Monthly Archives: October 2014

It’s Halloween And I Need To Dance!

On the night of December 31, 1977, Grace Jones rang in the new year with a performance at New York City’s Studio 54. She invited Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of the band Chic, whose hits such as “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” were often played at the club, to catch her show. The guys went to the stage door, where the doorman told them to “Fuck off!” They went to the front entrance and told the doorman there they were personal guests of Jones. The doorman told them they weren’t on the list and refused them admission. Though all dressed up, they went back to the apartment where Nile was then staying. Several bottles of champagne and a little cocaine later, the two musicians started jamming on a song they improvised, inspired by the first doorman. “Awww, fuck off – fuck Studio 54 – fuck off.”

Bernard was impressed with the riff they created, though both knew they wouldn’t get radio airplay for a song that went “fuck off.” (How times have changed!) They changed “fuck” to “freak,” though “freak off” sounded lame. Then Bernard suggested changing “off” to “out.” Nile responded “Like…when you’re out on the dance floor losing it, you know you’re freaking out,” to which Bernard replied “Yeah, plus they have that new dance called ‘the Freak.’”

“Le Freak” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1978. In December it hit #1, though it got knocked from the top a week later by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” One week later “Le Freak” went back to #1, but one week after that it got knocked out by Bee Gees’ “Too Much Heaven.” Two weeks later “Le Freak” returned to #1, staying on top for four more weeks. It went on to sell approximately twelve million units worldwide, becoming the best-selling record ever for Atlantic Records.

In 1979 “Le Freak” was included on a compilation album entitled A Night at Studio 54.

Winston + Chic 2014-09-19 13.37
All sorts of freaks and monsters will be out today/tonight for Halloween. This week’s dance party is inspired by the holiday.

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Glenn’s Ten (10-28-14)

Tove Lo knocks The Black Keys from the top spot in Glenn’s Ten this week as “Habits (Stay High),” her first entry, is the new #1. George Ezra moves up two spots to #4 with “Budapest,” my favorite song of 2014 that is named for an Eastern European city (no offense to Morrissey). Holding at #7 is Mary Lambert, who sings of her bipolar disorder, truancy and poor sartorial choices in a song called “Secrets.” Mary – if you’re telling us all of these things about yourself in a song, then by definition they are not secrets. Good earworm, though. At #9, Pharrell Williams attempts to once again get lucky by reuniting with Daft Punk.

1 – “Habits (Stay High)” – Tove Lo
2 – “Gotta Get Away” – The Black Keys
3 – “Beggin for Thread” – Banks
4 – “Budapest” – George Ezra
5 – “i” – Kendrick Lamar
6 – “Put Your Number in My Phone” – Ariel Pink
7 – “Secrets” – Mary Lambert featuring BoB
8 – “Let Me Down Easy” – Paolo Nutini
9 – “Gust of Wind” – Pharrell Williams
10 – “Low Key” – Tweedy

Today’s playlist are the above ten tracks followed by ten songs that were #1 on this date in Glenn’s Ten history.

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Songs Of Great Social And Political Import (1980 – 2011)

Ringo + Maniacs
Today is the birthday of Natalie Merchant, former lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs, whose 1987 album In My Tribe is one of my favorites. The album opens with “What’s the Matter Here,” a song that addresses child abuse. That inspired the theme of today’s playlist – songs about social or political issues.

While such recordings seemed more commonplace on the radio in the sixties and early seventies, there remain plenty of songs that speak to topical issues. I decided to make 1980 my starting point, with that year’s “Biko” by Peter Gabriel being the oldest song on the list. As the studio version is not on Spotify I used a live recording. The most recent recording included is Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” from 2011. Lots of great songs of different genres about a variety of topics populate the program. If you’re so inclined, let me know what favorites of yours I missed.

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It’s My Birthday And I Need To Dance!

doggies + New Edition
Every April, to coincide with Tax Day, my former Sony colleague Rich Appel creates the IRS countdown. In this case, IRS stands for It Really Shoulda, as in It Really Shoulda been a top ten hit. People vote for songs that they feel should have but didn’t make the top ten of Billboard’s Hot 100. Rich collates all of the entries and comes out with the Top 100 IRS songs.

Today is my birthday. Usually on birthdays, Tunes du Jour creates a playlist around the music of the birthday boy or girl. As Friday is dance day in these parts, I decided I would take inspiration from Rich’s IRS countdown and present to you a playlist of songs that I love to dance to that didn’t crack the pop top ten. Here are fifty such IRS tracks. (Actually, fifty-one, not because that’s how old I am but because the Diana Ross entry is two songs.) It’s my birthday and I need to dance!

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Weird Al!

Winston + Weird Al
“He always stressed when I was a kid that I should do whatever made me happy, because that’s the key to success, doing for a living whatever makes you happy.” – Alfred Matthew Yankovic, speaking about his father

At age 19, Yankovic, accompanying himself on his accordion, recorded a parody of The Knack’s “My Sharona” in a bathroom at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where he was studying architecture. He sent a cassette of “My Bologna” to Dr. Demento, who played it on his syndicated radio show. When The Knack came to perform at his school, he played it for them. Lead singer Doug Feiger liked the track and suggested to an executive at the band’s label, Capitol Records, that they release it. They did so, as a one-off.

Yankovic’s next single, a parody of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” entitled “Another One Rides the Bus,” was released on TK Records, who went bankrupt a couple of weeks after the release. He then signed with Rock ‘n Roll Records and hit the Hot 100 for the first time with his parody of Toni Basil’s “Mickey,” which he called “Ricky,” about Ricky Ricardo.

Since then “Weird Al” Yankovic has stayed in the public eye. In 2014 he notched his first #1 album, Mandatory Fun.

Today “Weird Al” turns 55 years old. Here are twenty of my favorite of his tracks.

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Hitting A Home Run

speech comments
Last night I spoke about my journey to improved self-confidence. As you can see from the above comments, it was well-received.

I love speaking. I love sharing my stories and messages with an audience. I love to inspire people to pursue their dreams and to better enjoy their lives. I can usually sense when a speech is really connecting with the audience. It’s a great feeling, like hitting a home run.

I’ve never actually hit a home run playing baseball, but I used that phrase to segue into today’s playlist. The World Series begins tonight, I think. I don’t know who’s playing, but it’s a good excuse to collect baseball songs. Here are twenty fun ones.

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It’s Tom Petty’s Birthday

Winston + Tom Petty
I recall reading an item about Tom Petty back in the early eighties that has stuck with me all these years. He and his wife were at a Florida park to have a picnic. They saw a gay group in the park. The group was being harassed by anti-gay folks. Tom Petty and his wife joined the gay picnic to show their solidarity.

I’ve spent the last hour scouring the internet for the details of this story, but I’ve had no luck. I’m confident my memory is correct of this having happened.

A couple of weeks ago I saw the movie Pride. Based on true events, the movie tells the story of a small group of gay rights activists who in England in 1984 raised money to help striking working-class miners. For a while many of the miners didn’t want to take “gay” money, just as many gay people didn’t want to donate to the miners’ cause, feeling their charity money should go to gay causes such as fighting AIDS and discriminatory laws.

I’m not going to get preachy and explain the lessons to be learned from these stories. Go see Pride. It’s a very good movie. And listen to Tom Petty, who turns 64 today.

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Chuck Berry’s Ding-A-Ling

Rock-and-Roll Hall-of-Famer and one of the original architects of the music form, Chuck Berry, has given the world several undeniable classics. “Johnny B. Goode,” which peaked at #8 on the Billboard pop charts in 1958, was ranked as the seventh greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, who also placed it at #1 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs. “Johnny B. Goode” is also included on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, a list which also includes Berry’s first hit single, “Maybellene” (#5, 1955), a song about which Rolling Stone said “Rock and roll starts here,” and “Rock and Roll Music” (#8, 1957, and later a top ten hit for The Beach Boys). “Roll Over Beethoven” (#29, 1956) was #97 on the Rolling Stone Greatest Songs of All Time list and is included in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. Like “Rock and Roll Music,” it was later remade by The Beatles. “Sweet Little Sixteen,” whose music formed The Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” peaked at #2, “School Day” peaked at #3, “No Particular Place to Go” peaked at #10, and “Back in the U.S.A.” peaked at #37. During his entire career, the legendary Chuck Berry had only one #1 single, and it was a song about his dick.

Ringo + Chuck
In 1972, after eight years without a top 40 hit, Chuck Berry unleashed “My Ding-a-Ling,” a song which sounded an awful lot like Berry’s 1966 recording “My Tambourine.” Compare the first line of each song.

“My Tambourine”:
“When I was a little bitty boy my grandmother bought me a cute little toy.”

“My Ding-a-Ling”:
“When I was a little bitty boy my grandmother bought me a cute little toy.”

Do you see the similarities? Grandma Berry was a giver, showering little Chuck with things with which he could play.

Little Chuck loved his ding-a-ling. He played with it at school and held it while swimming a creek and climbing a wall.

Though the lyrics pretend to be about a toy, many radio stations knew it was about Berry’s dick. They tried to give him the shaft by refusing to play the song, but they couldn’t keep Chuck’s ding-a-ling down. Up it went, getting bigger and bigger, constantly growing, a rock solid hit shooting up the charts, climaxing on October 21, 1972, when it knocked Michael Jackson’s “Ben” from #1.

Just as Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” is about more than a big butt – it’s about black pride – so is “My Ding-a-Ling” about more than Chuck Berry’s dick. On the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions, from which this live recording is taken, Berry introduces it as “a beautiful song about togetherness.”

He performs the number as a sing-along, instructing the women in the audience to sing “my” and the men to sing “ding-a-ling” whenever the chorus rolls around. While complimenting the audience on their participation, he points out one guy singing “my” and says “That’s alright, brother. Yessir. You got a right, baby. Ain’t nobody gonna bother you.” Equality and togetherness – that’s what the song is about. By the way, the album version of the song goes on for nearly twelve minutes. That’s a long ding-a-ling. I can get together with that.

There is some controversy as to who wrote this ditty. Dave Bartholomew claims he wrote it. He recorded “My Ding-a-Ling” in 1952. Chuck Berry credits himself as the song’s sole writer; however, in the introduction to the song, he says it’s a song he learned back in the fifth grade.

To date, “My Ding-a-Ling” stands as not only Chuck Berry’s sole #1 single, but it’s also the only #1 single about Chuck Berry’s penis.

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the 88th birthday of Chuck Berry and his penis. Here is “My Ding-a-Ling” and 19 other Berry recordings that should have been as big as his ding-a-ling.

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Clowns Angry At Media (+ It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!)

The new season of American Horror Story features a character named Twisty the Clown. Twisty the Clown is a psychopath who murders people with scissors and imprisons children in a school bus. The character is getting professional clowns’ knickers in a twisty.

Glenn Kohlberger, president of Clowns of America International, is quoted in The Hollywood Reporter as saying “Hollywood makes money sensationalizing the norm. They can take any situation no matter how good or pure and turn it into a nightmare.”

His sentiments are echoed by the United States’ second largest clown trade group, the Society of Clowns for the Advancement of Realistic Expression (SCARE). “Business was going great for me until the autumn of 2001,” said that organization’s president, Slappy bin Laden. “You have to ask yourself ‘Why would business suddenly drop off?’ The answer must be the media’s portrayal of clowns.” Bin Laden points to The Simpsons’ Krusty the Clown as an example. “[Krusty the Clown] is a buffoon masquerading as a clown. He’s not a real clown.”

“Things have not improved since then,” bin Laden continues. “We got a Batman movie in which a clown called The Joker is a sociopath. We got a sitcom called Modern Family in which a clown is actually a homosexual. These portrayals give clowns a bad name.”

“Hollywood is not going to change unless it is pressured to do so.” That is why bin Laden pitched a new sitcom that portrays clowns in a positive, and per bin Laden, more truthful light. Everybody Loves Slappy will premiere on the FX network in January 2015. In the show, bin Laden plays Slappy Hussein, a sportswriter living with his family in Lynbrook, NY. “The show is good clean entertainment. It’s about a clown who works hard and loves his family, though he’s an alcoholic who beats his wife, because all clowns do that.”

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Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. You can vogue, hustle or do the twisty. Put on your dancing shoes (or big clown shoes) and hit the floor!

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Glenn’s Ten – 10/15/14

The Black Keys hold down the top spot in Glenn’s Ten this week with “Gotta Get Away,” which may be their least White Stripesy single to date. Kendrick Lamar has a good chance of taking the reins from that duo next week with his Isley Brothers-sampling “i.” Swedish chanteuse Tove Lo is the week’s lone new entry with “Habits (Stay High)” entering at #7.

1 – “Gotta Get Away” – The Black Keys
2 – “i” – Kendrick Lamar
3 – “Put Your Number in My Phone” – Ariel Pink
4 – “Beggin for Thread” – Banks
5 – “Secrets” – Mary Lambert featuring B.o.B
6 – “Budapest” – George Ezra
7 – “Habits (Stay High)” – Tove Lo
8 – “Alone in My Home” – Jack White
9 – “Low Key” – Tweedy
10 – “Dangerous” – Big Data featuring Joywave

Today’s playlist are the above ten tracks followed by ten songs that were #1 on this date in Glenn’s Ten history.

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