Monthly Archives: December 2014

Donna Summer And Those Comments

Ringo + Donna
I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. You know the ones. “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” “I have seen the evils of homosexuality; AIDS is the result of your sins.” “I’ll pray for you tonight.” “Now don’t get me wrong; God loves you. But not the way you are now.” Those quotes were attributed to her by Jim Farber in the Village Voice writing about a concert Summer gave in Atlantic City in 1983. That was the year she hit with “She Works Hard for the Money,” her biggest hit in four years. Her biggest hit since becoming a born-again Christian.

I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. I remember them being reported, but I don’t remember reading about her saying anything like them before or since that evening.

I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. Though I don’t remember her doing so, she apparently sent out a press release in 1984 that read, in part, “It is a source of great concern to me that anything I may have said has cast me as homophobic … all I can ask for is understanding as I believe my true feelings have been misinterpreted.”

I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. Still, the story about her alleged comments continued to circulate. Many gay clubs wouldn’t play her records. After “She Works Hard for the Money” hit and the comments were allegedly made, her sales faltered. There were no top ten hits for her in 1984. In 1985. In 1986. In 1987. In 1988. In 1989, she teamed up with gay production trio Stock, Aitken and Waterman for the album Another Place and Time that produced the top ten single “This Time I Know It’s For Real.” The story of the comments got louder. ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, picketed her concerts.

I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. I know she sent a letter to ACT UP in 1989 in which she wrote “I cannot force you to believe what I tell you, so if you choose to continue on with this fighting and arguing, that’s up to you. I did not say God is punishing gays with aids, I did not sit with ill intentions in judgement over your lives. I haven’t stopped talking to my friends who are gay, nor have I ever chosen my friends by their sexual preferences. We have too many good memories together to live in this state of unforgiveness. I never denied you or turned away, but in fact you turned away from me. If I have caused you pain, forgive me. It was never my intention to reject you but to extend myself in love.” Her record label sent a statement from the singer to the Village Voice and gay news magazine The Advocate in which she said “It is very difficult for me to believe this terrible misunderstanding continues. Since the very beginning of my career, I have had tremendous support and friendship from many in the gay community. It is a source of great concern to me that anything I may have said has cast me as homophobic. My medium of expression is music, all I can ask for is understanding as I feel my true feelings have been misrepresented. As a Christian, I have nothing but love for everyone and I recognize it is not my place to judge others.” Of course, being a Christian and making homophobic statements are not mutually exclusive. Quite the contrary. Many of those who claim to be Christian use their religious views as excuses to make hateful remarks and discriminate. However,…

I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. She went on to tell The Advocate “I’ve lost a lot of friends who have died of AIDS. I’m hurting as much as anyone else at the amount of people who are gone. Last year was an incredible year in terms of friends of mine who died – people who ran my first album, who were really close to me, beautiful guys, and I mean beautiful guys. It is devastating. In the past two years, I’ve done several AIDS benefits, but I’m not going to do AIDS benefits to prove to something that I’m not antigay. Some of the most creative people in this country are gay and have given great things. I have people on my family who are gay. I have people in my life, who have been in my life before any of this stuff went on, who are gay. A couple of the people I write with are gay, and they have been ever since I met them.”

I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. In 1991, New York magazine repeated the comments and reported them as fact. Summer filed a $50 million against the magazine for libel. The suit was settled out of court.

I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. I do know that she has a fantastic catalog of music. I get so much joy from her records and I’m not going to let horrible comments that she may not have said take away that joy. It’s not a matter of forgiving her – she’s the Christian, not me. I just choose to not malign the woman over comments I have no proof she made. I choose to focus on the positive things she bought to my life, for life is too short. Summer was only 63 when she died in 2012.

I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments, but I do know that making a playlist of only twenty of her songs (okay, twenty-two – one is a medley) was a challenge for this big fan. Here is what I came up with. Enjoy it! However, you choose to celebrate Donna Summer’s birthday this evening, do it safely. Have a happy!

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Patti Smith!

Patti Smith was born in Chicago on December 30, 1946.

She co-wrote a play called Cotton Mouth with Sam Shepard, which she performed once, in 1971.

She wrote lyrics for several Blue Öyster Cult songs. For a while she was under consideration to be the band’s lead singer.

The Patti Smith Group released their first record in 1974, a single featuring the songs “Hey Joe” and “Piss Factory.”

ALBUMS
Patti Smith has released eleven studio albums to date: Horses, Radio Ethiopia, Easter, Wave, Dream of Life, Gone Again, Peace and Noise, Gung Ho, Trampin’, Twelve and Banga.

The Patti Smith Group’s debut album, 1975’s Horses, was listed at #1 on NME’s list of “20 Near-as-Damn-It Perfect Initial Efforts.” It was #44 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time” and #49 in Out magazine’s “100 Greatest, Gayest Albums of All Time” list.

Easter also made the Out magazine list, coming in at #64.

David Keenan of the Sunday Herald placed Radio Ethiopia on his list of “The 103 Best Albums Ever, Honest .”

Rolling Stone called Gone Again one of the “Essential Recordings of the Nineties.”

FANS
Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Carcass” was inspired by Smith’s Horses.

About Horses, R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe said it “tore my limbs off and put them back on in a whole different order.” In 1996 Smith contributed vocals to R.E.M.’s “E-bow the Letter.”

Patti Smith was not a member of the band The Smiths. However, the group’s Morrissey and Johnny Marr said that their song “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” is a reworking of “Kimberly” from Patti’s Horses. Morrissey later released a single with a cover of that album’s “Redondo Beach.”

Sammy Hagar covered Horses’ “Free Money” on his self-titled album.

Courtney Love said Smith’s Horses album helped inspire her to become a rock star.

U2 covered Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” for the b-side of their “When Loves Comes to Town” single. Smith later covered U2’s “Until the End of the World” for a U2 tribute compilation.

HONORS
In 2005, Patti Smith was named a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.

She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

In 2010 she won the National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids, which documents her romantic relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe as the couple were struggling artists and Mapplethorpe was struggling with his homosexuality. Mapplethorpe, whose photographs of Smith covered her albums Horses, Wave and Dream of Life, died from AIDS-related illness in 1989. Smith donated the royalties for her 1996 book The Coral Sea to the Robert Mapplethorpe Laboratory for AIDS Research at Boston’s Deaconess Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

SONGS
Smith’s sole top 40 pop hit was 1978’s “Because the Night.” The song’s music and chorus were written by Bruce Springsteen. He had trouble writing verses to it as it was a love song and at that time he wasn’t writing straightforward love songs. He gave what he had done to Patti Smith, who was recording an album in the studio next to where he was recording Darkness in the Edge of Town. Her record, which reached #13, was the first hit for producer Jimmy Iovine, who later co-founded Interscope Records and Beats by Dr. Dre.

“Gloria” was written by Van Morrison for his band Them. It peaked at #93 in 1965. Smith covered the song using the title of the Catholic hymn “Gloria: in Excelsis Deo,” adding her own lyrics.

About how “People Have the Power” came to be, Patti told UK music mag NME “I was in the kitchen. My late husband was writing music, and he was a great songwriter, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, and we were writing some songs together. And I was peeling potatoes, and I remember I was in a bad mood because I had, you know, I was making dinner and washing the clothes and peeling potatoes. And in the middle of it, Fred came in and said, ‘Tricia, people have the power, write it.’ And I was standing there with a potato peeler thinking I’d like to have the power to make him peel these potatoes, that’s what I’d like… but I kept him. So for the next few nights, I really contemplated – because Fred was very political, and we talked about it, what we wanted to do with this line, which was Fred’s. And what we wanted to do was remind the listener of their individual power but also of the collective power of the people, how we can do anything. That’s why at the end it goes, ‘I believe everything we dream can come to pass, through our union we can turn the world around, we can turn the earth’s revolution.’ We wrote it consciously together to inspire people, to inspire people to come together.”

Smith’s “About a Boy” was written about Kurt Cobain. She told the Seattle Weekly “I was heartbroken when he committed suicide. I loved Nirvana … [My husband and I] felt so badly. We just wished that we would have known him, and been able to talk to him, and had some positive effect on him.” She covered Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on her album Twelve.

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Best Songs Of 2014

I don’t understand Beyoncé. She spells her name with an accent over the second e, but she pronounces her name with the accent on the second syllable. That makes no sense to me. Musically, however, I was down with Cé in 2014. She challenged herself artistically with her latest album, snuck out at the tail end of 2013, and for the most part she succeeded. Yonc places four songs in my year-end list, more than anybody else, with two of those songs in my top ten. And to think, she owes her whole career to me.

The big trend that nobody talks about is that Sweden has invaded in a big way. Tove Lo and Neneh Cherry (welcome back!) are on my year-end list, and First Aid Kit are in this week’s top ten. Three acts may not look like a big trend to you, but let’s encourage Sweden. They still have a ways to go to make up for Ace of Base. Elsewhere in Scandinavia, Norway is represented by Röyksopp, Annie and Bjarne Melgaard. Come on, Denmark and Finland – let’s step it up! Other foreign acts representing this year are Britain’s George Ezra, Katy B, Disclosure, Sam Smith, SBTRKT and alt-J; Scotland’s Paolo Nutini and Belle & Sebastian; Canada’s Mac DeMarco, Tegan & Sara and Arcade Fire; Australia’s Courtney Barnett and Sia; France’s Daft Punk, Nigeria’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; and Neverland’s Michael Jackson.

There’s little hip hop on my 2014 list. Very little. Two songs, both performed by Kendrick Lamar. This is the poorest showing for rap in a year-end list since the early eighties, I think. I’m too lazy to look for my old listings, but I’m pretty sure that’s accurate. Was hip hop really that lame this year or am I turning into my mother?

Country music fared a little better than hip hop. Three songs, two of those performed by Miranda Lambert. The third song is “Follow Your Arrow,” performed by Kasey Musgraves, which is my #1 song of 2014. This is the first time a country song has topped my year-end list, I think. I’m too lazy to look for my old listings, but I’m pretty sure that’s accurate. The song, about being true to yourself and not letting others dictate your path, resonated with me when I was at a crossroads in my professional life. Do I continue working for the man in a soul-sucking job or do I pursue my passions? I opted to follow my arrow. If I crash and burn, Musgraves will hear from my lawyer. Also, it was rad to hear a simple, catchy tune coupled with the lyrics “Kiss lots of boys or kiss lots of girls if that’s what you’re into.” It was radder that this song won the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year award, despite being only a modest hit on the country chart. Raddest was that two male country singers, Billy Gilman and Ty Hendon, who each have sold hundreds of thousands of records, announced that they kissed lots of boys and that’s what they’re into. I’m paraphrasing.

I now present to you my favorite songs of 2014. The list was compiled from my weekly top ten lists. I crunched the numbers and this is the result. Songs that are in Glenn’s Ten at the present time (e.g. First Aid Kit’s “Cedar Lane,” Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk!,” Perfume Genius’ “Queen”) are not included; I’ll put them on my 2015 list. Here are the 83 tracks that made my weekly top ten in 2014:

1. “Follow Your Arrow” – Kacey Musgraves
2. “Ain’t It Fun” – Paramore
3. “Happy” – Pharrell Williams
4. “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” – Sharon Van Etten
5. “Do You” – Spoon
6. “Partition” – Beyoncé
7. “Drunk in Love” – Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
8. “Really Don’t Care” – Demi Lovato featuring Cher Lloyd
9. “Seasons (Waiting on You)” – Future Islands
10. “Beggin for Thread” – Banks
11. “Avant Gardener” – Courtney Barnett
12. “Budapest” – George Ezra
13. “Habits (Stay High)” – Tove Lo
14. “Gotta Get Away” – The Black Keys
15. “Love Never Felt So Good” – Michael Jackson
16. “Somethin’ Bad” – Miranda Lambert featuring Carrie Underwood
17. “Hundreds of Ways” – Conor Oberst
18. “Step” – Vampire Weekend featuring Danny Brown, Heems and Despot
19. “Put Your Number In My Phone” – Ariel Pink
20. “Blue Moon” – Beck
21. “All the Rage Back Home” – Interpol
22. “i” – Kendrick Lamar
23. “5 AM” – Katy B
24. “Secrets” – Mary Lambert
25. “Cinnamon and Lesbians” – Stephen Malkmus
26. “Just One Drink” – Jack White
27. “Chandelier” – Sia
28. “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
29. “How Can You Really” – Foxygen
30. “Out of the Black” – Neneh Cherry featuring Robyn
31. “XO” – Beyoncé
32. “Wait for a Minute” – Tune-Yards
33. “Control” – Broken Bells
34. “Bored in the U.S.A.” – Father John Misty
35. “Latch” – Disclosure featuring Sam Smith
36. “New Dorp, New York” – SBTRKT featuring Ezra Koenig
37. “All About that Bass” – Meghan Trainor
38. “I Blame Myself” – Sky Ferreira
39. “Do It Again” – Röyksopp and Robyn
40. “Birth in Reverse” – St. Vincent
41. “Prince Johnny” – St. Vincent
42. “Bother” – Les Sins
43. “Brother” – Mac DeMarco
44. “Everything Is Awesome!!” – Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island
45. “Dark Sunglasses” – Chrissie Hynde
46. “Heart is a Drum” – Beck
47. “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” – Kendrick Lamar
48. “Let Me Down Easy” – Paolo Nutini
49. “Talking Backwards” – Real Estate
50. “Stranger to My Happiness” – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
51. “High Hopes” – Bruce Springsteen
52. “Electric Lady” – Janelle Monae featuring Solange
53. “Crying for No Reason” – Katy B
54. “After the Disco” – Broken Bells
55. “***Flawless” – Beyoncé featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
56. “West Coast” – Lana Del Rey
57. “Nothing More than Everything to Me” – Christopher Owens
58. “Left Hand Free” – alt-J
59. “The Party Line” – Belle & Sebastian
60. “Low Key” – Tweedy
61. “Come Get It Bae” – Pharrell Williams
62. “Do What U Want” – Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly
63. “Alone in My Home” – Jack White
64. “Fever” – The Black Keys
65. “Me and Liza” – Rufus Wainwright
66. “You Are Your Mother’s Child” – Conor Oberst
67. “Inside Out” – Spoon
68. “Instant Crush” – Daft Punk featuring Julian Casablancas
69. “I Wanna Know” – Best Coast
70. “Eyes to the Wind” – The War on Drugs
71. “Forever” – Haim
72. “It Comes Back to You” – Christopher Owens
73. “Just One of the Guys” – Jenny Lewis
74. “My Own World” – Eleanor Friedberger
75. “Spit Three Times” – Neneh Cherry
76. “Lazaretto” – Jack White
77. “Russian Kiss” – Annie featuring Bjarne Melgaard
78. “Another Night” – The Men
79. “Dangerous” – Big Data featuring Joywave
80. “Gust of Wind” – Pharrell Williams
81. “A Place with No Name” – Michael Jackson
82. “Give Life Back to Music” – Daft Punk
83. “We Exist” – Arcade Fire

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. A recent news story inspires the song selection that kicks off this week’s playlist.

Have a super weekend!

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REVIEW: “Annie” – An Original Take On Eurythmics Singer

The motion picture Annie, which opens today, is an imaginative and refreshing telling of a story we all think we heard before.

Like recent biopics such as Ray, Walk the Line and Dreamgirls, some liberties were taken in this film version of the life of Eurythmics lead singer Annie Lennox, who, coincidentally, celebrates her 60th birthday today. Though in real life Lennox was born and raised in Scotland, the filmmakers set their story in New York City. Lennox was 28 years old when Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” became a worldwide smash, making her a very wealthy woman. In the film Annie, she is ten years old when her sweet dreams come true and she acquires wealth.

This past summer’s Jimi Hendrix biopic, All Is by My Side, was unable to acquire the rights to use Hendrix’s music, so they used cover songs that Hendrix performed in his pre-fame days. Similarly, the producers of Annie were unable to secure the rights to Eurythmics’ songs, so instead they wrote new songs loosely based on the duo’s recordings. “When Tomorrow Comes” from their album Revenge, is now simply “Tomorrow.” “Grown Up Girls,” the b-side of the “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)” single, is now “Little Girls.”

Eurythmics’ infamous performance from the Grammy Awards, in which Lennox cross-dressed as a dark-haired, sideburned man, is replicated in the film, though instead of taking place at the Shrine Auditorium, the scene is set on a helicopter. Nonetheless, the confusion the TV audience experienced in 1984, when viewers asked “Why is there a man singing ‘Sweet Dreams?’,” is beautifully captured, as the film audience will be confused and ask “Why are they dancing on a helicopter?”

As you probably know, the studio that released Annie, Sony Pictures, experienced a huge email leak a couple of weeks ago, in which it was revealed, among other things, that the producers originally wanted Amy Adams to play Annie Lennox. However, her asking price was too high, or as Sony’s Co-Chairman Amy Pascal put it in an email to film co-producer Jay-Z, “She wants a man’s salary. She’ll get it when she’s really adopted by a milionaire!,” to which Jay-Z replied “LOL!” Though Adams would have been good, 11-year-old Quetzalcoatl Wallis handles herself admirably. While we never get into her mind to see how she came up with “Here Comes the Rain Again” or “Would I Lie to You?,” she is cute, and the film’s equivalent of the Eurythmics/Aretha Franklin hit “Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves,” here performed with Willow Smith, is a highlight.

In an inspired bit of casting, Cameron Diaz portrays Whitney Houston, who had a hit with the Lennox composition “Step by Step.” Diaz is a great choice for the role, as she possesses the same range as the late Houston.

Viking_VDSC5606GQ_365061
Cameron Diaz has the same range as the late Whitney Houston.

Annie is rated PG. It contains mild language, rude humor, and a dance number set on a helicopter.

Today Tunes du Jour presents twenty Annie Lennox songs not included in the movie Annie.

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Make The Yuletide Gay

Today is December 24. It’s the date when people around the world celebrate Ricky Martin’s birthday. What’s the first thing you think of when someone says Ricky Martin? Gay? I thought so. Hold that thought.

Christmas Eve is tonight. Many people around the world celebrate that as well, possibly almost as many people as the number that celebrate Ricky Martin’s birthday. He’s turning 43, by the way.

Anyhoosle, I decided to combine the two celebrations. Tunes du Jour hereby presents the gayest Christmas playlist ever. Fifty songs that will bring you cheer and fabulousity and get you arrested if you listen to them in Russia.

Have a festive day!

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Eddie Vedder!

“There’s a close race in Washington State…it’s called Referendum 74. It’s about the right for same sex marriages to take place. We’d like to dedicate this one to couples that are in love, no matter what — of the same sex, of the opposite sexes, or tons of sex.” – Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, introducing the band’s song “Just Breathe” at a 2012 concert.

Referendum 74 was put to the voters to decide if a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in that state should be upheld. The measure passed with 53.7% of the vote. Just after midnight on December 9, 2012, legally-recognized same-sex weddings took place.

Today is Eddie Vedder’s 50th birthday. Here are twenty of his best.

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Maurice and Robin Gibb

Winston + Bee Gees

Lead vocals on most of the Bee Gees’ hits were handled by Barry Gibb; however, some were sung by his younger brother Robin, while Robin’s twin, Maurice, occasionally took the role on album tracks.

Though not the lead singers, Robin and Maurice co-wrote most of the trio’s hits with Barry. They also did a lot of extracurricular producing and writing.

Marking the birthday of Robin and Maurice Gibb, today’s playlist consist of Bee Gees tracks on which one of them sang lead, plus outside recordings Robin and/or Maurice worked on. As much of their work for other acts was done with their older brother, I steered clear of duplicating songs that were on the playlist for Barry Gibb’s birthday.

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A Soulful Christmas Playlist

TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the first woman to hit the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 with a song she wrote herself?

ANSWER: Carla Thomas. She was 16 years old when she wrote “Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes),” which hit #10 in 1961. Today she turns 72.

In 1963, Thomas incorporated the title of her first hit into a seasonal offering, “Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas.”

“Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas” inspires today’s playlist – fifty great soul and r&b Christmas jams, with some fun extra treats thrown in.

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Let’s Sing About Sex

Today is the 57th birthday of English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg. My favorite song of his is “Sexuality,” a #2 US Modern Rock hit from 1991. Co-written with The Smiths’ Johnny Marr, “Sexuality” is, as described by Wayne Studer in his book Rock on the Wild Side, “a bouncy, ringing celebration of healthy, open-minded live-and-let-live attitudes about the human body and human relationships.” Singing “your laws do not apply to me” and “I demand equality,” this is a protest song that remains relevant 20+ years later.

In celebration of “Sexuality,” today’s playlist consists of twenty songs with the word sex or some variant thereof in the title. Get down!

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