Tag Archives: Yoko Ono

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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All You Need Is Mike Love

Mike Love is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and activist who in 1965 founded the group Love with his sisters, Courtney, Darlene and Monie. He was nicknamed the “Yoko Ono of the Beach Boys,” not because he is a Japanese woman, but because in 1969 he married the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, who he met during a performance art piece entitled “Nail MC Hammer,” and in doing so, influenced the band’s musical direction away from songs about surfing, girls, cars, surfing girls, girls’ cars, and surfing cars, and toward more lyrically deep and musically complicated pieces, like “Kokomo.” Tom Jones paid tribute to Mike Love’s importance to the Beach Boys with the song “Without Love (There Is Nothing),” a top 5 hit in 1970. Jones was not the only musician to admire Love. Mike Love is considered a genius by all musicians named Mike Love.

In 1976, Love got his M.D. in Transcendental Medication. The band Kiss paid tribute to his achievement with their hit “Calling Dr. Love.” Other songs honoring the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer include “Love Can Make You Happy,” “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing” and “Love is All We Need.” Steven Tyler of Aerosmith bumped into Mike on an escalator at the Beverly Center, and wrote “Love in an Elevator” about the experience, changing the means of conveyance because “escalators ain’t musical, you know?”. In 1979, the r&b band Rose Royce (“Car Wash”) moved into the house that Mike Love moved out of a few years earlier. Annoyed by his deranged fans, who camped out on the front lawn 24-7, the band’s Gwen Dickey yelled out the window “Love don’t live here anymore!,” and a soul classic was born.

These days Love is a recluse, staying inside one of his homes in between concert dates, of which he does 729 each year. He only grants interviews to those who ask. I didn’t ask.

UPDATE: I just received an email from the “LAW OFFICES OF MIKE LOVE’S LAWYERS.” Per his attorneys, there are some factual inaccuracies in what I’ve written above. They write that while Mike Love will take credit for starting the band Love, the following things are not true:

Mike Love did not marry Brian Wilson. Wilson is Love’s cousin, and they are not from the South.
Mike Love is a founding member of the Beach Boys.
Mike Love does not have an M.D. Well, he has an M.D., but he himself is not an M.D. Kiss wrote that song for him because they feel he should have received an honorary doctorate.
Rose Royce never lived in any of Love’s homes, and the song “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” was not written about Mike Love, though the other songs you referenced were.
Mike Love’s attorneys did not send Tunes du Jour an email.
Mike Love is a Japanese woman.

Coincidentally, they tell me that today is Mike Love’s 75th birthday. Tunes du Jour sends Love love. Here are twenty of his most loverly:


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Throwback Thursday – 1981

me before promThe blogger in 1981, before heading to the senior prom

For this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, we revisit 1981. The 1981 Grammy Award for Album of the Year went to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy. The Best New Artist was Shena Easton. Record of the Year and Song of the Year went to “Bette Davis Eyes,” performed by Kim Carnes. Both Carnes and Easton were nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, along with Olivia Newton-John for “Physical” and Juice Newton for “Angel of the Morning,” but those ladies lost to Lena Horne for “WTF?”. Rick Springfield won Best Rock Performance, Male (naturally) for “Jessie’s Girl.” “Just the Two of Us,” the Grover Washington, Jr./Bill Withers hit, took home the trophy for Best Rhythm & Blues Song.

Here are some of 1981’s biggest hits:

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It Really Shoulda…

Sam + Ringo
It’s that time of year when music geeks such as I think about the I.R.S. I.R.S. as in It Really Shoulda, as in it really should been a top ten hit.

Eight years ago, a colleague from my Sony Music days, Rich Appel, created the I.R.S. countdown. Music fans submitted a list of songs that didn’t make the top ten on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 but should have, in their opinion. Rich compiled the tallies to create the overall I.R.S. top 104. He’s been compiling this survey each year since.

As for why a song should have been a top ten hit, that’s left entirely up to the list-maker. On my list, I included records that are perfect or near-perfect melodically, lyrically and/or production-wise. I included songs that have withstood the test of time and are still part of the public consciousness years later. I included records that everybody thinks were top ten hits. I included tracks that would have been top ten hits except they didn’t conform to Billboard’s rules for chart placement at their time of release (e.g. they weren’t available on commercial 7-inch singles or viral video play didn’t count in metric measurements). I included singles by artists who hit the top ten with lesser songs. I focused on tracks that have pop appeal, leaving out fantastic recordings from some of my favorite acts, such as The Replacements and The Smiths – they were called “alternative” because they weren’t pop.

My list for 2015 is below, followed by a Spotify playlist of those songs. Rich asks people submitting lists to put them in order, with #1 being the record one feels should have, more than any other, been a top ten hit. Ask me to do so tomorrow and my list will likely be in a different order.

For today, here is my I.R.S. 104. After the artist name I listed how high the song charted during its initial release. If the single hit the Hot 100 at a later date, I included that information as well.

You can hear the official I.R.S. 104 tally for 2015 on Rich Appel’s radio show, That Thing, this coming weekend on RewoundRadio.com. Friday at 6PM Eastern he’ll go from #104 to around #53 and Sunday starting at 6PM Eastern he’ll pick up from where he left off and go to #1.

1. Wonderful World – Sam Cooke (#12, 1960)
2. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (#19, 1967)
3. River Deep, Mountain High – Ike and Tina Turner (#88, 1966)
4. I Only Want to Be with You – Dusty Springfield (#12, 1964)
5. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival (#14, 1969)
6. Cupid – Sam Cooke (#17, 1961)
7. Holiday – Madonna (#16, 1984)
8. Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder (did not chart, 1977)
9. 1999 – Prince (#44, 1982; #12, 1983; #40, 1999)
10. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen (#23, 1975)
11. It Takes Two – Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston (#14, 1967)
12. Little Egypt (Ying Yang) – The Coasters (#23, 1961)
13. I Want to Take You Higher – Sly & the Family Stone (#60, 1969; #38, 1970)
14. Into the Groove – Madonna (did not chart, 1985)
15. We Will Rock You – Queen (did not chart, 1978; #52, 1992)
16. S.O.S. – Abba (#15, 1975)
17. You’ve Got a Friend – Carole King (did not chart, 1971)
18. Hold On! I’m Comin’ – Sam & Dave (#21, 1966)
19. Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding (#25, 1967)
20. The Way You Do the Things You Do – The Temptations (#11, 1964)
21. It’s a Shame – Spinners (#14, 1970)
22. It’s Gonna Work Out Fine – Ike & Tina Turner (#14, 1961)
23. Under My Thumb – the Rolling Stones (did not chart, 1966)
24. Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me) – Four Seasons (#13, 1966)
25. Me and Julio down by the School Yard – Paul Simon (#22, 1972)
26. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John & Yoko & the Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir (did not chart, 1971)
27. I’m Every Woman – Chaka Khan (#21, 1978)
28. Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley (#29, 1964)
29. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid (#13, 1984)
30. Super Freak – Rick James (#16, 1981)
31. Mighty Love – Spinners (#20, 1974)
32. Stan – Eminem featuring Dido (#51, 2000)
33. So Far Away – Carole King (#14, 1971)
34. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love (did not chart, 1963)
35. Because the Night – Patti Smith Group (#13, 1978)
36. Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell (#67, 1970)
37. Candy Girl – New Edition (#46, 1983)
38. Brass in Pocket (I’m Special) – Pretenders (#14, 1980)
39. Everybody Hurts – R.E.M. (#29, 1993)
40. It Takes Two – Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock (#36, 1988)
41. Heartbreak Hotel – the Jacksons (#22, 1981)
42. Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton (#20, 1976)
43. Valerie – Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse (did not chart, 2007)
44. Rock and Roll All Nite (live) – Kiss (#12, 1976)
45. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – Sylvester (#36, 1979)
46. L-O-V-E (Love) – Al Green (#13, 1975)
47. It’s Raining Men – the Weather Girls (#46, 1983)
48. I’m a Slave 4 U – Britney Spears (#27, 2001)
49. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC (#35, 1980)
50. Wake Up Everybody – Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (#12, 1976)
51. Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed (#16, 1973)
52. Bring It on Home to Me – Sam Cooke (#13, 1962)
53. Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2 (#33, 1984)
54. Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead (#13, 1979)
55. Move Your Feet – Junior Senior (did not chart, 2003)
56. Heroes – David Bowie (did not chart, 1977)
57. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon (#21, 1978)
58. One Way or Another – Blondie (#24, 1979)
59. You Get What You Give – New Radicals (#36, 1999)
60. Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel – Tavares (#15, 1976)
61. Ain’t Nobody – Rufus featuring Chaka Khan (#22, 1983)
62. You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon (#44, 1986, #23, 1987)
63. I Can’t Make You Love Me – Bonnie Raitt (#18, 1992)
64. Young Americans – David Bowie (#28, 1975)
65. A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke (#31, 1965)
66. Respect Yourself – the Staple Singers (#12, 1971)
67. Moondance – Van Morrison (did not chart, 1970; #92, 1977)
68. Where’s the Love – Hanson (did not chart, 1997)
69. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing – Stevie Wonder (#16, 1974)
70. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow (#62, 1982)
71. Genius of Love – Tom Tom Club (#31, 1982)
72. Beautiful Stranger – Madonna (#19, 1999)
73. Shame, Shame, Shame – Shirley (& Company) (#12, 1975)
74. The Way I Am – Eminem (#58, 2000)
75. Jungle Love – The Time (#20, 1985)
76. Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac (#12, 1982)
77. Smile – Lily Allen (#49, 2007)
78. Tear the Roof off the Sucker (Give up the Funk) – Parliament (#15, 1976)
79. Same Love – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert (#11, 2013)
80. Solid – Ashford & Simpson (#12, 1985)
81. Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang (#36, 1980)
82. The Cup of Life – Ricky Martin (#60, 1998; #45, 1999)
83. Me, Myself and I – De La Soul (#34, 1989)
84. Bad Luck – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (#15, 1975)
85. Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads (did not chart, 1981)
86. Fuck You – Lily Allen (#68, 2009)
87. Such Great Heights – The Postal Service (did not chart, 2003)
88. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (movie version) – Lauryn Hill (did not chart, 1998)
89. Dedication to My Ex (Miss That) – Lloyd featuring Andre 3000 (#79, 2011)
90. Jump To It – Aretha Franklin (#24, 1982)
91. Mamma Mia – Abba (#32, 1976)
92. Space Oddity – David Bowie (did not chart, 1969; #15, 1973)
93. P Control – O{+> (Prince) (did not chart, 1995)
94. Got Your Money – Ol’ Dirty Bastard featuring Kelis (#33, 1999)
95. LDN – Lily Allen (did not chart, 2007)
96. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore – Buddy Holly (#13, 1959)
97. Does Your Mother Know – Abba (#19, 1979)
98. Up in a Puff of Smoke – Polly Brown (#16, 1975)
99. Blue Limousine – Apollonia 6 (did not chart, 1984)
100. All the Young Dudes – Mott the Hoople (#37, 1972)
101. Fight the Power – Public Enemy (did not chart, 1989)
102. Pass That Dutch – Missy Elliott (#27, 2003)
103. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne (#21, 2003)
104. You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse (#78, 2007; #77, 2008)


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Top 30 New Wave Songs

Winston + new wave w2
My friend and fellow improviser Josh asked me to compile a playlist consisting of my thirty favorite new wave songs. This proved challenging, for what is new wave? As a genre there is no clear definition of the term. For some it’s any musical act from England that emerged between 1977 and 1985. For some it includes any band that wasn’t punk that played at CBGBs. For some new wave was defined by the way the synths or guitars were played. For others it was a look.

I decided to not get too caught up on a precise definition; otherwise, I’d make myself crazy. For example, initially I was hesitant to include songs by Cheap Trick, Cyndi Lauper, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and even Pet Shop Boys (the latter because the song I chose was a poppy number that hit in 1988), but then I decided a case could be made for each to be considered new wave.

I limited myself to one song per artist. The limitation imposed by using Spotify to create the playlist proved to not be so bad – only one song I would put in my top thirty is not on the service, that being Yoko Ono’s “Kiss Kiss Kiss.” I see some people writing Spotify thank you notes already.

Herewith are my thirty favorite new wave songs. Did I leave out any of your all-time favorites? Tell me in the Comments.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Last week I regaled an audience with the story of the time I accidentally hired a prostitute to show me around Prague. These things happen. To me, anyway.

Half-glass-full guy that I am, once I realized what I did, I looked at the positive – I hired a prostitute to show me around Prague! Complications arose when the police got involved and I had to explain to my bank why they needed to credit that charge.

Though I ended up sightseeing that spectacular city on my own, I got a great story out of the trip. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, but you make the best of the situation and try to turn it into a positive.

me July 25 2014 at IMSomeday I’ll talk about the time I boarded a bus in Mexico to go on what I thought was a nature trip to the hot springs. Let’s just say I don’t think the springs got any hotter than they did that night.

In 1987, two bands, both interested in making a dance record, got together in the studio at the suggestion of the head of their record label, 4AD. Colourbox and A R Kane didn’t hit it off, so each worked on their own track, which they then turned over to the other group to embellish.

Colourbox came up with “Pump up the Volume,” its title line sampled from Eric B & Rakim’s “I Know You Got Soul.” A R Kane added some guitar to the track, and DJs CJ Macintosh and Dave Dorrell added a bunch of samples.

The record was released under the name M|A|R|R|S. “Pump up the Volume” became a worldwide smash and was groundbreaking in its use of samples on a British house track.

Though the idea of a true collaboration between the two bands didn’t come to fruition, and the acts didn’t get along and never worked together again, they did produce a dance classic. “Pump up the Volume” kicks off today’s dance playlist. Have a great weekend and before you buy anything, make sure you know exactly what it is you are paying for.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Today is the 27th of June. Only three more days of Gay Pride month and then I can go back to my self-loathing. Phew!

New York has their big Pride celebration this weekend. While I enjoy Pride here in West Hollywood, it’s nothing compared to the revelry in my former home of Manhattan.

The Los Angeles Pride parade here in WeHo goes for around two miles and lasts a couple of hours. If memory serves, New York’s parade is five or so miles long and lasts for around 168 hours. WeHo’s parade consists of a handful of politicians, floats for clubs I never heard of, some folks who are legends in their own minds, and a lot of lesbians on motorcycles. NYC’s parade consists of many political groups, many religious organizations, important social clubs such as Lesbians for Patsy Cline and Queens Against Brunch, and a hell of a lot of lesbians on motorcycles.

The list of Grand Marshals of NYC’s parade over the past ten years includes Dustin Lance Black, screenwriter of the Academy Award-wining film Milk; Lt. Dan Choi, a member of the US Army who served in Iraq, came out a gay, and challenged the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy; Dan Savage, creator of the It Gets Better Project, designed to dissuade LGBT youth from suicide as the answer to school bullying; Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in the United States v Windsor Supreme Court case which led to part of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act being struck down as unconstitutional, paving the way for the legalization of same-sex nuptials; Cleve Jones, the LGBT and AIDS activist who, among other things, conceived of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 1983; Constance McMillen, the high school student who sued her school in Mississippi when they refused to allow her to bring her girlfriend to the school prom; and Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, whose murder for being gay led to expanded hate crimes legislation to cover sexual orientation.

The list of LA’s Grand Marshals over the past ten years includes Paris Hilton, who is very wealthy and said “Gay guys are the horniest people in the world. Most of them probably have AIDS … I would be so scared if I was a gay guy … you’ll like die of AIDS;” Sharon Osbourne, who is very wealthy; Chelsea Handler, the television personality who dated 50 Cent, the grammatically-challenged former superstar who tweeted “If you a man and your over 25 and you don’t eat pussy just kill your self damn it. The world will be a better place. Lol;” and Demi Lovato, who had a gay grandfather. In 2007 we found an actual gay to be our Grand Marshall – John Amaechi, the first openly-gay former professional basketball player. In 2011 we found another one – Johnny Weir, the celebrated figure skater who smashed all the macho stereotypes of that profession. To be fair, I know how difficult it is to select the appropriate person to be our Grand Marshal. It’s not easy to find an openly gay person in Los Angeles; that’s why I’m still single.

Winston + Pride 2014-06-27 15.13

As the organizers of LA’s Pride Parade begin their search for next year’s Grand Marshal (may I suggest Vladimir Putin?), lock the doors, lower the blinds, fire up the smoke machine and put on your heels, because we’re gonna have a kiki. Dive, turn, werk.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

This week the dance music community lost one of its trailblazers, DJ/remixer/recording artist Frankie Knuckles, who passed away from diabetes-related complications Monday at age 59. Knuckles was instrumental in popularizing the post-disco genre of house music, so much so that he was nicknamed The Godfather of House.

He started DJing in New York in the 1970s and moved to Chicago by the end of that decade. It was in that city that house was born, named after the club where Frankie presided, The Warehouse. August 24, 2004 was declared Frankie Knuckles Day in Chicago, with the stretch of street that housed the club named Frankie Knuckles Way, an honor that came to be with help from an Illinois state senator named Barack Obama.

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, and today’s playlist includes some of Knuckles’ work mixed among other dance favorites.

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