#TwoForTuesday: Gamble & Huff

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Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff were pioneers of “Philadelphia Soul.” They were songwriters and producers who have fifteen gold singles and 22 gold albums, and are members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They’ve worked with Archie Bell and the Drells, Jerry Butler, The Intruders, Billy Paul, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, and The O’Jays, who had three hit songs with them in the 1970’s.

As always, there is just so much to choose from, and a more-or-less complete list of the songs they wrote together and with other authors can be found on Wikipedia. The website of Gamble-Huff Productions has full biographies of both men, as well as samples of their work; on the home page, it proclaims that a Gamble & Huff song plays somewhere in the world every 14.5 minutes.

Our first song today is “Back Stabbers” as performed by the O’Jays. It was written by Leon Huff, Gene McFadden, and John Whitehead in 1972. This song reached #1 on the R&B chart and #3 on the Hot 100 that year.

“Cowboys to Girls,” written by Gamble and Huff, was a hit for The Intruders in 1968; it reached #6 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B chart.

Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, your Two for Tuesday, September 1, 2015.

BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “The Loco-motion”

BATTLE OF THE BANDS! (BOTB Top Photo)

It was a year ago today that I joined the group of bloggers doing Stephen T. McCarthy’s “Battle of the Bands,” and I think I’ve just about got the hang of it.

“The Loco-motion” was written by the songwriting superduo of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and it was a hit in three successive decades. It reached #1 for Little Eva in 1962. Here is her original version, for comparison purposes only (i.e. she’s not in the Battle, don’t vote for her).

Wikipedia tells me the song was written for Dee Dee Sharp, but that she turned the song down for whatever reason. Her loss.

Anyway, that was the original version. Here are the contenders for the battle.

CONTESTANT #1: Grand Funk Railroad

Flint, Michigan’s favorite power trio (although by then they had added Craig Frost on organ) scored a #1 with the song in 1974, making it the second song to have reached #1 in the United States by two different artists (“Go Away, Little Girl,” featured here a couple of Battles ago, was the first). It was on their 1974 album Shinin’ On.

CONTESTANT #2: Kylie Minogue

Australian actress and singer Kylie Minogue also had a hit with the song. It was on her 1988 album Kylie, and as a single it reached #3 in the US, her only song to crack the US Top Ten.

Now, it’s time to vote…

So, which of these versions of “The Loco-motion” did it for you? The hard-rock power trio (plus one) version by Grand Funk Railroad? Or the ’80’s pop/dance version by Kylie Minogue? Whichever one you choose, let me know what it is in the comments by Tuesday, September 8 (I figure that Monday is a holiday in the US and Canada, so I’ll give you some more time). The winner will be announced Wednesday, September 9.

And, after voting here, the blogs below might or might not be holding Battles, so be sure to visit them and vote on theirs as well.

Tossing It Out
Far Away Series
StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands
Your Daily Dose
Mike’s Ramblings
Curious as a Cathy
DC Relief – Battle of the Bands
This Belle Rocks
Book Lover
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Shady Dell Music & Memories
Debbie D. at The Doglady’s Den
Angels Bark
Jingle Jangle Jungle
Women: We Shall Overcome
Cherdo on the Flipside
Holli’s Hoots ‘n’ Hollers
J. A. Scott
Quiet Laughter
NovelBrews

Again, I’ll announce the winner of this Battle on Wednesday, September 9. See you then!

What Do We Do About Student Debt?

The whole issue of massive amounts of student loan debt is in the news (election season, don’t you know). Most recently I saw an article about a young woman offering her Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) in Theater from Florida State University for sale on eBay. Price: $50,000.

The young woman in question graduated in 2011 with $40,000 in student loan debt. She now lives in Los Angeles and is a personal assistant, not what she was trained for, but it pays the bills, barely. She says:

I’m doing the exact same things and probably getting paid the exact same amount as people that dropped out halfway through freshman year, except I’m still $40,000 in debt and they’re, well, not.

Of course, I saw this on Facebook, and of course there were lots of people expressing the opinion that she was an idiot for getting her degree in Theater. I was a little kinder. Here’s what I said:

She probably got her degree in theater because she had to get it in something and had to declare a major by the end of sophomore year, when she was twenty and had no idea what to major in. It’s a crappy major, sure, but let’s face it, 95% of majors at any university aren’t worth four years of a young person’s life and years of living with Mom and Dad while trying to pay of thousands of dollars of debt spent getting a diploma that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. If she had actually wanted to work in theater (which I question), she could have started by applying for jobs in theaters and getting to know the people and jobs from the inside, and spend the four years she would have spent in Jacksonville actually working in theater. She’s young, and if she decided the theater wasn’t for her, she could have examined other options, including going to school. We’ve brainwashed kids into believing they must go to college immediately after high school without taking time to find out what they want to go to school for. And listen, the meme about college graduates making lots more money is demonstrably false, especially in this day and age where it seems that every kid getting out of college can’t get a job. Parents, college counselors, and university marketing departments need to stop telling kids that.

Years ago, people were all up in arms over advertisements on kids’ TV shows, how they had a captive audience and were basically brainwashing kids to tell their parents that they wanted all these sugary snacks and toys, and pressured the broadcasters and sponsors of those shows to stop marketing to kids and be more responsible to the actual needs of children. Today, we see the kids being subjected to the same treatment when it comes to going to college, by the same people who complained about the TV shows. That doesn’t seem right.

What do you think needs to happen? I have my ideas, but I’d like to hear yours first.

The Week That Was, Last One In August

This week brought to you by Hertz Rent-A-Car. Let Hertz put you in the driver’s seat!

All righty then! A lot to talk about today. We had a lot of rain about an hour ago, but now the sun is making an appearance from behind the clouds, and it’s turning into a nice day. Julio Teheran is pitching at home for the Braves; that gives them a chance to beat the Yankees, but we’ll see. One good piece of news: the White Sox are flirting with .500!

The Week That Was

Monday I took issue with the List Challenges website, which made a list of the 100 worst records of all time. It was a list originally written for AOL, so that might explain it. Still, most of the songs the author chose were actually good, at least as far as I was concerned. I listened to a couple of the ones I wasn’t familiar with, and they were at least decent (Britney Spears actually did a darn good job covering Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock & Roll”). Susan Gourley said “I always figure those lists are just opinions,” and she’s right, of course.

I also shared a video of an old Kellogg’s Rice Krispies commercial, where Snap, Crackle, and Pop did a song that many of you remembered. The commercial was from the early 1960’s, and we all know that means it’s been in my mind for over fifty years. I can also remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, only because I have it almost every morning (oatmeal). A couple of you remembered it, and Guilie Castillo was surprised to learn The Rolling Stones had also done music for another Rice Krispies commercial. The person who posted it included that tidbit in his summary. Jeffrey Scott mentioned that he’s been doing a lot of old commercial watching for an upcoming project, so keep an eye on his blog to see what he does with it. Nadine said she didn’t recognize it at first, but the more she listened, the more she did.

Two for Tuesday featured the music of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, who wrote a significant amount of music for The Monkees (the first band on Two for Tuesday, almost three years ago). They also wrote the song “Come A Little Bit Closer” for Jay and the Amercians, and Lauralynn said she always imagined Marty Robbins singing it. Considering it’s a similar song to “El Paso,” a hit for Marty, it’s not that far-fetched. Arlee said he still has a copy of Boyce & Hart’s 1969 album, It’s All Happening on the Inside, and says they have some interesting covers on it as well as some originals. They were better than average performers, and when Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork balked at the idea of a Monkees reunion in the mid-1970’s, Boyce and Hart filled in for them.

For One-Liner Wednesday, I shared something my brother said on Facebook, about how the cellphone destroyed Seinfeld. Several of you mentioned that you didn’t like the show, and I agree, the characters were awful. And, since it was One-Liner Wednesday, I included a video clip from the King of the One-Liners, Henny Youngman.

The Thursday Ten was based on the previous week’s Friday Five, where I listed five shows with numbers in the title and asked you to suggest other shows that fit the theme. You came up with seven, so I added three and voila!, instant Thursday Ten!

Also on Thursday, prompted by Mama Kat in her weekly Writer’s Workshop, I shared a little about the picture I use on all my social media accounts. A couple of you remarked that you like the picture, for which I thank you.

The Friday Five was five songs with “green” in the title. Arlee was relieved to know that it wasn’t five “green” songs, i.e. about ecology. Lauralynn said she didn’t realize there was another version of Fleetwood Mac, the one that did “The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Prong Crown)” and the band as it exists today. Their first three albums (four counting the US release English Rose) all featured Peter Green and were predominantly blues-oriented. The band had changed drastically around the time the album Mystery To Me came out in 1973. My Uncle Jack mentioned the song “Green Eyes,” by Helen O’Connell, saying I’d have to be his age to have heard it. It was in fact a song I knew. Here’s the Helen O’Connell version….

I remembered the Allan Sherman parody, from his 1964 Allan in Wonderland album, “Green Stamps.”

I learned about a lot of music from hearing Allan Sherman’s parodies and looking up the original later.

Yesterday for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, the prompt was “four-letter word.” After throwing out the obvious ones, I came up with “sing,” and talked about my love-hate relationship with my voice. It was a hard entry to write. That’s all I’ll say about it.

This coming week we’ll have another Battle of the Bands on Tuesday, which I think you’ll like, and all the usual favorites, including a special Friday Five for Labor Day weekend. See you then!

Sing, Sing A Song #socs


Don’t ask what it is, I don’t know…

People always tell me I have a good voice and that I should sing. I don’t think so.

OK, I have done some blues growling in the past, and I was all right. But I’m no Luciano Pavarotti; I’m more like his tone-deaf brother Giuseppe, at least as far as singing is concerned. And, as I think I mentioned here on the blog somewhere, I really hate to perform. I didn’t like being forced to perform at home, and would do everything I could to bluff my way through it. My family all thought it was hilarious, and I guess maybe it was, if you weren’t the one sitting there with the guitar.

I was fine, and am fine, with singing when there’s no one around, or when no one’s paying attention. At church on Saturday night (I’m Catholic, and Mass after about 4 counts for Sunday), for example, I’m fine, because everyone else is doing it, and all the good singers are sitting in the choir, and they have microphones, so they’re loud and I can just fade into the background. And, see, I’m not singing for everyone else; I’m singing for God, and He stuck me with this lousy voice, so He has it coming to Him. When I was in Music Ministry (and that’s a whole ‘nother story that I’d rather not get into), I was there to play the guitar, not to sing.

It’s a shame, because I think my guitar playing suffered from me not wanting to sing, as well as my value as a player. No one ever wanted to sing when I’d get together with other musicians, and I would have been really valuable as a singer and guitarist.

There are a lot of things like that. Singing, drawing, writing… I was always sensitive to criticism, of being told I was doing it wrong, and it was easier not to do it than to do it and open myself up to criticism and, well, ridicule.

You know how it is, though… I can see these things now, and I realize I needed to develop more of a “screw you” attitude (I was going to use the stronger four-letter version of that, but thought better of it). In everything. I’m sure it would have been frowned on by the Powers That Were, and I might have ended up with my teeth knocked out. But I would have had a lot more fun.


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This was this week’s entry into Linda Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Her blog has a list of the rules and the people that participated this week, so hop on over there and support some of the others.

You know, this all reminds me of Virginia O’Brien. The first time she got up to sing in front of a crowd, she was so terrified that she stood there, stone-faced, and sang the song, then ran off the stage and all the way home. The audience thought it was an act, and she was hilarious, and she ended up becoming a star in the movies and on TV when a producer who was in the audience called and asked her to do that again. I know I’ve shared this video before, but here she is, in the Marx Brothers’ comedy The Big Store.

Five “Green” Songs

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If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time (thank you!) you probably noticed two things: I do a lot of music, and I don’t do lists very well. I’m getting better, though, and I think I’ve landed on a good way to come up with themes. And of course, music plays a big part of them…

Today’s Friday Five:

Songs With “Green” In The Title

This started as “Songs With ‘Blue’ In The Title,” but I came up with way more than five. So, “green” it is.

Green Eyed Lady – Sugarloaf: A particular favorite, both to listen to and to play.

Green Tambourine – The Lemon Pipers: From the Groovy ’60’s, baby, by one-hit wonders The Lemon Pipers.

The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Prong Crown) – Fleetwood Mac This is almost green squared, as this was from FM’s Peter Green era. If you know or find out what a “manalishi” is, let me know in the comments. DuckDuckGo kept leading me back to this song.

Green Onions – Booker T and the MG’s: A great instrumental by a band noted for great instrumentals. If you remember American Graffiti, you might remember this played before the drag race. And if it didn’t, it should have.

Green River – Creedence Clearwater Revival: From their third album of the same name, back in the days when John Fogerty wasn’t running around suing everyone.

And there’s your Friday Five for August 28, 2015. Do you have any favorite green songs?

My Profile Picture

Mama Kat has this as one of the prompts for this week.

Share the story behind your current Facebook and/or Twitter profile photo.

I’ve been using this as my profile picture for everything, including the blog (you can see it if you scroll to the bottom of the page).

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We were at Starbucks on my birthday and sitting outside (weather here in late March is good enough to do that). Mary, who never uses the camera on her iPad, decided that it was time she did, took the picture and sent it to me. And I liked it, and decided to use it on all my profiles, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, WordPress, Blogger, and I probably need to put it a couple of other places as well.

I like this picture because I think it’s the best portrayal of the person I am right now. I had been growing the beard for a few weeks, because I got to where I didn’t feel like shaving anymore. And I think it turned out pretty well. (I do trim it since Mary told me I was looking too much like Hägar the Horrible. I told her it could be worse: I could look like Lee Sklar or William Lee Golden. Or Billy Gibbons, for that matter.) I guess I’ve earned the right to no longer care that I’m getting older, and being on Disability, I can go for comfort and no longer have to “dress for success.” Not that I ever really cared about that.

So, that’s the story behind my profile picture.

TV By The Numbers!

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Last week’s Friday Five presented five shows with numbers in the title, and I asked for some other examples. And I got almost enough suggestions for a Thursday Ten. So, I added three more and we have our Thursday Ten: TV shows with numbers in the title!

24. My Uncle Jack says “I was a big “24” fan with Kiefer Sutherland. Never missed an episode.” I have to admit, I never watched the show, but I know it had a dedicated following, and there was a lot of excitement when the ninth season, subtitled “Live Another Day,” came out. Here is a montage of scenes assembled by Cal_290.

Third Rock From The Sun. Both Halfmoon Mollie and Madilyn Quinn mentioned this one. We saw most of it when it was in syndication, and it was a riot watching them try to bluff their way through human situations. Kirsten Johnston, playing a character who’s male in extraterrestrial life, was especially funny. Here’s a trailer from the DVD’s of Season One.

Two Broke Girls. Halfmoon Mollie suggested this. I watch this, but don’t listen to it; Mike & Molly is on after it on Monday nights, and since there’s nothing else on, we put on CBS and turn off the sound. Looks pretty funny, but not really our style. This is kind of a sweet clip from the show.

Room 222. Michele from Angels Bark suggested this. I think this is one of the first TV shows to show a lot of racial diversity; all I remember is that it was a pretty good show, and starred some outstanding actors. Here’s the open.

Three’s Company. Elen Grey suggested this one. One of the infamous “jiggle TV” shows from the late ’70’s and early to mid-’80’s, it starred John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, Suzanne Somers, Richard Klein, Norman Fell, and Audra Lindley in its early days. Suzanne Somers left before the 1981 season, and was replaced by Priscilla Barnes and Jennilee Harrison, and when Fell and Lindley’s characters were spun off into their own show (The Ropers), Don Knotts took over as the landlord. This clip was recorded by someone holding a video camera to the screen, so I apologize for the sound quality. It features Leon Askin (from Hogan’s Heroes) and is typical of the comedy on the show.

Reno 911! Madilyn Quinn also suggested this. Not a show I watched, though it did look like it might be funny. Here’s a short clip.

One Step Beyond. Arlee Bird suggested this one. Very similar to The Twilight Zone, with the same sort of paranormal suspense. It ran from 1959 to 1961, and was hosted by John Newland. WGN in Chicago had the rights to it, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Science Fiction Theater during the 1960’s and showed them practically every night. Here is a full episode, “Encounter,” episode 29 of season 2, which originally aired April 12, 1960. There are many episodes from the series on YouTube.

Hawaii Five-O. I’m kind of surprised this wasn’t the first show with a number in the title I thought of. It had one of the best theme songs in TV history. Here it is.

227. This show starred Marla Gibbs from The Jeffersons, Hal Williams, and Jackée Harry. It ran for five seasons and was the story of the residents of 227 Lexington Place, Washington, DC. Here’s the show’s open, that shows the rest of the cast. They were superb.

VR.5. I’ve never been much of a fan of science fiction, but for some reason Mary and I watched this show every week for the ten weeks it aired on Fox in 1995. There were thirteen episodes in all. It’s hard to explain (it was twenty years and one stroke ago), so check out the writeups on IMDb and Wikipedia. The show starred Lori Singer, Michael Easton, Will Patton, and Anthony Head, and featured performances by Louise Lasser, Tracey Needham, and David McCallum. Here’s the show’s open.

And that’s your Thursday Ten for August 27, 2015.

ONE-LINER WEDNESDAY: My Brother’s Observation (#1linerWeds #1_erWed #lindas1lineWed #lindas1linerWed)

“What’s with all the hashtags, John?” you might ask. Well, remember a couple of weeks ago, when I said we had the approval of the owner to use #1lineWed for this? Evidently, it was causing too much confusion, and we were told to find a new one. Linda, who is running the poll to decide the new hashtag, hasn’t decided what it will be. My suggestion was the first, and as of this writing (3:30 PM yesterday) it’s in the lead by a comfortable margin. Rather than presume it’s the winner, I’ve used all four of the contestants, just to be on the safe side. Linda might not have closed voting yet, so if you have a preference, pop over there and make your voice heard.

Here’s this week’s one-liner, courtesy of my brother Kip:

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Seinfeld was never my favorite show, so I have to take his word for it.

This week’s one-liner is technically three lines, but I’m using it anyway, because it maintains the spirit of a one-liner. Henny Youngman was the King of the One-Liners, and most of his ran to several sentences. (An example: A guy walks into a doctor’s office. He says, “Doc, my love life is terrible.” The doctor says “lose twenty pounds and run ten miles every day.” Two weeks later the guy calls the doctor. The doctor says, “how’s your love life?” Guy says, “I dunno, I’m 140 miles from home.”) For those of you unfamiliar with Henny Youngman, here’s a short sample…

Submitted for your enjoyment, that is my entry into One-Liner Wednesday.

#TwoForTuesday: Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart

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Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart are mostly associated with The Monkees, for whom they wrote many of their hits (“Last Train To Clarksville,” “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone,” and others). They also wrote songs for Paul Revere and the Raiders, Fats Domino, and Jay and the Americans, and were themselves a recording act. In the mid-1970’s they joined Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones and performed as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart. In all, they wrote over 300 songs and sold 42 million records as a partnership, according to The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll.

Today’s first song is “Come a Little Bit Closer,” which was a hit for Jay and the Americans in 1964. It reached #3 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Cash Box survey that year. This is a “live” performance on what I believe is Where The Action Is!

The second is their hit from 1968, “I wonder What She’s Doing Tonight.” It reached #7 on the Hot 100 that year.

Tommy Boyce lived in the UK for a while, then moved to Nashville, where he battled depression and suffered a brain aneurysm, from which he never fully recovered. He committed suicide in 1994. Bobby Hart is still around; the website for his autobiography, Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce &U Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles, is here. You might also enoy this article on the Forgotten Hits website, “The Music of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.” I have not been successful in locating a page that lists all of the songs they wrote and for whom, but I’m still looking.

Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, your Two for Tuesday, August 25, 2015.

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