Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 12-12-23

Is technology ruining music? I’ll answer that with another question: If we had GPS in the 1960s, would we have gotten “Do You Know The Way To San José?” If you request Alexa to play “Do You Know The Way To San José” by merely stating its title, would Alexa play it or ramble on about making a left here and bearing right there, which would make for a real crap song? When presented with “Do You Know The Way To San José” by its writers, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Dionne Warwick was not taken by it. “What is this whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa crap?” she asked. I’m paraphrasing. She eventually came around, for decades later she said that winning the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her recording of that song was the highlight of her career. 

Dionne Warwick was born on this date in 1940. Lots of songs performed by her are included on today’s playlist.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 10-1-23

In 1993, humor columnist 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.”

The late Richard Harris was born on this date in 1930. Celebrate his birthday with a piece of soggy cake and by listening to today’s playlist, which includes the song many hate.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (5-26-20)

Inspired by the May 26 birthdays of Stevie Nicks, Ms. Lauryn Hill, The Band’s Levon Helm, Peggy Lee, Lenny Kravitz, Swinging Blue Jeans’ Ray Ennis, Alphaville’s Marian Gold, Nashville Teens’ Art Sharp and Black; and the May 25 birthdays of The Jam’s Paul Weller, Disclosure’s Guy Lawrence, Tom T. Hall, The Tokens’ Mitch Margo, and Jessi Colter.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4C0pvzTH8O6tp7PrQrEM9z

Throwback Thursday – The Hits of 1958

On March 28, 1958, 19-year-old Eddie Cochran recorded a song he co-wrote with his manager, Jerry Capeheart, called “Summertime Blues.” It was intended to be the b-side of a single whose a-side, “Love Again,” was written by 17-year-old Sharon Steely, who soon became Cochran’s girlfriend. Liberty Records released the 45 with “Summertime Blues” as the a-side. Five months after he recorded it, Cochran had his first U.S. top ten single. In the fall of 1958, the record became a hit in England.

Besides singing and co-writing the song, Cochran produced it. His talents didn’t stop there. He could play piano, drums, bass and guitar, the latter of which he played on records by two dozen other acts.

Cochran’s popularity overseas led to a hugely successful tour of England in the spring of 1960, culminating on April 16 with a performance at the Hippodrome Theater in Bristol. On his way to the airport after the show, Cochran got into a cab with Steely, who was now his fiancée, his tour manager, Patrick Thompkins, and fellow performer Gene Vincent. The taxi driver was speeding on a dark and winding street. The car blew a tire and the driver lost control of the vehicle, crashing it into a lamppost. Cochran put himself over his fiancée to protect her and ended up being thrown from the car. Suffering a severe head injury, he was brought to the hospital. The following afternoon he was pronounced dead. He was just 21 years old.

Eddie Cochran’s time with us was far too short, but his legacy lives on. “Summertime Blues” is an undeniable rock and roll classic, covered by many artists of different genres, including The Who, Alan Jackson, Blue Cheer, The Beach Boys, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Olivia Newton-John. Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody” was later recorded by Sex Pistols, and his “Twenty Flight Rock” was played by a teenage Paul McCartney at his audition for a teenage John Lennon to let McCartney join Lennon’s band, The Quarreymen.

Today is Throwback Thursday, and Tunes du Jour revisits some of the hits of 1958, kicking off with Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues.”


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I Don’t Believe You, Bob Dylan. You’re A Liar!

“I didn’t really care what Lieber and Stoller thought of my songs. They didn’t like ‘em, but Doc Pomus did. That was all right that [Lieber and Stoller] didn’t like ‘em, because I never liked their songs either. ‘Yakety yak, don’t talk back.’ ‘Charlie Brown is a clown,’ ‘Baby I’m a hog for you.’ Novelty songs. They weren’t saying anything serious.”
– Bob Dylan, February 2015

“I don’t believe you. You’re a liar!”
– Bob Dylan to an audience member who called him “Judas,” May 1966
– Glenn Schwartz to Bob Dylan regarding his disdain for Lieber and Stoller, April 2015

Perhaps Dylan doesn’t like the comical songs Lieber and Stoller wrote for The Coasters (though I’m skeptical of that as well), but how can he honestly dismiss all their work as novelty songs? Their compositions are part of the Great American Songbook – Rock & Roll Edition. “Jailhouse Rock,” “Stand by Me,” “On Broadway,” “Hound Dog,” “Kansas City,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Is That All There Is?” These aren’t humorous songs. Okay, “Is That All There Is?” is pretty funny, though that wasn’t intentional.

I think Bob made that comment as he was miffed about Lieber and Stoller dismissing his work. That they didn’t get Dylan is folly on their part, but the duo’s work has stood the test of time.

Today is the birthday of the late great Jerry Lieber. Today’s playlist consists of twenty classics from the Lieber and Stoller songbook.

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