Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Motorola PieceOCrap 2000 | Glenn Tilbrook’s Birthday

The Motorola PieceOCrap 2000 is a high-end Android device sporting a gorgeous 4.3 touch display. It features 3G data when it’s having a good day and Bluetooth compatibility except when you need it. It offers access to thousands of apps. Just tap the app icon sixty to seventy times and you’ll get the message “Unable To Open. Would You Like To Close?” This feature, unique to the Motorola PieceOCrap 2000, saves you lots of money on data charges. The Motorola PieceOCrap 2000 also saves you money on your phone minutes, as many calls you try to make will not go through. Sometimes you may notice your device making a sound. That indicates a call is coming through. Don’t be alarmed – the PieceOCrap 2000 will disconnect the call once you answer it. Should you experience any problems with your Motorola PieceOCrap 2000, call Verizon Wireless Customer Service. After being on hold for fifty minutes, listening to Muzak played at an ear-splitting volume, a Customer Service rep will get on the phone, listen to your problem, and then tell you that you need to do a factory reset on our device, regardless of what the issue is. Be sure to humor them by doing so. It won’t fix your phone, but it keeps them employed.

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Today Glenn Tilbrook, composer, guitarist and usual lead vocalist of the band Squeeze, celebrates his 57th birthday. The group had twelve top 40 hits in their native UK, none of which were named “Tempted.” In the US they had two top 40 hits, neither of which were named “Tempted.” “Hourglass” reached #15 in 1987 and “853-5937” peaked at #32 the following year. I would dial 853-5937 to see who answers, but I have a Motorola PieceOCrap 2000.

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It’s Michael Jackson’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

In April 2009, two months before Michael Jackson’s death, Julien’s Auctions presented an exhibition of items from Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, being made available for sale to the public to satisfy the superstar’s debt obligations. Housed in a former department store in Beverly Hills, the collection was a fascinating collection of paintings, sculptures, awards, clothes and furniture. Jackson cancelled the auction at the eleventh hour; however, the exhibition remained open to the public for eleven days.

Here are some of the photos I snapped of the collection.

Michael Jackson exhibition - April 2009 026Michael filled his home with many representations of himself.


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Michael Jackson exhibition - April 2009 051He had lifelike statues of people other than himself, such as the lady above and the two below.

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Michael Jackson exhibition - April 2009 057His very simple dining room

More pics can be found here.

Today is Michael Jackson’s birthday. Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Today’s playlist consists of some of Jackson’s best dance tracks. Shammo!

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Glenn’s Ten – 8/27/14

Demi Lovato’s “Really Don’t Care” remains at #1 in Glenn’s Ten this week. There is one new entry – “A Place With No Name” performed by Michael Jackson, who has been in Glenn’s Ten many times over the years.

Glenn’s Ten for this week is:
1. “Really Don’t Care” – Demi Lovato featuring Cher Lloyd
2. “Chandelier” – Sia
3. “Do You” – Spoon
4. “New Dorp, New York” – SBTRKT featuring Ezra Koenig
5. “All the Rage Back Home” – Interpol
6. “How Can You Really” – Foxygen
7. “Dark Sunglasses” – Chrissie Hynde
8. “Electric Lady” – Janelle Monae featuring Solange
9. “Nothing More than Everything to Me” – Christopher Owens
10. “A Place with No Name” – 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. It’s a place where Rihanna, The Chemical Brothers, Simply Red, Anthrax, Thompson Twins, Frank Zappa and Skee-Lo can peacefully co-exist.

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Elvis Costello Helps Me With Geography

History was not my strongest subject at school. Nor was Geography. I’ve always been good with things that incorporate logic. Memorizing facts? Not so much.

Music was the exception. Because music was my primary passion, stories and trivia about my favorite artists and songs tended to get lodged in my brain, never to escape.

Sometimes I came across songs that taught me facts and concepts more effectively than any teacher. Thanks to Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s “NaCl,” I got an A in Chemistry. The song explains the ionization process, wherein atoms gain or lose electrons to become positively or negatively charged, by detailing a budding romance between Sodium (Na) and Chlorine (Cl). I can tell you when Louis XVI assumed the monarchy in France, thanks to Allan Sherman’s “You Went the Wrong Way, Old King Louis.” Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” educated me on the sinking of that ship and, more importantly, gave me a way to recall the names of the five Great Lakes, thanks to a gratuitous verse that names all of them.

Elvis Costello’s “Oliver’s Army” helped me with crossword puzzle clues such as “River in England.” The song’s reference to “the boys from the Mersey and the Thames and the Tyne” gives me three options for that answer. The Oliver of the song’s title is Oliver Cromwell, an English military and parliamentary leader in the 17th century. I don’t remember learning about him in school but maybe I did.

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Today is Elvis Costello’s 60th birthday. Kicking off our playlist is “Oliver’s Army,” a song that wasn’t destined to make Costello’s Armed Forces album until Steve Nieve, Elvis’ keyboard player, suggested adding a piano riff based on Abba’s “Dancing Queen” to the track. That brought the track to life, giving Costello his first UK top ten single, reaching #2 in 1979.

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Improv, 9/11 And The Strokes

Last Tuesday I made my long-form improv performance debut on the main stage at Improv Olympics, one of the top improv schools in the US. I’ve performed short-form improv at various venues. Short-form is the style used on Whose Line Is It Anyway. Players create spontaneously within the parameters of a particular game. In long-form, we get a one-word suggestion from the audience and from that we perform about eight scenes for a half hour.

I was very nervous all day Tuesday. It reminded me of the first time I performed standup I public. I was taking a course in Stand-Up Comedy. One day my teacher called me while I was at work. He was hosting a show that night and one of his performers dropped out. Could I fill in? I said yes; after all, that was the point of taking the Stand-Up workshop. Once I said yes, I could barely get any more work done. My heart was racing. I got to the venue – a singles dating meetup at the Jewish Community Center on New York City’s Upper West Side. My teacher, the emcee, introduced me. I walked to the stage and turned to face the audience. I felt all the fear leave my body. I did my set. It went over well.

Showtime last Tuesday night was 8:30. Along with my fellow players, I exited the green room via the door that leads to the stage. What I did not know was that the door literally opens to the stage. I went through it and there was the audience. All the fear left my body. It’s not that confidence took its place. It’s more that I had to focus on the task at hand, and that took precedence over my nerves.

Two weeks ago I gave a speech about 9/11. When the attacks occurred, I was living and working in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, two miles north of the twin towers. Though I was sure my Los Angeles audience saw on television what was going on in New York that day and the days that followed, I tried to convey what it felt like in my neighborhood – how the smell of the burned buildings permeated our streets, how all available outdoor wall space was plastered with notices about missing people who were last seen at the World Trade Center, how the only sounds on the streets were the sirens from emergency vehicles.

The speech was well-received. I wasn’t nervous about giving it, though I knew I would choke up, as it’s something I find difficult to talk about.

Obviously, that September day was horrible, but some life lessons were learned. It put work/life balance into a proper perspective. It made clear that our time on this planet is limited, so make the most of your stay. It brought home, literally, that while there is a lot of good in the world, there is a lot of evil as well. Life can be scary, and there are things more scary than speaking to a crowd or improvising a scene based on a one-word suggestion. Such presentations and performances can be nerve-wracking, but it’s doubtful they’ll kill you.

My next public improv performance is this coming Tuesday.

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Yesterday Julian Casablancas, lead singer of New York City-based band The Strokes, turned 36. Today’s playlist features ten of his best songs.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Last Friday I received word that a friend of mine died. Brain cancer. He was 37 years old.

The following day I got the call that my uncle passed away. My mother and her sister flew in for their brother’s funeral. He was married to the same woman for more than 50 years, since she was 19.

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I’m glad this week is over. It’s Friday, and I really need to dance. We’ll start our weekly dance playlist with The Clash. The late Joe Strummer’s birthday was yesterday. We’ll play a track by the late Isaac Hayes, whose birthday was Wednesday. Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go’s and Mika had birthdays this past week, while Tori Amos turns 51 today. Here’s to life and dancing while one still can.

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Glenn’s Ten – August 19

Demi Lovato’s “Really Don’t Care” remains at #1 in Glenn’s Ten this week. There are two new entries – “How Can You Really” performed by Foxygen and “Electric Lady” by Janelle Monae. Between them Foxygen and Monae placed five tracks in Glenn’s Ten last year.

Glenn’s Ten for this week is:
1. “Really Don’t Care” – Demi Lovato featuring Cher Lloyd
2. “Do You” – Spoon
3. “New Dorp, New York” – SBTRKT featuring Ezra Koenig
4. “Chandelier” – Sia
5. “All the Rage Back Home” – Interpol
6. “Dark Sunglasses” – Chrissie Hynde
7. “How Can You Really” – Foxygen
8. “Nothing More than Everything to Me” – Christopher Owens
9. “You Are Your Mother’s Child” – Bright Eyes
10. “Electric Lady” – Janelle Monae featuring Solange

Rounding out today’s playlist are ten tunes that were #1 on this date in Glenn’s Ten history, in reverse chronological order. Where else will you find Lil Jon, Smashing Pumpkins, Hanson, George Michael and The Offspring on the same playlist?

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In Which I Inquire With Madonna’s Office About A Pig

Winston + Madonna 2014-08-16 12.25

In the middle of last decade, when I was the VP of Licensing at Warner Music, we received a request from a toy manufacturer. They created a plush toy in which they wished to include a music chip. The plush was a pig meant to look like Madonna, circa Truth or Dare. The pig had a blond ponytail and wore a headset and a pointy bra. They wanted it to play “Like a Virgin.”

I knew Madonna wouldn’t be into this. “They made a pig that looks like you! Cool, huh?” However, I had to run it by her. At that time, Madonna was fighting with Warner. This isn’t a secret I’m revealing; it was public knowledge. I didn’t want to give her something else to complain about. “They don’t present me with all the business opportunities that come for me.”

The trick was, how do I present this license request to Madonna’s office without looking like an idiot? “Why would you send this to us? What makes you think for a second we would consider this? Moron!” Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

I figured out it’s all in the wording. I emailed Madonna’s manager. “I received a request that I doubt you will want to approve, but I want to be sure you are aware of it. It’s a plush pig designed to look like Madonna. It plays ‘Like a Virgin.’” To my surprise, instead of saying no outright, Madonna’s manager asked to see a prototype of the toy. The toy company made one prototype, which they sent to me. I didn’t want to part with it, as I was sure Madonna’s office would eventually say no to their request and then I would own the only Madonna “Like a Virgin” pig. I asked Madonna’s manager if I can swing by her office with the pig to show her. “No, but you can send it to me.”

I knew I’d never see the pig again. As expected, Madonna’s office turned down the license request. On the plus side, they were appreciative that I looped them in. It’s nice to be respected by Madonna’s team, but I really wanted that Madonna “Like a Virgin” plush pig.

Today, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone Penn Ritchie turns 56 years old. Here are twenty of my favorite Madonna tracks.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

As a songwriter, Jimmy Webb scored his first hit in 1967 at age twenty when The 5th Dimension took “Up, Up and Away” to the top ten. Later that year Glen Campbell had a hit with Webb’s composition “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”

Webb then wrote a 22-minute cantata. His friend Bones Howe, with whom Webb worked on The 5th Dimension’s Up, Up and Away album, invited Webb to play the new piece for The Association, who Howe was then producing. Their reaction was less than enthusiastic. Per Howe, one group member said “Any two guys in this group could write a better piece of music than that.”

Sometime after, Webb received a telegram from actor Richard Harris, who he met at a fundraiser in Los Angeles. Harris was nominated for an Academy Award in 1963 for This Sporting Life and again in 1990 for The Field. He later went on to play Professor Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter movies. The telegram read “Jimmy Webb, come to London and make a record. Love, Richard.”

Webb flew to London, bringing a satchel of songs he’d written. He played each for Harris, but nothing struck the actor. Webb recalled “I looked down with some dread because there was only one thing left.” That one thing was the last movement of the cantata he presented to The Association. He called it “MacArthur Park.”

Here are the lyrics to “MacArthur Park.” Raise your hand when they get confusing.

The opening lines are “Spring was never waiting for us, girl / it ran one step ahead, as we followed in the dance.”

I see some hands raised. The next line should help you understand: “Between the parted pages and were pressed in love’s hot fevered iron, like a striped pair of pants.” Now you got it! Harris, who is from the UK, where “pants” means underwear, uses an iron, a hot fevered iron, on his striped underwear. You may be asking: Does he iron his solid-colored underwear? Does he have solid-colored underwear? Boxers or briefs? Relax – there are still six and a half minutes left in the song, so maybe you’ll find out.

Moving on, we learn that MacArthur Park, which Harris calls MacArthur’s Park for the duration of the song, is melting. In the dark. Its icing is flowing down. Who hasn’t been there?

We now arrive at the classic lines about a cake left out in the rain, which appears to be causing Harris to have a breakdown. “I don’t think that I can take it ‘cause it took so long to bake it and I’ll never have that recipe again. Oh no!” Calm down. It’s just a cake. Bake another one. I know – this song was recorded in the pre-Internet age when finding a cake recipe required one to open a cook book, but come on! This cake can’t be that special if you chose to leave it out during inclement weather.

By the end of verse one we have learned several things: 1) Harris is singing to a girl; 2) Harris irons his striped underwear; 3) a park is melting; 4) if you bake a cake and wish to leave it outside, check The Weather Channel first; and 5) never write a song while you are on an acid trip.

As the song continues it gets more bizarre. The melody changes and Harris threatens us by singing “There will be another song for me, for I will sing it.” Luckily, this other song never became a hit. (And may I add, he is being rather presumptuous by calling his performance on this record “singing.”)

The song clocks in at nearly seven and a half minutes, and though it reached #2 on the US pop charts, most listeners had no idea why Harris was singing about a melting park, ironed underwear and a waterlogged dessert.

Songwriter Webb didn’t understand the confusion. He told Q Magazine that the song is “clearly about a love affair ending, and the person singing it is using the cake and the rain as a metaphor for that.” Clearly. Clear as mudcake.

The love affair was one from Webb’s own life. He and his girlfriend would meet for lunch at MacArthur Park, where there would sometimes be birthday parties, with cake. Their breakup devastated Webb, who wrote “Mac Arthur Park” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” based on their relationship. (Bonus trivia – the woman went on to marry Linda Ronstadt’s cousin.)

In 1993, humorist Dave Barry surveyed his readers to find the worst song. The clear winner for Worst Overall Song and Worst Lyrics was “Mac Arthur Park.” Culture critic Joe Queenan disagreed with the results “because ‘Ebony and Ivory’ exists, as do ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,’ ‘Baby, I’m-a Want You,’ ‘Feelings,’ ‘Benny and the Jets,’ ‘Witchy Woman’ and ‘Sussudio,’” adding “On a planet where somebody thought it would be a good idea to write ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,’ the best ‘MacArthur Park’ is ever going to earn in the sucky-song sweepstakes is a tie.”

Good or bad, the song is a classic. A 1968 Grammy winner for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist, the song has been recorded by top artists in diverse genres, including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Liza Minnelli, the Four Tops, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton and Woody Herman. Waylon Jennings’ 1969 version won a Grammy. In 1978, Donna Summer’s rendition became her first #1 pop record and stands as the only US #1 pop song for Jimmy Webb, who also wrote “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “Worst That Could Happen” and “All I Know.”

It has been rumored that Webb and Harris had a falling out due to the song’s success. Harris promised Webb his Rolls Royce if the song went top ten. When the record did, Harris offered Webb a different Rolls Royce. It is because of this that people named Richard are often called Dick. Allegedly, the pair stopped speaking.

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Today Jimmy Webb turns 68 years old. Hopefully he’s somewhere celebrating with a nice piece of wet cake. We kick off our weekly dance party with Donna Summer’s version of “MacArthur Park,” which she, like Harris, insists on calling “MacArthur’s Park” for the duration of the song.

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Glenn’s Ten – 8/12/14

Demi Lovato’s “Really Don’t Care” moves from #4 to #1 in Glenn’s Ten this week. There are three new entries – “New Dorp, New York” performed by SBTRKT featuring Ezra Koenig, “Chandelier” by Sia and “Dark Sunglasses” by Chrissie Hynde. This is SBTRK’s first appearance in Glenn’s Ten, while guest vocalist Koenig has been in the countdown a handful of times with his band, Vampire Weekend. Sia has been in Glenn’s Ten previously as a co-writer of Britney Spear’s “Perfume;” this is her first time in the ten as an artist. Chrissie Hynde showed up in Glenn’s Ten many times with her band Pretenders and with UB40 on a cover of Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe.”

Glenn’s Ten for this week is:
1. “Really Don’t Care” – Demi Lovato featuring Cher Lloyd
2. “Do You” – Spoon
3. “New Dorp, New York” – SBTRKT featuring Ezra Koenig
4. “All the Rage Back Home” – Interpol
5. “Chandelier” – Sia
6. “Nothing More than Everything to Me” – Christopher Owens
7. “You Are Your Mother’s Child” – Bright Eyes
8. “Dark Sunglasses” – Chrissie Hynde
9. “Left Hand Free” – Alt-J
10. “Heart is a Drum” – Beck

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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