Archive | April, 2012

I’m The Only One

26 Apr

With a free evening, a jones to be creative, and about 8 different blog ideas floating in my head, I sat down tonight to write. Looking for music to scrawl by, I idly flipped through my iPod. I was suddenly shocked by how many artists are represented by just one song on the Pod, and in several cases, the only song I like – or even own – by the given artist. I’m not necessarily talking one hit wonders here, though I suppose there are a few of those. (Take a bow, “Under the Milky Way”, “Whoever You Are”, and “Flagpole Sitta”!) Download culture perhaps makes this more and more of a phenomenon for us all; why take a chance on a whole album when you can just go get the one song you dig? In my case, though, I tend to jump in feet first – see a band live, buy their CD practically unheard, etc. They may be represented by just one song, but I’ve surely heard many other songs of theirs. So, I’d like to take a brief moment to pay tribute to five of my favorites from the bands and singers who rocked my world…that one time…with that one song. All of the following songs still live on my iPod. Continue reading

It’s Got a Good Beat and It’s Easy To Dance To

18 Apr

CNN has been, for at least two hours straight now, honoring the life of Dick Clark, who passed away today of a heart attack at age 82.  I could wax rhapsodic about the man’s history on this blog, too, but the story’s pretty well-known, isn’t it?  American Bandstand host and producer.  Game show host, of programs like The $100,000 Pyramid.  New Year’s Rockin’ Eve emcee.  Instead (much like when Davy Jones passed even more unexpectedly), I’m compelled to offer some brief thoughts on three ways I’ll remember Dick Clark.

1.  He brought music into my living room.  Specifically, through American Bandstand he brought all sorts of modern music – pop, rock, R&B, dance, famously breaking down color barriers for artists on TV – into my grandmother’s living room.  When I was really young and living in a small town and my family was poor.  Some of my earliest memories are of being spread out on the cold cement floor, watching any and all music programs on that tiny television.  Saturdays seemed to be full of them, though my fuzzy memories could be mashing them all into one time frame: Soul Train, Dance Fever, Solid Gold, Puttin’ on the Hits.  (I couldn’t stay up late enough for the really cool stuff like The Midnight Special.)  My first glimpses of icons like Stevie Wonder (playing “Superstition”!), Tina Turner, and Elton John were on these programs.  I’m pretty certain the first time I saw the childhood dreamboats in Wham! and Duran Duran was on Bandstand, too.  And even if I didn’t catch those artists on Bandstand, that show obviously laid the foundation for the other shows to exist, and for artists to be seen as well as heard long before MTV blew those doors open. 

2.  That Barry Manilow “Bandstand” theme song.  The “Bandstand Boogie” tune was always American Bandstand‘s theme song, but appeared in instrumental form until 1977, when it was replaced by Barry Manilow’s version with lyrics about appearing on the show.  When you think about American Bandstand, this is likely the first thing that comes to mind – soon followed by Dick Clark sitting in the audience with the young dancers when introducing the week’s musical guest.  Or maybe you thought about the Rate-A-Record segment, when the kids ranked new singles on a scale from 0-100.  (“It’s got a good beat and it’s easy to dance to.  I’d give it a 75.”)  The theme song jumps to mind for me because it was catchy as hell, and because in high school, I had to dance a routine to this song.  Let me remind you all that I cannot dance.  I rarely even ever feel compelled to dance.  (Unless this is playing live in front of me.)  But I attempted to go along with choreography, along with about a dozen of my female classmates, in the service of trying to win the local level of the 1993 “Young Woman of the Year” pageant (formerly known as Junior Miss) and getting some college scholarship dough.  Unshockingly, I didn’t win, or even rank.  It’s more shocking that I even entered the pageant.  I really needed that money.

3.  He was immortal, and then he was too mortal.  The joke I always heard when I was a kid was about how Dick Clark never appeared to age.  He did look incredibly good for his age over the years, an eternal teenager.  Maybe being around all that youthful energy for decades kept him young?  Then came the debilitating stroke of a few years ago.  Everyone thought Clark was down for the count, but he lived to make public appearances again, most notably alongside heir apparent Ryan Seacrest on the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve specials in recent years.  After his return, Clark was pretty much universally mocked by the press for his slurred speech and decreased mobility.  After all those years of being the closest thing pop culture had to a real-life Dorian Gray, it was like someone destroyed the painting in Dick Clark’s attic.  And it was startling.  He went from eternally young to incontrovertibly old in the blink of an eye.  I commend him for attempting to return to the stage, though; he wouldn’t have tried if the passion still wasn’t within him.

We may not have a musical innovator the likes of Dick Clark again in our lifetimes.  I’m grateful for the diversity, accessiblity, and sheer joy of music he spread across the nation.  I’d give him a 100.

Killing Me Softly With His Song

15 Apr

Will Knox, the current object of my musical affection.

You know that feeling you get when you’ve just met someone special, when you’re trying to be cool on the outside but on the inside, you’re doing cartwheels? That pervasive hope that, whatever this is, please oh please let it work out? I’ve realized over the past week that I get that way when I “discover” a new musician that I enjoy. They take over my ears, my brain, and the chunk of my heart reserved for such matters. Speaking with a new friend last night, I repeatedly used the word “obsessed” to describe my fandom over the years for four different artists. Yeah, that’s about right.

The musician-fan relationship can be very much like your typical romantic one. And I’m not even saying you have to have designs ON the musician to feel this way. (Though, Lord knows that’s happened; for example, I cultivated the hugest crush on Dave Gahan for roughly a month after seeing Depeche Mode live for the first time a few years back. The hubby probably was not a fan of our computer desktop’s wallpaper during that time.) This week’s obsession is a charming Brit-transplanted-to-NYC troubadour by the name of Will Knox. I saw Mr. Knox at Hotel Cafe last Saturday with a friend of mine from out of town, who’d seen and met him before and recommended him highly. Since then, that first flush of fandom has followed the beats of a rom-com. All that’s missing is Kate Hudson. Continue reading