The Conformist Society Produces No Individualist Iconoclasts

I was reading or hearing something about the difference between conformist societies like the ones you find in China and Japan with the individualist societies you find in the West. Strangely, I cannot remember where I read this. A book? An Internet article? An audio course?

However, that little insight answers this question for you: Why Does China Have 1.4 Billion People and No Good Bands?:

Fans attribute the success of the Hu to the group’s blending of Western metal with local styles. But it’s only the most well-packaged instance of an ongoing phenomenon. Mongolia has a strong tradition of rock groups working to modernize traditional sounds. Altan Urag, a Mongolian folk rock group from the capital of Ulaanbaatar, first succeeded in electrifying traditional Mongolian instruments almost 15 years ago. And it gave heavy metal the distinctive growl of throat singing with its seminal 2006 album, Made In Altan Urag. Mongolian bands like Khusugtun, Altain Orgil, Jonon, and Mohanik have all tweaked folk music to modern ends.

That’s a stark contrast with Mongolia’s neighbor China. Despite having 1.4 billion people to Mongolia’s mere 3 million, there’s no such thing as a distinctive Chinese national sound that mixes tradition and modernity in the same way Mongolians do—at least none that has become a serious commercial player. Instead, China has been left churning out a stream of pale imitations of other countries’ genres. That raises a big question: Why does Mongolian music slap so hard and Chinese music (with a few exceptions) suck?

Because metal musicians would be a threat to the regime/social order and would be punished.

I would be remiss in not posting a sample of The Hu:

If you will excuse me, I’m off to study Mongolian so I can put that on my gym playlist.

Also, the over/under on Mongolia conquering China, again, is twelve years.

(Link via Instapundit.)

Wherein Brian J. Proves He’s Too With It For His Own Taste

Neatorama links to a Refinery29 (who?) listicle of The Best Albums of the 2010s, and I own, sort of, two.

Let’s do this quiz style, with the ones I own bolded.

  • Taylor Swift, 1989
  • Billy Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
  • Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE
  • Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer
  • Robyn, Body Talk
  • Lorde, Pure Heroine (which I bought in 2016
  • Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour
  • Adele, 21 (although, really, I only sort of own this since it actually belongs to my oldest son who went through an Adele phase a couple years ago).
  • Beyonce, Lemonade
  • Rihanna, ANTI

To be honest, I’m pleased I don’t know who several of these artists are, and others I only know of from reading newspaper Web sites.

But I will say this: Of the two I do own, I can only add that Leo improved upon them.

My Confusion, Circa 1988

When I was younger, I sometimes confused Patty Smyth:

With Patti Smith:

It could happen to anyone, right?

Although sometime in 1993 or 1994, I had written a novel that featured a dark haired and dark eyed young woman as a love interest, and when I saw a ten-year-old Patty Smyth music video, I thought, that’s her. Maybe I based Kym Russano on Patty Smyth, as I’m sure I had seen “The Warrior” (as I referred to it in a collegiate commentary).

All I know is that I have to keep typing their names so that perhaps when I can tell them apart I can spell their names correctly (unlike in 1992).

I Haven’t Mentioned Her Name In Almost 24 Hours

Marie Fredriksson, Roxette singer, dead of cancer at 61:

Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson, the Swedish star who achieved worldwide fame with such hits as “Joyride” and “It Must Have Been Love,” has died at age 61 after a 17-year battle with cancer.

“The Look” came on the radio when I took my boys to school yesterday, and I recounted the ‘fact’ that she could not speak English when this song was released.

I must have heard that on the radio at the time. I have no idea if it was ever true.

Fun fact: My friend Dave (of the Iron Maiden poster fame) and I argued against my brother about the staying power of Milli Vanilli (David and I posited) versus Roxette (my brother countered). In retrospect, it pretty much a wash in American music and its charts, and Roxette has only appeared on this blog as a punchline (Scientists Prove Rest of World Is Parallel Universe to United States in 2007, Free Trivia Answer in 2005).

Still, I am saddened to learn of her passing.

Losing the Mannheiming of Christmas

One of the radio presets in our vehicles switches to Christmas music in mid-November, so we get our share of Christmas music that does not come from our growing collection of LPs.

And you know what I haven’t heard on this station in the last couple of years or, to my recollection, on KEZK in St. Louis when I lived there and on recent trips back?

Mannheim Steamroller.

This band really broke through after a number of albums with its 1984 Christmas album. I remember seeing this video on MTV with my brother; we were lying on my grandmother’s floor, and when it finished, we both said, Whoa.

But you don’t hear it in the mix much these days. Of course, the radio Christmas playlists have suddenly (maybe not suddenly?) tilted to modern artists doing secular winter songs, so you get a lot of Taylor Swift and Michael Buble, but not a lot of Steve and Eydie and whatnot.

So I guess that’s where Mannheim Steamroller went. Into the past.

I have this album, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, and a later Christmas album, Christmas in the Aire on audio cassette. I should see about getting them on CD. Mannheim Steamroller Christmas was the first Christmas album I bought, werd.

The Polite Fiction of Janet Evra

I might have mentioned that I have an aunt who might be terminally ill in St. Charles. I have been remiss in visiting the St. Louis area and seeing her in the last ten years since we bought Nogglestead–I might have been back only two or three times–so I have been inventing excuses to drive to St. Louis as she would disapprove of me making the trip solely to visit her.

A couple weeks ago, the family and I traveled to see our first Blues game as a family.

This week, my polite fiction was that I was going to see Janet Evra perform.

I just happened to visit my aunt for coffee and with my brother, who up to see my aunt at the same time.

“Are you really going to see this jazz singer?” my other aunt, the caregiver, asked.

I did.

Unfortunately, it has taken my aunt’s illness to shake me out of weekends of doing the same old, same old martial arts-book signing at ABC Books-nap-chores-dinner-reading-church-nap-football/chores-dinner-workweek cycle that has seemingly consumed a better part of the last decade. That oversimplifies it, but honestly, when I look back at what I’ve done lately, that’s what I see.

At any rate, Evra played two sets, about two hours, in a coffee house with seating for about thirty–and those seats were full. It seems odd to me to see her in a coffee house–I mean, in my coffee house days, I saw a lot of coffee house musicians, and I even got a CD from one later, but in this case, I’d heard the artist on the radio and got her CD and then saw her in a coffee house which seemed backwards. Unnatural. As though by CD and radio time, artists should be playing halls. The Focal Point at least (although I have not been to the venue since it moved from Webster Groves because Memories part of Coffee House Memories).

She played a couple of oldies jazzed up (“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and, I hate to say it, Blondie’s “Call Me” is an oldie), a couple of pieces from her album (“Paris”, “You or Me”), and many selections in French and Portuguese (including “Agua de Beber”) and assorted Sambas (“The Girl from Ipanema”).

I enjoyed it, needless to say.

So, Brian J., how’s your concert musical balance? you might ask. Well, gentle reader, my concert going tends toward septuagenarians (Gordon Lightfoot, Herb Alpert), women my wife likes (Dar Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter), and jazz. I don’t go to many metal concerts because, to be honest, metalheads intimidate me, whereas I am pretty sure I can best one or more jazz concertgoers in unarmed combat. Which is a misconception that will likely lead to a future butt-kicking by a septuagenarian at a jazz concert.

Not On Any Stars We’ve Lost in 2019 Listicle (In the United States)

So I recently discovered a Brazilian death metal band called Semblant, and the lead singer has a lovely voice:

I mean, here she is, singing Mozart for crying out loud:

So I prepared to post on my Legion of Metal Friends Facebook group that she, Mizuho Lin, might have supplanted someone as my favorite Brazilian vocalist. But who was my current favorite Brazilian vocalist? Gal Costa? Beth Carvalho?

In researching my quip, I learned that Beth Carvalho passed away this year.

I have a couple of her albums, Sentimento Brasileiro and Suor No Rosto, which I bought at a library book sale where someone had unloaded a lot of Brazilian and Mexican LPs. Which explains why I am familiar with Beth Carvalho and Gal Costa.

Here is Beth singing “O Sonho Não Acabou” from 1980:

It’s kind of early 80s pop Samba.

Funny story: We are friends with a Lutheran pastor from Brazil, and when his family was over, I spun some Carvalho on the turntable. He asked if it was in Portuguese, and I explained it was Beth Carvalho (and pronounced the name incorrectly, because how it’s spelled and sounds in Portuguese is different than my native language, Milwaukeean). But he, the pastor, was not familiar with the artist because, as he is a decade younger than I am, Beth Carvalho would have been his parents’ music.

I get that a lot, of course, with my other turntable musical tastes running to Big Band through the 1960s, but it was stark since I probably would have remembered Beth Carvalho on the radio were I in Brazil. I would not thought of it as old though.

I didn’t see any news about her passing here in the states. And although she was not my favorite Brazilian vocalist, I was sorry to hear of it.

My previous favorite Brazilian vocalist?

Astrud Gilberto, duh.

And, to be honest, since I’m a metal all day, jazz all night sort of guy, she probably still will be my favorite Brazilian vocalist after 5pm. But from 5:00am to 4:59 pm, it’s Mizuho Lin.

From the Nogglestead Archives

As I mentioned, one of the benefits of Nogglestead is that I can easily lay my hands upon lots of the ephemera from my life that I have collected over the years and refuse to part with. The second thing, aside from the spaciousness of the storage, is that I pretty much have not reorganized or moved anything since we moved in, so these things are generally in the last place I saw them, ten years ago when I put them there.

So when my beautiful wife found and old business card and posted it on Facebook, I immediately took it to be an Old Business Card challenge. So I went to the cubby where I keep ticket stubs and whatnot and came up with two within minutes:

At the top, we have my second technical writer position circa 1998. I would later become an automated tester there before leaving for a startup that only left me with a worthless stock certificate.

Below, we have the business card for my magazine which I published in 1994 and 1995.

I am pretty sure that I have other business cards around here; when I remembered my little business cards book, I found another from my days as the director of quality assurance for an interactive marketing agency circa 2005:

I also have a large number of other business cards that I printed on a little vending machine at the Grand Avenue Mall in Milwaukee. For a buck, it would print out four business cards for you, so I have a number proclaiming me a freelance writer, president of Triple N Enterprises, the lawn mowing company we had in the trailer park, and the bassist in a band called Ghostriders. Which don’t count, but I still have them and at hand.

Then, Friar posted about about a self-made audio cassette (I, too, shy away from mixed tape as nomenclature for this endeavor), and I was able to easily lay my hands on a couple I made in the early 1990s:

Theme Songs contains:

  • “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas
  • “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake
  • “Foreplay/Longtime” by Boston
  • “Feel Like Making Love” by Bad Company
  • “Hard to Handle” by Counting Crowes
  • “I Go to Extremes” by Billy Joel
  • “Show Me The Way” by Styx
  • “Somebody Save Me” by Cinderella
  • “Electric Blue” by Icehouse
  • “It’s a Sin” by the Pet Shop Boys

Almost thirty years later, two of those are on my workout playlist and another was on it for a while but got removed because it’s not angry or fast enough.

Rain Songs contains:

  • “I Love A Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt
  • “The Soft Rains of April” by a-ha
  • “Storm Front” by Billy Joel
  • “Another Rainy Night (Without You)” by Queensryche
  • “Crying in the Rain” by a-ha
  • “Rain Down On Me” by RTZ
  • “Falling of the Rain” by Billy Joel
  • “I Wish It Would Rain Down On Me” by Phil Collins
  • “Riders on the Storm” by the Doors
  • “After the Rain” by Nelson
  • “Here I Stand And Face The Rain” by a-ha

Face it: a-ha did a lot of rain songs, and I really liked a-ha in those days. I still do, but not like I did then.

I easily laid my hands on these because they were in the tape bins under the bed.

Note the Huey Lewis and the News album Sports, the first full-length album I bought at a garage sale in the trailer park in the middle 1980s and the a-ha album Scoundrel Days, the first a-ha album I got for $2.99 on a reduced price tape rack at Walgreens in 1990.

We’ve got a couple of those, and my beautiful wife has a number of tape organizers in here office where they are on display. A number of years ago, she set about to ripping the audio cassettes to MP3s (perhaps MP2s–it was a while ago). Which is why we still have the audio cassettes–they’re the source of the MP3s, and if we donated or sold them, we would be honor-bound to delete the ripped music from our iTunes libraries.

But I still listen to them from time to time.

For example, I’m listening to Night Ranger’s Big Life right now, which features the song “Rain Comes Crashing Down”:

Given that I bought the cassette on the discount rack at Walgreens about 1990, it seems odd that “Rain Comes Crashing Down” did not make it to the Rain Songs cassette. Perhaps I ran out of room or didn’t think so much of the song at the time.

Note that “The Secret of My Success” would be on my gym playlist except that songs ripped from audio cassette play back at a lower volume in iTunes even if you set the audio volume to auto-correct. So it would not be loud enough for exercise. Perhaps I should buy a copy of the song or the CD so I can get it appropriately loud.

At any rate, what was my point? Oh, that I can lay my hands on a lot of personal relics. As my family and the number of people who knew me back when continues to shrink, I rely on these relics an awful lot to prove that I was then and that the eternal now wasn’t all there is.

Intersection of Interests

So I’ve been reading the Ogden Nash poetry collection that’s been spotted on a book accumulation point, and I carried it to church in St. Louis this week. I read a couple, and I took a break to read the Ace of Spades HQ Book Thread and then to read the Ogden Nash Wikipedia entry, when suddenly I encountered information that should have been accompanied by the dramatic sound of a needle stopping on a record.

Ogden Nash wrote the lyrics for the jazz standard “Speak Low“.

Say what?

You mean the song performed by the lovely Sacha Boutros?

No way.


Apparently, Ogden Nash wrote part of a Broadway musical, One Touch of Venus, in which this song originated. And it’s the only thing anyone remembers from it, no doubt. The song has been covered by singers from Sammy Davis, Jr., to Steve Lawrence (but not, as far as I can tell, Eydie Gorme).

You know, my estimation of the man is elevated to a degree I cannot express with your primitive Earthen mathematical symbols and concepts.

Good Album Hunting, Wednesday, October 16, 2019: Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale

Yesterday, I took the boys up north to the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds to attend the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale where I predicted I would gorge on $1 record albums.

Which proved truer than I thought.

I bought a bunch.

I got:

  • KC and the Sunshine Band by KC and the Sunshine Band. Our Halloween trunk for the church trunk or treat is going to be disco-themed, and it’s a real shame we can’t put a record player back there to play all the disco records I suddenly have.
  • Greatest Hits Volume 2 by Dean Martin.
  • Soulin’ by Lou Rawls.
  • Golden Classics by Ace Cannon.
  • Song of Joy by Captain & Tennille.
  • Ibert/Glazounov/Villa-Labob on Nonesuch Records. My bored son joined me as I flipped through the last dozen or so record crates, so I narrated what I was looking at to keep him amused. “Look, it’s almost your grandmother’s name,” I said. “Her last name,” he replied.
  • Piano Sonoata No. 1 by Noel Lee on Nonesuch Records. “I might be the biggest Nonesuch Records collector in Springfield,” I told him. He was unimpressed.
  • Let It Be Now by Helen Schneider. I bought it because the woman on the cover is pretty.
  • Contact by the Pointer Sisters.
  • Special Things by the Pointer Sisters.
  • Chess which I thought was some symphonic production because it features the London Symphony Orchestra. Turns out it’s a musical, a genre heavily represented at the book sale. I had told my son I did not buy musicals, but when I found another edition of this album which clearly proved it was a musical, I asked him if he thought less of me; he did not. Which might mean he doesn’t think much of me already. He certainly didn’t care for me taking a long time looking through records.
  • Remember by Peaches and Herb. “Who can resist Peaches and Herb?” I asked. “I could resist Peaches. I could resist Herb. But Peaches and Herb? Impossible!”
  • Equinox by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66. “It probably has ‘Mais Que Nada’ on it. Most Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 albums do.” I didn’t recognize the cover, so I got it, but thinking on it now, this might be the Brasil ’66 album that I already have but in the wrong sleeve.
  • Carolyn Hester by Carolyn Hester. I should just have a notation like PWC that indicates I bought it because the cover has a pretty woman. Looks to be guitar, as the PW on the C has a guitar and the first song is “House of the Rising Son” which Drew tried very hard to teach me to play on guitar, but I never got smooth at changing chords in time.
  • Shandi Sinnamon by Shandi Sinnamon. PWC in a fedora.
  • Gloria Loren by Gloria Loren. PWC.
  • Steve and Eydie At the Movies by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. I already own this one, but the cover on this LP is better than the one I have. I bought it in the Better Books section and paid $2 for it.
  • Three pieces by Glazunov; apparently, I also bought something by this composer on the Nonesuch record listed above, but it’s spelled differently.
  • 5 Concerti for Diverse Instruments by Vivaldi on Nonesuch Records.
  • The Planets by Holst. My beautiful wife likes this symphony, and I wasn’t sure if we have it on record, so I splurged the dollar.
  • Carmina Burana for when we need an epic start to the morning.
  • Greatest Hits by Captain and Tennille. Apparently, I’ve been saying it wrong for years, inserting a definite article before Captain.
  • The Chase is On by Carol Chase. PWC.
  • Rufusized by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan. I just read they’re nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.
  • The Renaissance Lute but not on Nonesuch Records. It’s something up their alley, but this is Duetsche Grammophon Musikfest.
  • Never Alone by Amy Grant. My beautiful wife likes her, so I threw it in the stack, hoping the “It’s for you” would mitigate any damage my bonanza would cause in our relationship.
  • Honey and Other Hits, one of those mid-60s compilations. PWC.
  • Her Latest and Greatest Spicy Saucy Songs by Sophie Tucker. I think I read about her in Funny Ladies.
  • Tito Schipa Sings Neopolitan Songs. I like foreign language records.
  • Madrigals and Motets. Also not a Nonesuch Record.
  • Sweet Bird by Lani Hall. You know, I don’t remember ever seeing another Lani Hall album in the wild. Were they not good sellers in this corner of Missouri?
  • Mountain Fiddler by U.S. Senator Robert Byrd. No kidding. It has a picture of him in his Senate office with a violin on the cover.
  • Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose. Looks to be 70 funk or R&B. I hope.
  • One Enchanted Evening by the Three Sons.
  • Golden Rainbow Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. I told my son it was a musical, but I made an exception because of Eydie Gorme.
  • Sonatas for Flute and Piano in C Major and G Major by Haydn on Nonesuch Records.
  • Choral Songs of the Romantic Era on Nonesuch Records.
  • House of Music by T.S. Monk. Looks to be R&B. I hope.
  • Ethel Smith by Ethel Smith. PWC with an organ.
  • Robert Schumann on Nonesuch Records.
  • Sins of My Old Age by Gioacchino Rossini on Nonesuch Records.
  • Hot Together by The Pointer Sisters.
  • Love Lost by The Four Freshmen. I have a lot of albums by the Four Freshmen, but we cannot overlook the PWC.
  • Cool Water and Seventeen Timeless Western Favorites by the Sons of the Pioneers. I already have a copy of this album somewhere, but I couldn’t find it last Christmas, so I picked up another.
  • Selections by Francis Poulenc on Nonesuch Records.
  • Music Box, a compilation album from A&M Records. I think I already own it, but I spent $1 on this copy just in case.
  • Aerie by John Denver because I love my boys more than I disdain their musical tastes.
  • SHAFT-Music from the Soundtrack by Isaac Hayes. I already own it on CD, but now I have it on Vinyl as well.
  • The Brass Are Comin’ by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Of course I owned it alread, but this cover is in far better shape than the other, and I spent $2 for it.
  • Cantebury Tales by Chaucer. Actually, just the General Prologue, Prologue to the Parson’s Tale, and The Retraction read in Middle English by J.B. Bessinger, Jr.
  • Two boxed volumes of the Beethoven Bicentennial Collection: Volume I Symphonies and Overtures Part One and Volume II Symphonies and Overtures Part Two. Some years ago, my wife bought most of the collection, but skipped the symphonies because we had them on other media. Now, we’re just missing Volume III which I presume is Symphonies and Overtures Part Three out of the set of XVII.

So that’s over sixty records counting the box sets for a little under $60. I will probably need to order more Mylar sleeves and build more record shelving, though.

I also bought two Foxfire books, #4 and #7, and a Great Courses CD set called Thinking Like An Economist. I looked at artist monographs, but I wasn’t willing to pay six or ten dollars for them. I have commitments that will keep me from attending the lowered price days this weekend, so I’d better pace myself on going through what I got. Fortunately, I won’t be watching any more baseball games this season as the Cardinals were eliminated from the playoffs, and commitments keep precluding me from watching football.

My boys found a number of books which they could not wait to get into. I’m glad they did, as they sometimes get really bored and impatient with the whole book sale thing. I’m pretty sure they only agree to come because we have a new tradition of stopping at Five Guys afterwards for a burger.

So not a lot of books to add to the to-read shelves, but a new stack of records that it will take me weeks to listen to. Although when I move the stacks upstairs after writing this post, I will leave the John Denver record on top, and I wager it spins this very morning.

Overseen on the Plane

This weekend, or more to the point, this Sunday and Monday, I traveled to a work retreat in the Washington, D.C., area. When I travel, I like to pack my personal item with magazines that I can read and discard on the way, which means my bag gets lighter as I go.

As I might have mentioned, my magazine subscriptions wax and wane over the years, and I have accumulated a bunch of old magazines in a drawer in the parlor that I’ve been meaning to read (including a number that came out of the trunk 17 years ago).

I have to consider what to pack carefully. My beautiful wife wants to browse some of them after I am finished, so I cannot discard Forbes or 417 on the road, so I might as well not pack them. I don’t want to pack magazines with guns on them as I don’t want to have the TSA give me the side eye or give some fellow plane traveler the vapors, so Garden and Gun, Ducks Unlimited, America’s First Freedom, and various other items are right out.

Which leads me to an eclectic collection in my bag, to be sure.

So in rapid succession, someone sitting on a plane next to me is likely to see me go through years-old issues of:

  • Chronicles, kind of like a Midwestern National Review;
  • St. Louis, the slick from St. Louis, natch;
  • National Review, kind of like a hipster coastal elite Chronicles;
  • First Things, a magazine of Catholic theology;
  • Birds and Blooms, a lightweight photography magazine about flowers and birds;
  • Metal Hammer, a British magazine about heavy metal music focused on European bands.

As you know, gentle reader, I am a man of eclectic and diverse interests.

But, Brian J., won’t your beautiful wife want to read Metal Hammer? Well, yes, which is why I have brought it home.

And why I have looked up Follow the Cipher on YouTube:

Watch for that album on a future Musical Balance post.

The Children Find Suitable Musical Rebellion

I felt a little bad for my children. My varied musical tastes pretty much outflank any genre of music that they could discover and try to play really loud to shock the parents.

Heavy metal? Come on. They tell me to turn it down.

Rap? I have Eminem on the playlist. And they think the Beastie Boys are dinosaur music.

Jazz/Big Band/Swing? We remember what happened at the art museum.

Country? They were stunned when they discovered I was familiar with country and western music, and we’ve got a preset on the car radios for a country and western station. And Dad knows all the tunes.

The Jack music (is that even the name anymore?) that is the greatest hits of the 80s, 90s, and today? Between an extensive collection of cassettes and CDs, Dad knows all the songs on the radio stations’ abbreviated playlists and most of them on the weekly reprise of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 from the 1980s.

Electronica and dance music? Dad just bought a CD’s worth of songs by The Fat Rat, and their beautiful mom used to compose EDM.

Hip hop? I guess they could flank me here, as I don’t care for much of it, but I do have enough R&B to perhaps keep them away.

But you know what they found to annoy me?

Seventies folk music.

Apparently, inclusion in the video game Fallout 76 has revitalized John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and it now appears on the playlist at hockey arenas and whatnot.

Wait a minute, Brian J., don’t you own Their Greatest Hits Volume 1 by The Eagles? Well, yes, but they’re a band with California folk sound. I don’t know why the guy and a guitar folk rankles me so much.

What about all those Linda Ronstadt and Olivia Newton-John albums you own? True, and you could also bring up the Lynda Carter album as well. What do these have in common? Beautiful women who sing.

So the boys have discovered my beautiful wife’s John Denver albums and play them on the record player every morning and evening.

If they discover her Dan Fogelberg albums, I don’t know what I’ll do. Perhaps blow out my ears listening to heavy metal too loud on ear buds all the quicker, I suppose.

I left them such a small gap. And they exploited it.

Something I Learned About Music Today

So I was at the dentist today, and the piped in music was a collection of easy listening hits no doubt designed to soothe the nerves of people who don’t like the dentist. For me, it was a pleasant playlist as it contained a number of songs I don’t generally hear on the radio these days.

Including one by Jackson Browne whose name I could not fully remember. I remember the “Stay” part, but I could not remember the first part of the title.

I thought on it for a while, and then I got the pocket computer out and looked it up.

It’s “The Load-Out/Stay”.

Which is not what I would have I remembered had I remembered it. When I’d heard its name on the radio some decades ago, before pocket computers, I heard “The Low Down/Stay”. So for years I’d not known the real name of the song and only now am I prepared properly should this come up on a Trivia Night.

Which I hope it does. But by that time, I will have confused myself as to which it really is, and it’s a coin flip whether I get remember the title right when it matters.

Good Album Hunting, September 23, 2019: The Salvation Army Thrift Store

We had a couple of minutes to kill before the school fundraiser began at Chick-Fil-A this evening, so we stopped by a couple of nearby thrift stores.

I found a couple records at the Salvation Army thrift store, and I got a real deal as the clerk rang them up incorrectly and then let me have them for that price. Basically, all of the following were $2.

I got:

  • Eydie Gorme, With All My Heart. Any day that yields a new Eydie Gorme record is a very good day indeed.
  • The Virtuoso Trumpet, a collection of classical trumpet pieces mostly to please my wife, the most beautiful trumpeter in the world.
  • Nat King Cole Sings The Great Songs! Strangely enough, although we have many Nat King Cole records, he doesn’t get the play he deserves on the turntables of Nogglestead.
  • Dionne Warwick In The Valley of the Dolls. She was not actually in the film, but on this record she sings the theme from it along with some other Bacharach songs.
  • Satin Affair by the George Shearing Quartet. The cover is not as saucy as Latin Escapade, but I’m coming to like the sound of the music, too.
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Greatest Hits. I’m pretty sure I already have this, but I have bought it for a handful of change in case I do not or as a backup.
  • Lucille Starr The French Song. It’s an A&M record. I saw a couple copies of Claudine Longet’s The Look of Love as well. Hopefully, I will like this artist better.

Not bad for two dollars.

Although I need to get to building a new set of record shelves. And perhaps an annex to Nogglestead.

You know, I always thought that the one reader who might appreciate these posts, aside from the future me going back through the years, was Charles Hill. I’ll think of him every time I post one.

Unprecedented, Except For All The Others Who Set The Precedent

In his review of Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, Christian Toto lauds Ronstadt for doing an album of Spanish songs.

We also see (among the many highlights) Ronstadt’s rise to a stadium-filling superstar, her surprise stint performing “The Pirates of Penzance,” the creation of the “Trio” album (alongside always-engaging interview subjects Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris) and, perhaps her most surprising career turn, the creation of the Spanish-language “Canciones de mi Padre” album.

A recurring theme appears – whenever someone tells Ronstadt she can’t do something, she does it anyway and finds success. Projects like a solo career, opera and an unprecedented album of traditional Spanish music by an English speaking pop rock star proved to be the opposite of career killers.


Except for:

  • Eydie Gorme with Trio Los Panchos, Amor (1964)
  • Eydie Gorme with Trio Los Panchos, More Amor (1965)
  • Eydie Gorme with Trio Los Panchos, Navidad Means Christmas (1966)
  • Eydie Gorme with Trio Los Panchos, Canta en Español (1970)
  • Eydie Gorme with Trio Los Panchos, Cuatro Vidas (1970)
  • Vikki Carr, Que Sea El (1971)
  • Vikki Carr, En Español (1972)
  • Vikki Carr, Hoy (1975)
  • Vikki Carr, Y El Amor (1980)
  • Vikki Carr, El Retrato Del Amor (1981)
  • Vikki Carr, A Todos (1984)
  • Lani Hall, Lani (1982)
  • Lani Hall, Lani Hall (1984)
  • Lani Hall, Es Fácil Amar (1985)
  • Doris Day, Latin for Lovers (1965)

That’s almost off the top of my head.

Although perhaps Vikki Carr, born Florencia Bisenta de Casillas-Martinez Cardona but who came to musical prominence with an Anglicized name, might be a stretch as she ended up being more of a Latin singer than an English one–her albums after 1980 are mostly in Spanish.

But, still, by the time Linda Ronstadt got around to it, English-speaking pop stars singing in Spanish (or Portaguese) was almost its own genre.

Although I cannot fault him for not being as knowledgeable about mid-century American songstresses as I am, I can fault him for the modern writing where everything is the best or the first and every play in every game breaks some sort of record.

Songs of Fatherhood

As you might have noticed, gentle reader, if you’ve been around a while, I don’t often speak of my father on this blog other than to mention that I remember the exact television movie in 1981 that I was watching (Twirl) when he told me my parents were separating. My parents did indeed divorce, and my custodial parent and we boys moved shortly thereafter to Missouri from Wisconsin. So my contact with my father during my teen years was intermittent phone calls and a couple weeks in the summer. I did get to live with him while I was going to college, but I disappointed him in many of his measures, including moving back to Missouri after college. He didn’t come to my college graduation which was in Milwaukee, which hurt. Later that summer, they discovered he had lung cancer, and he passed away in 1995 when he was 47, and I was 23. To make a short story long.

I associate two songs from the period with my father although they weren’t necessarily among our shared musical interests (we both liked Billy Joel and the Eagles).

The first is Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young”. Back in those days, children, MTV and VH1 played music videos, and young people watched them.

When this one came on, my father said something to the effect of that’s how he felt about us. I couldn’t understand it then, but now I’ve got children entering the end of their childhoods, and they’ll suddenly be out on their own, and I have to wonder how I’ll have served them as a father. A mixed bag, I suppose. I mean, I’m here, I pay attention, and I go to their ball games and whatnot, but sometimes I get wrapped up in my own pursuits and don’t play with them like I used to. Well, I shoot hoops with them from time to time, and I’ve been known to teach them to split wood. But I cannot know now how successful my parenting will have been. And I probably never will, with certainty, know.

But to me, the boys and then men will always be continuous with the toddlers whose faces brightened palpably when they saw their daddy.

I expect my father had similar feelings with some additional complexity in his absence from my younger years. Or maybe not.

The second song is Mike + The Mechanics “In The Living Years” which came out a year after the Rod Stewart song, and it is from the perspective of the son.

Even at that young age, I knew that some day I would not have my father, so every time I heard the song, I made a point of telling my father that he was a good guy. Actually, I did this to the point that it bothered him, as though I was being arch, although I was sincere. And a couple years later, he was actually gone.

You know, I told him what I needed to tell him from my perspective then. However, it was the perspective of a late adolescent, a college student. I wish I’d been able to share things from an adult, a man’s perspective, with him. But, you know, the date of departure is out of our hands.

Now, of course, as a father, I wonder whether my children will have a better impression of me when they’re adults and perhaps fathers of their own. I only hope I’m here to see it. Unlike my own father.

Brian J.: Jazz Poseur

How much of a poseur at jazz am I? I am using the French spelling of it, aren’t I?

Also, I score 0 of 100 on this GQ article which would serve as a quiz if I had any of the answers: The 100 best jazz albums you need in your collection.

I mean, I have numerous albums and collections by artists who appear on this list, but I don’t have any of the individual records on this list.

Which is explained by:

  • Their collectibility–I don’t find the records at library book sales or thrift stores.
  • I rarely seek out old recordings on CD, and you don’t find the CDs out in the wild, either.
  • The list does not contain a lot of jazz/torch singers, which is the kind of CDs I do seek out.
  • I am a poseur.

I think about getting Miles Davis’s The Birth of the Cool from time to time, but that’s about it.

Perhaps it’s not so much that I’m a poseur; perhaps I’m not a GQ hipster. It has been decades since I subscribed to that magazine, which I did as part of my late 1990s “I need to dress better and be more sophisticated by following magazine diktats” phase. None of the diktats, though, included dropping a lot of foreign words in italics in conversations. Which is just as well. I wouldn’t have followed it if it had, much as I did not follow the clothing, music, book, or movie fashion tips I gleaned from the short-lived subscriptions.

(Link via Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Now that I have replaced my failed record player(s) and have gotten back to walking my fingers through my collection, I discovered that I do have Dave Brubeck’s Time Out (I also have Time Further Out and Jazz Goes to College). So I have 1 out of 100. I am a hipster.

A Musically Unbalanced Summer

It was March when I last updated you, gentle reader, as to my musical purchases and checked to see how balanced they were between heavy metal and jazz songbirds.

I’ve been a little naughty in buying CDs here recently, so I thought I’d go back through time to see how I’m doing.

In the last six months, I’ve purchased:

  • True Love by Jessy J
  • Second Chances by Jessy J
  • Rewind, Replay, Rebound by Volbeat
  • Cherry Blossom by Keiko Matsui
  • A Drop of Water by Keiko Matsui
  • Another Place by Hiroshima (I already own it on vinyl, but want it available when I am not at a working record player.)
  • Meliora by Ghost
  • Crossfade by Crossfade
  • All I See Is War by Sevendust
  • Storyteller by Morgan James
  • Hunter by Morgan James
  • We’ve Only Just Begun by Ashley Pezzotti
  • Core by Stone Temple Pilots
  • No. 4 by Stone Temple Pilots
  • The Purple Album by Stone Temple Pilots
  • Shangri-La Dee Dah by Stone Temple Pilots
  • Tiny Music…. by Stone Temple Pilots
  • Storyteller by Tine Thing Helseth

In my defense, the Stone Temple Pilots CDs came in a set that cost as much as a single CD.

So we’ve got 8 jazz songbirds, although Hiroshima is a stretch even with Barbara Long on the vocals and Morgan James considers herself to be a soul singer and not a jazz singer. We’ve got 9 metal albums. So it’s not as unbalanced as I thought. Also, one classical trumpeter who might be the second prettiest trumpeter in the world.

But it doesn’t make up for the jazz-heavy winter and spring, but there’s a new Hellyeah! album coming out next month. Which will help. Also, my opportunity to listen to metal has been curtailed. I’ve not been going to the gym that frequently lately. My job has frequent phone meetings which interrupt. And I’m not driving far enough to listen in the car.

So perhaps it is just as well, although it’s just as sad.