93 Notes in 93 Days


Songs You May Have Missed #219


Jimmy Beaumont and The Skyliners: “Where Have They Gone” (1974)

And that reminds me of another Pittsburgh hit, this one released in 1974 and hitting its national chart peak of #100 in March of 1975. In the ‘Burgh however it was in heavy rotation that year.

Jimmy Beaumont and The Skyliners of course were best-known for the Doo Wop classic “Since I Don’t Have You” from back in 1959. It’s been said that Beaumont had the greatest voice of any singer in the early era of Rock ‘n Roll.

He wasn’t going for the high notes on “Where Have They Gone”, but its wistful lyric is beautifully rendered, and it’s one of my absolute favorite songs of the 70’s.


Symphony of Science: Education (Auto)Tuned to Young People

The world of science is indeed full of wonders. Would you ever have believed you could buy a 7″ vinyl record of a song by Carl Sagan?

That would be “A Glorious Dawn”, one of 17 or so bits of science-as-entertainment produced so far by a project called Symphony of Science. The songs and their accompanying videos give scientific and philosophical concepts a pseudo-chillwave musical treatment and feature (with the help of our old friend auto-tune) such prominent figures as Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Stephen Hawking and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Check out the site for more:



John Denver at the PMRC Hearings, 1985

The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) also known as the “Washington Wives” was formed in 1985 with the purpose of exerting control (“censorship” some said) over the access children had to violent and explicit music by putting warning labels on albums.

Rap music of the time was thought to be a particular threat, with rapper Ice-T specifically accused by Tipper Gore of inciting increased violence against police in Los Angeles.

On September 19, 1985 three musicians stepped to the microphone to testify. They were Dee Snyder (of Twisted Sister), Frank Zappa and…John Denver, who’d had his own music banned in some cities in the early 70’s.

Many on the PMRC committee expected the folk-pop singer to speak in support of their agenda. But instead Denver articulately stated the case against censorship saying, “That which is denied becomes that which is most desired, and that which is hidden becomes that which is most interesting. Consequently, a great deal of time and energy is spent trying to get at what is being kept from you.” (Spoken like an experienced dad)

(Snyder and Zappa were less conciliatory in tone. And Zappa subsequently responded with his Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention album, which featured a parody of the warning label on its cover.)


“Giving Her Away”: One of the Best Student-Produced Short Films You’ll Ever Watch

This blog will rarely stray from music-related topics, but I consider this a must watch. “Giving Her Away” is a student-produced 9-minute film that won awards in multiple film festivals in 2006. Enjoy, and have a tissue or two nearby.


Page and Plant Reunite in Exotic Marrakesh, 1994

(Reprinted from Open Culture)

In 1994 Jimmy Page and Robert Plant collaborated on a new musical project for the first time since the death 14 years earlier of Led Zeppelin’s drummer, John Bonham. The reunion resulted from an invitation to appear on MTV’s hit series Unplugged. But Page and Plant wanted to steer clear of nostalgia, so they excluded former Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones from the project and named it Unledded.

The resulting album and DVD feature an assortment of Zeppelin songs that were reinterpreted with the help of an Egyptian ensemble, an Indian vocalist and the London Metropolitan Orchestra, but perhaps the most interesting part of the project was a trio of new songs recorded with local musicians in Marrakesh, Morocco. Those performances, one of which is shown here, were the result of a collaboration with traditional musicians of the Gnawa minority, whose sub-Saharan ancestors were brought to Morocco many centuries ago as slaves.

“We’d never met the Gnawa when we went there,” said Plant in a 1994 interview, “but they were very patient, and smiling is a great currency.” Gnawa music is traditionally performed for prayer and healing, and differs from other North African music. “They play a kind of music which is much more akin to the music of the Mississippi Delta than it is to do with Arab music,” Plant said in another interview. “It’s haunting, seductive, and quite alluring.”


“Copying is not Theft”

Nina Paley, amusingly spreading word about QuestionCopyright.org, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide advocacy and practical education to help cultural producers embrace open distribution.

Their website states: Our projects highlight the restrictive effects of distribution monopolies, and help creators and their allies realize the potential of freedom-based distribution. We’re trying to change the terms of the debate, so that copyright reform efforts aren’t stuck always reacting to industry rhetoric that equates copying with theft, plagiarism, and the abuse or destruction of the original work.


The Long, Violent History of Israel and Palestine, Animated by Nina Paley and Sung by Andy Williams

To help you follow the Seder-Masochism, here’s Paley’s guide, because, as she says, you can’t tell the players without a pogrom!

Early Man
This generic “cave man” represents the first human settlers in Israel/Canaan/the Levant. Whoever they were.

What did ancient Canaanites look like? I don’t know, so this is based on ancient Sumerian art.

Canaan was located between two huge empires. Egypt controlled it sometimes, and…

….Assyria controlled it other times.

The “Children of Israel” conquered the shit out of the region, according to bloody and violent Old Testament accounts.

Then the Baylonians destroyed their temple and took the Hebrews into exile.

Here comes Alexander the Great, conquering everything!

No sooner did Alexander conquer everything, than his generals divided it up and fought with each other.

Greek descendants of Ptolemy, another of Alexander’s competing generals, ruled Egypt dressed like Egyptian god-kings. (The famous Cleopatra of western mythology and Hollywood was a Ptolemy.)

More Greek-Macedonian legacies of Alexander.

Hebrew Priest
This guy didn’t fight, he just ran the Second Temple re-established by Hebrews in Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile.

Led by Judah “The Hammer” Maccabee, who fought the Seleucids, saved the Temple, and invented Channukah. Until…


….the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and absorbed the region into the Roman Empire…

….which split into Eastern and Western Empires. The eastern part was called the Byzantine Empire. I don’t know if “Romans” ever fought “Byzantines” (Eastern Romans) but this is a cartoon.

Arab Caliph
Speaking of cartoon, what did an Arab Caliph look like? This was my best guess.


After Crusaders went a-killin’ in the name of Jesus Christ, they established Crusader states, most notably the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Egyptian Mamluk

Mamluk of Egypt
Wikipedia sez, “Over time, mamluks became a powerful military caste in various Muslim societies…In places such as Egypt from the Ayyubid dynasty to the time of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, mamluks were considered to be “true lords”, with social status above freeborn Muslims.[7]” And apparently they controlled Palestine for a while.

Ottoman Turk

Ottoman Turk
Did I mention this is a cartoon? Probably no one went to battle looking like this. But big turbans, rich clothing and jewelry seemed to be in vogue among Ottoman Turkish elites, according to paintings I found on the Internet.


A gross generalization of a generic 19-century “Arab”.


The British formed alliances with Arabs, then occupied Palestine. This cartoon is an oversimplification, and uses this British caricature as a stand-in for Europeans in general.


The British occupied this guy’s land, only to leave it to a vast influx of….

European Jew/Zionist

European Jew/Zionist
Desperate and traumatized survivors of European pogroms and death camps, Jewish Zionist settlers were ready to fight to the death for a place to call home, but…


….so were the people that lived there. Various militarized resistance movements arose in response to Israel: The Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

State of Israel

State of Israel
Backed by “the West,” especially the US, they got lots of weapons and the only sanctioned nukes in the region.

Guerrilla/Freedom Fighter/Terrorist

Guerrilla/Freedom Fighter/Terrorist
Sometimes people fight in military uniforms, sometimes they don’t. Creeping up alongside are illicit nukes possibly from Iran or elsewhere in the region. Who’s Next?

and finally…

Angel of Death

The Angel of Death
The real hero of the Old Testament, and right now too.


Ben Folds Five: Do It Anyway

From the new album by the newly-reunited Five (actually 3 in number). This one’s a lively little workout that includes the antics of Fraggle Rock.


The Walker Brothers: The British Invasion in Reverse

(Source: Spinner)

It’s largely forgotten today: Smack in the middle of Beatlemania, there were three kids from California who actually had a bigger fan club than the Fab Four in the UK. The Walker Brothers, as they were known, sang dramatic ballads with cavernous orchestral accompaniment, and for a brief period in the mid-1960s they were, improbably enough, the brightest stars in England — the reverse British Invasion.

“So we lost the American war of independence,” gushed one radio host at the height of the Walker Brothers’ carpet-bagging fame. “So what! We’ve got the Walker Brothers.” The recent death of founding member John Walker is a reminder that this idiosyncratic pop group left behind a long list of admirers, ranging from David Bowie to Radiohead.

Born John Maus, the guitarist who called himself John Walker co-founded the group with Scott Engel, a bassist and baritone crooner who took his new partner’s adopted surname a decade before the Ramones played their own name game. Engel had a brief career as a would-be teen idol in the late 1950s, making appearances on Eddie Fisher’s variety show. By 1964 he was a masterful bassist and budding arranger.

When the two musicians met another Californian, drummer Gary Leeds, the Walker Brothers decided to take their chances overseas. Leeds, a former member of the Standells, had just toured the UK with P.J. Proby, a Texas-born rock ‘n’ roller who had become a star in England. In London, they quickly caught on with Dusty Springfield’s producer, Johnny Franz, who collaborated with Scott Walker to develop a symphonic pop template to rival Phil Spector’s famed Wall of Sound.

The group’s third single, a cover of the maudlin Burt Bacharach-Hal David song ‘Make It Easy on Yourself,’ was an instant smash, reaching the top spot on the UK pop chart. A follow-up, ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,’ was another chart-topper, and the group — particularly Scott Walker — were suddenly teen-magazine cover boys. Concert crowds grew hysterical. After losing dozens of costly outfits to attacking hordes of girls, the group had to resort to wearing cheap sweaters and T-shirts onstage.

For a moment, their music was everywhere in Swinging London. The Walker Brothers’ second No. 1 was allegedly playing on the jukebox when the notorious gangster Ronnie Kray walked into a pub and shot a rival point-blank. “The sun wasn’t gonna shine for him anymore,” Kray recalled.

Yet as the culture began moving toward psychedelia, the Walker Brothers fell out of favor as quickly as they’d earned it. A bizarre touring package featuring the Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens, Engelbert Humperdinck and an emerging guitarist named Jimi Hendrix made the group seem like ancient history overnight.

Meanwhile, Scott Walker was rebelling against the group’s commercial aims and lapsing into depression. A suicide attempt was rumored; the singer took a sabbatical on the Isle of Wight to study Gregorian chant. By 1968, the Walker Brothers were disbanded.

Scott Walker’s first solo album was kept from the top spot on the British chart only by the Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper,’ and near the end of the decade he hosted his own BBC program. But each of his subsequent solo albums sold less than the last. His former bandmates had no luck at all with their own solo careers.

A 1975 reunion briefly inspired Walker Brothers nostalgia in England, but the group soon drifted apart once again. After years spent in a self-made wilderness, Scott Walker made eccentric, well-reviewed comebacks with 1995’s ‘Tilt’ and 2006’s ‘The Drift.’ He’d become the Orson Welles of music, he complained: Everyone wanted to take him to lunch, but no one wanted to pay for him to make a record.


Certainly among the best imitators of Spector’s Wall of Sound. I always thought these guys were British. They were certainly more popular in the UK, where they charted 10 top-40 hits, compared to 2 in the U.S.


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