Lush Life

Featured image Today is the anniversary of the birth of Billy Strayhorn, the compositional and arranging genius behind many of Duke Ellington’s best-known songs such as “Take the A Train,” “C-Jam Blues,” and “Satin Doll.” Strayhorn is said to have written both the music and lyrics to “Lush Life” as a teenager. It is a remarkable song whose sadness, glamor, excess and dissipation he seems to have lived out: I used to »

The World Turned Upside Down

Featured image Legend has it that when Gen. Cornwallis’s army surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown in 1781, the British band played “The World Turned Upside Down.”  That’s what things are feeling like this week, though perhaps we ought to be warming up some version of “The End Is Near.” Who ever thought that when it came to foreign affairs we would some day be saying “Thank God for the French”?  It »


Featured image The CMA show tonight was great fun. It started with “Obamacare By Morning,” as Scott noted a little while ago. (And, by the way, if you don’t know George Strait’s Amarillo By Morning you are missing out, here it is.) Throughout the show, various wags tweeted under the hashtag #obamacountrysongs. Lots of them were pretty funny. Here are some samples that barely scratch the surface: * I Walk the Lie »

Obamacare by Morning

Featured image At the CMA Awards tonight, hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood served up tomorrow’s hit today. Funny, they don’t look like bitter clingers to me. Via Twitchy. »

Kickstart this

Featured image I flipped over singer Suzy Bogguss when I saw her perform with her band at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis in 2011. I wrote about the show here. Suzy played all her hits and previewed her then unreleased recording of traditional American music. She has a moving voice and a perfect feel for great material, including the traditional music she brought to life on The American »

What Would The Kinks Say About The Kinks in Obamacare? [With Numerous Awesome Suggestions in the Comments]

Featured image So we’re told now that the “glitches” in the Obamacare rollout are really just “kinks.”  Well that got me to thinking: just what would The Kinks say about this?  Would they complain about the misappropriation of their good name?  Or, perhaps, is their song oeuvre suitable for this situation? So let’s head over to, and check out the official list of the top ten list of The Kinks hits, »

This could be the start of something

Featured image Steve Allen was a funny guy. One of his bits that I thought funniest was dramatic readings of fictitious letters to the editor at the end of which he would attribute them to unlikely sources. Rick Santelli’s dramatic reading of Obama’s impassioned 2006 speech against raising the debt limit put me in mind of Steve Allen’s old bit. (I posted Santelli’s reading here.) It’s pretty much exactly the way Steve »


Featured image The Eagles song “Hotel California” has a nightmarish quality to it. At the Hotel California, the night man explains, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Politico’s Jason Millman and Kyle Cheney provide a sort of Hotel California take on one problem with Obamacare’s portal: “Once you finally make it into, it’s not clear how you get out. For those who’ve busted »

Who was Doc Pomus?

Featured image It’s been several years since we observed the anniversary of the birth of the great pop songwriter Doc Pomus (Jerome Felder), but Marc Myers provides raw material for celebration in the Wall Street Journal column “From pain, magic moments” (behind the Journal’s jealously guarded subscription paywall). Myers has a related JazzWax post that is accessible under the heading “Who was Doc Pomus?” The occasion of Myers’s attention to Felder is »


Featured image John Ondrasik, also known as Five For Fighting–it took me a long time to pick up on the hockey reference–has a new album out titled Bookmarks. I bought it on iTunes the day it came out, burned a CD and have been listening to it in my car. It is excellent, even by the high standard of FFF. The sound is upbeat, pop-flavored and accessible. While John’s music is certainly »

Dan Penn returns

Featured image Legendary songwriter Dan Penn returns with his friend Bobby Emmons to the Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis for a show this coming Monday, September 30. Penn’s site is here; his bio is here. The show is an almost unbelievable review of Penn’s almost unbelievable career at the heart of soul/rhythm and blues over the past 50 years. I have a pretty good idea what he’ll be doing »


Featured image Today we observe the anniversary of the birth of the incomparable soul singer Otis Redding. Among other things, Redding was the artist responsible for Aretha Franklin’s breakthrough song “Respect.” Franklin recorded the song in 1967 at her Atlantic recording session in New York City after she returned from her initial Atlantic session in Muscle Shoals. It turned out to be the breakthrough that turned Aretha into a star overnight after »

Strange New Worlds Indeed

Featured image Until someone provides us with the inevitable “Hitler Learns About the Miley Cyrus MTV Stunt” video, this mashup of Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise will have to do: »

Long long time

Featured image Via Rosanne Cash’s Twitter feed yesterday I learned the sad news that Linda Ronstadt has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Rondstadt discovered that the disease accounts for the loss of her singing voice. The Telegraph reports the story here. According to the Telegraph story Ronstadt has been experiencing the symptoms of Parkinson’s for the past eight years. We saw her perform at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis about five or six »

My Favorite Model…

Featured image …has long been Bar Rafaeli, for reasons that require no explanation. When a woman looks like Bar you can forgive anything, even dating Leonardo DiCaprio. But Rafaeli has not been terribly popular in her native Israel, mostly because she dodged service in the IDF and later explained, in a moment of ill-advised candor: I don’t regret not enlisting, because it paid off big time. That’s just the way it is; »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I saluted singer/songwriter Shawn Colvin in “If these walls…” as she was about to visit the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in Minneapolis earlier this year. By my lights she is a gifted artist. In the video below Shawn is joined by Mary-Chapin Carpenter on Merle Haggard’s “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Haggard is of course a national treasure. He should be named America’s poet laureate while he is still »

People, let me put you wise

Featured image In a long career now spanning more than fifty years, Dion Dimucci has experienced many ups and downs. Through it all, he has maintained a rare purity in his work. At every stage of his career you can hear the blues coming through. I love this guy. Dion arrived in 1958 with the Belmonts, giving vocal group harmony an outrageous Bronx twist in “I Wonder Why,” the Pomus/Shuman song that »