Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Time I Met Kate Bush

My first job in the music business was in the Accounts Receivable department of CBS Records. After a couple of years there I moved into T&E Accounting. T&E stands for Travel and Entertainment. In those halcyon days of the music biz in the late eighties, there was a lot of money spent on traveling and a lot of money spent on entertaining. Employees using their company credit card had to file expense reports documenting all money spent. My job was to audit those reports. If an employee’s reports weren’t filed in a timely manner, I had to cut off his/her corporate card.

In the autumn of 1989, Kate Bush was in town to review the marketing of her then new album, The Sensual World. She was out to lunch with her product manager. The latter called me from the restaurant – her card was declined. She knew she was behind in filing her expense reports, but had no other means of paying for the lunch. I saw to it the lunch was taken care of. As a thank you, when she got back to the office she invited me up to the 12th floor conference room to meet Kate. It was just the three of us. Kate signed a promo shot for me.

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The product manager got caught up on her expense reports, I met one of my favorite performers, and Kate Bush got fed. Everybody’s happy.

Today Kate Bush turns 56. Here is a playlist of some of the highlights of her recording career. Her best-selling and most critically-acclaimed album, Hounds of Love, is not on Spotify – I assume there is a remastered reissue of the album on the way – so we’ll make do without her best-known recording, “Running Up That Hill,” her only US top 40 single.

For more on Kate Bush, check out my friend Bradley’s blog here.
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Glenn’s Ten – July 28, 2014

Spoon’s “Do You” holds on to #1 in Glenn’s Ten this week. There are two new entries – Christopher Owens’ “Nothing More than Everything to Me” and Bright Eyes’ “You Are Your Mother’s Child.” It’s a very white list again this week, and, with the exception of the Miranda Lambert/Carrie Underwood track, a very adult alternative list. Am I missing a great new r&b or rap track? I look forward to the new Kanye West single, due any day now.

Glenn’s Ten for this week is:
1. “Do You” – Spoon
2. “All the Rage Back Home” – Interpol
3. “Heart is a Drum” – Beck
4. “Left Hand Free” – Alt-J
5. “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” – Sharon Van Etten
6. “Control” – Broken Bells
7. “Nothing More than Everything to Me” – Christopher Owens
8. “You Are Your Mother’s Child” – Bright Eyes
9. “Just One of the Guys” – Jenny Lewis
10. “Somethin’ Bad” – Miranda Lambert with Carrie Underwood

Rounding out today’s playlist are ten tunes that were #1 on this date in Glenn’s Ten history, in reverse chronological order.

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Mick Jagger Is 71!

Winston + Stones 2014-07-26 11.59

Today Mick Jagger turns 71 years old. He remains a dynamic live performer and one of the greatest frontmen ever.

Don’t use your age as an excuse to not do what you wish to. You’re not too old to write a novel or take tap-dancing lessons or wear Speedos at your local pool. Don’t worry about others might say; you have nobody to impress but yourself.

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Ten Facts About Grandmaster & Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” | It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Ringo + White Lines 2014-07-25 14.13Ten Facts about Grandmaster & Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)”
1. Yes, the word “don’t” is repeated in the parenthetical.
2. Melle Mel was the most prominent rapper in Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Grandmaster Flash was the DJ, not a rapper.
3. Though credited to Grandmaster & Melle Mel, Grandmaster Flash does not appear on “White Lines,” nor did he appear on the classic “The Message” (“it’s like a jungle sometimes / It makes me wonder how I keep from going under”). Forced out of the group that bore his name, Flash sued Melle Mel and their label, Sugarhill Records, over the use of his name to sell records, the result of which was the odd artist credit on the “White Lines” single.
4. Flash heard “White lines,” about the dangers of cocaine addiction, while on his way to buy crack.
5. Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel reunited in 1987 at a charity concert hosted by Paul Simon.
6. The bassline was lifted from Liquid Liquid’s “Cavern.”
7. The record credits Melle Mel and Sylvia Robinson as the song’s writers. Robinson was the head of Sugarhill Records. Previously, she had a hit in 1973 with “Pillow Talk,” a song she wrote for Al Green, who declined to record it, and as one-half of Mickey & Sylvia, she took the classic ”Love is Strange” to #11 in 1957.
8. The lyrics include a reference to car manufacturer John DeLorean (“A businessman is caught with 24 kilos”). In 1982 the FBI arrested DeLorean for purchasing 24 kilos of coke. The song compares his fate (“He’s out on bail and out of jail”) with that of an inner city youth (“A street kid gets arrested, gonna do some time. He got out three years from now just to commit more crime.”).
9. An unofficial music video for the song was directed by an NYU student named Spike Lee. It starred Laurence Fishburne, the actor who at that time was playing Cowboy Curtis on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
10. The record hit the top ten on the US dance chart in 1983. It kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party.

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Glenn’s Ten – July 23, 2014

There is a new #1 in Glenn’s Ten this week, as Spoon’s “Do You” jumps up from #4 to claim the top spot from Sharon Van Etten. There are three new entries this week – Interpol’s “All the Rage Back Home,” Alt-J’s “Left Hand Free” and Jenny Lewis’ “Just One of the Guys.” They replace Jack White’s “Just One Drink,” Pharrell Williams’ “Come Get It Bae” and Michael Jackson’s “Love Never Felt So Good.” The White track had a seven-week run, the Pharrell track a five-week run and the MJ track a nine-week run, three of those weeks at #1.

Glenn’s Ten for this week is:
1. “Do You” – Spoon
2. “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” – Sharon Van Etten
3. “Control” – Broken Bells
4. “Heart is a Drum” – Beck
5. “Somethin’ Bad” – Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood
6. “All the Rage Back Home” – Interpol
7. “Do It Again” – Röyksopp and Robyn
8. “Left Hand Free” – Alt-J
9. “Just One of the Guys” – Jenny Lewis
10. “West Coast” – Lana Del Rey

Rounding out today’s playlist are ten tunes that were #1 on this date in Glenn’s Ten history, in reverse chronological order.

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The #39 Album Of All-Time: Rufus Wainwright

Winston + Rufus 2014-07-22 10.28
In 1998, Rufus Wainwright released his debut album, which he named Rufus Wainwright. By 2011, he had released six studio albums, so naturally the time was right for a box set. House of Rufus contained 19 discs. It included each studio album, two previously-released live albums, collections of songs performed with other artists, songs from soundtrack albums, DVDs of concerts and a documentary about the opera he wrote. It also included a hard cover 90 page book.

Rufus seldom does anything small. His motto seems to be “Go big or go home.” Sometimes I find that off-putting the first couple of times I hear a song of his, but after repeated listenings the melody and the lyrics sink in and I no longer notice the ornate production.

His first album didn’t grab me on my initial listen. Some months after I bought it, MTV was having a special weekend during which they showed music videos. They showed Rufus’ “April Fools” video a handful of times that weekend, and it hit me. I put the album back on and its magic came through. It was practically glued to my CD player for months to follow.

Today Rufus Wainwright turns 41 years old. To celebrate, Tunes du Jour presents a Rufus Wainwright playlist, focusing on his debut album, my #39 album of all-time.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Gwen Stefani, the lead singer and lyricist of the band No Doubt, wanted to do a dance-oriented solo album, but when the band finished its Rock Steady tour in November 2002, all she wanted to do was sleep. “I wanted to take a break and was really burned out, but the record company were ready to go.” Her label, Interscope, wanted her to work on her solo album with singer-songwriter Linda Perry, who was available for only five days.

Without the time to recharge, Stefani’s anxieties about doing the record rose to the surface and she spent a lot of time crying in bed. She’d been with the guys in No Doubt for seventeen years at that point; could she do a record without them?

On their second day in the studio together, Perry presented Stefani with the music of a song she stayed up the previous night to write. Stefani was to come up with lyrics, and she took the speed with which Perry came up with the song as a dare, as if to ask her “What are you waiting for?”

That was the inspiration Stefani needed. She wrote the lyrics to “What You Waiting For?,” addressing her fears about doing the record, her lack of inspiration, and the pressure the felt her label was putting on her. The song opens with Stefani referencing her bandmates and their years together – “What an amazing time / What a family/ How did the years go by?/ Now it’s only me.” Then the repeated background vocals of “tick tock” suggest the clock is ticking and she needs to get to work on this solo venture. Her nervous side sings “I’m worried if I go it alone,” to which her confident persona responds “You never know, it could be great” and “Take a chance, you might grow.”

“What You Waiting For?” was the first single released from Stefani’s first solo venture, Love, Angel, Music, Baby. The album sold seven million copies worldwide and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Hit singles from the album were “Hollaback Girl,” “Rich Girl,” “Cool” and “Luxurious.”

Of the experience making the record, Stefani said “I think it’s very important to put yourself in a situation that’s uncomfortable to be able to grow.”

Is there something you wish to do but have not yet started to tackle? What you waiting for?
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Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. We kick off this week’s party with Gwen Stefani’s “What You Waiting For?”

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Glenn’s Ten – 7/16/14

There are two new entries in Glenn’s Ten this week – Spoon’s “Do You” and Beck’s “Heart is a Drum.” They replace Conor Oberst’s “Hundreds of Ways” and Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun.” The Oberst track had a ten-week run. The Paramore track entered Glenn’s Ten the first week in April and spent two weeks at #1.

Glenn’s Ten for this week is:
1. “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” – Sharon Van Etten
2. “Somethin’ Bad” – Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood
3. “Control” – Broken Bells
4. “Do You” – Spoon
5. “West Coast” – Lana Del Rey
6. “Heart is a Drum” – Beck
7. “Just One Drink” – Jack White
8. “Do It Again” – Röyksopp and Robyn
9. “Come Get It Bae” – Pharrell Williams
10. “Love Never Felt So Good” – Michael Jackson

Rounding out today’s playlist are ten tunes that were #1 on this date in Glenn’s Ten history, in reverse chronological order.

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Your Bastille Day Playlist

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In seventh grade we were given the option of taking Spanish or being expelled. I opted for the former. I did well in Spanish class. When I moved on to high school in ninth grade, we had a foreign language requirement, our options being Spanish, French or Swahili. I stayed with Spanish.

Through music I was able to pick up bits and pieces of other languages. I picked up some French phrases from Labelle and Talking Heads. I learned some Japanese from The Police and Robyn. The Rolling Stones and Dusty Springfield recorded Italian-language versions of a couple of their hits, and The Beatles recorded “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” in German.

Limited as it was, this knowledge of foreign languages served me well when I moved into Sony Music’s International division. I could converse with our affiliates and licensees around the world. Sure, all I knew how to say to the folks in our French office was “Would you like to go to bed with me tonight?” and “What is it?,” but that’s all I needed to say. They appreciated the effort.

As today is Bastille Day and this blog has a French name, I created a playlist to help you with your French and your French kissing. Amusez-vous!

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Why Not Think About Times To Come?

I’m glad it’s Sunday, the start of a new week. Last week was trying.

I followed up with a company that was interested in hiring me as a consultant, but they have no room for me at the moment.

After reaching out to every appropriate music supervisor and music executive I can think of, I got no takers for the two acts I’m pitching for television and film uses. I received a lot of positive feedback about the tracks I sent, one a stripped down soulful piano ballad and the others EDM bangers, but no deals.

I’m frustrated with a class I am taking. Though the teacher is smart and knows his stuff, there are times when his focus seems misplaced.

I had to call the customer service departments of Anthem Blue Cross, Verizon Wireless, Express Scripts mail order pharmacy and Hewlett Packard. All have lousy customer service, and each call left me angry (or as close as I get to angry).

I had lunch with a former co-worker I haven’t seen in years on Friday. The lunch was nice, but I didn’t realize how awful the parking situation in downtown LA is. It’s insane that what I paid to park for fewer than ninety minutes was the same as what I paid for this nice lunch.

I don’t have dental insurance at the moment. My insurance broker suggested I ask my dentist what insurance plans he accepts and what he would recommend for coverage, as he know my dental situation better than anybody. I emailed my dentist and he wrote back that “there are literally thousands of plans” and it doesn’t make sense for me to get insurance. Really? His office accepts thousands of plans?

It was one of those weeks where at times it seemed like nobody was the least bit helpful or caring. However, I’m an optimistic guy. Despite all of the annoyances I think “things will get better.” Another company will hire me as a consultant. A deal for the songs I’m pitching will come through at some point. I switched my medical insurance coverage – there is no possible way any company could be worse than Anthem Blue Cross. I’ll fill my prescriptions at my local pharmacy. Everything will work out.

Last night I went with a friend to the opening night performance of a new musical entitled Beguiled. Afterwards my friend described it as “the worst grade school production I’ve ever seen.” I didn’t like it as much as he did. The humor fell flat (how any times must you say the word ”penis” hoping for a laugh?), the plot was full of holes, and the music was stolen from Broadway shows, with no credit in the program to the composers. The highlight of the show was near the end, when one of the actors climbed up to the balcony and, while stretching out his arms, smashed a window in the theater, sending shards of glass flying all over. I didn’t see that coming. Bravo!

While I hate sitting through awful shows, they do inspire me. If that load of crap could get produced and have a multi-performance run on Saturday nights at a known theater in Hollywood, then I need to finish my script/book/whatever. There is an audience out there starved for entertainment. That thought is what I needed to be back on a positive track. This week will be great.

doggies + McVie 2014-07-13 11.15
With all the time I spent arguing with poorly-trained customer service reps and looking for parking, I didn’t get a chance to post a blog entry about Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, who turned 71 yesterday. Better late than never. Given the theme of this post, it makes sense to kick off today’s playlist with “Don’t Stop.” It’ll be better than before. Yesterday’s gone.

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