Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (4-29-20)

Inspired by the April 29 birthdays of Willie Nelson, The Coasters/Robins’ Carl Gardner, Tommy James, Tammi Terrell, The KLF’s Bill Drummond, The Brady Bunch’s Eve Plumb, Duke Ellington, Romeo Void’s Debora Iyall, Lonnie Donegan, Rod McKuen, Otis Rush and April Stevens; and the April 28 birthdays of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, Goodie Mob’s Big Gipp, Too $hort and Blossom Dearie.


It’s Sting’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

“Turn on my VCR, same one I’ve had for years”

I still have my beta player. It’s not a Betamax, which is a Sony brand, but rather a Sanyo. I haven’t used it since I moved to LA in 2003, because it isn’t working. I don’t want to get rid of it, though, as I have a lot of great stuff on beta tapes. Stuff that is irreplaceable.

beta tapesThere are plenty more where these came from!

Some of the recordings I have on beta tapes can be found on YouTube – The Making of “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” for example. Others, such as Purple Rain and The Flamingo Kid, are available on a host of formats that have hit the market since beta. I’m sure I could find Madonna’s pre-fame feature A Certain Sacrifice on-line if I bothered to look for it.

I used to always keep a recordable beta tape in the machine. You never know if while channel surfing you’ll come across Chaka Khan being interviewed on a Spanish talk show on UHF. (UHF pre-dates cable TV. It pre-dates beta tapes. Look it up.) I have several dozen tapes filled with television performances from artists I was obsessed with during my beta machine’s lifetime. Not that it’s dead. I refuse to believe it is. Perhaps I’m still in the denial stage of Dr. Kübler-Ross seven stages of grieving, but I believe the beta machine can easily be fixed. It probably needs a new band. Getting the machine fixed is on my To Do list. I can’t wait to dig in to those old tapes. I look forward to watching the one I labelled “Highlights from The Late Show With Joan Rivers.” It contains her interview with the late great disco queen Sylvester in which he accidentally outed his boyfriend. It also contains several appearances by The Bangles, as I was obsessed with both the Bangles and Joan Rivers. Sometimes I miss the 80s, but then I remember Duran Duran.

Might any of my LA readers be able to recommend a beta machine repair person?

The lyric that opens this post is from The Police’s song “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around.” I have some of the band’s TV appearances on those beta tapes.

Today is the 64th birthday of that band’s usual lead singer, Sting. Our weekly dance party kicks off with the song with the longest title of any in the trio’s recorded repertoire.

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It’s Jellybean’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

John “Jellybean” Benitez, along with Arthur Baker, was the pre-eminent remixer of the 1980s. If I saw his name on a 12-inch single, I knew I was going to get something good. He worked with many big names in that decade and beyond. Artists whose work he remixed include Talking Heads, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney, Donna Summer, Santana, ZZ Top, Billy Joel, Afrika Bambaataa, Whitney Houston, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Sting, Bangles, A-ha, Cher, Shakira, Bonnie Tyler, The Romantics and, most famously, Madonna.

These days Jellybean deejays parties around the world and is the Executive Producer of Sirius XM’s disco/dance station, Studio 54 radio. A couple of years ago, while I was working at Warner Music, Jellybean and I were discussing a project he wanted to do. I was very into the idea and told him I was confident I could get the big names he wanted on board. We also talked about a radio show he conceived for the Sirius XM channel in which new mixes of classic dance songs were played. To help him with that show I sent him a package with some modern mixes we had done of disco classics by Chic, Ashford & Simpson and others.

He never said thank you. I sent him a follow-up email to be sure he received the package, but he didn’t reply. Oh, well. So he is lacking manners. That doesn’t affect the joy I get listening to his classic remix work. (By the by, he never got around to launching the project he wanted to do about which I was excited.)

Today is Jellybean’s 57th birthday. Many of his mixes are not on Spotify, so today’s dance playlist consists of some of his mixes that are, of Madonna, David Bowie, Irene Cara, The Pointer Sisters, Shalamar and Whitney Houston, alongside other records I love to dance to.

You’re welcome.

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doggies + Police

This Is Not A Love Song!

While riding the subway one day in 1987 I saw a woman sitting on the seat next to the pole onto which I was holding. In her lap was a notepad on which was written across the top “Songs for Wedding Reception.” The first song listed was Jody Watley’s “Looking for a New Love.” I saw a divorce lawyer in her future.

“Looking for a New Love” is a fine song, and it was a big hit that year, but at your wedding reception? It’s not like the lyrics could be misunderstood. “I’m looking for a new love, baby / A new love / Yeah yeah yeah.”

I could understand if she had written down the title of R.E.M.’s hit from that year, “The One I Love.” A casual listener may hear “This one goes out to the one I love,” missing the description of this person as “a simple prop to occupy my time.” I love this song and the Jody Watley song, but neither will get played at my wedding reception.

In 1997 I was dating Dr. Leon, the Russian dentist. The Cardigans’ “Lovefool” came on the radio and he told me he loves the song. “So do I,” I replied.

“You? But you’re so unromantic? How could you like such a romantic song?”

First of all, I’m very romantic, so up yours Dr. Leon. I wouldn’t play “Looking for a New Love” at my wedding reception. Secondly, “Lovefool” is a romantic song? “Fool me, fool me / Go on and fool me / Love me, love me / Pretend that you love me.” To quote The Magnetic Fields, how fucking romantic.

I don’t know what the subway woman selected as her wedding song. Maybe it was “Every Breath You Take,” a popular choice for that honor. It’s something that amuses the song’s writer, Sting. He wrote it after splitting with his wife, and calls it “a nasty little song, really rather evil. It’s about jealousy and surveillance and ownership.” Mazel tov!

Some other songs that may not be appropriate for your wedding:
“Best of My Love” by Eagles. “You see it your way, and I see it mine, and we both see it slipping away.”

“Cherish” by The Association. “Perish is the word that more than applies / To the hope in my heart each time I realize / That I am not gonna be the one to share your dreams”

“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston or Dolly Parton. “If I should stay, I’ll only be in your way / So I’ll go”

doggies + Police
Today Sting turns 63 years old. We kick off our playlist with “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, from their album Synchronicity. It was the band’s fifth and final album. After that record’s success the group, like many of those who had “Every Breath You Take” as their wedding song, split up. Sting was never heard from again.

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