Hey Hey He Was a Monkee

Gotta watch out for the quiet ones. Especially the ones wearing knit pom-pom hats indoors. Michael Nesmith died Friday, so there is now just one surviving Monkee, Mickey Dolenz. Nesmith was indeed a member of one of the first pre-packaged boy bands, but he was much more than that, which I will talk about further down. I am a Gen X guy, aged 54, so one might wonder why I am writing about a “Boomer Band.” Well, The Monkees are kind of our band, too. Many of us Gen Xers were introduced to The Monkees via syndication, often via those … Continue reading Hey Hey He Was a Monkee

Tonight

Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein circa 1966.

When I heard of the death of Stephen Sondheim at the age of 91, I knew one of his songs would be featured on the next Friday Cocktail Hour.

I had hoped to post a song that Sondheim had written both the words and music. It was a heavy lift because they’re not many first rate instrumental versions of those songs. Instead I landed on Tonight, which Sondheim wrote with Leonard Bernstein for West Side Story.

West Side Story was a phenomenon in its day as a play, movie, and record. Many artists covered songs from it, especially Tonight.

We begin with the great Billy Eckstine:

I’ve always liked Nancy Wilson but writing this feature has made me appreciate her work even more:

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Paint It Black

Got Me Rocking by Ron Wood

The summer of our discontent continues with Hurricane Ida in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. A and I are planning to ride it out. I’m not eager to evacuate with Claire Trevor. She hates riding in the car and she’s a biter. She’s not as sweet as she looks but we love her anyway.

The weather is one reason I’m keeping this week’s entry short and focused. The second act is a tribute to the late, great Stones drummer Charlie Watts. Hence the Ron Wood featured image.

This week’s theme song was written in 1966 by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It’s as good an example of Charlie’s drumming as I can think of. Bim-bam-boom.

Since this is a tribute to Charlie Watts, I’m skipping the covers of Paint It Black and sticking to the Stones. A solid plan in my estimation. We have three versions: the studio original and live in 1990 and 2006.

I almost forgot this version by Charlie Watts with the Danish Radio Big Band:

Now that we’ve faded away and not faced the facts, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Tired Of Waiting For You

The Chair Car by Edward Hopper.

There’s an environmental component to my righteous indignation this week. It’s fucking hot even for New Orleans. There’s a high keeping tropical stuff away from us but that puts us in the high Nineties. Oy just oy.

On to more pleasant things.

Ray Davies wrote this week’s theme song in 1965. It was one of the earliest Kinks hits.

We have three versions of Tired of Waiting For You for your listening pleasure: the Kinks original, a 1994 live version, and a brilliant cover by Dwight Yoakam in which he transforms it into something that would fit in on the Friday Cocktail Hour.

I assume that you’re not too tired to hear this swell tune by Dwight and Deanna Carter:

It’s time to escape Hopper’s chair car by jumping to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Summertime Blues

Two Boats by Henri Matisse.

I’m keeping the nautical theme this week. That harbor water looks cool as well as cooling. Anything to beat the August heat in New Orleans. Merci, Monsieur Matisse.

Dr. A is visiting family in Richmond, Virginia. She’s braver than I am and flew. She double masked on the flight and seems to have survived nicely. My goal during her absence is to convince young Claire Trevor to become a lap cat. Last night, she sat on an end table by the couch and nearly jumped in my lap. Close but no cigar. Stay tuned.

I did something last Monday that I never do on First Draft. I complained about restaurant service in a post about the difficulty of living in TFC: This Fucking City. It’s important to me since I come from a restaurant family. I suspect you’ve heard of Greek diners. My folks never ran one, but my extended family is honeycombed with restauranteurs.

In this case, a public complaint resulted in burying the hatchet (cleaver?) with the eatery in question:

Stay tuned.

This week’s theme song was written in 1958 by Eddie Cochran and his manager Jerry Capeheart. It’s been covered many times but I’m sticking to three versions. We begin with the Cochran original followed by Brian Setzer who played Eddie in the 1987 Richie Valens biopic La Bamba,

As far as I’m concerned, the definitive version of Summertime Blues is by The Who. It’s long been a highlight of their live shows, especially when John Entwistle was still with us.

We’ll continue our search for a cure for the summertime blues after the jump.

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Today on Tommy T’s random ruminations – shaking my tree edition

Well, as you’ve probably heard by now, bassist for ZZ Top Dusty Hill left us this week.  In early 1971, even journeyman musicians like me knew them well from reputation alone. They had just put their first album out. So on a cold day early that year, I saw them at a dive bar (R&B joint, actually) called the Mark III club in my hometown of Waco.  Capacity was probably 60 people, and it was about half full.  Mostly local musicians, unsurprisingly Guitarist Billy Gibbons was using two 100-watt Marshall stacks, and Dusty was using two 200-watt Marshall Major stacks. … Continue reading Today on Tommy T’s random ruminations – shaking my tree edition

Edwin Edwards, R.I.P.

Edwin Edwards in 2011. Photograph by George Long.

I have mixed emotions about Edwin Edwards who died yesterday at the age of 93. He dominated Louisiana politics for a quarter of a century. He served 2 consecutive terms as Governor followed by 2 non-consecutive terms for a total of 16 out of 24 years. He won 4 of 5 statewide elections the most important being 1991’s election from hell when he defeated David Dukkke. A victory for which I remain profoundly grateful, but I still have mixed emotions about the man and his political legacy.

Edwin Edwards was more than just a politician. He was a folk hero with a Cajun swagger. He charmed his way out of trouble. That’s how he got away with the shenanigans that eventually sent him to prison after 3 corruption trials.

By any standard, his first two terms were a success. I’m not going to repeat in detail what’s being said in the Gret Stet MSM about the 1974 constitution and his concern for the poor and elderly. I think that Edwards’ greatest accomplishment was being the first Louisiana governor to treat Black folks as full citizens. As a result, the African American community became his base through the trials and tribulations of his less successful third and fourth terms.

My first Gret Stetwide election as a Louisiana resident was 1983. The Edwards campaign was a well-oiled machine that year as he defeated Dave Treen a nice but dull man who was the first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Edwards had a lot of fun mocking Treen as a stiff. He later regretted being so snarky about Treen who supported efforts to commute his sentence in the 21st Century.

I voted for Edwards in 1983 and 1991, but not in 1987. His third term was something of a disaster. The oil bust led to cuts in state spending and higher education took the biggest hit. He spent a hefty chunk of that term on trial. He was not convicted but it left a cloud over him that led to his primary loss in 1987 to Buddy Roemer who also died this year. Edwin’s passing leaves the world’s youngest hasbeen, Bobby Jindal, as the only living former Gret Stet governor.

In defeat, Edwards proved his political genius. He declined to face a run-off against Roemer. This has been painted by many as a sign that he knew he’d lose. That’s true but his motivation was to kneecap Roemer politically by limiting his vote to 33%. It worked: in 1991 Roemer got 26% finishing third in the primary.

I’m often asked by out-of-state friends if Edwin Edwards was a liberal. He was by Gret Stet standards but not by national standards. His record on Civil Rights was good but he gave the oil, gas, and chemical companies free reign as long as they paid tribute in the form of higher taxes and campaign contributions. The same went for gambling interests. The latter led to his downfall.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone

The Long Line Of Texas. Near Dallas by Dorothea Lange.

It’s Juneteenth. It marks the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned that they’d been freed two years earlier. It’s been a Texas holiday for decades and just became a federal holiday over the objection of 14 Republican congresscritters.

The featured image is a photograph by Dorothea Lange when she worked for the WPA documenting the ravages of the Great Depression. The number at the top is its Library of Congress reference number. I’m not quite sure that I get the title, but the picture was taken in Texas.

This week’s theme song was written in 1969 by Glenn Martin and Dave Kirby. I’ve always associated it with Doug Sahm, but it was first recorded by Charlie Pride.

We have three versions of Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone for your listening pleasure: Charlie Pride, Doug Sahm, and the Texas Tornados.

Since I mentioned Galveston, let’s run this Glen Campbell-Jim Webb song up the flagpole and see who salutes:

Now that we’re done saluting, let’s jump to the break.

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