Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sam Cooke and Peter Guralnick

I've readed Peter Guralnick's two volume biography of Elvis Presely and was very impressed and have been meaing to pick up his work on the life and times of Sam Cooke for some time. I've had the book in my hand at different times while at the bookstore, but never ended up walking out with it. Well the other day the hardback was on the mark down table and it was too good a deal to pass up.

I got home with it and thought I'd read the first chapter while I had lunch. Three hours later I found myself still immershed in the book. I couldn't put it down. I really knew nothing of Sam Cooke's life beyond his singing, so pretty much all of it was new to me. Guralnick does an amazing job of bringing Sam Cooke to life. He doesn't white wash Sam's life, he presents his life as it was. I would rate this as one of the best music biographies I have ever read.

The video clip is the first part of a BBC show on his life and features some interviews as well as some of his singing.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Speaking of the Beatles....

Since we were talking of the Beatles, here's one of their earliest hits.

For Beatles Fans: Neil Aspinal Dies

One of the few people that could be considered the "Fifth Beatle" Neil Aspinal died today of lung cancer in New York City. He was 66. Neil met Paul when they were both 12. Later he became road manager for the early Beatles. That's his van in the picture with the Beatles above.

Neil has stayed with the Beatles until the end. He briefly served as manager after Brian Epstien died and before Allen Klien entered the picture. He served as one of the top people in Apple, the company the Beatles founded. Up until his death he was still associated with the Beatles, working with the surviving members.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Al Copeland Dies

Al Copeland, the founder of Popeyes chicken died today in Germany where he had traveled for treatment for cancer. Copelands no longer owned Popeyes, having lost it in bankruptcy shortly after he had purchased Churchs chicken. He still owned the rights for the Popeyes seasoning which kept him a wealthy man.

I've actually had a few almost encounters with the man. When I worked for Service Merchandise his wife would shop at the Metairie store. I remember they were getting ready to open a new restaruant (I can't remember the name, but I think it was one that didn't make it long) and she was in the store looking for patio furniture that they could use. She brought some of her employees with her and I just remember her as being very take charge, waving them to do this and do that. (I'm also not sure what number wife this was.)

Later he was at the same location buying an engagement ring for whichever new wife was coming up. I remember the conversation being he wanted one for a $100,000 but we didn't have the stone big enough at the store level, we'd have to send out for it, and he decided he didn't want to wait, so he went elsewhere.

Popeyes was not named for the comic strip character, but after the character from the movie "The French Connection." The first chicken store he opened was called Chicken on the Go before he renamed it Popeyes.

Copeland was a strong presence in New Orleans. His Christmas lights were visited by thousands every year. People either loved him or hated him, but one thing is for certain, he will be missed.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

West Wing Revisited

I wasn't feeling too well today so I stayed home from work and after having nothing to do all day decided to start watching West Wing again. I love this show. To me it's one of the best shows every put on television. And what's more it makes me proud to be an American. This shows how politics should work, the hope that there are people that truly believe in what this country stands for still working in the White House.

This clip is from the first show and is the first appearance of the President of the United States.

Friday, March 21, 2008

New R.E.M.

April 1st the first R.E.M. album in five years comes out. The above is the first single from the album and sounds really good. This is a band that I think has always did it their way and not worried about the current trends. Their last two albums were more mellow, but this one sounds like it is going to be a lot louder and edgier.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Voice to Hear

It's been awhile since I mentioned one of my other blogs, VOICES TO HEAR. I haven't been keeping it as current as I'd like, but lately I've gotten better. The tagline for this blog is "The Best Music You've Never Heard." I like to spotlight an artist that isn't that well known and try to bring a little more attention to said artist. This past week I talked about the folk/rock group from Australia the Waifs.

If you interested in some good music and maybe discovering some great new talent give the blog a try. I think you'll like it.

Remembering Arthur C. Clarke

As a child I was not that much of a sport's player. I was the kid that got stuck out in right field where everyone hoped no one would hit the ball. Myself included, because I knew if the ball was hit to me I was more than likely to miss it and be responsible for at least a run if not more. I dreaded gym class.

I was the little skinny kid with glasses and too shy to talk a lot. As a young child I suffered speech problems, which even today sometimes has me fumbling the pronunciation of a word that I hear in my mind correctly but somehow comes out of my mouth sounding wrong.

I was the kid bullies loved.

Reading was my source of happiness and safety. I can't say when I first started reading, I've been readying all my life. My Mom and Dad enrolled me in a book club for kids when I was small. One of the first books I remember reading was Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel. My favorite Doctor was Seuss. In sixth grade they gave the class a reading comprehension test and I was reading college level. It's like anything else, you do it over and over you get good at it. And I read everything I could get my hands on. I would read the tv guide, the back of a cereal box, anything and everthing.

Somewhere along the way I picked up a science fiction book. I have no idea what the first story or book in the genre I read was. All I know is that I was hooked. Here were books where the heroes were spacemen, where aliens existed, where someone with intelligence was not the target of bullies but the hero the world needed.

I read any and all science fiction stories I could. I was transported to alien worlds, future times...I could leave my world where I felt like I didn't fit in and be somewhere where I did. Along the way I found a trinty of writers that could do no wrong as far as I was concerned. Isaac Asmiov, Harlan Ellison and Arthur C. Clarke. These three were the holy grail as far as I was concerned. I hunted for work from them and read everything I could get my hands on.

Arthur C. Clarke wrote stories that showed man's potential for greatness, for their next step of evolution. He helped infuse a love for the future in me, that there was a future worth living for. In Clarke's world religion was the bad, humanity was the good.

I still can remember picking up Rendevous with Rama and the excitement of reading it, turning each page and being fascinated with the world that Mr. Clarke had created. It's a feeling that is hard to replicate, even still loving the written word as I do today, it's hard to capture that thrill of every new word bringing me to a world I had never visited before.

And for that and so much more Arthur C. Clarke will hold a special place in my heart and mind.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

American Idol: Blackbird

Carly Smithson is becoming my favorite. I liked this song, but I don't think it was her best performance, but I was still surprised it landed her in the bottom three. I fear Kristy Lee Cook is just treading water until she is voted off.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke Dies

Famed science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke died today at the age of 91. This video is from his last birthday with his reflections on his life. I'll have more to post on Mr. Clarke as he was a very important writer to me as I was growing up.

Barack Obama in Philadelphia

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Say It Ain't So

I've just started to get back my magazine subscriptions. After Katrina I let most of them laspe and just picked up the new issues on the newstands. For months after Katrina mail was so sporadic that you might get the May issue of a magazine is July. I've just got in the habit of picking up whatever issue of whichever magazine I want at the newstands. But it gets to be expensive, subscriptions are a lot cheaper, so I've started back. I'm a magazine junkie, reading anywhere from five or six different magazines on up.

I just received my first issue of No Depression in the mail today. No Depression is not a medical journal, despite the name. It's a magazine about music, mainly what would be labeled Americana, but it's a label that the magazine itself would struggle with, basically saying it was a magazine that covered American music.

For my money this is the best music magazine out there today. Magazines today tend to feature short articles for people that have the attention span of a fly. No Depression would feature long articles about fascinating people involved in the creation of some wonderful music. It highlighted forgotten creators as well as today's innovators. It was never a magazine that featured who was hot at the moment. Covers featured such musicans as the Shins, Lucinda Williams, Liz Wright, Potter Wagoner, Josh Ritter and now and than a more familar name like John Fogerty or Johnny Cash. It was a magazine that took me awhile to read. I would read an article and put it to the side and pick it up a few days later and read another article. It's one of the few magazines that I save.

In today's issue they announced that the next issue will be their last issue. After 75 issues they are closing up shop. In a market with a rapidly shrinking advertising market they just can't compete. I haven't been able to read the issue yet, I was so upset that I put it to the side. This is literally my favorite magazine and now it will be gone.

And magazines like People and Us continue strongly....

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Prositute Turned Singer

I guess it's true what they say about any publicity being good publicity. The young woman who was the call girl in the trouble the now ex-governor of New York City is a "singer" and is hoping to use the media coverage from the past few days to secure a recording contract. Her MySpace page has registered something like a million hits since her name was released to the press. One top recording executive said she was terrible, another was quoted as saying that he was interested in listening to her since this has gotten her name out there in front of the public and that was a good thing.

Is there ever a time when some publicity can just be wrong? I guess it doesn't matter what you're famous for, as long as you're famous.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Amercian Idol: Eigh Days A Week

Ok, my favorite Kristy Lee Cook didn't do too well this week. "Eight Days A Week" is one of my favorite Beatles' song. It was the first piece of music I ever owned, a 45 for those of you who remember those things. But she butchers this song I hate to say. I think she's trying too hard to follow whatever Simon says, she needs to take chances but follow what she thinks is best for her. She was voted in the bottom three this week.

American Idol: Come Together

I love just listening to Carly talk, her accent is amazing. This is one of the best if not the best from this past week. She has a very strong voice.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Uncle Tupelo

I've been downloading all my Uncle Tupelo to my Ipod today and figured I'd share a little about them on here.

Uncle Tupelo was a group that not a lot of people have heard of, but had a lasting effect on music. They combined the energy and noise of punk music with the lyrics of country music. They are credited with helping to create what is called alternative country today. Both main members of the band deny their influence and claim that there were others doing the same that they were.

The group consisted of Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and Mike Heidorn. Farrar and Tweedy shared lead singing duties and both wrote their share of the songs the group did. Heidron was the drummer.

The group lasted for less than a decade. After the collsapse of the group Farrar went on to form Son Volt and Tweedy Wilco.

This video is supposed to be their first tv appearance. It looks like one of those local tv shows so it's very likely it is. They are doing "Graveyard Shift" here.

Uncle Tupelo's Last Song Performed

This is from the final show of Uncle Tupelo's career. After this song the group would perform together no more, with each going their own way.

Something Fun

After reporting three deaths in a row I need to post something fun. How about the trailer for the new Indiaina Jones movie coming out May 22? I can't wait for this movie. As much as I'm looking forward to Iron Man this is going to be THE movie event of the summer.

Another Death to Report: Mike Smith

His name probably doesn't ring any bells but on Feb 28 Mike Smith died from complications from a previous fall. He was 65 years old. He was the vocalist for the British invasion band from the sixties the Dave Clark Five.

Dave Clark was the de facto leader of the group, but he played drums and did not sing. Mike Smith was the keyboardist and lead singer of the group. They were one of groups that followed the Beatles from England and became famous in the United States.

The Dave Clark Five performed till the seventies. Smith continued to work in music producing and writing for others, as well as working on commericals.

He died 11 days before the Dave Clark Five was to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Jeff Healey Dies March 2

Jeff Healey the blues guitarist that was blind died on March 2 from cancer. This clip is from his biggest hit "Angel Eyes." He has a new rock album coming out soon called Mess of Blues.

Dave Stevens Dies

Dave Stevens, the Creator of the Rocketeer comic book characters died today of leukemia. Dave is best remembered as the artist of the comic book that later became a Disney movie. Dave help rejuvenate the interested in 50s pinup model Bettie Page. Dave was a very talented artist that found he spent too much time worrying over every panel to be able to make a living in the industry.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Travis McGee

I've mentioned recently that I've been on something of a John D. MacDonald binge as far as reading goes. Every five years or so I end up re-reading his Travis McGee series, one of the best mystery series ever as far as I'm concerned. Well I've decided it was time to go back and visit good old Travis. When I read them I like to start at the first one written and read them in order. The early books were written so it was easy to pick any up without having to worry about the previous one. The later ones you could still pick up without having read any of the earlier ones, but there was more continuity and events that were referenced to earlier books. If you've never read a Travis McGee book I give it my highest recommendations.

I'm going to make a little post as I finish each book and we'll see if I make it through all 21 books. I'm sure I'll read a few things inbetween some of the books, I'm one of those people that can never be reading one book at a time, I always have three or four sitting around that I'm reading. In face I've already finished a few of the McGee novels, which I'll list shortly.

It's Raining

We're in for some pretty ugly weather. At the moment we're under a tornado watch. The line of storms is moving through New Orleans across the lake towards me. Outside it's that type of weather where it's quiet at the moment but it just feels like something is about to happen. I have a feeling we're in for some rain tonight.

Hey I Can Put Stuff on the Ipod That Everyone Knows

Sometimes it seems I pick the most obscure group or singer to talk about. Well I do like mainstream artists too. Some of the albums I've downloaded from vinyl have been my Beatles' albums. I've never really bought cds of the Beatles stuff. I have their stuff on vinyl and just have never gotten around to buying it on cd. I have a few things on cd from them, mainly the greatest hits "1" that came out a few years ago.

For my money there is none better than the Fab Four. I've been a fan since I was a kid. The first single I ever bought was the Beatles "Eight Days A Week." The first album I bought was Beatles '65. By the time I started buying music the Beatles were splitting up so there was never a chance to see them live.

I've downloaded about six of my Beatles' albums so far and plan to finish with them all. It's been a lot of fun sitting here listening to all the Beatles' music.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Producers or the Producers?

Instead of sleeping I'm converting more vinyl to digital. The newest album to get the treatment is The Producers debut album. For those who don't remember this maybe two hit wonder the group came out in the early 80s. Their first album was issued in 1981. They had two hit singles off the album "What's He Got?" and "What She Does to Me" plus some play on the single "I Love Lucy." They were one of those pop groups that come and go with a few good songs.

I actually saw this group in concert years ago, probably not long after the release of their first album. I saw them on the riverboat when it was still docked in New Orleans and they would have concerts on it. They put on a really good show, with a lot of energy and fun.

As the songs transfer from the album to I Tunes it pulls up the covers to the albums if the album is in I Tunes database. (For example the Beatles have not released any of their music to any online service yet, and it does not pull up any artwork for their album covers.) The Producers album cover is this:

What it pulled up was this cover:

Happy Birthday to My Brother

Today is my brother's birthday and I just wanted to take a moment to wish him a very happy one. I just got off the phone talking with him a little while ago. My brother is one of the most honest, straightforward persons I know. He's taken what could have been a very bad situation and made it into something good. I couldn't be prouder of being his brother.


I have a tendency to not remember my dreams. I'm not going to say I don't dream. It's been pretty well established that everyone dreams to one extent or another. But in the morning when I wake up I'll catch a fleeting glimpse of my dreamscape and than it drifts away into the mist of nothinginess.

This morning I woke up remembering a dream and even now still remember parts of it. It was one of those weird dreams where there was a lot of people from work and we where in a house in the middle of nowhere and talking about going to the University of Montana. I walked outside and was alone in fields with rolling hills and I heard my Dad speak to me. I woke up as I was calling out to him "Dad?"

That's all I remember. It's the first time that I can remember dreaming about my Dad since he died this last summer.

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