The weather in New Orleans has been beastly. We’ve alternated between extreme heat and extreme thunderstorms. Not an unusual summer pattern but the intensity has been, well, more intense than usual. Extremely intense or is that intensely extreme?
My birthday came and went last week. Birthdays are best celebrated when you’re a toddler or a dodderer. In my case, it’s just another tick of the clock or some such shit. All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall. Holy crap, I sound like a mason. Lest you think I’m as Thick as a Brick, I should stop rambling and get down to this week’s post. I don’t want this turning into a Trump press conference. Believe me.
Keyboard wizard Tony Banks wrote most of this week’s theme song in 1972, but it didn’t see the light of day until Peter Gabriel left the band. It was the title track of the band’s first post-PG album. The album is one of the best things Genesis ever did and sent the message that they were here to stay. Oddly, the departure of lead guitarist Steve Hackett in 1977 had a bigger impact on the band’s sound than the exit of Gabriel. Go figure.
A Trick Of The Tail was inspired by William Golding’s novel The Inheritors. We have two variations on it for your listening pleasure. First, the audio track followed by the first promo video Genesis ever made.
Phil Collins later described the video as the most cringeworthy thing he’d ever done. This from the man who wrote and recorded Sussudio, In a word: UGH. Other than the Face Value album, I’m not a fan of his solo work. Is UGH a word? If not, it should be.
I’m still feeling tricky so here’s a Who song:
Now that we’ve figured out that we’ve got no horns and no tail, let’s escape the light by jumping to the break.
Before we begin our second act in earnest, another song with trick in the title. One could even call it the obligatory Zevon tune:
Speaking of tricks, what’s a neater one than sawing someone in half?
If you’re expecting a piece about magicians to kick off our second act, you’ll be disappointed. It was all trickey, I tell ya. Instead, we have a book excerpt.
Campbell/Webb: Ace music writer Dylan Jones has written a book about the creative partnership of Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb, The Wichita Lineman: Searching In The Sun For The World’s Greatest Unfinished Song.
The excerpt is NOT about that great song so there is some sleight of hand involved in this segment after all. It does, however, have a rather long title as well: The Story Of Country Music’s Great Songwriting Duo.
I tend to judge people’s musical taste by whether or not they like Wichita Lineman. I think it’s a masterpiece, especially Campbell’s original version:
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I like Dwight Yoakam’s version from Under The Covers almost as much:
The excerpt from Jones’ book spends more time discussing Campbell and Webb’s first hit together so here it is:
I also love this epic cover by Issac Hayes:
It’s time to take a stroll down the corridors of power and see the damage that nepotism has done to our country.
Smooth Criminal: I’m Greek so I understand nepotism. Greek politics of both the left and right has long been dominated by dynasties. It’s one reason the country has been so poorly managed and even lapsed into dictatorship from 1967-1974.
Franklin Foer has written a brilliant piece for the Atlantic about the Crown Prince of Trumpistan, Jared Kushner:
In the marriage of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Kushner is arguably the one with the more domineering father. From an early age, Jared learned how to accumulate influence by faithfully serving the interests of powerful, mercurial men. He grew adept at managing their outbursts, or rather, he learned how to avoid becoming their target. For all the power Kushner has amassed, his ascent required the submission of self and the stifling of principle.
This dangerous admixture of propulsive ambition and boundless self-abasement has now come to afflict the nation. Kushner’s foibles have exacerbated the administration’s disastrous response to its greatest crisis.
Foer echoes Mary Trump’s belief that the enablers and sycophants surrounding the Kaiser of Chaos are as dangerous as the president* himself. If nothing else, it’s worth reading for the nickname given to Kushner and his arrogant cronies: the Slim Suit Crowd.
For more on Kushner’s insipid incompetence and malevolent malakatude, this Vanity Fair piece by Katherine Eban is also a must-read. It confirms why we *must* throw these criminals out of power. Make it so, America, make it so,
The last word of our second act goes to Michael Jackson who lived up to the song’s title, alas:
We begin our second act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth: I’ve already written about how excited I am that Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris as his running mate. I think Maya Rudolph is even happier. Here’s a side-by-side picture of two “nasty women.”
I hereby confess to having something of a crush on both women. Is it okay to have a crush on a future Veep? I’ll let the Divine One decide:
Sara Vaughan’s other nickname was Sassy. A word that describes both Kamala and Maya better than nasty.
The last word of the segment goes to Steve Marriott and Humble Pie:
Movie List: I was asked recently which of the Golden Age studio’s movies I like the most. What an easy question: Warner Brothers. They specialized in grittier fare than the other studios, which is right up my noir alley. One of the top directors at Warners was the Hungarian emigree, Michael Curtiz.
My Top Ten Favorite Michael Curtiz Movies:
- The Adventures Of Robin Hood
- Angels With Dirty Faces
- The Breaking Point
- Mildred Pierce
- The Sea Hawk
- Young Man With A Horn
- Dodge City
- We’re No Angels
- King Creole
That’s right, Oscar winner Michael Curtiz directed one of Elvis’ best flicks. The pre-Army phase of the King’s movie career was much stronger and the choice of such a eminent director shows why.
I’m still feeling beastly. Our next destination is France.
Saturday GIF Horse: It took me awhile to find a GIF from Jean Cocteau’s 1946 classic Beauty and the Beast with the great Jean Marais in bestial regalia. Belle and Gaston simply would not do.
That segment gave me an earworm. I can’t decide which version I prefer Nick Lowe’s or the cover by his former father-in-law, Johnny Cash. I chose not to choose:
Weekly Vintage Music Video: I’ve featured some one-hit wonders in this space of late. It’s time for some multi-hit wonders, Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty.
Let’s close out this virtual honky tonk with a classic album from from the zenith of the MTV age.
Saturday Classic: I’ve been listening to a lot of Genesis and Steve Winwood during the pandemic. I’ve even stolen song titles from both to use as post titles. Steve Winwood’s Back In The High Life Again lends itself to such appropriation.
That’s it for this week. The last word goes to my three favorite private eyes: the Paul Drakes and Jim Rockford.