Thursday, December 29, 2011
Congratulations and consolations to fiery Irish singer Sinead O'Connor, who ended her fourth marriage this week after a mere 18 days. The dumpee is a fella named Barry Herridge, whose career as a drug counselor did not gel with O'Connor's penchant for marijuana, which she tried to score on her wedding night by driving into a shaky part of town.
She was planning to sing "I Believe in You" from Dylan's born-again Slow Train Coming LP but was taken aback by the loud boos in the audience. (I was at the Dylan tribute show and remember there were just as many people applauding her as booing her.) So instead of singing, she launched into an angrily shouted version of Bob Marley's "War."
While I respect Ms. O'Connor's right to free speech (and the audience's right to boo her) I've always thought the right thing to do as an entertainer would have been to launch into her song and win the crowd over that way. It could have been an incredibly powerful moment, but she blew it by throwing a hissy fit. It's a shame, because her version of "I Believe in You" (which she recorded for the charity record A Very Special Christmas 2) is beautiful, as shown in this clip from a 1999 Linda McCartney tribute at the Royal Albert Hall demonstrates.
Anyway, best of luck in the future to Ms. O' Connor in her future romantic and musical endeavors.
Buy Sinead O'Connor's I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got on iTunes here.
Buy "I Believe in You" here.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
With only three days until Christmas the temperature in New York around 60 degrees farenheit this afternoon, one thing is very clear: the Heat Miser is back. But did he ever really leave?
Gen-X'ers know Heat Miser from the above appearance in the 1974 Rankin-Bass holiday film The Year Without a Santa Claus, wherein he spars over control of global weather patterns with his brother Snow Miser, who is his polar opposite — literally.
Watching HM's Busbee Berkeley-style number and catty comments for the first time in many years, I'd forgotten (or never realized) how, shall we say, flamboyant Mr. Hundred-and-One is, with a snarky attitude that was pure Paul Lynde.
Despite the Miser Brothers' status as generational touchstones, The Year Without a Santa Claus remains a disturbingly under-the-radar Christmas special, unlike A Charlie Brown Christmas or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, which have a prime-time, major network showing every season. But that makes stumbling across it during a run through the cable channels so sweetly satisfying.
Get Heatmiser's Mic City Sons on iTunes here.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Rock Turtleneck wishes a Happy 68th Birthday to Keith Richards: bluesman, guitarist, singer, songwriter, best-selling author, survivor family man and world-class bon vivant.
It's 37 minutes of the band at their absolute peak, right around the release of Sticky Fingers, which I would say is probably their single greatest album. And it's one of those YouTube clips you discover every once in a while that you can't believe actually exists. As Keith might say, "Marquee Show baby - where you been all my life? (gravelly laugh)
In addition to Keith, the Marquee Show also feautres plenty of handclaps and rooster moves from Sir Michael Jagger and some truly stunning guitar work from the much-missed Mick Taylor. Some really great versions here of the fresh Fingers material, particularly the stately Otis Redding style torch ballad "I Got the Blues."
There are rumors that Taylor may come back on board with the Stones as they embark on a (gasp) 50th anniversary tour next year. Keith and Mick, please make it so.
But without further ado, dig the Stones at the Marquee. Happy Birthday Keith - may you bury us all.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The video depicts a Dylanesque shindig gone awry, and reminds me in several ways of parties I have attended recently. It's proof positive of the adage that It ain't a party 'till something gets broken. Blame it on a simple twist of fête.
Zimmy's Christmas in the Heart collection came out in 2009 and is a must own for fans who like their Yuletide hymns delivered by a croaky-voiced troubadour.
All U.S. royalties from the collection benefit Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity. So feed your head and feed some fellow humans and get yourself a copy pronto.
Buy Bob Dylan's Christmas in the Heart on iTunes here.
Dylan Christmas Bonus: Dylan Thomas reads A Child's Christmas in Wales
Sunday, December 11, 2011
If you need proof that Christmas miracles really do happen, look and listen no further than the legendary 1977 duet between Bing Crosby and David Bowie. Filmed for Bing's 1977 Christmas TV special, it features Bowie, who at the time was the most outré star on the planet, similar to Lady Gaga I suppose, getting all demure with the biggest living legend of the time.
The set-up, where Bowie stops by unannounced, is surprised to find the person he came to visit is not around, and asks if he can come in anyway, is straight out of a 70s porno movie. But instead of getting their freak on, they sing a tender medley of"Little Drummer Boy" and "Peace on Earth."
The only thing that could have made the duet better is if Bowie had still been in the midst of his Ziggy Stardust phase. Bing would have had his fatal heart attack right then and there.
The duet was legendary from the moment it first aired and has only grown in stature over time. Last year Taladega Nights co-stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly filmed a surprisingly straight to the bone parody for Ferrell's Funny or Die website - you can see it here.
Bowie also sang a solo number on the Crosby show, a new song and perhaps his best song, "Heroes." Many years back, my friends George and Rich and I played a parlor game wherein we each wrote down our 10 favorite songs of all time. "Heroes" was on all three lists. So it must be good.
Get Bing and Bowie's "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth" on iTunes here.
Get Bowie's "Heroes" here
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
I make a point of buying one Christmas album every year, and this year it's A Very She & Him Christmas.
She & Him as Rock Turtleneck readers well know, is the duo of M. Ward and multitalented New Girl star Zooey Deschanel, who is for my money the finest singer of the female persuasion going right now. Their classic style is perfectly suited for the Yuletide genre and the album lives up to its promise.
She & Him stopped by lantern-jaw Jay Leno's show a couple weeks back to perform "The Christmas Waltz," a tune I first heard on The Frank Sinatra Christmas Album many years back.
The tune features the enchanting vocals of the newly single Ms. Deschanel, along with some tasty Willie Nelson-inspired gut-string guitar work by Ward.
This week, the dynamic duo dropped by the Ellen DeGeneres show for a more upbeat number, "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."
With its enchanting music and retro cover art, A Very She & Him Christmas is guaranteed to warm the stockings of your favorite aging hipster. You can even pick it up on Starbucks along with a Venti Zooey-latte. But if you have an aversion to physical media you can also get it here on iTunes.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
So there I was eating chili at a school fundraiser yesterday when my buddy Owen informed me that it was the 35th anniversary of an assassination attempt on Bob Marley.
I am a big fan of Marley (or so I thought) but had no idea that he had ever been shot. But on December 3, 1976, his Kingston home was invaded by some thugs who shot him in the arm and chest, shot his wife Rita in the head, and shot his manager Don Taylor too.
Though the gunmen were never found, it's believed they attempted to take Marley's life to prevent him from playing the Smile Jamaica concert, a show he'd organized to help calm the political unrest in Jamaica at the time, but which had been co-opted by the ruling party.
Bob, Rita and Don survived and amazingly, Bob played the Smile Jamaica concert a couple days later, turning a scheduled one-song appearance into a 90-minute shamanistic ritual, which turned him from a pop star into a living legend.
When Bob was asked why he decided to play the show, he replied, "The people who are trying to make the world a worse place are not taking a day off. Why should I?" Well put.
Here's a fascinating documentary about the assassination attempt and concert from back in the day.
The legend of Bob Marley goes way beyond Legend. A great place to start is his 1975 Live! album with the Wailers, which you can get on iTunes here for a mere $7.99.