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Inspired by the March 18 birthdays of Wilson Pickett, Irene Cara, Queen Latifah, Lykke Li, the Alan Parsons Project’s Eric Woolfson, Vanessa Williams, Sutton Foster and Adam Levine.
Your knees start shakin’ and your fingers pop
Like a pinch on the neck from Mr. Spock
I think I read somewhere that there is a new Star Trek movie opening this weekend, or sometime soon. I didn’t pay too much attention. I’ve never seen any Star Trek movie, nor have I seen any episode of the TV show Star Trek, or any of its offshoots.
I saw part of one episode from the original series. Joan Collins was a guest star. I watched when she was on screen; I changed the channel when she wasn’t. That small fact told my friend Laura’s brother more about me than I knew about myself at that time.
I don’t know what Star Trek is about. I know there’s a spaceship called the Enterprise, and that’s about it. I don’t know when the show takes place. I don’t know the characters’ personality types or if they all get along or if any of them hook up.
I’ve heard William Shatner recite the lyrics to “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Space Oddity” and other songs that were classics until the moment I heard Bill do ‘em. I’ve heard Leonard Nimoy “sing” a song about Hobbits (don’t get me started on my lack of knowledge about Hobbits! I’m not even sure the word Hobbits should be capitalized.). Those recordings weren’t enough to entice me into checking out the work that made those guys famous.
I’m also familiar with the song “Star Trekkin’” by a group called The Firm, not to be confused with the Jimmy Page band The Firm, though equally awful. “Star Trekkin’” went to #1 on the UK singles chart in 1987, and by doing so removed the bragging rights of anyone else who hit #1 on the UK singles chart. “Oh, you had a #1 UK single, Nicole Scherzinger? You know what else was a #1 UK single? ‘Star Trekkin”’.”
William Shatner was on another television show somewhat recently. I don’t recall what it was. I think it was set in a courtroom or a law office. I never watched it.
I don’t know if Leonard Nimoy did anything after the Star Trek TV series.
Though I don’t know from and couldn’t care any less about Star Trek, I do recognize some Star Trek references in pop culture, like in the lyrics that opened this post, which are from Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic,” one of 1998’s best singles and the song that kicks off Tunes du Jour’s 1998 playlist on this Throwback Thursday. I take it when Mr. Spock touches someone’s neck, their knees shake and their fingers pop, like mine do when I listen to Beastie Boys. Let’s get poppin’!
Today is the birthday of two music icons – Jam-Master Jay of rap pioneers Run-D.M.C. and disc jockey Wolfman Jack. Besides their place in their history of rock and roll, both men have another thing in common – they were the subjects of songs. That inspired me to put together today’s playlist – songs named after real people.
I found fifty songs whose titles are actual people. Actually I found more than fifty, but I didn’t want to subject you to Chiddy Bang or Mac Miller. I made a few rules for myself:
1) The title can’t have words besides the person’s name, hence no Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” or Sleater-Kinney’s “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone.”
2) The title has to be the full name the person is known by, so no “Springsteen” by Eric Church or “Jessica” (about Jessica Simpson) by Adam Green. Allowed are “Galileo,” “Joan of Arc” and “King Tut,” as that is how most people identify Galileo Galilei, Joan d’Arc and Tutankhamun.
3) The song doesn’t have to be about the person after whom it is titled, so “Jack the Ripper” and “Rosa Parks” are in.
4) The track has to be on Spotify. This means I left out Bob Dylan’s “George Jackson” and Hoodie Allen’s “James Franco.”
Amazingly for a playlist based on such a goofy concept, it holds together quite well, if I say so myself.
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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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1. Her last name is Guðmundsdóttir.
2. Her first album, entitled Björk, was released in December 1977 when she was twelve years old.
3. Before forming The Sugarcubes, Björk was in the bands Spit and Snot and Tappi Tikarrass. The latter is Icelandic for “Cork the bitch’s ass.”
4. When they formed The Sugarcubes, Björk was married to the band’s guitarist. They divorced and he married a woman who became the band’s keyboard player.
5. The Sugarcubes’ biggest US hit is entitled “Hit.” It spent five weeks at number one on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart.
6. Her single “Earth Intruders” reached #84 on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 chart. It is Björk’s highest-placing single to date on that chart.
7. She wrote “Bedtime Story” for Madonna. The 1995 single was Madonna’s first to miss the US top 40 since before her breakout hit “Holiday” twelve years earlier.
8. Her performance in the motion picture Dancer in the Dark won her the Best Actress Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.
9. Her album Medúlla is mostly a capella. One song has a piano, one a bass synthesizer, and another a gong. The remainder of the sounds is created by human vocals.
10. Today is her birthday. I don’t know if she’s smoking cigars.