The Pretty Reckless

During last week’s long road tip to Wisconsin to sell at the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market, I stumbled into The Pretty Reckless.

Once smitten with Heaven Knows, we turned to Spotify to hear more. One word: Love.

Many of the songs remind me of Devil Doll’s Queen of Pain. (If Devil Doll lead singer Colleen Duffy hadn’t already been dubbed “the punk rock torch singer your father warned you about”, Taylor Michel Momsen could earn that title.)

Listen, I was ahead of the curve and right about Cage The Elephant. I was ahead of the curve and right about Macklemore’s Thrift Shop. And I’ll be right about The Pretty Reckless (and Fever Ray) too. Maybe that’s because mom’s are the greatest music influencers. Or maybe it’s just because I am awesome. Download some of The Pretty Reckless now.

PS My Wisconsin friends should check them out at Summerfest this year.

the pretty reckless

“If I Had A Voice I Would Sing” (Along With The Theme To Vikings on History)

If you are a fan of Vikings on the History Channel, then you’ve probably fallen in love with the tv show’s theme song.

The song’s official title is If I Had A Heart and it is by Fever Ray.

You know how sometimes theme songs are changed, edited, or cut so short that the TV version is nearly unrecognizable? Well, that’s not the case this time. While If I Had A Heart is much longer, it is only more enchanting, even more moving than the few seconds we get with the television show’s credits, — especially when you can make out the lyrics.

This will never end
‘Cause I want more
More, give me more
Give me more

This will never end
‘Cause I want more
More, give me more
Give me more

If I had a heart I could love you
If I had a voice I would sing
After the night when I wake up
I’ll see what tomorrow brings

If I had a voice, I would sing

Dangling feet from window frame
Will I ever ever reach the floor?
More, give me more, give me more

Crushed and filled with all I found
Underneath and inside
Just to come around
More, give me more, give me more

If I had a voice, I would sing

I don’t want to further blow your mind, but you should also watch the official If I Had A Heart video. It’s not really about Vikings either — but it is stunning.

Once I watched the videos (a number of times), I purchased the If I Had A Heart MP3. Then I watched the video for Seven, and I quickly realized it was more economically prudent to buy the Fever Ray (Deluxe Version) LP than to fiddle away buying single MP3s by Fever Ray. I”m loving it! Let’s see if Seven sells you on Fever Ray to:

fever-ray-deluxe-cover-vikings-theme-on-it

The Classics: Music & Humor

When Alyssa Milano was on The Late Late Show last December, she told Craig Ferguson (and all of us watching), that her grandfather said there were two types of people: those who think farts are funny, and those who don’t. Clearly Milano does, because she spent quite a bit of time farting around with Ferguson.

Whether or not Milano’s grandfather was right about there being just those two groups of people in the world, it’s clear that Mozart was a man into fart humor. Yes, that Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The proof of poof-amusement comes from (at least) one of 12 letters Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote to his female cousin, Maria Anna Thekla Mozart. These letters, written between 1777 and 1781, are included in Robert Spaethling’s book. And they contain passages which Lapham’s Quarterly calls “alliterative and obscene”. It is in this letter that we find Wolfgang going well-past a love of all things musical into TMI territory. In fact, this might be the first reference to a shart — it’s certainly the earliest I’ve ever read.

You write further, indeed you let it all out, you expose yourself, you let yourself be heard, you give me notice, you declare yourself, you indicate to me, you bring me the news, you announce onto me, you state in broad daylight, you demand, you desire, you wish, you want, you like, you command that I, too, should could send you my portrait. Eh bien, I shall mail fail it for sure. Oui, by the love of my skin, I shit on your nose, so it runs down your chin.I now wish you a good night, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind, and try to kiss your own behind; I now go off to never-never land and sleep as much as I can stand. Tomorrow we’ll speak freak sensubly with each other. Things I must you tell a lot of, believe it you hardly can, but hear tomorrow it already will you, be well in the meantime. Oh my ass burns like fire! What on earth is the meaning of this!—maybe muck wants to come out? Yes, yes, muck, I know you, see you, taste you—and—what’s this—is it possible? Ye Gods!—Oh ear of mine, are you deceiving me?

Now I must relate to you a sad story that happened just this minute. As I’m in the middle of my best writing, I hear a noise in the street. I stop writing—get up, go to the window— and—the noise is gone—I sit down again, start writing once more—I have barely written ten words when I hear the noise again—I rise—but as I rise, I can still hear something but very faint—it smells like something burning—wherever I go it stinks, when I look out the window, the smell goes away, when I turn my head back to the room, the smell comes back—finally my mama says to me: I bet you let one go?—I don’t think so, Mama. Yes, yes, I’m quite certain. I put it to the test, stick my finger in my ass, then put it to my nose, and—ecce provatum est! Mama was right!

Clearly not all classical musicians are as, errm, stuffy as you might think.

Image via Wikipedia.

Some Of You May Recognize This Song As Hi-Ho Silver Away

In celebration of the new Lone Ranger film (with the usual semi-racist depictions of Tonto, this time played by Johnny Depp), we dug out our copy of The Masked Man by Eddy Bell & the Bel-Aires. Since TheRodge76 already did the work of uploading it to YouTube, my work here is done. (Though now that we are digging through the old vinyl, lord knows what will show up in our online shops and in our spaces at the antique stores; so keep an eye out.)

masked man 45 rpm

Borders Bleed & Blow My Mind (Thoughts On Context)

Sometimes history is thought of as it is taught: In separate chunks. But history passes, weaves, and certainly is attached and connected to time — the time behind it, the time before it, and simultaneously to persons and events which, even in attempts to understand and reclaim, we have neatly severed into subjects and categories.

History and culture isn’t simply a matter of dates or compartmentalized periods. The subject of context isn’t merely one for writers, bloggers or content curationists, i.e. photo or image with research or text story, properly credited, for real readers. Context is even more than the object, person, or event in cultural context of what came before it, what came after it. Context must include what and who are contemporaries.

For example, do you think of opera legend Marian Anderson and artist Frida Kahlo as contemporaries? As friends even? Most probably do not.

[About the image: Marian Anderson and Frida Kahlo with Diego Rivera, Miguel Covarrubias, Rosa Covarrubias, Ernesto de Quesada and others in Mexico, 1943.
More astonishing than this photo which went wild on Tumblr is the video.

The video is silent home film footage of that same trip, from the Penn Libraries Marian Anderson collection, A Life In Song, use of and upload to YouTube approved by Nancy M. Shawcross, Curator of Manuscripts, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania on June 19, 2012.]

For in our (admirable) attempts to reclaim lost stories of Black Women and Hispanic Women (groups who have felt marginalized from Feminism and Women’s Studies), separate stories emerge. Separate stories may narrow focus, provide an ease for our brains (which many falsely claim are over-stimulated and bombarded with information; information overload is a myth) tasked with absorbing information, but so many separate stories not only lead to false notions of separate lives issues (which fosters a sense of competition, risks alienation, and further divides what is Us), but removes the full complex beauty of cultural context.

Oxford University historian Dr. Cliff Davies, in his discussion of the myth of the Tudor era, describes this compartmentalization of history as “seductive” and helping “to create the idea of a separate historical period, different from what came before and after.” I say this seduction also includes the temptation to remove the context of contemporaries. And that it ought to be avoided. Even in an age of working to create filtered focus.

Even when you have multiple blogs, collections, and curated topics — each with its own focus, there is likely to be some overlap between them. If you are aware of and include context with your collections, there will be, ought to be, some repeated content and objects across collections. Even those with the most dedicated focus.

I consider this to be not redundant overlap but more connections, yet another layer to your stories. Practically speaking from a marketing approach, it is another way to find more readers too.

And another way to blow their minds.

Smells Like Mid-Life Spirit

Whether or not you want to smell like Madonna, you might want to catch her wearing lingerie (what else?) in the online ad (video below) for her new fragrance, Truth Or Dare.

I guess we should thank our lucky stars that Mad’s not completely nude as this online campaign was looked after by French art director Fabien Baron, the very same “director” of her 1992 coffee table book Sex. (The book is now highly collectible; yet deals can be found on eBay.)

The fragrance, I-kid-you-not, goes on sale in Macy’s stores April Fool’s Day (April 1, 2012). But it’s available online now for those with US mailing addresses.

The music for the perfume ad is a remix of Madonna’s latest single, Girl Gone Wild, which is the second single off MDNA. Girl Gone Wild has already enjoyed some notoriety, nearly costing the material girl in court (NWS).

Amber Tamblyn: Hero

Amber Tamblyn: Hero

I’m no celebrity stalker; I can rarely identify an eighth of the folks plastered on the publications which stare at me while I’m in the supermarket check-out line. But I rather like Amber Tamblyn. Even if, right now, I can’t name that one police drama show she had… I like it, it was with that guy… Oh, never mind; I need to get to the dish.

Up to this very moment, one of the things I’ve liked best about Amber Tamblyn is saying her name.

Amber Tamblyn.
Amber. Tamblyn.
AmberTamblyn.

It’s musically delicious, the way it rolls off the tongue.

Turns out girl’s got more than a musically delicious name and actress chops in a pretty package; Amber Tamblyn’s got a grand sense of humor — and more.

When actor-musician Tyrese Gibson confused Amber Rose Tamblyn’s email address with that of Kanye’s ex-girlfriend, model Amber Rose, resulting in Tyrese asking Tamblyn via email if she wanted to record an album with him, Amber Tamblyn ran with it. Not only in a series of email exchanges but Amber Tamblyn laid down some serious demo tracks.

Called The Tyrese Sessions, these are amazing hardcore feminist rap songs which I would happily pay for. Hint-Hint, Amber. (“Tamblyn,” she whispered like Brick Heck.)

For now, we will have to settle for this woman’s poetry.

The Power Of Shared Experience In Music

Trini Lopez

I’m no music aficionado. I like what I like. But I have to hear it first. Which means I’m not such a fan of music reviews.

Music reviews always seem so foreign to me… Using words to describe music? What’s next, writing a musical arrangement as a review of a book? Yeah, yeah, yeah, we use words to communicate; so even if music is communication in-and-of-itself, we use words to define it, explain it, sell it, share it. I myself trust what I hear.

So why, then, am I reading Simon Sweetman’s Blog On The Tracks — let alone adding “him” to the sidebar?

It’s not just our mutual love of Trini Lopez, or even vinyl. It’s because Sweetman makes me think thinky things.

In considering the value of music, records, and music collections — tangible objects which help keep music from being too temporal — there’s an elusive emotional component which is hard to put a price on… Yet it’s largely what makes music so important. It’s the power of the shared music experience.

The original joy of music was once a primarily shared experience. Folks gathered around fires, singing together — maybe a few slapping a thigh or smacking a rock or whatnot. But there was no level of “good enough to participate” in terms of pitch or talent or anything. And you can easily argue that even the lone hunter whistling or humming was recalling that tune from some earlier social feast when the group shared a melody.  There was no professional musician then. Those guys and gals would come later.

And when they did, music was still about a shared experience. Not just in the Sing Along With Mitch way either. If you don’t believe me, get thee to a concert sometime. Or even your local watering hole — it needn’t have a live band, just a jukebox will do — and you’ll hear people singing (somewhat) along with the song, or slapping their thigh or whatnot.  For that matter, how many times a week does your neighbor share their music selections with you via the unnecessarily loud volume? How about those cars which you hear approaching by the distorted vibrational boom of blasting base? In fact, folks today with their isolated musical experiences of earbuds will not be silent in their solos; they must share. Even if you cannot hear the song selection itself play, you are forced to hear your coworker scream-sing along. Or at least you think that’s what they are doing… You can’t actually identify the song, even if you can decipher the lyrics, but you’re pretty sure that’s “singing.”

The very fact that music with lyrics is the most popular type of music reinforces this notion of the power of shared musical experience; we want to participate by singing along.

The shared music experience is powerful. Congregations are built upon it. Relationships strengthened, and breakups survived, via those mixed tapes (which have not disappeared but merely moved to MP3 playlists). Even if the kids resist it at first, they come around to the power of shared musical experiences — even with their parents. That’s pretty compelling evidence.

Chinese Laundry Blues

More vintage sheet music of the racist variety. (Via.)

Chinese Laundry Blues was George Formby‘s signature tune, and the first of his “Mr Wu” songs.

Now Mr. Woo was a laundry man
In a shop with an old green door
He’d iron all day, your linen away
He really makes me sore
He lost his heart to a Chinese girl
And his laundry’s all gone wrong
All day he’ll flirt and starch your shirt
And that’s why I’m singing this song

Oh! Mr. Woo, what shall I do
I’m feeling kind of Limehouse Chinese laundry blue
This funny feeling keeps round me ceiling
Oh won’t you throw your sweetheart over, do.
My best silk shawl, now it won’t fit my little brother
And my new Sunday shirt has got a perforated rudder
Mr. Woo, what shall I do
I’m feeling kind of Limehouse Chinese laundry blue

Now Mr. Woo, he’s got a naughty eye that flickers
You ought to see it wobble when he’s ironing ladies blouses
Mr. Woo, what shall I do
I’m feeling kind of Limehouse Chinese laundry blue.

Now Mr. Woo, he’s got a laundry kind of tricky,
He starched my shirts and collars
But he never touched me waistcoat
Mr. Woo, what shall I do
I’m feeling kind of Limehouse Chinese laundry blue

(Instrumental Interlude)

Mr. Woo, what shall I do
I’m feeling kind of Limehouse Chinese laundry blue

Here’s George Formby singing the song, performing on stage for the last time on The Friday Show.

Spotting Memories In Retro Radio Ads

Still nostalgic thinking about the old days in Milwaukee radio, I’ve been hanging out consuming The Halcyon Daze (I prefer using the “classic” interface for navigation, in case you visit here, Scott Beddome — aka rock’s Scott “The Kid”). I’m particularly smitten with this post of 1984 TV commercials for radio — especially this classic WKTI spot:

Not only does it feature Reitman & Mueller, and the Booze Brothers — but that’s Warren Wiegratz on the keyboards!

Having stalked Oceans for years, I’d know. My Oceans following began in 1984 or so, when my biological sister’s foreign exchange “French sister,” Christine (Oh, so tempted to talk trash about Christine and her visit; but I will behave.), came to stay with us and she wanted to hear a jazz band. So my parents took her to Sardino’s. After an early crush on Duane Stuermer (somewhere around here I have signed ticket stubs from Duane, and, possibly, his brother Daryl), I eventually forged a friendship with drummer Ernie Adams — who’s dad, it turned out, worked with my mom. Small world. It became even cozier when Ernie and and dated; but I don’t like to kiss and tell. *wink*

Of Tailgators, Radio & Retail

This is a vintage WKTI Tailgator pinback from 1983, featuring Old Style beer. It’s mere 1.75 inches, but oh the size of the memories it unleashes…

If you’re of a certain age — and from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area — you remember this era of WKTI, Reitman & Mueller — and the uncomfortably named Jim “Lips” LaBelle.

Thinking of WKTI reminds me of the days our family ventured into the retail business. We bought into the Just Pants franchise, running the Just Pants store at Southridge Mall, then a Taubman Mall (Taubman married and divorced from Christie Brinkley, a rather too present icon of my life, helping me date nearly anything).

Our biggest Just Pants competitor was the County Seat — and Kohl’s department store (which bled we specialty jean stores to death by using Levi’s and Lee denim loss leader sales). Anyone else remember the days of denim walls so high, sales staff used ladders to reach the goods? That’s the pun behind this sexy Just Pants ad — it predates when we had our store (and I doubt we would have ran the ad ourselves, even if it had been in the creative pool of franchisee options.)

Anyway, in that era we not only often played WKTI in the store but we special ordered and custom hemmed Bob Reitman‘s black boot-cut Levi’s. Yeah, we were that cool.

Back then, we not only played whatever radio we wanted in the store, on July 13, 1985, we played the Live Aid broadcast in the store. I called in from the store to donate, getting myself an official Live Aid t-shirt. (They were out of my size, so I received a size small which wouldn’t have covered The Girls and so it has remained safely packed away all these years.)

Now, WKTI is WLWK, “Lake FM.” (Reitman’s still kicking it on air with his weekly show, It’s Alright, Ma, It’s Only Music.) And, ironically, Lake FM sounds almost like an auditory time capsule of the Reitman & Mueller days. I know, I’ve listened to the station when I’ve traveled home. Old habits die hard and my fingers still “dial” to the stations I recalled. Not that any of them are there anymore.  Lazer 103, QFM, LPX… All long gone. Apparently, after I moved from Wisconsin, the radio station marketplace went to hell. I’m not the only one who’s more than nostalgic; check out 93QFM: The Halcyon Daze for Milwaukee Rock Radio DJ Stories.

This got me thinking about the other radio stations & DJs… And the connections to retail.

Marilynn Mee, aka Jackpot Girl, part of Bob And Brian’s morning show on Lazer 103 (Mee may still be on WKLH?), was someone I met quite often when I was working at the Estee Lauder counter at Gimbels. Mee was pals with Pam, who worked Lancome. I envied Mee her wardrobe of all things.  But then, if you’ve ever had to wear the cosmetic girl garb, well, you’d understand it. Hard to feel 80-‘s glam when you’re wearing a turquoise smock-tent, no matter how fab your face and hair look. (Despite the fact that Marilynn and Pam partied with rock stars, I was the good girl who found herself knocked up; an entirely different subject, and I’ve digressed too much already.)

Because I’m all nostalgic about radio…

My first radio love was WOKY — and AM station that then played top 40 pop stuff. It came in loud and clear on my red ball Panasonic R-70 transistor radio.

I would turn the volume up and dance madly in the back yard. My most vivid memory is of cranking up Billy Preston’s Go Round in Circles and dancing on top of the old wooden picnic table. So not safe, I’m sure, even if you weren’t dancing yourself dizzy goin’ round in circles. Ahh, those were the days, though.

Image Credits: Vintage 1970 Just Pants ad via Ads-Things4Less. Panasonic photo via ebyauctions.

New Vintage Reviews #8

New Vintage Reviews Carnival

Welcome to the long overdue New Vintage Reviews Carnival, edition #8.

In this blog carnival, we review everything from classic film to vintage vinyl, from out-of-print books to games found in the basement — we hope to make the old seem shiny and new again!

If you’d like your review (or one you’ve read) to be included in the next edition, please submit it!  If you’d like to host, just contact me (Deanna.Pop.Tart@gmail.com) and put “New Vintage Reviews Host” in the subject line.

Books:

At A Penguin A Week, Karyn reviews The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley.

At { feuilleton }, a review of Joseph Balthazar Silvestre’s Alphabet-album, circa 1843, by John Coulthart.

My review of 1962’s Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans For Physical Fitness, here at Kitsch Slapped.

Film:

At Immortal Ephemera, a review of 1950’s Bright Leaf, starring Gary Cooper, Lauren Bacall, and Patricia Neal.

At Out Of The Past, a review of Garbo’s Ninotchka (1939).

Games:

At Steamboat Arabia, an illustrated review of The Game of Life aka Checkered Game of Life by Milton Brady — first sold in 1860.

Music:

At Scratch, Pop & Hiss, a review of James Luther Dickinson’s Dixie Fried (1972).

At Kitschy Kitschy Coo, my review of Toni Basil’s self-titled album.

At Silent Porn Star (obviously NWS), a review of the 1957 LP My Pussy Belongs To Daddy, which is silly and risque.

At The World’s Worst Records, Darryl W Bullock reviews A Soldier’s Plea by Bishop J M Smith and the Evangelist Choir.

My review of MTV’s High Priority, here at Kitsch Slapped.

And… This last one isn’t truly a review… But in the spirit of living with “old stuff,” surely the story of Phil Cirocco’s full restoration of a Novochord dating from 1940 fits in.  (Via Scratch, Pop & Hiss.)

The “Cherry Bomb” Bomb: An Ignorant Hetero Midwest Girl Reviews The Runaways Film

Cherie Currie and Joan Jett, back in the days when they were Runaways.

I don’t ever claim to be first with the reviews (I deal in old stuff, so why even rush to hop on the bandwagon with films about retro bands?), so you’ve likely already heard about, read reviews of, or even seen 2010’s The Runaways, starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. Anyway…

The Runaways is an incredible film. You should see it. My only real comments are really about my impressions of myself…

I wasn’t actually going to write any sort of a review, but then I stumbled onto Susie Bright’s commentary:

“What is this Little Debbie BULLSHIT?” I said. “This is a disgrace.”

Director Floria Sigismondi’s “pretty-in-glam” Runaways promo wasn’t the underground punk scene I remember from Los Angeles in the 1970’s.

And then I thought, “Hey, someone needs to speak for the rest of the un-cool kids here in the Midwest.”

You see, I didn’t know of The Runaways until after there was Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ I Love Rock and Roll.  That made it on the radar — and radio waves — in Midwest suburbia.  Heck, my mom was a HUGE fan of that song!  (Rock on, Mom!)

Before Bright’s commentary, I’d viewed the relationship between Jett and Currie as a more complicated version of the college lesbianism experience, mixed with drugs, celebrity-too-soon, and, sure, what looked in the film like a bit of opportunistic, if not predatory, moves on Jett’s part — which seemed more natural and less creepy than it sounds, really. And I don’t suppose Bright’s commentary really changes any of that. ( Or that my interpretation of the film is accurate; or even that the film was entirely explicit about many intimate aspects of their personal lives. It was, after all, a film; not a documentary.) But I feel it’s worth noting that Los Angeles is, and was, a million miles away from my Milwaukee suburban experience. Or even my imagining.

I was in gay bars in the 80’s. However, I’m sure they weren’t anything like the punk scenes you big coastal cities had. I’m sure even the leather and dungeon rooms would have seemed comical (at least by comparison at the time). But my point is that even though I wasn’t phobic, wasn’t ignorant, and therefore wasn’t shocked or put-off by anything in The Runaways that would have freaked my version of the world at that time, the sort of cultural context Bright feels was a necessary part of the story has me thinking… Maybe too much.

Yes, it may be accurate to say, as Bright does, that, “The Runaways band would not have happened, could not have been conceived, without the Underground Dyke Punk Groupie Slut culture that stretched from the San Fernando Valley to the bowels of Orange County,” but is it necessary to understand or appreciate the film, the story of (at least two of) the girls in the all-girls band?

Maybe it’s some sort of “ism” for a heterosexual chick to say it doesn’t matter; or at the very least, I’m being insensitive and dismissive to a movement. I certainly don’t mean to be.  Yet, I thought the film was about forging ahead against the odds, the isolating experience of individuals — of female individuals — and maybe all that cultural context wasn’t integral?  Then again, I’m always harping on the context of things, and certainly the counter-culture is as important in the story of where this band, these women, sat as the cultural norms I was carrying in my own head.

I just can’t decide.

Because fundamentally, I felt the tidal waves of emotion of abuse (self, drug, management, the industry, etc.), dreams gained and lost, friendships, trust, creativity, and being a woman with little respect through it all… And I’m not sure that being more precise in the documentation or depiction of what Bright described as the scene at the time is would have enhanced that ride. Though I guess I’ll never know because that film hasn’t been made.

At the end of The Runaways, I was left wanting to discover what others already had; the music of the band itself. (And the music each made with other bands and in solo careers — save, perhaps, for Lita Ford.  Hubby had a crush on her, so her discs are around… Plus, at the end of The Runways, I didn’t like her. Sure, I understood what motivated her snits; but ick.)   Though, what Susie Bright said now not only colors my thoughts about the film, but thoughts about the music as well.

Such is the plight of one who thinks too much, I suppose.

Can I continue to rock to Crimson & Clover without having any such thoughts of celebrating a “dyke rock’n’roll legacy” — and not have that be dismissive or exclusionary, not have it be a political or social statement at all? Yes, I think I can. So I think I can enjoy The Runaways as a film without any of that too.

I think that’s the question, and the answer.  For me.

I’ll tell you how that works as I listen to more of the music.  …Maybe watch the film again.

PS The end of the movie left you rather feeling like Cherie had relegated herself to, or was even happy with, some sort of boring mainstream life after the band split. Clearly the film focused on Jett. (Odd because the movie was based largely on Currie’s autobiography, Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runawayoriginally published in 1989; reprinted to coincide with the film.) But Currie’s life indeed went on.  Cherie also went on to play more music; to marry and divorce from Robert Hays (of Airplane! — what an odd pairing in my mind) — they even had a son, Jake Hays, who accompanied his mom and dad at The Runaways premier, and to rock the art as a chainsaw chick.

Cheap Thrills Thursday: Skeeter Davis Was A Lover (Not A Fighter)

Skeeter Davis fan club pinback, circa 1970s, printed with her photo and one of her song titles, I’m A Lover (Not A Fighter).

Here are the song lyrics:

I only married you for love dear I didn’t go for all of your dough
Now and then you say you love me but honey baby it didn’t show
I never seemed to please you lately cause all you ever do is complain
I’m sick of this fussin’ and fightin’ so baby let your loving woman explain.

I’m a lover not a fighter
I kinda like it that way
If you want a fightin’ partner
Go live with Cassius Clay.

— Instrumental —

A woman is soft and tender and willing to love her man
So why don’t you take advantage of the woman that you know I am
I don’t want to fuss and fight dear for the rest of my natural life
Stop treatin’ me like your enemy start treatin’ me like a wife.

I’m a lover not a fighter
I kinda like it that way
If you want a fightin’ partner
Go live with Cassius Clay.

I’m a lover not a fighter
I kinda like it that way
If you want a fightin’ partner
Go live with Cassius Clay.

I’m a lover not a fighter
I kinda like it that way
If you want a fightin’ partner
Go live with Cassius Clay…

MTV Cared About Your Breasts

Over a decade before Rethink Breast Cancer & MTV News Canada launched (to public outcry; video), and the Women Rock! Girls & Guitars breast cancer benefit too, MTV had the High Priority campaign against breast cancer.  (You can be cynical, and view MTV’s interest as self-interest — be it sexist preservation of the sweater-puppets which jiggled in videos, or a way to combat judgement that rock videos and music television would be the end of civilization, but whatever MTV’s motives, they’re active in PSAs.) The campaign began in 1984, but my thrift store find is the 1987 High Priority album.

(I say “find” because up until spotting for $1 at a thrift shop I was ignorant of this MTV effort. In my defense, we didn’t have cable; our family only managed to get a color TV in the late 70s or early 80s — but we were the first to have a microwave oven. My parents only got a video player after I moved out; and they just got cable two or three years ago. So that tells you something about our family values. And why, even if we had cable, I would have likely opted to read anyway instead.)

The profits from this album went to the AMC Cancer Research Center. The album cover featured unfinished, yet signed, art by Andy Warhol on the front; monthly self breast exam info and other cancer prevention tips on the back; and ten songs from leading female performing artists of the time:

Side One

Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves; Aretha Franklin with The Eurythmics
Manic Monday; Bangles
I Can’t Wait; Stevie Nicks
You Give Good Love; Whitney Houston
Time After Time; Cyndi Lauper

Side Two

Oh People; Patti Labelle
Le Bel Age; Pat Benatar
Nothing At All; Heart
I Feel The Magic; Belinda Carlisle
Slave To The Rhythm; Grace Jones
More Than Physical; Bananarama

While the High Priority Campaign holds no “remember when” significance, the songs and artists do.  So I’m lovin’ listening to it. Grrl power!!

Want it? Infrequently posted on eBay; less expensive at Amazon.

Magic Lantern Glass Slide: I Want To Sing Along!

This old glass movie slide was probably used in an old movie theatre at intermission or before the show started — when people would sing along with songs together rather than just collectively ignore the ads.

This antique glass slide by Maurice Workstel of New York is from a series called Song-Hit Slides and the lyrics shown are, “There are two sides to every story, But Nobody Listens to mine.”

Fabulous vintage fashions and transportation images; but I want to read more of the song! Anyone know more about the song itself?

Soul Train Lessons

Hubby and I enjoy the hell out of reruns of Soul Train.

Rediscovering lost musical loves and finding new-to-us artists to hunt for, like Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, is too awesome. The clothing and dances are feasts for the eyes. Don Cornelius holding the mic a hundred yards away because his deep booming voice doesn’t need a mic, but the show totally believes in the props, is a hoot. Spotting regular dancers and keeping up with yesterday’s lingo… It’s heaven.

But we also play this game when we watch reruns of Soul Train. The Soul Train Game is to guess the year of the episode before the credits roll and reveal the answer.

Amazingly, hubby always wins — even though he was an underage kid when most of these shows aired.

You’d think I’d have the advantage; not only was I buying plenty of records and tapes, but soon I was out dancing in (and dressing to kill for) the club scene too. But no, hubby, the stay-at-home-young-pup wins.

I’d like to think it’s a matter of me over-thinking my answer (I lived in the Midwest, so how far behind were we in the fashions?). But the simple fact is, he is smarter about this stuff. I’m greatly disadvantaged because I don’t think in terms of years; I view life and history as “chapters” and “episodes,” and am hard-pressed to name dates. His knowledge of technology and historical time lines beats out my real life experience — at least in this case.

(In fact, I always turn to him to help me date any antique or vintage collectible — even clothing — because he’s so damn good at this stuff.)

But I have another point to make, another story to tell, so I’ll move along…

The other day, hubby and I were joking about the Soul Train Game, and Destiny, the 13 year old, asked us what we were talking about. Have you ever tried to explain Soul Train and American Bandstand to a teenager of today?

She couldn’t fathom the idea of kids wanting to watch a bunch of kids dance on TV, let alone that those dancing kids had groupies and fan clubs of their own.

So how could we move on to the issues of race and lip-syncing — often with a microphone from the future, with a fake short cord that wobbled about. But we did. Because that’s the kind of context geeks hubby and I are.

Honestly, I think Des understood the race issues and the faux Microphone Of The Future better than the concept of turning on the television to watch a bunch of kids dance.

I’m sure getting over this speedbump of understanding is thwarted by her preference for Goth-kid-attire; she’s not interested in finding out the latest trends in fashion.

I’m sure the fact that learning dance steps is only relatable in terms of the uncoolness of line-dancing in phy-ed — or today’s shows which emphasis professional dancers, oft paired with celebrities. Destiny’s clearly not thinking she should bust a new move on the dance floor — or that watching teens dance on TV would be the way to learn. You’d Google it, right?

I guess the basic problem here is that these shows didn’t spoon-feed you the dance steps, or break down fashion into sponsored “must haves.”  You watched, like a voyeur, identified what you wanted, and figured it out. So to kids today, the concept of watching teens dance on television is like watching a party through a window — only you’re allowed to go, so where’s the thrill?

And so I didn’t even try to get into Solid Gold or the Solid Gold dancers.

Even after she watched Soul Train with us (right after a Ru Paul’s Drag Race episode) it didn’t seem to make sense; she made it through the hour of Ru Paul, but only 20 minutes of Soul Train.

Explaining teenage dance shows to kids today is like explaining the joys of watching fuzzy YouTube clips of a kid & his light saber dancing to Star Wars to the kids of yesteryear.

Clap(ton) On, Clap(ton) Off

When I saw Eric Clapton hawking the new Fender Limited Edition of T-Mobile’s myTouch 3G I had a thought — well, actually, I had two thoughts. The first one was, “Oh my gawd, when did Clapton get so old?” But that one just sent me on the how-old-am-I? spiral of denial, augmented by defensive tirades and rationalizations regarding ageism. And those serve no purpose, really.

So my real thoughts were about the collectibility of cell phones.

It’s a pet peeve of mine to see things mass produced and mass marketed as “Limited Edition Collectibles.” It’s not only rather meaningless from a numbers point of view, but when it comes to collectibles, there’s gotta be something else besides words printed on a box or spoken by celebrities to drive collectors.

But then I started thinking about how ephemeral cell phones really are…

On average, we each discard one cell phone a year. If we are nice, we donate our used ones to shelters, but most of us — too many of us — just toss them into the trash like yesterday’s newspaper, thinking they are just as obsolete. (Yes, the “technology advances,” but let’s not overlook the role of throw-away consumerism plays in the competitive world of selling cell phones and their plans.)

All of this means that cell phones are as ephemeral as newspapers.

Yet newspapers are collectible. So maybe cell phones will be too. Other old phones are…

While the Limited Edition Fender myTouch 3G features the beauty of a Fender’s sunburst-finish, I doubt this, or Clapton’s endorsement, will be what might make this phone collectible. What will drive its collectibility is what drives most any other item’s collectibility: nostalgia.

If people are motivated to purchase the Fender myTouch, they’ll need to use it in order to create memories. They’ll need to spy one 20-30 years from now and exclaim, “Oh, I had one of those!” and instantly be transported back to those days…

Because while 20-30 years from now, we’ll be receiving calls like Harry Solomon — “Incoming message from the Big Giant Head!” — and cell phones will be as old fashioned as rotary dials, cords, and asking Sarah to connect us to someone in Mayberry, we’ll want the phones we once had. Not necessarily the ones that looked like pretty wooden iconic guitars.

Though, by that time, guitars of any sort may also be a thing of the past too. So who the hell knows?

We Had Joy, We Had Fun, We had Seasons In The Sun…

I’ve been listening a lot to the cable music stations — most recently to the 70’s station. Tonight, Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks came on and I found myself singing along as I had in my childhood:

We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun
‘Til the cops came along and shot us in our buns.

At this point hubby (10 years my junior, remember, and so perhaps not even born at the time I was singing along to the AM radio), turns around and calls me an affectionate slur for a mental handicap.

“Come on,” I laugh, “I was like 10 years old when this song came out.”

And I continue to sing along with the song — growing happier and louder with each opportunity to sing my childhood recollections of the verse. I was seriously clapping with glee by the end of the song. Perverse? Maybe. But it was thrilling to relive my 10 year actions and enthusiasm.

Blaming my age might seem like a weak defense, but honestly, little kid weirdness can often be attributed to very real — and very grown-up — things.

Streaking was a big thing then (at least pop culture reference wise; I never knew anyone then who had done so) and as kids, uncomfortable with the notion of naked adults, we made jokes about it. Continually.

And the song, Seasons In The Sun, was terribly depressing; it reeked of death. Another thing kids would be terribly uncomfortable with.

So we dealt with our anxieties via the mutilation (further mutilation?) of the song.

Come to think of it, so many 70’s songs were about death…

There was Wildfire and Brandy, of course (the latter of which may not have explicitly about death, but certainly there was loss). Helen Reddy’s Angie Baby used to scare the crap out of me (that swirling noise made me dizzy and is somehow mythologically tied to my experience with the floor dropping in Disney’s Haunted Mansion) — second only to Eleanor Rigby, which, with the popularity of Wings, was played far too often as far as I was concerned. (Wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door?! I’m old enough to understand the lyrics better now, but that only creeps me out more.)

However, in terms of raw exploitation and manipulation of emotion, there were even worse offenders.

Like Rocky (“Rocky I’ve never had a baby before, don’t know if I can do it…”) by Austin Roberts. In my mind, Rocky was from the made for TV movie, Sunshine, which was based on the real life story of Jacquelyn Marie “Lyn” Helton, a young woman who while dying journaled for her young daughter so that she’d remember her (unbearably more than ironic if this post is to be believed).

I recently discovered that Rocky was not from that film when we found the record at a thrift shoppe (and yes, I snatched it up). I don’t think I ever saw the Sunshine movie, or the television series which followed…

But maybe I did. In my mind, it was all twisted up with my Sunshine Family dolls. Dolls who suffered greatly, despite their cheerful happy hippy faces. One parent often died… Of course, it could have been worse for the children after I read Flowers In The Attic (the baby boy obviously would have been named Cory).

All of this is so depressing.

The only way to really cleanse from this is to sing along with Seasons In The Sun — my way. Go ahead and try it, you’ll understand why we sang it this way as kids.

We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun
‘Til the cops came along and shot us in our buns.

#MusicMonday Zazzle Gifts Edition

Retro audio themed gifts to kitsch-slap your vintage vinyl and retro cassette tape (and 8-track) lovin’ friends — even your disco dancin’ pals.

Extinct shirt
Extinct by bluelucy
Many tee designs available at zazzle

Whatjamacallit Wednesday: Myrtle The Turtle

My mother is the one who started it, this tradition of making up silly songs to sing to your kids. I’ve twisted it onto singing songs about my children, usually silly rhymes sung to melodies from television themes songs — like Hunter’s Boo-Bear, Meet The Boo-Bear based on The Flinstones.The kids used to love it, but then they grew older and not-so-much… I must now wait for them to grow old enough to appreciate them again.

One of Allie’s favorites was grandma’s Myrtle The Turtle who would “swim any hurdle — just to be near her Allie.” So when I found this Myrtle The Turtle, a story by Ernestine Cobern Beyer (illustrations by Mildred Gatlin Weber), inside the July 1964 issue of Wee Wisdom, I instantly thought of Allie and began singing the song. Thank goodness I was home alone flipping through the pages & singing, or… Well, let’s just say that if the kids who know the songs and presumably love me no longer can rise above my crazy singing to enjoy the special memories created by such silly songs, how can I expect the general public to?

myrtle-the-turtle
myrtle-the-turtle-2

My mom bought me this vintage copy of Wee Wisdom when we were out antiquing together because she know how much I love Great Danes. Now that I’ve found Myrtle in here, I wonder if she’ll want it back? …I myself am tempted to remove the Myrtle pages (ack!) and frame them for Allie for Christmas. Better yet, just make really high quality scans, print two great copies and frame a set for each of them… (If either one of them pop in here, all bets — and gifts — are off.)

wee-wisdom-july-1964

Cheap Thrills Thursday: Lessons In Literacy With Strawberry Shortcake

Let’s see… When this Kid Stuff Records book (copyright 1980) & record (copyright 1981) set of Strawberry Shortcake’s Day in the Country came out, I would have been 16 or so, which naturally explains why I never owned any Strawberry Shortcake stuff back in her heyday. Why the stuff seems to gravitate towards me in some sort of kitschy retro-grade, is a complete other issue — like Smurfs, for which I have no sense of nostalgia either, I do not yet know why.

strawberry-shortcake-day-in-the-country-record-book

Anywho, I grabbed this SEE the pictures HEAR the story READ the book set for about a buck, as I recall, making it another cheap thrill.

But, like most things I touch, it provokes a few questions…

Why were the pages merely black & white pictures? Were you also supposed to COLOR the illustrations?

strawberry-shortcake-record

More profoundly, I wonder what’s become of the progression of these kids’ books… When my eldest was little, the book & record sets had morphed to book & tape cassette sets, then to those (incredibly annoying) books with the computer chips that made noises (whenever you saw the icons in the text, you pressed the corresponding button for an audio clip). And now, the closest things I’ve seen are the video games which mainly use “pens” to read the words or stories (or, sometimes, have buttons much like those electronic books).

If the concept was based on the philosophy that being read to encourages children to become readers (and these book & audio sets were to assist parents who, for whatever reason, had no time to read to their children), then I think that’s been lost along the way. Lost with the interactivity — broken down into amusing “fun” and sold as “learning” yet.

As Gabriel Zaid (and translater Natasha Wimmer) so eloquently & concisely described in So Many Books, reading is a very complicated learned process involving the interpretation & integration of units of complex meaning into a cohesive whole. This is why listening to stories is so powerful — it is more natural, more easily intellectually and even emotionally digested. But once hooked on stories, a person wants to have the independence to select & enjoy on their own; they develop the love of reading.

So why add further fragmentation to the process? Why break reading down into even more chunks, such as distracting gimmicks of auditory bells & whistles? Why add other activities to it, such as pushing buttons, touching screens, using wands — removing one’s focus not only from the story as a whole but the page itself?

talking-story-book-record-cover-bk

Cheap Thrills Thursday: The Joys Of TCM, Bathing Beauty Edition

I’m not about to go all mathy on yer arse, but in a world of streaming video, on-demand downloadable rentals, home delivery rentals (even without fees!) TCM, part of basic cable, which is bundled with my cable internet connection, is one of the greatest cheap thrills I can get.

Films shown uninterrupted and commercial free, save for a few sponsored reminders to things you probably want anyway (like the TCM Now Playing Guide) — it’s the way TV ought to be. (And here is where I will insert my continual plea that TV return to its original format of corporate sponsored programs, with mentions at the top & bottom of the hour, as opposed to junky ads & product placements — which, in the case of the former, only distract & cause me to leave the room and, in the latter, go unnoticed by me anyway.)

Anyway, TCM is an incredible value.

robert-osborne-bobbleheadAlong with Robert Osborne and, now, Ben Mankiewicz‘s informative tidbits, you get to watch films you adore and see films you’ve never seen — including those that aren’t available anywhere else & those that you’ve avoided before because of crappy trailers & promotions that made you think they were crap. Now, thanks to TCM, you can watch them and either fall in love or be glad you didn’t waste money on a rental, download, or whathaveyou.

All of this brings me to the case in point: Last night’s viewing of Bathing Beauty.

As a kid, I’d never seen the Esther Williams films — but I saw the various parodies & heard the not-so-flattering commentary about the kitsch of synchronized swimming and pageantry of the old dated swimming movies. Ditto my kids, who aren’t interested in humoring me enough to let me rent one for movie night. But thanks to TCM, I got to watch Bathing Beauty last night.

The film is as sweet & simple as you’d expect a film from the 1940’s to be; romance and humor, with Red Skelton a complete joy as the young man willing to do anything — even be the only (tortured for demerits, forced to crossdress) male at an all girl’s school — to get his beloved back.

Unexpected were the lengthy scenes of musical performances from Harry James and his orchestra, Xavier Cugat, & others in traditional, glamorous nightclub settings; vicarious home front war living for those who couldn’t afford evenings out.

Now I loves me some Cugat, but the pee-my-pants-with-delight moment was a scene early on in the film, when the campus girls force (by flattery & girlie whining) one of the music instructors to play some forbidden music…

Here Ethel Smith plays the organ — note the lavish visual of her dainty feet, in pretty pumps, skimming along the peddles (Foot fetishists, beware! I’m not responsible for what this does to you!)

After that warm up, Smith consents to show the kiddies — ooops! I mean the girls — more of her chops on the electric organ, playing her theme song Tico Tico.

Ahh, a fantastic orgasmic ode to the organ — and fashion (love her ensemble!). But if that’s not incentive enough to watch Bathing Beauty &/or TCM, how about Skelton as a ballerina?

Seriously, all of this is so fantastic, I was nearly exhausted by the time we go to the results of all the cumulative efforts — the big swimming pageant. Which was as over-the-top as the parody legends proclaimed. Oh well, I have to leave you with something to look forward to.