Tag Archives: Jermaine Jackson

Michael Jackson: Sixty At 60

Michael Jackson was born sixty years ago today. Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of one of the greatest artists of our lifetime with sixty of his finest.


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It’s Kid Creole’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

He told me he is willing to relocate to Los Angeles so we could be closer to each other, geographically. Washington state is a temporary home. Besides, he does a lot of business in LA.

Uprooting yourself to be near to me is a big step, and while I appreciate his thoughtfulness, I had to tell him that our relationship was moving way too fast. After, this was his first email to me after viewing my profile on OKCupid. I hadn’t so much as written or said a word to him yet. Thus, my first message to him was to break it off before it went any further.

Am I flattered that someone wished to relocate after seeing my photo and reading about my likes and the six things I could never do without? Yes, but I understand. After all, I’m a wonderful thing, baby.

You know who else is a wonderful thing, baby? Kid Creole, the persona created by Thomas August Darnell Browder, who prior to becoming Kid Creole co-wrote under the nom du plume made up of his two middle names the disco classic “Cherchez La Femme” and produced and co-wrote “There but for the Grace of God Go I.”

Today August Darnell turns 66 years old. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with Kid Creole and the Coconuts’ “I’m a Wonderful Thing, Baby.”


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It’s Aretha Franklin’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

In 1994, Aretha Franklin took “A Deeper Love” to #1 on the dance club chart. Her record was a remake of a song that hit #1 on the dance club chart just two years prior. The 1992 version was credited to Clivillés + Cole, the song’s writers and producers, with vocals performed by Deborah Cooper. Clivillés + Cole, the C + C of C + C Music Factory, produced the Aretha’s version as well.

“A Deeper Love” was one of six #1 singles Aretha had on the dance club chart, which shows that in addition to being the Queen of Soul, she was a dance queen as well. It kicks off our weekly dance party, in honor of the Queen, who turns 74 today.


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It’s Jermaine Jackson’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Winston + Jermaine J2
When his brothers/ fellow Jackson 5 members signed with Epic Records in 1975, Jermaine Jackson stayed with the quintet’s label, Motown. After all, he was married to the label head’s daughter. While The Jacksons, as the group was now known (Motown owns the name Jackson 5), racked up hits, Jermaine’s solo recording career floundered.

In 1980, his luck changed. After seven years without a top 40 solo hit, Jermaine hit the top ten with “Let’s Get Serious,” thanks in large part to fellow Motown artist Stevie Wonder, who during the 1970s scored eighteen top 40 hits on the pop chart. Wonder produced, arranged, co-wrote, sang backup, and played keyboards and drums on the track.

Besides reaching #9 on the pop chart, “Let’s Get Serious” went to #1 on the Soul chart, where it remained for six weeks. It became Billboard’s #1 soul song of 1980. At #2 was his brother Michael’s “Rock With You.”

“Let’s Get Serious” peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Dance chart. It kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party on what is Jermaine Jackson’s 61st birthday.


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It’s Rebbie And LaToya Jackson’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

If you’re like me, you woke up at 2:17 AM last night, wondering if any animals besides humans can dance, and then you had trouble falling back asleep. If this sounds like you, I suggest you seek therapy. If you’re in L.A., please pass on to me the name of your doctor.

I Googled “Can animals dance?”. I read about a sea lion who loves to shake it to Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland.” That doesn’t prove anything. Only a corpse wouldn’t move to that song.

A neuroscientist at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California discovered that parrots and elephants can dance, but other animals cannot. He defines dance as a natural untrained reaction to music involving moving to the beat. By that definition, most humans can’t dance, either. I know. I’ve been to straight weddings.

The Week reported that scientists found that bees, cockatoos, peacock spiders, dung beetles, manikin birds and freshwater algae can dance. First off, I didn’t know algae was an animal. Secondly, doesn’t algae merely move along with the ebb and flow of the tide? By that definition, everyone’s a good dancer, even attendees at straight weddings.

Looking at dancing animals on YouTube was a depressing experience. I’m sure that sea lion at Sea World doing the “Thriller” moves would rather be in his native habitat than forced to do Michael Jackson impersonations for crowds that pay way too much money, none of which the sea lion sees. The moves probably didn’t come naturally to him. Had he been asked, I’m sure he would’ve said “No, I’m not going to be your monkey.”

Speaking of monkeys, the Daily Mail reported that bonobos like to dance to very fast music. The article was accompanied by several photos of polar bears striking Saturday Night Fever poses. Polar bears are classified as an endangered species, so I can see their concern with stayin’ alive stayin’ alive. Still, I wouldn’t confuse them for bonobos. I know a bear when I see one. I’ve been to gay weddings.

I saw a video of a cockatoo dancing to Backstreet Boys. There’s no accounting for taste, but I must admit, the moves were good. Not Michael Jackson good, but if that is the standard, then no animals can dance. By that measurement, most humans can’t dance. Most Jacksons can’t dance.

Today is the birthday of Michael Jackson’s older sisters, Rebbie and LaToya, not particularly good dancers from any video evidence I’ve seen. Rebbie had a hit song called “Centipede.” I’ve read nothing in my research about whether or not centipedes can dance, but I doubt they can, given they have fifty left feet.

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. All animals are welcome to participate, whether human or centipede (though please don’t bring up The Human Centipede.)


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It’s Michael Jackson’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

In April 2009, two months before Michael Jackson’s death, Julien’s Auctions presented an exhibition of items from Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, being made available for sale to the public to satisfy the superstar’s debt obligations. Housed in a former department store in Beverly Hills, the collection was a fascinating collection of paintings, sculptures, awards, clothes and furniture. Jackson cancelled the auction at the eleventh hour; however, the exhibition remained open to the public for eleven days.

Here are some of the photos I snapped of the collection.

Michael Jackson exhibition - April 2009 026Michael filled his home with many representations of himself.


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Michael Jackson exhibition - April 2009 051He had lifelike statues of people other than himself, such as the lady above and the two below.

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Michael Jackson exhibition - April 2009 057His very simple dining room

More pics can be found here.

Today is Michael Jackson’s birthday. Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Today’s playlist consists of some of Jackson’s best dance tracks. Shammo!

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

As a songwriter, Jimmy Webb scored his first hit in 1967 at age twenty when The 5th Dimension took “Up, Up and Away” to the top ten. Later that year Glen Campbell had a hit with Webb’s composition “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”

Webb then wrote a 22-minute cantata. His friend Bones Howe, with whom Webb worked on The 5th Dimension’s Up, Up and Away album, invited Webb to play the new piece for The Association, who Howe was then producing. Their reaction was less than enthusiastic. Per Howe, one group member said “Any two guys in this group could write a better piece of music than that.”

Sometime after, Webb received a telegram from actor Richard Harris, who he met at a fundraiser in Los Angeles. Harris was nominated for an Academy Award in 1963 for This Sporting Life and again in 1990 for The Field. He later went on to play Professor Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter movies. The telegram read “Jimmy Webb, come to London and make a record. Love, Richard.”

Webb flew to London, bringing a satchel of songs he’d written. He played each for Harris, but nothing struck the actor. Webb recalled “I looked down with some dread because there was only one thing left.” That one thing was the last movement of the cantata he presented to The Association. He called it “MacArthur Park.”

Here are the lyrics to “MacArthur Park.” Raise your hand when they get confusing.

The opening lines are “Spring was never waiting for us, girl / it ran one step ahead, as we followed in the dance.”

I see some hands raised. The next line should help you understand: “Between the parted pages and were pressed in love’s hot fevered iron, like a striped pair of pants.” Now you got it! Harris, who is from the UK, where “pants” means underwear, uses an iron, a hot fevered iron, on his striped underwear. You may be asking: Does he iron his solid-colored underwear? Does he have solid-colored underwear? Boxers or briefs? Relax – there are still six and a half minutes left in the song, so maybe you’ll find out.

Moving on, we learn that MacArthur Park, which Harris calls MacArthur’s Park for the duration of the song, is melting. In the dark. Its icing is flowing down. Who hasn’t been there?

We now arrive at the classic lines about a cake left out in the rain, which appears to be causing Harris to have a breakdown. “I don’t think that I can take it ‘cause it took so long to bake it and I’ll never have that recipe again. Oh no!” Calm down. It’s just a cake. Bake another one. I know – this song was recorded in the pre-Internet age when finding a cake recipe required one to open a cook book, but come on! This cake can’t be that special if you chose to leave it out during inclement weather.

By the end of verse one we have learned several things: 1) Harris is singing to a girl; 2) Harris irons his striped underwear; 3) a park is melting; 4) if you bake a cake and wish to leave it outside, check The Weather Channel first; and 5) never write a song while you are on an acid trip.

As the song continues it gets more bizarre. The melody changes and Harris threatens us by singing “There will be another song for me, for I will sing it.” Luckily, this other song never became a hit. (And may I add, he is being rather presumptuous by calling his performance on this record “singing.”)

The song clocks in at nearly seven and a half minutes, and though it reached #2 on the US pop charts, most listeners had no idea why Harris was singing about a melting park, ironed underwear and a waterlogged dessert.

Songwriter Webb didn’t understand the confusion. He told Q Magazine that the song is “clearly about a love affair ending, and the person singing it is using the cake and the rain as a metaphor for that.” Clearly. Clear as mudcake.

The love affair was one from Webb’s own life. He and his girlfriend would meet for lunch at MacArthur Park, where there would sometimes be birthday parties, with cake. Their breakup devastated Webb, who wrote “Mac Arthur Park” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” based on their relationship. (Bonus trivia – the woman went on to marry Linda Ronstadt’s cousin.)

In 1993, humorist Dave Barry surveyed his readers to find the worst song. The clear winner for Worst Overall Song and Worst Lyrics was “Mac Arthur Park.” Culture critic Joe Queenan disagreed with the results “because ‘Ebony and Ivory’ exists, as do ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,’ ‘Baby, I’m-a Want You,’ ‘Feelings,’ ‘Benny and the Jets,’ ‘Witchy Woman’ and ‘Sussudio,’” adding “On a planet where somebody thought it would be a good idea to write ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,’ the best ‘MacArthur Park’ is ever going to earn in the sucky-song sweepstakes is a tie.”

Good or bad, the song is a classic. A 1968 Grammy winner for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist, the song has been recorded by top artists in diverse genres, including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Liza Minnelli, the Four Tops, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton and Woody Herman. Waylon Jennings’ 1969 version won a Grammy. In 1978, Donna Summer’s rendition became her first #1 pop record and stands as the only US #1 pop song for Jimmy Webb, who also wrote “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “Worst That Could Happen” and “All I Know.”

It has been rumored that Webb and Harris had a falling out due to the song’s success. Harris promised Webb his Rolls Royce if the song went top ten. When the record did, Harris offered Webb a different Rolls Royce. It is because of this that people named Richard are often called Dick. Allegedly, the pair stopped speaking.

Ringo + Harris 2014-08-15 12.17
Today Jimmy Webb turns 68 years old. Hopefully he’s somewhere celebrating with a nice piece of wet cake. We kick off our weekly dance party with Donna Summer’s version of “MacArthur Park,” which she, like Harris, insists on calling “MacArthur’s Park” for the duration of the song.

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Feliz Cinco De Mayo!

Ringo + Toni 002
Hoy es Cinco de Mayo, y yo was thinking about Spanish-language songs that crossed over onto the US pop charts. That got me thinking about hit songs that were re-recorded in Spanish by their original hitmakers in an attempt to cross over the other direction. It’s a savvy business move, no? Why limit your audience, especially once the music business became more global?

Here is your Cinco de Mayo playlist:

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Today’s dance playlist ain’t for everybody – just the sexy people. It kicks off with “Jungle Love” by The Time, whose lead singer, Morris Day, turns 56 today.

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