Monday’s Music Moves Me: Five Songs By “Ugly” Artists

This is going to take some explanation. It all started with a picture floating around Facebook. Maybe you’ve seen it.


Anyway, I posted this, and my brother Kip said, “that should be a Friday Five: great songs by ugly artists!” Rather than doing a Friday Five, I thought I’d do it today for M4.

I don’t consider any of these artists ugly. I like, even love, their music, and would rather see them in concert than anyone making popular music today. The suits that control the popular music industry today would likely disagree; to paraphrase H. L. Mencken, they’re the kind of people who believe that, since a rose smells better than a cabbage, it makes better soup. Anyway, on to the songs.

Never Be The Same – Christopher Cross The classic example of an artist whose career was ruined by MTV. His 1979 eponymous debut album went five times platinum and earned him five Grammy awards. MTV didn’t like his looks nor did they like his kind of Adult Contemporary. He continues to perform and record, but his albums haven’t been on the charts in some time. This went to #15 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1980.

Downtown Train – Tom Waits He’s not a very good singer, and his looks aren’t likely to have the girls screaming for him, but he’s a pretty remarkable songwriter and musician whose songs have been covered by the likes of The Eagles and Rod Stewart, who covered this song. This is from his 1985 album Rain Dogs.

Constant Craving – k. d. lang I’m not sure k. d. belongs on this list, because I think she’s quite striking, but I doubt she’s what the producers of today are looking for. Besides, I wanted to make an excuse to play this song, from her 1992 album Ingenue. It reached #38 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the adult contemporary chart in 1992, and actually received the Best Female Video award from MTV the following year. I don’t think she’d do as well today.

With A Little Help From My Friends – Joe Cocker The late Joe Cocker wasn’t much in either the looks or voice category, but was a magnificent interpreter of songs. In this clip from Woodstock, he sings a song first sung by another “ugly” artist, Ringo Starr.

Frosty The Snowman – Leon Redbone and Dr. John Yes, it’s a Christmas song, and no, I don’t care. From Leon’s 1987 album Christmas Island, sung by a couple of old and not especially attractive guys.

What songs would you add to this list? Are there any you’d take off? Let me know in the comments.

That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for October 24, 2016.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Stacy, Cathy, and Naila Moon, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.


A Cooler and Less Humid Week That Was

This edition of The Week That Was is sponsored by Woolworth and Woolco, your Hallowe’en store!

Hope you’ve got your Hallowe’en shopping done!

The Week That Was

The weather has finally cooled off and it feels great. Aside from that, it was a quiet week, thank heaven.

“Songs from commercials” was the theme, and you know I was all over it. I had Dan singing along with Snap, Crackle, and Pop on the Rice Krispies commercial. My dad told me that the part where the three are singing separate verses at the same time is a fugue, and Dan said it might very well have been. Arlee was a big fan of The T-Bones, a group comprised of some of L.A.’s hottest session players (“The Wrecking Crew”) who made a few hit records, with “No Matter What Shape (Your Shape Is In)” being their best-known and highest-charting song. Marie said she remembered the Chevrolet song because of a parody they would sing back in high school:

See the USSR
In your armored car,
Mr. Krushchev is asking you to call.
Bring your tommy guns,
We’ll have lots of fun!
Germany’s the greatest land of all!

The lovely Dinah Shore was the subject of this week’s twofer. Mary Lou was happy I included “Buttons and Bows,” which had her clapping and singing along. Dan said he knew someone else had sung it; Bob Hope sang it in 1938’s The Paleface, and, more recently, Kelsey Grammer sang a hilarious version on Frasier, which is embedded in my comment, so go see it there. Janie said she remembered that Dinah was once romantically linked with Burt Reynolds about the same time Burt posed nude in Cosmopolitan, a fact I had completely forgotten, maybe intentionally. Arlee said that reruns of her Sixties talk show are now being shown on the Jewish Life TV cable network. (Check their site for where you can see it in your area.)


This week’s one-liner came from neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, who wrote the book Man’s Search For Meaning. It was the line about the space between stimulus and response, where we can choose our responses. Ally said that too often we forget that space, choosing instead to focus on either the stimulus or the response, and sometimes it’s best to “just be.” That’s true, and I think we need to remember that not everything requires a response. Michele has read the book and loved it, and recommends the movie The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. JoAnna said Frankl’s book has been on her reading list for a while.

The prompt was “mistake,” so I talked about the futility of looking back over your life at things you can now tell were mistakes, and how they really aren’t mistakes, but choices. Dan said that even the bad choices can lead to good things, and he’s right: sometimes I think meeting Mary was the best thing to come of my four years in college. Ally said math is overrated and life is for the living, and mistakes are part of that. At the end, I mused about what’s going on with me in alternate universes, and Karen Lynn from Reprobate Typewriter said that, if it makes me feel better, there was one where I had been eaten by cannibals. I got a kick out of that. I also mentioned that a lot of my dreams lately involve a filthy bathroom, and I had no idea why. Joey came up with a plausible explanation, for which I thank her.

I featured your contributions to my theme of “songs with ‘shak…’ in the title.” The days I feature your choices always seem to be favorites.


The prompt was “ho,” which threw me for a loop until I remembered my last name, and that touched off five minutes of thoughts about having my last name. Mother Willow said that people regularly mispronounce her name, often making it sound like a completely different one. When I was training, I tried my best to pronounce people’s names correctly; I was taught that pronouncing and spelling a person’s name correctly showed them respect. Sometimes it wasn’t that easy, though I was surprised that I usually got the Eastern European names right. Deborah said that people had more than a little trouble pronouncing her last name (Drucker), which was surprising. Linda, our host for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, said she wanted to research her ancestry, but it was hard to find the time. It can be time-consuming, with a lot of shuffling through official documents and interviewing distant relatives you’ve never met. A good way to start is to talk to the older relatives you know. It’s good to talk to them, anyway.


As everyone knows by now, Chris Botti and Sting bested Michel Legrand in the latest iteration of who does a better job of “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?” More like Chris and Sting slaughtered M. Legrand, who wrote the song and I think deserved a better fate, but that’s just me. As promised, the November 1 battle will pit Chris and Sting against the winner of the women’s battle, Barbra Streisand. Stephen, who runs BotB, said he thought that had the potential of being a close one. After two blowouts in the semifinals, I certainly hope so.

As always, thanks to everyone who commented. I’m sorry I haven’t replied to some of your comments, but trust me, I do appreciate them.

This week, I have a very funny story to tell for One-Liner Wednesday, which will be a mash-up with Wednesdays for My Wife. Tomorrow is a freebie day on Monday’s Music Moves Me, Jo Stafford will likely be my featured artist on Two for Tuesday, and beyond that, I have no idea, so join me this week to see what I’ve come up with. Thanks for reading!

BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Whatr Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?” (Men’s Division) Results


THE BATTLE: “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?”
THE CONTESTANTS: Michel Legrand vs. Chris Botti and Sting
THE RESULTS: Not even close…

Chris Botti and Sting: 15
Michel Legrand: 3

Kip went so far as to vote for Michel Legrand so he wouldn’t get “skunked.”

Congratulations to Chris Botti and Sting, a pat on the back to Michel Legrand, and thanks to everyone who voted.

NEXT UP: The Grand Championship of “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?”: Barbra Streisand vs. Chris Botti and Sting! Join us November 1!

Holton’s the Name #socs

I saw the prompt and thought, “What in the world am I going to write about?” Then I realized that HO were the first two letters of my last name.

I have no idea why I put this here.

If you look it up in the name books, you learn that “Holton” is an English name. Knowing that, I figured that when did my DNA they’d find a lot of English. Nope. Ancestry told me I’m Irish as Paddy’s pig. confirmed it.


The name Holton means “man of the forest.” Oddly enough, so does “orangutan.”

Orangutan 2
A distant relative

There’s a street in Milwaukee named Holton Street, and a town in Kansas named Holton. They’re named after the same guy. He was the head of an organization called the Kansas Society of Milwaukee, a group founded to populate Kansas with anti-slavery people so Kansas would remain a free state. It was home to both slaves and free blacks until 1860, when the legislature outlawed it. Anyway, Holton (I don’t know if we’re related; maybe sixth cousin seven times removed or something) didn’t go to Kansas himself, but after the war he moved to Savannah, Georgia.

Holton isn’t a common name like Smith, Jones, or Wong, but it isn’t rare, like Mxyzptlk. Remember him from the Superman comics?

The original Mxyzptlk (DC Comics)

I run into Holtons all over the place. When we went to Scotland in 1979 (a delayed honeymoon) we took a bus trip up and down the Royal Mile. Our driver was Fred Holton. He told us he researched the name (but was only able to go back 500 years) and traced it to Hertfordshire, north of London. When I interviewed with MSA (the company I worked at, which kept getting sold, for twenty years) in Atlanta, the woman I first met said her maiden name was Holton (she was from Americus, Georgia). I also worked with a woman at Harris Bank whose maiden name was Holton. She was a Black woman, which didn’t surprise me; most of the Holtons in Chicago are Black. I once read where, when the slaves were freed, many took the last name of their erstwhile owner, or of someone they’d admired. Were there Holtons who were slaveholders? I haven’t been able to confirm that. I do know that the governor of Virginia in the early Seventies was Abner Linwood Holton, and there’s a school in Bethesda, Maryland named the Holton-Arms School, a college preparatory school for girls in grades 3-12. A contestant on Jeopardy! earlier this year was a teacher there.

Seriously, though, I’m not related closely with any of these people.

I do know that, for a name with six letters, two of which are the same, people have a hard time spelling it. I get Holten, Horton, Houlton, Holden, Halton, etc. I can stand there and spell it out for people and they still get it wrong. Drives me nuts…


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is sponsored by Linda Hill, who has the rules and pingbacks at her site.

The Friday Five: Your “Shak…” Songs

I’m doing this early (Wednesday afternoon) because my Internet service (from the company whose name rhymes with “bomb blast”) has been in and out. It dawned on me that the problem might be at my end, so I ordered another access point (modem and router combination) yesterday. I agreed to try Amazon Prime for a month to get two-day shipping, but for some reason it won’t get here until today, probably when Mary and I are out. If this one gives me trouble, then I’ll know it’s their problem.

Anyway, here are your choices for songs with “shak…” in the title.

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On – Jerry Lee Lewis Dan, Uncle Jack, and brother Kip all suggested this. Actually, Kip said he was surprised I hadn’t thought of it myself. Hey, it happens sometimes. Jimmy Swaggart’s cousin scored a #1 on the country and R&B charts with this, as well as a #3 on the Hot 100 in 1957.

Shake, Rattle and Roll – Big Joe Turner and His Blues Kings Uncle Jack had this one as well. I decided to go with the original as opposed to Bill Haley’s excellent cover. Big Joe reached #1 on the R&B chart with this in 1957.

Shakedown Street – The Grateful Dead From my brother Pat. The title track from their 1978 album, it was released as a single but failed to chart. The album came in at #41 in 1979 and was certified gold in 1987.

Shaky Town – Jackson Browne Arlee suggested this. It’s from Jackson’s 1972 eponymous first album (often mistakenly called Saturate Before Using), but wasn’t released as a single (though the album reached #53 that year).

Shakey’s Pizza commercial Kip came up with this one, and while it’s not a song per se, it’s a catchy jingle and Gordon Jump appears in the commercial. When we went to California in 1967, we ate at Shakey’s one night and thought it was pretty good (but what did we know? It was fifty years ago and we were 11, 9, and 8 at the time). If you’ve been there lately, let me know how the food is. Otherwise I have to convince Mary to drive to Auburn, Alabama…

Thanks to everyone that suggested songs for the theme. That’s your Friday Five for October 21, 2016.

Writer’s Workshop: Mistake, or Something Else?

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Everyone recognizes these lines, right? They’re from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” a favorite of high school teachers and thus the bane of high school students. One discussion that always comes up is what the title means. I mean, it’s simple enough, right? He tells us the whole story right there: he’s out walking in the woods, he comes upon a fork in the road, and being unable to take both of them, looks down each path and chooses the one with less wear. At the end, he seems to regret it, as if he made a mistake.

He doesn’t. But at 42 (his age when he wrote this), he was prone to ask himself “what if I did this instead of that? How might my life have been different?” That’s something that he’ll never know, at least until the day time travel is perfected, and even then you have to wonder. Until then, it’s an issue of playing “what might have been.”

Playing that game is really futile. I know, because I play it a lot. Helps me get to sleep some nights, keeps me up other nights. The games don’t enter my dreams, most of which now involve using really filthy bathrooms. (Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know, and any time I get to browse through one of those “Interpret Your Dreams For Fun And Profit” books, there never seems to be a section on what using a filthy bathroom is supposed to mean.) But no matter how rosy a picture I can paint of my life had I done y instead of x, the fact is, I made a choice and now have to contend with what that decision meant. Besides, there are just too many variables: to put it in mathematical terms, if {x1, x2, … xn} is the set of alternatives and {y1, y2, … yn} is the set of consequences, one can never really know whether the mapping between both is a one-to-one or one-to-many relation. There are just too many variables involved.

So there are no real “mistakes” in life like there are in math, like 1 + 1 = 3. There are only alternatives, each of which has its own consequences. The trick is to learn to recover from what happens. Kind of like the old “adventure” games, where you say “turn right” and it tells you “you are in a forest, in front of a fork in the road.” Choosing the left fork leads you on one adventure, the right on another. Which is what Frost was probably talking about.

I’ve been interested lately in the idea of parallel universes that are just slightly different from each other. I’d be interested to know what’s happening to me there.

Mama Kat’s prompt was to write a post based on the word “mistake.” Hope you’ve enjoyed it.

#1LinerWeds from Viktor Frankl


All right, it’s a little longer than one line, but it’s the spirit that counts, right? I was looking at quotes on freedom on BrainyQuote and this one seemed most appropriate. Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust and wrote the book Man’s Search For Meaning.


One-Liner Wednesday is sponsored by Linda Hill, who has the rules and pingbacks at her site.

Two For Tuesday: Dinah Shore


First in my list of commercial jingles from yesterday was “See The USA In Your Chevrolet!” Dinah Shore sang it, of course, which is why I chose her as today’s featured artist.

Dinah was born Frances Rose Shore in Winchester, Tennessee, but earned the name Dinah from disc jockey Martin Block. He couldn’t remember her name, so he called her “that Dinah girl,” because she often used that song in her auditions. She auditioned with Benny Goodman and both Dorsey brothers, but was turned down by all three, so she went out as a solo act, becoming the first singer of her era to do so and become successful.

Dinah’s probably better known for her work in television. I know her best from her show in the early Seventies, which I watched from time to time when I was on summer vacation. She was an engaging host and had some interesting guests displaying hidden talents (one morning, she and Bishop Sheen made hamburgers; another day, she sang “Sophisticated Lady” accompanied by former Vice President Spiro Agnew). She was an avid golfer and big supporter of women’s golf, starting the Colgate Dinah Shore tournament (now known as the ANA Inspiration tournament) in 1972, and it’s still one of the major tournaments on the LPGA Tour.

“Buttons and Bows” was her all-time best-selling single, and it reached #1 in 1948, spending ten weeks there.

“Anniversary Song” was written by Al Jolson and Saul Chaplin, with the melody being adapted from “Waves of the Danube” by Ion Ianovici. Dinah recorded it in 1947, and it spent eight weeks on the chart, peaking at #4.

Dinah Shore, your Two For Tuesday, October 18, 2016.

Monday’s Music Moves Me: Commercial Jingles!

So, here’s the prompt, as of Friday afternoon:

Theme for Monday’s Music Moves Me this Monday is “One old commercial” or two if you like! If you’d like to post more get rid of those tunes that sticks in your head that you can’t get rid of.

Now, you know I can do this all day, right? I spent much of my misspent youth watching TV and listening to the radio, absorbing everything I saw and heard as though the TV and radio waves were running through my head and imbedding themselves in my brain. (And they probably were.) I’ll limit myself to five, as I usually do.

Ajax Cleanser If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know Dad taught my aunts and mother to sing this one. Yesterday was Mom And Dad’s 62nd anniversary, and I wish they were here so I could celebrate it with them.

Rice Krispies Snap, Crackle, and Pop jam on the Rice Krispies song. The part where the three of them are singing their verses all together is simply magnificent.

Alka-Seltzer The full tune, “No Matter What Shape,” by the T-Bones, is here.

Chevrolet Featuring the beautiful Ms. Dinah Shore. From 1956, like me.

Carling’s Black Label Beer commercials have some of the catchiest jingles, and this might be the catchiest. Carling is a Canadian brand that isn’t distributed much in the US any more.

And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for October 17, 2016.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Stacy, Cathy, and Naila Moon, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.


The “Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad” Week That Was

This edition of The Week That Was is sponsored by Winston cigarettes. Winston tastes good like a cigarette should!

The first time I flew on an airplane (1967), a mini-pack of Winstons was on the tray with dinner. I think I gave them to the guy next to me.

The Week That Was

Before I forget, today is my parents’ 62nd wedding anniversary. Dad’s been gone almost fifty years now, and Mom’s been gone since the turn of the century, and I think of them every day.

This was a freebie week, and I was in a bossa nova mood, so I featured five songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Joyce and X-Mas Dolly liked hearing the songs again, which is sort of an indication about how the music has fallen out of the spotlight. Collette, on the other hand, was unfamiliar with the music, again an indication of how it’s fallen out of the spotlight. It’s still quite popular in jazz circles, which surprises me, because you’d think it’d be popular on “smooth jazz” stations, but aside from them occasionally dusting off their copy of “The Girl From Ipanema” and playing it, they don’t. Guess it would push some of the Motown oldies they seem to play more often than they should… but that’s another discussion.


Barbra Streisand was the featured artist as I continued my survey of female singers. Dan said he remembered watching A Star Is Born in a movie theater and thinking, “I can’t believe I’m watching a Barbra Streisand movie.” Kip, always one to think of things like this, said no discussion of Barbra would be complete without talking about Yentl, a movie she directed and was generally well-received, though the critics had a few issues with it (Roger Ebert called it “a movie with a great middle,” leading me to think he didn’t care for the beginning and end of it). Joey agreed that she’s an amazing entertainer, and she likes her movies as well. Barbra did a couple of screwball comedies in the Seventies, one of which, For Pete’s Sake, I’ve seen and thought was quite funny.


This week’s one liner came courtesy of a blog post I read by musician/blogger Kit Walker, who said “Attention is the true currency.” It’s worth reading his whole post to see what he was thinking of. Janet said she’s getting tired of the whole election thing going on here and has turned her attention elsewhere. I think a lot of us have. Mary and I vote by absentee ballot, and we plan on completing ours and mailing them in this week, so we don’t have to think about it anymore. Serves them right. I still like the idea of putting them through The Hunger Games to determine the winner. Linda said she’ll read it “when she gets a moment,” which she doesn’t get many of. I can only imagine.

Mama Kat asked about what I had been blogging about a year ago, and in looking at last October, not much has changed here. I mused on about needing something fresh, maybe something in addition to what I’m already doing. Wendy said I should do what makes me happy, which I do. It isn’t as though I don’t like what I’m doing. I love it, but sometimes I think I need to do something more. Chris said I have an awful lot of regular features, which I do. I wouldn’t have as many as I do if I didn’t like doing them. They give me a chance to explore my inner DJ and sometime even crack jokes and tell old stories. Martin said he’s always worried that his blog would become more work than fun. I worry about that, too, which is why I do the features. I think I’m starting to think that it’s time to do some actual blogging, though. (John watches everyone run away, screaming)

Dan suggested maybe doing songs with a word that started with “shak…” in the title, and I came up with six, including one with “Shakespeare” in the title. Of course, the studio audience had a few more suggestions, which I’ll feature this Friday. Ally wanted to know if I do a search for the songs I feature, or if I just come up with these song lists on my own. The answer, of course, is yes. I start with an idea and start with the songs that come off the top of my head. If I get really stuck, I might go searching, then what I find either becomes a song on the list or suggets another song to me, or I might be looking and one might just float out of my long-term memory and I’ll say “oh yeah…” Joey said I had her household bouncin’ and shakin’, which is one of the greatest compliments, and I thank you for that. Kip found a commercial for Shakey’s Pizza that featured Gordon Jump, who was on WKRP In Cincinnati and more recently was the Maytag Repairman. I’ve been to Shakey’s once, in 1967 when we were in California, and I thought the pizza was good, but then, I was eleven and that was almost fifty years ago, so who knows now. There’s a franchise in Auburn, Alabama, only 110 miles away; maybe I can talk Mary into a road trip…


My latest battle reprises the last one, with male artists instead of female ones. Right now, Michel Legrand, who composed “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?” is getting his rear end handed to him by Chris Botti and Sting. You have until Saturday to vote (if you haven’t already), when I announce the winner.


This week’s prompt was “screen,” and after a brief point about how much time I spent staring at a TV screen as a “tween,” as it were, I veered off into a discussion about how absent-minded I am, especially since reaching the magical six-decade mark, and how Evernote would probably help me, if I actually used it to capture thoughts, ideas, and things to do, and then actually referred to it on a more regular basis than “when I think of it.” Bee suggested a stream-of-consciousness journal, which sounds like a pretty good idea; thanks, Bee! Janie she’s so forgetful she can’t even remember to drive herself crazy. Very droll, Janie! Dan said he knows what a black hole Evernote can become, and it’s true. I can sit down to clean it up, and end up reading all the stuff and forget to clean it. My office is like that, too.

Looking ahead….

I have tomorrow’s M4 entry written already, and a good idea of what I’ll be doing this coming week, so be sure and tune in! That’s this edition of The Week That Was for October 16, 2016.