Tag Archives: The System

Playlist For January 9, 2020

One of these guys goes by the name AJ

While grocery shopping yesterday I was struck by an announcement that came over the loudspeaker. I can’t recall it verbatim, but it was something like “Attention shoppers: Signing up for our rewards program is the greatest thing you will do in your life.” I thought about that as I stood in front of the frozen pizzas. How sad a life that must be! I put some frozen pizzas in my cart, then asked a clerk where I can get a rewards program application. It’s too early to know if filling it out was the first step to the greatest thing in my life, but it certainly was the greatest thing to happen to me thus far in this young year.

Lots of music birthdays to celebrate today. On the playlist you’ll find music from celebrants Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Joan Baez, AJ McLean of Backstreet Boys, Sean Paul, Crystal Gayle, Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth, David Johansen (a/k/a Buster Poindexter), Bill Cowsill, Scott Walker, Haddaway, Paolo Nutini, Domenico Modugno, Vic Mizzy and Mic Murphy of The System. It’s also the birthday of Orbital’s Phil Hartnoll, but I left his music off as I’m not too familiar with it. In addition, it’s Dave Matthews’ birthday. I left his music off as I am familiar with it.

As there are so many birthdayees, each of them got only one song in the playlist, except for Bill Cowsill, because come on! Also, I should confess that although I worked at Backstreet Boys’ record label for four years and while there licensed their music at least 734 times per day, I don’t know one Backstreet Boy from another. I selected “I Want It That Way” for the playlist. Hopefully the lead vocalist on that cut is Birthday Boy AJ and not one of those other Backstreet Boys, like Justin or Donnie or Peter or Blitzen.

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It’s Cheryl Lynn’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

The Gong Show debuted on NBC in June of 1976. The program was a competition between amateur performers, whose acts were rated by three celebrity judges, rotating between Rip Taylor, Rex Reed, (Juicy) Jaye P. Morgan, Jamie Farr, Arte Johnson, Phyllis Diller, Steve Garvey, and Potsie Weber. The judges gave each act a rating between 1 and 9, unless any of them found the act particularly odious, in which case he or she would bang the gong and end the performance. The act who scored the highest cumulative rating of any given episode won a trophy and a cash prize of $516.32.

Performers on The Gong Show included Paul Reubens and John Paragon, prior to the creation of their alter-egos Pee Wee Herman and Jambi the genie; Andrea McArdle, just before she won the role of Annie in the Broadway musical based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip; and Cheryl Lynn, who would go on to sign a record deal with Columbia Records.

Ringo + Cheryl Lynn
On The Gong Show, Cheryl Lynn scored a 30 with her performance of “You Are So Beautiful.” However, she didn’t win the $516.32, as a juggler on the same episode also scored a 30, and audience applause settled the tie score in his favor. Still, the exposure netted Lynn the recording agreement, and odds are she made more than $516.32 from her pop/disco/r&b hit “Got to Be Real.”

“Got to Be Real” was Lynn’s only top 40 single on the pop chart. On the r&b chart, she scored twelve top 40 singles.

Today, Cheryl Lynn turns 59 years old. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with the disco classic “Got to Be Real.”


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

In 1967 Bill Withers moved to Los Angeles to try to make it as a songwriter. While pursuing this dream he worked at Lockheed Aircraft, making around $3.50/hour. He spent $2500 of his own money to record some demo tracks. Not one record company or publisher expressed any interest.

While working at a factory making toilet seats for 747s, he formed friendships with his co-workers and appreciated how they would help each other out. The mutual support this group of workers offered inspired him to compose a song. He titled it “Lean on Me.”

His upbringing played a large part in the song’s sentiment. “Being from a rural, West Virginia setting, that kind of circumstance would be more accessible to me than it would be to a guy living in New York where people step over you if you’re passed out on the sidewalk, or Los Angeles, where you could die on the side of the freeway and it would probably be 8 days before anyone noticed you were dead. Coming from a place where people were a little more attentive to each other, less afraid, that would cue me to have those considerations.”

He recorded the track for his album Still Bill. The single went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1972. He left his factory job, but retained a good perspective, telling the L.A. Times: “Even when I was working on bathroom seats, this was at least constructive. I challenge anybody: I won’t sing for a month and you don’t go to the bathroom for a month and let’s see…who comes off with less misery.”

“Lean On Me” won Withers a Grammy award for Best R&B Song … in 1987. On March 21 of that year Club Nouveau took their rendition of the song to #1, only the fifth time in the rock era that two different versions of the same song hit #1. (The first four? “Go Away Little Girl” – Steve Lawrence/Donny Osmond, “The Loco-Motion” – Little Eva/Grand Funk, “Please Mr. Postman” – The Marvelettes/The Carpenters, and “Venus” – The Shocking Blue/Bananarama.)

Winston + Club Nouveau

This week’s dance playlist kicks off with the record that hit #1 on this day 27 years ago – Club Nouveau’s “Lean on Me.”

UPDATE: For some reason, the original version of Club Nouveau’s “Lean on Me” is not on Spotify; only a cheesy re-record is there. Screw it! We’ll kick off our dance party with Aretha Franklin’s “Freeway of Love.”

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