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CHUCK BERRY: THE 1st POET OF ROCK

CHUCK BERRY:  THE 1st POET OF ROCK by Alan L. Chrisman

Chuck Berry has passed away at age 90.  Berry, was arguably, the most influential rock and roll founder, both musically and lyrically.  Berry could be called rock ‘n’ roll’s father. As John Lennon said when introducing him on the Mike Douglas TV Show in the 70’s ,” My hero, if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’”.  Before Bob Dylan and Lennon/McCartney, Berry, was perhaps its first rock poet. Dylan called Chuck Berry, “the Shakespeare of rock.” Berry would influence EVERYONE-The Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Beach Boys, Springsteen, and most rockers to follow. Springsteen’s tribute,” Chuck Berry was rock’s greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock ‘n’ roll writer who ever lived.”

Elvis is called the King of Rock ’n ’Roll and was its most important 50’s popularizer, had a great interpretive voice and charisma , but he didn’t write his own songs.  Other early 50’s founders, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Carl Perkins, and Buddy Holly (from whom The Beatles would take their name and would set the standard for the future- guitars, bass, drums line-up), all wrote their own songs. But Berry wrote complete musical stories.  And he played his own lead guitar (from which Rolling Stones’ guitarist, Keith Richards, would copy his style), before Hendrix would make the guitar and its solos forefront in rock bands. Richard and Lewis jumped on their pianos, and Berry would “duck walk “across the stage visually, before MTV and videos, and before Hendrix burned his guitar theatrically.

Berry had a string of hits in the mid- late 50’s, which perfectly captured a teenager’s life and preoccupations, girls, cars, music (“Sweet Little Sixteen”, “School Days”, “Rock ’n’ Roll Music”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Maybelline”, “Memphis, Tenn.”). Every young aspiring guitar player had to learn his “Johnny B. Goode.” Berry composed little vignettes, 2-3 minute poems set to music (check out the lyrics to his songs like,   “Promised Land”, “You Never Can Tell ( C’est La Vie”).

Berry had grown up in a middle-class neighborhood in St. Louis, (half-way between The South and The North),so maybe that’s why, although black, he understood white middle-class kids, who were the main radio audience in those early days of rock ’n’ roll.  His father was a contractor and a Baptist church deacon; his mother a school principal.  Berry’s influences were mainly black musicians like guitarist, T-Bone Walker. But it wasn’t until he moved north to Chicago and recorded along with other black musicians that were there too, like Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, and Bo Diddley at Chess Records, that he had his first hits. Like Elvis, it was in this combination of both black and white musical influences, blues, country, rock ’n’ roll, that he found his sound. Berry’s distinctive guitar riffs were also influenced by his long time piano player, Johnny Johnson’s, jazz and swing notes as well. It was this synthesis of styles that enabled him to appeal to a cross-section of listeners.

But by the early 60’s, along with most of the early founders, he and they were no longer as popular and, one by one, for sometimes racial reasons, they disappeared from the scene.  Radio was taken over by the more watered-down mainly white pop performers (or “Bobby-Bobbys” as J. L. Lewis called them). Dylan: “I was still an aspiring rock n roller. The descendant, if you will, of the first generation of guys who played rock ’n’ roll — who were thrown down. Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis. They played this type of music that was black and white. Extremely incendiary. Your clothes could catch fire. When I first heard Chuck Berry, I didn’t consider that he was black. I thought he was a hillbilly. Little did I know, he was a great poet, too. And there must have been some elitist power that had to get rid of all these guys, to strike down rock ’n’ roll for what it was and what it represented — not least of all being a black-and-white thing.” Berry was accused of transporting a below-age waitress across state lines for sexual purposes under the Mann Act and was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

His career seemed almost over, but when he was released in late ’63, The Beatles Invasion was just starting to happen and he had been a big influence on many Liverpool groups and other British bands like the Stones. The Beatles were to record his “Rock and Roll Music” on their 2nd. album and  the first Stones U.K. single was a cover of his “ Come On” and “Carol” was on their 1st American album. Ironically, it was foreign groups who re-focused attention on Berry and other American early 50’s rockers and he gained a whole new respect for his song writing and playing .  One of the Beach Boys’ early hits, Surfin’ U.S.A., was actually Brian Wilson putting surf lyrics over Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” music.  The Beatles and Stones would continue to be influenced by him in their own songs and performing. McCartney would partly pattern his “Back in The U.S.S. R.” after Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.” and Lennon would even “borrow” some words and melodies for Come Together from Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me” (which Lennon would later have to settle a lawsuit for with its publisher). Keith Richards organized a tribute concert/film for Berry called Hail Hail Rock and Roll in 1986 with Berry, Eric Clapton, Julian Lennon, Linda Ronstadt, Robert Cray, and Etta James. Berry would over the years come to his shows with only his guitar (refusing to play, until payment was already deposited into his bank account), not even rehearsing with the local back-up band, or telling them what key he was playing . Richards, amusingly, tells the story how Berry hit him for daring to even touch his hero’s guitar. But I guess geniuses are allowed these little personal foibles.

I remember seeing him in the film, American Hot Wax, which told the story of Rock ’n’ Roll’s first DJ , Alan Freed, in which Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and other early rockers, recreated their original stage performances. It was shown along with Saturday Night Fever, which was the disco rage at the time in the early 70’s.  American Hot Wax was shown first and while getting popcorn at break, I overheard these young John Travota fans marvelling at this guy “duck walking” across the stage. I thought that was interesting and it gave me hope for the timelessness of Berry and his music.

Berry is now recognized as one of the most important song writers and musical influencers in the whole history of rock. He was one of the first to be inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame in at its opening in 1986. His “Johnny B. Goode” was ranked #1 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” in 2007.

Pop writer Chuck Klosterman has predicted that Berry will be remembered, even 300 years from now, as the perfect embodiment of rock music. In 1986, “Johnny B. Goode” was chosen by NASA to be sent into outer space for its Voyager space probe. So maybe even other life forms will know Berry’s music one day. There was only one Chuck Berry, Hail Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll!

 

Below, from Keith Richards -organized Tribute 1986 concert/film for Chuck Berry with Julian Lennon, etc.

https://youtu.be/5YcPtitpLkk

Below, from film, American Hot Wax, story of Rock ‘n’  Roll DJ. Alan Freed, Berry re-creating his “Reelin’ and Rockin’/ Roll Over Beethoven.”

https://youtu.be/IGY5bvNK_8Y

 

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“EIGHT DAYS A WEEK”; Impressions of Ron Howard’s Beatles Film

I just saw the new Beatles film, “Eight Days a Week” and these are some of my impressions. I didn’t think I would actually like it that much. The Beatlemania years, frankly, don’t interest me as much as their more interesting Liverpool and Hamburg beginnings or their more creative period in the studio. The usual story is that, most of the time, they were just going through the motions, unable to hear themselves play, with all the screaming fans’ madness (especially near the end of their “Touring Years”, as the movie’s subtitle is called).

I thought director Ron (“Happy Days”) Howard might only cover the nice parts of Beatlemania. He does in the first half of the film and captures the pure energy of their early performances. He has assembled some not usually-seen footage and photos of their early concerts and appearances in Liverpool and Europe. These sometimes black and white images give it an almost old newsreel and historical feel. The film does seem primarily aimed at the North American market though.  There were only a couple Liverpool interviewees included in the theatre version, except for some trusted Beatles-insiders like roadie and later Apple director, Neil Aspinall (although I understand the later-to-be-released Deluxe 2 DVD version will  include more of these and lots more).

Howard also puts the Beatles Invasion into context with the tumultuous events the U.S.A. was going through in the mid-60’s with the Vietman War, Civil Rights demonstrations, and the assassination of JFK, which had only happened a few months before. The American people, especially its teenagers, were certainly ready for something to lift them out of their depression.  Along come these 4 English lads with the funny Liverpool accents and humor and it’s just the right medicine.  The Fab Four did so with its own version of the, ironically, America’s export, rock and roll, and the simple but catchy words and rhythms of their early original songs.  But what struck me again, upon seeing the film, is just how young and mainly female so many of their fans were.  For by this time, The Beatles themselves were already grown men in their early 20’s, playing to some only half their age.  Some of the most interesting and humorous moments for the movie audience, I was with anyway, was seeing again the complete hysteria they created in their fans (remember early attendees to their performances in the Cavern and Hamburg, evidently, didn’t originally scream).

But by ’66 and for most of the rest of the film, the whole atmosphere begins to change around The Beatles and they themselves could do little to contain it. Of course, there was the infamous “we’re more popular than Jesus” Lennon remark and the reaction it caused.  But it wasn’t only in America that they began to feel a backlash; there were death threats in Japan and, in the Philippines, they barely escaped when its First Lady Imelda Marcos felt snubbed. Howard has said in interviews promoting the film, that he didn’t want to go intodark corners.  But I have to give him credit for also not shying away from this part of their story too. For it seemed the once innocent teen hysteria had indeed turned into a far more dangerous form of madness. Howard includes excerpts from John and George’s recorded comments and also present day interviews with Paul and Ringo on both, the good and bad, aspects of this period.

The pall of these later more disturbing times toward the end of their touring years, which somewhat descends on the last half of the movie, is fortunately broken by his choice to also include their famous last public appearance on their Apple company’s rooftop in 1969.  What this reveals once again, is that even to the end (which they would also demonstrate on their last recorded album, Abbey Road) these were first and foremost musicians and original songwriters. Once they decided to finally get off the road because of the mounting pressures they were feeling, it would also allow them more time to spend in the studio and become more and more creative artists and not just entertainers.

Also shown in the movie theater after, was a half-hour film of their ’65 Shea Stadium concert. With improved color footage and remixed sound for this project by George Martin’s son, Gilles (although some in the particular theater I was in, said the sound wasn’t that good-but it may be fine in the movie and DVD itself), it shows just how good of performers they could be, even in often chaotic conditions. Ringo says that they really did try to always give their best-all four of them.  You can tell by their on-stage jokes that they are still having fun-most of the time. In the Shae Stadium show, Paul does one of his best, but perhaps underrated  rockers, “I’m Down”, with which they often ended their concerts, but for some reason was never released on a regular Beatles album(it was the B-side of the “Help” single).  John seems to be his old self, mugging and delivering gobbledigook asides and Paul is always the consummate showman. George is the musician, making sure he doesn’t miss a single guitar note and Ringo is driving the beat and shaking his hair. They alone were in the eye of the hurricane, but the film does seem to capture what it must have been like.  Howard’s title for his film is appropriate, for it really was “8 Days a Week.” As I said, the DVD will be released later this fall with some interesting extras.  But I would recommend, if you can, going to see this film still in the movie theater, and getting that feeling of enjoying it with other fans, which is what the best of Beatlemania was all about.

Carly Simon’s Memoir- Book Review by Alan Chrisman

Carly Simon’s book memoir, Boys in The Trees, was released in late 2015 and it’s quite interesting, but not for the reasons I would have thought(her music career and marriage to James Taylor). It could also perhaps have been named after another of her hit songs, “Anticipation “(or perhaps,“Things Aren’t Always As They Appear”), because  despite the commercial success of her music-it’s also a quite bittersweet story, which I thought made it even more human.

She grew up in privilege-her father was the Simon and co-founder of the publishing giant, Simon and Schuster, and he would often bring his famous book clients like baseball player, Jackie Robinson, Einstein, etc. home for dinner. She lived in big houses in Connecticut and summered at Martha’s Vineyard, but she didn’t have such a happy childhood and there was also a dark side she writes about. She was a shy and very insecure child and had a stammer (which ironically led her into doing music, because when she sang, it was one of the few times when she didn’t stammer). She was abused at an early age, and it went on for a while, by a neighboring teenage boy. She also witnessed her mother carrying on a relationship with a much younger man who lived in the same house as her parents, while her executive father seemed to be willing to do nothing about it.  She also competed for the attention and love (with her more outgoing and she felt, prettier, older sisters) of both her parents, but especially from her father. All these things set her up for confusion and ambiguity about sex and men and relationships, which would continue to haunt her.

She started singing with her sister, Lucy, in the duo, The Simon Sisters, and they had a minor hit with the song, “Winkin’, Blinkin’ and Nod” in 1964. But she wanted to step out from under her sister’s and family’s long shadow, dropped out of Sarah Lawrence College, and began to write her own songs. After a few failed tries (and being confronted with the equivalent of the casting couch syndrome), she finally got a record contract and had her first big hit with her song, ”That’s The Way I Always Heard It Should Be” In 1971. And she followed that up with the song and album, “Anticipation”.  But her biggest hit was, “You’re So Vain” with its sarcastic lines, ’”You probably think this song is about you”, which continues to fuel speculation about just who’s she’s referring to among her former lovers, and she had many famous ones, from actors, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty, to several musicians (Kris Kristofferson, she hints at Mick Jagger; “Anticipation” was written while waiting for a late Cat Stevens). Her sexy long-legged  album covers sometimes got as much attention as her music. These established her image and reputation as a sort of liberated, independent woman in a time of feminism in the 70’s.  She wrote often-confessional lyrics with which a lot of woman seemed to identify. But despite this marketing as a sex symbol, her own personal baggage and insecurities and mixed messaging about men and male role models, from her father on, only added to her anxieties. A well, she was never really comfortable on stage and would have panic attacks.

Then in 1972 she married folk-rock singer, James Taylor (whom she had first met when they were children on Martha’s Vineyard) in what seemed like the perfect singer-songwriter couple marriage and they had two children, Sally and Ben.  James Taylor was also one of the biggest pop singers of the 70’s.  Simon continued to have, in collaboration with her husband, hits such   as the cover songs, “Mockingbird” and “How Sweet It is (to Be loved By You)”, as well as her own several other hits, “You Belong To Me “ Haven’t Got Time For The Pain”, “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, etc. and even a James Bond theme song, “Nobody Does It Better.” But Taylor had his own insecurities, and as well, a hard drugs habit. That and both their admitted infidelities eventually led to their divorce in ’83.  After the split, Simon would attempt to keep her musical career on top and she also talks about the pressures of doing that and the fleeting temptations of fame. As well, her father, who had died early, and also suffered from depression, had lost control of his own company and she didn’t get her inheritance. She had many ups and downs and she documents them. Another surprising thing about this book is just how articulate (and even poetic) she is in describing the various personalities she’s known and loved or lost.

The memoir has an almost bittersweet sadness about it. She ends her story, still living in the house James Taylor and she had occupied in Martha’s Vineyard and raised their children (her two children are both musicians). She has Taylor’s fishing rod still in the very place where he left it. I get the impression, even after all these years, she still hasn’t gotten over their once-hopeful and later bitter marriage. Evidently, they have no communication between them these days, even though she would like to. Interestingly, James Taylor, just this past year too, released his first  album of original songs, Before This World, in over 13 years and it has become a #1 bestseller (45 years after his  classic album, Sweet Baby James). He’s currently on tour with his now 3rd. wife singing on the album and in concert with him. Carly Simon’s memoir then, is more than I expected it to be-not just another pop artist telling the usual rock ’n’ roll stories. I’m glad I read Carly Simon’s memoir, to see another side of her, and I recommend it to others for both the musical and personal journey, she so honestly  evokes.

Carly Simon performing her biggest hit, ”You’re So Vain”:

https://youtu.be/mQZmCJUSC6g

 

 

Scene from SCI-FI ROMANCE FILM, UPSIDE /DOWN

UPSIDE/DOWN FILM: A SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE

UPSIDE/DOWN: A SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE FILM

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them).

I just saw an amazing science fiction-romance film on dvd,-UPSIDE DOWN. It was released in 2013, but it’s one that may have slipped under the radar. It stars Kirsten Durst (Spiderman) and Jim Sturgess, the British actor who made his breakthrough in 2007’s Beatles’ musical film, Across the Universe.

Poster for Sci-Fi Romance film, UPSIDE /DOWN

Poster for Sci-Fi Romance film, UPSIDE/DOWN, starring Kirsten Durst and Jim Sturgess

Kirsten Durst in scene from  film, UPSIDE/DOWN

KIRSTEN DURST in scene from her gravity-defying TOP world in film, UPSIDE/DOWN

It takes place in a world of two extremes-an upside-down planet with opposite gravities.  The Bottom is poor (where Sturgess’ character, Adam, lives) and The Top (where Durst’s character, Eden, lives). And the two worlds are not allowed to interact except for the exploitation of the Bottom’s resources. As youngsters and later teenagers, the two main characters find a way to meet and fall in love.  But the authorities find out and separate them and Eden falls and Adam believes she has been killed.

But 10 years later, he discovers she is still alive and is determined to infiltrate her UP world and reach her.  To do this, he develops an anti-gravity formula (from a secret recipe his aunt used to make flying pancakes), which the rich Top wants to use to stop aging and for facelifts. With this invention, he gets a job in the Top society so he can re-connect with her.

But she, because of the accident, suffers from amnesia and can’t remember their earlier love.  He must find and convince her before the authorities, find out.  Thus, this is a love story, defying not only society, but gravity itself.

This sets up some very imaginative situations where both Up and Down worlds are shown at the same time, with people and buildings directly upside-down from each other. Some of the greatest aspects about the film, besides the lovers’ story, are the amazing sets, photography and special effects. Its, I think, one of the most beautiful, and evocative science fiction films and it has a sweeping musical background score as well.  It is a romantic/fantasy on every level, a sort of science fiction Winter’s Tale, perhaps, which I reviewed before.  It is a joint French and Canadian production, directed by an Argentine director, Juan Diego Solanas, but it didn’t get the distribution it deserved.

If you have a romantic heart and enjoy both a visual and emotional treat, you might like UPSIDE DOWN.

http://youtu.be/3veONCcRWbw

My own Femme Fatale: Veronica

20 SHADES OF PINK/YOU CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

20 SHADES OF PINK/ CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them). 

It was when SHE walked into my shop that it all first began. You see, I’m THE BOOK DETECTIVE.   You could say, I’m a bit of an archaeologist; my business is finding old artifacts called-books.  For those out there who were born after the 20th century and the internet, I guess I should maybe explain what books were.  In our present time, the late 21st century, of course, books have long been replaced by other technologies and everyone when born is implanted with a special computer chip which contains all the information for a lifetime or, if needed, they can be uploaded with new information annually.  But in the old days, people actually used a physical copy on which they wrote their stories and facts which was printed on paper and bound together and they were called books.  And that’s where my business comes in, there are still fortunately a few collectors left, a minority admittedly, still willing to pay for these artifacts.

I myself have always been especially partial to and collected a special genre of writing from the last century, in the 1940’s and 1950’s called hard-boiled detective novels and in some movies based on those writings, named film noir. There is one particular woman which is considered the classic icon of those times, named Veronica Lake. She often played the sexy, enigmatic role which came to be known as the Femme Fatale.  And one of my fantasies has been to one day actually meet a real Femme Fatale.

One cold, windy October day, SHE came into my little antiquarian bookstore. SHE looked plain on the outside, with big thick glasses. SHE told me she was a librarian and SHE looked the stereotype, quiet and shy.  I seemed to also have a fantasy about librarians too (for they also liked books and kept them on file for posterity as well as some of the museums).  SHE said her name was Veronica, just like my long-time fantasy from the noir films.  But despite her looking like a librarian, I couldn’t help but notice her small breasts peeking through her pink blouse, with the beginnings of an intriguing tattoo visible (I had a thing for them too- tattoos I mean, my dad had run a tattoo parlour, so I had grown up with them all around me). So underneath that prim exterior, there was also a sensual side to this intriguing woman, maybe hidden- but there. And looking back now, I think it was that combination of innocence on the outside and sexiness below that first captivated me from the very first time I met her.

Still it surprised me when the book she was looking for was by an infamous 19th Century writer, Marquis de Sade, known for his erotic S & M writings. I happened to have a regular customer who collected his books.  I told her he might be willing to sell the title she wanted, but that he was away in Europe and wouldn’t be back for several weeks.  But she started to come in often to my shop and we’d talk about books, etc. SHE would always wear at least something in pink, and I thought it made her look more feminine and pretty.  In that time, Veronica and I got to know each other better and better. We had great times and laughed a lot.  It was great to watch her come out of herself.  There was a certain naivete about her, almost like a child, that was unusual and refreshing, in these cynical days, we seem to live in today.  Before long, I was falling in love with her.  And she knew it and would let me be affectionate with her.  It was clear she liked me too.

Each visit, she would reveal more and more to me.   And on one visit, she admitted she was married.  I’d always thought she was single, as she hadn’t mentioned anything before.  Then she broke down and cried and said she was also in trouble and needed help.  This is the way SHE told it:  It seemed that when her marriage had been having  problems, she had gotten involved with another man and had had an affair. This man had claimed to Veronica that he was a painter, he had even taken the name of the famous 18th Century Impressionist , calling himself, Monet.  She later found out that this guy, Jack Monet, was a painter alright, but the only thing he had been trained to paint was houses.  But not before he had somehow convinced Veronica in her emotional state and naivete to pose for him, wearing nothing but her tattoos.  And that was the trouble she was in.  For now he was now threatening to expose the affair and her painting to her still husband and children, unless she paid him $10,000.

There had been a craze at the beginning of the 21st Century called –nude selfies. It had started with teenagers, but soon everyone was doing it-parents, grandparents,uncles, aunts. employees, bosses, etc.  But a reaction had occurred  with all the blatant nudity and, as has often occurred throughout history, the exposing of and which parts of the human body, had gone through many pendulum swings, and it was no longer cool to publically expose oneself (which is why Veronica’s painting could be so threatening).  We had studied in school the brief craze of nude selfies back then, as an example of a silly fad and mass hysteria, and as with all fads, it had soon exhausted itself, and had disappeared by 2016.  Besides, in those old days, people had believed that diet, exercise, and stress affected aging, but we now know that, actually, aging is mainly caused by cosmic rays from space and as long as we wore our cosmic suits we could, most of us, live to be 200.

But Veronica didn’t have the money and she didn’t know what she was going to do. I could see the jam she was in and I loved her.  I didn’t have the money either. But I wanted to help this poor, innocent woman. The world had treated her badly, and it wasn’t her fault.  So here was my chance to rescue her and show her how much I loved her, at the same time.

So then I came up with a plan.  While the collector of the Marquis book was still in Europe, I could break into his place and steal it and we could sell it on the black market for at least that much.  The next week, on a moonless night, I did break into the collector’s house and I managed to steal it. We soon found a willing collector out of town, willing to pay what we asked, and with no questions asked.  I then met with the sleazy pretend-Monet painter and we paid him off and got her nude painting back and told him if he ever bothered her again, he’d regret it.

To celebrate after all this, Veronica and I made love, and as I suspected, she was no librarian in bed.  She showed me sides of myself I didn’t know I even had.  She also admitted to me later that night, that SHE, this shy little librarian, also worked part-time as a dominatrix.  Now her wanting that Marquis de Sade book made sense.

Veronica and I were finally free, we thought.   But a couple months later, the police came to visit my bookstore.  I didn’t think much about it; I figured they were just checking to see if anyone had tried to sell the stolen Marquis.  But it was worse than I thought. That fake Monet guy, had tipped off the police on us, anonymously, and had fled to Europe (no doubt taking on the name, Picasso).

I went to trial and I had to admit that it had been my plan.  SHE turned prosecution evidence against me, when they threatened to charge her too, in exchange for testifying against me.  SHE got off scot-free and is back working at the library (and on weekends as a dominatrix, evidently still).

Me, I’m here in prison, serving my time, and writing this story.  Let this be a warning, be careful what you fantasize about; it might just come true.  I met my Femme Fatale.  There  was an expression, back when there were books, which I guess, is still apt,- YOU CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!

P.S. The picture of my Femme Fatale, Veronica, above, is actually of Elaine May, a comedienne of the 20th Century, who was in the famous comedy duo, Mike Nicholas and Elaine May in the 1950’s and 60’s.  The photo above is of her nerdy character, Henrietta, from the 1971 film , A New Leaf, with Walter Matthau who plans to murder her for her money, but falls in love with her instead.  It’s a comedy classic, which partly inspired my above story.

See video excerpt from A New Leaf (1971):

Elaine May & Mike Nichols, classic comedy duo, 1950's & 60's.

Classic 20th Century comedy duo (1950’s & 60’s) : Elaine May & Mike Nichols ( later director” The Graduate”, 1967).

Elaine May & Walter Matthayu in classic film comedy' A New Leaf

Poster for”A New Leaf” film (1971) starring Elaine May and Walter Matthau

Rick Nelson was more than a teen Idol, he was a serious musician

RICK NELSON: MORE THAN A TEEN IDOL

RICK NELSON: MORE THAN A TEEN IDOL

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them). 

Rick Nelson was more than a Teen Idol.  He started out as “Ricky” Nelson, part of the very popular all-American  Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson family TV show in the 50’ and 60’s, where he would end the show singing his latest hit, with his eyes closed, as the girls swooned.  And only Elvis and Pat Boone were to have more hits from 1957-’62.  He spent most the rest of his career though trying to get past the public image and be taken seriously as a musician.

But like Elvis, he also had the ability to pick the best songwriters and musicians to record. Nelson was influenced by Carl Perkins and rockabilly.  His first big hit, “Poor Little Fool”, in 1958 was written by Eddie Cochran’s 17 year-old girlfriend. In fact, he gave the first big breaks to many composers when he had big hits with their songs: “Lonesome Town” and “Never Be Anyone But You” (Baker Knight); “Traveling Man” and 23 others songs for Nelson (Jerry Fuller); “It’s Late” ( rockabilly duo, Dorsey and Johnny Burnette, who before had had a hit with  “Sweet Sixteen”, but camped out at his doorstep until he recorded their songs), and Gene Pitney’s ” Hello Mary-Lou”.

Jerry Fuller is especially interesting because he would go on to write many hits and even produce several other groups. He had originally been part of The Champs (“Tequila”), when their members included Glen Campbell, and Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts (later Seals and Crofts with the “Diamond Girl” and “Summer Breeze” hits in the 70’s). Fuller produced The Knickerbockers and their hit “Lies”. He also discovered Gary Puckett and The Union Gap and wrote and produced their big hits,  “Young Girl”, “Lady Willpower” and “ Over You” and “ Little Green Apples” for O.C. Smith.

And Nelson always had the best musicians in his bands, such as guitarist, James Burton, who was 18 when Nelson met him and he lived with the Nelsons for two years.  Of course, Burton would go on to become a legendary guitarist and play Elvis’ Vegas  years and with every big name from Emmylou Harris to Elvis Costello.  Burton played the guitar solo on Dale Hawkin’s  ’57 classic ,” Susie Q”, and on Buffalo Springfield’s 2nd album and became part of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band with Rodney Crowell after Gram Parsons died. He then toured with John Denver and played with Elvis Costello from the King of America album on.  And was in Roy Orbison and Friends: Black and White Night TV special in ’88.  Basically James Burton played with anybody who was anybody and is considered one of the best guitarists.  Nelson also used Presley’s vocal group,The Jordanaires, on his recordings (but Presley didn’t want anybody to know).

But It was Nelson who first recognized the above talents and gave them their first chances, which led to them all having many more song writing hits and involvement with several well-known musicians.

Also Nelson was one of the first California musicians to move toward country-rock before Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles, some of whose later members were in his Stone Canyon Band. He had a hit with a re-make of Dylan’s “She Belongs to Me” in 1970.

But Nelson was still trying to get past his old “Ricky” Nelson pop image when, ironically, he had one of his biggest hits “Garden Party”. He was performing at an oldies Madison Square Garden show when fans booed him off the stage for trying to play some more contemporary songs. In disgust, (but with a sense of humour) he wrote down these frustrated lyrics. They sum up everything he’d been through:

GARDEN PARTY

I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends A chance to share old memories and play our songs again When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name No one recognized me, I didn’t look the same

But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

And people came from miles around, everyone was there Yoko brought her walrus, there was magic in the air An’ over in the corner, much to my surprise Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise

But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

Played them all the old songs, thought that’s why they came No one heard the music, we didn’t look the same I said, hello to “Mary Lou”, she belongs to me When I sang a song about a honky-tonk, it was time to leave

But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode Playing guitar like a-ringin’ a bell and lookin’ like he should If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck

But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

An’ it’s all right now, yeah, learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself

Songwriters NELSON, RICKY

Published by Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Some lines are especially interesting:

“Yoko brought her Walrus” (John Lennon and Yoko Ono were there)

“Mr.Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise” ( George Harrison was originally going to record a Dylan cover album and Harrison was Nelson’s next door neighbor in California and his friend, and was also supposedly there, incognito.)

And these great lines, of course:

“If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck

But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself”

Ironically, as I say, it became a big comeback

“Ricky” Nelson with legendary guitarist, James Burton, whom he first discovered and played in his band.

hit in 1972, reaching #6 on the Billboard charts.

Rick Nelson and his band came to Ottawa in the early 80’s playing a little out of the way bar, and I didn’t make it; something for which I’ve kicked myself ever since.

The “Travelin’ Man”, was still on the road in 1985, when his plane crashed in Texas, killing him and his fiancé. Some at the time said it might have been a fire caused by free–basing cocaine, but the plane had a history of mechanical problems and it was later ruled it was because of a faulty heater. But Rick Nelson had some great songs and helped some great songwriters and musicians get exposure and he was more than a teen idol.

Rick Nelson’s “GARDEN PARTY”, 1972 LP and hit where he summed it all up having to always be stuck playing his old teen hits, while trying to move ahead as a musician.

See “Ricky” Nelson doing “ Hello Mary Lou”, 1961

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0janfcZ8LUw

See Rick Nelson doing’ Garden Party”, 1985:

JENNIFER LAWRENCE, soon not only celebrities private lives may be safe

JENNIFER LAWRENCE: NUDE SELFIES/EVERYONE’S A STAR!

JENNIFER LAWRENCE:  NUDE SELFIES/ EVERYONE’S A STAR! 

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them). 

The recent leak of Jennifer Lawrence’s and other celebrities’ nude photos by a hacker has raised some interesting questions.  It seems to me, to be mainly a generational thing.  The younger generations, who’ve grown up with social media their whole lives, have a whole different definition and practice of “privacy”, than those who haven’t.

Many young people think nothing of revealing anything and everything about themselves on the internet.  And that includes sexting, nude, and explicit photos.  Supposedly, one in four of them has sent them and 40% have received them.  One half of 18-24 year olds, according to another survey, send them.  If these are to be believed, and I’m not saying they aren’t.  Remember back in 1998 (which seems like a century ago now), when Bill Clinton argued that oral sex wasn’t really sex.  This new generation, evidently, agrees.  How far we’ve gone since then.

It’s amazing how fast our social mores have changed.  It started perhaps, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, reality shows, people famous for being famous, celebrity sex tapes, selfies, sexting,  etc.  I guess it was just a matter of time until the non-famous would want to be in on the act (no pun intended) too.

So now you can be your own porn star and share it with friends and family.   And with the Universe -Forever.

This younger generation will, no doubt, say “what’s the big deal?” Get with the times, Man!  Every generation thinks the previous ones are out of date.  That’s a necessary part of being young, since time began.

And we live in politically-correct times (have for a while now).  The Baby Boomers, more than any other generation perhaps, will do anything- not to get old.  Youth is the magic elixir. If you have enough money of course, to buy the health supplements and organic food and get our hair dyed and tattoos, to show we’re still hip.  We line up for the latest social media device. Everyone’s a writer.  Everyone’s a musician.  Everyone’s a poet.  Everyone’s an artist.  Everyone has a blog (yes,including me!). Everyone can express themselves.  Of course, few can make a living at these things anymore , because we also don’t want to have to pay for it.

But hey, this is the perfect democratic set-up, right?   Now Everyone can be a STAR!

Sex was once the taboo subject, but not anymore.  Sex is everywhere; it’s out of the closet.  My female bank tellers are wearing low-cut tops as part of their business attire and I have to try and keep my eyes on my bank deposits and not get accused of leering.   Middle-aged women want to look like their daughters. Their daughters want to go on TV Idol shows and imitate famous people who can’t sing.  College students are too often regressing to a rape culture, despite all the sex-equality education.  And there’s little subtlety left about anything anymore.

But it’s dangerous and unpopular and politically incorrect to say these things, because we live in a “liberal” society.  Nobody wants to be labeled a prude or intolerant.  Racists don’t even consider themselves racists.  Remember Donald Sterling?  If you even question some of these things, some people will say,” You against Sex or something”?  The worst crime is to be uncool.

No, we’re all so liberated.   It seems to me that morals and politics is always about, really one thing-thinking the other guy is not as “open “as we are.  Conservatives think liberals are too open and liberals think conservatives are not “open” enough.  To paraphrase comedian, Mort Sahl, “Liberals feel guilty for their possessions and conservatives think they have the right to own everything”.  If we listened to our mainstream media, we’d think the news is just about scandals and what is the latest superficial video that’s gone viral.  At one time, only the tabloids specialized in those things.

I recently read a novel by Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story, set in the, perhaps, not too distant future.  America has a one party government and China owns most of the economy. Everyone has a Credit Ranking and your social standing and any chance for advancement is based on that Ranking.  Poor people have a low Ranking and are basically disposable. Also everyone has a personal device called an apparat, which allows everyone to find out anyone else’s Ranking (as well as their sex lives) and whether it’s worth associating with them or marrying them.  So in this future, everyone knows everything about everyone else.  Of course, the book is a sort of 1984-like Sci. Fi. satire of where we’re heading, perhaps sooner than we realize.   Shteyngart has also, in 2014, released his painful, but uproariously funny memoir, Little Failure, about coming to America as a Russian immigrant and trying to adopt to his new land and how he finally found his true calling as a writer.  In the previous Super Sad True Love Story, his character, Lenny, is a collector of “printed, bound media artifacts”(aka) books.

Some people say that a world of more and more social media is even desirable and less and less privacy is inevitable. As we line up for the latest trendy new devices.  We learn more everyday just how much governments and corporations know about us and everyday there is another mass breach of our privacy.  Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA wanted to have eavesdropping abilities secretly put on every device sold to the public (and almost got away with it).

It’s true that new generations don’t seem too concerned with these things and also many of the older generation seem to just accept this “progress”.  Perhaps, Shteyngart’s future society, where everyone knows everything about everyone else, may not be far off.  But maybe we should at least question where this is leading us all.  And maybe we should remember where we came from and not be so afraid of being accused of not being “with it”

SUPER SAD TRUE LIOVE STORY, Sci. Fi./Satire

GARY SHTEYNGART’S , “SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY, is a Sci. Fi. 1984ish novel/satire of what a near future with technology could hold for us all.

“HUMAN REALITY”                    Lyrics by Alan Chrisman c. 2013

1.There is no perfection                                Chorus:

Not everything is connected                 Everybody lies

There is no excuse                                   Everybody cries

There is no simple truth                         Everybody dies

Not everybody flies

2.There is no black

There is no white                              4. There is no smart addict

There’s only wrong                            There is no escape

There’s only right                               There’s only ourselves to blame

There’s only human joy and pain

3.There’s not always a reason            5.  The Spirit is overrated

Things are never simple                      Our ego’s are inflated

They are always complex                    Most have already made up their minds

It’s always a changing season             Few will take the necessary time

6.Doesn’t matter how much we say

Only what we do

Whether we deliver

And come through

7.We are not equal

We are not the same

We are all different

In more than a name

8.Only you can grow

Only you can know

And not be a slave

And can yourself save

.

Hear “AL & THE G-MEN” perform “Human Reality”:    http://www.rockthistownproductions.com