Fifty Years On: Still the Best [With Comments by John]

Featured image It was fifty years ago that The Beatles took the U.S. by storm, culminating in their February 9 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show (supposedly the most watched TV show in American history at that point).  Here’s a short highlight reel And here’s “The Rutles” spoof (and if you’ve never seen The Rutles, well, order it on Netflix tonight.  I’m convinced The Rutles was the Inspiration for This Is Spinal »

Maybe tomorrow

Featured image Phil Everly — the younger of the Everly Brothers — died yesterday of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at the age of 74. The Associated Press obituary does not traffic in understatement: “There is no more beautiful sound than the voices of siblings swirled together in high harmony, and when Phil and Don Everly combined their voices with songs about yearning, angst and loss, it changed the world.” Phil Everly’s death »

From Gaga to Obama

Featured image Reading Maureen Callahan’s New York Post column “What happened to Lady Gaga?” and watching the meticulously edited video below, I started wondering if Barack Obama might be to politics what Lady Gaga is to music. Wouldn’t it be pretty to think so? I can’t make the case for the proposition, at least not yet. Instead, I’m filing this one under Laughter Is the Best Medicine. »

From this moment on

Featured image Today is the ninety-eighth anniversary of the birth of Frank Sinatra. William Ruhlman provides an excellent overview of Sinatra’s long career. Omniscient Twin Cities deejay Pete Lee calls Sinatra “Saint Francis of Hoboken,” an appellation that situates him within a musical frame of reference. According to William Butler Yeats, “The intellect of man is forced to choose/perfection of the life, or of the work…” If there is such a choice, »

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: »