Tag Archives: Simon & Garfunkel

The Ultimate Christmas Playlist

Today is the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States of America. You’re officially allowed to start listening to holiday music now. To get you started, I compiled a playlist of what I consider to be 100 of the best Christmas songs. Okay, 98 songs, a stand-up routine and a skit. It’s a mix of standards, versions of standards with which you may not be familiar, and obscure but delightful tunes.

Enjoy!

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Throwback Thursday – 1966

me - 1966001The blogger in 1966

“My mother used to tell me about vibrations. I didn’t really understand too much of what she meant when I was a boy. It scared me, the word ‘vibrations’ – to think that invisible feelings existed. She also told me about dogs that would bark at some people, but wouldn’t bark at others, and so it came to pass that we talked about good vibrations.”
– The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, Rolling Stone magazine

“The concept of spreading goodwill, good thoughts and happiness is nothing new, but it is our hope. The ideas are there in ‘Good Vibrations,’ ‘God Only Knows,’ ‘Heroes and Villains,’ and it is why the new LP is called Smile.”
– The Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson

According to Brian Wilson, Capitol Records didn’t want to release “Good Vibrations” as a single because of its duration: three and a half minutes. Reportedly, executives at the label were also concerned about the psychedelic overtones of the lyrics. Wilson pleaded with Capitol to release the 45.

The song went to #1 and earned the Beach Boys a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Contemporary Group Performance, in which they were pitted against three fine recordings plus “Guantanamera” by the Sandpipers. The Beach Boys lost, thankfully not to the Sandpipers but to the Mamas & the Papas for “Monday, Monday.” Mojo magazine placed “Good Vibrations” at #1 on their Top 100 Records of All Time list, and Rolling Stone magazine had it at #6 on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time survey.

The crowning achievement of “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys was followed by an abrupt reversal of fortune for the group. While “Vibrations” was their 14th top ten single in just over four years, they would have to wait another ten years before cracking the top ten again, with their not-that-great remake of Chuck Berry’s “Rock and Roll Music” in 1976. It would be twenty-two years after “Good Vibrations” that the group hit #1 again, with the classic bad song “Kokomo.” The Smile album Carl Wilson referred to in the quote above went unfinished. Instead, the group released an album entitled Smiley Smile in 1967. Between 1963 and 1966 the group scored nine top ten albums; Smiley Smile peaked at #41. The following year’s Friends album only got as high as #126.

On this Throwback Thursday, Tunes du Jour listens to twenty of the finest singles from 1966, kicking off with the classic “Good Vibrations.”


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Throwback Thursday – The Hits Of 1968

For Throwback Thursday this week, Tunes du Jour goes back to 1968. Though the year’s biggest hit, The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” is not on Spotify, there are enough great smashes to make a compelling playlist.


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Throwback Thursday – 1970

me - 1970The blogger in 1970

Today Tunes du Jour introduces Throwback Thursday playlists, in which we go back to hear some of the biggest hits from a particular year. We start with 1970, when you could hear Led Zeppelin and the Carpenters played back-to-back on your favorite AM Top 40 station..


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The Song Retains The Name

Winston + Bobby Brown
Today is Bobby Brown’s 46th birthday. A former member of New Edition, Brown had his first solo hit in 1988 with “Don’t Be Cruel,” which reached #8 on the Hot 100. Though it shares its title with an Elvis Presley #1 hit from 1956, Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” is not a remake.

That brings us to today’s playlist, which I call The Song Retains the Name. It consists of different songs with the same title. I initially planned to include twenty such songs, but more kept springing to mind. Before I knew it, I passed 100 entries. There are plenty more, so I decided to open this up to my reader(s). If you have songs that share titles you’d like to add, feel free to do so.

(NOTES: I included The Jacksons’ “This Place Hotel” because when it was released in 1980 its title was “Heartbreak Hotel.” Thought he didn’t have to, Michael Jackson, the song’s writer, later changed its name to “This Place Hotel” to avoid confusion with the Elvis Presley song “Heartbreak Hotel.” Whitney Houston didn’t feel the need to make the same Hotel accommodation.

Also, though it is listed on Spotify as “The Best of My Love,” the Eagles track does not have a “The” on the 45 or the band’s On the Border album.)

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Garfunkel, lang, Frey And Diddy

One day in the late 1990s, while in my office at Sony Music, I received a call from the security desk in the lobby. “Art Garfunkel is here to see you.”

I wasn’t expecting Art Garfunkel. I’d never met Art Garfunkel, though we spoke on the phone a few times. I worked in the International Licensing department and received a fair number of requests to have Simon & Garfunkel and Art Garfunkel solo tracks included on compilations. “Send him up, please.”

A few minutes later, Art Garfunkel walked into my office. We shook hands and then both sat down and chatted. I don’t recall our entire conversation, though I do remember him telling me that he is particular about the artists with whom he is to be coupled on compilations, saying he wouldn’t want a track of his to be next to one performed by Iggy Pop. It wasn’t meant as a slight to Iggy; he meant the transition from one of his ballads to a heavy rocker would be jarring to the listener. He said he and Paul Simon used to argue about the running order of the tracks on their albums.

He hung out in my office for around fifteen minutes, during which time I got him to laugh more than once (about what I have no recollection). When he got up to leave he shook my hand again and told me “You are my favorite person at Sony Music.”

A decade later I met k.d. lang at a small party meant to celebrate her latest release. I’ve seen many concerts over the years; only twice has a singer so thrilled me that the hair on my arms stood up. The first time was when I attended the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls and Jennifer Holliday sang “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” The other time was when I saw k.d. lang at Radio City Music Hall and she covered Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” Spectacular!

My interaction with k.d. at this party was very brief. A hello and a handshake. My only memory of this encounter is that she had the firmest handshake of anybody with whom I’ve ever shaken hands, including my step-uncle Steve. Damn, girl!

In 2012 I attended Warner Music Group’s pre-Grammy bash. Sean Combs a/k/a Puff Daddy a/k/a Puffy a/k/a P. Diddy a/k/a Diddy…now I forgot what I was going to write. Oh, yeah – he was at that party. I didn’t chat with him or shake his hand.

I’ve never chatted with Glenn Frey of Eagles nor have we both attended the same party, though I occasionally licensed his music while working at Warner.

k.d. lang’s birthday was this past Sunday, Diddy/Puffy/whatever’s birthday is today, Art Garfunkel’s is tomorrow and Glenn Frey’s is Thursday. Unlike Garfunkel I like compilations with jarring transitions. As such Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthdays of these four folks in today’s playlist.

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The Other 45 Ways To Leave Your Lover

Winston + Paul Simon DSC00371
In the album and 45 version of his #1 hit “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” Paul Simon gives five ways to accomplish this:
Slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Hop on the bus, Gus
Drop of the key, Lee.

Here are the other 45 ways, from the very rare extended mix of the song:
1. Get on a bike, Mike
2. Pull out in a truck, Buck
3. Run off with Didi Conn, John
4. Hijack a sled, Ted
5. Jump in front of a train, Cain
6. Throw yourself on a bomb, Tom
7. Jump off a cliff, Biff
8. Crash in a plane, Dane
9. Take the Staten Island Ferry, Jerry
10. Blast off in the space shuttle, Tuttle
11. Play reindeer games, James
12. Be a slob, Rob
13. Swallow that pill, Will
14. Dig your own grave, Dave
15. Hitchhike, Mike (not the same Mike mentioned earlier)
16. Act like a dick, Rick
17. Act like a ho, Joe
18. Play smooth jazz, Chaz
19. Cross from your list her kiss, Chris
20. Choke on a slice of naan, Dan
21. Don’t answer her call, Paul
22. Send her a text, Rex(t)
23. Walk out the door, Dudley Moore
24. Come up with a scheme, Hakeem
25. Pull out your teeth, Keith
26. Run down the block, Barack
27. Don’t be a coward, Howard
28. Just leave, Steve
29. Tell her you’re gay, Ray
30. Go insane, Wayne
31. Chop off your feet, Pete*
32. Send a telegram, Cam
33. Fly off in a balloon, Augustus
34. Join a caravan, Dan
35. Be an adult and discuss the problems in the relationship and if either of you believe they cannot be reasonably worked out then go, Beau
36. Zoom away on a motorcycle, Michael (not to be confused with the two Mikes mentioned earlier)
37. Hide out on a barge, Sarge
38. Take a large ship, Pip
39. Paddle away in a kayak, person whose name rhymes with kayak
40. Just use some skis, Rhys
41. Take an escalator, Darth Vader
42. Use a drone, Mr. Cohn
43. Leave using wagons, Bilbo Baggins
44. Don’t be a putz, Lutz
45. Don’t try to rhyme, Leonid
*Be mindful that not having feet will make it difficult to leave.

Today Paul Simon turns 73. In his honor, government buildings are closed today. Today’s playlist is a mix of some of his hits plus lesser-known gems.

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An Atheist Jew’s Guide To Christmas Music, Part 4

In the grocery store yesterday I heard the most joyless version of “Joy to the World.” I heard a dull version of “White Christmas” that made me glad it was 77 degrees outside. I heard a rendition “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” so lifeless it would make Kris Kringle say “Fuck this – I’m staying home.”

My fourth and final Christmas playlist for 2013 includes more festive fare. Mostly it consists of Christmas songs that have not been overplayed. Some of the holiday classics are represented – “The Little Drummer Boy” as performed by Iggy Pop and RuPaul’s twist on “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” in which mommy is not the parent doing the kissing.

Enjoy!

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Did You Know Sara Bareilles Released An Album This Year?

grammy plaqueI’ve worked on nearly every Grammy compilation release since the first one.

The nominees for the 56th annual Grammy Awards were announced last Friday. The nominations always elicit strong reactions from music fans. I’m pleased with many of the Academy’s selections (Go Kendrick Lamar and Daft Punk!) and puzzled by others (Ed Sheeran is nominated for Best New Artist. Last year he was nominated for Song of the Year. Was he pre-new then?).

Today’s Tunes du Jour playlist consists of some of the tracks that have won Record of the Year. I choose to focus on the positive. I refuse to bash the Grammy voters for when they got it wrong (such as, for example, when they gave Record of the Year to Bobby McFerrin for “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” What the hell was that about? That record won over Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” Are you kidding me?).

Herewith are some of the better Record of the Year winners.

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