Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lou Reed, 1942-2013: He Taught Rock to Walk on the Wild Side

image from Lou Reed’s classic 1972 Transformer album

Rolling Stone reports that rock iconLou Reed has died. According to, the death has been confirmed by Reed’s UK music agent, Andy Woolliscroft. While no official word has been offered on the cause, he underwent a liver transport earlier this year. He is survived by his wife, performance artist Laurie Anderson, who he married in 2008. He was 71.

Reed was born Louis Firbank on 3/2/1942 in Long Island, New York. Sometimes dubbed “The Godfather of Punk,” the experimental singer/songwriter’s influence dates back to the 1960s when he helmed the Andy Warhol-produced art-rock group, The Velvet Underground. They never sold much, but their impact on the music world was immeasurable. Producer and musician Brian Eno famously quipped, “The first Velvet Underground album onl y sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.”

The group was short-lived, but Reed embarked on a 40-year-plus solo career marked by classic albums like Transformer and Berlin, both of which rank in the top 1000 albums of all time according to Dave’s Music Database. DMDB Top 1000 song “Walk on the Wild Side” became an ode to the seedier and trampled-upon outsiders of society who populated Reed’s world. In regards to Reed’s impact on the music world,’s Jon Dolan said, “Glam, punk and alternative rock are all unthinkable without his revelatory example.”

Alternative-music website posted tweets from various musicians. The Pixies’ Black Francis simply said, “Rock and roll forever.” Lloyd Cole said, “Without Lou…I’d probably be a maths teacher.” Dave Navarro called him “one of my all time heroes.” also reported tweets from The Who: “R.I.P. Lou Reed. Walk on the peaceful side” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea: “I love Lou Reed so much. Always.” Jim James, frontman from My Morning Jacket, said, “You made the world a better place. We are forever grateful.” Russell Simmons, who co-founded the Def Jam label, said, “New York lost one of our greatest gifts today.”

Walk on the Wild Side


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Monday, October 21, 2013

Kacey Musgraves “Follow Your Arrow” released

Follow Your Arrow

Kacey Musgraves

Writer(s): Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves (see lyrics here)

Released: October 21, 2013

First Charted: February 15, 2014

Peak: 60 US, 10 CW, 50 CN, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 34.1 video, 109.84 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Country singer Kacey Musgraves was born in 1988 in Golden, Texas. She was signed to the indepent record label Triple Pop which released a digital EP in 2012. The following year, she made her major label debut with the album Same Trailer Different Park. It garnered attention right out of the gate, debuting at #2 on the Billboard album chart and going on to sell half a million copies. She was hailed as a new voice of progressive country.

She was nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist and won the Grammy for Best Country Album. The album’s lead single, “Merry-Go-Round,” also won for Best Country Song. However, it was the album’s third single, “Follow Your Arrow,” which gained the most attention. It won the CMA for Song of the Year and was named by Rolling Stone as one of the top 100 country songs of all time. Billboard magazine named it the #2 song of the year.

Musgraves explained that the song started as a poem for a friend who was going to Paris and was nervous about the new experience. Musgraves gave her an arrow necklace and her poem about following your arrow. The song put forth a positive message that one should remain true to oneself, understanding that any given choice is bound to elicit criticism. She said, “Regardless of your political beliefs I think everybody should be able to love who they want to love and live how they want to live…We all want to be loved and feel the same things. Hopefully people will put aside their personal and political agendas and just agree with that fact.” SF

Musgraves originally offered the song to Katy Perry who told Musgraves to keep it because “it seems like something that you would totally say.” SF Musgraves pushed for the song to be released as a single, but her record label feared country radio would reject it. Sure enough, there were some conservative listeners who couldn’t handle the song’s message of tolerance and acceptance and railed against the song for being supportive of the gay community. Some even claimed the song was an attack on Christians, WK despite no lyrical references to anything of the sort.


First posted 9/22/2022.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lorde hit #1 with “Royals”



Writer(s): Joel Little, Ella Yelich O’Connor (see lyrics here)

Released: June 3, 2013

First Charted: June 22, 2013

Peak: 19 US, 16 BA, 15 DG, 11 RR, 2 AC, 13 A40, 18 AA, 17 MR, 11 UK, 16 CN, 3 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 0.6 UK, 22.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1032.48 video, 1064.0 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Royals” was the first single from New Zealand singer-songwriter Ella Yelich O’Connor, The singer, better known as Lorde, topped the U.S. pop charts when she was only 16 and became the first solo act from New Zealand to top the Billboard Hot 100. “Royals” also landed atop the charts in New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. It reached the top five in Australia and Switzerland.

She wrote “Royals” in a half an hour in July 2012, intending it as a “response to everything that’s on pop radio,” a sort of rant against the lyrics focused on fame and luxury. She was inspired by a July 1976 National Geographic magazine which showed Kansas City Royals’ baseball player George Brett signing baseballs. As she said to VH1, “It was just that word. It’s really cool.” WK

Lorde’s critique of the high life rubbed Feministing blogger Vernoica Bayetti Flores the wrong way. She said the song was “deeply racist, because we all know who she’s thinking when we’re talking gold teeth, Cristal and Maybachs.” WK However, The Washington Times’ Aziza Jackson defended the song as being about “consumerism and class, not race…Today’s hip-hop and pop lyrics are laced with the promotion of shiny yet empty lives that is not black or white, but green.” WK

However, the song was generally praised. Digital Spy said the song had an “addictive hook that thrives on its simplicity” and that “Lorde’s success is here to stay.” WK Spin magazine said “true artpop rarely announces itself as such.” WK The song won a Grammy for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance.


Last updated 7/23/2023.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Glenn Tilbrook at Kansas City's Riot Room - October 7, 2013

image from

Thanks to my brother, Mark, and buddy, Steve, for accompanying me to see Glenn Tilbrook, best known for his days in Squeeze. His songwriting with partner Chris Difford was celebrated as new wave’s answer to Lennon and McCartney. While Squeeze’s last studio album came out in 1998, Tilbrook has stayed active recording solo albums and other collaborative efforts.

This set list was dependent on his post-Squeeze work (including several seemingly new songs) and the earliest years from Squeeze but strangely overlooked about a decade and a half (1984-1999) of his career completely. Still, there was no denying Tilbrook’s easy charm and light banter with the audience. Percussionist Simon Hanson added some nice touches with a toy xylophone and a frantic bongo solo using only his index fingers.

The small crowd – a couple of hundred at best – was comprised of mostly forty-somethings and up who were understandably excited most by the Squeeze songs, but hung in throughout. Not bad for a venue with a small stage and no chairs. Kansas Citians may remember The Riot Room, located in the Westport area, as the Hurricane.

The Setlist:
  1. Up the Junction 2
  2. Best of Times 17
  3. Dennis 19
  4. Everybody Sometimes 19
  5. Another Nail in My Heart 3
  6. Pulling Mussels from the Shell 3
  7. You See Me 15
  8. Beachland Ballroom 17
  9. One for the Road 16
  10. Still 17
  11. Annie Get Your Gun 6
  12. If I Didn’t Love You 3
  13. Is That Love 4
  14. Resolve (sung by bassist)
  15. Parallel World 15
  16. Parsephone 19
  17. Ray 19
  18. Until You Come Back to Me (cover)
  19. Black Coffee in Bed 5
  20. Kev and Dave (sung by drummer Simon Hanson)19
  21. Rupert 19
  22. Chat-Line Larry 18
  23. Tempted 4
  24. Take Me I’m Yours 1
  25. Goodbye Girl 2

Glenn Tilbrook Discography *

1 U.K. Squeeze (Squeeze, 1978)
2 Cool for Cats (Squeeze, 1979)
3 Argybargy (Squeeze, 1980)
4 East Side Story (Squeeze, 1981)
5 Sweets from a Stranger (Squeeze, 1982)
6 45’s and Under (Squeeze compilation, 1982)
7 Difford & Tilbrook (Difford & Tilbrook, 1984)
8 Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti (Squeeze, 1985)
9 Babylon and On (Squeeze, 1987)
10 Frank (Squeeze, 1989)
11 Play (Squeeze, 1991)
12 Some Fantastic Place (Squeeze, 1993)
13 Ridiculous (Squeeze, 1995)
14 Domino (Squeeze, 1998)
15 The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook (solo, 2001)
16 Transatlantic Ping Pong (solo, 2004)
17 Pandemonium Ensues (Fluffers, 2009)
18 The Co-Operative (with Nine Below Zero, 2011)
19 Happy Ending (solo, 2014)

* Full discography listed, but he played nothing from albums 7-14!

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Friday, October 4, 2013

On This Day (1913): Al Jolson topped the charts with “You Made Me Love You”

You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want to Do It)

Al Jolson

Writer(s): Joseph McCarthy, James Monaco (see lyrics here)

First Charted: September 20, 1913

Peak: 17 US, 13 GA, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.64 video, -- streaming

Awards (Jolson):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Judy Garland):

Awards (Harry James):

About the Song:

James Monaco, one of the songwriters, emigrated from Italy to the United States in the 1890s. He started out in Chicago as a self-taught ragtime pianist, billing himself as “Ragtime Jimmie.” LW He then went to New York where he became a Tin Pan Alley songwriter. For this song, Monaco collaborated with lyricist Joe McCarthy (“I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,”) who wrote for Broadway shows in the 1920s and ‘30s. LW

The song is remembered for its chorus marked by its familiar melody. It is a “skillfully crafted lyric that perfectly matches its bluesy melody, and suited Jolson’s…capacity for melodrama.” LW It was the first of two songs Monaco composed for Al Jolson. He also wrote “Dirty Hands, Dirty Face” which was featured in 1927’s The Jazz Singer.” LW

As “the world’s first talking picture” LW The Jazz Singer, was a defining moment in cinematic history and Jolson’s career, but he made a name for himself beyond that movie. Born Asa Yoelson in St. Petersburg, Russia, Jolson grew up in Washington, D.C. and found success as a vaudeville performer. He first charted in 1912, but got off to a fast start. “You Made Me Love You” was only his fifth hit, but fourth #1. Over 35 years of chart success, he topped the chart 23 times. PM However, it was this song which “was identified with him for the rest of his career.” JA

William J. Halley had a #6 hit with his 1913 recording of the song. It also charted in 1940 (Bing Crosby, #25) and again in 1941 (Harry James, #5). Judy Garland covered it for the film The Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937) and Jolson tackled it again in his biopic The Jolson Story (1946). Doris Day sang it in 1955 for the Ruth Etting biopic Love Me or Leave Me. Jeanette MacDonald recorded the song in 1948, Patsy Cline gave it her touches in the 1950s, and Harry Nilsson put his spin on it in 1973.


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First posted 10/4/2014; last updated 9/6/2023.