Posts Tagged ‘Marvin Gaye’

Cygnus Radio playlist 6/14/13: The rain, Newtown and other things

June 17, 2013

Franorama 2.0 airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT Fridays (7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and forever and ever in the archives. To listen to the archived link to this and all other Cygnus shows, click here.

Last Friday’s episode of Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio revolved around three spheres

The Rain. It had rained heavily the two previous days, and Friday began just as dark and wet until the sky cleared considerably just around lunchtime. In fact, as I sat here in the cellar home studio, I would leave the laptop aside every half-hour or so and turn on the wet-vac and suck another buckets of water from the carpet near the cellar door. (Yes, multitasking.)

The spring here in Connecticut has been full of weather stops-starts like this, with intermittent storms and sharp temperature drops

Anyway, I had a lot more songs about rain , both literally and metaphorically, than I realized, but I kept it to two sets’ worth. Notables: ending one set with the Dead (“Box of Rain”) and beginning the next with the Dead, from their earliest recording session as The Warlocks (“Early Morning Rain”). And, of course, I had to play The Cowsills.

Sandy Hook SchoolNewtown. It was six months to the very hour — also on a Friday morning — that the news crawls on local TVs began running the news that there were reports of a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown. And as morning progressed into lunchtime into afternoon into mourning, the disbelief that usually goes with such horrific events — and Newtown, as well as most of western Connecticut really IS a sleepy town where little ever happens — was countered by the wretched enormity of what had happened.

And living a half-hour away, and having the privilege of having a microphone on this milestone day — and having known a couple whose daughter was one of the murdered teachers — I couldn’t let the day pass unnoticed. But how to commemorate it? The TV stations were gonna milk it for all they could — the maudlin piano chords, the “Tragedy at Sandy Hook” graphics, all of which I find pretty damn offensive.

I didn’t want to get bogged down in the politics of it, but I read aloud the eloquent-but-angry op-ed piece in the morning;s Newtown Bee. It came from Tucson — from Gabby Giffords and Roxanna Green. (Green’s young daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was killed in the shooting that critically wounded Giffords.) The words speak for themselves.

I don’t have a lot of kid-related music. But I do have parts of They Might Be Giants’ album NO! It was a children’s album, and my favorite song on the album was a Lovin’ Spoonful-style tune written about one of the great many questions a curious kid would ask about the world. And it sounded as if it were something that a first-grader would ask. Where do they make balloons? So that’s what I led with.

I also played one of Marvin Gaye’s most poignant songs from one of his most troubled and brilliant times, along with some of the childlike innocence from Brian Wilson at his most vulnerable and troubled period, and finished the set with Judy Garland. It was all I could do to not lose it. Had I played the version of “Over the Rainbow” that the surviving Sandy Hook students recorded (at Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth’s home studio in Fairfield), I most definitely would never have made it through the song.

And other things. Well, some of the other threads:

Arturo Vega. The Saturday before, Arturo Vega died. Technically, there were eight men who were Ramones at one point or another — Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Marky, Richie, the short-stinted Clem Burke (aka Elvis Ramone) and C.J. But in reality, Arturo was the fifth Ramone. He designed their iconic logo; he was a confidant; the band rehearsed and recorded demos at his East Village loft; and Joey and Dee Dee lived with him at various points. I remembered him by playing some better-known songs and some early and little-heard demos as well.

Jet-setting. Saw Los Straitjackets a few nights before at Cafe Nine in New Haven, and since their latest album is Jet Set, I put together the three songs I have with those words in the title — them, Joe Jackson and The Fleshtones.

Dock Ellis. Last Wednesday was the 43rd anniversary of one of the greatest feats in baseball history — Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates throwing a no-hitter against the Padres in San Diego while tripping his brains out. Barbara Manning and her group, The SF Seals (named after San Francisco’s legendary pre-Giants minor league team, whose most famous alum was hometown boy Joe DiMaggio), recorded a three-song 7-inch Baseball Trilogy single for Matador 20 years ago already. A wild trip of a song called “Dock Ellis” was part of it.

The Style Council: It was 30 summers ago already, about this time, that Paul Weller’s post-Jam group made its American vinyl debut with the EP Introducing … The Style Council, a compilation of songs already released as singles in England. Still a favorite piece of my library. Played three SC songs — a killer instrumental called “Mick’s Up” from the EP, plus two of my favorite later tunes. From 1983-85, Weller, Mick Talbot and Dee C. Lee were the shit.

So that’s it. On to this Friday’s show, the first show of summer. Get your sunscreen ready …

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Cygnus Radio playlist 5/10/13: Mr. Jones, smooth sailing and ‘Stormy Weather’

May 11, 2013
Blake Jones was on top of the world this week.

Blake Jones, on top in this photo and on top of the world this week.

For the archive links for this and all my Franorama 2.0 shows on Cygnus Radio, click here. The show airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) Fridays.

With each week, I’m more psyched about this online radio thing.

In terms of technical matters, this latest edition of Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio was the best and smoothest yet in my nearly three short months there. No glitches — the software and the mic/headset were both on their best behavior, and the voice levels were perfect. (Laptop radio is, indeed, a different world than terrestrial radio, with its higher-end equipment …)

Musically, it was smooth sailing, too. I finally started, after nine months home, plowing into my storage bin and pulling CDs to rip into this here laptop/station. The little things mean a lot. In this case: getting comfortable with processing the thousands of songs through my computer music files instead of manually rifling through records and CD cases, as in days of old. I think I’m finally there. Like everything, it takes a little time, and the more I do it, and the more I access my files, the more I remember what I have … and the more angles I can bounce into my shows. Garage meets soul meets rockabilly/roots meets country meets punk meets … the Great American Songbook.

To start the final hour, I featured a set to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of my favorite people — and one of the best pop songwriters you might never have heard — the first non-Fresno Bee person I met in Fresno in 2004, Blake Jones. This comes in advance of his new EP, Teasers from the Whispermaphone, which should be out any day now.

The only thing that came close to a glitch, but ended up being a happy accident, came right at the end of the show. Curse that social media …

Still dead, unfortunately.

Still dead, unfortunately.

I usually keep up with things on my Facebook page as I do the show just in case some news breaks (like the death of George Jones two weeks prior). In this case, a few minutes before the end, someone, or someones, posted links to Lena Horne’s obituary. I read it, saw that she had died May 9 — which would have been the day before the show — and quickly shared the post and subbed out my final song, Dave Edmunds’ version of John Fogerty’s “Almost Saturday Night,” for “Stormy Weather.”

Not realizing that she died May 9 three years ago. Something that somehow slipped past me at the time. Since she’s ageless, it wasn’t a bad choice to close the show, but still … Damn that social media!

Anyway, what is encouraging is that musicians are starting to respond to the show and send their latest recordings for airplay — just like old times. This week, Ed Valauskas, onetime New Haven scenester (with The Gravel Pit) and longtime Boston fixture, sent two new offerings from his Q Division studio — The new album by Christian McNeill & Sea Monsters, Everything’s Up for Grabs, and the new country EP by Ed’s wife, Jen D’Angora (of Jenny Dee & the Deelinquents fame), under the name Jenny Dee & Several Men of Mystery.

Anyway, if you’re a musician who wants to get some airplay here — if I like it, I’ll play it. Message me here or on my Facebook page — and I’ll send you my address. And come back and join me next week — there’s always room for you here in the studio!

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Cygnus Radio playlist 4/5/13: Tributes because I can

April 8, 2013
Marvin Gaye: Cause for joy and sorrow.

Marvin Gaye: Cause for joy and sorrow.

For the link to the archives to this and all my Franorama 2.0 shows on Cygnus Radio, click here.

The first Franorama 2.0 of April on Cygnus Radio was one of tributes — because I can. And both the living and dead were honored — no waiting ’til the person is stuck in the ground here.

That includes three sets of Marvin Gaye, for whom there was a twin milestone: what would have been his 74th birthday last Tuesday (April 2), preceded by the 29th anniversary of his death (April 1). And not one note of “Heard It Through the Grapevine.” Rather, I mixed in some rarely heard solo songs (including one of my favorites of his, a 1965 B-side called “When I Had Your Love”), as well as someĀ  rarely heard Tammi Terrell duets: the Sinatras’ “Somethin’ Stupid” and “California Soul,” which was written by Ashford & Simpson for The 5th Dimension.

And on to the living. I think it came out of my occasional recent Facebook messaging with one Rick Stone of El Paso. Rick was the road manager for The Bobby Fuller Four, was a friend of Bobby and is

Sonny Curtis: Who says you have to die to get a tribute?

Sonny Curtis: Who says you have to die to get a tribute?

a longtime flamekeeper. He friended me after I posted a photo of Bobby on my page a year or so ago.

Anyway, I got to thinking about the man who wrote “I Fought the Law,” Sonny Curtis. He’s still alive, and his birthday (76) isn’t until May 9, but I decided to honor him — well, because I can. It’s my show, and why wait ’til someone’s dead, especially when he’s only a year younger than my mother?

He was a guitarist in Buddy Holly‘s Crickets, went off to play with other musicians, then returned when Holly died, and wrote his greatest anthem (and sang lead) for the first Crickets album after Holly’s death. I’ve always believed that it doesn’t matter if you’ve only written one or two songs, as long as they’re the right two songs. In this case, it was the above song and his major contribution to television: “Love Is All Around,” the Mary Tyler Moore theme.

Naturally, “I Fought the Law” took up a chunk of the tribute, with six versions, three by Bobby Fuller: the Four’s classic 1966 version on Del-Fi; Bobby’s original 1964 single version on Exeter Records; and an alternate take of the Exeter single. (Useless bit of fun trivia: Each of the Fuller versions contains a different robbin’-people weapon — a zipgun in the original, a shotgun in the alternate take, and the well-known six-gun of the hit version.)

There was also a song Curtis wrote for The Crickets that was revived 20 years later in an easy-listening hit by Leo Sayer, a tune Glen Campbell recorded on the Wichita Lineman album; the 1987 country song of the year by the departed-too-soon Keith Whitley; and a heartfelt version of “Love Is All Around” by one of Minneapolis’ most famous musical products, Husker Du. (And I can kick myself for forgetting to include the third-most famous song Sonny wrote — The Everlys’ “Walk Right Back” — but I can make amends the next show.)

And there was one tiny mini-tribute in the final set: a couple of movie-related songs and a tune about eternity in memory of Roger Ebert, who died the day before.

And, as a tribute to music, and how it makes us feel, I’ll do the same thing this Friday and hopefully many more Fridays to come — same Bat-time, (10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT), same Bat-channel. Ciao …

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