Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

A list

Oh, it’s a good one all right.

Leo Decaj wrote: “Keep this in mind :

Donald Trump did not steal your money.

Donald Trump did not raise your taxes.

Donald Trump did not quadruple the price of food.

Trump is not stirring a race war.

Trump did not leave any US soldiers in Benghazi to be slaughtered and desecrated by Muslims.

Trump did not send the US Navy to fight for Syrian Al-Qaeda.

Trump did not arm ISIS and systematically exterminate Christians throughout the Middle East.


Plenty more of ’em, too. All of which serves to remind me, for some reason, of this hilarious bit of Leftard boobery:

TruthRevolt just reported on their article comparing the President-Elect to mass murderer Dylann Roof. Now Salon has posted an article about the Syrian catastrophe with this headline: “Hey, President Donald Trump: Do you know where your bombs are falling?”

That’s right, more than a month away from setting up house in the Oval Office and Trump is already being blamed for bombing Syria.

Just remember, they’re smarterer than you.

And that puts me in mind of this: I was riding around with a good friend of mine the other night, a Mark 1-Mod-0 liberal, of course, and he was talking about how, even though he didn’t much care for his music, he totes admired Frank Zappa for the way he stood up to those “conservative fucksticks” responsible for the PMRC. I didn’t have the heart to remind him that that was…uhh, Al Gore’s wife Tipper.

But on reflection, maybe I shoulda. Every last one of you here knows what it’s like to deal with these people; we hold our tongues to keep the peace. It’s just not worth the candle to argue with people so completely convinced of their own righteousness, no matter how many times reality keeps tripping them up. It’s tiresome, and it’s bootless; they’re not listening anyway, and even if they were, they’re not remotely persuadable by mere facts or logic. You can’t reason someone out of a position they never reasoned themselves into.

Lately I’m thinking, though, that the time for that sort of polite forbearance is all done. As a professional musician, just about everyone I deal with in that field is a bonehead lib of some stripe or other, and I’ve long since grown accustomed to just shutting the hell up when they start in. My God, if most of the people I’ve worked with over the years even knew this web-sty existed, I would’ve long since been blackballed right out of the music business altogether.

It’s the same reality the handful of Hollywood conservatives have always had to confront. The Left is so “tolerant,” so “broad-minded,” that one’s very livelihood can be placed in very real jeopardy by committing the outrageous mortal sin of open disagreeing with them. As a result, Hollywood types have been reduced to holding secret meetings to discuss the issues of the day amongst themselves.

I’ve never once mentioned this site on my Facebook page, which I don’t much bother with anyway; I do post gig info on the FB page when I can remember to do it, and that’s about it. Nor have I ever mentioned the blog in any conceivable context with my various bands. Blogging is something I do, and music is something I do, and never the twain shall meet.

That’s not just because I’m afraid of any backlash from my Leftard friends; mixing music with politics is something I just don’t do anymore, although I sure did back when I was playing punk rock as a good little Leftard myself way back when. I just think it’s inappropriate, and can only end up demeaning the music in service of…well, not anything worthwhile. It took me a good long time to see the wisdom of Elvis’s disdain for bringing politics into the music, but I’m fully on board with it now.

But I know as well as you do that the backlash would be real, and severe; it’s not just paranoia stays my hand. The political is personal, as the Left says, for them anyway. Which just means that if you disagree with the Left, and you earn your living among Leftists, and you make that disagreement known, you WILL lose friends over it—gar-on-teed, you will. If they have their way about it, you will lose your livelihood, too.

But seems to me that with Trump’s great victory, maybe it’s time at last to come out of the shadows, at least in some ways. I still have no intention of mixing my politics with my music; like I said, I think it’s inappropriate, and not worthwhile anyway. In truth, I find a lot of the bands I loved back in my punk-rock days just about unlistenable nowadays because of the relentless, ceaseless political proselytizing; the Clash would be a perfect case in point. I used to love them way back when, but now? Ugh. Just…ugh. The only thing that will get me spinning the car-radio dial faster than Obama’s self-righteous drone is something, anything, from Sandinista. I repeat: ugh.

In contrast, one of the best bands of that era was the Ramones, who (whom?) I still just love. Non-political to the core, they were. You’d never figure out their personal politics from listening to, say, Rocket To Russia. If it’s mere coinkydink that Johnny was a diehard conservative, well, hey, go figure, right?

All in all, though, my days of holding my tongue when confronted by Leftists slamming my beliefs in the mistaken assumption that I think just like they do would seem to be coming to an end. The truth is, I’m about fed to the gills with it. Trump’s win, as clearly salubrious as it has been so far in all the bigger ways, might just work out nicely for all of us even on a more micro, personal level too.

Feels like liberation, in truth.

So yeah, it might just be time to remind some of these liberal fucksticks (ahem) in no uncertain terms that “tolerance” and “diversity” is about way more than just skin color. Call it The Enlightenment, v2.0. I’ll let Marky Ramone have the last word:

The Ramones famously sang “I Wanna Be Sedated” — but there was nothing sedate about the legendary punk rockers as they toured the country in a cramped van and talked politics, Marky Ramone tells Newsmax TV.

In fact, Ramone says, it was staunch conservative Republican against leftie Democrat as he and band mates Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee rode in their Ford Econoline — and all politicians were fair game for insults.

“Johnny was a conservative and Joey was a liberal Democrat and I’m a Democrat, but you know I have a lot of conservative friends,” Marky said Friday on “The Steve Malzberg Show,” as he promoted his new book,”Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone,” published by Touchstone.

But Marky said he and his bandmates — none of whom were related although they all used the name “Ramone” — knew the value of having the freedom to debate. And they loved it.

“That’s the country we live in, thank God, and we’re able to do that. So I respect people’s politics,” he said.

And THAT is what we’re in very real danger of losing now—but it won’t be conservatives who did it. We’ve had long, long practice in keeping quiet in order not to upset our tremulous, overwrought, unstable liberal-fascist friends. The catastrophic end-game that will be the result of that loss will not be pretty. None of us ought to be happy about it, none of us should be wishing for it, and we’re all going to suffer greatly for it before all is said and done.

But maybe it’s inevitable. Freedom-loving, Constitutionally-oriented Americans who want only to be left alone cannot exist cheek-by-jowl with true fascists who want to regulate our every move. The two beliefs are fundamentally incompatible; once the Left set out to render the Constitution a dead letter, they destroyed the very foundation of that uneasy truce and set in motion a chain of events that just may end up impoverishing us all in every way imaginable, and destroying them altogether. It’s my belief that they’ve crossed the deepest of Rubicons, and did so prematurely; it’s going to cost them quite damned dear in the end.

But if that’s what it takes to get them off our necks at last, well, so be it. Maybe they’ll wake up before it’s too late. Hopefully so. I’m not going to be holding my breath, and neither should you.

In the interest of letting Marky truly have the last word: I’ve mentioned and excerpted it before here, and the quote above is a reminder that I really gotta scrape up the cash for Marky’s book. And into the ol’ Amazon Wish List it goes, so I don’t forget.

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Saved the best for last: merry Christmas!

The fairest of them all:




So very lovely it almost hurts to hear; as I said the other day, I don’t see how anyone could possibly be a serious musician—or hear something like this—and not believe in something greater, deeper, and more powerful than our mere selves. And no, I certainly do NOT mean the State.

But in any event, with that, may the joy and serenity of this most blessed of days find its way deep into the hearts of each and every one of you, in its and your own unique way.

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Twelve Days of…or, Ten, or…oh, hell, you guys got it already

Dang, I almost forgot today’s Ten Or Twelve Days installment. Here ya go: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Way better than that godawful, lugubrious Springsteen version, wherein he…well, I already told y’all how I feel about that one. This one is another A-lads barnburner, although I cannot for the life of me remember who did the vocal on it. Previous installments here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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The Twelve Ten days of Christmas continues!

Another perfect Aqualads surf-rockin’ rendition of a Christmas classic, Angels We Have Heard On High. Plus a bonus: Cantus’ version of Pat A Pan, or The Little Drummer Boy. I’ve spent a goodly portion of this holiday season trying to decide if I like this or not, and after much agonizing, I have realized that I do. Very danged much, I do. It seems stilted, cramped, and clumsy at first; my thought was that this was some tight-assed military-chorus version of the song, and it still sounds a bit like it to me in the beginning. Just too regimented, no soul at all; forgive me for saying it, but dammit, too white. It just all sounds…I dunno, off, somehow. The phrasing on the first verse, with the solo voice; then the duet, and if anything, that’s worse.

But damn, I shoulda known better. Wade through it; endure the white-boy lack of rhythm all through the first verse, the second verse, and then that interminable percussion solo in the middle, and BOOM: suddenly you have perfect, seamless, layered, multi-part harmony guaranteed to make you shiver from the toes up. I mean, when those guys turn it loose, all of a sudden, well…POWER. Real, true power, that has nothing at all to do with individual voices, or anything achievable by mere human effort. Just lend an ear and tell me I’m wrong.




I’ve been looking around, and I cannot for the life of me find the version they’re playing on the classical music college station around here that I listen to all day every day. That version is a much more perfect illustration of what I’m talking about; the phrasing on the first two verses is way more odd, it’s a much more spare arrangement. But this version is close enough; it still takes off hard after that drum solo, and achieves flight in a wholly lovely way. Maybe it doesn’t kick in afterburners and go straight skyward once it’s wheels up, but it still soars before it floats gracefully back to earth.

I’ve been saying for years now that you can’t be a truly serious musician without believing in whatever you may choose to call God. Maybe the best proof of that is just how fucking GOOD Christmas music is. Transcendent, powerful, moving, all of it; just gorgeous, in ways that no other music can approach. Even a simple little confection like Away In A Manger can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up when it’s done right, and the available permutations and improvisations on all these songs we’ve heard eight bazillion times are endless. That just can’t signify nothing, or so I believe.

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Another Christmas song

Okay, while I’m hipping y’all to some good Christmas tunes, might as well share one of my all-time favorites:




From 1939, Kay Kaiser. Can’t explain just why, but I totally love this song. Maybe it’s all those ting-a-ling-a-lings. I mean, come on, what’s not to like?

But I tell you folks, if I have to hear limousine liberal Bruce Springsteen moaning and groaning his way through Santa Claus Is Coming To Town one more time like a sick hound, I am gonna kill something. There’s a tune in there somewhere, Bruce; please do us all a favor and find it, all right? Lord knows you’ve meandered around it enough. Ugh.

Look for this post to be updated for the next little while, until I get tired and go to bed. I’ma go find you guys some good Christmas music, I promise I am.

Update the First! The greatest of all possible versions of this one, which is also one of my favorites.




Just classic. Shall I play for you? Why yes. Yes, you shall.

Update the Second! Another favorite of mine, and the most perfect version I know of. Don’t say I never gave y’all nothing.



Update the Third! One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard in my life, from wonderfully eccentric guitar genius John Fahey. I can’t find a version of this to embed that even comes close to this one, so you’ll just have to trust me and hit the link. I promise you won’t regret it. I attempted this one once onstage in New York, and failed miserably. But I play it at home all the time, and every once in a rare while I get it very nearly right.

Update the Fourth! Another of my favorites. And I mean, come on guys. It’s Sinatra.




Nicely done, Frank. Would that all these present-day hacks had the good taste to just sing the damned song straight, without all the warbling, meandering, self-indulgent discant crap they’re apparently compelled to throw in for some reason.

Update the Fifth! Pretty sure I’ve presented this one here before, but what the hell. How do you go wrong with Canadian Brass? You can’t, that’s how. If this one doesn’t make you smile, well dammit, I can’t help you.




And one more from Canadian Brass. Because, that’s why.



Finally, probably my most-loved Christmas carol of them all: Silent Night, impeccably done by Chanticleer. Just gorgeous. Again: if you don’t like this, well, I can’t help you.


So far past gorgeous you can’t even see gorgeous from here.

One last update! Oh, and I don’t care a whit what Rush may say: Mannheim Steamroller? Trans-Siberian Orchestra? No. Just…NO. Not now, not ever. Call me old-fashioned, call me a stick in the mud, but I prefer my Christmas music way less sinister-sounding and without synthesizers and laser light shows, thanks.

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12 Days…or, y’know, NOT

Today’s installment: I’ll Be Home For Christmas, featuring the Oso Grande himself, Rodney Lanier. He’s the fellow the whole benefit project was conceived for, an excellent musician in his own right, who died shortly before its release.

And I only just realized something, to my tremendous embarrassment: I’ve been saying 12 Days Of Etc, because I had it in my head for some reason that there are fourteen tracks on this record, leaving me two extras for alternates. I was wrong; there’s only ten. But 12 Days is the traditional formulation, so I’m gonna stick with it. Sheesh, I’m a dope. Previous installments here, here, and here.

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A little Christmas music

I keep telling you guys that nobody does this stuff like the great Mark Steyn, and he keeps right on proving it to be true.

As Richard Adler, Frank’s protégé, once told me, Lynn Loesser was a domineering woman. She was known around town, somewhat inevitably, as “the evil of the two Loessers”, a gag that’s stuck to her beyond the grave. You wonder sometimes whether her reputation hasn’t simply adjusted itself to a joke too good to pass up. Certainly, on her demonstration records with her husband, she’s very charming – and never more so than on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. Through the mid-Forties, Loesser held on to the number and he and Lynn performed it as their party piece at celebrity get-togethers in New York and Hollywood. Lynn Loesser loved the song, loved singing it, and loved the fact that it was theirs alone.

But business is business. And in 1948 Frank Loesser sold the song to MGM for Neptune’s Daughter. “I felt as betrayed as if I’d caught him in bed with another woman,” huffed Mrs Loesser. “I kept saying ‘Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban?'”

Her husband figured it this way: “If I don’t let go of ‘Baby’ I’ll begin to think I can never write another song as good as I think this one is.”

It’s the highlight of the picture – Ricardo Montalban putting the moves on Esther Williams. A couple of years back, when I protested that I had nothing new to add to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, some listeners responded, “Hey, switch things around: Make Jessica the predator, and you the one trying to resist.” But that switcheroo’s as old as the song: in the movie, after Ricardo hits on Esther, it’s immediately followed by a bit of role reversal from the comedy support, with a man-eating Betty Garrett pursuing Red Skelton. It brought Loesser his fourth Oscar nomination, and this time he won – for a song that predates the movie by four years and was only included for purposes of commercial exploitation. When the film came out, Loesser found himself with a new pop hit. Two versions – one by Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark, the other by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer – both got to Number Four. Frank Loesser lost a party piece and gained a standard: At the Academy Awards, it was sung by Mae West and Rock Hudson. A few years later, Ray Charles and Betty Carter nibbled the lower end of the pop chart. The only person who wasn’t happy was Lynn Loesser: “her” song was now the world’s.

Read on to find out how—amazingly—not only the SJWs but the Muslim Brotherhood (!) tie in. Steyn just might have outdone even his own formidable self with this one.

And that seems like it might be my cue to post up the second installment of our Twelve Days Of Oso Grande Christmas here. I’m not on this track myself; it features my good friends in the Aqualads doing a swingin’, surfin’ version of Sleigh Ride. Enjoy, people, and that’s an order.

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Christmas bonus!

So I just got internet service back after a pain-in-the-ass outage caused by some local hardware upgrades by AT&T, with the result being that things seem a helluva lot faster now, which is probably just my imagination. But to celebrate a rare pleasant delusion (as opposed to my usual kind), I’m gonna upload a few tunes from a Christmas album I was privileged to appear on a few years ago.

The thing was conceived by my friend Jimmy King as a benefit album for a friend of his, another local musician I didn’t really know who had contracted some rare and horrible disease. Jimmy is in a great surf band called the Aqualads, and his friend unfortunately died a mere few days before the benefit album even got released. This track features a truly soulful vocal performance by my bud Bob Nelson, with a lead guitar track by yours truly. I’ll post one of these per day for the next few days, or until my internet connection shits the bed again. If you like it enough to want to buy the whole album, you can do that here (download only, I think the hard copies are all sold out).

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

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Steyn on…Jingle Bells?

I keep telling you guys: nobody does this stuff better than he does.

Unlikely as it sounds, a real live songwriter did sit down one day and write “Jingle Bells”. His name was James Lord Pierpont and he wrote and published many other songs in his lifetime, among them “The Colored Coquette” and others lost to posterity, but a few that have survived, such as “Our Battle Flag”, a paean not to Old Glory but to the banner of the Confederacy. Every song but “Jingle Bells” was a flop – and that “Battle Flag” number would be a hate crime to the tender sensitivities of today’s youth.

But, if you’re going to be a one-hit wonder, “Jingle Bells” is the one hit to have. That merry jingle you hear this time of year isn’t sleighbells but cash registers ringing up Christmas albums from country to rap, almost all of which contain some version or other of James Pierpont’s 150-year-old hit. He didn’t live to benefit from the recording age, and by the time of his death in 1893, he was more or less penniless. Instead, he came from a wealthy family, and worked his way down to impoverishment.

J Pierpont Morgan, archetypal American plutocrat, was the nephew of the J Pierpont who wrote “Jingle Bells”. The Pierponts are an old family who can trace their roots back to 8th century France and Charlemagne. They came over to England with William the Conqueror in 1066, and by the 18th century were established in the American colonies. One Pierpont helped found Yale, another helped found the Unitarian Church. But James Lord Pierpont, born in Boston in 1822, was a different kind of Pierpont. At the age of ten he was sent to school in New Hampshire, from where he wrote his mom a letter about a sleigh ride through the northern snows, the first recorded glimmer of his brightest idea. Four years later he ran away to sea aboard a ship called the Shark, which took him way down south to Latin America, thence to Honolulu and on to Oregon.

That was the first recorded instance of another recurring activity in Pierpont’s life – running away. James was the son of the Reverend John Pierpont, Unitarian minister in Medford, Massachusetts, also poet, Abolitionist and Prohibitionist, and prone, on the last two subjects, to fulminate at length and at volume. James married a young lady from Troy, New York (hometown of the author of another 19th century seasonal blockbuster: “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas”). He tried his hand at the grocery business and at insurance, but without success and returned to Medford.

In 1848, he ran away again, leaving his wife and children with the grandparents, and trying his luck in the California gold rush. His land deal disappeared with his pardnah, his dairy herd was sold out from under him, his photography business burned down. So back to Massachusetts, and his real interest: music. He began writing numbers in the genres of the day – polkas and minstrel songs – and they were professionally published in Boston. But it was time to run away again – this time to Georgia, where his brother had gone to be minister. As before, Millicent and the children stayed in Medford, and the Bostonian sheet music began identifying composer Pierpont as “a gentleman of Savannah”.

How gentlemanly he was is a matter of speculation.

Another engrossing music post filled with fun facts, none of which I had any idea about until Steyn went a-digging. If I ever do get a spare nickel again, I am definitely buying that book of his I mentioned in my last Music History a la Steyn post. Great as he is at politics and world affairs and such, this just might be his true métier, I think. It couldn’t be more obvious how much joy he gets out of it.

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Music and politics

I told ya, nobody does this stuff like Steyn. But he’s outdone himself this time, I think.

In 1951, Sammy Kaye, Dinah Shore and Carmen Cavallaro all picked up on the song. My favorite version from those early years is Gordon Jenkins’ formal arrangement for Nat “King” Cole. It belongs to a group of Fifties ballads – “Unforgettable”, “When I Fall In Love” – that he brought a strange sort of romantic dignity to. But his wasn’t the hit. That honor went to a lesser balladeer called Tommy Edwards, whose smooth recording got to Number 18 in 1951…

By 1958, Edwards’ career was on the slide. MGM Records was ready to drop him, but, with one session left under his contract, he was asked by the label to re-record his biggest hit in the new stereo format. Instead of using the 1951 arrangement, Edwards recorded it as a rock’n’roll ballad, with an insistent walking accompaniment. The new version of Vice-President Dawes’ tune proved so popular that it was Number One in both America and Britain in 1958 – and topping the charts during the Eisenhower Administration isn’t bad for a tune written by Coolidge’s veep during the Taft Administration. Tommy Edwards’ success with “All In The Game” started a lively fad for rock ballad versions of pre-rock hits – “Who’s Sorry Now?” by Connie Francis, et al. But, because “It’s All In The Game” was never that boffo in its previous incarnation, its own fate was rather different. Despite being concocted by Carl Sigman, the quintessential jobbing Tin Pan Alleyman, it was embraced as an authentic r’n’b ballad, and the pop crowd never left it alone. In Britain, Cliff Richard got to Number Two with it in the Sixties, and the Four Tops put it back in the Top Five in the Seventies, and Van Morrison wrung so much juice out of it on the eve of the Eighties that Dave Marsh included his interpretation as one of the indispensable 1,001 rock singles of all time.

What would Charles Dawes have made of Van Morrison? Or Isaac Hayes or Engelbert Humperdinck or UB40? He never heard any of them. He never heard Carl Sigman’s words. He died at the age of 85 in April 1951, six months before Tommy Edwards’ first version made the hit parade and “Melody In A Major” began its new life as “It’s All In The Game”. Perhaps the lyric would have tickled his fancy, for by then he was mighty sick of the tune. “General Sherman, with justifiable profanity, once expressed his detestation of the tune ‘Marching Through Georgia,’ to which he was compelled to listen whenever he appeared anywhere,” grumbled Dawes. “I sympathize with his feeling when I listen to this piece of mine over and over. If it had not been fairly good music I should have been subjected to unlimited ridicule.”

It is indeed “fairly good music”. I’m often asked, when I mention Dawes, whether he wrote anything else. Why, certainly. He wrote The Banking System Of The United States And Its Relation To The Money And Business Of The United States. Snappy title. If I hum a few bars, maybe you can play it. So, yes, plenty of other writing – books on finance and war reparations and the federal budget. But nothing you’d want to hear Engelbert Humperdinck sing.

On the original sheet music, the credit read “Words by Carl Sigman” and “Music by Gen Charles G Dawes.” Presumably “Vice-Pres Charles G Dawes” was felt to be less commercial. Nevertheless, “It’s All In The Game” remains the only transatlantic Number One hit to be composed by a Nobel Peace Prize winner, an Ambassador to the Court of St James’s and a Vice-President of the United States

Good, and fascinating, stuff. Steyn oughta write a book or something.

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Eulogy for Bobby Vee

Nobody writes about this sort of thing better than Mark Steyn.

“Peggy Sue” is where Bobby Vee came in. “The day the music died” is the day that Bobby Vee was born, professionally speaking. In the early hours of February 3rd 1959, the four-seater Beechcraft Bonanza flying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper to a gig in Moorhead, Minnesota crashed in a cornfield near Clear Lake, Iowa. Later that day, in Moorhead, the promoters got the news and decided to go ahead with the event, appealing on the radio for any local talent to pitch in as last-minute substitutes for the deceased. A 15-year-old schoolboy calling himself Bobby Vee (short for Velline) and a handful of pals serving as a back-up band volunteered their services. On their way to the venue – the National Guard Armory – they stopped off at J C Penney to buy matching black trousers, woolen ties and sleeveless sweaters.

And so was born Bobby Vee & the… Well, the what? The emcee asked the name of the band, and Bobby looked back at the boys silhouetted by the stage spots and replied, “The Shadows.” It was a great night, notwithstanding the grim circumstances. The following morning the surviving members of the Buddy Holly/Big Bopper tour party left for Sioux City, but without paying Bobby.

For a while, Bobby’s pianist was another young Minnesota musician going under the unconvincing stage name of “Elston Gunnn”. Mr Gunnn subsequently adopted the more enduring persona of “Bob Dylan”. But he still plays “Suzie Baby”, as he did in affectionate tribute to Bobby Vee – “the most beautiful person I’ve ever been on stage with” – in St Paul’s a couple of years back.

No Dylan fan, I, I have to admit. In fact, no Vee fan either, or not particularly. But man, what a great story. Read on for the rest of it; it’s truly good stuff.

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How it all works

Thank God our beloved Federal Gummint, which only wants to protect and serve and nurture us and make sure we’re “happy” whether we like it or not, saved us from all those fascist Nazi conservative Republican wingnut guitars.

While 30 men in SWAT attire dispatched from Homeland Security and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cart away about half a million dollars of wood and guitars, seven armed agents interrogate an employee without benefit of a lawyer. The next day Juszkiewicz receives a letter warning that he cannot touch any guitar left in the plant, under threat of being charged with a separate federal offense for each “violation,” punishable by a jail term.

Up until that point Gibson had not received so much as a postcard telling the company it might be doing something wrong. Thus began a five-year saga, extensively covered by the press, with reputation-destroying leaks and shady allegations that Gibson was illegally importing wood from endangered tree species. In the end, formal charges were never filed, but the disruption to Gibson’s business and the mounting legal fees and threat of imprisonment induced Juszkiewicz to settle for $250,000—with an additional $50,000 “donation” piled on to pay off an environmental activist group.

What really happened at the Nashville plant?

Why, crony fascism Amerika v2.0-style, of course. To wit:

The inexplicable raid nearly two years ago on a guitar maker for using allegedly illegal wood that its competitors also used was another targeting by this administration of its political enemies.

Interestingly, one of Gibson’s leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Co. According to C.F. Martin’s catalog, several of their guitars contain “East Indian Rosewood,” which is the exact same wood in at least 10 of Gibson’s guitars. So why were they not also raided and their inventory of foreign wood seized?

Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson’s chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles.

See? Not hard to figure out after all—provided, as I keep saying, that you just assume the worst about Obama and Pals. Then everything, and I mean everything, suddenly makes perfect sense. Weaponsman sums it all up nicely:

After a five year legal bastinado, Juskiewicz settled for $250,000, on the advice of his attorneys. It was all a brush-back pass from a mobbed-up union: “Nice business you got here. Wouldn’t want anything to happen to it.” But the warlords of the US Attorney’s Office weren’t done. Their last demand for Juskiewicz was for Gibson to “donate” $50,000 to one of the prosecutors’ favorite environmental charities.

When someone says, “Give me money or I will harm you,” that person is no longer a participant in any kind of an organized system of laws at all, but of the oldest form of government of all: the dominion of the strong over the weak, and of the cruel over the gentle.

And, well, here we are. As I said way back when I first posted on this story, I’ve always loved Gibsons, and I’ll cheerfully buy all of them I can afford from now on just on principle alone (do note from that previous post that Gibson came out with a new model shortly after the Brownshirt raid: the Government Series II Les Paul, made from wood seized in the raid). Tragically, that number remains stuck at precisely zero. But hey, a guy can dream. WRSA provides the coda:

It will only get worse.

Especially as long as the perps see themselves as above the fray.

Precisely so. And that’s what really needs to change, although I’d correct that to say that they don’t see themselves as “above the fray” at all; they see themselves as right in the thick of it—masters and directors of it, and invulnerable to consequences or repercussion. A large number of said perps swinging by their necks from East Indian Rosewood trees would be a fine and fitting start towards correcting that assumption.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

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Happy birthday!

To my all-time favorite composer.

EFFREY BROWN: Welcome, Rob Kapilow.

Let’s start by acknowledging this is one of the world’s great musical geniuses, right?

ROB KAPILOW: So true. I mean, just, whenever you think of musical prodigy, who do you think of but Mozart? Writing simple keyboard pieces at 5, violin sonatas and orchestral music at 6 and 7, first symphony at 9. It’s really disgusting, if you’re a composer like me. You just don’t even want to think about Mozart’s birthday.

Follows, some conversation about his Symphony Number 40, which has never been one of my favorites, actually–I’ll take the Jupiter any day, just to name one. But then we get some good analysis of the thing:

ROB KAPILOW: The whole universe in three notes, a cosmic essence.

We hear Mozart think out loud. What I can do? And he says what if I just…

JEFFREY BROWN: Even those three notes, what…

ROB KAPILOW: Yes, what can I do with these three notes?

And it’s not much. Right? This is not great. He says, what if I just take the ending and put it down here in the flute and oboe, and overlap like this? Try it up higher, even higher.

Trying to find out, what does the idea mean? And then the ultimate final step is, we reduce the whole thing to nothing but the first three notes. Who would dream that this could be the topic for an entire piece?

JEFFREY BROWN: We started, though, this conversation about genius. Your case is that that is sort of the essence of it, is taking something simple, creating a whole universe in a sense.

ROB KAPILOW: Exactly.

There’s that quote from Ezra Pound, genius is the capacity to see 10 things where the ordinary man sees one. We just hear that opening idea, but he sees, as you have just heard, at least 20 things in an idea that we never could have imagined.

A great Mark Twain quote: “There never was yet an uninteresting life.”

Inside the dullest exterior, there is a drama, a comedy and a tragedy. And Mozart heard the drama, comedy, and tragedy in all of us, and turned it into music.

That he most certainly did, with a scope, depth, and passion found just about nowhere else–except, ironically enough (or perhaps not, given the profundity of Mozart’s influence on him), Beethoven.

I’ve said many times in conversation with friends of mine that I can’t for the life of me see how anyone could be a truly serious musician without believing in God, or at the very least some undefinable power higher than ourselves, on a plane of existence only very occasionally and fleetingly reachable by us mere mortals. Mozart is a perfect example of why that is so; without at least a nod in the direction of the Almighty, there can be no explaining or understanding him, and even then only in the crudest and most incomplete of ways. Anybody who can hear some of his best work, some of it dating to his childhood, and then scoff at the notion of a higher intelligence far beyond our own and basically incomprehensible to us as the inspiration and wellspring of that work–and the insuperable mystery underpinning it–is not talking about anything I’ll ever understand. And has probably never written a note of listenable music in his life…and never will.

Which is not to say that there aren’t any good musicians who aren’t atheists themselves, mind. I’m sure there are–some insist that Beethoven himself was, although that science is far from settled, to coin a phrase. But I think they either are laboring under the influence of an overpowering arrogance and conceit, or are simply not interested in delving into the “why” of it at all. But hey, your mileage may vary on that one. I can only say that, while I’ve written hundreds of songs myself, a small handful of which were decent and I was actually proud of, I never wrote a single one of them by myself. They all came from someplace else entirely, exactly as if they were handed down to me very nearly whole from there, and you can refer to that place by whatever name you want to.

Composers–other than a lot of modern ones whose work is mostly reductionist, a sort of tinkering with simple mathematics and little more–have a voice in their head that sings to them instead of just talking, and they can then capture snatches of that melody and put it down for the rest of us to hear, using their own talent, training, experience, and personality to filter it. You can call that whatever you like, too. But if you know what you’re about, you can’t call it Nothing, or say it isn’t there. Or so I believe, anyway.

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Soul restoration

One of the best of the Christmas hymns, gorgeously rendered.




Not as beautiful as the Moslem call to prayer, naturally. Pretty sure I’m required by law to say that now. All hail His Majesty Obamus Maleficus!

Kidding around aside, Chanticleer has a wonderful version too–better than this one, in my opinion–from the A Chanticleer Christmas record. It was just playing on the local classical music radio station earlier, but my Google-fu was too weak to conjure up a vid of it.

And now for something completely different:




Fun stuff, that. Here’s another one of my all-time faves:



This next is not Christmas, exactly, but still.



I hear people bitch all the time about how much they “hate” Christmas music, and I never have been able to figure that out. Truth is, some of the best stuff in the Western-music canon is Christmas-oriented. You can argue about the reasons for that till the cows come home, but it’s true, and it’s true whether your preferred genre is blues, classical, country, or what have you. If this short playlist doesn’t confirm it for you, dig around a little yourself; you’re bound to come up with something that moves you, and restores that calm, that sense of peace, satisfaction, gratitude, and joy that, for me anyway, is the heart and soul of what the Christmas season is all about.

Update! Did somebody mention blues? Why yes, I believe someone did.



Emergency update! RosalindJ was kind enough to mention in the comments to another post that comments ain’t working for this one, and after investigating I found that several recent posts would seem to be affected by whatever glitch is causing the problem. I suspect a recent WP upgrade as maybe being the culprit and am looking into it now; my apologies, folks.

She also found the Chanticleer vid I mentioned above, which is here. I’ll embed it after I’ve figured the comments thing out. Many thanks to ya, Ros, for the heads-up. And my sincerest best wishes for a merry Christmas to all of y’all miscreants and reprobates out there. Update within an update! Aww, the heck with it, I’ll just put it in a new post.

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Pyotr Ilyich Sinatra

Steyn just dropped another Sinatra column into the ol’ hopper, and it’s another damned good ‘un.

In 1960, Frank Sinatra left Capitol and founded Reprise Records because he wanted to have total artistic control. But oddly, once he’d got total artistic control, he seemed disinclined to exercise it. At Capitol in the Fifties, as a supposed mere contract player for his corporate masters, he nevertheless pioneered the “concept” album and raised it to the level of art: He selected the songs, and programmed them, writing the titles on index cards and then laying them flat on the table and shuffling them around until he had them in an order that told the story he wanted to tell. Which is why, from Wee Small Hours to No One Cares, his albums have such a strong dramatic arc.

Half-a-decade into his “total artistic control” as Chairman of the Board, the LP concepts had evolved. Three of his last four sets with Nelson Riddle were: an album of songs that happened to have won Academy Awards; an album of songs with “moon” in the title; and an album of songs that featured girls’ names, eventually aborted presumably because somebody realized that, aside from the name, the girls mostly come out sounding the same (I love your eyes, your smile, I want my arms around you, Insert Name Here). These aren’t “concepts”, these are Trivial Pursuit categories.

For Nelson Riddle, it must have been particularly frustrating. His partnership with Sinatra had been the most crucial professional relationship in the singer’s career. Yet it had languished since Reprise’s founding. Riddle was particularly irked at the way the Sinatra and Strings project had been given to Don Costa, whom he began referring to as “Don Co-Star”, in sneering tribute to the new man’s sudden indispensability to Frank. What was the last complete album Riddle did for Sinatra? The Strangers In The Night LP? No. The title track was the Number One single, arranged by Ernie Freeman. Riddle scored the nine other songs, with a groovy jazz organ that’s very striking but has absolutely nothing to do with the MOR pop hit that gets pride of place. A couple of years later, the Beatles asked Riddle to score “The Long And Winding Road”, but he turned them down because “I don’t do tracks, I do albums”. Yet, for his star singer on Strangers In The Night, he’d been reduced to nine-tenths of an album.

So, for pedants, the last full Sinatra/Riddle collaboration is the one released two months before Strangers, in March 1966. It has a droll title, Moonlight Sinatra, that you wish they’d followed through on a little more rigorously, conjuring love on a moonlit night in three movements. Instead, someone just picked a bunch of songs with “moon” or “moonlight” in the title, Frank threw out the ones he didn’t like, and then sang the ones that were left over two nights in November 1965. It might have been a more interesting project dramatically if they hadn’t interpreted the eligibility requirements quite so narrowly. Lots of Sinatra scenarios, after all, take place in the presence of the moon:

There was a moon out in space
But a cloud drifted over its face
You kissed me and went on your way
The Night We Called It A Day…

Instead, this set confined itself to titular moon songs, a potentially perilous categorization given that “moon”/”June” is the most clichéd imagery in the songbook. Most of the ones that survived were either old Bing hits or Glenn Miller tunes, and the better known ones in each category – “Moonlight Becomes You”, “Moonlight Serenade” – do have the faint whiff of cover versions about them. On the latter, the way he bends the line on “My love, do you know?” is as lovely as anything he sang over 60 years, but at a more profound level he doesn’t really get inside the song and rebuild it as a Sinatra number.

Thus, Moonlight Sinatra doesn’t have the satisfying emotional narrative of other Frank/Nelson sets. It’s oddly static – an album to soak in, rather than to follow on its journey. It’s the smile of a summer night, for lovers lingering in the moment in a starlit garden. Yet, if the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts, some of the parts are awfully good.

“The night we called it a day.” Apart from a handful of country songwriters, they just don’t write ’em like that anymore, kids, and we’re all the poorer for it. And Steyn’s writing on the topic has all the elegance, style, depth, sturdiness of structure and pacing, and careful, intelligent phrasing of Sinatra himself at his best. You’ll have to click on through for the Tchaikovsky connection, which is both deeper and wider than you might assume.

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Can’t stop the music Steyn

Just how many of these gems does Steyn have locked away in his strongbox of great old show-biz stories, anyway?

The song is by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, written in 1959. Many years later, as a callow youth trying to pass himself off as a man about Broadway, I asked Cy about how “The Best Is Yet To Come” came to be:

I wondered how you worked together – because ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’, for example, is not an immediately vocal line, I don’t think. I may be wrong. And yet she managed to write a lyric that sort of sat on it perfectly. Did you write those sort of things very spontaneously at the time or were they things that took a lot of labor?

And Coleman replied:

Well, first let me say one thing – that you are wrong, obviously.

And then he gave his marvelously infectious sneezy-wheezy a-hur-hur-hur Cy Coleman laugh that I miss to this day. He continued:

And I only say that because so was I. I used to complain bitterly about Carolyn and the fact that she’d want to put everything that I wrote to a lyric. I used to say if I played an arpeggio at the piano, you know, I’d have to hide it because she’d put a lyric to it. And ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ was a little instrumental I had written for myself and a little jazz group and it’s constructed so that the melody keeps repeating, and I had worked out an entire thing where you have echoes back and forth at a very furious tempo.

In other words, it’s not a song, it’s an instrumental. And that’s how Coleman wanted it. He was never just a songwriter: he was a composer and pianist and he had a little jazz trio that played in clubs and wanted something to kick around that wasn’t just a Tony Bennett love ballad with the words shaved off. The problem was that Carolyn Leigh liked to slip into the club and listen to what they were playing, just in case it was something she hadn’t heard before. “She’d be sitting in a booth, right next to the trio,” Coleman’s trio Ray Mosca remembered. “And she’d always be taking notes, I guess of tunes we were playing.” And on one such night she heard the Coleman trio’s fun little instrumental …and started scribbling.

The next day she buttonholed Cy and said, “I can put a lyric to that.”

“Here we go again,” sighed Coleman. “There goes my instrumental.”

With cameo appearances strewn throughout by Sinatra, Basie, Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones, Willie Nelson, and…Hugh Hefner. No, really. Also included is this great bonus bit:

The title was droll, too – a play on Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “It Might As Well Be Spring”. It Might As Well Be Swing means “We don’t need Cole Porter or Harold Arlen. We can take ten random slices of MOR chart-filler and make these muthas jump.”

That is exactly what it means…and you better believe they were right about that. One more:

Oddly, the two songs that stayed with Frank beyond the LP were the two oldest, and the ones that had been the longest gestating, as it were. They were also the two that Quincy Jones succeeded in re-conceiving for the Sinatra style, as opposed to too many of the others, which never got much beyond Frank swinging some other guy’s hit. The Sinatra/Basie “Fly Me To The Moon” transformed the song, as we’ve discussed. With “The Best Is Yet To Come”, it wasn’t that Frank did anything that hadn’t occurred to Tony Bennett; it’s just that he did it more so. He bit into the song, liked the taste, and over the next 30 years never tired of it.

Man, that is some good stuff right there. Great as Steyn is on politics, this just might be his true metier. Stay with it to the end–which really is the end, in more ways than just one.

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“You only live once, and the way I live, once is enough”

This sounds fantastic.

Forgive the short notice, but if you are in or near New York City, please run to see “Sinatra: An American Icon.” September 4 is the last day to see this superb exhibit at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts, nestled between the Metropolitan Opera House and the Vivian Beaumont Theater. The library is open Friday from Noon to 6:00 p.m.

December 12, 2015 would have been Francis Albert Sinatra’s 100th birthday. Lincoln Center has been celebrating Sinatra’s centennial year with a display of artifacts and performance clips from across the legendary entertainer’s stunning career. From his humble roots in Hoboken, New Jersey, through his years at the pinnacle of show business in the 1950s and ‘60s, through his latter days in Palm Springs, where he spent hours playing with toy trains, this retrospective has plenty to enthrall fans and intrigue newcomers to Sinatra’s story.

Highlights include sheet music and stage instructions from his early days with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the special Academy Award he won in 1946 (at age 30) for an anti-racism short-subject film titled The House I Live In, multiple Grammy Awards, and posters from many of his motion pictures, both the still memorable and the long forgotten. Two small mixer boards empower each visitor to impersonate a sound engineer and mix his own versions of several songs, adding and subtracting drums, bass, piano, and Sinatra’s voice to suit individual tastes.

Okay, make that: REALLY fantastic. What a great idea for getting people engaged with such an exhibit, and with good music itself.

Amid many audio and video samples of Sinatra’s artistry, my favorite captures the finest male vocalist of the 20th century singing a duet with his female counterpart, Ella Fitzgerald. The Chairman of the Board and the First Lady of Song swing their way through “The Lady is a Tramp” with elegance, grace, good humor, professionalism, and perfect creative chemistry. Watch that footage and weep for what yielded to Miley Cyrus.

I’ve often said over the years that I just can’t figure out how musical culture managed to degrade itself from the staggering heights of Duke Ellington all the way down to Fitty Cent, but that ain’t no race thang, and no white person needs to be feeling too terribly smug about it, as Murdock just demonstrated.

Update! More Sinatra, from Steyn. Stick with it to the end, if you have any interest in this sort of thing at all; Steyn writes about the music and musicians of the Great American Songbook with reverence, joy, intelligence, and love, and few things are as fascinating (to a guy like me, anyway) as the look behind the scenes from these great old days he so adroitly provides.

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Rest easy, Blues Boy

I figured Jon Pareles, one of the long-time best of the music writers out there (he even had kind words for my own band in print a few times in the past, but don’t let that leave you doubting), would do not only himself but his subject proud with BB King’s obit. And so he did.

Mr. King married country blues to big-city rhythms and created a sound instantly recognizable to millions: a stinging guitar with a shimmering vibrato, notes that coiled and leapt like an animal, and a voice that groaned and bent with the weight of lust, longing and lost love.

“I wanted to connect my guitar to human emotions,” Mr. King said in his autobiography, “Blues All Around Me” (1996), written with David Ritz.

In performances, his singing and his solos flowed into each other as he wrung notes from the neck of his guitar, vibrating his hand as if it were wounded, his face a mask of suffering. Many of the songs he sang — like his biggest hit, “The Thrill Is Gone” (“I’ll still live on/But so lonely I’ll be”) — were poems of pain and perseverance.

Be sure to read all of it. I have only recently found a real appreciation for King’s music myself, mostly by digging into his earlier work, which I had largely–foolishly–ignored all these years. Trust me, listening only to his latter-day offerings and thinking you know all there is to know about the Beale Street Blues Boy is about like disliking Elvis because all you’ve heard is recordings from about 1970 on. As is almost always the case with the true greats, it’s a nearly bottomless well, and the deeper you dig, the sweeter the reward. I like this bit especially:

Mr. King considered a 1968 performance at the Fillmore West, the San Francisco rock palace, to have been the moment of his commercial breakthrough, he told a public-television interviewer in 2003. A few years earlier, he recalled, an M.C. in an elegant Chicago club had introduced him thus: “O.K., folks, time to pull out your chitlins and your collard greens, your pigs’ feet and your watermelons, because here is B. B. King.” It had infuriated him.

When he saw “long-haired white people” lining up outside the Fillmore, he said, he told his road manager, “I think they booked us in the wrong place.” Then the promoter Bill Graham introduced him to the sold-out crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the chairman of the board, B. B. King.”

“Everybody stood up, and I cried,” Mr. King said. “That was the beginning of it.”

By his 80th birthday he was a millionaire many times over. He owned a mansion in Las Vegas, a closet full of embroidered tuxedoes and smoking jackets, a chain of nightclubs bearing his name (including a popular room on West 42nd Street in Manhattan) and the personal and professional satisfaction of having endured.

Through it all he remained with the great love of his life, his guitar. He told the tale a thousand times: He was playing a dance hall in Twist, Ark., in the early 1950s when two men got into a fight and knocked over a kerosene stove. Mr. King fled the blaze — and then remembered his $30 guitar. He ran into the burning building to rescue it.

He learned thereafter that the fight had been about a woman named Lucille. For the rest of his life, Mr. King addressed his guitars — big Gibsons, curved like a woman’s hips — as Lucille.

He married twice, unsuccessfully, and was legally single from 1966 onward; by his own account he fathered 15 children with 15 women. But a Lucille was always at his side.

Now that’s good squishy right there. I repeat: read it all.

BB had a strong influence on nearly every modern musician, particularly those of us plying our trade in what’s been called the Americana genre, whether they know it or not. His loss is a great one, but his music will outlive all of us. Rest in peace, BB King. And…thanks, for everything.

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Death of a hitmaker

Good as Steyn is on politics and world affairs, he just might be at his best telling music-biz stories and writing obits for the talented-but-not-exactly-famous.

In 1990, Anthony Minghella (pre-The English Patient) made a film called Truly, Madly, Deeply, with Juliet Stevenson mourning her late lover, played by Alan Rickman, who turns up in spectral form to haunt her flat. There was a lot of that about at the time: The shorthand review of Truly, Madly, Deeply was “Ghost for grown-ups”. One of the things that made it “grown-up” was the music (Rickman’s character played the ‘cello, and Stevenson’s the piano) – and in particular the use it made of “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”. Anthony Minghella told me that he thought numbers in musicals tended to be “transporting”, and he wanted this to be the opposite: even as Miss Stevenson is cavorting round her flat as Rickman’s ghost sings and holds his cello like a guitar, the scene emphasizes just how profound the emptiness in her life is. And that, said Minghella, is why it could only be “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”.

The song’s association with death pre-dates Truly, Madly, Deeply by a quarter-century. Many years ago, I used to date a nurse at the Royal London Hospital on the Whitechapel Road in the East End. We used to meet at the end of her shift in the pub next door, the Blind Beggar. I am told it is a rather bland and boring establishment now, but in those days it still had the residual seedy glamor of its old gangland associations. The Kray twins – Reggie and Ronnie – were the primo East End mobsters of their day, but they’d been having a few differences with the Richardsons’ South London gang. George Cornell had called Ronnie Kray a “fat poofter”. Ronnie didn’t mind the “poofter” but resented the “fat”. On the night of March 9th 1966, he got word that Cornell was drinking at the Blind Beggar, and went round to have it out. When he arrived, Cornell was sitting on a bar stool nursing a pale ale. “Well, look who’s here,” he sneered when Kray arrived. Ronnie got out his 9mm Mauser and shot Cornell just above the right eye. At the time, the jukebox was playing the Walker Brothers’ new single:

Emptiness is the place you’re in
Nothing to lose, but no more to win

The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore…

George Cornell fell to the floor. But one of Kray’s bullets had found the jukebox, and caused the record to jump:

The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore…
Anymore…
Anymore…
Anymore…
Anymore…
Anymore…

And that’s all George Cornell heard in the last few seconds of his life on the floor of the Blind Beggar. The following week, “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” hit Number One on the British charts.

Kathy Shaidle says she doesn’t care a rat’s ass about the Four Seasons; Steyn acknowledges he’s with her, and I’ll put a hearty “amen” to all that myself. But Mark’s smooth, mellow-yet-rollicking telling of the tale kindles in it an interest I would not otherwise have shared, which is just one of the marvelous things truly fine writing can do. So I’ll put an “amen” to this too: Rest in peace, Bob Crewe.

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Damn, I’m old

Hate to hear this:

RIP AC/DC: 1973 – 2014, UPDATES ON MALCOLM YOUNG
AC/DC are ending their 41 year career on a terribly sad note.

Plans were underway for a new studio album, their first since 2008’s monumental Black Ice, and a ’40th Anniversary’ world tour, 40 huge shows across the globe.

More than a month ago, founding member, rhythm guitarist, co-producer and co-songwriter Malcolm Young had a stroke, which left a blood clot on his brain.

When AC/DC reunited at the start of April to begin a month of rehearsals, in the lead-up to new album recording sessions, Malcolm discovered he couldn’t play. At least, he couldn’t play like he used to play.

Nothing has been officially confirmed, as of this writing, but friends and family members have been discussing what happened to Malcolm for the past couple of weeks. The blood clot, resulting from the stroke, is believed to be why Malcolm couldn’t keep working.

Although friends have described Malcolm’s condition as serious, it doesn’t mean he won’t recover. People do get better after strokes, and people do recover lost skills.

But friends and family of band members believe the decision was made last week to call it quits.

Media in Australia have gone ballistic today on rumours of The End Of AC/DC, and it appears the news got out ahead of a planned official announcement from the band and management.

Right now, that announcement is expected Wednesday, April 16, and a press conference has been scheduled.

Quite possibly the greatest pure rock and roll band ever–as the line from punk band The Last Resort goes, “No fuss, no muss, just pure impact.” Their sound was as distinctive and instantly identifiable as a punch in the face; they were fun, energetic, rhythmic, powerful, and driving–as complex and cathartic as it’s possible to be working in a three-chord medium that’s not exactly known for subtlety or intellectual depth, being more bludgeon than anything else. And they just kept right on cranking out good, solid stuff for forty friggin’ years.

AC/DC won’t continue playing and recording without Malcolm. It can’t be done.

While Angus Young is the more famous, and more recognisable, AC/DC is most definitely Malcolm Young’s band, he started AC/DC, under the guidance of big brother George Young (ex-Easybeats, and co-producer) and encouraged his younger brother Angus to join him, and take on the world.

Malcolm Young has been the quiet motivator and boss of the band for four decades, co-writing nearly all of AC/DC’s classics, and making sure nothing happened to harm or damage the band’s reputation, or disappoint the fans who’ve stuck by them for decades.

His passion for the band and its music, and integrity, were so intense, back in the 1970s he used to have fistfights with his younger brother, Angus, in the studio, when disagreements about a sound or riff couldn’t be resolved. Proper punch-ups, teeth were lost, blood was drawn.

So that’s it. AC/DC are coming to an end.

All good things do, I guess. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Lots more at the link, all worth a read if you’re into this sort of thing at all; AC-DC was nothing less than a huge and utterly unique slice of rock and roll history, encapsulating all the best of the genre and generating a staggering number of good sea stories along the way. Best wishes to Malcolm and all his family.

(Via Maet)

Update! Thanks to Q for his update in the comments; sounds as if things are still up in the air for the band at the moment. All the best to ’em no matter which way the ball ends up bouncing.

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