Tag Archives: Talking Heads

It’s Fred Schneider’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

The B-52’s 1980 single “Private Idaho” made Pitchfork’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs from Punk to Present,” present being 2006. In his capsule review, Nitsuh Abebe wrote “Those who dismiss the B-52’s as silly or kitschy should live in fear of the frenzied last half-minute, which sounds like it’s out to track those people down, lock them up in cages, and make them go-go dance until they cry for mercy.”

Every Friday, Tunes du Jour tries to make you dance to welcome in the weekend. This week’s dance playlist kicks off with The B-52’s’ “Private Idaho,” featuring the vocals of Fred Schneider, who turns 65 today. (By the way, the B-52’s first performed in Idaho in 2011.)


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Throwback Thursday – 1985

Ringo + Madonna

In 1984, Madonna peaked at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 with her first charting single, “Holiday.” By the following year, she had established herself as the Queen of the Pop Charts. She followed “Holiday” with three singles that hit the top ten in 1984: “Borderline,” “Lucky Star” and “Like a Virgin,” the latter hitting #1 and remaining there for six weeks. She opened 1985 with the #2 hit “Material Girl,” followed closely by the #1 “Crazy for You.” “Crazy” is from the film Vision Quest, in which Madonna had a small part as a nightclub singer.

Madonna had a much larger role in the film Desperately Seeking Susan. Released in April 1985, the smash film featured a new track from Madonna, “Into the Groove.” As one might expect when a new superstar has a new song, and a great song at that, the track received lots of radio airplay. “Groove” hit #1 on the Dance Club chart, and the only record on which it appeared, a 12-inch single where it was the b-side of “Angel,” went gold, selling over a million units in the US.

Though it was a big seller with a ton of airplay and club play, “Into the Groove” never hit Billboard’s Hot 100. Though that chart is supposed to accurately reflect a song’s popularity in the US, Billboard imposes rules that hang around longer than they should, throwing off historians looking into a song’s popularity. One of the arcane rules in 1985 was that a song had to be available on a commercial 7-inch vinyl single to be eligible to chart. Commercial availability solely on a 12-inch vinyl single, even one that sold over a million copies, is not enough. Widespread radio play on a variety of formats (the song hit the top twenty on the r&b chart, which for reasons that made sense to Billboard’s chart editors, allowed 12-inch singles to chart) is not enough.

Eventually, Billboard got around to revising these rules. The advent of cassingles (cassette tape singles) and CD singles expanded the formats eligible. The music industry’s decision to hold back the release of singles in any format to force consumers to shell out big bucks for a full-length album to get the one song they liked forced Billboard to make radio airplay without a commercial single good enough for a Hot 100 chart placement, but that change didn’t come into being until December of 1998, thirteen years too late for Madonna and historians.

This week’s Throwback Thursday kicks off with one of the best-known songs to have never charted on Billboard’s Hot 100, Madonna’s “Into the Groove.” It is followed by other music highlights of 1985.


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It’s National Teachers Day And I Need To Dance!

On the off-chance I don’t win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, which, seeing as I have yet to write a single scene, is a remote possibility, I’d like to present the text of my acceptance speech here and now.

“Thank you! Thank you so much! Thank you! (wink at Meryl) Wow! I wasn’t expecting to win. This is such a surprise. Let me read you the speech I wrote for this occasion.

I’d like to thank the Academy, specifically the members who voted for me. I’d like to thank everyone who bought a ticket to see my movie. I’d like to thank the cast and crew. It takes a village! Am I right? Of course I’m right! I’m a right-er! (smile, acknowledge the laughter in the audience)

Mostly, I’d like to thank all those who taught me about writing and provided encouragement. I’d like to thank all of my English teachers, my writing teachers, my stand-up comedy teachers and my improvisation teachers. I’d like to thank my fellow classmates, workshops and meetup members and the friends and family members who provided feedback and support. In particular, I’d like to…oh, they’re playing the music, indicating it’s time for me to leave. Until next year, remember I love you all, except those who voted for my competitors.”
Winston + Hall-Oates
Today is National Teachers Day. Our weekly dance party kicks off with Daryl Hall and John Oates’ “Adult Education.”


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A Hint Of Mint – Volume 51: So Sexy It Hurts

Forgotten uptempo songs primarily from the eighties and nineties to play at your next party provided you don’t invite you-know-who, ’cause she has the personality of a wet mop and takes life way too seriously. Does she enjoy the B-52’s? No! Can she get into Tom Jones covering Talking Heads? Absolutely not! And if she heard the vulgarities on that Sinéad O’Connor record she’d turn red and run out of the room crying. Bye, Felicia!


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It’s David Bowie’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Our weekly dance playlist kicks off with a track that was inspired by a song from the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen. In the movie, Danny Kaye performs the Frank Loesser’s “Inchworm.” While schoolchildren sing “Two and two are four / Four and four are eight” etc., Kaye sings to the titular worm “You and your arithmetic/ You’ll probably go far,” and asking “Could it be you’d stop and see
how beautiful they are?” Singer-songwriter David Bowie told Performing Songwriter magazine “You wouldn’t believe the amount of my songs that have sort of spun off that one song. Not that you’d really recognize it. Something like ‘Ashes to Ashes’ wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t have been for ‘Inchworm.’ There’s a child’s nursery rhyme element in it, and there’s something so sad and mournful and poignant about it. It kept bringing me back to the feelings of those pure thoughts of sadness that you have as a child, and how they’re so identifiable even when you’re an adult. There’s a connection that can be made between being a somewhat lost five-year old and feeling a little abandoned and having the same feeling when you’re in your twenties. And it was that song that did that for me.”

Today is David Bowie’s 69th birthday. Put on your red shoes and dance the blues with this playlist of club tunes.


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My Birthday Advice: Don’t!

doggies + Elvis
Today is my birthday. Over my 25+ years on earth, I’ve learned many life lessons. Most of them came from songs. My birthday gift to you is a playlist of 100 songs offering advice as to what not to do.


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

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

beta
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 Joe Strummer’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Nineteen seventy-nine saw the release of The Ethel Merman Disco Album. That same year saw western music banned in Iran. If you heard that album you’d hail that decision. Six-and-a-half minutes of “Everything’s Coming up Roses” set to a dance beat was deemed too decadent and an insult to decent citizens. By order of the Prophet, they banned that boogie sound, as it degenerated the faithful.

Ethel Merman discoIt’s a it’s a it’s a it’s a sin!

While waiting for his bandmates to come to the studio to work on the album with the working title Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg, The Clash’s Topper Headon recorded a song he wrote. He played drums, piano and bass on the track. Per the group’s former associate and sometime manager Kosmo Vinyl, Headon accompanied his music with “very, very pornographic lyrics” about his girlfriend. The Prophet would not be happy.

Raga is a style of Indian classical music. Its performed pieces typically last for a half hour or longer. After a few days of hearing each song being worked on for the The Clash’s album lasting a minimum of six minutes, band manager Bernard Rhodes asked “Does everything have to be as long as a raga?” The question inspired the band’s Joe Strummer to write the lyric “The king told the boogie men ‘You have to let that raga drop.’” (NOTE: Joe Strummer did not compose the KC & the Sunshine Band hit “I’m Your Boogie Man.” Or did he???)

With that line as his starting point, Strummer replaced the original “pornographic” lyrics Headon wrote for his tune with ones inspired by Iran’s ban of disco music. In the song, once the Shareef is out of sight, the populace ignore the ban. Even the fighter pilots the Shareef brings in to drop bombs on the partying civilians turn up the music on their radios once he’s been chauffeured away. Western dance music? The Shareef don’t like it!

By the late 1990s the laws against western music had been relaxed in Iran, only to be reinstituted in 2005 by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ringo + The Clash
Though Ahmadinejad thinks it’s not kosher to boogie, we at Tunes du Jour think it’s treif to let Friday pass by without dancing. Our weekly dance playlist kicks off with The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah,” with lyrics by Joe Strummer, who was born on this day in 1952. By the way, the album from which the song is taken, released under the name Combat Rock, contains only one song longer than five minutes, the five-and-a-half minute long “Straight to Hell.” The king won.


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

While performing stand-up comedy in the late 1990s/early 2000s I appeared in several contests. More often than not I scored very well. In a contest at the club StandUp NY to find New York’s funniest gay man, I came in second. First place went to Seth Rudetsky. Around that same time both of us were entrants in another stand-up contest. Again, I came in second to Seth’s first.

Our acts were similar. Both of us were (are) thin New York gay Jews who mocked silly pop song lyrics in our sets. Seth talked about Sheena Easton’s “Morning Train” while I discussed Air Supply’s “All Out of Love.” I don’t begrudge him his first place winnings – he was great.

Seth went on to write for The Rosie O’Donnell Show, which garnered him several Emmy nominations. He has written for the Grammy Awards and the Tony Awards. He hosts a radio show on SiriusXM about Broadway musicals.

This past Tuesday my friend Scott and I attended Seth’s one-person show at Largo. His opening act was Judd Apatow. In the audience were Barbra Streisand, Sean Hayes, and the guy who played Valerie Cherish’s PR person on The Comeback. Also in the audience was me, the runner-up. Was I jealous? Was I bitter? You bet I was!

On the positive tip, I was inspired as well. It was a very fun show and gave me some ideas as to how to structure the one-person show I’ve been saying I will write for the past fourteen years. Destiny is calling me – open up my eager eyes, ‘cause I’m Mr. Brightside.

Our weekly dance party kicks off with The Killers.


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The Supreme Court Ruled And I Need To Dance!

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– Justice Anthony Kennedy

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. We kick off today’s party with birthday boy Mick Jones of The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite, who turns 60.


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