Singer/songwriter Billy Joel turns 70

“Mr. Joel has encountered some resistance from rock critics.”

Billy JoelI saw Billy Joel perform at New Paltz in 1974, as I recounted here. I wondered how one could get lost from Long Island unless the group came up the wrong side of the Hudson River.

I thought he was a bit stiff. Four and a half years later, he had his debut at Madison Square Garden, “three shows there that had sold out almost as soon as they went on sale.”

The reviewer noted the singer seemed unusually nervous. Also, “Mr. Joel has encountered some resistance from rock critics.” To say the least.

Someone gave me a book – I wouldn’t have bought it myself – entitled The Worst Rock ‘n Roll Records of All Time (1991). At the end, Jimmy Guterman and O’Donnell picked The Worst Rock and Rollers of All Time. After dissing Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, and Phil Collins, the “winner” was Billy Joel.

Now, he’s been performing sold-out shows at MSG once a month for over five years, always changing them up. He goes on the road about once a month, “even though the man hasn’t released an album of new pop songs since 1993.”

A couple dozen shows per year gives him time to help clean up beaches in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Given some of the travails of his career and life, I’m happy that he seems content.

Some songs – chart action US Billboard pop charts

Captain Jack (1973)- my first favorite song of his
Scandinavian Skies (1982)- overly earnest attempt to write a Beatles song
Baby Grand (#75 in 1986)- duet with Ray Charles, Alexa Ray, Joel’s daughter was named partly for the icon
Uptown Girl (#3 in 1983) – one of my wife’s favorites

You May Be Right (#7 in 1980) – “I MAY be crazy”
The River of Dreams (#3 in 1993) – title song of his last album
New York State of Mind (1976) – his Sinatra song, and I mean that in a good way
The Longest Time (#14 in 1984)- I love that doowop stuff; the song of his I’m most likely to sing along with

Goodnight Saigon (#56 in 1983) – I developed a greater regard when I saw it performed on the Kennedy Center Honors
Piano Man (#25 in 1974) – gets undervalued because it’s like McCartney doing Hey Jude, with everyone singing along
Scenes from an Italian Restaurant (1977) – I didn’t appreciate this song nearly enough when it came out
Big Shot (#14 in 1979) – quasi-punk self-referential piece

Allentown (#17 in 1983)- we’re STILL living there
Pressure (#20 in 1982) – I relate
Big Man on Mulberry Street (1986)- this appeared on the TV show Moonlighting
Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) (#77 in 1994) – I heard an a cappella group perform this in Binghamton, NY in the mid-1990s

A New York Newspapers State of Mind

With any recording, there are two copyrights: one for the song, the composition, and another for the performance of that song, the recording.

There’s a line in a classic Billy Joel song New York State of Mind:
“But now I need a little give and take
The New York Times, the Daily News.”

Back in the late 1970s and 1980s, I used to read those two New York City papers, even though I lived 150 miles away. The New York Times, “All The News That’s Fit To Print,” I’d read nearly every day. Even into the 1990s, I was at least devour the massive Sunday Times, which might take all week. In the earlier period, I also read the Daily News, a tabloid publication, on Sunday, mostly for the funnies and the sports.

I almost never read the other tabloid in New York City, the New York Post, which was terrible even before Rupert Murdock bought it in 1993. (Certainly, one of its low points was in 1980, when they showed a slain John Lennon in the morgue.)

It’s nice to see my old friends of the news IN the news:

nyt.selma

Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura participated in the reenactment of the march 50 years ago in Selma, Alabama on March 7. They were on the front line, but do not appear in the photo above. The narrative from some is that they were cropped out.

But in viewing several pictures of the event, it was clear that the picture was not wide enough to include the Bushes without making the shot far too small to see from the newsstand.

Moreover, Times photographer Doug Mills notes: “As you can see, Bush was in the bright sunlight. I did not even send this frame because it’s very wide and super busy and Bush is super-overexposed because he was in the sun and Obama and the others are in the shade.”

Nevertheless, there will be people who will find political motivation in this.

There are some who thought Bush should have stayed home, since his Supreme Court justices have weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the very law signed by President Lyndon Johnson as a direct result of the original march. I’m glad Bush was there.

Here’s a poignant Selma story.

traitors.newyorkdailynews.mar2015 A couple of days later, I was astonished to see THIS headline in the Daily News go viral, with the paper blasting the 47 US Senators for sending a letter to Iran.

As Vox.com puts it, “The mere act of senators contacting the leaders of a foreign nation to undermine and contradict their own president is an enormous breach of protocol. But this went much further: Republicans are telling Iran, and, by extension the world, that the American president no longer has the power to conduct foreign policy, and that foreign leaders should assume Congress could revoke American pledges at any moment.”

Now, Arthur explains this situation more than I’m inclined to. Read also links to several other newspaper editorials.

Whether the letter, signed by four men (Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio) who have suggested a desire to be the Republican nominee for President, is actually traitorous is open to debate. That it was a brazen, gratuitous, and plainly stupid action is pretty clear. And some Republicans agree.

Humorous responses: Iran has offered to mediate talks between congressional Republicans and President Obama and An Open Letter to 47 Republican Senators of the United States of America from Iran’s Hard-Liners.: “You have opened our eyes. We are brothers.”
***
In other news, Jurors hit Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams with $7.4-million verdict over the song Blurred Lines.

I was surprised by the results. A couple of weeks ago, intellectual property lawyer/drummer Paul Rapp, a/k/a F. Lee Harvey Blotto, wrote this:

The…case, in which Marvin Gaye’s kids are trying to shake down Robin Thicke, Pharrell and TI, is…not going very well for Team Gaye. The judge knocked the stuffing out of the Gayes’ case last month by ruling that the jury would not be allowed to hear the Marvin Gaye recording of Got To Give It Up [LISTEN] the song allegedly infringed by Thicke & Co. in writing Blurred Lines.

Why, you ask? Well it’s like this. With any recording, there are two copyrights: one for the song, the composition, and another for the performance of that song, the recording. What constitutes the song is typically limited to the melody and lyrics, and sometimes a unique chord or song structure. Everything else is embodied in the performance.

Here’s a side-by-side snippet. Oh, and here’s the UNRATED, NSFW Blurred Lines video (don’t say I didn’t warn you.) Incidentally, I’m one of those people who found Blurred Lines’ suggestion of possibly non-consensual sex very creepy.

There is concern that the verdict could be bad for music, “possibly lowering the bar for what’s considered creative theft.” While I hear the similarities, I’ve found other songs, not litigated against, with far greater parallels. I think the decision was wrong, per this New Yorker article.

But after the “Blurred Lines” victory, the Gaye family takes another listen to “Happy”. They should take Stevie Wonder’s advice.

Since these things will get further litigated, it’s too early to know the final outcome. But my first thought was, “What will happen to the Weird Al Yankovic song, Word Crimes [LISTEN]? It’s credited to Williams, Thick, rapper TI and Yankovic.

August Rambling: Deep dark secrets

I wrote this blog post about my ambivalence about blogging on the Times Union website.

WD40
The Hook-Up Culture Is Getting 20-Somethings Nowhere. On the other hand, Casual Love.

How we get through life every day.

Nixon’s still the one. And What We Lost 40 Years Ago When Nixon Resigned. See Harry Shearer recreate Richard Nixon as he preps and delivers his resignation speech. Plus George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason.

New Zealand’s non-partisan Get Out the Vote campaign. I don’t see such things often in the US. Sure, there’s get our SUPPORTERS to vote, but that’s a different animal.

Deep Dark Fears is “a series of comics exploring those intimate, personal fears that mostly stem from your imagination getting darkly carried away.” Read more about it.

Rod Serling’s closing remarks from The Obsolete Man episode of The Twilight Zone. “It remains profoundly prescient and relevant.”

All these in a 48-hour period: How games’ lazy storytelling uses rape and violence against women as wallpaper and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has come forward with several stories of being called “chubby,” “fat,” and “porky” by her male colleagues in Congress and Fark prohibits misogyny in new addition to moderator guidelines and Snappy response to sexist harasser in the tech field.

Modern Office with Christina Hendricks.

FLOWCHART: Should You Catcall Her?

Guns and The Rule of Intended Consequences.

What our nightly views might look like if planets, instead of our moon, orbited Earth.

Cartoon: Pinocchio, Inc.

Remember when I wrote about flooding in Albany this month? Dan explains the systemic reason WHY it happened.

Arthur makes the case against “the case against time zones.” I’m not feeling the abolition of time zones either, at this point.

Nōtan: Dark and Light principles of Design.

The jungle gym as math tool.

The disaster drafts for professional sports.

The Procrastination Doom Loop—and How to Break It.

One of my favorite movie quotes, maybe because it’s so meta: “That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” (Grand Canyon, 1991)

Seriously, Rebecca Jade, the first niece, is in about four different groups, in a variety of genres. Here’s The Soultones cover band – Promo video. Plus a link to her latest release, Galaxy, with Jaz Williams.

Tosy’s U2, ranked 40-31 and 30-21.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, 2004.

August 22, 1969: The Beatles’ Final Photo Shoot

Coverville 1043: The Elvis Costello Cover Story III, in honor of him turning 60.

4 chairs, 4 women; 4 women, no chairs.

12 billion light-years from the edge. A funny bit!

Don Pardo, R.I.P..

Lauren Bacall: always the life of the party. And cinema icon of Hollywood’s golden age, 1924-2014. A Dustbury recollection.

More Robin Williams: on ‘cowardice’ and compassion. Also, a Dan Meth drawing and Aladdin’s Broadway cast gave a him beautiful tribute. Plus, a meeting of Yarmy’s Army and Ulysses.

Jaquandor remembers little Quinn. Damn middle recording made me cry.

The Wellington Hotel Annex in Albany, N.Y. was… murdered in plain sight in front of hundreds of onlookers. “If I were a building, this is how I’d like to go.” Here’s another view.

SamuraiFrog’s Muppet jamboree: C is for Clodhoppers and D Is for Delbert (who evolved) and E is for Eric the Parrot and F is for a Fraggle and G Is for the Gogolala Jubilee Jugband.

New SCRABBLE words. Word Up has identified some of the new three-letter words.

I SO don’t care: one space or two after the period. Here’s a third choice.

The ultimate word on that “digital natives” crap.

Whatever Happened to the Metric System?

Freedom from fear.

Ever wondered what those books behind the glass doors of the cupboard might be thinking or feeling?

The New Yorker thinks Yankovic is weirdly popular.

Here’s a nice Billy Joel story.

Pop songs as sonnets.

House of Clerks, a parody of House of Cards.

Saturday Night Live Political Secrets Revealed.

This Sergio Aragonés masterpiece is included as a fold-out poster within Inside Mad. His priceless gift to all Mad fans shows over six decades of Mad contributors and ephemera within a mish-mash of Mad office walls. The only thing missing in this beautiful mess is a key. Doug Gilford will be attempting to label everything you see with brief (pop-up) descriptions and links to pertinent pages…

Hello Kitty is not a cat. You may have known that; somehow, I missed it.

You May Have Something Extremely Valuable Hiding In Your Change.

Improved names for everyday things

GOOGLE ALERTS (me)

I wrote this blog post about my ambivalence about blogging on the Times Union website. J. Eric Smith, who used to be a TU blogger, responds at length.

SamuraiFrog responds to my response to 16 Habits of Sensitive People. Also, per moi, he does his #1 songs on his birthday: 1987-1996 and 1997-2006, and 2007-2013. I’ll go back to this myself, eventually.

Dustbury on the theme song to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which a passage in Schutte’s Mass resembles more than slightly. He discovers a Singapore McDonalds product.

Jaquandor answers my questions about vices such as swearing and politics/American exceptionalism.

He also writes of buckets and the dumping of the water therein, which Gordon thinks hurts nonprofits. Snopes, BTW, debunks the claim that 73 percent of donations to the ALS Association fund executive salaries and overhead.

Do you know that ABC Wednesday meme I mention with a great amount of regularity? I think this recent introduction I wrote explains it fairly well.

The Kennedy Center Honors 2013

saw keyboardist/composer Herbie Hancock perform in the Albany area, perhaps in the 1990s at the Palace Theatre, though it could have been at the Troy Music Hall.

Right before they went off to South Africa to honor Nelson Mandela, Barack and Michelle Obama attended The Kennedy Center Honors. I always watch the broadcast, which this year is on December 29 on CBS-TV. Four of the five honorees I’m very familiar with.

Opera singer Martina Arroyo is a name I’ve heard, but to say I was familiar with her work would be a gross overstatement.

Actress Shirley MacLaine was in a number of movies I’ve seen over the years, including The Apartment (1960), the creepy The Possession of Joel Delaney (1972), The Turning Point (1977), the Oscar-winning Tears of InternmentTerms of Endearment (1983), Steel Magnolias (1989), Postcards from the Edge (1990), Guarding Tess (1994), and most recently in Bernie (2011), which I liked. I probably saw her sitcom in the early 1970s. But my favorite MacLaine vehicle has to be Being There (1979) with Peter Sellers, one of the very first VHS tapes I ever bought, along with Annie Hall.

One of my work colleagues was listening to Soul Sacrifice, the song that ends the first Santana album, just last month. It was the version of that song at Woodstock that turned the world on to the guitar artistry of Carlos Santana. I loved the first several Santana albums, especially the second one, Abraxas, with that Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen/Oye Como Va segue. (Here’s the original Abraxas and here’s the Abraxas with extra live tracks.) I have some of his jazz fusion music as well. If I wasn’t as enamored with some of his all-star collaborations this century, it was no reflection on his fine playing.

I saw keyboardist/composer Herbie Hancock perform in the Albany area, perhaps in the 1990s at the Palace Theatre, though it could have been at the Troy Music Hall. I didn’t love the show – it seemed too sedate -but I have enough of his albums, including his Joni Mitchell tribute album I picked up just this year, to know that his recordings are quite eclectic. My collection spans back to Maiden Voyage in 1965 and includes Gershwin’s World (1998), featuring Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder, and The New Standard (1996) that my jazz-loving friend Donna hated, but that I embraced, so she gave it to me. Here’s Hancock’s YouTube channel.

I have a LOT of albums by Billy Joel, singer, composer, Piano Man. He I saw in concert in New Paltz, NY in 1974. He was very late – they got lost coming up from Long Island. He wasn’t the showman he became, sitting stiffly at his piano, but his songs, even early on, were always strong. His early MTV videos were generally quite entertaining. I’d be hard-pressed to come up with my favorite of his songs (but I’ll try in five years). Here’s Joel’s YouTube channel.

May Rambling: Faraway fire; faux news; second chances

I was noting in particular two Billy Joel songs, ‘Get It Right The First Time’ from 1977 and ‘Second Wind (You’re Only Human)’ from 1985, and how I prefer the latter sentiment.

Chuck Miller has taken on the task of promoting the work of his “fellow Times Union community bloggers, until that day when the Times Union itself will restore the ‘Best of Our Blogs’ feature to the print edition of the paper.” And one of those “well-written articles” was mine. Merci, Chuck.

The specter of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory looms over the garment factory that collapsed last month in Bangladesh, killing more than [1100] workers… But the world is smaller than it was 102 years ago. Tragedies of this sort in the Third World aren’t engendered only by forces in their proximity, and they won’t be averted unless the responsibility for change is embraced globally. Also, Is Rana Disaster Bangladesh’s Triangle Fire? I wrote about the Triangle fire HERE.

Meryl’s quite reasonable concern: ‘truth’ is becoming ever-more elusive with advancing photoshop technology and our modern vehicles of ‘news resources’ and communication. Related: Since Twitter hasn’t built a correction feature, here are 3 things journalists can do instead. And Who’s The Biggest Liar?

Howard Kurtz’s Belated Comeuppance: The Media Critic’s Firing Comes After a Long History of Journalistic Abuses.

For New York State, I thought the effects of hydrofracking was only an upstate problem, but it appears Manhattan will have its own issues.

In What Ways Does The Culture Of Comics Have An Impact On How Business Is Done? Also, The Library of American Comics at 75 Titles (and counting): Moral rights, reprint rights.

Boston Marathon Runner & Psychiatrist Shares Personal Story of Patriots’ Day 2013; written by a cousin of a co-worker.

Harriet Quimby – the 1st US woman to get her pilot’s license.

Space Oddities and Sensations: Inspiring Teaching and Learning , featuring Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Rare footage of Helen Keller speaking with the help of Anne Sullivan.

I was playing my Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits, Volumes 1 & 2 on a car ride recently; his birthday is in May. I was noting in particular two songs, ‘Get It Right The First Time’ from 1977 and ‘Second Wind (You’re Only Human)’ from 1985, and how I prefer the latter sentiment. Melanie writes about the second time around. Also, practicing in pieces.

Richie’s road of death.

Sitemeter for Ken Levine’s blog, Taken 1:46 pm, May 8, 2013

I’m less interested Ken Levine won’t give Zach Braff one dime for his Kickstarter movie project than the sudden surge in his blog, from about 5000 hits a day, +/- 2000, to over 620,000 after that article, and over 96,000 for the followup. Levine also dissed the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter, one that SamuraiFrog supported, BTW. There were a number of folks who dissed Braff, but supported the Veronica Mars effort, which otherwise could not have been made. Here’s Levine’s last word on the project, now that Braff has secured alternative funding. Also, another story on the controversy. Fascinated by the fact that this is what is considered controversial these days.

Al Capp: The Shame of Dogpatch.

Cathy Rigby played Peter Pan in Schenectady in April, and we declined to go. Now that I know that she’s retiring from the role after 3000+ performances, I wish I had gone.

Why McLean Stevenson quit MAS*H.

Ray Harryhausen, master of stop-motion animation, died this month. Mark Evanier has a nice Harryhausen story. Also, Ray was Steve Bissette’s hero. And here’s a short video you may recognize.

Don Rosa and the late Steve Gerber have been selected to receive the 2013 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. Both are heroes in their field, and it was Gerber’s blog that prompted mine.

K-Chuck Radio: Rest in peace, George Jones.

Mark Evanier is dealing with the first Mother’s Day after his mom died much better than I did with mine.

The newspaper misspells its own name in an article about winning awards.

Dustbury speculates why the IRS “Where’s my refund?” site was down last weekend.

2001: A Space Odyssey – Howard Johnson’s Children’s Menu (1968).

The technology that links taxonomy and Star Trek.

How ‘Star Wars’ Nerds sold Lucasfilm to Disney.

These re-made Disney DVD covers are scarily accurate.