Monday, February 26, 2007

Enough With The Oskar Krapp, Already! (but first...)

...I feel compelled to drag you through 16 years of disgraceful, atonal Oscar bilge. Close your eyes and imagine lithe, unitarded interpretive dancers striking avant-gardalicious poses on a stage full of fog and pyrotechnics...

1990: 'Sooner Or Later (I Always Get My Man)' (Dick Tracy). Technically a smart, vaguely campy torch song in the classic tradition. I love the brassy arrangement, the lyrics are spot-on...but I do wish someone like Cassandra Wilson, Sade, Tracey Thorne or John Legend would reinterpret it because, coming out of Madonna's superficial yap Stephen Sondheim's depression-era vernacular sounds like hollow pastiche. Monkeys will fly out of my butt the day I concede that Madonna is anything more than a pop song stylist on a par with Ronnie Ronnette or Mary Shangri-la, which is high praise because Ronnie Spector and Mary Weiss are The Real Thing(s). Jazz is simply beyond Madonna's ken. 'Beautiful Stranger' from Austin Powers (not nominated) is an all-time-great pop single but 'Sooner Or Later' is a diamond in the rough, still wallowing in obscurity, just waiting to be discovered by its true chanteuse. Other long-forgotten poop nominated this year: 'Blaze Of Glory' (Young Guns II), music and lyrics by Jon Bon Jovi. P.U.! Um...Dwight Yoakum? Randy Travis? Clint Black? WILLIE NELSON?! 'Cuz Bon Jovi doesn't exactly evoke the wild, wild west, yo. 'I'm Checking Out' (Postcards From The Edge)Songwriter Shel Silverstein should have been plastered all over the cover of Rolling Stone years ago for writing 'A Boy Named Sue' and I'll admit this nomination was a fairly progressive pick for the geriatric music branch of AMPAS but these days it's sounding a little retro/ it should have been a Broadway showstopper circa 1968. The Simpsons goofed on it at some point while hazing rehab staple Liza Minnelli and that's recognition enough for this "I'm Still Here!" fecalheap.

The other two nominations are not worth getting into. Seriously.

1991: 'Beauty And The Beast' (Beauty And The Beast). Just as I ignore anime because I don't quite "get" it and thus I fear it, I don't think I'm qualified to discuss the colonialism-boosting, weirdly sexualized Disney fetish that unfortunately swept the nation last decade so I won't even try. I'm sure it's a pretty song but it gives me diarrhea every time I hear it so I just don't hear it. My apologies to sweat-suited tourists everywhere. Losers this year: Bryan Adams and 'Be My Vest' by Monty Burns.

1992: 'A Whole New World' (Aladdin) Horrid Jesus Camp/American Idol/entitled white-folk fodder. I hate this fake-ass, lazy, deathmarch to Heaven anthem with every fiber of my Christian-weary body. Go away whole new world! Give me Dr. Doolittle and 'Talk To The Animals' any day: At least that was pagan and earthbound. 'Beautiful Maria Of My Soul' (Mambo Kings) was lovely but live action brown people sang it so naturally pre-Ellen AMPAS adjudged it as pornography.

1993: 'Streets Of Philadelphia' (Philadelphia) AMPAS likes its fags dead or sociopathic so the music branch threw a trophy at Bruce Springsteen's Dead Fag Love Theme. The thing is, this is an extraordinary, transcendent olive branch to the afflicted. Obviously I'm conflicted per the music branch of The Academy. Neil Young lost this year but his song (also from Philadelphia) is so one-note and trebly that it's practically unsingable. Celine Dion would shatter the Sears Building attempting to sustain that note at that octave so thank goddess it lost. Also nominated: 'The Day I Fell In Love' (Beethoven's 2nd). Evidently, dog movies inspire Oscar-nominated love themes (see: The Magic Of Lassie (1978)). Why is that?

1994: 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight' (The Lion King). Horatio Sanz has forever tainted my appreciation (or lack thereof) of late-phase Sir Elton so I can't take this piece of doody very seriously at all. Besides the fact that it's straight-up, phone-it-in hackwork, what the hell does this song have to do with African wildlife anyway? You could plop this pungent turd in any movie, any movie at all, and it would suit it just as well. Imagine: 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight (Love Theme from Midnight Cowboy), 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight' (Love Theme from Orca), 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight (Love Theme from Jesus Camp)'s the most generic calcified corpse of a song ever! No one could resurrect this stinker from the dead...not Charo, not Peter Allen, not Klaus Nomi, not P-Funk...nobody. If I had energy enough to recall a single verse of 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight', I'd hate it. But as it stands, it's a black hole of anti-music for anti-people. But consider the alternatives: 'Hakuna Matata', 'Circle Of Life'...and people pay $100+ to see the stage play?!

1995: 'Colors Of The Wind' (Pocahontas). You can take comfort in the fact that it doesn't get any worse than this:

Everything else from here on out is cake-walk compared to this ghastly death rattle.
'Kumbaya' is a Disco Inferno compared to this Calvinist hymn to No Fun Whatsoever.
Aphex Twin should remix this room-clearing eggfart a thousand times just to be a bitch.
Rush Limbaugh rogers himself with a cucumber and moos like a beefalo at Limosine Liberal Hypocricy while basking in the whore's bath that is all the ersatz, multi-culti cheerleading as expressed by 'Colors Of The Wind'

So there you have it: My dada word-collage ode to 'Colors Of The Wind'.

But seriously, 'You've Got A Friend In Me' (Toy Story) may have been the more memorable choice but when all is said and done, 1995 was a godawful year for Oscar tuneage.

1996: 'You Must Love Me' (Evita). Pretty terrible in the Celine Dion sense of the word 'terrible' but Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice had to win an Oscar sooner or later and this is less offensive anything from Phantom Of The Opera so I guess we should thank our lucky stars that this reprise of 'Don't Cry For Me, Argentina' triumphed over the Streisand/Bryan Adams/Hamlisch/Robert 'Mutt' Lange ballad that no one remembers from The Mirror Has Two Faces.

How's that for a run-on sentence?

1997: 'My Heart Will Go On' (Titanic). You might think that I would stump for Elliot Smith's 'Miss Misery' (Good Will Hunting) this year, fact...'My Heart Will Go On' is a terrific song and it most definitely deserved to win. Ham-fisted Celine Dion had no business wringing the life out of it at all but if, say, Alison Krauss, Nanci Griffith or Emmylou Harris would have sung it in the first place you would hear this song, in all its elegant simplicity, pan-flute and all, for what it is: A gorgeous Celtic folk ballad. I hope it finds new life after the taint of Dion is long forgotten. In other 1997 music branch of The Academy news: LeeAnn Rhimes needs to work with Rick Rubin because Diane Warren destroyed her career with another Lite FM staple: 'How Do I Live' from ConAir.

1998: 'When You Believe' (The Prince Of Egypt). To be honest, I can't recall the song or the Disney film it soiled but Broadway's Stephen Schwartz wrote it so I'm sure it sucks as much as I suspect it does.

1999: 'You'll Be In My Heart' (Tarzan). Kenny Loggins, Usher, John Tesh and The Phantom Of The Opera all covered this testament to the artistry of Phil Collins...but Hey! Phil Collins wins an Oscar at long last! So fuck you Aimee Mann (Magnolia) and Randy Newman (Toy Story 2) who wrote far superior songs this year! He's Phil Collins, Bitch!

2000: 'Things Have Changed' (Wonder Boys) Whew, the nineties sure stank up the place didn't they? The music branch of The Academy had a lot to atone for and boy, did they...they turned right the fuck around and blessed gnarly Bobby D. with an Academy Award. The New Millenium. Things are gonna change, I can feel it...never mind that the other nominated songs were unlistenable tripe, including, and most especially, Bjork's bad-trip swan-dress anthem 'I've Seen It All' (Dancer In The Dark).

2001: 'If I Didn't Have You' (Monsters, Inc.). Adult-contemporary Pixar pap but some of that shit is quite comforting, actually. I'd love to have a bunch of Counting Crows rub me down with Lubriderm as they croon 'If I Didn't Have You' from Monsters, Inc. into my ear. Also nominated: Paul McCartney (Vanilla Sky), Sting (Kate & Leopold) and Enya (Lord Of The Rings). Zzzzzzz.

2002: 'Lose Yourself' (8 Mile). WHAT?!! HELLO!!! Holy shit, I'm up, I'm up. It's a new day for music branch of The Academy because they're listening to Hot 100 FM, they're Friendstererd and they'll call you every 10, text you every 5. No more Connie Stevens/Muppet musical extravaganzas for these thugs. No sir. A truly weird choice but does this mean we're gonna be subjected to Celine Dion freestyling it up at The Excalibur in Vegas come 2042? Also nominated: U2 (Gangs Of New York), Paul Simon (The Wild Thornberrys Movie), and the most skipped-through song on the Chicago soundtrack: 'I Move On' (Kander & Ebb).

2003: 'Into The West' (Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King). Annie Lennox certainly is bad-ass, god knows, but this joint is one dreary trudge through ambient poop. It sounds like an Oscarcast fanfare bumper as orchestrated by Howard Shore, which no doubt is the very reason it triumphed over much earthier, more deserving work by Elvis Costello and T-Bone Burnett (Cold Mountain). It's right up there with all that garbage-y 90's-era Disney Oscarbait, it's just that atrocious. But Annie rebounded with her masterwork 'Bare' a year later so she's pardoned for this embarrassing misstep.

2004: 'Al Otro Lado Del Rio' (The Motorcyle Diaries). Glorious choice. How much do I love this song? It's so catchy, melodious and deceptively simple that I predict it will become a standard along the lines of 'Besame Mucho' or 'Desafinado'. Sublime pick and wholly unexpected.

2005: 'It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp' (Hustle & Flow). Who the fuck can predict which way the music branch of The Academy is gonna swing these days? I thought Dolly Parton was a lock for her not-so-great 'Travelin' Thru' (Transamerica) but here we have it. 'Niggaz', 'shit', and 'fuck' in an Academy Award winning song...chanted like a mantra...first time ever. Is this progress? Hard to say, but it makes for a more interesting contest...

2006: 'I Need To Wake Up' (An Inconvenient Truth) A more interesting choice than any of the nominated 'Dreamgirls' songs but I suspect that this award is more of a political broadside than a blessing upon a truly good song. But then again Melissa Etheridge strikes me as more of a right-minded scold and less of a good-timing, party-pumping betch so I might be a tad prejudiced. I need to warm up to this song before I can make a fair judgement...I have yet to hear it all the way through so I plead ignorance.

Best Oscar Winning Song(s) Ever: 'Theme from 'Shaft' and 'In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening' (tie)

Worst Oscar Winning Song Ever: 'Colors Of The Wind'.

Take all that for what it's worth, y'all.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Oscar Poop II: The Jennifer Warnes Years

We're surveying Academy Award winning songs, year by year, and we're getting bloated and gassy but we've got Tums to chew and poop to shovel so let's soldier onward...

1975: 'I'm Easy' (Nashville) The obvious choice although 'I'm Easy' is not nearly the rollicking singalong that 'It Don't Worry Me' is. It does however hold up fairly well as proto-sensitive-country-stud-shlock a la Keith Urban. Let's take a look at the other atrocities Oscar lined up for our listening pleasure: 'How Lucky Can You Get' (Funny Lady)Kander & Ebb phoning it in. Who sang it on the Oscarcast? Connie Stevens and some muppets probably. 'Now That We're In Love' (Whiffs)Ah yes, Whiffs. I'm pretty sure it was about mustard gas. 'Richard's Window' (The Other Side Of The Mountain)Not to be confused with Joni Mitchell's 'The Last Time I Saw Richard'. Olivia Newton-John sang it but it didn't make the cut on any of her Greatest Hits releases so I guess it was drivel. 'Theme From 'Mahogany' (Do You Know Where You're Going To)' I remember watching the Oscars in 1975 and Diana Ross lipsynched this on a bridge in Amsterdam via satellite dressed in white fur. The Boss was and is a freak of nature. The song's okay but all those key changes...

1976: 'Evergreen' (A Star Is Born). Godawful. Love soft as an easy chair? I'll take 'Ave Satani' (The Omen) anyday! I sing it on the subway, I whistle it while waiting in line @ Tillie's on DeKalb and Vanderbilt...I know all the lyrics by heart! Can you believe it took TWO WOMEN to conjure the lyrics for 'Gonna Fly Now' (Rocky). TWO!!!! "Trying hard now/it's so hard now/trying hard now..."

1977: 'You Light Up My Life' (You Light Up My Life) Well it was number one on the Billboard charts for most of 1977. You almost have to throw an Oscar at it...albeit at the expense of the best Bond theme ever: 'Nobody Does It Better' (The Spy Who Loved Me). Check out Aimee Mann's electrified, post-orgasmic tribute on 'Shaken and Stirred: The Best Of Bond'.

1978: 'Last Dance' (Thank God It's Friday). Quite simply, the right choice. I'm sure 'When You're Loved' (The Magic Of Lassie) was favored but 'Last Dance' endures. 'Hopelessly Devoted To You' (Grease) was also nominated...why do people go apeshit over the Grease Soundtrack? My theory is that we were all so proud that we persevered and held on to our allowances long enough to shell out the ten bucks for the double album. Because the music is, well, really gay. Maybe 1978 was the gayest year ever. I'm fairly certain it was.

1979: 'It Goes Like It Goes' (Norma Rae). Pretty brave choice, given the fact that it's depressing as all hell. You might think Lucinda Williams sings it on the soundtrack but it's really Jennifer Warnes, who sings roughly %40 percent of all Oscar-nominated songs over the next fifteen years. She didn't sing 'Rainbow Connection' (The Muppet Movie)however...that's Jim Henson and Frank Oz eating mushrooms and fiddling with new multi-tracking technology at Electric Ladyland.

1980: 'Fame' (Fame). The music branch of AMPAS really dropped the ball this year. 'Fame's' lyrics could have been scrawled on the back of a fricking Mead double-pocket Nadia Comenici folder by none other than that future schlockmistress herself, Linda Perry, they're so trite. Where's Blondie's 'Call Me' (American Gigolo)? "Roll me in designer sheets/I'll never get enough"? I'm sure even The Golden Globes had good sense enough to nominate that work of sheer brilliance...but not The Academy. These were dark, dark years for The Academy.

1981: 'Arthur's Theme' (Arthur). I rest my case.

1982: 'Up Where We Belong' (An Officer And A Gentleman). Safe, Jennifer Warnes-y comfort food: Although the thought of Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes lifting each other up where they belong makes me a little queasy. Also nominated: A muppet song, A Bond song, A Motown song ('Endless Love'), and the first of Randy Newman's gazillion Best Song nominations: 'One Hour With You' (Ragtime).

1983: 'Flashdance...What A Feeling' (Flashdance). As a rule, I'm not a fan of corporate 80's music in general and this cluttered, trendy piece of Eurotrash defies me to dance to it. Was this ever really hip? Flash dance? I know what I feel when I Flash Dance and that's a whole lot of crysal meth with my pants down around my ankles @ The Cock. ;) Also nominated this year: Rosie O'Donnell's queer mating call, "Tommy Can You Hear Me" from Yentl.

1984: 'I Just Called To Say I Love You' (The Woman In Red). I applaud the Academy for giving Stevie Wonder an Oscar but this song really, really bites. It sounds to me like it was written in 1883. I sometimes hear this in bodegas and Polish diners and it makes me feel unclean. 'Let's Hear It For The Boy' (Footloose) would have been the more savvy selection.

1985: 'Say You, Say Me' (White Nights). Crap! Ick factor = Off the charts. Lionel Richie gave us Nicole and this stewed, greenish-yellow turd. Thanks Lionel. Your funky bunch membership has been revoked...'Brick House' and 'Machine Gun' notwithstanding. Also nominated: Huey Lewis and more Lionel Richie. Bad music branch of The Academy! Bad!

1986: 'Take My Breath Away' (Top Gun). Because its Berlin, because it's vaguely new-wave-ish, and because it's not the hated 'Danger Zone' from the same soundtrack, I'm willing to give this Prom Theme a break , even though it vaguely reeks of wopatuli and pork rinds. Also nominated: 'Somewhere Out There' (An American Tail), 'Mean Green Mother From Outer Space' (Little Shop Of Horrors...not a bad pick really), some Henry Mancini poop from a bad Blake Edwards/Julie Andrews old-people comedy, and Peter Cetera.

1987: '(I've Had) The Time Of My Life' (Dirty Dancing). More Jennifer Warnes pop music to menopause to. I've never actually seen Dirty Dancing but I do remember the tight rolled up denim shorts phenomenon that made everyone's ass look flat. I ate soup at a table next to winning songwriter Frank Previte in The West Village a couple years back, that's my Oscar Brush With Greatness. Shame on the music branch of The Academy for not recognizing Willy DeVille's 'Storybook Love' (The Princess Bride). Mink DeVille was a great, great CBGB's mainstay and I love them.

1988: 'Let The River Run' (Working Girl). Movie tunes sucked so bad this year that the Academy could deem only three songs as nomination-worthy. Carly Simon triumphed over Phil Collins as all of America downed shots, smoked a victory bowl and went straight to bed.

1989: 'Under The Sea' (The Little Mermaid) Not so good but what're you gonna do? Pixar wasn't around yet, everything else nominated was puerile trash...fuckit!

More Oscar sniping to come...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Reason To Take Morphine And Live #1: Oscar Winning Songs (Part One)

It's bound to happen:

Celine Dion, pushing eighty-something and playing Atlantic City yet again, singing an "Oscar's Favorite Jams" medley featuring Three 6 Mafia's 'It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp' and her own paint-peeling caterwaul 'My Heart Will Go On' from Titanic.

I just hope my personal caregiver is kind enough to wheel me up front and center so I can shake my fist at the heavens and curse that hog-calling, chest-thumping catwoman to the fiery bowels of a holy-roller hell.

I can get with most music I hear but some crap just sticks in my craw and, because I'm a glass-half-empty kind of guy, I become obsessive about tuneage that makes my ears Britney Spears' 'Toxic' or Lionel Richie's 'Say You, Say Me'. So I get a little irritable. It's a Scorpio thing, I think.

Did you know 'Say You, Say Me' won an Oscar for Best Song, 1985? No joke. Now imagine Celine Dion screeching that little nugget to the cheap seats.

The Academy Awards are famously schizophrenic when it comes to blessing movie songs with Oscars. Throughout the nineties The Academy was all Hollie Hobbie and unicorns and all crushed out on Disney poop but now they're mistaking themselves for The Grammys as they show love to Dylan and Enimem and Beyonce'. I'm predicting Beyonce's boring 'Listen' will win this year over Melissa Etheridge's typically earnest 'I Need To Wake Up' which is a damn shame because the only song from Dreamgirls worth the price of an iTunes download is 'And I Am Telling You, I'm Not Going' but alas, it was written for the stageplay, not the film itself, so it's ineligible.

The first song to win an Oscar (1934, btw) was a Rogers/Astaire dance number called 'The Continental' from The Gay Divorcee, It entailed "dangerous rhythm" and kissing while dancing 'The Continental'. I've never actually danced 'The Continental' but I imagine it's something like The Lambada ("The Forbidden Dance") so I'll give Oscar his propers for recognizing The Sexy. I'm downloading Artie Shaw & Tommy Dorsey's swing version of 'The Continental' right now. Maybe I can turn the lesbians on to Continentalling later in the week, we'll see.

1935: 'Lullaby Of Broadway' (Golddiggas of '35)...fairly iconic selection, can't argue with that.

1936: 'The Way You Look Tonight' (Swing Time)...another Rogers/Astaire ditty. Tough year because it triumphed over Cole Porter's 'I've Got You Under My Skin', but an unimpeachable choice overall.

1937: 'Sweet Leilani' (Waikiki Wedding) Timeless steel-guitar classic! Bing Crosby sang it first and Chris Isaak covered it to great effect. Brave choice, music branch of The Academy!

1938: 'Thanks For The Memory' (Big Broadcast Of 1938) Bob Hope's theme song. It's okay, but better than 'Jeepers Creepers' (Going Places)? I doubt it.

1939: 'Over The Rainbow' (The Wizard Of Oz). A song so loaded with childhood baggage that even straight guys grow braids and get misty-eyed whenever OTR strokes their earholes. The other nominated songs apparently slunk off with their tails between their legs because I haven't heard of any of them.

1940: 'When You Wish Upon A Star' (Pinocchio) . I'd have to be a complete asshole to hate on this one although I'm pretty fond of 'Down Argentine Way'. Leon Redbone's growly re-interpretation of Jiminy Cricket's octave-climbing croon drives me to smoke opium and dream of blue fairies.

1941: 'The Last Time I Saw Paris' (Lady Be Good) Major Oscar boner. This steaming pile of treacle bested 'Chattanooga Choo Choo" (Sun Valley Serenade), 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Of Company C' (Buck Privates) and "Blues In The Night"...Dinah Shore bumping and grinding "my momma done told me/when I was in kneesocks"...think of it! Where is the justice? I ask you!

1942: 'White Christmas' (Holiday Inn). How this Christmas carol eeked out a victory over 'Pig Foot Pete' (Hellzapoppin') and 'I've Got A Gal In Kalamazoo' (Orchestra Wives) is anybody's guess.

1943: 'You'll Never Know' (Hello, Frisco, Hello). Gramma Muggs loved this song so I guess I have to get behind it but it's kind of a drag, really. 'That Old Black Magic' (Star Spangled Rhythm) has more ummph, if you ask me.

1944: 'Swingin' On A Star' (Going My Way). I have to cop to the fact that I'm a Sesame Street-schooled self-empowerment song aficianado from way back and quite frankly I wouldn't rather be a fish, a pig, or a mule so this song speaks to me...although is it better than 'The Trolley Song' from Meet Me In St. Louis? My Film Genres professor would think not.

1945: 'It Might As Well Be Spring' (State Fair). Fuck that. 'Accentuate The Positive' (Here Come The Waves) sets it off everytime.

1946: 'On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe' (The Harvey Girls). A rare 'scat moment' for The Academy. Well done.

1947: 'Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah' (Song Of The South). Alright. So I had a childhood crush on Bobby Driscoll and when he got gored by a bull in Song Of The South I cried. Sue me. What I failed to notice throughout all of my pained distraction is the possibility that James Baskett as Uncle Remus singing 'Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah' might be kinda racist. All I knew was that the guy seemed like a kind soul, the song was catchy as hell, and the Tar Baby sequence was a boot in the pants. Good choice.

1948: 'Buttons And Bows' (The Paleface). I can take or leave Bob Hope and any one of his Hit Parade golden oldies...all I know is this is the year 'The Woody Woodpecker Song' lost The Academy Award and that fucking stings!

1949: 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' (Neptune's Daughter). Yessssssss. The fact that a double entendre this slinky won an Oscar makes me almost want to forgive every Phil Collins song ever nominated.

1950: 'Mona Lisa' (Captain Carey, U.S.A.) 'Mona Lisa' is a slick piece of work and god knows I'm a 'King' Cole fan. A truly inspired choice. Especially since the sinister shadow of 'Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo' (Cinderella) looms large on the nominee list. What if it would have won? Imagine the Dion scat possibilities!

1951: 'In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening' (Here Comes The Groom). Finally, my man Hoagy Carmichael bags himself a trophy! A very inspired selection although I hope I never have to sit through this late-phase Capra-corn turd of a movie. Also nominated: 'A Kiss To Build A Dream On' (The Strip) which you may remember from the Sleepless In Seattle soundtrack. I don't remember it because there's no way in hell I'd sit through that dreck either.

1952: 'High Noon (Do Not Foresake Me My Darlin')' (High Noon). I can't comment one way or the other on this particular choice...although word on the street is that some sad, hapless actress sang another nominated song, 'Thumbelina' (Hans Christian Anderson) to her thumb on 1953's Oscar telecast. I can just picture my dad's 23 year old self scowling with woozy displeasure.

1953: 'Secret Love' (Calamity Jane) I'm pretty crazy about this song, in fact I used it as a soundtrack to a play I wrote for a grade-school talent show way back in the sixth grade. Nature vs. Nurture? Discuss.

1954: 'Three Coins In A Fountain' (Three Coins In A Fountain). This frat-house kegger singalong never grows old, does it? I kid of course, but how this obscurity won over 'The Man That Got Away' (A Star Is Born) is a riddle for the Jeff Buckley's rendition of the torchy Garland classic and discover for yourself if you don't believe me.

1955: 'Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing' (Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing). Oy. Obviously the Academy nominating committee skipped out on the Blackboard Jungle screening ('Rock Around The Clock').

1956: 'Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)' (The Man Who Knew Too Much). Sly Stone stole it from his girlfriend Doris Day and made it his own, which is cool, but really 'Written On The Wind' is probably the better choice.

1957: 'All The Way' (The Joker's Wild). Most people know it as the 'You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You' song. It's a classic late-nite lounge favorite so no argument here...although Bowie's version of 'Wild Is The Wind' throws light on the sheer epic scope of the piece (not to mention the fact that all that Bowie melodrama is clearly inspired by Nina Simone's take on the same song).

1958: 'Gigi' (Gigi). Why?

1959: 'High Hopes' (A Hole In The Head). Anyone who's ever watched 'Laverne And Shirley' knows this chestnut. I really loved that show. Why isn't it out on DVD?

1960: 'Never On A Sunday' (Never On A Sunday). Ever have a gyro after a long night of hitting the hooch? Then you've heard this peppy homage to whores everywhere. Trust me. You have.

1961: 'Moon River' (Breakfast At Tiffany's) Breakfast was far darker than I ever imagined it would be thus the song truly lends itself to the rueful tone of the pic. If ever there was a movie song married to its source, it's this one. Gotta love it, my huckleberry friend. Surprise nomination that year: 'Town Without Pity'. Great, great Gene Pitney song. I include it in my set every so often. Very high drama and Phil Spector-ish.

1962: 'Days Of Wine And Roses' (Days Of Wine And Roses). Elevator music without peer. 'Walk On The Wild Side' was nominated that year but, alas, not the Lou Reed 'and the colored girls go doo-do-doo' song you're thinking of.

1963: 'Call Me Irresponsible' (Papa's Delicate Condition) Has anyone ever heard of this movie? The song is a finger-snapping delight, but I've never seen this alleged Jackie Gleason vehicle in any of my local indie film-snob rental shops. wtf? I'm assuming it entails a fat, sweaty dude experiencing morning sickness and who wouldn't want to see that?

1964: 'Chim-Chim-Cheree' (Mary Poppins). I'm sorry but Julie Andrews bores the snot out of me and there's no way you can convince me that 'My Kind Of Town'..."chicago is..." is a worse song than this garbage. I can understand romanticizing a shit job such as 'chimney sweep' but did I dance around singing 'Poo-Poo Pa-Doo' as an ass-wiping Certified Nursing Assistant? Nevermind.

1965: 'The Shadow Of Your Smile' (The Sandpiper)Now we're getting into some serious Ray Conniff Singers territory: Music everyone's chain-smoking great aunt can agree on. Is it a good song? Hard to say because everytime I hear it, I'm in a library checking my email and surfing porn, thus I remain oblivious.

1966: 'Born Free' (Born Free). Lionesses, blonde European bitches in khaki shorts...Andy Williams. It all basically sucks. How did 'Alfie' not win this year?

1967: 'Talk To The Animals' (Doctor Doolittle). Oscar's greatest shame. The worst song ever to win anything at anytime, anywhere. True dreck. Unbearable movie, craptacular song...and of course Hollywood had to go and remake it.

1968: 'Windmills Of Your Mind' (Thomas Crown Affair) Babysitter-friendly psychedelica. Dusty Springfield covered it and so thus It. Is. Good.

1969: 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head' (Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid) I don't quite understand what this sticky-sweet sunshine-pop song is doing in this period movie. Nor can I wrap my brain around the fact that 'Everybody's Talkin'' from Midnight Cowboy was not even nominated. But we move on...

1970: 'For All We Know' (Lovers And Other Strangers). Bread's David Gates wrote this 70's wedding march warhorse under an alias and I can see why. The Carpenters rose to fame with their rendition of the piece of shit and it de-sexed them forever. Yuck.

1971: 'Theme from 'Shaft' (Shaft). What?! My theory is that this is the year the entire music branch of The Academy dipped into some really good skunk weed and talked turkey with Angela Davis or I don't know what the frick was going on in L.A. in 1971!...way to support the Black Moses!

1972: 'The Morning After' (The Poseiden Adventure). Not so bad, considering the only real competition this year was Michael Jackson's ode to a rat: 'Ben'. Something about Maureen McGovern's precise phrasing brings it home for me. Kind of chilling.

1973: 'The Way We Were' (The Way We Were). If anyone were to karaoke this Oscar-winning dirge in 2007, they'd be stoned to death. It's just that unacceptable.

1974: 'We May Never Love Like This Again' (The Towering Inferno). The Towering Inferno had to win something since it was backed by not one but two studios...'We May Never Love Like This Again' is 'The Morning After' but a little more succinct. It's heard on the soundtrack for less than a minute at most and you'd barely notice it because it's sung by a non-descript lounge act as an all-star cast mills around the bar greeting one another.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Reason To Take Morphine And Die #3: The Kelly Phenomenon

I felt this coming, like a rumbling in my bowels.

I'm walking down 1st Avenue in the East Village and I can't help but overhear two baby hipsters discussing Tom Skerritt's body of work. Can he act? Um, he was kinda good in 'The Great Santini'....

What the fuck?

Now I know New York City is all bohemian and cinephile-tastic and shit...but...Tom Skerritt?

Within twenty four hours of that moment of zen I'm overhearing and actually having conversations peppered with slack-jawed belligerence:



...and punctuated with those three evergreen syllables of regurgitated cranial pablum: "ohmigod!"

Yes, indeed: ValSpeak rears its ugly, empty head again and suddenly it's 1982...AGAIN! I can smell that year all the way from 2007, it stunk so bad (it was The Year Of My Italian Exchange Student...not worth going into here).

Turns out that the source of this dismal revival is a man in a dress who calls himself Kelly. You can't log onto MySpace without Kelly unpacking the 'rules/sucks' dichotomy over electroclash bleats and shrieks at top volume. Funny? Yes. On Friday, February 16th, 2007, yes, it is fairly amusing. But by, say, March 16th, 2007 your mother will be calling you "betch!" or "deck!" or worse, your 3 year-old nephew will be chanting "let me borrow that top" and you'll want to puke. Or gag you with a spoon or whateverelse L.A. she-tards are saying these days.

So log onto and get it over with.

You'll laugh, you'll share the videos with friends and then with any luck at all, you'll forget.

Cheers, betches.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Reason To Live #4: Heartlessly Ignoring The Idea That True Romantic Love Is Anything More Than A Dream Bryan Ferry Once Had A Very Long Time Ago.

Hey you! Can I be your Valentine? Want some Harvey's Bristol Creme? How about I get you good and baked? I'll introduce you to my next-door neighbor Rosie Perez (nice rack!) if you'll be my Valentine...

How about this: I get you fucked up, we'll shovel Rosie's driveway and maybe meet her, then I freak you 'til dawn and you won't have to do ME at ALL...oh fuck it.

I don't want to be your goddamn valentine anyway.

I'd rather sit under my headphones, listen to 10cc croon 'I'm Not In Love' and stare at Google-search pics of Stephen Stills circa Buffalo Springfield. That shank of man-ass was DOPE...he didn't call his early 70's band MANASSas for nothing...*sigh*...furthermore, Stills could lay down some serious blues. I wonder if he's underrated. I don't follow the retro guitar god polls so much anymore although Rolling Stone seems to like to tell us who the new Claptons are (John Mayer 's one of three new Claptons btw, apparently he's cuter and spikes RS sales moreso than, say, Buckethead ever would).

So this whole concept of romantic love is utterly absent from the Billboard charts right now. Beyonce wants us to get our shit out of her palatial estate but at least she's nice enough to call car service for us. We don't really mean jack shit to Nelly Furtado because we can't say it right although nobody anywhere knows what this pole-dancing scold is trying to say in the first place. Google the lyrics for 'Say It Right'. Uh...say wha?

Fall Out Boy hyperventilates that "this ain't no scene, it's an arms race" and that can't be any good. Sounds like Stump and Wentz are asking for a pre-nup. Akon just wants to fuck us although Clear Channel would have us believe that he wants to "love" us (album version vs. radio know how it is). And as you scan down Billboard's Hot 100 your heart will positively swell; there's a whole lineup of ghetto thugs just waiting to pull a train on us. Where's Pretty Ricky's redo of ZZTop's 'Pearl Necklace'? Your granny's London Bridge would go right down if you hijacked her iPod with these pretty words:

She was gettin' bombed,

And I was gettin' blown away,

And she took it in her hand,

And this is what she had to say:

A pearl necklace.

She wanna pearl necklace.

She wanna pearl necklace.

So I was going to slap together your standard-issue hipster-cynic downwithlove mix tape but as I'm writing this...nah...too easy. So here's a baldfaced lovesick mix the whole office can agree on:

Anything But Love - The (Real) Tuesday Weld
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing - Jack Johnson
Love Is Everything - Jane Siberry
Soon - My Bloody Valentine
Do You Want To Come With - Stephen Fretwell (wow! Fretwell! Think of the guitar god possibilities!)
I Wanted You To Feel The Same - The Radio Dept.
The Greatest - Cat Power
Let's Dance - M. Ward (yes, the Bowie 'Let's Dance'...slowed down to a funereal pace)
Never Let Go - Tom Waits
Bluer Than Blue - Michael Johnson
Neighborhood #4 (Kettles) - Arcade Fire
Ruby's Arms - Nanci Griffith
Bleed To Love Her - Fleetwood Mac
Honey Child, What Can I Do? - Isobel Campbell w/ Mark Lanegan
You've Changed - Joy Zipper (blame your loveless life on the other for me!)
I'm Losing More Than I've Ever Had - Primal Scream
We Are Mice - Azure Ray (because we are, after all)
Bookends - Simon & Garfunkel
All Mixed Up - Red House Painters (The Cars' 'All Mixed Up'...slowed down to a funereal pace)

Vol. 2

Secret Heart - Feist
Johnny's Garden - Stephen Stills & Manassas
Fidelity - Regina Spektor
Louisiana - The Walkmen (no particular reason...just a really nice track)
Take Me - Karen Dalton
Heartbeats - The Knife
Can't Find My Way Home - Bonnie Raitt w/ Little Feat (live track...Bonnie's fit shaced/stoned to the bejeesus on this one)
Ballad Of A Bitter End - The Poems
Love My Way - Grant Lee Phillips
Forever My Friend - Ray LaMontagne
Thinking About You - Norah Jones
Knife - Grizzly Bear
I Talk To The Wind - King Crimson
All Those Expectations - Peter Bjorn and John
Multiply - Jamie Lidell (always conclude on a positive & funky note)

Enjoy your VD, people.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Reason To Live #3: Collaborating On Shit Via Email.

Try this:

Find yourself a home-schooled, GarageBand-savvy, musical prodigy who lives way far away from you, take a stab at writing some somewhat RichardMarx-by-way-of-FrankZappa lyrics and then shyly email them to him/her with the intention of having this lil' Syd Barrett/Prince/Joni Mitchell/Joanna Newsom-type person set your rhymes to music.

Have Syd Barrett/Prince/Joni Mitchell/Joanna Newsom-type prodigy email his/her results back to you (preferably in mp3 format), listen to the results three times over and then swiftly type your response without any consideration paid to whether your directives are do-able, or even sane & send your thoughts back to your prodigious friend.

You'll be all giddy, I guarantee it.

Here's a copy-n-paste of an email I just now fired off to My GarageBand Buddy:

Here are my thoughts:

I actually like The Crowd Of YMCA Joeys...and in fact, it's quite
brilliant because it's*military*... for lack of a better
word...and we could push it even further with a crisper, more
aggressive,'s hilarious.

"YES we CAN"
"ARE YOU READY?" (maybe a sampled army drill feel to it?..."I don't
wanna be an airforce ranger..." etc. etc.)

Lovelovelove the orchestra thingy!!!!

Love the funeral organ and alien synthy thing...bring the funeral
organ forward maybe?

Also, do you know what would be cool? If you whistled the melody
(maybe slightly off-key) in the give it a lonely
feel...the whole thing is pretty dire for a dance a fun
kinda way. Can you play the congas? Can you whistle the melody
over a conga jam in the outro? There's plenty of stuff we can do
with that fablus military drill samples, you
whistling, percussive freakout...I love that you give the outro
room for stuff like that...and I REALLY love the kooky synth bleats
at the end! Lololol! It's perfect! I predict remix after remix
after remix of 'Bring It, Give It'

Brazilian Girls 4ever!,


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Reason To Live #2: Rethinking My Bloody Valentine.

I've been resisting grunge-era shoegazers My Bloody Valentine since 1992, the year I first heard of them. Here's why: I was bussing tables at an Italian restaurant in Seattle's touristy Pioneer Square. During my short tenure there, I nurtured a gayboy crush on a prim and fussy but kind and sweet waitress who's name was Claudia. She hailed from Palmer, Alaska. Turns out, she was way funkier than I could have ever guessed. Turns out she played guitar for noise-pop band 'My Diva' and then later for 'Juned', an all-girl combo who toured in support of Dinosaur Jr.

You could've knocked me over with a freaking feather.

This woman was My Mennonite. Little Waitress On The Prairie. She looked like she just stepped off the boat at Ellis Island, like she just climbed out of a nineteenth century tintype. She never cursed but she scolded me when I absent-mindedly stuck a greenback in my mouth to free up my hands for some other task.

"Money's dirty!", she huffed as her face soured.

At one of her gigs, she confessed that she worshipped My Bloody Valentine. And Ride. And a whole bunch of other bands that bored me to tears (at the time). But I fancied myself open-minded so I bought a tape (remember those?) of one of her picks: Chapterhouse. Hated it. Sold it for 50 cents within the week.

Then I learned that somebody found her shooting up in a basement toilet stall before a My Diva show. I felt so let down, so sad. I never spoke to her again.

So here I am, fifteen years later, and My Bloody Valentine is making my day, day after day after day. I love their masterwork 'Loveless' so much so that I wrote a song and pitched it as a kind of tribute to my waitress and to the band. 'Loveless', for me, is the soundtrack for all the regret, the disappointment and all the hope I keep buried behind a wall of noisy cynicism. My song is titled 'Lights Out, Juneau'. It all runs together in one unreadable block because I'm too lazy to tweak the HTML...I feel good posting it, however, and that's all that matters really.


Rare red ant take my helping hand
Don’t let your guard dog down
A starving python’s hanging ‘round
Freshwater fish breathes its very last breath
Lights out Juneau, I’m with the band

Stingray send my bloody valentine
Soon ‘cuz my fingers gotta rash
Ain’t got no money and I ain’t got no hash
Just a busted transistor
Nobody’s talking, everything’s fine

Bald eagle sees a deer head in a ditch
By the side of the road around some tires
Picks it up and it don’t clear some wires
Lights out Juneau, Alaska
Let’s drink to this and the poor getting rich

Bald eagle felled on ground only not so hallow
Repair crew finds it, puts it in a bag
How’d a deer head get there and was it stag?
Folks without power, I got my radio
Let’s drink to this, the loveless, only shallow

Kevin Shields you really take me there
I miss you my brother
Lights out, Juneau, there isn’t much souther
Marmots survey the tundra and wonder
Let’s drink to this, several girls galore and more…

Well well well, lights out, Juneau
I’m so tired, I dream of release
I’m so alive, a caribou well outside the shade of trees
My Bloody Valentine thanks for everything
Let’s drink to this, to eagles and to everyone else you know.