Archive for June, 2011

Five Songs, Part 35

June 24, 2011

Welcome to the final Five Songs of June.

Well, the first song, from Bobby Goldsboro from 1973, which takes place on the last day of June, came up in a friend’s discussion on her Facebook wall last week. And it’ll probably be a post at some point about music — about all those songs from the quaint, innocent ’70s that weren’t quite so innocent, and made it to top-40 radio. Back then, the song was written off the heels of the hit film “Summer of ’42,” but today we’d probably call it statutory rape.

As for two of the other songs: I was prompted to put up “Summertime’s Calling Me” by The Catalinas as a nod to my WPKN colleague Chris Frantz (of Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club), who devoted his show today to Carolinas beach music. I wasn’t up in time to hear the show, but I’m glad he chose to shine the light on beach music.

Guess I’m Dumb” comes in response to Glen Campbell’s sad revelation this week that he has Alzheimer’s. (And God, no — this has nothing to do with his condition! I just love this song. It just hit me that I could be misconstrued here.) This version came from a 1965 appearance on “Shindig!” (There’s also one of him lip-syncing the song on “Shivaree,” but the sound quality isn’t as good.) The song was written by Brian Wilson (with Russ Titelman) — and, as younger music fans might not know, Glen replaced Brian on bass in early ’65 on The Beach Boys’ first tour after Brian’s nervous breakdown.

The other two are random memory grabs from the outer brain.

And, oh hell, since there are no rules here: I know for sure Chris played this song — a 1994 summit meeting of the now-departed icons of punk and beach music — so a sixth song has just been added at the last minute. Happy weekend:

Summer (The First Time) — Bobby Goldsboro

Summertime’s Calling Me — The Catalinas

Guess I’m Dumb — Glen Campbell

We Are 138 — The Misfits

Trapped in a Love Affair — Brenda Holloway

Bonus Last-Second Sixth Fifth Song: Rockaway Beach — The Godchildren of Soul featuring Joey Ramone & General Johnson

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NEW HAVEN REGISTER ARCHIVES: Legendary saxophonist Clarence Clemons turns 62 Sunday. But the two nights before, he’ll show the Mohegan Sun crowd HE’S STILL A YOUNG MAN

June 19, 2011

This interview with Clarence Clemons ran as the cover story of the New Haven Register’s Weekend section Friday, Jan. 9, 2004, two days before his 62nd birthday; it was a preview of shows by his own band, Clarence Clemons’ Temple of Soul, that night and the next at Mohegan Sun Casino’s Wolf Den.

Anyone who puts out a newspaper’s entertainment section, as I did for 11 1/2 years, cringes around the holidays, since the two weeks of January after the holidays are usually the deadest time of the year for events, and finding people for interviews during the holiday season? Fuggedaboutit! But as serendipity would have it, the Big Man was coming to one of Connecticut’s two monstrous casinos (free shows, at that), the editor of the paper was a bigger Springsteen fan than I was, and I was able to line up something far enough ahead of time.

Clarence called from his home in Florida and, true to what I suspected and hoped, he was a nice guy. It wasn’t an earth-shattering interview, but it was pleasant, a good way to start the year. (My general experience as a music writer: The people who had the most reason to have an ego had the least egos, and vice versa.) I chose to focus on him, rather than stray into E Street territory — he had his own material, I didn’t quite know what I could add to the Bruce dialogue at that point, and besides, how many people actually had ever heard what Clarence had to say?

As it turned out, it was, I believe, my last big music interview out of hundreds I did for the Register, starting in September 1992. Minutes after I put the section to bed that Thursday night, as the wind whipped in the adjacent courtyard in 9-degree weather, the features editor of The Fresno Bee called me, from the 72-and-sunny San Joaquin Valley, to ask if I was still interested in an assistant features editor job. Two-and-a-half months later, I was in California — and on, unknowingly, to the adventure of my life.

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Tonight in Jungleland (Clarence Clemons, 1942-2011)

June 18, 2011

Anyone who knows or cares about music knows already knows Clarence Clemons passed about 5 1/2 hours ago. And millions of us will wax rhapsodic about the greatest rock’n’roll saxophonist and sideman of all in the coming hours and day or two, and what he meant to us as music fans.

I won’t add to the pollution.  Anything I’d say would be as woefully inadequate as my sax playing, and I never picked up the instrument in my life. (Though later on, I’ll post the interview I did with him for the New Haven Register in January 2004.)

But I’ll leave you three clips of The Big Man. The first is from one of The E Street Band’s most legendary performances — the Capitol Theatre, Passaic, N.J., Sept. 19, 1978, playing my favorite song from high school, “Jungleland,” the song that made me a Bruce fan. The second is Lady Gaga’s new video, “The Edge of Glory,” accompanied by Clarence. The last is from April 1 in Miami — the national anthem at the Florida Marlins’ season-opener against the Mets. Rest easy, Big Man …

Five Songs, Part 34

June 17, 2011

Well, after The Mother of All Five Songs to mark 50 misspent years, Five returns to its usual manageable self this week.

It’s not quite summer yet, but after a couple months of temps mostly in the 70s, and maybe a couple of 80s here and there, summer finally arrived in Fresno a month late — in the 90s most of the week. (And I’d like to thank my East Coast friends for babysitting our heat last week …) So I have no qualms with opening summer a little early. And that includes my two favorite bands — The Fleshtones and The Reducers — playing Saturday night at Cafe Nine back in New Haven and making me feel incredibly homesick.

(The ‘shtones’ “American Beat ’84,” by the way, is the national anthem to my radio shows on WPKN. They remade their very first single (from ’78) as the theme to Tom Hanks’ first starring film — “Bachelor Party,” where he shared top billing with Tawny Kitaen and Adrian Zmed. Please rise …)

Anyway, have fun, and happy summer a couple days early:

It’s OK — The Beach Boys

Wild Summer Nights (original 1980 version) — Beaver Brown

Makin’ With the Magilla — From “Magilla Gorilla”

Fistfight at the Beach — The Reducers

American Beat ’84 — The Fleshtones

Five Songs, Part 33 (The Mother of All Five Songs)

June 10, 2011

Well, this was supposed to have gone up in time for my 50th birthday last weekend. But here you go, a week late — The Mother of All Five Songs, if you will. After all, you only turn 50 once. (Any surprise I gravitated toward radio and music journalism after seeing this jukebox?)

And befitting how many years I’ve been here, this is a loooong list, weeks’ worth of jukebox listening — starting with the first ones, when I was 2 1/2 years old and living in an apartment in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn:

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Follow-up: A self-outing

June 8, 2011

Below the fold, Page 1, New Haven Register, June 2, 2011. Funny … I don’t recognize the guy below me.

Life’s been a whirlwind these past few days, between a news story that unexpectedly went viral and a 50th birthday celebration that included one of my dearest friends flying in from New Haven and walking in on my party and damn near giving me a heart attack.

Glad I looked better in print than on video.

But now that the dust has stopped swirling — the story has long since cycled out, I put my friend back on the plane this morning and my life has returned to its usual frustrating, soul-rending search for a job — I can get on with the journalistic tradition of the follow-up.

When last I left this blog, I was deliberating whether to address a New Haven Register reader comment on a story that ran Memorial Day. I had been quoted in a piece about New Haven parking meters, and the reader took the paper to task for referring to me as “she.” After all, the reader, having seen my ugly mug in my music column for 11 1/2 years as the paper’s entertainment editor/music writer, had no way of knowing about my gender trip.

But how do I address it? Do I offer a public correction and essentially self-out to a much wider audience than my friends, family and WPKN listeners? And is it necessary? I’m not a quasi-public figure back home in Connecticut anymore, and is it really just a “look at me!” moment? If I said nothing, my ex-paper and ex-colleagues would unfairly look bad for doing the right thing.

Well, first thing I did was go back to bed. I slept on it, literally. Then I responded. And even if I didn’t have a milestone birthday, it would’ve been a heady past few days. (more…)