Video of the Week: The Mercurotti (A Duet with Freddie Mercury & Luciano Pavarotti)

Singing “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot” opera, Marc Martel turns the song into an astounding approximation of a duet between Italian tenor Pavarotti and Freddie Mercury, in a video that was shot in just one take.

It Could Have Been Reginald the Red-Nosed Reindeer

rudolph

Inside the very shiny life of a 75-year-old marketing gimmick

(via Smithsonian.com)

by Ann Hodgman
There was his nose, to begin with. In the first version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” it glowed “like the eyes of a cat,” and Rudolph’s friends nicknamed him Ruddy because of it. When Santa came in on Christmas Eve, he found Rudolph’s bedroom alight with a rosy glow that Santa pretended was coming from his forehead. (“To call it a big, shiny nose would sound horrid!”)  

Rudolph was born 75 years ago this Christmas season, at the Montgomery Ward department store headquarters in Chicago. He was the star of a humble coloring book, written by a copywriter, Robert May, who almost named the protagonist “Reginald.” May, who’d been lonely as a child, based the character on himself. Store executives fretted that shoppers might think Rudolph’s nose was red because he was drunk, but something about Rudolph’s story spoke to people. He was an outcast, down on his luck. When Santa gave him a job (it was the Great Depression, after all)—well, something clicked. That Christmas, the company passed out two and a half million copies of the book…

Mark & Brian Ruin up a Tom Jones Song–and it’s Hilarious

mark

When Tom Jones guested on Mark & Brian’s syndicated Los Angeles morning radio show, he’d apparently agreed to sing his hit “Help Yourself” without realizing he’d receive “accompaniment”.

Mark & Brian’s horn section adds something special to the mix, cracks Jones up, and even throws off his performance toward the end, to the delight of his hosts. Fun.

Pop Quiz: Taylor Swift Song or Self-Help Book?

swiftThink you can tell one of Taylor Swift’s musical declarations of independence from something on the “You Can Do It” shelf at Barnes & Noble? Take the quiz at BuzzFeed:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rdio/quiz-taylor-swift-song-or-self-help-book

1900 Yesterday…30 Songs From Dad’s Record Collection

Raiding my dad’s record collection and sharing some of his favorite songs. Hope you enjoy.

    seekers

1. “Love Is Kind, Love Is Wine”-The Seekers

The Aussie folkies nailed the kind of upbeat, well-performed tune Dad had an ear for.

This song is more complicated structurally than your average folk song–or pop song, for that matter. Eschewing the typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus formula, this one breaks down something like:

chorus/verse/first bridge/instrumental/verse/second bridge/chorus outro.

That’s only two choruses, bracing the song at either end, with enough tasty filling in between to make you not feel the lack. Genius!

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2. “Less Of Me”-Glen Campbell & Bobby Gentry

Dad thought this was a beautiful tune. An unlikely hit single by a duo of brothers from Brazil who dressed in colorful blankets and feathered headdresses.

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rolf

4. “Two Little Boys”-Rolf Harris

Dad’s 45 collection was sprinkled with the type of song some would consider maudlin or overdramatic. Others like myself can appreciate the sentiment. Give it a listen and you may feel the lack of this type of fare–the story song with a message for the heart–on radio today.

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skeeter

5. “I Can’t Stay Mad At You”-Skeeter Davis

A cute 1960’s Goffin/King composition. Maybe the lyric sentiment doesn’t stand up today, but it’s damn catchy nonetheless. One of the country singer’s two singles to cross over into the pop top ten, the better known of the two being the classic and oft-covered “The End of the World”.

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6. “Feelin'”-Marilyn Maye

Dad mentioned that this would be a nice song to play at his funeral. Its message is worth a listen.

Despite being the most frequently heard singer in the history of the Tonight Show, Maye never once cracked the top 100 singles chart. It mystifies me how my father, in a pre-internet era, discovered so many good songs that never charted.

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7. “Love Is Blue”-Paul Mauriat

“L’amour est bleu”, one of the most sublime instrumental hits of its era and coincidentally the very first 45 that I myself owned.

This song has been covered countless times, including a version by Jeff Beck:

herman

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8. “Sleepy Joe”-Herman’s Hermits

One of two records on this list that I used to beg him to play for me. Very English. Almost Kinks-y.

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9. “Grover Henson Feels Forgotten”-Bill Cosby

Into melodramatic territory again, and a rare foray into pathos for Cosby. This one’s quite touching I think. Shame about Cos…

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bert

10. “That Happy Feeling”-Bert Kaempfert

This one’s title is too fitting. Hard not to feel a lift listening to it. Even better to watch:

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carr

11. “Singing My Song”-Vikki Carr

Co-written by Tammy Wynette. The similarities to her “Stand By Your Man” are striking, both in the theme and lyrical pattern, and it’s another structurally interesting song. Like “Stand By Your Man”, all the verses are at the beginning of the song, followed by a double dose of rousing chorus for a climax. The only difference: “Singing My Song” has a section between (I’m his song when he feels like singing…) that could be called a “climb”–a linking section between verse and chorus.

Not that Dad was listening for those things…

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indian lake

12. “Indian Lake”-The Cowsills

A little cheesy maybe–unless you’ve lived it. The same Mike Douglas who hosted the syndicated afternoon TV show recorded an album of similarly sentimental songs, of which this is the title track.

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14. “Daisy A Day”-Jud Strunk

Cool song. But like Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” (another of Dad’s favorites) it had too many less-than-stellar sequels.

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lizliz 2

16. “1900 Yesterday”-Liz Damon’s Orient Express

This one proves that there is such thing as good Easy Listening music. Smooth, sleek and classy, this lone hit by Damon’s Hawaii-based band peaked at #4 on the Easy Listening chart. Liz’ work was as easy on the ears as she was on the eyes.

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cass

17. “It’s Getting Better”-Mama Cass

This one’s like audio Prozac.

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18. “Last Date”-Floyd Cramer

Sandie Shaw is too cute. And my dad couldn’t resist a good novelty record.

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nesmith

20. “Joanne”-Michael Nesmith

Ex-Monkee Nesmith had some very listenable early 70’s singles. “Joanne” is the best of them.

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21. “The Father Of Girls”-Perry Como

Jeez, Perry. Lighten up.

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statler

22. “Flowers On The Wall”-The Statler Brothers

Clever song. Nice harmony with a deep bass singer in the mix. Dad loved this kinda thing.

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harmony

23. “Harmony”-Ray Conniff

 

Conniff’s Harmony album got heavy rotation in our house. This is an indelible couple minutes of the soundtrack of my life.

Unlike the other songs in this post, and hundreds of others of Dad’s favorites I’d collected on CD over the years, this song had fallen through the cracks. This record sits on a dusty shelf somewhere among his once-carefully organized album collection–I remember seeing its cover. But the title song had been floating in and out of my head for literally decades, defying identification. On uncounted mornings I woke with its chorus going through my half-conscious brain. But a non-charting song with a rather generic one-word title can be a difficult item to track down.

Thanks to a recent search on YouTube this gloriously uplifting bit of Easy Listening with its shimmering harmonies is restored in digital form to its place among Dad’s musical family legacy–and no longer the song my subconscious chooses to use as an alarm clock!

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sugar

24. “Poor Papa”-The Sugar Shoppe

The Sugar Shoppe were like a poor man’s Mamas and the Papas. This debut was their sole album release. But they gave us one little slice of vaudeville that Dad loved singing along to (Mom not so much).

This is another example of a non-charting record that my dad discovered somehow. There are uncounted songs I love to this day that I’d have never known but for his ability to find good obscure music.

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christies

25. “Today”-New Christy Minstrels

The Christies were probably Dad’s second-favorite 60’s folk act after the Seekers. They made one of the greatest Christmas albums of all time–one we never tired of.

Check it out here: https://edcyphers.com/2013/12/25/recommended-albums-58/

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26. “Music Box Dancer”-Frank Mills

Nowadays it’s the melody that heralds the ice cream truck. In 1979 it was a nicely-arranged #3 hit single.

And it wasn’t the only 1970’s #3 hit-turned ubiquitous ice cream anthem in my dad’s 45 collection either, thanks to Marvin Hamlisch’s recording of the 1902 Scott Joplin composition “The Entertainer”, which featured in the movie The Sting and charted in 1974:

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scotty

27. “Watching Scotty Grow”-Bobby Goldsboro

Again, this might be way too cloying for some…ok, for most.

B-R-L-F-Q spells “Mom and Dad”…

But I admit to having a soft spot for this one, as I do for most of these tunes.

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28. “Why Me”-Kris Kristofferson

As I mentioned, Dad liked a good novelty song. Ray Stevens’ “The Streak” was the unofficial anthem of my younger brother’s bath time. But Dad didn’t go for the idiotic “One-Eyed, One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater” stuff, mind you. Clearly this is a cut above that insipid pabulum…right?

This is actually a cover of the version by the Scaffold which was a hit in England. Paul McCartney’s brother was in that band.

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30. “The End”-Earl Grant

A stirring, unjustly forgotten ballad from 1958.

end

Lyric of the Weak: French Montana, “Don’t Panic”

montana

Twenty-nine uses of the word “nigga” and the priceless line If you a star, I’m a whole planet deserve special recognition in my book…

Don’t panic, nigga don’t panic
Don’t panic, nigga don’t panic

Shawty fell in love with a hustler
Man I took her from a buster
Niggas keep talkin’ like they know something
I slide on your bitch like she hol’ something
Don’t panic, don’t panic
We just getting started nigga don’t panic
Real niggas getting cake
Watch the fake niggas hate
Don’t panic, don’t panic
We just getting started nigga don’t panic
Don’t panic, don’t panic
We just getting started nigga don’t panic

Talking fish scale got the whole salmon
See you fuck niggas from four planets
Just getting started nigga don’t panic
If you a star, I’m a whole planet
Acting like she won’t get it
Have her run through the team like Jerome Bettis
You don’t want it, don’t look for it
Have your bitch on a surfboard, surfboard, surfboard
If you want this money, gotta work for it
Puff puff pass, what you lookin’ at?
Bust it wide open, make it nasty

Shawty fell in love with a hustler
Man I took her from a buster
Niggas keep talkin’ like they know something
I slide on your bitch like she hol’ something
Don’t panic, don’t panic
We just getting started nigga don’t panic
Real niggas getting cake
Watch the fake niggas hate
Don’t panic, don’t panic
We just getting started nigga don’t panic
Don’t panic, don’t panic
We just getting started nigga don’t panic

I won’t let up, sippin’ that Ciroc amaretto
Real bitches gon’ wait on ’em, fake bitches gon’ skate on ’em
Real bitches getting cake, fake bitches gon’ hate
She a model on the Gram
Getting swallowed was the plan
This young thug need four bitches
Take her to the crib take no pictures
Ass fat, let me get up on it
Bounce back early in the morning

Shawty fell in love with a hustler
Man I took her from a buster
Niggas keep talkin’ like they know something
I slide on your bitch like she hol’ something
Don’t panic, don’t panic
We just getting started nigga don’t panic
Real niggas getting cake
Watch the fake niggas hate
Don’t panic, don’t panic
We just getting started nigga don’t panic
Don’t panic, don’t panic
We just getting started nigga don’t panic

Don’t panic, nigga don’t panic, don’t panic

Shawty fell in love with a hustler
Man I took her from a buster
Niggas keep talkin’ like they know something
I slide on your bitch like she hol’ something
Don’t panic, don’t panic
We just getting started nigga don’t panic
Real niggas getting cake
Watch the fake niggas hate
Don’t panic, don’t panic
We just getting started nigga don’t panic
Don’t panic, don’t panic
We just getting started nigga don’t panic

Vinyl Comes Back From Near-Extinction

vinyl

(via Statista)

from , November 19th, 2014

While the whole world is talking about Spotify, Pandora, iTunes and other digital music services, a long-forgotten medium has come back from near-extinction: the LP. In 2013, 6.1 million vinyl albums were sold in the United States, up from less than a million in 2005 and 2006. The same trend can be observed in the UK and in Germany, where LP sales have climbed to the highest levels since the early 1990s. Global vinyl sales amounted to $218 million in the past year and it’s all but certain that the vinyl comeback will continue in 2014.

Read more: http://www.statista.com/chart/2967/worldwide-vinyl-sales/

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