It was a helluva week with one of the most eventful Thursdays in recent memory. We all thought the “skinny repeal” atrocity would pass. While I’m glad that John McCain voted NO, the real stars of the vote were Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. Team Trump has done many stupid things since coming to power but threatening Murkowski takes the cake. This is one tough woman. In 2010, she lost the Republican primary to a teabagger, ran as an independent, and won. Threatening her with an open political grave was futile, she’d already been declared politically dead and came back with a vengeance. Besides, the Murkowskis are a dynasty in Alaska with a collective 36 years in the Senate between Lisa and her father Frank. Take that Ryan Zinke. Z is for zero, zed, and Zinke.
On the local front, the big news was the surprising resignation of Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand. Normand is one of the most popular elected officials in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and a genuine maverick. I’ve both praised and blasted him over the years. You may recall that he was the guy David Vitter hired a gumshoe to spy on. Normand played an important role in defeating Vitter’s goober bid in 2015. On the down side, he was named malaka of the week for one of many bombastic press conferences he gave as Sheriff. He’s becoming the afternoon man at WWL talk radio. I suspect that the station’s money was what did the talking.
The reasons for selecting an Aimee Mann tune as the Saturday post theme song for a second time will be made clear after the break. Suffice it to say that it’s a great tune with a message that fits the post quite neatly. We like things tidy here at First Draft even if my house is a cluttered mess. Neither Oscar nor Della will lift a paw to help clean. So it goes.
We begin with the 1993 promo video followed by a live version on the Beeb.
I’ve always loved the “dot, dot, dot” harmonies. I originally thought they were singing “bop, bop, bop” but I should’ve known…better. Ponder that as we go to the break.
The featured image is a variation by Joni Mitchell on the cover of her 1985 album, Dog Eat Dog. Here’s the title track of that effort:
That brings us to our first segment: a list topped by Joni Mitchell. I call it the big list for obvious reasons.
This list, of the greatest albums made by women between 1964 and the present, is an intervention, a remedy, a correction of the historical record and hopefully the start of a new conversation. Compiled by nearly 50 women from across NPR and the public radio system and produced in partnership with Lincoln Center, it rethinks popular music to put women at the center.
Overall the big list is pretty good. It does, however, suffer from being made by committee. There are a few too many boxes checked for my taste. For example, the Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow, and Ella Fitzgerald albums are not their best in *my* opinion. It would have been advisable for them to open the bidding at the dawn of the LP age. The 1964 cut-off led to the *good* Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook being #42 on the list. As a something of a standards expert, I consider her Porter, Gershwin, and Arlen songbooks to be the gold standard. An earlier qualifying date would have led to Billie Holiday’s great 1957 album Songs for Distingué Lovers making the cut as well.
The biggest omission from the big list is Aimee Man. I scrolled though it 4 times thinking that I’d missed her name. I had not. I think that Whatever or I’m With Stupid are two of the best albums in my collection regardless of gender or genre. Power pop tends to be underrated, which is why so many bands I adore are overlooked on lists such as this. I think Aimee is certainly a stronger artist than Yoko Ono, the Spice Girls, Britney Spears, or Mariah Carey. Talk about artists who *should* be underrated. I still have nightmares involving Yoko’s Don’t Worry Kyoko. I would have also liked to see albums from Shawn Colvin and Anita O’Day make the cut.
The big list came to my attention via New Orleans music writer and pun community stalwart, Alison Fensterstock. She was involved in the project and wrote the pieces about the Ronettes, Shangri-las, Ode to Billie Joe, and Like a Virgin. I feel a song coming on:
I should’ve known to say song parody. Dot, dot, dot.
Whatever its flaws (Aimee Mann pun intended) the big list is well worth spending some time on. These things are inherently subjective. My outrage over the Aimee snub led me to revisit her catalog this week. That’s always time well spent.
Now that I’ve pontificated about the big list, here’s one dude’s list of the ten greatest albums made by women. I’m a random guy so they’re in no particular order, but I’ll start with a Joni Mitchell album:
- Hejira– Joni Mitchell
- Whatever– Aimee Mann
- Pearl– Janis Joplin
- Live at Fillmore West– Aretha Franklin
- Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook– Ella Fitzgerald
- Car Wheels On A Gravel Road– Lucinda Williams
- Songs for Distingué Lovers– Billie Holiday
- Interiors- Rosanne Cash
- Wrecking Ball– Emmylou Harris
- Pick Yourself Up with Anita O’Day– Anita O’Day
Another day, this list could have 4 or 5 different albums. I’m in the mood for standards this week.
O.J. Simpson is back in the news in the wake of Ryan Murphy’s teevee drama, the great ESPN documentary, and the Juice being loosed by the Nevada parole board. But one of the Dream Team has had a rough 21st century.
F. Lee Bailey Agonistes: I have never linked to Town & Country magazine before. I found the Bailey piece via Longreads,com. I’m glad I did. Writer Andrew Goldman gets Bailey to open up about his life and misadventures. Of course, Lee Bailey has always liked talking about his favorite subject: himself.
Bailey is one of the few O.J. lawyers who has not run away from his former client. Insert Hertz or football joke here. Fellow Dream Teamer Alan Dershowitz explains why:
Bailey’s self-assigned role as “last one standing” of the surviving Simpson attorneys to still proclaim his client’s innocence is totally unsurprising to Dershowitz. “If F. Lee Bailey’s your lawyer, you’re his friend, you’re his client, and you’re innocent,” he says. “He’s the only lawyer who does that. He doesn’t play the game the rest of us play: ‘Oh, I don’t know whether he’s guilty or innocent, but I’m giving him the best possible defense.’ Bailey is totally convinced that O.J. was innocent.”
Bailey’s current life sounds like a George Jones song: he’s disbarred and broke. It’s been a long time since he was a cover boy.
Bailey has been played onscreen by some fine actors including Christopher Plummer and Nathan Lane. But nobody plays Bailey like Bailey. Btw, there’s no truth to the rumor that Flea is F. Lee’s long-lost son. I may need to do penance for that terrible pun but I compound the sin in the next segment. If I were Catholic, I’d enter the confessional and be terribly disappointed that Monty Clift was not the priest. I’d probably get stuck with Father Phil from The Sopranos.
Today In History: I’m stealing this feature from my much missed colleague Jude who does this on his Zuckerbook feed. I wish he’d post here again but it’s out of my hands and other appendages. Believe me.
On this day in 1973, the Greeks held a plebiscite choosing a republic over monarchy. The Greek monarchy was deeply stupid: all the Greek royals were German or English. Prince Philip is a member of the Greek royal family. He is NOT one of my countrymen; no Greek would ever be played by the 11th Doctor. There was one good thing about having German royals: they brought good beer to Greece in the 19th Century. Otherwise, up their nose with a lederhose…en.
Happy 92nd Birthday to Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis best known in the US&A for the Zorba the Greek soundtrack. There are other July 29 birthdays of note, click here if you give a shit.
A final message to Jude: lassie come home. Make that laddie or is that Judie? Whatever you do, don’t make it bad, hey. I’ll skip the Thomas Hardy puns. They’re a bit obscure for the modern audience…
I will attempt to redeem myself by posting the Wilson Pickett version of Hey Jude.
As you can see, some hippie named Duane Allman played guitar on it. He made it bad in the Wilson Pickett/James Brown meaning of the word. Good gawd, y’all.
The Saturday GIF: The big list has put female entertainers on my mind. Ain’t nobody funnier than Carol Burnett. One of her comedic specialities was a vast array of dirty looks. Here she is with the late, great Harvey Korman:
Let’s finish things up with the number one album on the big list.
Saturday Classic: Blue is one of the most influential albums ever recorded. It is not, however, my favorite Joni Mitchell record, as you saw earlier it’s Hejira. Am I blue about Blue being number one on the big list? Hell, no.
That’s it for this week. Our closing Bat-meme involves the cover of the album that I believe should have cracked the top 150. It’s top ten in my book.
Dot, dot, dot.