Sunday, February 26, 2017

Not EXACTLY A "Masterpiece"!

Sometimes, ya just have to wonder about this "music" business ...

Just a couple of hours ago, I was listening to the radio when, suddenly, a song by the popular British performer Jessie J blasted across the speakers.  Granted, she has an amazing voice ... some pretty good looks ... but a potty mouth!!  Her song, "Masterpiece", could've been a pretty inspirational number - except that it blantantly included the "sxxt" word in the lyrics a couple of times!
After checking the lyric sheet, I was kinda glad that's the only slime-word they let in it!  There was another one ...

Y'know, for years, the broadcast media had standards that kept obscene junk like that off our radio and TV. (Sigh) but, of course, this is the age of "hip-hop" (not my cat; the "music"), rap and all sorts of attorneys who'll go to bat for composers and performers (they whine that their "First Amendment" rights are being breached). Fortunately, I had a young heavy-metalist from N.C. explain it to me: "Man, it all comes down to the money!  If they can make more by rattling some brains and shaking a few hormones, they'll do it!"

Now, back-in-the-day - when there was a moral code (remember??) - we were hoppin' and boppin' to the best music on the planet.  We didn't need the nasty-talk to make a hit, and the censors were pleased with that.  But there were some acts they could pick on - and, my, look how nasty these songs were (??? yes, I'm being sarcastic!) . For example:

Wear My Ring (Around Your Neck Elvis' song was panned and banned by many Catholics because -- it promoted "going steady"! (by the way -- do kids do that anymore?? Ya never hear of it ...)

D. O. A. Bloodrock's 1971 (and only) hit was banned almost across-the-board, because it described the death of a teenaged girl in a plane crash - despite the fact that it described an actual news report!  (But J. Frank Wilson's  Last Kiss and Ray Peterson's Tell Laura I Love Her were alright, right? And Dickey Lee's Patches as well?).

ROCK MUSIC The BBC banned the whole genre from its airwaves until 1966 (partly. 1971, fully). Part of the reason: Promoters Jack Good and Larry Parnes promoted a stable of performers whose stage names were based on their ... ahem! ... sexual performance.

BAD BOY The Beatles' rocker (from Beatles '65 here in the States) was banned from AOR stations because it promoted "juvenile delinquency."

BROWN-EYED GIRL
was banned in some markets because the original dealt with teenaged pregnancy. So Van Morrison recorded an alternate version to please the stations.

Listen to this: In El Paso, a radio station stopped playing all records by Bob Dylan because ... they couldn't understand his lyrics! (hey ... what's so hard about understanding peace??)

PICTURES OF LILY by The Who was banned in most markets because execs said it referred to masturbation. Funny ... years later, those same execs freely played Imaginary Lover by the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
What's the diff?

Record mogul Mike Curb, who was president MGM records in 1970, cancelled the recording contracts of 18 of the label's acts because he believed they promoted hard drugs in their songs. Among them: Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme! (sure ... and I guess his hit, Don't Be Afraid, Little Darlin', was a tempting lure into the psychedelic world! L-O-L!!)

In the aftermath of the Kent State shootings in 1970, the Ohio governor banned Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's OHIO from being played. He was afraid it'd cause more violence (ummm ... wasn't it ... the National ... Guard ... that brought on the shootings?).

So, does it make sense that some of these songs (and their legendary artists) would be banned, while a song with open vulgarity, from a singer who few know yet, can not just be admitted to the airwaves, but promoted so heavily it became a favorite in some markets?

UPDATE:  I have just been informed that Jessie J has "cleaned up" the live version of the song, reducing the vulgar words to "sh" and "effing" rather than the full version.  I'm gonna take it as truth; the girl's still young, and has too much talent to mess up her career (ya don't see Adele doing that, do you?   Point made ...).

It's a weird world ...

Stay tuned ...

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Beatles and Hinson TV

February 9, 1964 - It really was a day like any other day in the old Hinson bunkhouse.
The family had gone to church in the morning, as most of us did down there in Pineville.  Mama'd fixed a great Sunday dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans (fresh from the garden).. And (I meant the beans and 'taters.  The chicken was store-bought ...) we knew that (I ... think ...) there was going to be something rrrrreallybig on the Ed Sullivan shhhhewwww that night.

Sure, we'd heard about a popular band from England - one calling itself "The Beetles" or something (my mind went directly to Buddy Holly's Crickets when I first heard of them) - coming into LaGuardia Airport in New York on Friday.  But what, exactly, were they like?

Well, we kids wanted to stay home and watch it - just because we heard they sounded really cool. Oddly enough, daddy was in total agreement!!  He wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

Sooooo,  at 8:04 PM on that magical evening, Ed introduced, "And now .... THE BEATLES!!" to an audience full of screaming youngsters.  Daddy broke out laughing at it, while Mama gave her quizzical "What-in-the-FARRR....???" and went back to the kitchen.

Sure, they looked kinda neat - and almost impish with that long hair and .... wait: that guy on the left?  Why ... he ... he's left-handed, just like me!!  Extra cool, to me!
Wish I could hear 'em better, though.  Those girls screamin' like that made it hard to hear.
The song, All My Loving?  Sounds sorta average.  I mean, Buddy could've done that one.  Kinda sounds like his style.
She Loves You?  Man, I'm swaying with it and, for some reason, my hands are gettin' sweaty!!  I'm watching that guy in the middle working the fingerboard of his guitar.  God, I want to play one of those things so bad  (read my guitar story).  And why does that guy on the end look like he's chewing gum or something?  Can you do that and sing, too??

They did a couple more songs (meanwhile, I was tugging at the hair over my ear, hoping it would grow like that.  Today, I'm tugging at my ear-hair, hoping it will stop growing), then Daddy reached over and, while laughing sort of like he was making fun of 'em, turned off the set.
At that time, he made his famous comment:
"Boys if I ever see you try to look like that, I'll get with you like Karo got with syrup!"  He never thought they'd get anywhere - just a "flash-in-the-pan" that Sullivan had dug up to get a rise out of his viewers.  Mama thought they looked silly ...

But ...

it wasn't long before Daddy got me an old guitar to practice on.  He'd take us to K-Mart to buy records from The Beatles and bands like The Dave Clark Five, The Kinks and others.  My favorite at the moment, next to these, was Del Shannon.  And he was (gulp!) American!!  When I started performing, Mama even arranged for my first two gigs.  A family friend, James White, arranged for me to audition for a talent scout.  And three men - Marshall Lemmond, our laundryman; Rick Tucker, who used to play with Chet Atkins (guitar I mean) and my Uncle A.L. Hinson - taught me more about the guitar and how to work it onstage.  But (referring to the link above), Daddy was the one who taught me the real meaning of the guitar.

Still, it all started on a Sunday night .... 1964 ... February 9 ... on an old Zenith black-and-white TV that was infested with ... Beatles!!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Remember? Oh, What A Feeling ...

He was my own little DAWK® ...

Actually, I bought this little number for my son, Mike, on his tenth birthday. The kid was wild about the Star Wars phenomenonemoennon and just had to have one of the little green dudes. Little did I know that I'd grow up to look like that character (minus the green skin. I'd stopped smoking ...)!
But, upon hitting the local toy supermarket and finding this much-in-demand squirt, I thought of Uncle Lloyd's famed mini-protester and figured, "One day, Mike'll be allll grown up ... and this little gem's gonna be MIIIIIIINE!HAHAHAHAHAAA!!"

Or so I thought ...

Years later, when Mike had discovered girls and turned sixteen (I'm not sure which came first), he hit me up with the same request. But, for some reason, the name had changed: gone was the Toy Yoda, the little Gremlin character from SW (a toy Yoda/Gremlin? Don't they call that a hybrid now??). The second "Y" was dropped, the "d" turned into a "t", it grew four wheels and a V6 engine, and was wayyyyy more expensive.
Yup ... he got it. And I've got my little DAWK® wannabe.

Guess which one's gonna be recalled??



Now, this little dude was the main-eventer in rock dolldom! Let's face it ... he (it ... was a "he", wasn't it?? Never bothered to check ...) actually epitomized everything about Uncle LL, his fans -- and, really, our generation in general: Lively, outspoken, a little rebellious/a little impish, cute-as-a-bug's-ear.
WE INTERRUPT OUR REGULARLY-SCHEDULED MADNESS FOR AN E-MAIL UPDATE: Dateline: RockVille -- We received word no less than two minutes ago that one reader considers baby-boomers too old to act like a bunch of (quote), "overexcited teenagers on, as you said in your last post, 'Gerital'"!
Ummm, careful with how you spell that last word, pardner! You came mighty close to ... well, it sounded like you were spellin' something else.
Mr. Fancy Pants continued, "At your age, you are all dichotomies."

Look: You can't tell what we, as boomers (including a few pre- and some pro-), have by just looking at us anymore than you can tell the value of a gift by looking at the box it came in.
What Lloyd Thaxton did was plant a few seeds of inspiration, happiness and hope within us. He knew how to push just the right buttons to get our creative engines started. His zaniness influenced our own attitudes. We felt that we really had a friend there on the screen -- and we did!
We carry that -- and memories of him -- inside us ... and we're all the richer for it.
So it shows up during those 1440 minutes of every day. After the bill-paying, timeclock-punching, drivetime madness of everyday life, we deserve the break that remembering Lloyd Thaxton gives us! Unlike you, Mr. Poison Pen, he really cared and appreciated us!
Okay, so we, in our minds, still have the liveliness we felt as "overexcited teenagers". To borrow from a very familiar phrase: "SOOOOOO WHAT??"

TICKLING THE IVORIES (kid version) ...

While a number of us still remember the piano lessons that our mothers signed us up for, we still love those videos of little kids tickling the ivories (aka playing the piano) for the first time.  And, when we see them on shows like America's Got Talent and the like, we're spellbound by how well they've learned their craft.
Today, there's a renewed interest among youngsters in learning how to play the keyboard.  Chalk it up to its domination on their favorite Top 40 hits, the actual sound of the pianos themselves, or even their awe at the sounds created by synthesizers, but children are turning to the "88's" again.
Of course, if a child in your family is interested in learning how to play, the very best place to start is just behind the link you're about to see.  First, you have a magnificent and affordable kids keyboard selection at MF .  But there's more!  They also teach you how to shop for the best one - the keyboard that could be tailor-made for your child!
So why not click that link now?  You never know - your child/grandchild could be an impresario one day, and it could start with that one little step!!



Stay tuned ...

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Bonanza of Baby-Boomers

Ah, the Sixties! With the present world in turmoil over situations as diverse as war in Sudan, immigration bans and Madonna wanting to bomb The White House, we long for a return to those thrilling days of yesteryear. It was certainly a simpler era for most Americans…
at least until mid-decade, when a remarkable group of youngsters that soon became known as “hippies” and “peaceniks” began appearing in American society. Considered “freaks” by many in the older, often hawkish, generation, they believed in such absurd ideas like peace, love and equality. Sit-ins, peace rallies and even a Woodstock wouldn’t change the opinions of the “establishment”. But little did that generation know that the actions of these mid-1960s “freaks” would create a much better world for all of us here in the 21st Century.

To prove the point, we have to go back in time for a quick history lesson. Now, we know The Beatles, The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, The Grateful Dead, Woodstock, Jimi, and a zillion other musical talents marked the landscape of those years.
But who'd ever forget the great #1-with-a-bullet (or more) hit called VIETNAM? While the fighting and subsequent death toll seemed to escalate, there was no real strategy for lasting peace from either Washington or Saigon.

We were apprehensive about a foreign country having “the” bomb, and its apparent capacity to use it on us. Various parts of the country sweated through near-famine heat waves, and New York City went powerless at one point. Other areas were well-lit, but by fires started in the heat of racial violence and riots that seemed to be endless. Parents wrestled with their kids about the dangers of “experimenting” with various drugs, but it seemed as if they were turning a deaf ear.

But, just as it seemed that Washington had turned its back on the voice of mainstream America and we were heading for an enormous, collective breakdown in society, the youth of America showed its collective power. From flower children to serious scholars, their voices helped to influence the end of the Vietnam War.
 As they gathered together for philosophical lectures and rock concerts, one could see the beginning of voluntary racial integration.
Whether living in communes or small communities, they worked together to build houses, plant and harvest gardens and more. Their burgeoning interest in religion (Christian or not) influenced young and old alike to either look within or to the heavens for support and protection.
Through it all, the older generation still thought it all repulsive; how dare these young upstarts, with their long hair and peace symbols, to challenge what was happening in “their” America?

Today, the “old fogies”, for the most part, have passed on. And these same “upstarts", now part of an elite group known as “baby-boomers”, are working through the establishment they once spurned to bring an end to a not-so-different war. They work side-by-side, Americans of all colors and creeds, as friends, associates and peaceful neighbors. These same people act, often spontaneously, for the good of others, whether it’s helping to get someone’s car running or lending their hands to rebuild a city destroyed by a hurricane or tornado. Their faith has passed the test of time and has spawned a number of today’s most dynamic evangelists and preachers.
They use the experience of their own past to teach their children and grandchildren the dangers of substance abuse, the wholesomeness of nature and the warmth felt by having a true fellowship with mankind, no matter what color or creed is represented. They empathize, sympathize and counsel more readily and with more impact than their predecessors because that’s what they learned by true communion with each other.

Whether they’re in Congress, a seat of a local town council or just a voting citizen, they know that to listen to one’s conscience is the better way to handle things if that conscience is acted upon. Gone are the days of siding with someone simply due to party affiliation or favoritism. Thanks to them, this country has a fighting chance to shine, once again, on the world stage – and bring peace, once more, to its people.

That’s pretty good for what was once considered a bunch of “long-haired” freaks, right?

Ah, Sweet Memories (Goin' Retro) ...

For just a few minutes or longer, let's forget about the Trumpification of social media and relive the thrilling days of yesteryear ...

Like most people my age, on occasion I take a trip down Memory Lane and relive the good old days -- especially those surrounding the debut of the Lloyd Thaxton Show.
Remember? We'd just lost one of the most popular U.S. Presidents to an assassin's bullet a few months before; television had that marvelous color scheme of black-and-white; and the British Invasion was stealing American rockers' thunder.

Well, awhile back, I noticed the following memory-jogger in the MH mailbox -- and found myself back in that amazing way-back machine we call "memory". Formatted to sound like an old fogey fussing at a young, Brylcreemed, acne-troubled whippersnapper, see how many of these you remember (btw, thanks to Vicki Ritchie for her fab email, though I added a little at the end:)

" ... when I was a kid we didn't have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the darn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter - with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents!

There were no MP3's or Napsters or iTunes! You had to hitchhike to the record store with a couple bucks that you had to beg from your folks, or use your allowance, to buy a 45 or LP!
Or you had to wait around all day to tape your favorite song off the radio with a little reel-to-reel recorder, but the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and screw it all up! There were no CD players!
There weren't any freakin' cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn't make a darn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your "friends". OH MY GOD, think of the horror... not being in touch with someone 24/7!! (Texting?? Let me refer you to the second paragraph above ...)

We didn't have fancy stuff like Call Waiting, either. If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that's it! And we didn't have Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your parents, your boss, the collection agent -- you just didn't know! You had to pick it up and take your chances ...

We didn't have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! By the late Sixties, we had the Atari 2600! With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'Asteroids'. Your screen guy was a little square. You actually had to use your imagination! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen... FOREVER! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE ...
You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your keister and walk over to the TV to change the channel. NO REMOTES!!

There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons! But it was well worth it (by the way, they had more "frames per second", so it really DID look like Tom was gonna catch Jerry! SO much smoother ...)

Oh, yeah ... and we didn't have microwaves, either. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove! Imagine that!

And forget about these rock shows on MTV, with their flashy, eccentric emcees trying to act cool in front of million-dollar sets. Those are a dime a dozen!
We had a guy who, in just a suit and tie but with carloads of imagination, humor and plenty of records, pranced around a low-budget TV studio like an elf on Christmas Eve and made rock and roll fun. He didn't have a script to go by, just a bunch of teenagers in that little studio -- and some of the best stars in the business.

But he could beat YOUR hotshot emcees in a heartbeat because, while they're struggling to stay on the air, THE LLOYD THAXTON SHOW was the most popular teen show in America for about six years straight!


Ahhh, those were the days!

BANDING TOGETHER

There's been a remarkable increase in the number of young people who want to take up instruments and express themselves musically rather than in a verbal manner.  It's a really good thing, too, because not only will they be cultivating a talent they can enjoy for years to come, but music really does have "charms to soothe the savage breast" (Shakespeare said it)!
Of course, they'll need the best store from which to buy the accessories for their instruments.  Naturally, it should be one that has reasonable prices and the best selection at the same time.
That being said, there's no better place to go than wwbw band stores. When you click on that link, you'll find a vast array of items that will assist them in every step of their musical journey.
And, get this: you even have low-price guarantees and, for the music teacher, educational discounts!  So click that link now and enjoy the melodious mix of quality and savings!

AND, SPEAKIN' OF MEMORIES ...

Think you dread going back to work today?? Think about these guys ... and be thankful ...

Now ... where were we?? AHHHH, yes ...

HEY ... REMEMBER THESE??

This little dude showed up almost every Sunday night with the rrrrrreally-big-shhhhhhhewwwman himself, Ed Sullivan.
I understand he's still around, but, having been passed over for the role of "Mr. Jingles" in The Green Mile, a bit despondent these days.
Hey ... got an idea here, Mousers. LET'S DRAFT HIM AS OUR MASCOT!! I mean, this is the Mouse House, right??

Think of the clout it'd give us! "Topo Gigio" was an icon (okay, he was a mouse. But stretch it a little, okay?), and everyone who camembert him would want this little guy. It'll do us gouda, I think ...

These flash bulbs (remember the old blunderbuss of a camera that used them?) were never fully appreciated until you've stepped on one in your bare feet! And, just after the shot, you'd hear a little "sizzle", followed by a loud cussword when you tried to take 'em out (they were blazing hot!!).
Of course, the pics were always top-notch (what??  They ... they weren't?  Tell ya what: Do ya have any of those old photos made when you were a youngster?  Maybe of your mom or dad or Uncle Festus?  Brings back great memories, right?  Sooo, going back to my original ??:  In your opinion, are the pics "top-notch"??  Uh-huh ... thought sooooo ...)

When my mama was moving from Morrow Ave. to Park Ave. back in Pineville (this was just after daddy passed away), we were packing up some boxes from the top shelf of her closet, and these fell out!
"S&H Green Stamps" were the coupons of the day! Saving those up could buy a 1966 Cadillac (not really. Just wanted to see if you're still with me here). Actually, it'd open a whole new world of merchandise (read: salt and pepper shakers and the occasional toaster) to your mailbox!
Today, the WalMarts, Targets, cable TV pitchmen and zillions of specialty magazines have taken the thrill of shopping and made it into something more mechanic, with less anticipation than what these little green stamps brought.  The only downside?  They tasted yuckky when you licked 'em, though.


Stay tuned ...