As an adult my mother took night classes to earn her college degree. One of the electives she took was a course on music appreciation. During the semester my mother had to attend three concerts and write papers on each. She came to me with a deal. “If I buy you a ticket to the Pointer Sisters concert, will you write my paper for me?” Getting to see one of my favorite groups in concert without spending a dime? Deal!
Not only did my mother treat me to a great show, she taught me valuable life lessons about effective delegation of tasks and quid pro quo.
I saw the best-known incarnation of the group – as a trio consisting of sisters Ruth, June and Anita. Bonnie Pointer left the fold years earlier to pursue a solo career. As a threesome the women scored over a dozen top 40 singles on the US pop chart.
Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of the late June Pointer, who sang lead on the trio’s hits “He’s So Shy,” “Dare Me,” “Happiness” and “Jump,” which became “Jump (For My Love)” to avoid confusion with the Van Halen hit “Jump.” People were always confusing The Pointer Sisters with Van Halen.
One more thing – my mother got an “A” on her paper.
The 1970s were all about Star Wars and disco. One man had the brilliant idea to combine the two. Is it an overstatement to call Meco Monardo a genius? His disco version of the Star Wars score was a #1 hit in 1977.
That’s his only top ten hit where he is credited as the artist; however, Meco arranged the horns on Tommy James and the Shondells’ smash “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” played the trombone on Diana Ross’ classic “I’m Coming Out,” and, alongside Jay Ellis, Harold Wheeler and Tony Bongiovi, produced Gloria Gaynor’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” and Carol Douglas’ “Doctor’s Orders.”
He revisited the Star Wars connection in 1980 when he released Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album, which includes the holiday evergreen “What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)” and “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which features vocals by Tony Bongiovi’s second cousin John (who later dropped the “h” from his first name and changed the spelling of his last name. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.)
As it’s Friday, our playlist is designed to get you dancing into the weekend. It’s Meco’s birthday, so we’ll start with his track that encapsulates the seventies.
Today is the 83rd birthday of Berry Gordy, Jr., the aspiring pugilist turned songwriter turned record executive/entrepreneur. After penning hits for Jackie Wilson and Etta James in the late 1950s, Gordy went on to launch the Motown Record Corporation. The company’s first pop hit was Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want),” a song written by Gordy with Janie Bradford, in 1960. From then on the hits kept coming.
Today’s playlist is a small sampling of great Motown releases. If you have a favorite Motown record, let me know what it is in the Comments. Enjoy!
Tonight is the first of the eight nights of Hanukkah, so I thought I’d treat my readers to a Hanukkah playlist, with the hope that you’re not tired of all the Hanukkah music played on the radio and in stores this time of year.
I wanted to start with Beck’s “Little Drum Machine Boy,” which tells the little-known story of the Robot Funk, who does the blessing over the menorah candles, and the Hanukkah Pimp. Unfortunately, this holiday classic is not on Spotify.
As I couldn’t use the Beck song, I decided to kick off with the classic “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” as performed by the cast of South Park. Unfortunately, this holiday classic is not on Spotify.
Does Spotify have “Hanukkah Rocks” by Gefilte Joe & the Fish? No? Okay, then. Clearly Spotify is taking sides in the War On Hanukkah.
Suffice to say I have enough Hanukkah songs for each night of the holiday, save the last five.
Running out of Hanukkah-specific tunes, I turn to holiday fare associated with that other big holiday that’s coming up. Many of these songs are considered Christmas classics; however, they don’t mention Jesus or Santa, so for our purposes they now will be considered Hanukkah classics.
With those songs in the mix, our playlist clocks in at just over a half hour. Sigh. I’m adding in Thanksgiving tunes. Enjoy your holidays!
Down the street from my first job in midtown Manhattan was a bookstore that often hosted book signings. There was also a record store one block over that held album/cassette/CD signings. Between these two places I got to meet many great artists, including Prince, Joan Rivers, Liberace and Tipper Gore. I also met Tina Turner, who turns 74 today.
My main memory about that meeting was how flawless her skin was. She was 46 and there was not a wrinkle to be found. I’m now older than she was then and my face is devoid of wrinkles, which is why I’m often mistaken for Tina.
Tina-mania was high in 1986. After separating from her abusive husband Ike, she toiled in relative obscurity until her 1984 album Private Dancer put her back on the map in a big way. The album sold around twenty million copies worldwide and earned Tina a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year (alongside three other great albums – Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., Prince & the Revolution’s Purple Rain and Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual, as well as Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down. Guess who won.), with its single “What’s Love Got to Do With It” winning Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female and its “Better Be Good To Me” winning Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female. In 1986 she released her best-selling autobiography, I, Tina, and her follow-up to Private Dancer, Break Every Rule, which produced three top forty hits in the U.S.
Enjoy this Tina Turner-inspired playlist.
This week, the surviving members of Monty Python announced they are reuniting for a show that will take place at London’s O2 Arena on July 1, 2014. The last time they performed together was at the Aspen Comedy Festival in 1998. In addition to their best-known skits, the troupe promises new material. At a press conference announcing the show, Eric Idle said the audience can expect “comedy, pathos, music and a tiny piece of ancient sex.”
When I was a kid I would watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus on PBS. The program provided absurd premises (a ministry of silly walks, an eatery frequented by Vikings that includes Spam as an ingredient in all their dishes, a clinic where one can drop in and pay to have an argument, though if you go into the wrong room you’ll get hit-on-the-head lessons), bizarre animation and, on the best episodes, images of ladybreasts.
July 1 falls smack dab in the middle of London’s rainy season (rainy season in London goes from Jan. 1 thru Dec. 31), so I probably won’t attend the show. However, I have my Python DVDs and recordings to get me through. Today’s playlist, a tribute to the group, kicks off with “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” the song that plays at the end of the film Monty Python’s Life of Brian. In the film, Brian, played by Graham Chapman, is despondent, seeing as he is nailed to a cross and certain to die. On a nearby cross is Idle, who attempts to cheer up Chapman with this ditty.
A survey conducted in England in 2005 revealed this to be the third most popular tune Britons would like played at their funeral. Indeed, the remaining members of Monty Python sang it at the 1989 funeral of Chapman.
I love to dance. I also love to eat and to sleep, but I really love to dance. It is my favorite activity. Yes, I like it even more than swimming. If the music is right I can go for hours at a time. In the early nineties, while living in New York City, I would go dancing almost every weekend. Those weekends when I wasn’t at a club I’d be dancing in my living room. Being that I lived in a 200 square foot apartment, my living room also served as my bedroom, den, and dance studio.
Every Friday, Tunes Du Jour will publish a dance playlist. Play it loud and get down, whether in your living room, bedroom, den, dance studio, on a bus, in the waiting room of your ophthalmologist’s office or at the dog park. It’s a great way to welcome the weekend.
Being today is the birthday of Tina Weymouth, a founding member of both Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club, we will spotlight some of her work. Our party kicks off with “Wordy Rappinghood,” a UK million-seller that topped the dance chart in the US in early 1982.
1. Her last name is Guðmundsdóttir.
2. Her first album, entitled Björk, was released in December 1977 when she was twelve years old.
3. Before forming The Sugarcubes, Björk was in the bands Spit and Snot and Tappi Tikarrass. The latter is Icelandic for “Cork the bitch’s ass.”
4. When they formed The Sugarcubes, Björk was married to the band’s guitarist. They divorced and he married a woman who became the band’s keyboard player.
5. The Sugarcubes’ biggest US hit is entitled “Hit.” It spent five weeks at number one on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart.
6. Her single “Earth Intruders” reached #84 on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 chart. It is Björk’s highest-placing single to date on that chart.
7. She wrote “Bedtime Story” for Madonna. The 1995 single was Madonna’s first to miss the US top 40 since before her breakout hit “Holiday” twelve years earlier.
8. Her performance in the motion picture Dancer in the Dark won her the Best Actress Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.
9. Her album Medúlla is mostly a capella. One song has a piano, one a bass synthesizer, and another a gong. The remainder of the sounds is created by human vocals.
10. Today is her birthday. I don’t know if she’s smoking cigars.