Favorite Lines from Songs

Sometimes lyrics will hook you into a song more than even the melody…here are a few I like.

I wasn’t looking too good but I was feeling real well… Rolling Stones

Meet the new Boss/same as the old boss…The Who

The sunshine bores the daylights out of me… Rolling Stones

We learned more from a three-minute record, baby/Than we ever learned in school…Bruce Springsteen

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together… Beatles

She knows there’s no success like failure and that failure’s no success at all… Bob Dylan

The silence of a falling star lights up a purple sky… Hank Williams SR

Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain and celluloid heroes never really die… Kinks

Yes, I wish that for just one time/You could stand inside my shoes/You’d know what a drag it is to see you… Bob Dylan

But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die… Johnny Cash

I hid in the mother breast of the crowd,/when they said “pull down” I pulled up… Bruce Springsteen

We always did feel the same/We just saw it from a different point of view…Bob Dylan

In Jersey, anything’s legal, as long as you don’t get caught… The Traveling Wilburys

Shake the hand that shook the hand of P.T. Barnum and Charlie Chan… Grateful Dead

Shammy cleaning all the windows singing songs about Edith Piaf’s soul… Van Morrison

I shouted out,”Who killed the Kennedys?” when after all It was you and me…Rolling Stones

Measuring a summer’s day/ I only finds it slips away to grey/ The hours, they bring me pain…Led Zeppelin

I just spent 60 days in the jailhouse/for the crime of having no dough…The Band

You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself…Ricky Nelson

Hello darkness, my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again…Paul Simon

I drank enough whiskey to float a battleship around… Lynyrd Skynyrd

I blew out my flip-flop stepped on a pop-top/cut my heel had to cruise on back home… Jimmy Buffet

And in the end,the love you take is equal to the love you make…The Beatles

 

 

 

 

IT the Novel

I’m not writing a summary of the book…a good one is here… Just how IT affects me.

Everything I was scared of in childhood comes back to me in this book…vividly. What if it was really a monster in the dark like I thought?

I did a post on the old tv mini-series and the new movie but the novel is a great piece of work. I have read it at least 7 times. I keep coming back to it and visiting Derry and the kids that grew up together. After reading the book you feel like you know these people…or you have known people like them while growing up. It makes you think of the friends you had at 10-11 that you have forgotten their name and some of the things you did with them.

When I’m reading it I’m transported to Derry in 1957-1958 and then ahead to 1984-85 and then back to the 50s. King is so detailed that you feel like you have been in that town and know the townsfolk, the streets, the stores and the dirty secrets.  I always…always find things that I missed before because it is so massive.

It’s like learning about your town. The star of the book…isn’t Pennywise…it’s Derry. They are maybe one in the same but it holds the secrets of everyone in that town. The book is also about coming of age and the awkwardness that comes with it…for the kids and for the town.

Some things I feel while reading is:

Rage… The rage for Henry Bowers is something that the movie and the tv series does not halfway convey. He is the ultimate bully. Most of us had a form of a Henry Bowers to contend with…

Familiarity… the losers club is basically a bunch of misfits that blend together and all of them have talents that no one else outside of the group really notices but are used by the club. It’s a story you are familiar with and you may have been in a similar group as a kid.

Nostalgia… No, I wasn’t raised in the 50s or even close but the same things these kids were into as kids…rock and roll, curious about the opposite sex, exploring, still believing in magic… having no real responsibilities, the fun of being a kid and every day was new…is not era related.

I make it sound like a quaint little book about growing up… no… it is scary but what makes it scary for me is I can relate to most of the characters in the book…that makes it real. Stephen King is a master at that. He makes everything seem plausible.

Pennywise is one of the greatest monsters/evil entity ever. You get a vast variety of monsters that IT changes into also… if IT is not doing tha… it is busy influencing some of the weaker citizens of Derry.

The infamous sex “scene”… I’ve read reviewers talk it up like it is some cheap porn setup (I’m hearing the 70’s wah wah guitar in the background)…it’s not like that. It’s very innocent and they have no clue really on what to do. Was it a surprise when I read it? Yes…Was it erotic? NO it wasn’t at all… I didn’t know about it beforehand…I had to do a double take but I got King’s meaning. To find their way back out of the sewer they had to reunite and be adults and in a sense leave childhood behind…it was used as a bridge from childhood to being an adult. It was a different era (1980s) when he wrote this…he probably would not have written it the same way now.

Of course, all of this is just the way it affected me.

Get the book and read it…or reread it.

 

 

Janis Joplin

I cannot say how much I love this woman. Janis had the most powerful voice I have ever heard. She could sing with beauty and she could sing with a sound like Southern Comfort pouring through razor blades. There was soul, confidence, strength, and vulnerability in her voice that came through in every song.

She moved from Texas to San Francisco and became part of the San Francisco music scene with the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Her influences were Billy Holiday, Bessie Smith. Big Mama Thornton, Odetta, and Leadbelly.

She played with Big Brother and the Holding Company who were as raw as you could get and they played at Monterrey and broke through. She went solo with a couple of backing bands The Kozmic Blues Band and the Full Tilt Boogie Band.

There are few artists who give everything they have all the time. Bruce Springsteen is one…Janis was one. On film it comes through…she gives everything she has and more.

My favorite songs by Janis are…. well I could hear her sing the phone book and I would be happy….but some I really like are…Down On Me, Summertime, Piece of My Heart, Ball, and Chain, Try (Just a little bit Harder), Maybe, Little Girl Blue, Cry Baby, Me and Bobby McGee, Mercedes Benz and anything live she did with either band…She could sing the blues and she lived them…

Her nickname was Pearl and that was the name of her last album. She left $2,500 for her wake…. 200 guests were invited with invitations that read…”Drinks are on Pearl”…

I only wished she could have survived and been alive today. Much like Jimi Hendrix, I hate to think what we missed out on.

Influence of the Monkees

I debated on whether to write this or not. When the Monkees are mentioned some people cringe but they have a place in my 5-year-old self…plus how many bands can say that Jimi Hendrix opened up for them… though maybe the worst pairing ever.

While writing this I’m not saying they deserve to be remembered as a top rock group. Not at all but they do need to be recognized for their influence on a couple of generations. They influenced a lot of kids to form bands…mostly because of their weekly prime-time television show and ensuing hit singles. In the 80s they had a big comeback with a tour and massive airplay on MTV… I got to see them then…without Nesmith though.

When I was around 5-6 years old and watched the Monkees in syndication many years after they did the show.  I loved them. I thought WOW… I must be in a band one day. Little did I know that being in a band was not living in a cool place at the beach and having adventures at every turn…not to mention everyone getting along…it doesn’t happen. They had fun songs and influenced me…After I went through the Monkees faze I discovered the Beatles, The Who, Stones, Kinks…anything British but I have a soft spot for some of the old Monkees songs.

The Monkees basically took A Hard Days Night movie humor and made a television show around a life of a mid-sixties rock band. Kids wanted to form bands after seeing them romp around the screen with girls…who wouldn’t want that gig? Michael Stipe from REM is one that states he was influenced by the Monkees.

They were not allowed to play on their first couple of albums…only sing…The Monkees were put together by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider for Screen Gems with two real musicians in the band…Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork… Micky Dolenz (he did sing in cover bands before The Monkees) and Davy Jones could sing and act…. and Mickey quickly learned drums.

When news came out that they didn’t play on their albums they were roundly criticized in the 1960s. They fought Don Kershner who controlled what they sang…. and won… The funny thing is many sixties pop bands didn’t play on their records and the Monkees actually started to play their own instruments on their third album (Headquarters)  and writing some songs for every album afterward.

In the second season of their tv show they started to gain more control there also… Some of those last episodes are very pot influenced…especially the episode called “The Frodis Caper”… The episodes started to get surreal and break the fourth wall…the second season is worth a watch…all of them are fun but the 1st season is more formulaic.

HEAD The Movie…they made a trip movie called Head that Jack Nicholson helped to write… Personally, I like it but I like 60s movies like this. The one song that stands out is The Porpoise Song. The movie tears down the Monkee myth… One song/chant is the “Ditty Diego “… The first lines are “Hey, hey, we are the Monkees You know we love to please A manufactured image With no philosophies“…They didn’t take themselves seriously at all…they knew where they were at as far as a band goes. When they made the movie they knew it would destroy their image…that was the point.

I do still like some songs by them…anything wrote by Michael Nesmith (famous also for Elephant Parts), Pleasant Valley Sunday, Randy Scouse Git, Steppin Stone and Saturday’s Child.

All in all, they ended up singing and playing on some of the best-known sixties pop-rock hits….plus they drove one of those cool sixties tv cars…the Monkeemobile.

 

 

 

The Dick Cavett Show

 

The Dick Cavett Show on ABC  was a smart alternative to the Tonight Show with  Johnny Carson and Cavett frequently booked intellectuals for extended and in-depth conversations

You actually got to really know the guests. He took more than 10 minutes, unlike today…there were no distractions, no busy sets just great conversations.

The knock on Cavett was….snob, name-dropper and controversial guests. All three were correct and I loved it. Yes, he attended Yale and yes he was/is a name dropper…If I got to hang out with people like Groucho Marx I would be a name dropper also… you better believe it. He would book John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and many more. He welcomed the counterculture and Nixon hated him…that is a seal of approval for me.

He would mix and match guests….Janis Joplin, Raquel Welch and Gloria Swanson on the same show…together!

His ABC show in the early 70s was the best out of all of his different shows (PBS, CBS, USA Network). If he had a special rare guest he would only have that one guest for the entire show or sometimes two…

He had Norman Mailer and. Gore Vidal going at it… One show featured Salvador Dalí, Lillian Gish, and Satchel Paige. He took chances and it paid off… Johnny Carson once said that Dick Cavett was the only one that could have given him a serious challenge…but ABC then was a distant 3rd in the network race. 

This is not knocking Johnny whatsoever. Johnny’s show is the blueprint of today’s talk shows…Cavett just gave you a smarter show.

Watching the shows now it’s like watching a time capsule. Not everything is topical though. To hear Marlon Brando and Katherine Hepburn who hardly ever did talk shows is very interesting.

It was NOT… hey my name is Miss fill in the blank and my favorite color is blue…bye until next time I need to plug something… You really got to know the person and Dick could usually bring out something interesting. My favorite interview of George Harrison is by Dick. It didn’t look promising at first but George finally warmed up to a very relieved Cavett… this one was right after John and Yoko were guests.

Cavett and the 72 Rolling Stones Tour

Cavett and Woody Allen

Have Gun Will Travel

I never got into TV westerns very much but this one was different. It was on for 6 seasons from 1957 – 1963 that featured very different leading man type…Richard Boone.

24 episodes were written by Gene Roddenberry before he tackled Star Trek. The writing and the stories set this show apart from Bonanza and many other westerns from this time period. That is not a knock on the other westerns but this one was unique.

A rich sophisticated gunslinger (that goes by the name Paladin)…with morals…. lives in a 1880s hotel in San Francisco. Anyone in trouble can hire him at his normal fee of 1000 dollars (if the cause is good….he sometimes doesn’t charge)… He is a problem solver and only kills if he has to.  Paladin never reveals his real name but during each episode, he will flash his business card to a prospective client and then Paladin changes from socialite clothing to an all-black outfit. He is a man’s man who is a fast draw and quotes Shakespeare, Homer, Oscar Wilde and many more… Not your average western gunslinger…

Guest stars included Charles Bronson, Jack Lord, Buddy Ebsen, Harry Morgan, Dan Blocker, DeForest Kelley, Ken Curtis, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine and many more.

I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did because they did not dumb it down like so many shows did then and especially now.

If you decide to give this series a try…watch the 1st episode of the 6th season (Genesis) first… because it explains where Paladin got his name…but still never gives his real name.

HGWT2.jpg

 

Van Morrison

Van the man is supposedly a difficult man to know but man can he sing and write… He started out with a group called Them in Belfast Ireland. They were very underrated and made some great music in the mid 60s. Gloria, Mystic Eyes, Baby Please Don’t Go, Here Comes The Night, Don’t Look Back and my favorite that is hard to find…”Mighty Like A Rose”…

He quit Them and signed with Bert Bern’s Bang records and wrote Brown Eyed Girl which sounds fresh no matter how many times i hear it. After the death of Berns he started on his great albums. Astral Weeks, Moondance, His Band and The Street Choir, Tupelo Honey, Saint Dominic’s Preview, Hard Nose the Highway and the list continues on.

My favorites are Moondance and Tupelo Honey. These albums are consistently great. I also love the title track to Saint Dominic’s Preview…it’s an epic song that I can listen to over and over with the imagery never getting old. I would suggest to anyone to get the early to mid seventies albums (but his other albums are great also) and listen to all the songs….not just the radio friendly ones. The radio songs are great… Moondance, Crazy Love, Tupelo Honey, Blue Money, Domino, Blue Money, Caravan, Wild Night but there is so much more.

Van’s voice and phrasing is like no other. I saw him live finally in 2006 and his voice was even better than I thought. If I could sing like anyone…I would pick Van.

For a person who wants to listen to Van for the first time… I would recommend the Tupelo Honey and Moondance albums to start off with…. Rock, country, folk, pop and some jazz for good measure…all mixed together in terrific songs… for his early work with Them get The Story of Them Featuring Van Morrison

 

 

The Grateful Dead

I’ve never been a Deadhead but I am envious of them. Unlike any other band…their music and fans belong in a special class. The fans are joined to an elusive club and a lot of them are really close. The band at one time was so accessible… more than any other band I’ve heard of… They have so much music to pick from…years and years of touring and recording. The band not only didn’t mind fans recording their concerts but set up a special place to record for a time. Led Zeppelin’s manager would have his goons smash fan’s recording equipment for doing that…other bands also.

They did not compromise…they did what they wanted to do and forget the rest. Top ten records? Nah…didn’t need them…didn’t have one until the 80s and still outdrew almost everyone. I’m happy they did have the one in the 80s…Touch of Grey…they really didn’t need it but it made the general public take notice. It was great in the 80s to see a cool anti-rock star Jerry Garcia with the Grateful Dead chugging away on MTV sounding better than the spandex idiots on the other videos at the time.

For me, I like their early seventies period a lot. Workingman’s Dead, American Beauty (which are two classic albums) From The Mars Hotel and a little later the adventurous Terrapin Station. I mostly like songs that are condensed down…hence why I was never really big on the long jams but I really respect the musicianship that went into them live. They could be playing folk, bluegrass, jazz and then switch on a dime to rock…and make it fit. To me, it was like a huge bus rolling down the road about to go off the cliff at any moment and then suddenly being jerked back on the road before the crash….sometimes it wasn’t but for the most part, it was pulled back just in time.

When Jerry died in 1995 I was sad. I didn’t know a whole a lot about him or the band…though I had their greatest hits in the early 80s…I knew enough to know someone and something special had gone too soon…I also regretted not being on that bus for a small ride anyway.

Songs I like:

Ripple, A Friend of the Devil, Mr. Charlie, Truckin, Uncle Johns Band (which I could listen on a tape loop for eons and eons), U.S. Blues, New Speedway Boogie, Casey Jones, Attics of My Life, Brokedown Palace, Box of Rain, Sugar Magnolia, Touch of Grey, Hell in a Bucket and a Garcia solo Sugaree…

There are many more I’m not remembering…

 

 

 

The Boys of Summer

Opening Day…Baseball is back and I’m thrilled. I’ve always been a baseball fan first. No other sport matches up against it. It’s a game that takes a tremendous amount of skill to play. Most players who get drafted never get to play in the majors. Hitting a major league curveball is probably the hardest thing to do in all sports.

Anyway, there is nothing like spring training and the hope for a new season. Every team is tied at 0 in the standings. I really wish an MLB team was in the city I live in…we have an NFL team that I would trade in a heartbeat to get an MLB team. Baseball is not an action-packed game like basketball, soccer or hockey but there is a game within a game. When you get up to bat…no one is going to block for you…no it’s you against that pitcher … What I love is the different sized fields, no clock, no salary cap, players with quirks, fastballs that are 95 and above and the people who have the skills to play it right…it is a beautiful thing to see.

Baseball really hasn’t changed too much over the years except for instant replay and some small changes. What you see now is pretty much what you saw in the 1920s except the players make a tad bit more. It’s one of the few things in America that stays consistent.

It’s a game of numbers and history…From Honus Wagner to Babe Ruth to Ted Williams to Jackie Robinson to Willie Mays to Hank Aaron to Sandy Koufax to Clayton Kershaw to Mike Trout… No sport’ has a history like baseball. Numbers and players are markers in that history.

I love to listen to broadcasts on the radio and to catch a game in mid-summer after I get done with what I am doing. In an instant, I’m back on the little league and then high school field.

The cold weather is almost gone and it is time for me to follow my Dodgers all the way to a World Series again…but this time…win.

 

 

 

Beatles Movies

Beatle Movies: A Hard Days Night, Help, Magical Mystery Tour and Let It Be.

A Hard Day’s Night – The plot was the Beatles on their way to a television appearance and the chaos that happens on the way there. Fans are chasing them everywhere and this part was in real life identical. Throw in Paul’s movie grandfather and you have the movie. The film is rated in the top 100 of some movie lists. The sound track is great and the Beatles were natural comedians and they had a witty script. A Hard Day’s Night was very close to real life because it was partly written by someone who went on tour with the Beatles and wrote some first hand information.

The Beatles were compared to the Marx Brothers when the movie came out. This movie is where their image was set in the public’s eye…John the intellectual, Paul the cute one, George the quiet one and Ringo the funny one (all of them were funny) of course it wasn’t that simple in real life.

This is the best movie they made and it fit them perfectly. I was fortunate enough to see this at a movie theater when it was re-released in 2000. Seeing the movie they way it was shown in 1964 was a great experience.

Help – A religious cult lost a ring that they had to have for a sacrifice ritual… Guess who had the ring? Ringo of course… the ring would not come off of his hand so they made trips to various places to help Ringo including Scotland Yard and mad scientists. The film looks great restored with vivid color. The filming locations included England, Austria and the Bahamas. The cinematography of the movie was great.

This was my introduction to Beatles movies and although not critically acclaimed it still is a good movie. John didn’t think much of the movie…his quote was “it was like being a frog in a movie about clams.”…it is enjoyable all the same. I’ve probably watched it more than any of their movies.

Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles making a colorful home movie is the best way to describe it. The music makes the movie. It was a psychedelic trip that most Beatles fans enjoy. Where else can you see a video of I Am the Walrus, Blue Jay Way and The Fool on the Hill? They play 4 wizards that…well…. they play 4 wizards. I have seen this movie multiple times and every time I think maybe I missed something previously and its better than I remember…no… except you get to see them in their psychedelic phase and above all else the music. I can’t say I don’t enjoy it but only a little at a time.

It has been restored with a “making of” included with it. I enjoyed the documentary more than the movie, It’s not for non Beatles fans but for Beatles fans its a fascinating look an interesting time for them. I have to admit I like scenes from this movie more than the whole movie like Lennon’s spaghetti scene I Am the Walrus scene… The ending with the tuxedos is pretty cool also.

Yellow Submarine – A beautiful animated movie with the Beatles looking for Pepperland. I saw this as a kid and was mesmerized by the colors and these strange talking characters. Most of the soundtrack are older songs and orchestrated music by George Martin. The Beatles didn’t even do the voices because they were not really interested but ended up loving the movie. They did appear at the end of the movie in person.

This movie is very enjoyable for kids and adults. I pull it out every year and watch it.  My favorite character is Jeremy who helps and hinders and is a unique character in the movie to say the least. The animation is terrific and ahead of it’s time. To some people this is their favorite Beatles movie. Watch this movie if you can… it is enjoyable.

Let It Be – A record of the Beatles breaking up. They stayed together for another year but this is a glimpse of the tensions that were happening. I’m a huge Beatles fan but it is hard watching this movie at times but I do like it. The first half is somewhat depressing but the second half lightens up when Billy Preston starts playing keyboards and they move the recording to the Apple headquarters. The rooftop scene is great and it is the last live performance of them and I would like to see the complete performance. Every time I watch I hope they will work it out… of course it won’t happen. You see George and Paul have a small fight and you see Yoko sticking to John like glue.

The music is great of course… from Let It Be to I Dig a Pony. You get the rawest Beatles performance since they played in Hamburg warts and all. I have a bootleg copy of this and it was actually released on laser disc but a blue ray release will not happen anytime soon because from what I’ve read the Harrison and Lennon (Yoko) estate does not want it released. I’ve also read where Paul and Ringo don’t like it and I’ve read where they don’t care. They have released so much…why not finish the story and release this…

It’s been so many years ago and it’s not like it hasn’t been documented that they were not getting along. This is for Beatles fans only.

 

 

A Clockwork Orange

This movie changed me when I was a teenager. It made me realize the power that a movie can have…There are just a few movies that have moved me and this was one of them…Platoon was another. I had seen violence before on the screen but this was realistic and brutal…especially when you are a 15 year old viewing it for the first time.

I love the soundtrack especially the music that was performed on a Moog synthesizer and it set the tone for the film. I’m not giving a synopsis of the movie…there are plenty of books and internet sites that do that… but a movie that will change you does its job and more.

The scenes that stick with me are the record shop scene, the Billyboy gang fight, Singing in the Rain and of course the eye scene… The record shop scene was filmed in the Chelsea Drugstore… I would love to have a room like that place. Very 60’s-70s futuristic…immortalized in the Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”…The building is now sadly a McDonalds…modern progress?

This movie runs the gamut…cruelty, horror, the absurd, violence, pity, and justice. This movie, in my opinion, shows that evil exists in all of us and what happens if we would let it take over. Also, I think the movie shows you that no one can change someone’s nature no matter what drugs or treatment you may give them outside of a lobotomy. Treatment and drugs may slow them down but their nature is not going to change.

This movie has been analyzed to death and rightly so. It could have only been made in the time period it was made. I can’t imagine this movie coming out now.

It’s very hard to put this movie into words…you just have to see it. If you want something really different…this is the movie but a warning if you don’t like violence…it’s not for you…

The cool car was an Adams Probe 16 AB/4 that was referred to as a Durango 95 in the film has been restored…

The Record Shop (Chelsea Drugstore)

clockwork-orange.jpg

Adams Probe 16 AB/4

Probe.jpg

 

 

Saturday Night Live

It started out as Saturday Night… Saturday Night Live title belonged to ABC for a show hosted by Howard Cosell who was out of his league. ABC let Saturday Night have the Live part after Cosell’s show was over.

Who was the best cast through the years? This is a question that is debated over and over again. The people arguing usually picks the cast they grew up with. I grew up with Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. Personally, I always thought the original cast was the best and it wasn’t even close. John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Chevy Chase (though I liked his replacement better…Bill Murray), Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris and my favorite overlooked cast member Laraine Newman.

Why do I like the original cast the most? They tried new things and went out on a limb. Some of the skits succeeded some didn’t but they were different from anything on TV at that time…and also at this time. That cast pushed the envelop to use a worn-out phrase but in this instance it is true. Lorne Michaels guided the show and even the musical guests were usually hip bands and artists unknown to the general public and some are legendary now. No way would Michaels ever dream of that now…he usually gets whoever is the most popular to draw in the ratings. He could not do what he did in the 70s anymore because of ratings…and it is sad. Michaels also used the complete ensemble. It was not the Eddie Murphy and the Joe Piscopo show of the early eighties. It was about getting an unknown cast and building them and all of them having a shot…not a star-driven show that gave all the best bits to the stars.

A lot of the skits are now famous… Ackroyd’s Bassomatic, the Samurai, the uncomfortable but funny Word Association with Richard Pryor, The Mr. Bill Show, Weekend Update, Roseanne Rosannadanna, Land Shark, Bag of Glass, The Wild and Crazy Guys, the Coneheads, The Lounge Singer, Mr. Mike, The Blues Brothers and many more.

The writers for the show were not in the Carol Burnett comedy vein..they were not in the current SNL vein either. The style was more aggressive, especially with Michael O’Donoghue. He was a comedy trailblazer with National Lampoon and added dark humor to SNL. Other writers were Franken and Davis, Rosie Shuster, Alan Zweibel, Marilyn Miller, Anne Beatts, Herb Sargent, Tom Schiller and also Ackroyd and Chase.

The two members that didn’t get as much publicity as the others were Newman and Morris and are not as well remembered today. Newman and Ackroyd were the best character actors on the show…they could play anyone.  That cast tried to test all the limits. SNL has turned into just another comedy show through the years. The original group also did some serious skits along with comedy and trips into the bizarre (See Mr. Mike). …It separated the original from any other cast.

There were other great casts but none resonated like the original to me. It was also the timing of when they debuted…and look at the talent in that cast…

The host each week was usually under the radar actors, writers, musicians and sometimes athletes. You usually didn’t see A-list actors but if you did they were carefully chosen. The one big mistake was Milton Berle…how he got to host I don’t know but that is the only show of the first five years I will try to avoid… He was that bad.

I like the feel of underground the first five years had but you can only be that for so long…popularity takes over. Those first 5 great years (the first four were great…the fifth good) set the foundation that holds to this day…just without the daring and danger…in other words, it has become vanilla like the rest of the world.

Cheers to the show that introduced Acapulco Gold to a television audience.

SNL2.jpg

The Bassomatic…something you cannot explain with words.

The best Star Trek parody…

Howard Cosell

Young people will not remember this man. He was a journalist, lawyer, and sportscaster and more (even a spot in a Woody Allen movie). Along with all of that, he was egotistical, insecure, annoying, opinionated, cruel, obnoxious, jealous, petty but yet I still liked the guy.  This man was once voted in a TV Guide poll as the most disliked and the most liked sportscaster of the time. He didn’t care who he upset and according to him he always would “tell it as it is”… He did elevate sports reporting that is now prevalent to this day.

He probably is most remembered for three things. He championed Muhammad Ali and when Ali refused the draft Howard stood by him. Helping boxing become a huge sport. Being Jewish he knew bigotry and always stood for equality. He is also remembered for being in the original Monday Night Football crew… He made it THE show to watch and the NFL owes him quite a bit. Whether you loved or hated him, you would tune in and watch.

The original MNF crew was Cosell, Don Meredith and Keith Jackson (to be replaced by Frank Gifford). I never understood Keith being replaced by Frank…Keith was by far the better broadcaster but Frank looked better for the women viewers. Howard never liked the thought of ex-jocks being sportscasters. He felt like they were taking over and called it jockocracy. Cosell and Meredith made a great team. Meredith didn’t give a care about the game and supplied the humor while the photographic memory of Cosell would rattle off stats without cheat sheets most of the time.

In 1974 during an MNF telecast, the crew were joined by John Lennon and Ronald Reagan. Cosell told Frank Gifford you take the governor and I’ll take the Beatle. Howard wanted to interview John because there were only 4 Beatles in the world but a lot of politicians. Lennon and Regan actually hit it off well while Reagan explained American Football (I would have loved to hear that conversation) to him. Cosell actually talked to John a few years later wanting him and the Beatles to regroup on a terrible show that Cosell was hosting…of course, Lennon politely refused.

Cosell and Ali were linked together for the rest of their lives. Ali would pick on Howard in front of cameras but Cosell loved the attention. Ali helped Cosell and Cosell helped Ali… two completely different people in all ways except both loving the limelight. Cosell’s most famous call? “Down goes Frazier” “Down goes Frazier”  “Down goes Frazier”

 

Only in the 1970s could this pairing happen

john and howard.jpg

When John was assassinated in 1980 Howard broke it to the world on MNF.

Howard faded out in the 80s but took shots at everyone in one of his tell-all books. Again he really didn’t care who he upset.

The Twilight Zone

The way Rod Serling handled social injustice and racial bigotry all with a science fiction twist was compelling. He had to do it that back then because of sponsors. Picking a favorite episode (Walking Distance is hard to beat) is almost impossible. Black Mirror covers some of the same territory but nothing beats the intelligence of Twilight Zone.

Hands down my favorite show of all time. I never get tired of it. 5 seasons of quality 30  minute stories. Season 4 has hour long episodes. Just a few of them are a little forced but even the weakest are very watchable. Rod Serling was a great TV writer and he picked some great writers like Richard Matheson to contribute to the show. The show doesn’t age and the black and white only adds to it.

I would really look forward to labor day because one channel would always play Twilight Zones for 24 hours. I then just went out and bought the complete collection on DVDtwi.jpg.

The Twilight Zone has been revived a few times. In the 80’s and 2000’s but they didn’t come close to the original. A movie was made in 1983 called Twilight Zone: The Movie  but it came with a tragic a cost. Vic Morrow and two child actors died needlessly in a scene with a helicopter.

The movie was alright…I liked the Vic Morrow story but my favorite part was the intro with Dan Aykroyd “You want to see something really scary”and Albert Brooks. Again not even scratching the surface of the original series.

You could always depend on a twist in the smart scripts. I’ve seen all of them probably 5 – 10 times each. The one that is the most haunting to me is “Come Wander With Me”… It’s not the most famous one but I loved it…if you haven’t seen it check it out. A lot of future stars were on the show from Robert Redford to Jack Klugman.

Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks

 

 

 

Rock Music… Where have you gone?

Rock Music… Why is it not breaking through to the mainstream anymore? Yes, there are a lot of good bands out there…just check on Youtube and you will find many that are really good and some great. That is the problem though…you should not have to search them out. Mainstream rock stations will not play them…they play classic rock (which I love for the most part) but artists today have a bleak way of life. The only way they make real money is to tour and tour and tour. Since downloading began they are left with ticket sales. There are college radio stations and less powerful stations that play new rock but they are not prevalent.

The older rock stars really made the money… album, tours, 8 Track, cassette, CD, and some download sales. Today’s artist has downloads on Itunes and CD’s that sell at concerts Some are releasing vinyl which is on the rise and that is cool. My son is 20 and he likes some new acts like Jake Bugg, Foster the People and The Black Keys. But for the most part though it’s the Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Band etc…

I don’t think people take music as seriously as before because there are so many other options to do. When an album came out we would rush to the record store (Cats, Port 0 Call, Tower or Columbia House) and study the album’s artwork and liner notes. Music was a big part of a teenager’s life in the 60’s through the 90’s…. With me, I bought a lot of older albums but I would get new ones also. Bands that came to town were announced on the radio and also posters on telephone poles everywhere. It was hard to miss a band or artist coming. We would line up and wait for tickets. I can’t say that I miss that part but I do in a way.

I appreciated the concert more because of the effort and the long wait times. We would all talk…all strangers while waiting in line on how much we liked the artist we were getting tickets for…. Talking face to face and not on a phone or in a chat room…a different feel altogether for all of us kindred souls. It was not a concert…it was an event. An event that you planned for weeks or months to attend and get excited about. After the concert, we would wear our concert shirts…bootleg or otherwise like a badge of honor.

The music scene now is fractured into smithereens. Everyone is put in a box. The rock station I grew up with would play a new song, old song, and even new songs by older artists. Now it’s divided up and if you listen to one you don’t hear the other.

We would go to school arguing over rock groups and music in general…. like The Kinks “You Really Got Me” or Van Halen‘s cover of the song. New Wave vs Rock… Heavy Metal vs just rock n roll. They were all fun arguments with all of us liking some of both.

Yes, some weak music appeared in the 60-90s as in every decade but no one took music from The Partridge Family etc… seriously. Now boy bands or “divas” are embraced with corporate driven muzak. Record companies want a sure thing and will not try anything new….just the proven formula. Why can’t they put muscle behind more talented rock bands? I would like to see a revival of rock bands that you don’t have to search for on the internet.

In high school, there were a lot of bands. The group I was in played more straight rock and roll but we had bands that played heavy metal to punk. Today in that school…no bands exist. We would play in the gym for the entire school and the theater. During the time in high school (sneaking into bars that would let us play being underage on weekends). After we graduated from high school we would play bars and clubs. It was fun, exciting and we made a little money doing something we loved. The customers which included bikers were always great to us because they wanted entertainment. If anyone tried to mess with us they are surrounded by bikers who loved their rock and roll…thank goodness.

Rock music may remain underground but I hope not…

keith Richards.jpg