Jingle Bell time is a swell time.
That’s the Jingle Bell Rock.
This entry was originally posted on January 12, 2010 at 3:55 pm. It contains the second of my New Years’ Resolutions for 2010. Over the next several Flashback Fridays, I will be taking them out, dusting them off, and seeing how well I followed through. I do not anticipate it always being pleasant, but the truth can’t be.
Les Paul & Mary Ford – Goofus
This recording of “Goofus” (King-Harold-Kahn, 1930), one of my favorite songs, is just instrumental. It’s performed by legendary husband-wife duo Les Paul and Mary Ford (so, so, so much more on them another day).
The Paul-Ford version topped out at #21 on the Billboard chart on its release in the early Fall of 1950. The ensemble Paul and Ford had gathered is plucky and fun, although I have heard recordings from the ’30’s with saws and washboards which sort of put ukes and slides in the shade, but you work with what you got, and they did a great job re-popularizing a well-loved classic.
It really gets me that there was a time in this country when there was a) a set of songs that everyone knew, and b) a time when you picked up an instrument and sat down together and played, sometimes just as a family, but often as part of a larger community group. What happened? Radio killed the vaudeville star, but, moreover, the vaudeville star took group singalongs and skit shows down with him. No more public singing.
People just don’t do that often enough anymore, I think. I remember reading, quite a few years back, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (I consequently did not see the movie), and, in one of the super-tolerable parts, a character aged in her mid-70’s during the 1990’s was remarking on the emptiness of the sounds one hears walking the streets in the present day. She recalled being a child and teenager in the ’20’s and ’30’s, and how you could not so much as hang the laundry without hearing someone whistling or singing a street over or while walking past the yard.
“One Last Tickle on the Ivorys,” St. Ebba’s Lunatic Asylum, by Christopher O’Donovan on the flickr.
The idea of that touched me very deeply, because it resonated. I have always liked music, and always known a little about the history of radio and the record industry, being a big vinyl guy, and I’m not saying even at all that radio itself massacred town talent shows, I think increasing materialism and isolationism happened to dovetail with that new mass media, and long story short: it should change back. We need more of that old way of doing things, especially now, when so many people have lost hope and there are young people growing up for whom there are no stories about uncles who sang Irish tenor or great-grandmothers that could play the spoons.
It’s always fun to find out what hidden talents your friends and neighbors have (unless those talents are taxidermy and soundproofing basements), and it brings communities closer together. I think I remember hearing that a song is like a prayer times two, or some such thing, and I believe it. Everything is better with music.
I used to perform in singing groups and church choirs, and even participated in competitive choral groups in High School. The older I’ve gotten, the more I have grown very shy about my singing, but why? Half of what I hear on the radio has been triple-processed and slickly produced, and who cares if someone hears me fall a little flat? The spirit and song in my heart that made me so happy, that urge to open my throat that I couldn’t repress, that hasn’t changed, so why do I let fear and modern ideals of social behavior fence me in?
Holy cow, I think I just found my second resolution of 2010: Make a joyful noise. Join me, y’all!
Reality Check: I did not do as well as I wanted on this one. I started sporadically singing in my friends’ “band practice” Rock Band video game nights, but I did not join my church choir, which was what I really wanted to do. Partly intimidation because the director is an old friend, partly feeling too busy (excuse). I guess where I feel I really failed is I did not keep that song in my heart that I felt when I had written this originally. I need to try to get that feeling back.
I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
In the ruins of St. Ebba’s Lunatic Asylum. Epsom, Surrey, England.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore,
Photographed by Ellen von Unwerth for her book Revenge.
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.
(William Blake, “The Garden of Love.”)
Binding with briars my joys and desires.
Yael Naïm – The Only One
You may recognize Yael Naïm’s name, face, voice, or some combination of the three. Her single “New Soul” was featured in an Apple laptop commercial a few years back and for a little bit there she justly blew up. The track went to #7, making her the first Israeli solo artist to have a top ten hit on the USA charts.
Photo art for a poster promoting a January, 2007 concert at Studio d’hermitage in Paris.
Naim sang as a soloist with the [Israeli] air force troupe, starting in 1996. “Even though it was the army, it was pleasant,” she says. During her service, she was sent by the army to sing at a benefit concert in Paris. The organizers noticed her voice and took note of her name.
When she got out of the army, she was sent to another benefit concert in Paris. After performing a few songs at the piano she was approached by French producers who wanted to hear more. “I always had drafts of songs with me,” says Naim. “They just happened to be looking for someone for a musical project and when they heard what I do, they were all excited and offered me a contract.” Israeli recording companies had not been very enthusiastic about the music she made with her band, “The Anti Collision,” but four days after landing in Paris, at the age of 21, Yael Naim had a recording contract with EMI.
Paris was super, super kind to her; her 2007 self-titled album debuted at #11 on the French charts. Get it, girl!
Nobody expects an accordion.
When asked to explain her huge success among the French, she just asks: “Where are all these people coming from?
“It’s not the success that’s making me feel like my life is changing completely. Since I’ve had the opposite experience, when you’ve been told before that radio stations don’t want to play your music, that you should wait a few more months, I could really appreciate the speed and ease with which this record succeeded.
And from that moment, when I suddenly had this feeling of peace, this sense that evidently things are going to be fine, I’ve just felt surprised all the time and am always asking myself: ‘How can this be?'” (“Cinderella Song,” Tidhar Wald, Haaretz, November 2007)
I will be the one, you’ll see I’m the only one
Yeah I’m the only one, we belong together
I will be the one to see you’re the only one
Yeah you’re the only one, now until forever
You will see that we’re meant to be
Our love will grow peacefully
You should stay with me one more day
So how come you still walk away
If you are the only one
You are the only one
And I’m sure you feel the same
You became the one to blame, you’re the only one
Yeah you’re the only one who can make me so mad
I exclaim “where is the flame?”, you’re the only one
Yeah you’re the only one who can hurt me so bad
We will be happy as can be
Our love will grow tenderly
You will say you are here to stay
So how come you still walk away
If you are the only one
I am the only one
who can make you see that, yourself
You’re a star, let me take you far
I can really feel who you are
We will share everything that’s rare
So how come you still do not care
To know you’re the only one
Yeah you’re the only one
But it’s so unfair, I’m the only one
Yeah I’m the only one to see
It’s insane, now I remain, I’m the only one
You are the only one who can make me so sad
Can you see how fast I ran?
Yeah I’m the number one, two, three
You’re the only one who can play this game
I’m the only one, and I’m so glad you came
Give her official site, yaelweb.com, a spin to learn what Yael Naïm has been up to recently and order her 2001 and 2007 albums. This song is also a video with Readymade FC.
I miss the lovely and talented Bebe Buell, Miss November 1974 and mother of marvelous Liv Tyler, too much not to revisit her. Here are some of the pictures which I did not use last time, and fresh quotes. Plus bonus shots of both Liv and Bebe with her mother, also a vintage model!
Photographed by Richard Fegley
Sometimes, when I see my picture in a magazine or watch Todd play at a concert for thousands of people, I almost have to pinch myself when I realize that less than three years ago, I was just a nobody from Virginia Beach who didn’t even know that there was a Todd Rundgren or such a thing as rock culture and the lifestyle that goes along with it. (“Bebe,” Playboy, November 1974. — I love that they did not even bother with a cutesy title. Really, who needs it?!)
One week not too long ago, for instance, Eric Clapton was in town for a concert. Todd and I were invited backstage, at which point Eric asked him to sit in. Then Mick Jagger walked into the dressing room, and later, when Todd was onstage, Mick and I talked and he said, ‘Why don’t you and Todd come over to my place tomorrow?’ His place turned out to be Andy Warhol’s summer cottage out on Montauk Point. And since then, he’s phoned several times from London just to find out how we are.
I bet he did.
I was turned on to rock ‘n’ roll by my grandfather, who played me my first Elvis Presley record. I went absolutely crazy! I was only seven, but I knew that from that point on, music was going to be my life. As I grew older and heard the Beatles, and then the Stones, my mind was made up — it was rock ‘n’ roll for me! (“My Story,” by Bebe Buell, Playboy.com)
Liv and Bebe in 1980
Just as we [Bebe and her former band the The Gargoyles] were getting ready to seal the deal and go on tour, my daughter’s paternity situation became public. And I had to really sit down and find that place inside of me that wasn’t going to be a narcissistic rocker and say, ‘Okay, what’s important right now?’ and because of Liv’s age at the time (14) when all this went public, I had to be there for her or she would have had a warped identity I think—what if I said, ‘Oh, I’m going on the road for two years, see ya honey. By the way, you have two dads!’ Steven Tyler was the actual father, Todd Rundgren raised her as his. (“Air Kisses for the Masses,” John Pfeiffer, The Aquarian Weekly, August 18, 2009.)
The rest of the quotes are from a very sweet and gracious interview Bebe did with LovelyLivTyler.com on the occasion of Liv’s 27th birthday.
Liv, Steven Tyler, and Bebe, 1996. Awwwkwaaard.
There is so much of both of us and Todd [Rundgren] too in Liv’s personality. When she was little she stood just like Todd when she was “thinking” about something important. She has bits of all of us and then the individual things that are uniquely Liv. She has only the best of us three.
Liv, Bebe, and Dorothea Johnson at a Breast Cancer Awareness charity event
My mother [Dorothea Johnson] modeled in the 50’s and had her own “charm school” for girls. I got into the business from some photos that my mom sent to the agent Eileen Ford. She sent for me at the age of 18 and I was off to New York City in 1972. Liv was born in 1977.
What I wish for her is continued true love, good health, a family of her own (grandchildren for me), a wonderful career, personal happiness for she and Roy, long life for darling Neal and for her to find all of her dreams. She seems to be on her way. I bless the day she was born.
Oh, man. There is … some kind of dust in my eye. Very dusty in here. Ridiculous, all this … this dust.
Ugh. So it appears that Angelina Jolie finally got the people at Lionsgate to pony up the cash to make Atlas Shrugged in to a movie. Angelina Jolie, a question: why do you do these things that make me dislike you? I want to be on your side.
I had almost totally managed to recover from my dislike of her, especially being out of the orbit of my husband who insists she’s a witch (he is more supersitious than me, even), but when she does shit like bring Ayn Rand to the big screen when I’m already being buffeted by her nonsense on all sides as people repeatedly apply her views ludicrously to a “fresh take” on the current economy, I feel like my hands are tied. I’m back to disliking Angelina Jolie. It’s official.
See, that is a fabulous quote; we should get along wonderfully, but, no, she has to go and be all jerky and Ayn Randy. Gar. I say fuck the world and its rules, too, but I don’t believe that makes me better or more entitled than anyone else. I hate that Atlas Shrugged is going to be a movie, or even a mini-series. HATE IT. Ugh. This day blows now.
“Think about it: the world’s great minds and great contributors to society—which really are the entrepreneurs—are being taken advantage of—and they are; if you make money, you’re giving up pretty close to half of your income, though the United States is still the greatest country in the world, and Ayn Rand would have said that as well.” — Lionsgate Vice Chairman Burns, blurting out what Ayn Rand followers really believe, then swiftly backpedaling so that the studio appears to remain general-populace-friendly (source).
And you have cast Charlize Theron as Dagny Taggart? What goes through your pretty, long-ago-drug-and-Billy-Bob-Thornton’s-blood addled head? Angelina Jolie, try to understand this. I still love you. I just don’t love your choices.
I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.
My friendoh the Cappy-bappy is in Baghdad waiting for a plane to Germany, so let’s all help him pass the time, shall we? From MTV’s Road Rules and the Real World and some permutations therein* to the pages of Playboy, super-cutie-patootie Cara Zavaleta is your Miss November 2004!
The set dressing and conceptual design of most of the November shoots from the early 2000’s were completely lacking in any type of ingenuity. It’s like, the creative types were fired and they just brought in photoshoppers. “Just airbrush her beyond recognition and the background doesn’t matter.” Newsflash: it matters. Also, just because you have an airbrush feature in your photo editing software does not obligate you to use it. Authenticity matters!
And so does a model who is smiling and playing a fun character. Every lady has a little girl inside her that wants to play dress up! Harkening back to the pinup style really helps a model get in to it, it seems. Playboy hit it out of the park for me with this one. This spread is a standout in the shoots from the early 2000’s and it is absolutely adorable.
I have no clue who photographed the adorable oldtimey saloon scenes, but I know exactly who did the Women’s Air Core uniform bookworm-type ones:
Rob Schneider! Super-cool! I’d be grinning if I was her, too! Because this was a much more recent shoot than some of the others I’ve been featuring, there are like truckloads of pictures of this in varying degrees of resolution around the internet, so many that I could not possibly do them all justice, so I’ll wind things down with a classic composition that has all the best fetishistic elements of the shoot. Masculine attire, knee socks (argyle!), book, cigar. Out. of. the. park. Well done!
You are all like, “These Music Moments with talented ladies are really great, E, but surely you do not only listen to female artists — when are you going to highlight a dude?” and I am all like, “Right now!”
Oh, my god, you guys: Mason Jennings. Mason Jennings. Sooo cool. Mason sang two Bob Dylan songs in the 2007 Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There, “The Times They Are A-Changin'” and “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.” He’s a big guy for cleaning the ocean, integrating conventions of pop writing with stripped-down folk and acoustic songs, inventing rustic characters as the voices for his music, and looking mighty, mighty fine doing all that.
“I wrote about how hard it is to be 34 and be a parent and sane and married and true and positive and yourself and a man and funny and a decent person and a not decent person and human and in love. I turned the music up so loud so often that my ears rang every night. I wrote about death, of course. I wrote about life. I wrote about pain and addiction. And I let it flow and left it raw. I worked fast and I let my heart lead.” –Mason Jennings, “Bio,” Official Website.
This is the title track from the album whose composition he’s describing in that quote, Blood of Man (available as of September 15, 2009, he advocates that you purchase it from iTunes, so I’d encourage you to go that route).
Blood of Man
Babies in jars, luxury cars
Seasons that don’t come true
Happiness waits outside the gates
Watching each thing we do
Ocean mother, ocean child,
Are you mine, or are you wild?
Are you calling for the blood of man?
And with the world comes misery
Comes jealousy and pain
And with new friends come enemies
The fortune brings the fame
And oh my dear confidant
(tell me how to feel)
Tell me how to feel
(tell me how you’ve been)
I’ve been overwhelmed
(overwhelmed by what)
By what lies up ahead
I love the lyrics to this song, they make me think of some of my dearest friendohs who, by putting my trust in them, teach me to put my trust in others, too.
I realized these Music Moment posts tend to run really long because I like music way too much, and can’t bear to only give you half the story on someone I think is really special, so click here to keep reading about Mason Jennings (and see more of his hotness!). More Mason songs, factoids and pictures after the jump.
New feature. Music moment. I like music. Let’s begin.
I’m thinking a lot about Emily Haines this morning. I don’t really know why. I had sort of written her off as the waifishly hot gimmick in Metric’s freak act, “ooh, the girl-fronted-yet-not-terribly-chicky band, let’s all talk about how unusual that is and perhaps buy their albums,” like I thought Metric was okay, but I didn’t know anything about her or her background, or how much she contributed to the band’s writing (I assumed she basically did not at all contribute: I am aware that I am a jerk for making that assumption, but that’s just how I roll—light misogyny with a side of cynicism). Then I ran across this solidly interesting picture of her playing the tambourine and it piqued my curiosity to read she was not performing with Metric when the picture was taken, but was rather doing solo stuff.
“I really don’t relate to the female singer/songwriter. They’re vaguely privileged, it’s a vaguely middle-upper-class thing to do – your piano lessons and you’re all precious and everyone has to hush while you go over the shadows of your emotions. I’ve always really hated that.”
— Emily Haines
In case you are unacquainted with Metric, here is one of their latest videos, the silver sparkly styling in which I definitely dig, I’m in a silvery place so for me this was very right about now, but the song I am only middling to positive-ish about:
And this is a link to the official video for “Our Hell Is A Good Life” by Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton, which is her side project, when she is not simply traveling and performing solo.
I just took a spin through the wiki entry on her and discovered she was born in New Delhi, which is not something that I expected. That’s enough thinking about Emily Haines for one day, I think. Maybe I’ll come back to her eventually, maybe not.
This has been your music moment. There may never be another one, unless there is. I’m not the world’s most consistent or persevering person, sorry.