Tag Archives: Steely Dan

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (7-12-20)

Inspired by the July 12 birthdays of Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, Boney M’s Liz Mitchell and Broadway composer Oscar Hammerstein II.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (6-8-20)

Inspired by Black Music Month, LGBTQ Pride Month, and the June 8 birthdays of Kanye West, Three Dog Night’s Chuck Negron, Boz Scaggs, Nancy Sinatra, Bonnie Tyler, Joan Rivers, Robert Preston, Gang of Four’s Jon King, and James Darren.

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

Inspired by the February 20 birthdays of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Rihanna, Steely Dan’s Walter Becker, J.Geils, Spirit’s Randy California, Stone Roses’ Ian Brown, Seal, Backstreet Boys’ Brian Littrell, and Lindisfarne’s Alan Hull.

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Throwback Thursday – 1974

In 1974, my Grandpa Abe gave me a radio, thus changing my life. That radio became my best friend and music my main interest. I started buying all the 45 rpm records that made the top ten. Soon I was reading the trade magazines, as well as Rolling Stone, Circus, Creem, Song Hits, Hit Parader, Musician, and then some. Who knows what career path I would have chosen had I not latched onto popular music in my pre-teen years?

Tunes du Jour’s Throwback Thursday playlist this week focuses on the music of 1974. It includes the music I heard on the radio back then (eighteen top 40 hits) plus two I discovered later on.


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Throwback Thursday – The Hits Of 1977

An instrumental performed by then new Eagles member Don Felder was submitted to his bandmates Glenn Frey and Don Henley to add lyrics. The first working title the guys gave the song was “Mexican Reggae.”

Henley was determined to create the perfect song, spending eight months in the studio working on “Mexican Reggae,” which came to be called “Hotel California.” A lyric referring to the band Steely Dan was added (“They stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast”) after Steely Dan included the lyric “Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening” on their song “Everything You Did.”

In 2009, music critic John Soeder asked Don Henley about the lyric “So I called up the Captain / ‘Please bring me my wine’ / He said, ‘We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969’,” pointing out that wine isn’t a spirit, as wine is fermented whereas spirits are distilled. Soeder asked the singer/composer “Do you regret that lyric?” Henley replied “Believe me, I’ve consumed enough alcoholic beverages in my time to know how they are made and what the proper nomenclature is….My only regret would be having to explain it in detail to you, which would defeat the purpose of using literary devices in songwriting and lower the discussion to some silly and irrelevant argument about chemical processes.” Insert steely knife here!

This week for Throwback Thursday, Tunes du Jour listens to the hits of 1977, kicking off with Eagles’ “Hotel California.”


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Beck, Kanye and Beyoncé

“I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists, to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We ain’t gonna play with them no more. And Beck needs to respect artistry and he should’ve given his award to Beyoncé. Because when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in their face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration. And we as musicians have to inspire people who go to work every day, and they listen to that Beyoncé album and they feel like it takes them to another place.” – Kanye West on the Grammy Award for Album of the Year going to Beck’s Morning Phase rather than Beyoncé’s self-titled release

“I thought she was going to win. Come on, she’s Beyoncé! You can’t please everybody, man. I still love [West] and think he’s genius. I aspire to do what he does.” – Beck

“I wasn’t saying Beck; I said the Grammys. Beck knows that Beyoncé should have won; you know that. Come on, man. I love Beck! But he didn’t have the Album of the Year.” – Kanye West

Kanye West, official spokesperson for the Bey Nation, gave his opinion and the Internet blew up! It was a repeat of 2009, when West announced that Taylor Swift stole the MTV Best Female Video Award that should have gone to Beyoncé. The American people were up in arms! So much vitriol was sent West-ward and his detractors found plenty of reasons to go after him the ensuing years. As the wise trophy thief said, “the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.”

Kanye’s point was about creating art and reaching new heights in one’s craft. The only intelligent responses to further this discourse, per the many comments I saw on Facebook and Twitter, are “You’re classless” and “You’re garbage.” One person who didn’t call Kanye garbage was Shirley Manson, the lead singer of the band Garbage. She called him “a complete twat.”

At least all of us can sleep better knowing that Kanye loves Beck. They are two of my favorite all-time artists for many of the same reasons. They seldom repeat themselves, making each album they release different than the previous one. Neither follows trends. Both challenge themselves. Both are masters of their craft. Both can be sincere. Both can be funny. Neither has released a bad record.

However…

Beyoncé should have gotten the Album of the Year Grammy. Her self-titled album was a revelation. Following up her uneven 4, she took a giant leap forward and strived to make something more artistic than what we were used to from her. She succeeded. The Beck record, Morning Phase, sounds beautiful, but there were no surprises. It was announced early in 2014 that Beck would be releasing a new album that was in a mellow vein. I got what I expected. It was as fine as I thought it would be, and stronger than his last couple of releases. I like Morning Phase very much, more than the other nominated Albums of the Year performed by Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Pharrell Williams, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard Beck do before. Ironically, in Beyoncé’s quest to be more artistic, her album outsold its predecessor. Like Kanye said, she had the Album of the Year.

Enough of the Grammy voters felt otherwise and awarded Beck. That’s fine. There have been worse slights in the Grammy Album of the Year category than Beyoncé losing to Beck. What about the 1996 awards, when Beck’s Odelay lost to Celine Dion’s Falling into You? Or in 2000, when Beck’s Midnight Vultures lost to Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature? Or in 2005, when U2’s Hot to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb beat Kanye’s Late Registration and in 2004, when Ray Charles & Friends’ Genius Loves Company beat Kanye’s The College Dropout and Green Day’s American Idiot? Steely Dan, U2 and Ray Charles have released many albums deserving of Album of the Year. These weren’t them. U2 should have won 1992’s Album of the Year for Achtung Baby. They lost to Eric Clapton Unplugged. In 2007, Kanye’s Graduation and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black both lost Album of the Year to Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters, a record that literally nobody has ever heard. In 1980, Christopher Cross’ self-titled debut beat Pink Floyd’s The Wall. In 1966, The Beatles’ Revolver lost to Frank Sinatra’s A Man and His Music. In 2012, Mumford & Sons’ Babel beat albums by Frank Ocean, Jack White and The Black Keys. The nominees for 1984’s Album of the Year Grammy were Prince’s Purple Rain, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, Tina Turner’s Private Dancer, Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual, and Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down. Four classic albums plus one by Lionel Richie. The winner? Lionel Richie! WTF on a stick?!?! In 1991 the Album of the Year Grammy didn’t go to R.E.M., nominated for Out of Time. It went to Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable…with Love. Eligible but not nominated that year? A little album called Nevermind by a band named Nirvana. Oh well, whatever. In 1982, Toto IV beat…it doesn’t matter who else was nominated. It’s Toto Fuckin’ IV, people.

It looks like Beyoncé will have to wait longer before she is in the same hallowed company as Toto.

In less contentious news this week, ISIS killed U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller, Boko Haram killed thirteen soldiers and 81 civilians in Chad, and the Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court forbade probate judges in that state to issue marriage license to same-sex couples, despite a judge’s ruling that such unions are legal and the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to issue a stay on that ruling.

Congratulations, Beck!

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But Then Again, No

Sometimes an awkward lyric shows up and mars an otherwise perfectly reasonable song. I don’t mean songs such as Paul McCartney’s “Spies Like Us” or Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” or Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s “Ebony and Ivory.” Those songs are just plain bad.

Wings’ “Live and Let Die” is one of my favorite of Sir Paul’s post-Beatles songs, but I refuse to sing along with the phrase “this ever changing world in which we live in.” Poor grammar makes me want to give in and cry.

John Mellencamp’s “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” pays tribute to many rock and soul greats of the 1960s. It’s a crackin’ little number but I always cringe when he sings “let’s don’t forget James Brown.” “Let’s not” uses just as many syllables, is grammatically-correct, and doesn’t detract from the message of not forgetting James Brown.

There are times when lyrics are bad not because of their grammar, but because they sound like place holders that remained in the song because the lyricist couldn’t come up with anything with which to replace them. Take Elton John’s classic hit “Your Song.” “If I was a sculptor, but then again, no.” Why is that in the song? You’re not a sculptor. You weren’t a sculptor. What would happen if you were a sculptor? Instead of giving the object of your affection the gift of song, would you make a bust of their face, a la Lionel Richie’s “Hello” video?

One of my favorite bad lyrics is in the Diana Ross and the Supremes hit “I’m Livin’ in Shame,” in which Diana sings “Came the telegram – Ma passed away while making homemade jam.” Telegram messages were charged by the letter, so including the details of what Ma was doing when she died is a bad choice lyrically and financially. What lyrics were discarded in favor of that? “Came the telegram – Ma passed away while carving up the ham?” “Came the telegram – Ma passed away with her finger in a dam?” “Came the telegram – Ma passed away serving in Viet Nam?” “Came the telegram – Ma passed away from an attack by a ram?” “Came the telegram – Ma passed away from choking on a yam?” That last one is good, but then again, no.

“I Started a Joke” by the Bee Gees is an okay song that would be better if Johnny Marr played guitar on it. Then it may sound like a Smiths song. Not a Smiths single. Maybe an album track. I’m not sure what the over-the-top lyrics are about. It seems Robin Gibb is not a gifted comedian and his joke made everyone cry and then he cried and everyone started laughing and then he died but kept singing this song. That’s all well and good. The line that made me include it in this blog entry is “I fell out of bed hurting my head from things that I said.” I think you hurt your head when you fell out of bed and banged said head on a jar of homemade jam.

Let’s don’t forget Robin and Maurice Gibb on their birthday.

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In Which A Group Of Multi-Millionaires Sings Of Wishing They Had A Little Money

I didn’t get the film Muriel’s Wedding. Not as in I didn’t get the Blu-Ray of this movie for Hanukkah. I don’t even own a Blu-Ray player. No, I mean I didn’t understand it. Or rather, I didn’t buy it. Muriel, the ugly duckling girl who is mocked and abused, ends up marrying a beautiful South African swimmer and then splits up with him because of some self-esteem bullshit. WHAT? For fuck’s sake, Muriel! The man has beautiful eyes, a great body and doesn’t beat you. What more could you want? If this means I’m shallow and superficial then I don’t want to be right. She says to him “I don’t love you” and he replies “I don’t love you either but I think I could like having you around.” He’s so sweet! I dream of the day someone says something so romantic to me! Someone attractive, that is. Oh, um, SPOILER ALERT. I should have said that a few sentences ago. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and plan to (which you should, just to see what Muriel walked away from) then forget what you just read.

daniel lapaineThis is what Muriel left. This. THIS! It stretches all credibility.

Muriel’s Wedding had its good points: a) David (Muriel’s husband), b) it introduced us to Toni Collette as Muriel, c) it introduced us to Rachel Griffiths, and d) along with The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, it brought ABBA back into the public consciousness.

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of ABBA’s Benny Andersson who, along with the group’s Björn Ulvaeus, co-wrote and co-produced most of their hits.

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