Thursday, September 30, 2010

yabba dabba doo!

fifty years ago the flintstones debuted on television; but it might as well have been fifty million years ago. the timeless quality of the show's humor suggests that maybe we haven't changed all that much over the years. the theme song didn't come until the third season; but it is one of the most recognizable in the history of the small screen. every day at five o'clock i hear that whistle in my head and think of fred sliding off of his bront-o-crane at the end of his work day.

the closing is even longer with the sabre tooth putting fred out for the night!

rain dogs

tom waits' rain dogs emerged like something dark and magical from the seedy underbelly of our collective consciousness. waits had evolved from beatnik jazz hipster to a kind of wild man blues that was both frightening and fascinating. sharp, tender, fierce, and funny; he had found his new voice through creative collaboration with his wife kathleen brennan, who had introduced him to the music of captain beefheart. his new primal singing style began with heartattack and vine and developed further with swordfishtrombones; but became fully realized on this album. it is rife with tarentellas, nursery rhymes, back street myths, and tawdry tales of woe; but there is hope of redemption as well. "close your eyes, son, and this won't hurt a bit."

'downtown train' with robert quine, g.e. smith, and tony levin.

"thorns without the rose, be careful of them in the dark"

'9th & hennepin'

"such a crumbling beauty"

'blind love' with keith richards and robert quine on guitar

"hotels and whiskey and sad luck dames"

rain dogs
full album:

All songs written and composed by Tom Waits except where noted.

Side one
1. "Singapore"   2:46
2. "Clap Hands"   3:47
3. "Cemetery Polka"   1:51
4. "Jockey Full of Bourbon"   2:45
5. "Tango Till They're Sore"   2:49
6. "Big Black Mariah"   2:44
7. "Diamonds & Gold"   2:31
8. "Hang Down Your Head"   Kathleen Brennan, Waits 2:32
9. "Time"   3:55
Side two
10. "Rain Dogs"   2:56
11. "Midtown" (instrumental) 1:00
12. "9th & Hennepin"   1:58
13. "Gun Street Girl"   4:37
14. "Union Square"   2:24
15. "Blind Love"   4:18
16. "Walking Spanish"   3:05
17. "Downtown Train"   3:53
18. "Bride of Rain Dog" (instrumental) 1:07
19. "Anywhere I Lay My Head"   2:48

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

don't stand so close to me

anyone who knows me knows that i love the police. i used to spend a lot of time walking around school singing their songs and writing lyrics on my desk.

this song, in particular, makes for a tasty (after)school lunch special. the tale of illicit attraction between student and teacher could have been ripped from the headlines or sting's own experience as a teacher. the comparison to lolita is a fitting one; and probably led to a lot of people looking for that famous book.

the song was at the top of the charts in the united kingdom this week in 1980. it only made it to number ten in the united states. it won a grammy in 1981 for best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal.  one of two for 'zenyatta mondatta'.  

here's the original video featuring the boys goofing off in a classroom:

young teacher, the subject
of schoolgirl fantasy
she wants him so badly
knows what she wants to be
inside her there's longing
this girl's an open page
book marking - she's so close now
this girl is half his age

don't stand
don't stand so
don't stand so close to me

her friends are so jealous
you know how bad girls get
sometimes it's not so easy
to be the teachers pet
temptation, frustration
so bad it makes him cry
wet bus stop, she's waiting
his car is warm and dry

don't stand
don't stand so
don't stand so close to me

loose talk in the classroom
to hurt they try and try
strong words in the staff room
the accusations fly
it's no use, he sees her
he starts to shake and cough
just like the old man in
that book by nabakov

don't stand
don't stand so
don't stand so close to me

don't stand
don't stand so
don't stand so close to me

don't stand
don't stand so
don't stand so close to me

in 1986 the band remade the song in a more somber tone:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

cheek to cheek

fred astaire's most famous, most successful song was at the top of the charts this week in 1935. there was something about the swank clothes that spoke to americans in the midst of the great depression to create a great escape. the melody still lingers in our collective unconscious. even my daughter loves this song since it was featured on the classical baby: dance collection. sometimes we even dance cheek to cheek ourselves.

heaven, i'm in heaven,
and my heart beats so that i can hardly speak;
and i seem to find the happiness i seek
when we're out together dancing, cheek to cheek
heaven, I'm in heaven,
and the cares that hang around me thro' the week
seem to vanish like a gambler's lucky streak
when we're out together dancing, cheek to cheek
oh! i love to climb a mountain,
and to reach the highest peak,
but it doesn't thrill me half as much
as dancing cheek to cheekoh! i love to go out fishing
in a river or a creek,
but i don't enjoy it half as much
as dancing cheek to cheek
dance with me
i want my arm about you;
the charm about you
will carry me thro' to heaven
i'm in heaven,
and my heart beats so that i can hardly speak;
and i seem to find the happiness i seek
when we're out together dancing cheek to cheek

Monday, September 27, 2010

the narrator

william conrad

(september 27, 1920 – february 11, 1994)

famous for his dramatic baritone voice, he did extensive work in radio, television, and movies as an actor, writer, director, and producer. he played marshall matt dillon in the gunsmoke radio show, and narrated television programs such as the fugitive; the wild, wild world of animals; and rocky and bullwinkle. he is most famous for his television roles as detective frank cannon and jason 'fatman' mccabe.

here's the very first episode of rocky and bullwinkle, 'jet fuel formula' ("don't miss tomorrow's exciting episode!"):

here's the intro for conrad's final role as a veteran district attorney in 'jake and the fatman':

Sunday, September 26, 2010

slave to love

bryan ferry
born 26 september 1945

the suave and sophisticated crooner captured my attention with this lush groove from his album boys and girls twenty five years ago. i quickly went back through his back catalogue with roxy music, which made this album pale in comparison. still, this seductive samba still captures the imagination.

tell her i'll be waiting in the usual place
with the tired and weary and there's no escape
to need a woman you've got to know
how the strong get weak and the rich get poor

slave to love
slave to love

you're running with me
don't touch the ground.
we're the restless hearted
not the chained and bound
the sky is burning
a sea of flame
though your world is changing I will be the same

slave to love
slave to love
slave to love
slave to love

i can't escape
i'm a slave to love
can you help me?

the storm is breaking or so it seems
we're too young to reason to grown up to dream
now spring is turning your face to mine
i can hear your laughter
i can see your smile

slave to love
slave to love
slave to love
slave to love
slave to love
i can't escape
i'm a slave to love
slave to love
i can't escape
i'm a slave to love

el paso

martin david robinson 
(september 26, 1925–december 8, 1982)

my father used to listen to a lot of marty robbins' music when i was young. though a lot of the songs sounded the same to me, i distinctly remember 'el paso' for the flavorful spanish guitar and the vivid story of a jealous cowboy's foul evil deed over his love for wicked feleena. the swells in the song are like a swoon conveying the intense emotions of the narrator. it was a number one hit in 1960 and won a grammy a year later. robbins would record two sequels to the song over the years: one from the perspective of feleena (who loves the young cowboy and kills herself after he dies), and another from the perspective of a modern drifter who wonders if he might have been the young cowboy of the original song in another life. listening to this song brings me back to another life as well.

out in the west texas town of el paso
i fell in love with a mexican girl.
night-time would find me in rosa's cantina;
music would play and feleena would whirl.
blacker than night were the eyes of feleena,
wicked and evil while casting a spell.
my love was deep for this mexican maiden;
i was in love but in vain, i could tell.
one night a wild young cowboy came in,
wild as the west texas wind.
dashing and daring,
a drink he was sharing
with wicked feleena,
the girl that i loved.
so in anger i
challenged his right for the love of this maiden.
down went his hand for the gun that he wore.
my challenge was answered in less than a heart-beat;
the handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor.
just for a moment i stood there in silence,
shocked by the foul evil deed i had done.
many thoughts raced through my mind as i stood there;
i had but one chance and that was to run.
out through the back door of rosa's i ran,
out where the horses were tied.
i caught a good one.
it looked like it could run.
up on its back
and away i did ride,
just as fast as i
could from the west texas town of el paso
out to the bad-lands of new mexico.
back in el paso my life would be worthless.
everything's gone in life; nothing is left.
it's been so long since i've seen the young maiden
my love is stronger than my fear of death.
i saddled up and away i did go,
riding alone in the dark.
maybe tomorrow
a bullet may find me.
tonight nothing's worse than this
pain in my heart.
and at last here i
am on the hill overlooking el paso;
i can see rosa's cantina below.
my love is strong and it pushes me onward.
down off the hill to feleena i go.
off to my right i see five mounted cowboys;
off to my left ride a dozen or more.
shouting and shooting i can't let them catch me.
i have to make it to rosa's back door.
something is dreadfully wrong for i feel
a deep burning pain in my side.
though i am trying
to stay in the saddle,
i'm getting weary,
unable to ride.
but my love for
felina is strong and i rise where i've fallen,
though i am weary i can't stop to rest.
i see the white puff of smoke from the rifle.
i feel the bullet go deep in my chest.
from out of nowhere feleena has found me,
kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side.
cradled by two loving arms that I'll die for,
one little kiss and feleena, good-bye.

Faleena (From El Paso)

El Paso City

Saturday, September 25, 2010


john henry bonham
(31 may 1948 – 25 september 1980)

considered the greatest drummer in rock history, he was the heavy metal thunder that inflated the lead balloon and defined their sound. he taught himself to play from the age of five, and was influenced by big band jazz players. this crushing drummer could be very friendly when he was sober; but had a reputation as a violent drunk. while a tremendous performer onstage, he suffered from panic attacks before shows. the anxiety of separation from his family while on tour led him to drink to excess. after a binge of more than forty shots of vodka that he was found dead thirty years ago today.

what may be his last interview:

ten delightful minutes from the song remains the same:

"it's not what you are; it's what you're playing."

"when he died, the band evaporated."

Friday, September 24, 2010

visual thinking

james maury "jim" henson
(september 24, 1936 – may 16, 1990)

harry the hipster shows kermit the square how messy visual thinking can be. sam and friends was henson's first television project in which he pioneered techniques such as using the television screen like a puppet box, making his muppets with flexible materials rather than wood, using rods instead of strings, and matching the mouth movements to the dialogue. he also started working with his future wife jane.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

blue train

saint john william coltrane
(september 23, 1926 – july 17, 1967)

exploding as from a tunnel on the first song of his first ("solo") album, 'blue train' takes us from minor to major with a seemingly effortless grace. be-bop sheets of sound wash over us as the individual notes seem to dance around the irregular rhythm that keeps this train a-movin'. he is at once particle and wave. it's a trip. coltrane said it was his favorite of his own albums.

redemption beneath a dirty hood

bruce frederick joseph springsteen (born september 23, 1949) is a true american hero: a working class hero. he speaks to the hopes and ambitions in all of us in simple vignettes that, like this one, seem ageless and timeless. lonesome losers feeling youth slipping away seize the possibilities and strike out into the unknown in a last ditch effort to overcome their broken dreams in the emotional wreckage littering the landscape. he's a gripping storyteller and a dynamic performer. the man is, quite simply, the boss.

the screen door slams
mary's dress sways
like a vision she dances across the porch
as the radio plays
roy orbison singing for the lonely
hey that's me and i want you only
don't turn me home again
i just can't face myself alone again
don't run back inside
darling you know just what i'm here for
so you're scared and you're thinking
that maybe we ain't that young anymore
show a little faith, there's magic in the night
you aint a beauty, but hey you're alright
oh and that's alright with me

you can hide `neath your covers
and study your pain
make crosses from your lovers
throw roses in the rain
waste your summer praying in vain
for a savior to rise from these streets
well now i'm no hero
that's understood
all the redemption i can offer, girl
is beneath this dirty hood
with a chance to make it good somehow
hey what else can we do now?
except roll down the window
and let the wind blow
back your hair
well the night's busting open
these two lanes will take us anywhere
we got one last chance to make it real
to trade in these wings on some wheels
climb in back
heavens waiting on down the tracks
oh-oh come take my hand
riding out tonight to case the promised land thunder road
oh-oh thunder road, oh thunder road oh thunder road
lying out there like a killer in the sun
hey i know it's late we can make it if we run
oh thunder road, sit tight take hold
thunder road

well i got this guitar
and i learned how to make it talk
and my cars out back
if you're ready to take that long walk
from your front porch to my front seat
the doors open but the ride it aint free
and i know you're lonely
for words that i ain't spoken
but tonight well be free
all the promises'll be broken
there were ghosts in the eyes
of all the boys you sent away
they haunt this dusty beach road
in the skeleton frames of burned out chevrolets

they scream your name at night in the street
your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
and in the lonely cool before dawn
you hear their engines roaring on
but when you get to the porch they're gone
on the wind, so mary climb in
it's a town full of losers
and i'm pulling out of here to win.