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Well, after being rudely technically interrupted for a week — software nightmares caused me to shut down the planned April 19 show — Franorama 2.0 returned to Cygnus Radio this past Friday and picked up where I was left off.
I started the show with the opening set I planned for the week before, when it was more topical — save for the first four songs, an overstuffed set of Boston tunes. (And by that, I don’t mean the band Boston — I mean the land of my esteemed enemies, the Sawx. I mean Boston area-based musicians, with the glaring exception being the most famous song about Boston ever recorded by a band from L.A.)
And in the midst of the first set, the news feed on the Book of Faces was suddenly ablaze with the news of death earlier in the morning of George Jones. What I couldn’t get was all the sadness going around. I mean, the guy was 81, and let’s face it — this man, whose every obituary included a more-than-passing reference hi his legendary drinking, should have been dead 30, 40 years ago. Hell, his longevity was even more incredible than his career!
What is, indeed, sad is that one of the truly great and no-bullshit voices in American music — not to mention, in his younger days, the greatest flattop — is gone. Leaving “country” more and more in the hands of prepackaged blonde tarts, and twerps who play bad “classic” “rawk” and pass it off as “country” by wearing a cowboy hat or a Larry the Cable Guy-style baseball hat.
Anyway, these are the moments when you realize that your backup hard drive didn’t quite capture every song from your old laptop. And that included almost everything of George’s. So I played the only two songs I had: “Rock It,” his 1956 rockabilly single for Starday Records under the alias Thumper Jones; and his 1981 duet with Elvis Costello on “Stranger in the House” that pretty much redefined Elvis’ career in the public eye.
And I had a couple of tributes in store. One, left over from the previous week, was to Scott Miller, the former frontman for ’80s Bay Area alt-pop group Game Theory, who died at 53. “Here It Is Tomorrow,” from his 1986 album The Big Game Chronicles, was one of the best songs of the whole ’80s. And the group, which broke up in ’89, was set to reunite and record a new album later this year. Another was a soul cover you probably never heard by Ella Fitzgerald, the day after what would have been her 96th birthday. And two more passings in the final set: the sultry and tough Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlett, who finally lost her twin battles with breast cancer and MS last week at 53; and one I found out about from March: Buddy McRae, the last surviving member of The Chords, of “Sh-Boom” fame.
Other tidbits from the show:
- Songs for the living. Three acts who performed at Cafe Nine. Quintron, from New Orleans, played in the middle of the week before, and was a revelation. A wacky mix of a puppet show, a DJ and a young man, Quintron, who cranks out a Hammond B-3 sound way beyond his years and in ways that weren’t conceivable back in the day. And joined by a lovely blonde singer named Miss Pussycat. A night and a half before my show, The Woggles (from Atlanta, except, these days. for singer Manfred Jones, who lives in L.A. and hosts a show on Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel on Sirius XM) returned for their second show since I’ve been home. How Manfred stays that limber and manic (he has to be my age) is beyond me. I played something from their latest album, The Big Beat. And the night after my radio show, one of my favorite music people, the lovely fiddler/pop singer/songwriter Deni Bonet played, so I played four tunes from her new album, It’s All Good.
- The name remains the same. Two instances where I played songs back to back with the same title but which were totally different. First, The Rascals (who not only have buried their hatchets after all these years, but are currently on Broadway, to boot), with one of my favorite songs of the many songs of theirs I like, “A Girl Like You,” followed by Edwyn Collins’ tune, the best song of the ’90s, far as I’m concerned. Then I segued out of Deni’s “Cynical Girl” into Marshall Crenshaw’s song of the fame name from his classic debut disc.
Anyway, that’s all. Catch you this Friday. I hope.