Monthly Archives: January 2013

My soul went through the ceiling

Well, somebody’s gotta put it out here in the blogosphere, even though no less than the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have referenced it today.

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“Dear Abby,” John Prine, from “Sweet Revenge,” 1973. Out of print but available digitally. Recorded live at the State University of New York in New Paltz, New York.

It’s a great song from a fine record, one I’ve had forever. This is as good a time as any to pull it out and listen to it again.

“Sweet Revenge” is one of those records from a time when I didn’t have many. I played each one over and over. All I need do is look at that blue-framed jacket and all those songs come rushing back.

So let’s enjoy one more from John Prine, the great Chicago folk singer.

“Please Don’t Bury Me,” also from “Sweet Revenge,” 1973. Also available digitally.

This is one of the songs I’d like played at my funeral, although I sure would like to see everyone’s reaction to that. (That’s the late, great Steve Goodman on acoustic guitar. He was Prine’s best friend, and he plays electric or acoustic guitar on most of the cuts on this record.)

My friend Pat Houlihan introduced me to John Prine in the mid-’70s. Pat was a good-natured hippie folk singer with long, curly hair. He played solo gigs on the tiny stage at The Office, an old neighborhood bar next to the downtown fire station in my hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin.

Now living in New Mexico and still performing, Pat recalls those nights at The Office as “some of my seminal solo gigs.” Those nights also were my first forays into live music in a club. Our tiny table full of beer glasses, we eagerly waited for the John Prine songs to turn up in Pat’s sets.

These John Prine songs.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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The new year finally arrives

While working out on New Year’s Day, this was the first song to pop up on the iPod in 2013.

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“This Time It’s For Real,” Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, from “This Time It’s For Real,” 1977. The album is out of print, but the song is available digitally.

This Jersey R&B stormer, written by Steve Van Zandt, was a great way to get the new year started. Love all those horns.

I should write that, I thought that day. But as so often happens, other stuff comes up and I didn’t write about it right away.

But now that the Packers’ season is over, so is our long grind at work. It comes with the territory when you’re part of the news biz in Green Bay, of course.

Many are disappointed after last night’s game. Me? Not so much. Feels a little like New Year’s Day all over again.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Strange how things turn out

They were older guys who liked hassling younger kids for no apparent reason. Bullies, I guess.

You really couldn’t complain about them. To whom? Their parents? No way. Your parents? They’d just tell you to stay away from the guy. You just had to get a little tougher and perhaps a little smarter.

Maybe all they wanted to do was get into your head. If so, they succeeded. They’re still in there, four of them, 40 years on.

Two of these guys were bad news from the neighborhood. Hot-headed, unpredictable “stay off my property” types. The other two were from school. One of them stole my wallet. The other guy walked up to me one day, eyed up the star on my sweatshirt and punched me right smack in the middle of the chest.

You just never know what’s going on with someone, what’s in their head, what’s going on at home. So I took my parents’ advice and steered clear of those guys. Eventually, everyone went on with their lives.

Yet quite by happenstance, I know the rest of the story for all four of those guys.

The cat who punched me in the chest turned out to be a real nice guy. He’s dead.

The neighborhood guys turned out to be blue-collar workers and good family men. They’re dead, too. One of them, just the other day.

The guy who stole my wallet is the only one left, as far as I know. Which is about the nicest thing that can be said about him. This gent has lots of experience with the Wisconsin court system.

You wouldn’t have wished any of that on any of them in a million years.

Peace, out.

isaachayes 3toughguys OST

“Title Theme (from ‘Three Tough Guys’),” Isaac Hayes, from “Tough Guys,” 1974. It’s out of print as such, but is available on this double CD with the soundtracks from “Three Tough Guys” and “Truck Turner,” a pair of 1974 films starring Hayes and featuring music by him. Also available digitally.

I don’t have this record. My copy of “Title Theme” came off the Oxford American 10th anniversary music sampler, which was a 2-CD set released in 2008 featuring music by Southern artists. This is from the Past Masters CD.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Gone in threes: 2012

They say celebrities and prominent people go in threes. Here again is proof.

Gone in 2012 …

Badasses: Tom Davis (“Saturday Night Live” writer), Willard Metscher (my 6th-grade teacher), Mike Wallace (“60 Minutes”).

Bad guys: Charles Colson (Watergate), Henry Hill (mob informant whose story became “Goodfellas”), Richard Lynch (he only played them).

Bass players: Bob Babbitt (Funk Brothers), Lee Dorman (Iron Butterfly), Donald “Duck” Dunn (Booker T. and the M.G.’s).

Can we all get along? Rodney King (L.A. police beating victim), George McGovern (antiwar presidential candidate), Russell Means (American Indian activist).

Chicago writers: Lacy J. Banks (sports), Bill Jauss (sports and “The Sportswriters” TV show, the guy in the rainbow suspenders), Lynn Van Matre (music).

Comics legends: Jean Giraud (Moebius), Joe Kubert (Sgt. Rock), Sheldon Moldoff (Batman, though long uncredited).

Country legends: Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Kitty Wells.

Divas: Fontella Bass, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer.

Drive, he said: “Broadway Bob” Metzler (Great Lakes Dragaway … Union Grove, Wisconsin!!!), Ferdinand Alexander Porsche (911), Carroll Shelby (Daytona, Cobra).

Drummers: Tom Ardolino (NRBQ), Ed Cassidy (Spirit), Levon Helm (The Band).

Familiar faces: Charles Durning, Ben Gazzara, William Windom.

Farewell, Kotter: Dennis Bowen (Todd Ludlow), Robert Hegyes (Epstein), Ron Palillo (Horshack).

Farewell, Mayberry: Doug Dillard, Andy Griffith, George Lindsey.

Guitar slingers: Ronnie Montrose (Montrose), Skip Pitts (“Theme From Shaft” and more), Billy Strange (L.A. session legend).

Inventive: Jim Marshall (Marshall amps), William Staub (in-home treadmills), Norman Joseph Woodland (bar codes).

John Wayne’s co-stars: R.G. Armstrong (“El Dorado”), Harry Carey Jr. (11 films from “Red River” to “Cahill U.S. Marshal”), Larry Hagman (“In Harm’s Way”).

Keyboard players: Dave Brubeck, Jon Lord (Deep Purple), Mike Melvoin (L.A. session legend).

Larger than life: Ben Davidson (Oakland Raiders and Miller Lite ads), Alex Karras (Detroit Lions and “Blazing Saddles”), Rick Majerus (Wisconsin basketball icon).

Life in a song: Hal David, Marvin Hamlisch, Robert B. Sherman (“The Jungle Book”).

MC 3: Dick Clark (“American Bandstand”), Don Cornelius (“Soul Train”), Richard Dawson (“Family Feud”).

Monkee business: Dee Caruso (writer), Norm Grabowski (played a biker in a 1967 “Monkees” episode; also built Kookie’s hot rod for “77 Sunset Strip”) and of course, Davy Jones.

Mystery men: R.B. Greaves, Joe South, Bob Welch.

Sax players: Jimmy Castor (Jimmy Castor Bunch), Greg Ham (Men At Work), Andrew Love (Memphis Horns).

Seventies TV icons: Chad Everett (“Medical Center”), Sherman Hemsley (“The Jeffersons”), Jack Klugman (“The Odd Couple”).

Sex appeal: Helen Gurley Brown (Cosmopolitan), Phyllis Diller (comedy icon), Sylvia Kristel (“Emmanuelle”).

Showstoppers: Richard Adler (“Pajama Game,” “Damn Yankees” and produced the 1962 bash at which Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to JFK), Bob Anderson (“Star Wars” light saber fight choreographer), Eugene Polley (Zenith Flash-Matic, first wireless TV remote).

Sixties TV icons: Ernest Borgnine (“McHale’s Navy”), Don Grady (“My Three Sons”), Andy Williams.

Soul brothers: Chuck Brown (the Godfather of Go-Go), Jimmy Ellis (Trammps), Major Harris (Delfonics).

Soul sisters: Etta James, Kathi McDonald (backup singer for Ike and Tina Turner, Betty Davis), Marva Whitney.

Sports as art: LeRoy Neiman (painter), Steve Sabol (NFL Films, with music by the great Sam Spence), Norman Sas (invented electric football),

Stylin’: Bernard Lansky (Memphis clothier who dressed Elvis in the ’50s), Nolan Miller (long before “Dynasty,” he put Tina Louise into Ginger’s gown), Vidal Sassoon.

The Bucks stop here: “Bullet” Bob Boozer, Pat “The Roadblock” Cummings, Jim Fitzgerald (no nickname; he owned the team).

That voice: Dick Beals (Speedy Alka-Seltzer), Chris Economaki (ABC racing announcer), Jim Irwin (Wisconsin sportscasting icon).

The final frontier, imagined: Ray Bradbury, Ralph McQuarrie (“Star Wars” designer), Carlo Rambaldi (“Alien,” “E.T.” special effects).

The final frontier, lived: Neil Armstrong, Roger Boisjoly (engineer who warned of shuttle O-ring problem), Sally Ride.

Trailblazers: Johnny Otis (R&B), Ravi Shankar (Indian music), Adam Yauch (hip hop).

Trivia bonus: Already mentioned in other contexts, but what makes this a group of three? Ernest Borgnine, Dick Clark, Skip Pitts.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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