Having returned from one trip, I’m about to embark on another (although I will have time to blog on this second trip). As I get ready to go, here’s a musical interlude:
From Warner Brother’s 1944 Hollywood Canteen,” “You Can Always Tell A Yank” is a lousy song, both musically and lyrically. Why then am I posting it here? Because it’s the only American popular song I know that has lyrics paying explicit homage to both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For that reason alone, it shouldn’t be forgotten:
From the moment he arrived in Hollywood, Joe E. Brown, who sings the second part of the song, was quite possibly the nicest, most decent man in that often artificial and superficial town. By the time this movie was made (and it really does reflect how old Hollywood supported the war effort), he’d lost one of his sons to the war in 1942. He spent the rest of the war years doing anything he could for the troops, and was a one-man USO before the USO even existed. He was also a principled man. Early in the war, he fought hard for Jewish refugees, and eventually adopted two.
With today’s celebrities limiting themselves to mindless and often disgusting virtue signaling, Brown deserves to be remembered.
Sometimes it’s worth taking a moment to say “thank you” and Benny Friedman’s song is a joyous way to do that:
UPDATE: Just a quick note to say that if you press the close caption button (“CC”) on the bottom right of the video, you can get the English translation for the song — at least you can in Windows 10. I didn’t see that option when I went to my blog through Safari on my iPad.
This is a charming video from start to finish: great production values, charming song, and a good singer. I first caught it on my Facebook feed and then lost it — and, of course, couldn’t remember how to find it again. Thankfully, Erich Kern sent me a link to the same video, so I can share it with you:
My son wanted me to watch a video that he and his peers find incredibly funny. Someone got hold of footage of Iggy Azalea, a young Australian rapper, “freestyling” and spent a lot of time putting together subtitles. Aside from the “F” word’s frequent appearance (consider yourself warned), the result is complete gibberish:
Iggy Azalea, incidentally, is a very wealthy young woman because of her skills as a rapper.
My son next showed me footage of Eminem, who is richer than God, freestyling. He uses actual words (again, a language warning), but put together they spell simplistic nonsense:
There are lots of enjoyable videos floating around that show clips of old Hollywood musicals put to a modern pop soundtrack. This video, though, has the single best match-up I’ve ever seen, matching perfectly the pacing and rhythm of the old dances when compared to a modern song — the song in this case being Mark Ronson’s smash Uptown Funk. Color me impressed:
Honestly, I don’t think anyone does this song better than Josh Groban. I get chills every year when I revisit it:
Back in 2013, when Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines was all the rage, I made the argument that it wasn’t so much rapey, as it was the sleazy descendant of old-fashioned “seduction” songs. And it’s very sleazy song indeed. Thicke keeps saying “you know you want it,” which is the classic phrase associated with rapists denying their crime (“But your Honor, I didn’t rape her; she wanted it”). His co-writer Pharrell Williams also describes in unpleasantly graphic terms the fact that his physical attributes may exceed her anal capacity.
Nevertheless, the assumption underlying the song is that the girl of the song wants sex as badly as the boy does. It’s only a “rape” song if we inquire into the girl’s mindset and determine that, in fact, she does not want it at all, despite the fact that she is, per the song lyrics, grabbing and hugging the boy. The song strongly implies that she’s more Miley Cyrus — i.e., a willing participant — than she is Sandra Dee — i.e., a naive innocent.
As I said, in a sleazy, decadent culture, which is what we inhabit, Blurred Lines is often what passes for romance. After all, this is the same youth pop culture that produced Ke$ha’s hit Tik Tok (warning: video NSFW):
It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a song that seemed to fit into the parameters of my “Just Because Music” category, but here one is — Rachel Platten’s I’m gonna stand by you. And no, I have no idea what those parameters are; it’s just that some songs run through my head and I want to share them.
Incidentally, extra points for anyone who can tell me what the heck the video has to do with the song.
And if you like Platten’s vocal style and music choices, you can also check out her first hit, Fight Song. The video disappoints me, though. I thought it would have some MMA stuff.
Hadn’t heard of the Quebe Sisters before, but definitely like them:
This has been out since 2007, but I missed it. It’s an impressive feat:
I’ve been a passionate Ella Fitzgerald fan for decades now. The problem with that, though, is that I’m so familiar with her work that I often don’t really listen to it. I hear it, of course, when the songs come up on my playlist, but I don’t listen. Tonight, though, I listened hard when Ella sang “Just One Of Those Things.”
The lyrics are exquisite — among Cole Porter’s best, I think — and to hear her cradle them and then let them go is a wonderful thing. Ella is in complete control: confident, smooth, easy, and free. With Ella, you never worry whether she’ll somehow miss a note or a beat. The musicality flows from her like water from the Trevi Fountain. This, my friends, is music!
Several years ago, Earl Aagaard sent me a link to a delightful video called Bring Me Sunshine, by the Jive Aces. And then, my memory being what it is, I lost the link and lost the song — that is, I couldn’t remember either the name of the song or of the band.
The other day, however, I read Mark Steyn’s column about Cecil the Lion. Steyn, of course, was wonderful on the subject. He also included an homage to British entertainer Cilla Black, who died recently. One of the videos to which Steyn linked — the Morecambe and Wise Show — included the song Bring Me Sunshine and (boom!) I knew I could once again find the Jive Ace’s video that Earl had long ago sent me.
Well, I found the video again, loved it again, and am sharing it again:
This video has been kicking around for about 4 years, but it’s suddenly popped up on my Facebook feed and friends have emailed it to me. I don’t know if it really does explain Don McLean’s cryptic lyrics, but it certainly makes a good case:
Famed vaudeville stars Van and Schenck have some advice for those feeling a bit bored: