Tag Archives: Helen Reddy

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (5-21-20)

Inspired by the May 21 birthdays of Ronald Isley, The Notorious B.I.G., Sugababes’ Mutya Buena, Carl Carlton, Leo Sayer, Justice’s Gaspard Augé, Fats Waller, Marcie Blane and Anjulie.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/28nkWDTG1okFTyiyZXy8I1

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (3-2-20)

Inspired by the March 2 birthdays of Lou Reed, Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man, Karen Carpenter, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Jay Osmond, Boogie Down Productions’ Scott La Rock, Missing Persons’ Dale Bozzio, Musical Youth’s Dennis Seaton, UTFO’s Doctor Ice, the Kooks’ Luke Pritchard, and composer Kurt Weill (“Mack the Knife”).

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Throwback Thursday – 1972

Willie Mitchell, the producer of Al Green’s string of hits in the first half of the 1970s, recalled the one time he and the singer had a fight. It was over a song the two men had written with Al Jackson, Jr. While producing that track, Mitchell told Green to sing it much more softly than he had sung his other material. Green thought that direction was wrong and the song would never become a hit.

That recording was “Let’s Stay Together,” and it became Green’s first #1 on the pop chart. It also spent nine weeks at #1 on the r&b chart.

Following the success of “Let’s Stay Together,” Mitchell said Green never again argued with him.

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist focuses on the year 1972, kicking off with the song that Rolling Stone magazine named the 60th greatest of all time, Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”


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Throwback Thursday – The Hits Of 1973

Singer/Songwriter/Record producer Ed Townsend had, in his own words, “a monstrous addiction to alcohol.” While in rehab he wrote a song which he described as a message to himself “about the business of getting on with life.”

On March 13, 1973, Townsend recorded a demo of Marvin Gaye singing this composition.

Nine days later, the men were again in the studio. Visiting the two men there was Barbara Hunter, a friend of Townsend. She came with her 16-year-old daughter, Janis.

Gaye was immediately smitten with Janis. As he often did, Gaye made up new lyrics in the studio. Inspired by the presence of this beautiful teenage girl, Townsend’s song about understanding and brotherhood became a paean to enjoying sex for its own sake, particularly when it is with someone you love.

Marvin and Janis got married in 1977, four years after the song Gaye recorded the day they met, “Let’s Get It On,” hit #1.

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist consists of twenty big hits from 1973, kicking off with the classic “Let’s Get It On.”


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Happy Australia Day – Twenty Australian Music Acts You Should Know

Today is Australia Day, unless you are in Australia, in which case it was yesterday, because by the time I post this it will be tomorrow there, which is their today but our tomorrow. Therefore, our today is Australia Day, which makes no sense, really, as the holiday is celebrated in Australia, where, as I pointed out, today is tomorrow, the day after Australia Day.

Australia Day commemorates the day the British proclaimed sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of the country/continent, or at least that’s what someone entered in Wikipedia.

Today’s playlist is made up of twenty acts that hail from Australia. Before anyone asks, AC/DC’s music is not on Spotify, hence their exclusion.

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A Star-Spangled Night for Rights

On September 18, 1977, Aaron Russo, Bette Midler’s manager, produced “A Star-Spangled Night for Rights” at the Hollywood Bowl. The focus of the four and a half hour concert was gay rights. Performers included Midler, War, Richard Pryor, Helen Reddy, Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits and Tanya Tucker. Among the approximately 17,000 people in the audience was Paul Newman, Olivia Newton-John, Valerie Harper and Robert Blake.

It had been a rough year for gay rights. In June, Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaign proved successful when Dade County, Florida voters repealed the gay rights ordinance they had just passed in January. In Arkansas, the state legislature reinstated the sodomy laws it repealed two years earlier.

As a result of these setbacks, gay rights marches appeared around the country, official Gay Pride parades drew their highest number of participants to date, and Russo organized the concert to benefit the Save Our Human Rights Foundation.

California Senator John Briggs threatened to blacklist every Hollywood performer or politician who supported or attended the show. The following year Briggs sponsored a proposition to remove all gay or lesbian employees and their supporters from California schools. The measure was defeated due in large part to the efforts of San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk. On September 18, 1977, Milk had yet to be elected to that position.

The concert went well for its first few performances, but took an ugly turn when comedian Pryor took the stage. Among the things he said: “Motherfuck women’s rights!” “Fags are prejudiced.” “I’m sick of y’all and your faggoty-ass bullshit. What were you doing during the Watts riots – sucking each other’s dicks? Fuck you and everything you stand for, I’m getting the fuck out of here.” And the finale, “You Hollywood faggots can kiss my happy rich black ass!” It wasn’t his best material. And yes, if given the choice between arson, destruction, looting, beatdowns and fellatio, my selection is a no-brainer.

Next on the concert bill…Tom Waits! It reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons where Homer was to perform a comedy set at Mr. Burns’ birthday party. Mr. Smithers gets on stage and announces “I have some sad news to report. A small puppy, not unlike Lassie, was just run over in the parking lot. And now it’s time for the comedy stylings of Homer Simpson!”

Waits was invited to perform at the event by his close friend Bette Midler, who he met three years earlier at The Bottom Line in New York. Subsequently, Midler recorded Waits’ “Shiver Me Timbers” in 1976 and they did a duet on Waits’ Foreign Affairs album released the year of the Hollywood Bowl show.

Before Waits took the stage Aaron Russo came out to apologize for Pryor’s outburst. “I’m terribly embarrassed and don’t know what to say about what just happened, but I do think this show tonight started out and will end up on a positive note.” However, the audience was agitated. Waits gave up after two songs.

The crowd wanted the headliner. Bette Midler bounded on stage and asked the crowd “Is there anyone here tonight who wants to kiss this rich white ass?” The crowd cheered and she closed the show.

Today Tom Waits turns 65. Aside from Milder, his compositions have been recorded by Rod Stewart, Bruce Springsteen and The Ramones, among others. Here are twenty career highlights.

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Tonys! Tonys! Tonys!

The Tony Awards, celebrating excellence on the Broadway stages, are being presented this evening. The Tony Awards are like the gay version of the Tony Awards. That’s how gay they are.

Last year I took second place in a speech contest where I spoke about the effect Broadway had on my life. Here is that speech, followed by a playlist consisting of cover versions of Broadway classics.

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