender, and Ramon Ayala, is the song of the 2017 summer, indeed maybe for the year as a whole, given that it is the first song to reach 3.058 billion views on YouTube (surpassing the Wiz Khalifa-Charlie Puth "See You Again" video, at 3.003 billion views, which was a tribute to the late Paul Walker from "Furious 7" [YouTube link]). The song, aided by the addition of Bieber's vocals, has also spent 13 weeks at the summit of the Billboard Hot 100, just surpassing Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" for the most weeks at #1 in 2017, and sets a new record of 14 weeks atop the Digital Song Sales Chart. Check out the original Luis Fonsi video, the one featuring Justin Bieber and Daddy Yankee, a Salsa version featuring Victor Manuelle, as well as these remixes: Jeydee Club, Gelo Remix, Major Lazer and Moska Remix, Prince LJ Remix, Muffin Remix, Exitos Remix (with the Lobato Brothers), and the Marnage Bootleg Remix. There's even a Portuguese version featuring Luisa Sonza.

August 09, 2017

Song of the Day #1489

Song of the Day: It's Better with a Band, music by Wally Harper, lyrics by David Zippel, is the title track of the live album recorded by musical legend Barbara Cook, who died yesterday at the age of 89. Cook was born in Atlanta, Georgia but she became a New York institution, as she conquered the Broadway theater, concert halls and cabarets of the Big Apple. She achieved global recognition for her intepretation of the Great American Songbook. Check out the live album rendition of this light-hearted song recorded in 1980 at Carnegie Hall and a later 1997 rendition with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

August 08, 2017

Song of the Day #1488

Song of the Day: By the Time I Get to Phoenix, words and music by Jimmy Webb, was first recorded by Johnny Rivers in 1965 [YouTube link]. It was later recorded by American country music singer Glen Campbell as the title track to his 1967 album. Campbell's version reached #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart, earning him a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Best Contemporary Male Solo Vocal Performance. Campbell would go on to amass awards across the spectrum of American music, while also appearing in a dozen films. Today, he died at the age of 81, following a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. This song was #20 on the Top 100 songs of the twentieth century by BMI, ranked according to the number of times they were played on television and radio. Even Ol' Blue Eyes called this the "greatest torch song ever written." In remembrance of Glen, check out his studio recording of this timeless song [YouTube link].

August 06, 2017

Song of the Day #1487

Song of the Day: Super Freak features the words and music of Alonzo Miller and Rick James, who brought this song to the top of the Dance chart on this weekend in 1981 (along with "Give it To Me Baby"). The song, from the James album, "Street Songs," features background vocals by the great Motown group,The Temptations. On this date in 2004, Rick James passed away. We remember him with the epic 12" extended remix of this dance classic. The song is also famous for having been sampled by M.C. Hammer in his hit, "U Can't Touch This" [YouTube link].

August 05, 2017

Song of the Day #1486

Song of the Day: Give it to Me Baby, words and music by Rick James, topped the Billboard Black Singles chart for 5 weeks and the Dance Club chart for 3 weeks in the summer of 1981. In fact, this track was in the midst of its #1 reign this very weekend in 1981, along with a song that we will feature tomorrow, the date on which James passed away in 2004. The King of "Punk-Funk" led a troubled life, but it's memorable tunes like this that remind us about the importance of appreciating art of any kind, whatever one might think of the person who originated it. Too many tortured souls in the world of music especially have given us joy on the dance floor. Check out the original 12" remix, the DJ "S" Mix, and the 1981 extended Rework Feeler Baku Remix.

August 04, 2017

Song of the Day #1485

Song of the Day: Automatic, words and music by Brock Walsh and Mark Goldenberg, was released in 1984 and went to the Top 5 of the Hot 100, R&B, and Dance charts (where it peaked at #2), for the Pointer Sisters, from their album, "Break Out." With Ruth Pointer's contralto lead, this song has that distinctive soulful "sleaze beat" feel at 111 BPM. Listen to the original extended mix [YouTube link] (remixed by John "Jellybean" Benitez), and then check out a HiNRG 128 BPM 2007 cover version by Ultra Nate, accompanied by an uncensored steamy video "I'm So Excited" shout-out to the Pointer Sisters [YouTube link], which shot up to #1 on the Dance Club chart.

July 30, 2017

Song of the Day #1484

Song of the Day: There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back features the words and music of John T. Geiger II, Geoff Warburton, Scott Harris, and Shawn Mendes, whose 2017 recording of this song is included on the reissued version of his album, "Illuminate." It's already his third Top Ten hit on the Hot 100. Check out the single, the video single, and a few nice remixes: Friash Trap, NOTD, and for those who can't get enough of it, there's a one-hour version! [YouTube links].

July 29, 2017

Song of the Day #1483

Song of the Day: Give Me Your Love, words and music by Bruce Fielder, John Newman, and Steve Manovski, was released in 2016 by British DJ Sigala, featuring the vocals of John Newman and some added production by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Nile Rodgers. The song, which was a Top Five hit on the UK Dance chart, was showcased in several routines of this week's episode of "So You Think You Can Dance" (my favorite dance competition show, the first to give Mandy Moore a platform for her choreography, before she went off to "La La Land"). Check out the song's official video and these remixes: Cedric Gervais, Andy C, Alex B-Cube & Michael Klash, Jacob Doehner, Kasmet Bootleg, MZT, Tough Love, Cliak, PBH and Jack Shizzle, DJ eMa, Viduta, Shimron Elit, and the Rap Remix.

July 28, 2017

Song of the Day #1482

Song of the Day: On the Beat, words and music by M. Malavadi and P. Slade, was the hit lead single from the debut self-titled album of the BB&Q Band (standing for "Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens"). This 1981 song went to #3 on the Billboard Dance Club chart and #8 on the Black Singles chart. It has that classic R&B/dance throwback sound that I utterly and absolutely adore. It's the kind of thing we'd hear "back in the day" in NYC on classic FM radio stations like KISS-FM and the still vigilant WBLS-FM. Check out the original extended single, as well as the DMC Remix and the DJ Stefano Luzi Remix.

July 24, 2017

Song of the Day #1481

Song of the Day: On the Floor includes composing credits for RedOne, Kinnda Hamid, A. J. Junior, Teddy Sky, Bilal "The Chef", Armando Perez, Gonzolo and Ulises Gonzalez. But the song is well known because it was recorded by Jennifer Lopez, for her 2011 album, "Love?", with a little help from Pitbull. Today, is J-Lo's 48th birthday, and this is not only her most commercially successful single, but one of the best selling singles of all time. Check out the original video single, and a few remixes as well: Low Sunday Radio Edit, CCW Club Mix, Ralphi Rosario Extended Mix, and the Mixin Marc and Tony Svejda LA to Ibiza Mix [YouTube links]. Happy birthday, Jenny from the Bronx!

July 23, 2017

Song of the Day #1480

Song of the Day: Feels, words and music by Adam Wiles, Pharrell Williams, Brittany Hazzard, Katy Perry, and Sean Anderson, is featured on Calvin Harris's album, "Funk Wav Bounces, Volume 1." The Old School-style vocals are provided by Pharrell and Katy, with Big Sean providing the rap. Check out the fun video single and the playful instrumental version for this track, released in June 2017, and already in the top five on the Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart.

July 22, 2017

Song of the Day #1479

Song of the Day: Lost Love [YouTube lyrics link], words and music by Stonebridge, Aubrey Logan, and Lisa Cole, who sings this 2017 dance hit with a throwback sound. Check out the official music video and the extended mix. And for those who doubt that a remix can change the whole feel of a song, I provide links to a host of other remixes, among the most I've ever seen for a single dance hit in my entire life, going all the way back to my days as a college mobile DJ: the Archie Remix, AstraeusMusic Remix, Robert Eibach Club Mix, Rob Hayes Remix, Junotrix Remix, Alex Lo Remix, ALX Remix, Andre Sebastian Remix, BigBadBoy Remix, chemical solution remix, Chirurgicals Waveforms Remix, Chris Woodland Remix, G-Pizzy Remix, Harvey Nash Remix, Henrique Pirai Remix, Hindu White Remix, iBug Remix, Jagwyrd Remix, Jesus Velazquez Remix, Joel Smith Remix, Jose Baptista Ferreira Dos Remix, Lolo Remix, Mark Wampfler Mix, M3 Roadworx Remix, Moodyboy Remix, NVNTS Remix, Pump Remix, Rick Cross Remix, Rivermint Remix, Russelldeejay Remix, Sam David Remix, Serkan Demirel Remix, SKALP Remix, Tamas Klein Remix, Timechaser Remix, Trappify Remix, tronicsoul remix, Twisted Dee Remix, DrewG Remix, DJ Ryan Harvey Mix, djadtoliveira Remix, Mr. Fahrenheit Remix, Osi Bahti Remix, Benny Dawson Remix, Almost Done Remix, Timmy Loop Future House Remix, ZU78 aka casseta Remix, Junotrix Dub and the IdeaL & J. Break Dub. And if I missed any, you can find them here, because it was a remix competition that led to this avalanche of renditions. If you have just listened to all these remixes, and haven't either (a) lost your love for this song or (b) lost your mind, you are a real Dance Club Freak! So for a change of pace, listen to this Donna Summer-Yaz Mashup of "I Feel Love" and "Situation", because you need a break!

July 16, 2017

Song of the Day #1478

Song of the Day: I Don't Want to Talk About It features the words and music of James Lee Stanley, the brother of recording artist Pamala Stanley, who was born on this date in 1952. Check out the video single, the 12" remix, and the Disconet versions of this 1983 dance hit. And happy birthday, Pamala!

July 15, 2017

Song of the Day #1477

Song of the Day: Tearin' Up My Heart, words and music by Max Martin and Kristian Lundin, was a 1998 Top 40 hit from the debut album of NSYNC, with lead vocals by J. C. Chasez and a young Justin Timberlake. It has the distinction of being among the Top 30 Hits of the 1990s, according to VH1. What's a summer dance tribute without at least one Boy Band hit? Check out the single version and the official video, before listening to the Hot Tracks Remix, Riprock and Alex G's Heart and Key Club Mix, the J.J. Flores Club Mix, Stone's Phat Swede Club Mix, and the Pentatonix NYSNC Medley. (And while you're at it, check out Pentatonix's really cool "Daft Punk" tribute.)

July 09, 2017

Song of the Day #1476

Song of the Day: Shape of You, with words and music by Steve Mac, Johnny McDaid, Kandi Burruss, Tameka Cottle, Kevin Briggs, and Ed Sheeran, who released this as the first song off his 2017 album, "Divide." This song, with its super sensuous lyrics, was #1 for 12 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, but also reached #1 on 5 other Billboard charts, including its Dance/Club Songs and its Dance/Mix Show Airplay Charts. I've loved this guy's music since the very beginning. But he really impressed me at the Stevie Wonder Tribute Grammy Salute to "Songs in the Key of Life" [YouTube Full Show Clip]. Sheeran did a wonderful take on Stevie's "I Was Made to Love Her" [YouTube link]. And he follows in Stevie's footsteps; he's a talented artist who has mastered the musical technology of the day all in service to the art form. This song starts with the lyric: "The club isn't the best place to find a lover." But club remixers sure have fallen in love with this song, as surely as Sheeran as "fallen in love with your body." Listen to the Galantis Remix, Major Lazer Remix, Decoy! Remix, Joe Maz Remix, DJ Asher Remix, BKAYE remix, Latin Remix (featuring Zion y Lennox), and bvd kult remix. And don't forget the official video, the version featuring Stormzy, the Jimmy Fallon Classroom Instruments Version (with Sheeran and the Roots), and the bare basic crystal-clear acoustic version.

July 08, 2017

Song of the Day #1475

On Facebook, I posted this preface to today's Song of the Day:

On July 6th, I posted a Notablog tribute to a dear friend, Murray Franck, who passed away on the 2nd. And I want to thank all of those who posted or reacted on list or off to the sad news.
But Murray always got a kick out of the fact that I had this penchant for launching Notablog "Song of the Day" entries to celebrate genres as diverse as jazz, film scores, classical, rock, disco, and today's pop music. Nothing would have bothered him more than my ceasing such tributes in the wake of his death. He would chuckle when I'd talk to him about my days as a mobile DJ, playing everything from Bar Mitzvahs to weddings, reunions, and proms. So I won't miss a beat from this year's annual Summer Dance Series, and will continue with the first of two songs planned for this weekend: "Bang Bang" by three women named Jessie, Ariana, and Nicki:

Song of the Day: Bang Bang, words and music by Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, Rikard Goransson, Oniqa Maraj, charted on no fewer than six Billboard charts, reaching #3 on the Hot 100 and #22 on the Hot Dance Club chart. As the lead single from Jessie J's 2014 album, "Sweet Talker," the song was a huge hit for Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj. Check out the music video, the Bassel Remix, 3LAU Remix, the Kevin-Dave Remix, and their hot performance of the song on the 2014 American Music Awards.

July 04, 2017

Song of the Day #1474

On Facebook, I prefaced my "Song of the Day" with the following comment:

I know some of my anarchist friends might think that today is a day that some people celebrate the establishment of yet another state. :)
For me, the 4th of July is a celebration of the idea of America, for which the founders, whatever their flaws, on this Independence Day, pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. "Only in America":

Song of the Day: Only in America, words and music by Kix Brooks, Don Cook, and Ronnie Rogers, went to #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart. It was a huge hit by Brooks & Dunn, suitable for a Red-White-and-Blue Indpendence Day. Whatever the realities in today's America, it is almost a truism that a song, like any work of art, can project an ideal; in this instance, it is the ideal of America. And truth be told, I can't help but embrace a tune that begins with the lyric, "Sun Comin' Up Over New York City," in a country where "Everybody Gets to Dance." In keeping with our Summer Dance theme, check it out on YouTube and in this 2001 video single as well, which includes a paean to the Twin Towers.

July 03, 2017

Song of the Day #1473

Song of the Day: You're My Magician, words and music by Denis and Denyse LePage, went to #1 of a double-sided #1 Dance Club Single (with "Your Love" [YouTube link]) by Lime in April 1981. This group bridged the years of the classic disco of the 1970s and the electronic dance music of the 1980s. Check out the original 12" remix and then see what happens to the track in the French Club Remix.

July 02, 2017

Song of the Day #1472

Song of the Day: Attention, words and music by Jacob Kasher and Charlie Puth, the young man with a "Vanilla Ice" eyebrow and impressive vocal beat-box skills [YouTube link], was released in April 2017, and has since climbed into the Top 20 in more than 20 countries. The song has touches of funk and soul; as a video single [YouTube link], I had hardly noticed it. And then, I saw Puth perform it on Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" and said, "Nice!" Check out especially Puth's jazz-infused chops when he solos on electric piano [YouTube link]. He also performd the song on "The Voice" and at the Wind Music Awards in Italy (where he also takes a nice solo) [YouTube links], but my favorite version remains the one on Fallon's show with The Roots. It's a summer dance track with a really cool vibe [YouTube link].

July 01, 2017

Song of the Day #1471

Song of the Day: Dance (Disco Heat), words and music by Eric Robinson and Victor Osborn, was a #1 dance hit for Sylvester, appearing on his album "Step II." Check out the album version and the extended version, which was released as part of a double-sided 12" with his Patrick Cowley remixed-iconic disco classic, "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" [YouTube link]. The double-sided hits held the #1 spot on the Billboard Dance Disco Chart for six weeks in the summer of 1978. We're partying straight through to the 4th of July, so don't you even think of leaving the dance floor!

June 30, 2017

Song of the Day #1470

Song of the Day: Stormy Weather, words and music by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler debuted in 1933 at the Cotton Club in Harlem by Ethel Waters [YouTube link]. But one of its most famous versions was recorded by the Tony- and Grammy-award winning singer and actress Lena Horne, who died on 9 May 2010, at the age of 92. Lena sang this timeless tune in the 1943 movie of the same name. Check out Lena's film rendition and her 1943 single, which went to #21 on the U.S. Pop chart [YouTube links]. In honor of the centenary of her birth on 30 June 1917, I celebrate the gift that was Lena.

June 28, 2017

Song of the Day #1469

On Facebook, I prefaced this "Song of the Day" entry with this comment: It is officially June 28, 2017; on this date in 1969, in the wee small hours of the morning, the NYPD raided the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. With all the hoopla of this past weekend’s “Pride” events nationwide, some folks seem to forget that the parades emerged initially to commemorate what happened in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. For despite the ritual nature of these police raids, it was on this night that the patrons fought back on the basis of a crucially important libertarian premise; they rioted and rebelled in defense of their individual rights to live their own lives and to pursue their own happiness in private, safe havens, away from the brutality and harassment they faced on an almost daily basis. It is in this spirit that I add another song to my Summer Dance series. From “To Wong Foo…”, it’s Chaka Khan blowing a hole through the roof with "Free Yourself":

Song of the Day: Free Yourself, words and music by Sami McKinney, Denise Rich, and Warren McRae, is given a scaldingly hot treatment by Chaka Khan, whose pipes tear the roof off the motha'. The song is featured on the soundtrack to the 1995 comedy, "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar" (and is also played over the end credits). I dedicate it today to those who participated in the Stonewall Rebellion, which began in the wee hours of June 28, 1969, in response to yet another regular police raid on a gay bar, this one in NYC. It remains a symbolic event for those who have sought equality before the law and the right to live their lives and to pursue their own happiness, without the interference of government. It began on this date as a quintessentially libertarian reaction against state repression of establishments that catered to a clientele of gays, lesbians and even their straight friends, who in their consensual social interactions just wanted to enjoy themselves at a Christopher Street bar in Greenwich Village, a safe haven away from police and social brutality (though it should be noted that such bars were typically "protected" by Mafioso who traded in under-the-table police payoffs). This track from the 1990s wasn't on the Stonewall Inn's famed 1969 jukebox, but it is an appropriate dance burner to mark the day, in keeping with our Summer Dance Party. Check it out on on YouTube.

June 25, 2017

Song of the Day #1468

Song of the Day: Hard Day, with words and music by George Michael, is posted on a day on which we honor the memory of the late Michael Jackson, while also celebrating the birthday of the late George Michael. This song can be found on the singer's 1987 first solo album, "Faith"; it went to the top 5 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart. Check out the funky single and the Shep Pettibone 12" remix.

Song of the Day #1467

Song of the Day: Jam features the words and music of Rene Moore, Bruce Swedien, Teddy Riley, and Michael Jackson, who died on this date in 2009. The song, from Jackson's 1991 album "Dangerous," features a rap by the late Heavy D (who died in 2011). Take a look at the official video [YouTube link], which features the immortal Michael Jordan. Also check out the Silky 12" Remix, Space Vibes Mix, and a live version with a sweet dance segment by MJ. And check out a great mash-up of "Uptown Funk" and "Jam," featuring Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars, and MJ, as well as this one, this 24K one, and that one; and another mash-up with MJ and Bruno of "Beat It" and "Beating on Heaven's Gate." And for another visit down memory lane, check out a 2017 remix of MJ's "Smooth Criminal" [all YouTube links].

June 24, 2017

Song of the Day #1466

Song of the Day: Shake it Off features the words and music of Max Martin, Shellback, and Taylor Swift, who recorded this song for her critically acclaimed 2014 best-selling album, "1989." Check out the official video single, the Crysis Remix, Baasik Remix, ARVFZ Remix, Neon NiteClub Remix, and the Electro Remix. What's a Prideful Dance Weekend without a little throwdown between Katy Perry and Taylor Swift? Especially since these two may have finally buried the hatchet---and not in each other's heads!

Song of the Day #1465

Song of the Day: Chained to the Rhythm features the words and music of Skip Marley (grandson of Bob, and featured on the track), Max Martin, Sia Furler, Ali Payami, and Katy Perry, who released this recording as the first single from her fifth studio album, "Witness" (2017). This rhythmic track went Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Dance Club Songs chart. In fact, it was the seventeenth consecutive #1 Dance Club single for Perry, the longest unbroken streak of #1 dance club hits in the history of the Billboard Dance charts. Check out the chill original video single, and then explore the Lil Yachty Trap Remix, Cristian Poow Remix, and Fomichev Remix, before kickin' it into high gear with the Jerome Price Remix, Syn Cole Remix, Andy Fasa Remix, Ray Rhodes Remix, Oliver Heldens Remix, and the Deep House Mix.

June 23, 2017

Song of the Day #1464

Song of the Day: Fun credits nine writers, including the two guys who recorded it as a duet for the 2015 album, "Globalization": Pitbull and Chris Brown. Check out the video single, audio single, Damaged Goods Remix, and the Jump Smokers Remix. We're dancing all weekend in NYC, so stay tuned!

June 21, 2017

Song of the Day #1463

Song of the Day: I Feel it Coming features the words and music of Thomas Bangalter, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Martin McKinney, Henry Walter, Eric Chedeville, and Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd. This recording features the electronic duo known as Daft Punk, and can be found on the third studio album of The Weeknd, "Starboy." The song rose to #4 on the Hot 100 chart and #12 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. The Weeknd's vocals sound like he is channeling Michael Jackson. It's just got that danceable, but breezy summer feel, a perfect way to officially kick off my second annual Saturday Night Summer Dance Party, where I will be posting a danceable track every Saturday (and even throughout some weeks) from now until the last day of Summer. Check this track out on YouTube: the single (actually the official video too), the Mert Altin Remix, the Nathan C Remix, Jako Diaz Remix, and the TOFU Remix. It's 12:24 a.m. in NYC and the Summer Solstice has come to the Northern Hemisphere; let the dancing begin!

June 17, 2017

Song of the Day #1462

Song of the Day: Copacabana (At the Copa) features the words and music of Jack Feldman, Joseph Thornton, and Barry Manilow, who was born on this date in 1943. This coming week, I will begin what has now become an annual Summer series: my Saturday Night Dance Party, though there will be many days during the week when we will be partying with dance music from today and yesterday. There was a time when if I heard Barry Manilow's name announced on the radio, I'd roll my eyes; that changed as the years went by, especially when I discovered his superb jazz-infused album, "2:00 A.M. Paradise Cafe," which featured the wonderful Johnny Mercer lyrics to "When October Goes," for which Manilow composed the music [YouTube link]. But for our Brooklyn birthday boy, I figured in keeping with the coming Dance Party entries, I'd feature the song that won Manilow a Grammy for Best Performance, Pop Male. So check out Lola at the Copa on this Dance Remix, the 2012 Remix, Lola Goes Wild Remix, Maxi Dance Mix and of course, the original single [YouTube links].

June 11, 2017

Song of the Day #1461

Song of the Day: Hello, Dolly! ("Before the Parade Passes By"), music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, was featured in the 1964 Broadway musical that clobbered yesterday's "Funny Girl" at the Tony Awards that year. It won a then-record 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Carol Channing). Ironically, Streisand, who lost the Tony to Channing, would go on to star in the 1969 film version of the musical. In any event, this year, it is nominated in the Best Musical Revival category, with Bette Midler receiving a nomination for "Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical." Check out the original Carol Channing rendition and Bette Midler's rendition. And so concludes our mini-Tony tribute; check out the Awards tonight.

June 10, 2017

Song of the Day #1460

Song of the Day: Funny Girl ("You are Woman, I am Man"), music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill, was featured in the 1964 Broadway musical that made Barbra Streisand a star. Streisand would go on to sing this duet with Omar Sharif in the 1968 film version of the musical about the life of Fanny Brice. Check out the Broadway musical version [YouTube link], which featured the Tony-nominated Sydney Chaplin, son of Charlie, as Nicky Arnstein. And then check out the charming 1968 film version [YouTube film clip], the one in which Babs got her Best Actress Oscar, tying with the Great Kate, who won for "The Lion in Winter." This was only one of six ties in Oscar history and both actresses were certainly equally superb in their roles.

June 09, 2017

Song of the Day #1459

Song of the Day: Show Girl ("Liza, All the Clouds'll Roll Away"), music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Gus Kahn, debuted in the 1929 Ziegfeld musical by Ruby Keeler (of later "42nd Street" fame), with stage accompaniment provided by the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Keeler's husband, Al Jolson [YouTube link] recorded the song, and is said to have freqently serenaded Ruby with it. And for a trip down memory lane, check out this wonderful instrumental version [YouTube link] by the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, featuring the great jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli and the legendary gyspy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

June 08, 2017

Song of the Day #1458

Song of the Day: You Never Know ("At Long Last Love") words and music by Cole Porter, written for the 1938 Broadway musical, where it was sung by Clifton Webb (yes, he of "Laura" fame!). It was also featured in the 1975 film, "At Long Last Love." It's become a standard of the Great American Songbook, and has been covered notably by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne (who provides the lovely introduction), Nancy Wilson, Jack Jones, and Carmen McRae (a lively live recording featuring Jimmy Rowles on piano and Joe Pass on guitar) [YouTube links]. Today begins my mini-Tony Awards tribute to music from the Broadway stage. The Tonys air on CBS this Sunday, June 11, 2017.

June 07, 2017

Song of the Day #1457

Song of the Day: Raspberry Beret features the words and music of our birthday boy, Prince, who would have turned 59 today, were it not for his untimely death in April 2016. This song went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985, the first release off of "Around the World in a Day," by Prince and the Revolution. The song was considered "neo-psychedelic pop" but the funk is always detectable. Check out a clip of the original single (alas, the Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson has restricted access to his music).

May 25, 2017

Song of the Day #1456

Song of the Day: Star Wars: A New Hope ("Throne Room / End Title") [YouTube link], composed by the legendary John Williams, was part of the Oscar-winning soundtrack to the 1977 first installment (later known as "Episode #4") in the "Star Wars" franchise. On this date, forty years ago, the film made its debut, and the most epic space opera in cinema history was born. It is no secret that Williams's "Star Wars" scores have been among the most majestic achievements in his repertoire and so important to the success of this franchise. So Happy 40th Birthday to the first film. And May the Force Be With You!

May 23, 2017

Song of the Day #1455

Song of the Day: Moonraker ("Main Title"), lyrics by Hal David, music by John Barry, was the theme to the 1979 James Bond film, starring Roger Moore, who passed away today at the age of 89. Sean Connery remains my favorite Bond, but Moore had his moments. This song was the third Bond theme sung by Shirley Bassey, who had previously recorded the vocal themes to "Diamonds are Forever" and, most famously, "Goldfinger" [YouTube links]. Bassey provides different renditions of the song at the film's opening and the more upbeat end credits [YouTube links]. RIP, Roger Moore; and my deepest condolences to those of his fellow Brits, who are mourning today the deaths of those attending an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, victims of a shameful act of terror.

May 18, 2017

Song of the Day #1454

Song of the Day: Casino Royale ("You Know My Name") features the words and music of David Arnold and Chris Cornell, who died yesterday at the age of 52. This 2006 song features Cornell's lead vocals, from the first 007 film starring Daniel Craig as Bond, James Bond. Actually, Craig's "Skyfall" (2012) is one of my favorite Bond flicks). But today's tribute goes to Cornell, another talent gone too soon. Check out the opening credits [YouTube link], and while you're at it, check out Cornell's transformative version of the Michael Jackson hit, "Billie Jean" [YouTube link]. RIP, Chris Cornell.

May 03, 2017

Song of the Day #1453

Song of the Day: The Every Thought of You, words and music by Reid Hall and Chuck Moore, was, for years, the theme song of "Private Screenings," hosted by the late TCM pioneer, Robert Osborne, who was born on this date in 1932. The version performed on the show is by jazz vocalist Rene Marie, in a smoky jazz room sort of way. Listen to this lovely song at 6:26 in the closing credits of a show [YouTube link] in which Osborne interviewed Liza Minnelli. Osborne was always at the top of his game; as a film historian, he participated in a "Buy the Book" program designed for educators and students, introducing viewers to "The Fountainhead." Check that out here [YouTube link]. In the meanwhile, do check out Rene Marie; finding her music has been a real eye- and ear-opener. Just wonderful.

April 25, 2017

Song of the Day #1452

Song of the Day: Too Darn Hot, words and music by Cole Porter, was written for the 1948 musical, "Kiss Me, Kate." It's another one of those songs from Ella's Porter Songbook album, and is an appropriate conclusion to our Centenary Tribute to the Great Ella Fitzgerald, who will always be Too Darn Hot [YouTube link]. Happy 100th, Ella!

April 24, 2017

Song of the Day #1451

Song of the Day: I Can See It, music by Harvey Schmidt, lyrics by Tom Jones, is a highlight from "The Fantasticks," the original production of which ran for 42 years Off-Broadway. It is also a highlight of "My Name is Barbra," the first of two studio albums that were tied-in to Barbra Streisand's television special of the same name, which won five Emmy Awards and Streisand's first of four Peabody Awards. For this album, Streisand won her third consecutive Grammy for Best Vocal Performance, Female. I was almost three years old when my mother returned from a Broadway show called "I Can Get it For You Wholesale," having enjoyed the production, but telling us that this one performer, "no beauty," had such a voice that she stole the show. "This girl is going places," Mom said. And boy has she. Streisand has collected ten Grammy Awards, along with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a Grammy Legend Award, a Special Tony Award, nine Golden Globe Awards, two Oscars, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, an AFI Life Achievement Award, and a Kennedy Center Honor. Even though we are in the middle of an Ella Fitzgerald Centenary Salute, which concludes tomorrow, I don't think Ella would have minded one bit giving a "shout-out" to Brooklyn Babs, who today celebrates her 75th birthday. This is one of my all-time favorite early Streisand recordings. Check out the song, arranged and conducted by Peter Matz, on YouTube.

Song of the Day #1450

Song of the Day: There's No You, music by Hal Hopper, lyrics by Tom Adair, was first published in 1944, but was covered on "Speak Love," the third of a series of albums that Ella recorded with jazz guitar great Joe Pass. There is a poignant rapport to the two artists as they "speak" to one another in this tender ballad. Check it out on YouTube.

April 23, 2017

Song of the Day #1449

Song of the Day: A Felicidade, music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes, is featured on the album Ella Abraca Jobim, and is the only song in our tribute not sung in English! The album features so many of the very famous and melodic Jobim songs, but this is one of those rarely heard gems, with the same wonderful Brazilian flavor one would expect from the great composer, and that touch of swing one would expect from Ella. Check it out on YouTube.

April 22, 2017

Song of the Day #1448

Song of the Day: Just One of Those Things, words and music by Cole Porter, was written for the 1935 musical "Jubilee." The song is featured on the first of Ella's great songbook albums, released in 1956 as the first album for a new label: Verve Records. The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000 and one of fifty recordings selected by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. Check out Ella's rendition on YouTube.

April 21, 2017

Song of the Day #1447

Song of the Day: Love is Here To Stay, music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, was written for the 1938 film, "The Goldwyn Follies." This jazz standard has been recorded by so many artists through the years, and is another one of those that can be heard in two versions, like yesterday's featured entry: one, a solo version by Ella, the other a duet with Louis Armstrong [YouTube links], heard in the 1989 film "When Harry Met Sally."

Ha Ha "Hail, Caesar!"

A Facebook friend, Joel Schlosberg, has been asking me to watch the 2016 film [YouTube link] "Hail, Caesar!," produced, edited, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Well, Joel, I've finally seen it and it was utterly hilarious. You know they are poking fun at the era of 1950s big budget epics and musicals (the subtitle of the film the characters are working on is "A Tale of the Christ," an obvious allusion to "Ben-Hur.") But in poking fun, they are also doing a loving homage to a bygone Hollywood era, and they do it with one hilariously over-the-top scene after another.

I had to stop and rewind a couple of times because I was laughing so hard. One of my absolutely favorite scenes was, as Joel suggested, the Channing Tatum tap dance number, which readers can see on YouTube. Tatum is a talented guy, and the scene just plays with its audience with a few "wink-winks" that invite more than a few chuckle-chuckles.

In any event, I highly recommend the film; it's entertaining, off-center, and sometimes on-target. After all, it's the Coen brothers! So, thanks Joel!

Next up, and soon, maybe next month, I'll drag myself to watch the 2016 version of "Ben-Hur": I don't anticipate having as nice a reaction, but I'll try to do my best impression of "being objective" (given that the 1959 version remains my all-time favorite!) I've been holding off watching it precisely because I am anticipating a train wreck (and the reviews of the film were pretty awful). CGI might be able to give us some great dinosaurs and fantastic epic space odysseys, but there were no CGI tricks in the 1959 chariot race. Those guys (the actors themselves, with a little help from the great Yakima Cannutt) rode the chariots and when they said there was a cast of thousands, they meant it! But I'll give the 2016 version a whirl. Stay tuned.

For now, I'm still laughing. Hail, Caesar indeed! In this arena, it gets Two Thumbs Up!

April 20, 2017

Song of the Day #1446

Song of the Day: I Won't Dance, music by Jerome Kern, has two sets of lyrics: the first (in 1934 for the London Musical "Three Sisters") by Oscar Hammerstein II and Otto Harbach, the second (in 1935, for the film version of the Kern-Harbach musical "Roberta") by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh. It is the latter version