Inspired by the March 14 birthdays of Quincy Jones, Este Haim, Taylor Hanson, Michael Martin Murphey, Colby O’Donis and Billy Crystal.
Tag Archives: Chris Rock
2019. I’d understand if you spent the year in your bed curled up in the fetal position, shutting out the world, gorging on gluten. That sounds like a splendid idea, as the year was an endless barrage of horror. Mass shootings, human rights abuses, fires, forced family separations, suicide bombers, extreme weather, bald-faced racism, the US government keeping children in cages, wars, unscrupulous politicians, sexual assaults, and a Jonas Brothers reunion. It’s enough to push someone over the edge. Coupling all that with my personal issues of anxiety, diminishing self-confidence, uncertainty about my future, feelings of isolation and helplessness, and a desire to spend my days in my bed curled up in the fetal position gorging on gluten, and it’s clear I could use a therapist.
Lizzo is 100% that shrink. She told me “You know you’re a star, you can touch the sky. I know it’s hard but you have to try.” She advised me to “Boss up and change your life; you can have it all, no sacrifice.” She said “it’s time to focus on you.” She convinced me to “Keep pushing like ay-yi-yi.” I’ll admit I don’t know how ay-yi-yi pushes, though it sounded like good advice. “Go on, dust your shoulders off, keep it moving,” she told me at more than one session, and I did. I said to her “Dr. Lizzo, I envy you. You’re so smart and so cute!” You know what she said? You know what she said. “That’s cool, baby, so is you.” That’s how she rolls.
Lizzo made my 2019 infinitely better. I sing along with her songs and for those three or four minutes, my feelings of anxiety and low self-worth subside and I feel good as hell.
Years ago Chris Rock had a routine about how nobody likes who they are except fat black women. Said Chris a fat black woman doesn’t care what you think. She’s getting done up and going out on Friday night. That’s Lizzo, though it must be said that being a fat black woman doesn’t inherently make one self-confident. Not seeing people who look like you represented in ads or in the arts can make someone feel there is something wrong with them. For Lizzo, add to that being broke and living in her car. Add losing her father, who encouraged her flute playing and was extremely supportive of her musical pursuits, when she was 21. Add years of releasing music that mostly went unheard, and her struggles with depression are more understandable than the self-confident star with whom we’re now familiar. The realization that she’s not going to look like the women in ads and the advice from her producer to make music for herself and not the world at large helped flip her mindset. Lizzo has been and is on the road to self-love and wants all of us to be on that road. She wants people to love the person they see in the mirror. In a culture where people are jealous of others who have more “likes” or followers, where people get dragged for expressing an opinion that not everyone shares, Lizzo tells us that we are more than okay being who we are. As she said at this year’s MTV Awards, “It’s hard to love yourself in a world that doesn’t love you back, am I right? So I want to take this opportunity right now to just feel good as hell. Because you deserve to feel good as hell.”
If you’ve made it this far in 2019 (if you’ve made it this far in this blog post!) without being exposed to Lizzo (or having Lizzo expose herself to you), here’s a few things to know: 1) she’s a fat black woman, and none of those descriptors are negatives; 2) her album Cuz I Love You was released in April and peaked on the Billboard 200 at #4; 3) her single “Truth Hurts,” released in 2017, hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this past September; 4) her single “Good as Hell,” released in 2016, currently stands at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100; and 5) she’s my artist of the year, having spent a staggering 22 weeks at #1 on Glenn’s Ten, the only chart that really matters.
Other tidbits about Lizzo: She’s been playing the flute since sixth grade and went to the University of Houston to study classical music on a music scholarship; while she was living in Minneapolis earlier this decade, Prince invited her group GRRRL PRTY to perform at his Paisley Park compound and on his album Plectrumelectrum; she received eight Grammy Award nominations this year, more than any other artist; in 2014, Time magazine named her an artist to watch; in 2019, Time magazine named her Entertainer of the Year.
There is a Lizzo playlist at the end of this post. Check it out, though I should note that she sometimes uses a certain word that starts with “n” (not nectarine) and a certain word that starts with “b” (not broccolini).
I heard someone say that the only reason Lizzo is so successful is because of her size. Right. Society places so much pressure on women, particularly in entertainment, to become and stay heavy. That’s why the pop chart is full of plus-size women. Nectarine, please, the broccolini has talent! She can sing. She can write. She can rap. She can twerk. She can play the flute. She can twerk and play the flute at the same time. In your face, James Galway! On top of that, she’s charming. She’s intelligent. She’s funny. She’s my therapist. She’s my cheerleader. She’s my rabbi, my role model, and my best friend. She empowers me. I’ll just come out and say it – I’m proud to be a Lizbian.
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“Today is Grandmaster Flash’s birthday and schools are closed. Thank you, President Obama.”
– Chris Rock
My plan was to write a post about how great “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” is, but the website Songfacts expressed it perfectly, so I’ll reprint what they wrote:
Folks born after the dawn of Hip-Hop will probably read about this song, listen to it, and wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, it’s just a bunch of dance songs mixed together, and it’s kind of a harsh mix. The big deal is that it was the first song ever made by chopping up pieces of other songs and connecting them in a way to create a new track. It introduced sampling, and spotlighted the cutting and scratching techniques that were the hallmarks of early Hip Hop. Today, any kid can easily make something like this with software that probably came preloaded on his computer, but in 1981, it required 2 turntables and some serious beatmixing skills. Grandmaster Flash was a DJ, not a rapper, and he had been performing in New York city since 1976, often as the entertainment at parties. His art was in figuring out how to mix songs together using their breakbeats, so the music would keep going. He was also one of the first to do scratching, which was moving the record back and forth on the turntable, which made the transitions a lot easier.
There was no editing on this track – Grandmaster Flash did it live in the studio after mapping out his cuts. He would put marks on the labels of his records so he would know when to bring the next one in, which is something he learned playing years of parties. It took him a few takes to get all his cues in the right place, but the end result at the time sounded like perfection. In the era of remixing and editing, every beat can be scrutinized and altered, but considering what Flash accomplished with what he had to work with, it was remarkable and extraordinary. It also demonstrated what you would hear at one of his live performances.
Today’s playlist is inspired by this old school hip-hop classic.
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.