Monthly Archives: March 2015

Eric Clapton: England Is For White People

“Do we have any foreigners in the audience tonight? If so, please put up your hands. Wogs I mean, I’m looking at you. Where are you? I’m sorry but some fucking wog…Arab grabbed my wife’s bum, you know? Surely got to be said, yeah this is what all the fucking foreigners and wogs over here are like, just disgusting, that’s just the truth, yeah. So where are you? Well wherever you all are, I think you should all just leave. Not just leave the hall, leave our country. You fucking (indecipherable). I don’t want you here, in the room or in my country. Listen to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch’s our man. I think Enoch’s right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans and fucking (indecipherable) don’t belong here, we don’t want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don’t want any black wogs and coons living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. We are a white country. I don’t want fucking wogs living next to me with their standards. This is Great Britain, a white country, what is happening to us, for fuck’s sake? We need to vote for Enoch Powell, he’s a great man, speaking truth. Vote for Enoch, he’s our man, he’s on our side, he’ll look after us. I want all of you here to vote for Enoch, support him, he’s on our side. Enoch for Prime Minister! Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!”
– Eric Clapton, to his audience during an August 1976 concert in Birmingham, UK. (Per Wikipedia, “in British English, wog is an offensive racial slur usually applied to Middle Eastern and South Asian peoples.”)

Clapton’s rant, coupled with the rise of fascist and neo-Nazi rhetoric in England, led to the formation of Rock Against Racism, a UK campaign in which recording artists including The Clash, Elvis Costello, The Buzzcocks, Steel Pulse, Aswad and Generation X performed concerts with an anti-racism theme.

In an interview some years later, Clapton claims his remarks weren’t aimed at any one particular minority. True. They were aimed at “wogs” and “coons” and Arabs and Jamaicans, so several minorities. You dug yourself out of that one! “It was kind of a feeling of loss of identity, being English and losing my Englishness,” said the blues guitarist whose first solo top ten hit was a cover of a reggae song written by Bob Marley.

In his 2007 autobiography, cleverly entitled Clapton: The Autobiography, in a paragraph that begins with the sentence “I had never really understood, or been directly affected by, racial conflict,” Clapton says of the 1976 outburst “Since then I have learned to keep my opinions to myself.” Okay, that’s one lesson. I think there may be more if one looks hard enough.

Today Eric Clapton turns 70 years old. To celebrate, here are twenty songs about the idiocy of racism.

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A Lady Gaga Playlist

Ringo + Gaga 003

The 1000th record to hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 was Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” Many complained about the song’s similarity to Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” I don’t hear it, but even if it’s there, what’s wrong with sounding like “Express Yourself?” If more pop hits sounded like “Express Yourself” I’d listen to top 40 radio more often. Also, how many #1 songs besides “Born This Way” expressly called out for LGBT rights? You can count them on one fist.

Today Lady Gaga celebrates her 29th birthday. Here are twenty career highlights.


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Elton John’s Derivative Rock

British-born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, better known by his stage name, Elton John, hit #1 on the singles and album charts in the U.S. prior to doing so in his home country.

His first #1 album stateside was Honky Château, which topped the chart in 1972, thanks to hit singles “Rocket Man” (#6) and “Honky Cat” (#8).

The first single off his follow-up album was inspired by a song Elton discovered while touring Australia the year Château was released. A local band named Daddy Cool had a million-selling smash in that country called “Eagle Rock,” which remained at #1 on their singles chart for ten weeks. The song told of a popular American dance from the 1920s.

Bernie Taupin, Elton’s lyricist in those days, wrote of a fictional American dance from the early days of rock and roll. Taking Bill Haley & His Comets’ “See You Later Alligator” as inspiration for this dance, Taupin called it the “Crocodile Rock.” Another Haley classic is referenced in the song, as Elton sings “while the other kids were rockin’ ‘round the clock.”

Other early rock-and-roll tunes inspired the writers (Elton composed the music) as well. Buddy Kaye, writer of “Speedy Gonzales,” a 1962 hit for homophobic shitbag Pat Boone, accused Elton of copying that tune for “Crocodile Rock”’s “la la la la la” refrain. Elton’s response to Kaye’s claim was that “Crocodile Rock” was “a really blatant homage to ‘Speedy Gonzales’ and all the great ’50s and ’60s records that we used to love.” So there!

“Crocodile Rock,” which, by the way, contains eighty “la’s,” was released as a single in the U.S. in November of 1972, the first single released by MCA Records. It became the first of eight #1 singles for Elton John. In the U.K. the single peaked at #3. The long-player from which it was taken, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, became the second of seven #1 Elton John albums in the U.S. and his first #1 album in the U.K.

(Elton’s first solo single to top the charts in the U.K. was 1990’s “Sacrifice.” He previously topped the U.K. chart with “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” a duet with Kiki Dee, in 1976.)

Of Elton’s first U.S. #1, Bernie Taupin said “I don’t want people to remember me for ‘Crocodile Rock.’ … But there are things like ‘Crocodile Rock’ which was fun at the time, but it was pop fluff. It was like, ‘Okay, that was fun for now, throw it away, and here’s the next one’” and called the song “a strange dichotomy because I don’t mind having created it, but it’s not something I would listen to.”

Elton’s retort to critics who called the song derivative was “it’s derivative in every sense of the word.”

Today Elton John turns 68 years old. Here are twenty tracks from when he and his rock were young.

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In Which I Make A Fool Of Myself To Chaka Khan

chaka + Ringo
The first time I saw Chaka Khan in person was in concert in the mid-1980s at the Westbury Music Fair, which was not a music fair but the name of a theater. Her career was at its commercial height, with her cover of Prince’s “I Feel For You” becoming her twelfth top 40 pop hit in 1984. Like her 1974 single with Rufus, the Stevie Wonder-penned “Tell Me Something Good,” it peaked at #3. “I Feel for You” stayed on the Hot 100 for a full six months, longer than any of her prior singles.

Chaka + Winston
The second time I saw Chaka Khan in person was in the early 1990s. I was working in the Accounting department at Sony Music. I took the elevator down from my 11th floor office to the building sky lobby, headed out for I don’t know what. As I turned the corner of the elevator bank I saw that hair. Chaka Khan was a few feet in front of me. I’m not often star struck, but CHAKA KHAN!!! I didn’t see with whom she was speaking until he said “Glenn, come over.” It was the Vice President of Urban Music for Epic Records, one of Sony’s labels. I was friendly with him through working on his expense account.

“Glenn, Chaka Khan. Chaka Khan, Glenn Schwartz.”

“Hi,” said Chaka Khan.

“You are the ultimate sex goddess of life,” I replied. Inappropriate? Perhaps, but true. This was CHAKA KHAN, a woman on whom I’ve had a crush since “Tell Me Something Good” was a hit.

“Thanks,” she said, which was code for “I need to leave now.”

chaka + doggies
In 2005 I was the Vice President of Licensing at Warner Music, the record company that controls most of Chaka’s solo work. I attended a benefit for The Chaka Khan Foundation, a charity the singer founded that through grants, scholarships and educational outreach programs assists women and children at risk. It was held in the backyard of someone’s Beverly Hills residence. As we got hors d’oeuvres and mingled, Kenny G walked around tooting his horn (literally). We were seated for dinner and then treated to a mini concert from Chaka. “I’m Every Woman,” “Ain’t Nobody” and a few others, all in the intimate setting of a backyard. Wow. CHAKA KHAN!!! This time I didn’t approach her – what if she remembered me and what I said the last time we met? Quelle embarrassment!

chaka program
Today the woman born Yvette Marie Stevens turns 62 years old. She’s more than the ultimate sex goddess of life, as this playlist will attest.


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Who was the first woman to be on ten #1 singles in the UK? Was it Madonna? No. Was it Dusty Springfield? No. Was it Paris Hilton? Fuck no.

The first woman to have ten #1 singles in the UK was Geri Halliwell. The Artist Formerly Known As Ginger Spice first hit #1 in 1996 with “Wannabe,” which she performed as part of her fellow proponents of Girl Power, the Spice Girls. The quintet was the first act in the UK to see their first six singles go to #1, which is why they are better than The Beatles. After “Wannabe,” they topped the UK singles chart with “Say You’ll Be There,” “2 Become 1,” the double-sided hits “Mama” and “Who Do You Think You Are,” “Spice up Your Life,” “Too Much” and “Viva Forever.” 1998 single “Stop” er, stopped at #2. Halliwell left the group in 1998. The then quartet said goodbye to Ginger with “Goodbye,” another #1 single, and the double-sided hits “Holler” and “Let Love Lead the Way,” their final #1 single to date, in 2000.

While the quartet continued to make hits, Halliwell wasn’t just sitting around in her Union Jack leotard. Her debut solo single, “Look at Me,” peaked at #2, but then came four consecutive chart-toppers: “Mi Chico Latino,” “Lift Me Up,” “Bag It Up,” and a cover of “It’s Raining Men.” Hallelujah! She is the only act in the UK to have had at least four #1s as part of a group and as a solo artist.

Some additional trivia:
– Madonna’s tenth UK #1 single,”Music,” peaked a few months after Halliwell’s tenth UK #1 single, which was #1 on this day in 2000.
– Dusty Springfield had twenty-five top 40 hits on the UK singles chart. Only one, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” went all the way to the top.
– Paris Hilton has topped the UK singles chart zero times thus far.
– The Spice Girls have their moments, but they are not better than The Beatles. C’mon!
– In the US, Halliwell has had ten fewer #1s than she had in the UK. We kick off our weekly dance party with her only US #1, Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.”

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Twenty Facts About And Thirty Songs Produced By Quincy Jones

Ringo + Quincy 001

1) He’s had a record 79 Grammy Award nominations. He’s won 27.
2) He arranged the Frank Sinatra/Count Basie version of “Fly Me to the Moon,” which astronaut Neil Armstrong played when he first landed on the moon.
3) Jones produced the soundtrack of the motion picture The Wiz. He later said he hated working on it, as he didn’t like most of the songs nor did he like the film’s script. However, on the set on The Wiz he got to know the singer who played the scarecrow, Michael Jackson. Jackson asked him to recommend a producer for his next album. Jones threw out a few names and also offered to produce it himself. Jackson took him up on his offer, though his record label thought it was a bad idea. The album, 1979’s Off the Wall, went on to sell 20 million copies and won Jackson his first Grammy Award.
4) While widely known as the producer of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Bad and Off the Wall albums, Jones is also the producer of the hit records “We Are the World” by USA for Africa; “It’s My Party,” “You Don’t Own Me” and “Judy’s Turn to Cry” by Lesley Gore; “Angel” by Aretha Franklin; “I’ll By Good to You,” “Stomp” and “Strawberry Letter 23” by The Brothers Johnson; “One Mint Julep” by Ray Charles; and “Love is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)” by Donna Summer, among others. He also worked with Bono, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Little Richard, Paul Simon, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Herbie Hancock, Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Louis Armstrong, Dizzie Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Ross, Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee, Chaka Khan, Tony Bennett, George Benson, Luther Vandross, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Mathis, James Ingram and Patti Austin, plus plenty more.
5) “Quincy Jones is one of the most versatile and potent figures of popular culture….When you listen to his impressive and monumental body of work, it’s easy to understand how and why he’s touched such a broad audience of music lovers. He’s done it all.” – Michael Jackson
6) Time magazine named him one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century.
7) In the early 1960s he became the Vice President of Mercury Records, the first African-American at a major record company to reach that executive level.
8) His middle name is Delight.
9) Along with Bob Russell, he became the first African-American to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song for “The Eyes of Love” from Banning.
10) With seven Oscar nominations, he is tied with sound designer Willie Burton as the African-American with the most Oscar nominations.
11) Jones produced the film The Color Purple, his first foray into film production. He asked Steven Spielberg to direct it, which he did. It was nominated for eleven Academy Awards.
12) Among his 33 movie scores are the ones for The Color Purple, In the Heat of the Night, In Cold Blood, and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
13) He has a daughter with actress Nastassja Kinski as well as six other children.
14) He’s the father of actress Rashida Jones. She’s pretty.
15) In 1988 he formed Quincy Jones Entertainment, who produced the television program The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
16) He never learned how to drive.
17) Among the charities Jones supports are American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmfAR), Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), MusiCares, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Rape Foundation, UNICEF, NAACP, Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, and Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes.
18) In 1974 Jones suffered a brain aneurysm. He was given a 1 in 100 chance of surviving. Family and friends, including Richard Pryor, Marvin Gaye and Sidney Poitier, planned a memorial service for him, which he got to attend.
19) Today he turns 82 years old.
20) “The thing is to find your lightning – and ride your lightning.” – Quincy Jones

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

In the early 1990s a demo of a song written by four men circulated through Warner Bros. Records. Though people at the label appreciated the song’s chorus, nobody wanted to record it.

Thinking that with some work the song may be good for Cher, whose last top ten pop hit was 1989’s “Just Like Jesse James,” Warner sent the demo to London’s Metro Studio, where two additional songwriters took a stab at improving the composition. Producers Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling created a dance track for the revised song, which they presented to Cher. She liked it.

She recorded the song. She and her producers played with a new technology called Auto-Tune, which added a robotic sound effect to her voice. When Warner heard that, they asked that it be removed, but Cher was adamant it stay.

In October of 1998, more than a half-decade after the composition’s original incarnation, Warner released Cher’s recording of “Believe.” On March 13, 1999, the song, the first pop tune to feature Auto-Tune, became Cher’s fifth #1 single in the United States, making her, then age 52, the oldest woman to top the US charts. It was her first #1 single since “Dark Lady” in 1974, the longest span ever between #1 records. It was the biggest-selling single stateside of 1999.

The record hit #1 in the UK, where it became the best-selling single of all-time by a female artist. It also topped the charts in Germany, Canada, The Netherlands, Australia, France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, New Zealand and Ireland.

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. We kick off this week’s party with Cher’s “Believe.” Have a superb weekend!

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How Empire Changed Timbaland

After Empire creator Lee Daniels hired music producer Timbaland to be the television program’s Executive Music Producer, the Grammy Award winner sent the Academy Award nominee music to be used in the pilot episode.

As he recounted to Out.com, Daniels brought a copy of that first episode to Timbaland to show him how his music was used. Daniels was out of the room during the scene where Jamal and his boyfriend kiss. Said Daniels “I knew he was fascinated by seeing his music in the work, but he said, ‘Those guys kissing, man. Wow.’” When the music producer showed his family the pilot, he made his children leave the room during that kissing scene.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone. This was the man who said “Some people listen to a song like ‘SexyBack’ and think, am I queer? Am I funny? If you are that way, you’re just that way. But if you’re a masculine man, embrace it. Have a glass of wine, put the record on and invite your girl over to get sexy.”

He has a point. When I listen to “SexyBack,” I ask “Am I queer?” That’s because Justin Timberlake doesn’t do anything for me. If I were a masculine man who drank, I’d have a girl over and get sexy for the song’s four minutes and three seconds. But I’m funny.

Per Daniels, who is openly-gay, Timbaland is singing a new tune. “[Working on this show has] changed his opinion on how he feels about gays. He said it. And I remember hanging up the phone and being very emotional after talking to him, and after him telling me that. And how he really had this epiphany. It was beautiful, and it deepened our friendship.”

That must have been some conversation. “Hi, Lee? It’s Timbaland. I’ve worked with many gay people in my twenty-five years producing music, and every one of them disgusted me with their talent and work ethic. But after seeing a fictional gay character recite scripted lines and give his, uh, male friend a quick kiss, I’ve had a change of heart. I can handle a gay person for a few scenes one hour a week, provided my kids aren’t in the room. Let’s have dinner soon. Feel free to not bring your boyfriend. Love ya (in a platonic way)!”

Today the man born Timothy Mosley turns 43 years old. There’s still time for him to continue evolving. Here are twenty tracks he produced or co-produced. WARNING: This playlist includes “SexyBack.” Be sure you’re masculine enough to listen! (Before anyone asks, his stellar work with Aaliyah is not available on Spotify.)

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance! – College Reunion Edition

Brandeis ID
On the Facebook page for my thirty-year college reunion, which is coming up this June, someone brought up the music that reminds them of our college days. Many posts followed, naming songs that remind us of shared experiences at Brandeis University in the first half of the 1980s.

That post inspired today’s playlist. Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, and today I present 50 songs we danced to in the Usdan Ballroom at Brandeis University between the fall of 1981 and the spring of 1985. It was a great time for popular music. These songs have stood the test of time.

Have a great weekend!

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I Hate Verizon Wireless But I Like The Lemonheads

Now that I no longer have health insurance via Anthem Blue Cross, there is a new company at the top of my Worst Customer Service With Whom I Have To Deal list. Congratulations, Verizon Wireless!

Unlike Anthem Blue Cross, Verizon Wireless used to have excellent customer service. When I signed on with them around ten years ago I was consistently amazed at how on it they were, even calling me to check on my service and offer money-saving options.

At some point around three or four years ago they decided to take a different approach – screw over their customers as much as possible. They decided training their staff was a waste of time and money. “If someone calls to say their phone isn’t working, just tell them to do a factory reset.” The factory resets never work.

I hate poor customer service. If I’m paying money, beaucoup money at that, I expect to be treated better by the recipient of that money. I dropped Anthem Blue Cross and I’m in the process of leaving Verizon Wireless.

It isn’t that easy, though. I’ve dealt with AT&T and T-Mobile in the past, and their customer service departments are no great shakes. Forget Sprint – I hear their service is awful on all counts. I’m seeking to go with a smaller company.

I read about Ting, who use either Sprint or T-Mobile’s towers to…here’s where I get lost. I called Ting Customer Service to guide me through choosing a new phone that works with their service. They were very friendly, explaining to me how it works and even helping me find a smartphone compatible with them.

I ordered a new phone. It cost a few hundred bucks, but in the end it’ll be worth it as I’m not tied to a two-year service contract and Ting’s monthly bills are far lower than the major carriers.

My phone arrived. I called Ting to set it up. Turns out the phone they advised me to buy doesn’t run on their 4G network, only 2G.

I hate Ting. I hate all cell phone service providers.

That reminds me…I need to sort out my health coverage. Thus far in 2015 I have received nine letters from California’s health care offices, each one contradicting the information in the one before it. It’s enough to give a man an ulcer. Hopefully that man has health insurance.

On a brighter note, today is the birthday of Evan Dando, leader of The Lemonheads. Enjoy this twenty-song playlist.

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