Britney plaque

Happy Britney Spears’ Birthday!

Britney Spears was the first recording artist to thank me in her CD booklet liner notes. The album was 2000’s Oops!…I Did It Again, which set a record when it sold over 1.3 million copies in the US its first week. At the time I was running the licensing department at Zomba Recording Corporation, parent company of Jive Records, to which Britney was signed. It was a great time to be at that company. I worked with smart, creative people, and I got to apply my skills to our superstar roster (Britney, Backstreet Boys, R. Kelly, NSYNC), enabling us to increase licensing revenue four-fold during my four years of employment there.

Britney plaque

When I started at Zomba, Britney was 17 years old and was on her second hit single, “Sometimes.” Today she turns 32. To date she has had 23 top forty hits in the US. Her latest album, Britney Jean, was released last week.

Enjoy today’s Britney-inspired playlist.

World AIDS Day

Today Tunes du Jour observes World AIDS Day with a playlist of diverse genres – pop, hip hop, rock, dance, r&b, gospel and whatever you call what Ween does.

Thematically there are songs of reminiscence, reunions, safe sex, politics, pride, goodbyes and whatever you call what Ween does.

Give it a listen and let me know what songs you discovered and if there are any great ones I missed.

Happy June Pointer’s Birthday!

As an adult my mother took night classes to earn her college degree. One of the electives she took was a course on music appreciation. During the semester my mother had to attend three concerts and write papers on each. She came to me with a deal. “If I buy you a ticket to the Pointer Sisters concert, will you write my paper for me?” Getting to see one of my favorite groups in concert without spending a dime? Deal!

Not only did my mother treat me to a great show, she taught me valuable life lessons about effective delegation of tasks and quid pro quo.

I saw the best-known incarnation of the group – as a trio consisting of sisters Ruth, June and Anita. Bonnie Pointer left the fold years earlier to pursue a solo career. As a threesome the women scored over a dozen top 40 singles on the US pop chart.

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of the late June Pointer, who sang lead on the trio’s hits “He’s So Shy,” “Dare Me,” “Happiness” and “Jump,” which became “Jump (For My Love)” to avoid confusion with the Van Halen hit “Jump.” People were always confusing The Pointer Sisters with Van Halen.

One more thing – my mother got an “A” on her paper.

It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

The 1970s were all about Star Wars and disco. One man had the brilliant idea to combine the two. Is it an overstatement to call Meco Monardo a genius? His disco version of the Star Wars score was a #1 hit in 1977.

That’s his only top ten hit where he is credited as the artist; however, Meco arranged the horns on Tommy James and the Shondells’ smash “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” played the trombone on Diana Ross’ classic “I’m Coming Out,” and, alongside Jay Ellis, Harold Wheeler and Tony Bongiovi, produced Gloria Gaynor’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” and Carol Douglas’ “Doctor’s Orders.”

He revisited the Star Wars connection in 1980 when he released Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album, which includes the holiday evergreen “What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)” and “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which features vocals by Tony Bongiovi’s second cousin John (who later dropped the “h” from his first name and changed the spelling of his last name. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.)

As it’s Friday, our playlist is designed to get you dancing into the weekend. It’s Meco’s birthday, so we’ll start with his track that encapsulates the seventies.

Happy Berry Gordy Jr.’s Birthday!

Today is the 83rd birthday of Berry Gordy, Jr., the aspiring pugilist turned songwriter turned record executive/entrepreneur. After penning hits for Jackie Wilson and Etta James in the late 1950s, Gordy went on to launch the Motown Record Corporation. The company’s first pop hit was Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want),” a song written by Gordy with Janie Bradford, in 1960. From then on the hits kept coming.

Today’s playlist is a small sampling of great Motown releases. If you have a favorite Motown record, let me know what it is in the Comments. Enjoy!

Happy Hanukkah!

Tonight is the first of the eight nights of Hanukkah, so I thought I’d treat my readers to a Hanukkah playlist, with the hope that you’re not tired of all the Hanukkah music played on the radio and in stores this time of year.

I wanted to start with Beck’s “Little Drum Machine Boy,” which tells the little-known story of the Robot Funk, who does the blessing over the menorah candles, and the Hanukkah Pimp. Unfortunately, this holiday classic is not on Spotify.

As I couldn’t use the Beck song, I decided to kick off with the classic “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” as performed by the cast of South Park. Unfortunately, this holiday classic is not on Spotify.

Does Spotify have “Hanukkah Rocks” by Gefilte Joe & the Fish? No? Okay, then. Clearly Spotify is taking sides in the War On Hanukkah.

Suffice to say I have enough Hanukkah songs for each night of the holiday, save the last five.

Running out of Hanukkah-specific tunes, I turn to holiday fare associated with that other big holiday that’s coming up. Many of these songs are considered Christmas classics; however, they don’t mention Jesus or Santa, so for our purposes they now will be considered Hanukkah classics.

With those songs in the mix, our playlist clocks in at just over a half hour. Sigh. I’m adding in Thanksgiving tunes. Enjoy your holidays!

I Tina

Happy Tina Turner’s Birthday!

Down the street from my first job in midtown Manhattan was a bookstore that often hosted book signings. There was also a record store one block over that held album/cassette/CD signings. Between these two places I got to meet many great artists, including Prince, Joan Rivers, Liberace and Tipper Gore. I also met Tina Turner, who turns 74 today.

I Tina

My main memory about that meeting was how flawless her skin was. She was 46 and there was not a wrinkle to be found. I’m now older than she was then and my face is devoid of wrinkles, which is why I’m often mistaken for Tina.

Tina-mania was high in 1986. After separating from her abusive husband Ike, she toiled in relative obscurity until her 1984 album Private Dancer put her back on the map in a big way. The album sold around twenty million copies worldwide and earned Tina a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year (alongside three other great albums – Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., Prince & the Revolution’s Purple Rain and Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual, as well as Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down. Guess who won.), with its single “What’s Love Got to Do With It” winning Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female and its “Better Be Good To Me” winning Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female. In 1986 she released her best-selling autobiography, I, Tina, and her follow-up to Private Dancer, Break Every Rule, which produced three top forty hits in the U.S.

Enjoy this Tina Turner-inspired playlist.

Gift-Giving Guide

In many activities in my life, I’m inspired by music, and shopping for gifts is no exception. I spent the last three hours listening to all 20,000 CDs and records in my collection, looking for ideas that I can impart to my reader(s). Here now I present to you the very first Tunes du Jour Gift-Giving Guide, complete with its own soundtrack.

Do you know anyone who wears clothes? Why not buy them some clothes?

For me, clothes-wearers make up exactly twenty-two percent of my gift-recipient list. What do I get the other 10.9 people?

The gift of media is always welcome. For the bibliophile in the family, I recommend a book. Any book. Books are timeless, just like VHS tapes and cassettes.

For those who haven’t learned how to read (i.e. anyone who started school after 1988) or are too stupid, get them a game. Board games are fun and I hear they now have games that can be played on TV and computer screens. If games are too challenging, buy a toy. Anything to keep the kid or moron occupied while you read a book.

Jewelry makes a nice gift. Just make sure the person you give the jewelry to is willing to put out. Seriously, that shit can get expensive. You deserve something in return.

If there’s a person on your list who won’t put out, doesn’t know how to read and is too impatient to read game instructions, buy them some cigarettes. Who doesn’t like cigarettes? They’re easy to work, easy to transport, don’t take up much room and smell like Christmas. Give cigarettes with alcohol unless the person is in recovery, in which case, substitute coffee. Those addicts love their coffee. Jesus, do they love their coffee, though not as much as they love cigarettes.

Oftentimes, the nudist on your gift list will tell you what they want, but you have to listen carefully. Not everyone is tacky enough to come out and say “I want _____” or “Gimme gimme gimme _____,” which brings me to a related topic. If you stole someone’s man, give him back. I’m not going to mention any names (LeAnn Rimes), but if any of my reader(s) started sleeping with Eddie Cibrian while he was married, you should send him back to his wife. At the very least, send her a thank you note along with some cigarettes and alcohol.

Gifts needn’t be physical objects. Perhaps you know someone who can benefit from a spa day, golf lessons or rhinoplasty. That last idea occurred to me while listening to The Ramones’ “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment.” Let me say this: if someone says to you “gimme gimme shock treatment,” that’s a cry for help.

You can always give the gift of love. However, if you do, make sure you include a gift receipt so the recipient can exchange it for something useful.

If all else fails, money makes a great gift. Save yourself the trouble of shopping for that unintelligent teetotaling nudist with a perfect nose on your list. Think of the dollar amount they deserve and give them half of it. Use the other half to spend on yourself, as you just freed up some shopping time in your schedule.

You may have people on your list who’ll say “I don’t need a gift. I have everything I want.” These people are THE WORST! Call their bluff – don’t give them anything. Don’t call them. Don’t stop by their house. Just leave them alone. They have everything they want, which means they don’t want you hanging around. They are rude and should be avoided.

The History of Glenn’s Ten

2013 marked the thirty-second anniversary of Glenn’s Ten. Every Saturday for the past thirty-two years I’ve tracked my ten favorite songs of that week. The practice started in high school when my friend Lydia, who preferred to be called Candice, gave me a diary for Chanukah, which I prefer to spell Hanukkah. I never kept a diary before, as my life was lonely and depressing and I didn’t want someone to find my diary years later and read “July 15. The kids at summer camp threw rocks at me today. I thought that would have stopped by the time I became a counselor.” I was optimistic things would improve – I prefer to see the glass as 1/8 full as opposed to 7/8 empty.

The diary Lydia/Candice gave me had a drawing of Paddington Bear on the cover. I didn’t know who Paddington Bear was or why he was famous, making him the 1981 version of a Kardashian. Being a packrat (euphemism for hoarder) I couldn’t throw away this gift from Lydia/Candice. I gave diary keeping a try.

“January 1. I woke up ‘round 12. Had bacon for lunch. Clam chowder for dinner.” I know how to ring in a new year! [NOTE TO SELF – Don’t share diary entries with anyone.]

My entry for January 6 reads “Instead of antiperspirant, I accidentally sprayed shaving cream in my armpit.” [REMINDER TO SELF – Don’t share diary entries with anyone.]

Four days after that burst of genius, Glenn’s Ten debuted. In my diary I wrote “My ten fave songs: 1. “The Tide Is High” – Blondie, 2. “9 to 5” – Dolly Parton, 3. “Time is Time” – Andy Gibb, 4. “Seven Bridges Road” – Eagles, 5. “I Love a Rainy Night” – Eddie Rabbitt, 6. “Giving It Up for Your Love” – Delbert McClinton, 7. “I Made It Through the Rain” – Barry Manilow, 8. “Celebration” – Kool & the Gang, 9. “Guilty” – Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb, 10. “Suddenly” – Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard. I rocked hard in my youth! (If any of these titles are unfamiliar to you, stay tuned. At some point I’ll feature them on this blog.)

I’ve kept track of my top ten every Saturday since. When Paddington ran out of Saturdays I bought a Ziggy notebook. Ziggy’s comic misfortunes made me feel good about my life. While both he and I were lonely, at least I had hair. My cover subjects have since improved – I’m presently tracking my lists in a John Lennon notebook. It can be argued that my song choices have also improved (no disrespect to Barry Manilow, Cliff Richard or Eddie Rabbitt).

Today’s playlist consists of all the songs to be #1 in Glenn’s Ten on November 24, in chronological order, except for 1985’s entry, as I cannot find that notebook.

Monty Python to Reunite – Life Gets a Little Brighter

This week, the surviving members of Monty Python announced they are reuniting for a show that will take place at London’s O2 Arena on July 1, 2014. The last time they performed together was at the Aspen Comedy Festival in 1998. In addition to their best-known skits, the troupe promises new material. At a press conference announcing the show, Eric Idle said the audience can expect “comedy, pathos, music and a tiny piece of ancient sex.”

When I was a kid I would watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus on PBS. The program provided absurd premises (a ministry of silly walks, an eatery frequented by Vikings that includes Spam as an ingredient in all their dishes, a clinic where one can drop in and pay to have an argument, though if you go into the wrong room you’ll get hit-on-the-head lessons), bizarre animation and, on the best episodes, images of ladybreasts.

July 1 falls smack dab in the middle of London’s rainy season (rainy season in London goes from Jan. 1 thru Dec. 31), so I probably won’t attend the show. However, I have my Python DVDs and recordings to get me through. Today’s playlist, a tribute to the group, kicks off with “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” the song that plays at the end of the film Monty Python’s Life of Brian. In the film, Brian, played by Graham Chapman, is despondent, seeing as he is nailed to a cross and certain to die. On a nearby cross is Idle, who attempts to cheer up Chapman with this ditty.

A survey conducted in England in 2005 revealed this to be the third most popular tune Britons would like played at their funeral. Indeed, the remaining members of Monty Python sang it at the 1989 funeral of Chapman.