October 31, 2008

The Beatles as video game

As a guy who learned to play guitar and piano at a young age, I'm sort of against kids playing games like Guitar Hero on the principle they could be learning to play a real instrument instead. I've never played any of them, despite having an Xbox 360. But that may be about to change. The maker's of the Rock Band games announced yesterday it was doing a game based around the music of The Beatles.

The game will aim to feature the entire Beatles catalog and will offer an "experiential journey" off the band...

"This game will take you on a journey from the Beatles first album Please Please Me until the last album at Abbey Road,” said Apple Corps CEO Jeff Jones. “It will span samples of the whole catalogue all the way through.”

Here's an "imagining" someone did of the game using The Sims engine:

Still, despite the fact Sir Paul says "The project is a fun idea which broadens the appeal of The Beatles and their music. I like people having the opportunity to get to know the music from the inside out," I can't help thinking that many of the kids who'll play it would be better off "having the opportunity to get to know the music from the inside out" by learning to play it on an actual musical instrument. What if Guitar Hero (with Buddy Holly, Chet Atkins, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley songs) had been around back when John, Paul, George, or Ringo were teenagers in Liverpool??

Happy All Hallows Eve

"A Witch's Tangled Hare" (1959)

October 29, 2008

"One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)"

All alone in a crowded room, looking for rainbows in the bottom of a glass...

Paraphrased from the Wikipedia entry (the smaller text):

"One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" was written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer for the musical The Sky's the Limit (1943) and first performed in the film by Fred Astaire. It was popularized by Frank Sinatra.

The "One for My Baby" sequence from The Sky's the Limit:

Harold Arlen described the song as "another typical Arlen tapeworm" - a "tapeworm" being the trade slang for any song which went over the conventional 32 bar length. He called it "a wandering song. Johnny (Mercer) took it and wrote it exactly the way it fell. Not only is it long - forty-eight bars - but it also changes key. Johnny made it work." In the opinion of Arlen's biographer, Edward Jablonski, the song is "musically inevitable, rhythmically insistent, and in that mood of 'metropolitan melancholic beauty' that writer John O'Hara finds in all of Arlen's music."

album cover pic source

From Young at Heart (1954), this arrangement is very similar to the one used four years later on Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely:

Sinatra recorded the song several times during his career: In 1947 with Columbia Records, in 1958 for Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely, in 1962 for Sinatra & Sextet: Live in Paris, in 1966 for Sinatra at the Sands and finally, in 1993, for his Duets album. The latter, featuring Kenny G., closes the album and critics have noted that Sinatra almost seems to cry the final words "It's a long, long... man, it's long... road."

I'm afraid I don't know the specific year of this live Sinatra performance, but based upon his hair and the condition of his voice, I'd say it's just before he "retired" in June 1971. This is indicative of how, as he could rely less and less on his voice (particularly on ballads and softer songs), he became more and more of an actor and narrator of songs and interpreter of a lyric, most obviously on "One More for My Baby (and One More for the Road)":

October 27, 2008

Wallis, Texas

Wallis, Texas
holub's five and dime
Holub's Five & Dime

frank pazderny building
Frank Pazderny Building, c. 1909 (Hardware, Eagle Cafe, Barber Shop)

rexall drugs sign
rexall entrance screen doors
general store screen doors
rainbo is good bread screen doors
buildings in wallis, texas

2 hidden treasures (I'll have to check back again in January, February):
drink fruit nectar ghost in wallis
coca-cola ghost in wallis

wallis theater
Wallis Theater

distant view of wallis theater
looking down highway at wallis texaco
highway view of wallis texaco
wallis texaco
texaco in wallis

October 24, 2008

It was a very good Lear

Sinatra at home with a replica of the Christina II on the piano. (source)

Private Air Daily has a fascinating article about the fate of the Learjet Sinatra owned for a couple of years during the mid-60's, the Christina II. If those cockpit walls could talk! From the article:

If ever a plane played among the stars, it was N175FS. From June 1965 until he sold it two years later, Frank Sinatra and his famous friends logged more than 1,500 hours on the small, powerful early business jet. Sinatra routinely used it to shuttle the Rat Pack from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and his home in Palm Springs. He wooed Mia Farrow in it, and intimidated Michael Caine, then dating his daughter Nancy, in the back.

Celebrity private-plane culture was practically invented on it: At a time when few had their own private jets, when most Americans had never seen a private jet, Sinatra and his plane were like Hollywood's version of the first kid in class with a car. Dean Martin borrowed it to fly to movie sets. Marlon Brando and Sammy Davis Jr. took it to Mississippi to meet Martin Luther King Jr. for a civil-rights rally. Elvis Presley eloped with Priscilla Beaulieu aboard it.

With Dino (note the color - orange was Sinatra's favorite color)

Check it out. There's much more to it, complete with a cool slideshow.

  • Related post: "Hangin' out with Frank"
  • October 23, 2008

    Sinatra takes a pie in the face

    As hard as it is to believe today, the Friday night version of the Soupy Sales Show was wildly successful. I guess when you had the choice of three or four channels, people weren't too picky (or drunk). The show received more fan mail than all of ABC's network shows combined. It was also the first show in history to beat the long-running Rawhide in the ratings race. His thing was pie-throwing (with accompanying "thwak!"), he and cast apparently landing some 19,000 of them. Dozens of stars are said to have "begged" to be on the receiving end. And so it was Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. (with Trini Lopez) found themselves on an episode (I'd say around '65):

    On a related note, at about 6:33 in this video, Frank can be overheard discussing the "logistics" of pie throwing at Jilly's. Soupy Sales is one of the celebs seated around the table:

    October 22, 2008

    The Concert in Central Park

    For those who view this blog while at work, and your employer has opted to block YouTube, I apologize for my heavy use of it (particularly within this post).

    On September 19, 1981, Simon and Garfunkel reunited for a free concert in New York's Central Park. More than 500,000 people were in attendance. A live album from the concert was released the following March. The video of the concert contains two songs that were left off of the live album: "The Late Great Johnny Ace" and "Late in the Evening (Reprise)." "The Late Great Johnny Ace" was interrupted by a fan rushing the stage. Both of these songs appear in the DVD release. "The Late Great Johnny Ace" is not listed in the track listing but appears between "A Heart in New York" and "Kodachrome/Maybellene."

    1. "Mrs. Robinson"

    2. "Homeward Bound"

    3. "America"

    4. "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"

    5. "Scarborough Fair/Canticle"

    6. "April Come She Will"

    7. "Wake Up Little Susie"

    8. "Still Crazy After All These Years"

    9. "American Tune"

    10. "Late in the Evening"

    11. "Slip Slidin' Away"

    12. "A Heart in New York"/"The Late Great Johnny Ace"

    13. "Kodachrome/Maybellene"

    14. "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

    15. "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover"

    16. "The Boxer"

    17. "Old Friends"

    18. "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)"

    19. "The Sounds of Silence"

    October 19, 2008

    Palin for president

    A Harry Truman (former haberdasher from Kansas City) for our times. And like Truman, the lady's got balls. Big ol' balls...Ooh, yuck. All I need to know is how hated and despised she is by both the liberal elite media as well as the liberal regular media. That's a good sign. 2012? Let's hope the United States of America (and the world) survives the Barack Obama era, 'cause, ready or not, it's coming!.....Yay?........(shiver)...

    October 18, 2008

    Jim Reeves memorial outside Carthage

    "Gentleman Jim" Reeves - helped usher in "The Nashville Sound"

    jim reeves memorial sign
    approaching memorial
    "Gentleman Jim" Reeves, famous for his velvet voice, died in a plane crash on July 31, 1964. A life-sized sculpture of the famous singer marks his grave on a one-acre, tree-covered plot of ground three miles east of Carthage on U.S. Highway 79. Thousands of visitors from every state and many foreign countries have visited the site.

    In 1967, his favorite dog Cheyenne was buried inside the concrete circle surrounding the grave of his former master just a few feet to one side and to the rear, in just about the same position Cheyenne would have assumed in following his master.

    sidewalk guitar
    jim reeves memorial guitar sound hole
    jim reeves statue
    jim reeves statue glowing
    If I, a lowly singer, dry one tear or soothe one humble
    human heart in pain, then my homely verse to God
    is dear and not one stanza has been sung in vain.

    texas historical commission plaque for jim reeves memorial
    Born in Galloway, James Travis Reeves played professional baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals' minor league team until an injury forced him to abandon that career. He became a radio disc jockey and formed a county western band. Joining the Grand Ole Opry in 1955, he became a world famous singer. Known fondly as "Gentleman Jim," Reeves was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1967, three years after he died in a plane crash.

    at rest
    reeves memorial

    "Welcome to My World" - The Jimmy Dean Show, 1964

    Performing "I Love You Because" in Oslo, 1964

    Jim Reeves Wikipedia entry:

    Jim Reeves was born on August 20, 1923, in Galloway, Texas, a small rural community near Carthage. He became known as a crooner because of his warm, velvety voice. His songs were remarkable for their simple elegance highlighted by his rich light baritone voice. Songs such as "He'll Have to Go," "Adios Amigo (song)," "Welcome To My World," and "Am I Losing You" demonstrated this approach. Jim Reeves' Christmas songs have been perennial favorites, including songs such as "Silver Bells," "Blue Christmas," and "An Old Christmas Card".

    For many years, Reeves mixed college life with baseball and music. Influenced by such Western swing artists as Jimmie Rodgers and Moon Mullican as well as popular crooners Bing Crosby, Eddy Arnold and Frank Sinatra, it was not long before he got a foothold into the music industry. For a time, he was a member of Moon Mullican's band and also worked as a DJ and announcer with local radio stations. He made some early, Moon Mullican-style recordings like "Each Beat of my Heart" and "My Heart's Like a Welcome Mat" in the late 1940s/early 1950s.

    In his earliest RCA Victor recordings, Reeves was still singing in the loud style of his first recordings, a style considered standard for country-western performers at that time. He sought to soften his volume, using a lower pitch and singing with lips nearly touching the microphone, but ran into some resistance at RCA—until in 1957, with the support of his producer Chet Atkins, he used this new style on his version of a demo song of lost love, written from a woman's perspective (and intended for a female singer). "Four Walls" not only took top position on the country charts, but went to number eleven on the popular charts at the same time. Reeves had not only opened the door to wider acceptance for other country singers, but had also helped usher in a new style of country music, using violins and lusher background arrangements, soon called "The Nashville Sound."

    Video of memorial

    October 17, 2008

    "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times"

    Partial Wikipedia entry:

    "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" is a song by the Beach Boys from their album Pet Sounds. It is the eleventh song on the album. This song is notable because it is the first use of a keyboard-controlled variation on the theremin - later named the Electro-Theremin or Tannerin - in a rock record. Shortly after this track was recorded, Brian Wilson used the Tannerin on the "Good Vibrations" track.

    the boys - a capella (wow)

    October 16, 2008

    The Minx (soundtrack)

    Paraphrased from the soundtrack liner notes, written by Andrew Sandoval (any of the smaller text):

    Welcome to the great lost Cyrkle album! Well, almost. Recorded during mid to late 1967, The Minx shows where the Cyrkle might have gone musically, had they remained a group.

    Over the years it has gained a reputation for three things. One, as an orgasmic soundtrack to a porno movie - which it really isn't, despite some collectors' hopes. Two, as a home to several fine breakbeats, a few of which are already in use as samples in the rap/dance field. Three, as some of the final and finest moments of the Cyrkle.

    According to Cyrkle bassist Tom Dawes, "...it was just going to be a detective movie, so we signed on, eventually appearing in a two minute segment (the only part of this movie I'm really interested in seeing!). As the job took shape, I ended up writing all the music."

    "It came somewhere around the end of the group," adds Don Dannemann. It seemed like a good opportunity to capitalize on the name and knowledge we had aquired." In fact, with keys to a small recording studio called Variety, the band were able to craft a surprisingly inspired groupd of sonically diverse nuggets.

    The song "Squeeze Play" (the movie's original title) kicked off both the movie and the soundtrack album. "I went for that 'title song' big feel and of course they changed the title," laments Dawes. "I think I wrote and arranged this, though I remember Don and I were working separately but still doing that 'Lennon-McCartney' shared credit thing then." Driven by an ascending acoustic guitar pattern and funky flugelhorn, the song was also the band's first foray into self-production.

    For the Cyrkle's big scene in the movie, Dawes composed "Murray the Why," with its quintessential Cyrkle organ riff (à la "Red Rubber Ball;" I also hear The Monkees' "I'm a Believer"). An attack on self-proclaimed 'fifth Beatle' Murray the K, the inspiration recalled their real-life dispute with former manager and disc jockey Gene Kaye. At the height of the Cyrkle's career, opening up for the Beatles' '66 tour, Kaye served the group with a lawsuit while they prepared for a show in a dugout of a baseball stadium.

    When the title of the film was switched from "Squeeze Play" to The Minx, another of Dawes incidental pieces was employed as the main title theme. "I was into Jobim and learned a lot of those bossa nova chords on the gut string, and did that almost as a demo, but it got used," recalls Dawes. "I'm singing and I think I'm playing everything.

    On 'The Minx (Instrumental)' I put the same theme into a kind of Herb Alpert arrangement with a walking bass."

    For the film's fashion sequence, the Don Dannemann song "Something Special" is utilized. First recorded in June 1967, the song acts as almost an alternate theme for the movie with lyrics detailing the plot.

    Jan Sterling (a descendant of John Adams and John Quincy Adams)

    Perhaps the film's most poignant moment comes when Louise Baxter (Jan Sterling) is forced to sign business papers after a pitiful session of love-making with her contemptible husband. Set to the song "It's a Lovely Game, Louise," the sequence displays a drama far above the quality of The Minx's B-Movie trappings.

    Tellingly, it would be another eight years before Sterling's next screen performance. "I wrote this feeling sorry for Jan Sterling's character," says Dawes. "One of the lines of dialogue referred to her 'lovely game' (i.e., ill-fated attempts to be sexy and hold onto her philandering husband), so I built off that. I felt sorry too for Jan herself, whose career had probably bottomed out with this role."

    The remainder of the soundtrack is filled with instrumental cues culled from the movie. The all-too-brief composition "The Rigging" sounds almost like an unused backing rack from the Cyrkle's first album. "We were fooling around with double-speed recording," explains Dawes. "Guitar overdubs at 7.5 i.p.s. while the rest of the track was recorded at 15 i.p.s. We put those nutsoid breaks in the last two of every 12 bars."

    "The Party" dates back even further, foraging through the group's doo-wop past as the Rhondells. Says Dawes, "We needed a slow dance filler and I just started playing that old rock ballad I VI IV V (C Am F G) chord progression."

    Drummer Marty Fried kicks off "Nicole" with a breakbeat that has made this album a sampling favorite. "We just got down with our bad selves on a Coral Electric Sitar in D tuning," laughs Dawes. "I think it's sort of a send up of all the acid-rock drone 'Ravi Shankar attempts' that a lot of freaked out bands were doing - it's far from my fave thing we ever did. Whoever played that wood flute or recorder should be shot (me?). The wild screams are a nice touch."

    In the film, "On the Road" plays out as the Minx crew travels to set up the squeeze play at a ranch house resort. Employing some of the horn figures from the other cues, "On the Road" is wrapped up with precision 5/4-time drumming and some cool 12-string guitar.

    Elsewhere, "Walter's Riff" is a country & western play on that old double entendre: "ride 'em cowboy."

    Lastly, "The Chase" brings the album to a close. "That starts with 16th notes on the bongos à la Lalo Schifrin," says Dawes. "We added stuff in a minor key and tried to make it build to a scary climax."

    So, by the time the X-rated version of The Minx finally hit screens in late 1969, the film had been in the can almost as long as the band's chart career. "Needless to say, I was sorry I asked for that credit" (for soundtrack composition), remarks Tom Dawes on the final product. "My mother insisted on going to see it and was real proud for the first two minutes and slinked out of the theater when the female detective popped up getting ready to masturbate with a pistol!"

    submit to reddit

    October 15, 2008


    From the Wikipedia entry:

    "Atomic" was the third single from the 1979 album Eat to the Beat by Blondie. It was written by Debbie Harry and Jimmy Destri and the track was produced by Mike Chapman

    The song was produced as a mixture of new wave and disco which had proven to be so successful in their #1 hit from earlier in 1979, "Heart of Glass." The guitar riff is directly influenced by the one in the Neil Diamond song "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon."

    October 14, 2008

    The post in which I make you cry

    Here, you might need these:

    In Texas, hunting, and deer hunting, specifically, is a huge part of our culture. And here in East Texas, it's an even bigger deal. I've been deer hunting one time, about twenty years ago, doing it with several die hard hunters. The "peer pressure" was tremendous to shoot one. I got to the moment of truth where I actually had a deer in my scope. And. I. Just. Could. Not. Do. It. Couldn't do it! And I knew/know well why -- Bambi. I'd been effectively and irrevocably "Bambi-fied." Sounds like I share some good company, based on a recent poll reported by Telegraph.co.uk:

    Walt Disney's classic animated film Bambi has been voted the best "tear-jerker" of all time, despite being 66 years old.

    The tale of love, life and loss which follows the story of a young deer has touched generations of young fans since its release in 1942.

    Its "lump in the throat moment" comes when Bambi's mother is shot by hunters.

    Her actual death is never shown, instead, the fawn's father tells him quietly: "Your mother can't be with you any more," as they walk off into the snow together.

    The film was named best tear-jerker in an online poll of more than 3,000 people, carried out on behalf of Pearl and Dean, with 18 per cent of the vote.

    Sir Paul McCartney has credited the film with turning him vegetarian.

    In an interview three years ago, he said: "I think that made me grow up thinking hunting isn't cool."

    Are you ready for this? Sure? Allrighty then:

    Okay, that is pretty rough, but I still think this scene from Dumbo tops even that one. I can clearly remember my mother (who brought my little sister and me to see it in this Galveston theater, during the October 1972 re-release) crying during this:

    Are you sure you want to do this to yourself?
    The brief, minor chord reprise of the "Baby Mine" melody at the end gets me every time.