Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lauren Bacall, 1924-2014, R.I.P.


With all the (deserved) media outpouring over the untimely and tragic death of Robin Williams, I thought I might devote a moment or two to the passing of another one of my personal favorites, Lauren Bacall, who has left us at eighty-nine. (I'm sure you can find something about Robin Williams elsewhere on the internet if you try hard enough...)


Ms. Bacall was as feisty as anyone would have had to have been, to have been happily married to Humphrey Bogart... which she was, for an unfortunately short time -- from 1945 to 1957 -- due to his premature death from lung cancer.

No, no, no.... That's a cigarette; she's not giving us the finger...
But I'm not sure Ms. Bacall would hesitate to do so given the right circumstances!

Ms. Bacall's prominence did not end with the death of her husband and occasional co-star, of course. In 1970 she won a Tony Award for Applause, and again in 1981 for Woman of the Year. She received a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for 1996's  The Mirror Has Two Faces.
 
The received an Honorary Academy Award "in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures" in 2009.
 
 
Usually, in my celebrity tributes, I try to inject a personal note explaining some sort of connection between myself and the subject, how he or she affected my life, or maybe an anecdote you may not have heard. I don't have any of that this time. All I can say is that Ms. Bacall was a reminder of Hollywood as it used to be, and a treasure that shall be missed.
 
Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

Short Shorts on Transportation (A David'Z RantZ Post from 5/21/08)


1. You know, they've been making automobiles for well over a hundred years now. In all that time, why the hell haven't the car manufacturers gotten together and said, "Okay, everybody, once and for all: We put the gasoline tank filler pipe on this side!" It would save so much time and confusion at the gas pumps if we could all drive up to the pumps the same way. The federal government loves regulating all things concerning cars, like emissions devices, safety features, and what have you... Why don't they step in and say, "From 2015 on, all gasoline tanks must be filled from the left [or the right... or even the center, behind the license plate]. We hated to pass this law, but it was painfully obvious that the idiotic auto companies were never going to get around to it."

2. On a related note, I will never believe that the government is truly serious about protecting automobile passengers until someone steps in and protects the children we send to school in those death traps we complacently call "school buses." When a school bus gets in an accident, its cargo of young lives is about as well-protected as a dozen eggs would be if I placed those eggs in a plastic bag and threw said bag against a nearby wall. "Save the children," indeed.

3. Finally...

For as long as I can remember, I've heard jokes and complaints about how the airlines lose people's luggage.

I can fix that. Right now.

What the airlines need to do is to remove a few unnecessary steps from the whole process. Each company needs to hire someone who is currently working for a bus company like Greyhound, Trailways, Peter Pan, et al, -- Are all of those companies still in existence? -- quadruple their salaries, and let them tackle the way things are being done.

Within weeks, these new consultants will have instituted new systems where, after going through baggage security checks, each passenger brings his (or her) own bags directly to the plane he'll be flying on. Then he'll watch as it's loaded onto the correct plane, so he'll know it'll fly to the same destination he's going to, at the same time that he does.

What could be simpler than that?

(Pay me.)

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Three Songs



Something a little different from the RantZ I've been reprinting lately, fellow babies!

I wrote the above title with the theme song from the old sitcom, "My Three Sons," playing in my head. But that's someone else's song. Today's post is about three of the songs I've written, arguably the three best  songs I've written. They are, in my opinion, anyway...

These songs have all been featured on this blog before, but I have several new readers, and some of you long-time readers may have forgotten them as well, so I figure I can get away with giving them another go!

*  *  *

The following song was written on October 10th, 1978! It's a light-hearted (albeit not really humorous) C&W tune, the kind of thing someone like Jerry Reed would have given us. I really like the wordplay in this one.

*  *  *

Don't Let Me Love You on the Rebound

When people start to treat me hard, I just grow harder,
And their cold shoulders just make me more cold.
I need companionship before my troubled life ends.
Oh, Lord, I guess I'm really gettin' old.
I'm also gettin' kinda sick o'losin' lovers.
So many women put me on the shelf,
And told me they were kinda sick o'lovin' losers.
So here I'm feelin' sorry for myself.

CHORUS
Don't let me love you on the rebound,
For it might up'n'fade away.
This lover's fog I'm in might vanish
Before the cleansin' light o'day.
Oh, yes, I'll love you on the rebound,
When it's too late for you, you'll finally see,
And you are much too sweet'n'sensitive a lady
To be sufferin' for love o'scum like me!

My life has been a downhill trip to darkest Hades,
An' lots o'people say it's just as well,
Cuz I ain't never gonna get to Heaven, darlin',
So here on Earth, I'll just prepare fer Hell.
My friends are special cuz they truly can accept me,
But you, m'dear, see somethin' thet I'm not.
You see good in one who's somewhat less than Satan,
But acts if he's somethin' more than God.

CHORUS
Don't let me love you on the rebound,
For it might up'n'fade away.
This lover's fog I'm in might vanish
Before the cleansin' light o'day.
Oh, yes, I'll love you on the rebound,
When it's too late for you, you'll finally see,
And you are much too sweet'n'sensitive a lady
To be sufferin' for love o'scum like me!

Yes, you are much too sweet'n'sensitive a lady
To be sufferin' for love o'scum like me!

*  *  *

A while back, this blog featured a serialized story called Two Ships, which told a story about a single man, Dan, who falls in love with a married woman named Eve. During a blizzard, Dan and Eve are stranded at a motel, which offers entertainment in the form of its owner, Art, a guitarist who tends to play either Country & Western or blues. Dan, a former musician himself, is pressed into service for part of the evening, at which point, he plays a song he's written for Eve. (I've included a segment of the story itself, and not just the song.)

By the way, I should mention that this song came pouring out of me as I wrote the appropriate chapter of Two Ships. That's never happened with any other song or poem I've ever written. I guess I was really inspired that day!

*  *  *

Eve's Song

Then I announced my final song of the evening, and tenderly lifted the Dobro from a stand Art had placed next to the piano bench. For a moment or two, I sat there lost in thought. I didn't look at the crowd. I didn't even look at Eve. In fact, after having fitted the Coricidin bottle on the little finger of my right hand, I closed my eyes and played the bluesy notes that formed the intro for the song I was about to play. But those "bluesy notes" were only a teaser of sorts. The song wasn't a blues song in structure, although the lyrics certainly gave the impression that it should have been.
As I began the song for real, I glanced at Eve, Millie, and Art. Art's brow was furrowed, and his arms were crossed on his chest. He seemed somewhat irked that he didn't recognize the song I'd started playing. I smiled and began to sing, giving the vocals my own sound, with a little Leon Redbone thrown in for additional character.
Though I've got the blues.
It's a wonderful feelin'.
I've got the blues,
Cuz my poor head is reelin'.
There should be pain enough to break me for all time,
Cuz this woman I hold,
She can't ever be mine.
I should be sad,
But I smile when I see her.
I should feel chained,
But I've never felt freer.
She's someone else's, but I know she cares for me.
I'm selectively blind
And she's all I can see.
I should be screamin' & cryin', and climbin' & punchin' the walls.
But all I know is that I'm happy whenever she calls.
I've got a thousand reasons I should tell her goodbye,
But the thought of her gone makes me break down and cry.
Now it was time for the instrumental break, my guitar solo, as it were, and even in the structure of this non-blues song, I did everything I could to channel Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, and as many of their original blues guitar influences as I could. I wish I'd had a second guitarist to keep up the rhythm section, but I filled in to the extent of my ability. As a lead guitarist, I'm usually passable, but nowhere near great. Having said that, however, I can honestly and objectively say that I don't think I've ever played better than I did that night, during that song.
As I ended my solo -- which garnered some scattered applause, I was pleased to notice -- I repeated the bridge.
I should be screamin' & cryin', and climbin' & punchin' the walls.
But all I know is I'm in Heaven whenever she calls.
I've got a million reasons I should tell her goodbye,
But the thought of her gone makes me break down and cry.
So I've got the blues
And they say that's a downer
Yeah, I've got the blues
Yet I thank God I found her.
She's a perfect woman, and me, I'm only a man
Who will give her my all,
While she gives what she can.
Though I've got the blues.
It's a wonderful feelin'.
I've got the blues,
Cuz my poor head is reelin'.
Yeah, I've got the blues...
As I played the last few licks -- bluesy notes once again, of course -- there was a tangible moment of silence... and then the little dining room was filled with the sound of enthusiastic applause. Ya done good, kid, I told myself. I stood up, gave the audience a little half-bow, and in my very best Elvis voice, slurred "Thank yuh evver'buddy, thank yuh so much, yer beautiful people!" and walked back to my table. Eve jumped to her feet, threw her arms around me, and gave me a lip-lock that literally took my breath away.

*  *  *

Finally, the best song I ever wrote (IMHO) came from a story called Angelina. Angelina's fiancé, Marty, is a teacher and struggling songwriter who plays his latest song for her. (Once again, I've included a segment of the story itself, and not just the song.)

*  *  *

The Life You Never Find
 
Shuffling through some broken glass, I found a diamond.
Stumbling through a field of weeds, I found a rose.
In with icy things I should stay far away from
I found something warm enough to draw me close.

He paused briefly -- very briefly -- and she realized that his piano playing had improved considerably since last she'd heard it.

You may never know the ways in which you’ve touched me,
'Cause you’re so much more than what you had to be,
So instead of using you, I grew to love you,
And my tears mean I may never set you free.

Marty shifted slightly as he played the song's chorus for the first time.

As I look into your eyes,
I see your pain, and all the lies
That you were told
About that better life
That you never seem to find.

Wow, she thought, what woman can't relate to that line!

If I stooped to label you, then I could judge you.
If I judged you, girl, you’d probably start to cry.
If you started crying, I would feel my heart break.
As it broke, I’d wonder who the hell am I?
I could make a lengthy list of all my problems,
And by 'problems' I mean those that are my fault.
So if ever I should dare to act superior
Know the truth, and take me with a grain of salt.

Here, he repeated the chorus, then began the third verse.

I’d give anything if I could sleep beside you,
But I only have to give you up each night.
I can hope and pray we find a way around this,
Or else nothing’s ever going to make it right.
But reality keeps messing with my dreaming.
So damned many things keep getting in our way.
I’m no optimist, but with some perseverance,
Maybe you and I can work things out someday.

She couldn't recall ever having heard the word "perseverance" in a song before. But Marty never had been one to talk down to his intended audience.

He repeated the chorus again, then once more, only with different inflections. His reworking of the chorus' tune made him reach to the top of his somewhat limited vocal range. Successfully, she was glad to see. Damn, his voice has improved, too, she thought.

Shuffling through some broken glass, I found a diamond, he sang, repeating the first verse.

Stumbling through a field of weeds, I found a rose.
In with icy things I should stay far away from
I found something warm enough to draw me close.

As he'd sung the last line of the song, he'd slowed his pace. And the very last note he played on the piano coincided with his final lyric.

"Damn," she said softly. "What do you call it?"

"It's called 'The Life You Never Find.' Like it?"

"Baby, that has instantly become my favorite thing you've ever written," she said, truthfully.

*  *  *

So, fellow babies, there you have them. Something a bit more serious from my twisted mind!

My apologies to those of you who actually want to hear the blasted things.

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The BEST o'the BEST o'the BEST... SIR!!! (A David'Z RantZ Post from 10/15/08)


(This RantZ entry  has been slightly updated from its original 2008 publication!)

How to create controversy in one easy lesson: Present your own opinions as incontrovertible facts.

If I were to list each of the following items as "My Favorite [So-and-So]," this would be a nice, innocuous little collection of my musical favorites.

But no.

I'm presenting the following list as "The Best Of... " Not only am I courting controversy by doing that, but I'm also taking an additional chance of pissing people off by arbitrarily limiting the scope of my "nominations" and "winning candidates" to pop/rock artists & music from roughly 1960-1980. Why? Just to be an ornery jerk, cuz I can.

This method may cause division among the ranks of the RantzerooZ. "That's not the best [So-and-So]!" you may say (even if you don't leave a comment stating your position). Well... tough. It is now. I wrote it; that makes it real. This method may cause people to argue with me (or each other). This method may cause people to insult me (or each other). It could even start a Third World War... or not.

Well... Probably not, where that last one is concerned.

Anyway, here's my (pop & rock'n'roll) list of "bests" and "mosts" -- which I purposely did not number, since it's not that kind of list -- and let the buffalo chips fall where they may.
  • Best Singer: Janis Joplin and Roy Orbison (Let's call that a tie; I don't want to split this into a male/female thing.)
  • Best Lead Vocalist for a Rock Band: Freddy Mercury of Queen and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin (tie)
  • Best Lead Vocalist for a Rock Band Who Can Actually Act in a Movie or a TV Program Without Embarrassing Himself: Roger Daltrey of The Who
  • Best Lead Vocalist for a Rock Band Who Can't Shut the F**k Up During the Guitar Lead to Save His Life: Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company, etc.
  • Best Guitarist: (Ohhh, no you don't! Even mine aren't that big!)
  • Group with the Best Catalog of Albums to Bring with You to a Deserted Island: The Beatles
  • Group with the Best Catalog of Albums to Bring with You to a Deserted Island (Substance Abuse Division) : The Doors (Honorable Mention: Pink Floyd)
  • Best Carnival Barker in Terms of Extending the Hype Forever: Ray Manzarek of The Doors ("forever" being until 2013, when Manzarek died)
  • Artist I Most Wish Would Shut Up and Retire, Already: Elton John
  • Best "Done-You-Wrong Song in Captivity"* : "Can't You See" by The Marshall Tucker Band
  • Most Incredibly Talented & Promising Artist Whose Career Lasted Long Enough for Him to Totally F**k It Up and Then Turn It Around: Michael Jackson
  • Best Album Cover (not the Best Album. The Best Album Cover): "Weekend Warriors" by Ted Nugent

  • Most Influential Debut Album of the Early 1960s (U.S. version) : "Meet the Beatles" by... Oh, you guessed that one?**
  • Most Influential Debut Album of the Late 1960s: "Led Zeppelin"*** by Led Zeppelin
  • Best British Invasion Group That Actually Sounded British: Herman's Hermits
  • Best British Invasion Group That Tried to Sound Like Americans: everybody else
  • Best Songwriter with an Overly Recognizable Style****: Jim Steinman
  • Best LP Almost Nobody But Me Seems to Know About: "Songs for Beginners" by Graham Nash
  • Best LP Almost Nobody But Me Seems to Know About That Also Influenced My Own Personal Singing Style: "Wheatfield Soul" by The Guess Who
  • Best Damned Song I Ever Wrote: "The Life You Never Find" (Runners-Up: "Eve's Song" and "Don't Let Me Love You on the Rebound")
  • Best Song to Have the Band***** or the DJ Play When You're Dancing with a Woman You Want to "Get Close To" That Evening (1960s): Cherish by The Association
  • Best Song to Have the Band***** or the DJ Play When You're Dancing with a Woman You Want to "Get Close To" That Evening (1970s): "Wildflower" by Skylark
  • Best Artist to Play When at Home with a Woman You Want to "Get Close To" That Evening (1960s): Frank Sinatra
  • Best Artist to Play When at Home with a Woman You Want to "Get Close To" That Evening (1970s): Cat Stevens (WARNING! This is no longer the case!)
  • Song That Hits You Harder Every Damned Time You Hear It, As You Get Older: "Same Auld Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg
  • Best Line Ever (not the Best Song, and not the Best Line from a Song. The! Best! Line! Ever! In anything! From anywhere!) : "Someone like you makes it hard to live without somebody else," from "Reason to Believe," written by Tim Hardin

See? Instant controversy! And up until this early morning revelation, I thought the only way I could do that was by talking about Sarah Palin. (2008, remember?)

Thanks for your time.

* And I wish I could properly credit the AM radio DJ who uttered that memorable phrase, over 30 years ago!
** Of course, their odds of "winning" this category were doubled, since in the USA, The Beatles actually had two debut albums, on different labels!
*** And no, it's not "Led Zeppelin I," or "Led Zeppelin One," or anything else but "Led Zeppelin!"
**** During 1983, three different songs entered the pop charts in relatively short succession: Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," Air Supply's "Making Love out of Nothing at All," and Barry Manilow's "Read 'Em and Weep." Upon hearing each of these three songs for the first time, my response was along the lines of "Hey, I'll bet Jim Steinman wrote that!" I was right in all three cases. Best known as the songwriter behind Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell" albums, Steinman's style was and is unmistakeable. 
*****And just for the record, I mean "the band," and not "The Band." S'awright? S'awright!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It Gets Me Every Time (A David'Z RantZ Post from 11/26/08)


I'm always surprised that, whenever I open a can of "Evaporated Milk"...

It's not empty.

Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Devil's Workshop? (A David'Z RantZ Post from 9/5/08)

To all of you Anglophiles out there (and I know there are a lot of you):

I'm going to be brief for a change.

Look quickly at the following picture. Who do you think it is?


Nope. Sorry. You're wrong.

That is, you're wrong if, like myself, you thought at first glance that it was a photo of the young Eric Idle (of Monty Python fame), suited up for one sketch or another.

It's Bill Snyder.

"Who?"

Bill Snyder.


(And according to this sheet music, the recorded version of "The Night Is Young" was released on London Records, too. Hm. Amazing coincidence, innit? Or... not.)

Anyway, don't fret. Even if you guessed incorrectly, you're still a cool person, because you made the same mistake that I did. So you're probably about as cool as I am, and what could be better than that? *ahem*

That's all. I'm done...

Except to say that you can find the neatest stuff in the second-hand stores on Cape Cod.

Thanks for your time.

P.S. ~~ Okay, I'm not done. Here's a relatively recent shot of Eric Idle, although to my eye, he looks slightly -- and unsettlingly -- like Barry Manilow! WTF?

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