Jack White Seeks to Break Record for ‘Most Metaphors in a Concert’

(reprinted from Rolling Stone)

Jack White vented his  frustrations with the Guinness Book of World Records in the latest issue of Interview, telling interviewer Buzz  Aldrin – yes, the astronaut – that their ruling body rejected his submission of  a White Stripes concert in  2007 consisting of only one note as the shortest gig in history.

“There’s nothing scientific about what they do. They just have an office full  of people who decide what is a record and what isn’t,” says White. “Most of the  records in there – who has the biggest collection of salt-and-pepper shakers or  whatever – are just whatever they want them to be. So with something like the  shortest concert of all time, they didn’t think whatever we did was interesting  enough to make it a record.”

Officials at the Guinness Book explained their case to  the NME, saying that while they acknowledged the White Stripes in  the 2009 edition, it resulted in an onslaught of applications from other bands,  which made them realize that “the nature of competing to make something the  ‘shortest’ by its very nature triviali[z]es the activity being carried out.”

White isn’t giving up on the Guinness Book. In a statement released  last night, the rocker announced plans to attempt to break the world record for  most metaphors in a single concert on his tour in support of his new solo album Blunderbuss. The language of White’s press release is very snippy,  noting that “White and Third Man Records are certain that the extremely  scientific and intricate analysis of the metaphors that occur will be examined  in accordance with Guinness‘ usually very thorough methods probably, or  at the very least if somebody answers the phone at the pub.

“Third Man Records encourages all attendees of said concerts to please not  interfere or interject with any metaphors that they witness occur during the  show as to not disqualify or worse yet, trivialize the metaphor in question,”  the statement continues. “In addition all concert attendees are encouraged to  entice as many metaphors to occur during the show that they possibly can as long  as they don’t endanger themselves or Mr. White.”

 

White Stripes’ One-Note Concert

Talk about leaving ’em wanting more. The White Stripes played this concert, consisting of a single note, in 2007 and left the crowd chanting, “one more note!”

Jack White was upset when the Guinness Book of World Records failed to recognize it as the shortest concert of all time, leading to another attempt at establishing a record (see story above).

Video

Searching Through Earlier “Songs You May Have Missed”

If you’d like to peruse previous entries in the “Songs You May Have Missed” category, it’s this simple:

Go to the “Categories” menu at right and click on “Songs You May Have Missed: List”. Every entry will appear alphabetically by artist.

If a particular song or artist interests you, the “Search” feature at the top of the right column will locate the entry you’d like. All entries have been “tagged” by title and artist name, so typing either into the “Search” space will bring up the particular entry you want.

Then clicking on the link will let you hear the song.

Hope you enjoy listening as much as I do sharing!

~Ed

Military Ranks of the British Invasion

Military Ranks of The British Invasion#7 In A Series Of Pop-Cultural Charts
When the Royal British Army drafted all their nation’s greatest pop acts for the mid-1960’s invasion of America, it was one swinging’ surprise attack. Ready Steady Go!
By the way, did anyone else play that board game Stratego as a kid?

The Forgotten Hits: 70’s Soft Rock 2

Every era and genre of music has songs that were popular in their day, but whose footprints have been washed from the sand over time. Our goal in this series of posts is to resurrect their memory; to help in a small way to reverse the process of the “top tenning” of oldies formats, which reduce hit makers from previous decades to their most popular song or two and then overplay them until you almost loathe an artist you used to enjoy (think “Sweet Caroline” or “Don’t Stop Believin'”).

I’ll be citing the Billboard pop charts for reference. Billboard Hot 100 charts of the 60’s and 70’s were a much more accurate reflection of a song’s popularity, before there were so many other ways for a song to enter the public consciousness (reflected by the number of pop charts Billboard now uses). It was an era when radio ruled–before a car commercial, social music sharing site, or Glee were equally likely ways for a song to break through.

We continue our little tour of the vanished Soft Rock hits of the 70’s, hoping to jog a few pleasant memories…

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BENNY SANTINI LP (VINYL) UK MAGNET 1978

Chris Rea: “Fool (If You Think it’s Over)”

#12 in 1978

Chris Rea was a much more prominent figure at home in England than he ever became in the U.S. Here, he was a true one-hit entity, that hit being 1978’s #12 charting “Fool (If You Think It’s Over)”. Even if you recall the song, I’m guessing you didn’t attach Rea’s name to it.

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Angel Baby

Toby Beau: “My Angel Baby”

#13 in 1978

Toby Beau isn’t a dude, it’s a band from Texas. They were already touring with heavyweights like the Doobie Brothers, Steve Miller Band and Bob Seger when this song became a smash hit. But the lack of a follow-up put a strain on the band that began to tear it apart even before a second album was released. A sad and too familiar tale. This three and a half minutes is the difference between one-hit wonder and band you probably never would have heard of. At least they had their moment.

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Midnight Light

LeBlanc & Carr: “Falling”

#13 in 1978

LeBlanc & Carr. I’ll say that once again: LeBlanc & Carr. Anything? 1977’s “Falling” was their sole foray into the top 40, their three minutes, twelve seconds of fame. Lenny LeBlanc later went into the Contemporary Christian field, sealing their fate as one of many 70’s one-hit wonders no one seems to remember by name. This particular bit of wimpy pop was and is a favorite of mine.

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dialogue LP

Michael Johnson: “This Night Won’t Last Forever”

#19 in 1979

Michael Johnson hit the top twenty twice in the decade of the 70’s. One song will likely be fresher in your memory than the other, although come to think of it I can’t remember the last time I heard either on the radio. Still, the man has his fans, even if programming directors don’t appear to be among them. His out of print hits compilations are priced between 50 and 150 dollars on Amazon.com.

I’m guessing that if you’re old enough, “Bluer Than Blue” (#12 in ’78) is very familiar:

But I bet it’s been a while since “This Night Won’t Last Forever” floated through your transom. Its #19 chart peak doesn’t qualify it for the top ten-only formats of many oldies radio stations, like so many other nice tunes.

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Takin It Easy One on One

Seals & Crofts: “My Fair Share”

#28 in 1977

“You’re the Love”

#18 in 1978

Seals & Crofts made the airwaves a softer, more tuneful place between the years of 1972 and 1976 with such top ten hits as “Summer Breeze”, “Diamond Girl” and “Get Closer”. But a greatest hits collection followed at that point, dooming any subsequent hits to obscurity, a phenomenon I refer to as “premature compilation”. Since their “Greatest Hits” is one of the very few compilations from the days of vinyl that hasn’t to this day been updated and expanded for the CD era, two forgotten Seals & Crofts hits are topic for this post.

“My Fair Share” was the love theme from the Robby Benson movie One On One. (Admit it: you saw it and you loved it. You also dug The Blue Lagoon, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU?) Anyway, the song went to number 28 in 1977.

“You’re the Love” was a bit of a disco thing from early 1978, and it made its way to #18 during the height of Saturday Night Fever um, fever. Good strategy? Hard to say: it was the last time Seals & Crofts cracked the top 40. Maybe if they’d come up with a punk single…

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Dowdy Ferry Road

England Dan & John Ford Coley: “Gone Too Far”

#23 in 1977

England Dan & John Ford Coley were kings of mid- to late-’70’s soft-serve pop; they defined the genre–like Bread did the first half of the decade. And for fans of that flavor of music it’s a damn shame that in subsequent years radio effectively made one-hit wonders of them, choosing to give their number two hit, “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” virtually all the spins and ignoring other top 40 hits such as: “Nights Are Forever Without You”, “It’s Sad To Belong”, “We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again”, and Todd Rundgren’s “Love is the Answer” (which features a strange John Hiatt cameo at about 2:49, by the way).

But probably the most “forgotten” of their hits is “Gone Too Far”. This one really didn’t survive the decade that gave it to us.

“England” Dan Seals (who passed away of cancer in 2009) was the brother of Jim Seals of Seals & Crofts, and I wish I could say I’d thought through this article thoroughly enough that it’s anything but a coincidence his entry falls below theirs. Dan became a hit country artist in the 80’s, like so many other pop acts of the ’70’s (Exile, the Bellamy Brothers, Michael Johnson, Michael Murphey…)

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SHOPPING BAG LP (VINYL) US BELL 1972

The Partridge Family: “It’s One of Those Nights (Yes Love)”

#20 in 1972

The Partridge Family, if they’re played on radio at all anymore, are represented by the Tony Romeo-penned 1970 pop gem “I Think I Love You”. And that’s really about it. Except it wasn’t. Because if you were there you know that they hit the top 40 more than once (seven times actually) with well-crafted, well-performed, well, okay, bubblegum during the run of their hit TV series. But this bubblegum was performed and arranged by the best session aces in the business–the famed L.A. Wrecking Crew (sorry to disappoint you if you thought that was really Tracy on tambourine and wood block). And even as the Partridge Family TV show lost its ability after a couple of seasons to push singles up the chart, it wasn’t because the singles diminished in quality. In fact, they even evolved somewhat into the more sophisticated adult contemporary sound you hear on “It’s One of Those Nights (Yes Love)”, which was also written by Tony Romeo.

Listen to the interplay of the woodwinds and horns…the “Aaahh” harmonies after each chorus that swell like the “waves upon the shore” of the lyric…and Lori gets the best acoustic guitar tones from that little piano…

Seriously, anything the Wrecking Crew recorded is worth three minutes of a pop fan’s time, even if it’s from a TV show featuring the lead singer equivalent of Captain James T. Kirk.

Songs You May Have Missed #110

sam

Sam Phillips: “I Need Love” (1994)

Sam Phillips started out making power pop, then morphed sometime subsequent to this album into a singer with a sparer, artsier sound. I do prefer the power pop phase, especially this one.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/06/01/songs-you-may-have-missed-423/

Songs You May Have Missed #109

harrison

George Harrison: “Love Comes to Everyone” (1979)

Lead track from 1979’s self-titled album, which was something of a comeback for Harrison after a case of writer’s block (and perhaps some residual bitterness over losing the “He’s So Fine”/”My Sweet Lord” lawsuit) (get it–“residual”?) kept him from the studio for a couple years. This cut, one of my favorites of his non-singles, established the airy, positive vibe that pervades the album.

Songs You May Have Missed #108

avett

The Avett Brothers: “Shame” (2007)

We can all learn from failed love. The good thing is it can make us more sensitive people. The sad thing it’s usually too late to apply the lessons to the lost relationship.

Glen Campbell: I Came, I Saw, I Cheered…I Cried a Little Too

Tonight I saw Glen Campbell on the Pittsburgh stop of his Goodbye Tour. I went there fully expecting to be sad…I planned to be sad, and was okay with it. And sad was one of the emotions I experienced. But I also felt thrilled, amazed, amused, touched and blessed.

I bought the ticket for other reasons than the desire to feel sad, among them the fact that I’ve always had a soft spot for the masterpieces of pop (many written by Jimmy Webb) that Campbell gave us. My father too was a fan before me. I figured the price of a couple tickets was the least I could do to say thanks, on behalf of myself and my dad, for the lifetime of great music.

But I feel the “sad” needs some explanation, because when I told some people I was going to see Glen Campbell, who suffers from moderate-stage Alzheimer’s disease and is soon to retire from music, they didn’t understand why I’d want to see something so sad. The reason became clear to me right around the time the Rhinestone Cowboy sang his last-ever Pittsburgh encore, “A Better Place”, the song in the above video. So let me explain:

My late-starting concert-going career (I was a high school senior when I saw my first show) cost me the chance to see many of the bands I grew up listening to while they were at their peak of popularity. Since attending concerts has become more of a passion in the second half of my life, I’ve seen bands well past their prime on many, many occasions. Of course, I wonder how it would have been to see Yes in ’72 or the Who’s original lineup, or the Dark Side of the Moon tour, but I’ve actually become aware of a certain attraction in seeing the same artists in their present, geriatric stage. It’s partly because I have no choice, of course. But it’s something else too.

Tonight I came to a fuller realization of what draws me to see artists in decline: it’s truer art.

If a musician is an artist (and he is of course) and one of the purposes of art is to help us to see something about ourselves (and it is of course) then the aging, well past his prime musician has as much to “say” as the pop star at the peak of his powers. It’s a different something, but equally valid. And he says it not only in his lyrics, but with his performance.

My dad taught me countless things at many stages of my life. And as his health declined and then he passed away almost a decade ago, he taught me something else: how to die. I hadn’t seen it done before, except by grandparents when I was too young to relate. But I knew my dad. He was close. And I thought he was as immortal as…me. And so as he died (with all the customary dignity with which he lived) he gave me a needed frame of reference about the process.

Worthwhile music informs our frame of reference in much the same way. Life is art, art is life. We can learn about aging, loneliness, melancholy and acceptance of fate from a lyric. Or we can see it in the performer onstage.

Glen Campbell spent 90 minutes or so showing me that even after you need a teleprompter to sing the lyrics, you can be an unbelievable guitarist. He showed me that you can do amazing things despite the wicked curveballs life throws you, especially if you have your family nearby (three of his children are actually in his touring band).

He showed me some of the same things I see each time Steve Howe walks onstage before my eyes and my brain must once again extend its comprehension of how old a rock guitarist can look and still shred it up…or when I see the two female backup singers added to a band’s lineup to get the high notes the barrel-chested lead singer once reached with ease…or when Robert Plant shows the good judgment not to reunite with Jimmy Page and call it Led Zeppelin…or when I see Roger Daltrey wearing a shirt. Artist growing old aren’t really sad unless they’re trying to act like they’re still 22. In fact, some are just growing into their songs. But they find a way to go on as artists, just as we all must find ways to go on, as whatever we may be.

Yeah, I felt a little like I was in Branson tonight, amidst the baldies and blue-hairs. But that was okay, because it was Glen freaking Campbell onstage, and I was lucky to be watching him. He’s a legend to me. Like my dad. And his courage in being up there, and his willingness to see it all through, and the poignancy of the songs all combined to move me in a deeper way than if I’d decided to see the Avett Brothers tonight instead.

Sad is great art. Glen Campbell’s songs always seemed beautifully sad to me. But all the more so now that he personifies beautiful sadness. And since the years have piled some sadness on me. I get Glen Campbell now. Because there’s been a load of compromisin’ on the road to my horizon, too.

Video

The Forgotten Hits: 70’s Soft Rock

Every era and genre of music has songs that were popular in their day, but whose footprints have been washed from the sand over time. Our goal in this series of posts is to resurrect their memory; to help in a small way to reverse the process of the “top tenning” of oldies formats, which reduce hit makers from previous decades to their most popular song or two and then overplay them until you almost loathe an artist you used to enjoy (think “Sweet Caroline” or “Don’t Stop Believin'”).

I’ll be citing the Billboard pop charts for reference. Billboard Hot 100 charts of the 60’s and 70’s were a much more accurate reflection of a song’s popularity, before there were so many other ways for a song to enter the public consciousness (reflected by the number of pop charts Billboard now uses). It was an era when radio ruled–before a car commercial, social music sharing site, or Glee were equally likely ways for a song to break through.

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The genre of 70’s so-called “Soft Rock” is particularly littered with these “forgotten” songs–perhaps because many people would like to forget the genre entirely. Be that as it may, let’s exhume some hit songs…

Player

Player: “This Time I’m in it For Love”

#10 in 1978

Player are, in the perception of most, one-hit wonders. Clearly this is an ignorant and dismissive view of this talented California band. They were actually two-hit wonders.

Their 1977 number one single “Baby Come Back” is often mistaken for a Hall & Oates song because of its similarity to their hit “She’s Gone”. “Baby Come Back” is not only an oldies perennial, but has been sampled in at least nine R&B and rap songs from the 80’s to the present day.

“Baby Come Back”:

“This Time I’m in it for Love” is Player’s #10 follow-up from ’78. Is it familiar?

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Ambrosia

Ambrosia: “Holdin’ On to Yesterday”

#17 in 1975

Radio has tossed aside, somewhat ironically, this 1975 paean to nostalgia and #17 hit.

Ambrosia are best known for two songs that both reached the number three position, 1978’s “How Much I Feel” and “Biggest Part of Me”, which peaked in early 1980.

“How Much I Feel”:

“Biggest Part of Me”:

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Elan

Firefall: “Strange Way”

#11 in 1978

Firefall similarly had three major singles, only two of which seemed to survive the decade, 1976’s “You Are the Woman” (#9) and 1977’s “Just Remember I Love You” (#11).

But they were followed by another hit in ’78, that being “Strange Way”. Like Ambrosia’s “Holdin’ On to Yesterday” it’s a slower-paced ballad than the others. Perhaps music programmers prefer to stick more to uptempo oldies, figuring their listeners have enough trouble staying awake at their advanced age…

“You Are the Woman”:

“Just Remember I Love You”:

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FOREVER LP (VINYL) UK INFINITY 1979

Orleans: “Love Takes Time”

#11 in 1979

“Love Takes Time” is one you may not have heard in a while. Crack it open like a vintage wine.

Orleans also hit the top 40 three times, with one of the three qualifying as a forgotten hit. “Dance With Me” (#6 in ’75) and “Still the One” (#5 in ’76) are still staples of oldies radio, the latter in particular having found a cultural niche as an anthem of relationship permanence.

“Dance With Me”:

“Still the One”:

(By the way, I never knew the lyric lines…When winter came I just wanted to go/Deep in the desert I longed for the snow..until I saw them on a YouTube video.)

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Dream Weaver

Gary Wright: “Love is Alive”

#2 in 1976

Gary Wright had one timeless classic, that being 1976’s #2 hit “Dream Weaver”. Its immediate follow-up, “Love is Alive” also charted at #2, but hasn’t fared as well on oldies playlists, despite some mean cowbell and a bass line that you’d think rappers would find sample-rific.

“Dream Weaver”:

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Epic Willie

Wet Willie: “Street Corner Serenade”

#30 in 1978

Wet Willie had one top ten moment. “Keep On Smilin'” charted at #10 in 1974 and survives not only on oldies radio but classic rock formats, due to the band’s status as a southern rock band (I’m like whatever). Anyway, it’s a nice bit of positive philosophy in a soft rock package, and deserves its continued popularity.:

“Keep On Smilin'”:

Mostly forgotten by radio but not by graying pop fans is their 1977 hit “Street Corner Serenade”, which is one of those songs whose modest chart performance (#30) belies its beloved status. It blends its arrangement and subject matter perfectly in a tribute to doo wop street corner singing, and has one killer chorus–right up there among such 70’s hits as “Drift Away” and “Thunder Island”.

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Goodbye Girl

David Gates: “Took the Last Train”

#30 in 1978

David Gates, lead singer and songwriter of so many soft rock classics with Bread, had one enduring hit as a solo artist. 1977’s #15 “Goodbye Girl”, from the movie of the same name, is assured of everlasting popularity, mainly because the song is just so sad.

“Goodbye Girl”:

Not so Gates’ follow-up single, from the same LP, the #30 “Took the Last Train”. This tale of a one-night stand on the French Riviera almost sounds like a Michael Franks tune–pretty jazzy for Mr. Gates. I’m sure I never heard it on the radio once the 70’s ended. Hopefully you’ll recall it fondly.

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If you’ve read this far you probably share to a degree my fascination with the syndrome of the forgotten hit. I don’t know why some hits endure and others fade away. But I do know oldies radio would be much more interesting if programmers dared to play top 40 that really went as deep as the #40 position, because some great songs lay between numbers ten and forty. Yet formats are fixed in top ten-only cement. This is a financially driven decision, of course: it’s a risk to play a song that doesn’t quite have the same proven (top ten) track record. Out of fear of you the listener (in 70’s terms) turning the dial, they bore you to death.

This “top-tenning” of oldies radio also skews the perspective of younger listeners, who may never come to realize that the Temptations had thirty-eight top 40 hits, while the Four Tops had twenty-three. Why play “Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)” when you can play “My Girl” again? Why play “You Keep Running Away” when you can play the unofficial anthem of oldies radio, “It’s the Same Old Song”?

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