February rambling: obituary pirates

strong men always fall

Posted by Jessica Wilson to Star Trek Wholesome Posting

He Died in a Tragic Accident. Why Did the Internet Say He Was Murdered? Within a day of the death of Matthew Sachman, 19, on New York City subway tracks, so-called obituary pirates had flooded search results with false information.

Judge clears names of 2 men convicted in Times Square murder after they spent years in prison and The Juror Who Found Herself Guilty. I’m always pained by these stories of innocent people being in jail for decades before being exonerated.

Gazan Lives Matter

Cory Doctorow: How I Got Scammed

Sam Waterston to Leave ‘Law and Order’ After 20 Seasons

50 Best ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Guest Stars, Ranked

Anti-Racism Resources

I gave blood at the Albany High School on January 31. It was my 178th time. My time: 5 minutes, 17 seconds. Booyah!

Kelly goes marbles

Mel-O-Toons: Cheap cartoons for weekday enjoyment

Now I Know: When New York Choked the Artichoke Trade and When Milwaukee Went to War Over Bridges and Math and the Missing Planet and Why Did This Rabbit Drive a Car?

NOT ME: A SCOTTISH commercial cleaning firm has announced its acquisition of an English rival, adding a further 100 staff to its growing UK team. Founded in 1988 by its Chairman Roger Green, Spotless now operates over 1,700 contracts across the UK, providing a full range of cleaning services for blue chip companies, retail outlets, industrial leaders, and premier commercial premises.


Chuck Miller: The surgeries aren’t done yet; Panic at the hospital; Waiting on an NPO; This blog post was almost written from beyond the grave. Get better, Chuck!

About Biden’s Age and Memory

King Charles Diagnosed With Cancer, Buckingham Palace Say. The Royal Line of British Succession

Seiji Ozawa, Captivating Conductor, Is Dead at 88. He led the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 29 years, toured widely, and helped dispel prejudices about East Asian classical musicians. I saw him on television several times, at least once in person, probably at Tanglewood. 

Chita Rivera, revered and pioneering Tony-winning dancer and singer, dies at 91

Carl Weathers, Apollo Creed in “Rocky,” dies at 76

Amelia Earhart’s long-lost plane was possibly spotted in the Pacific by an exploration team

The retribution presidency

2024: What Kind of Society Will America Be?


djt Calls for ‘All Willing States’ to Deploy National Guard Troops to Texas. Kareem: “This is not a drill: Donald Trump has become the most destructive force to American democracy. To support him after all that’s happened, after all he’s said and done, is to denounce America and everything it stands for. That’s not hyperbole or liberal posturing. It’s merely acknowledging the facts.”


From Maggie Haberman, New York Times: “A vindictive Trump second term is now a frequent point of discussion. But [John] Bolton already got a close-up look at Trump’s nature — and how his anger can boil over. He spent 17 months in the administration and left in 2019.

“The new edition of Bolton’s book focuses on several examples, especially the case of Ellen Knight, a National Security Council official who cleared Bolton’s original edition for publication and was then dismissed from the [National Security Council].

“Knight told a federal judge that senior White House lawyers pressured her to falsely claim that Bolton’s book contained classified information. She was reinstated under President Biden.”


djt says he’d let Russia do ‘whatever the hell they want’ to NATO countries that don’t pay enough. Republicans say it was just fine.


Heather Cox Richardson: “What I’m saying is… if former president Donald Trump or a Trump-like figure… is elected president or takes the presidency in 2024, we will lose American democracy for our lifetimes. Not forever, because strong men always fall. It’s the nature of authoritarian movements.”[She’s more optimistic than I.]


Federal Appeals Court Rejects Trump’s Claim of Absolute Immunity. The ruling answered a question that an appeals court had never addressed: Can former presidents escape being held accountable by the criminal justice system for things they did while in office?


Where has Tracy Chapman been? Tracy Chapman – Fast Car

The Genius Of Stevie Wonder

The War and Treaty: Lover’s Game

1712 Overture – PDQ Bach

Karma Chameleon – Culture Club

Victoria Monét: On My Mama

Coverville 1475: The Harry Styles Cover Story

Jelly Roll: Son Of A Sinner

J. Eric Smith’s Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Buggy Jive and D.O.A. 

Laufey – From The Start

Gracie Abrams: Difficult


Music by The Spinners

Produced by Thom Bell

When I wrote my post about Thom Bell, I left off some songs I liked that he did not write but did produce. As it turned out, they were all by the Spinners, or the Detroit Spinners or Motown Spinners, as they were known in the UK. There was a British folk group called The Spinners in the late 1950s.

The group started back in 1954 as The Domingoes became The Spinners in 1961. It released a couple of Top 100 songs that year, including their first recording, That’s What Girls Are Made For (#27 pop, #5 RB), on Tri-Phi Records.

Motown bought up the Tri-Phi roster in 1963. Per Wikipedia, “With limited commercial success, Motown assigned the Spinners as road managers, chaperones, and chauffeurs for other groups, and even as shipping clerks.”

They were moved to Motown imprint V.I.P. In 1970, they finally had a hit with It’s A Shame (#14 pop, #4 RB), produced by Stevie Wonder and written by Wonder and Syreeta Wright. But Motown wasn’t a great fit for the group.

A new ocean

Aretha Franklin recommended they sign with her label, Atlantic, and they did in 1972.

Could It Be I’m Falling In Love (#4 pop in 1973, #1 RB, #14 adult contemporary, gold record) was co-written by Melvin and Mervin Steals, two songwriter brothers working for  Atlantic sometimes credited as “Mystro and Lyric.” The house band MFSB provided the backing. Bobby Smith sings lead through most of the song while Philippé Wynne handles vocal duties on the outro.

One Of A Kind (Love Affair) (#11 pop, #1 for four weeks RB, #19 AC in 1973, gold record) was written by Joseph B. Jefferson. Wynne was the lead singer.

Mighty Love (#20 pop, #1 for two weeks RB in 1973) was written by Joseph B. Jefferson, Bruce Hawes, and Charles Simmons.

Biggest hit

Then Came You (#2 RB, #3 AC in 1974, gold record) was credited to Dionne Warwicke and the Spinners (from 1971 to 1975, Warwick added a final ‘e’ to her last name). Sherman Marshall and Phillip T. Pugh wrote the track.

“Released during a time that Warwick’s chart fortunes were at an ebb after moving to Warner Bros. Records in 1972, the Philadelphia soul single was a rare mid-1970s success for the singer. Sung as a duet with the Spinners’ main lead singer Bobby Smith,  the song became Warwick’s first-ever single to reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. It became her highest-charting R&B record of the 1970s, and it was also the first number-one pop hit for the Spinners. It was nominated for a Grammy.”

When I was growing up, I was annoyed with folks who denigrate musicians who aren’t making the “right” music. Charlie Pride’s country music, Jimi Hendrix’s rock, and Dionne Warwick sing Bacharach -David was not considered appropriate by some people, which I thought was stupid. Still, I was happy that Dionne got her soul cred with this track.  

Games People Play, also known as “They Just Can’t Stop It The” (Games People Play) (#5 pop, #1 RB, #2 AC in 1975, gold record) written by Jefferson, Hawes, and Simmons. It featured lead vocals by Bobby Smith. The house band MFSB provided the backing. It “featured guest vocalist Evette L. Benton (though producer Bell disputed this in a UK-based interview, claiming Evette’s line was actually group member Henry Fambrough – his voice sped up), and led to the nickname “Mister 12:45″ for bass singer Jackson, after his signature vocal line on the song.”

I love the fact that there was a bass vocal solo; I can barely reach the lowest notes.  

Musician Stevie Wonder is 70

Do you want some candy?

Stevie WonderWhen you’ve written about Stevie Wonder at 60 and at 65, featuring songs he wrote for other people, then what?

I suppose I could note his Carpool Karaoke with James Corden from 2015. Or point out a YouTube page called RareWonderMusic. It features Stevie singing I Can See the Sun in Late December, a song he gave to Roberta Flack, plus I Think I’m On The Right Track, Spread The Love, and Good Light.

But I’ll just list 25 songs. I could have listed 25 other songs. The last two are my top two, but the rest of the list is fluid.

Do I Do. For a 1982 greatest hits double LP called Original Musiquarium I, he added four new songs. Dizzy Gillespie and a stoned ending. “Do you want some candy?”
Do Yourself a Favor – from the transitional Where I’m Coming From album
Another Star – first of the songs from Songs in the Key of Life
You Haven’t Done Nothin’ – from Fulfillingness’ First Finale. Features the Jackson Five.

He’s Misstra Know-It-All – from Innervisions
Blame It On the Sun – from Talking Book, the first of those great 1970s albums
You Are the Sunshine of My Life. I love the fact that Stevie’s vocal doesn’t appear until the verse after the chorus.
Nothing’s Too Good for My Baby

That was a hit?

Fingertips, Part 2, and for a bonus, Fingertips. An article from WNYC: That Was A Hit?!?: Little Stevie Wonder, ‘Fingertips’
Sir Duke. If you’re going to namecheck, this song is exemplary.
We Can Work It Out. One of my all-time favorite Beatles’ covers. A live version.
Living for the City – album version and single version. The former has the better storyline -“Skyscrapers and everything!” but the latter is more danceable.

Boogie on Reggae Woman
I Wish
Higher Ground
For Once In My Life – a ballad turned into an uptempo song

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours. “I’ve done a lot of foolish things..”
Pastime Paradise. My daughter discovered, in order, Amish Paradise by Weird Al, Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio, then the original
I Was Made To Love Her
Master Blaster (Jammin’)

Love’s in Need of Love Today. After 9/11, he sang this song on a television benefit.
Uptight (Everything’s Alright). Sonically, for me, the demarcation from post-Little Stevie Wonder
As – until the day that 8 times 8 times 8 is 4

Lydster/music throwback: Pastime Paradise

Of revelations
World salvation

As I have mentioned, the Daughter is really into the music of Weird Al Yankovic. She asks me questions about who did the originals of his parody songs. I’m pretty good with the pop/rock stuff, not so hot with the rap sourced items.

One exception is Amish Paradise, one of our favorite Weird Al songs, which I know came from the Coolio song Gangsta’s Paradise, featuring singer L.V. But truth is that I am only aware of that because it’s a reworking of Pastime Paradise, a song on the first side of the epic, Grammy-winning 1976 LP Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder.

A couple days later, the Daughter asked if Al gets permission to use other people’s songs, and I said that he did. But by this point, she knew of the Coolio/Weird Al feud. “Coolio claimed that he did not give permission for the parody… Yankovic claimed that he had been told Coolio had given the go-ahead through his record label and apologized.” Coolio too has since apologized for allowing his ego to get in the way.

For a while, the Daughter would play the three songs back-to-back. But eventually, she really glommed to the Stevie original, playing it a few times every day. I think it is the rhyme:

Race relations
Confirmation, to the evils of the world

Of race relations
Of revelations
World salvation
Confirmation, to the peace of the world

I always liked it, but her affection for the song has enhanced my enjoyment of it.

Listen to:

Pastime Paradise – Stevie Wonder (1976) here or here
Pastime Paradise – Ray Barretto (1981) here or here
Gangsta’s Paradise – Coolio, featuring L.V., #1 for three weeks on the Billboard pop charts (1995) here or here
Amish Paradise -Weird Al Yankovic, #53 (1996) here or here
Pastime Paradise – Patti Smith (2007) here or here

Music, April 1971: What’s Going On

More random music recollections based on the book Never A Dull Moment.

You probably think you know the story of Marvin Gaye’s standout album, What’s Going On, how the Artist recognized what’s REALLY happening in the world and puts out a album designed to stick it to the Suits at the record company. The actual story was a bit more prosaic.

In fact, the title song began with a wisp of of an idea by Obie Benson, the bass singer of the Four Tops, who thought that maybe he had another song like the Coke commercial, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.” He and Motown songwriter Al Cleveland thought it might fit Marvin, but he wasn’t impressed. They pushed, and Marvin gave it some tweaks, thinking he might produce it for the Originals.

In July 1970, he came into the studio, had some football buddies for the party noise, captured sax player Eli Fontaine warming up, and basically fell into a sound. He managed to slip it out as a single in January 1971, while Motown owner/brother-in-law Berry Gordy was out on the West Coast. Gordy thought two things: 1) he hated the song, and 2) wondered where’s followup album was after it became a hit.

The What’s Going On album was recorded in March and released in May, with a second mix by Gaye that defined not only the LP, but changed the expectation of listeners regarding what was expected from a Motown album. I played it a lot in college; Inner City Blues especially STILL seems relevant.

Another Motown artist was giving Berry Gordy headaches. Stevie Wonder was married, living in NYC with new wife Syretta, and about to turn 21. His lawyers sent a letter to Gordy disavowing his Motown contract.

Meanwhile, Stevie discovered The Original New Timbral Orchestra, or TONTO, keyboard system. Wonder had lost interest in his new album, Where I’m Coming From, which was actually the first Stevie album I ever bought, as his own sound was developing.

His next album, Music of My Mind, made in 1971 and released the next year, was more representative of the groove he was going for. The FOUR albums after THAT, all dominant on my turntable in the 1970s won FOUR Grammy albums of the Year awards in five years.

Sly Stone’s album was two years late, and he became “the least reliable superstar in the history of popular music.” The eventual downbeat, indecipherable There’s A Riot Goin’ On, released in November 1971, was a contact high of an album. One did not have to BE stoned to FEEL stoned listening to it.

Was Shaft blaxploitation or black empowerment? It was a movie by noted black photographer Gordon Parks, with Richard Roundtree as the handsome black detective, whose looks drove the lyrics written by STAX artist Isaac Hayes. The “shut your mouth” was delivered by Telma Hopkins, whose hit with Dawn, “Knock Three Times”, came out earlier that year. My sister Leslie owned this double LP, which he had to get partially replaced because the package had two of the same LPs.

Listen To

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Inner City Blues – Marvin Gaye
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott-Heron
Family Affair – Sly & the Family Stone
I Can’t Get Next to You – Al Green
Toussaint L’Ouverture- Santana

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