Mr. Moderator

Mr. Moderator

When not blogging Mr. Moderator enjoys baseball, cooking, and falconry.

Dec 282020

I’m a bit of a prude when it comes to cursing, or swearing, as some call it. While raising our boys, I frequently stressed the importance of not cursing too liberally. I probably shared the following Dad Lesson with them 50 times through the years: An interviewee was cruising along toward a job offer, as I grilled her, when she casually dropped the word “shit” into one of her answers. In my mind, I thought, “Oh no, that’s a clear display of poor judgment in the professional world in which we work.” One of those giant canes from a burlesque-set cartoon came out and yanked her off the stage.

“But Dad,” they have told me at least 200 times, “you curse.”

“Yes, but usually that’s only when I’ve lost my temper or knocked over a glass of water.”

Each boy, at points, has played me a favorite song of theirs that I found a little too crude for comfort.

“But Dad,” they remind me, “you listen to songs with curse words and crude content. You make us watch movies with stuff like that.”

“Yes, but that’s in the service of the Truth. I’m fine with all sorts of things if it’s in the service of Art and Truth.”

It’s probably a pain in the ass, excuse my French, to be one of my sons.

I just got a note from an old friend, and for some reason my favorite curse-infested line from Public Enemy came to mind. I should have it cued up in the video I posted.

Elvis was a hero to most

But he never meant shit to me you see

Straight up racist that sucker was

Simple and plain

Motherfuck him and John Wayne

I have no evidence that Elvis or John Wayne deserved such a crude verse in “Fight the Power,” but in the middle of all that song’s fury, it perfectly meets my criteria for allowable, even necessary crudeness.

You are welcome to your own standards of crudeness – I know some of you to be real potty-mouths! What’s your favorite use of cursing in a song?

Dec 282020

I don’t know about you, but Christmas is a good time for receiving (and giving, to the appropriate loved ones) music-related gifts. Santa got me the Chris Frantz book, Remain in Love. I’ve been blowing through it. Frantz writes like he drums: direct, concise, and not afraid to land a hard accent when the content calls for it. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s good getting a totally unpretentious point of view on the typically pretentiously portrayed Talking Heads. To be fair, David Byrne was refreshingly down to earth when discussing the band in his excellent How Music Works book, which I read this summer.

Santa also got me Patti Smith‘s Year of the Monkey and what promises to be an incredibly pretentious book: Brian Eno: Visual Music. I haven’t gotten into it yet, but’s loaded with imagery that I assume is associated with Eno’s ambient music, and the text is in 3-point type. I’ll don’t often need my reading glasses, but I will in this case.

How about you? Any new music-related items in your household? Any music-themed gifts you gave your loved ones?

Dec 102020

I can only think of one example, but I trust you will keep this from being the shortest Last Man Standing ever! As there may be only one example of this phenomenon – a hit instrumental by an artist known for vocal-driven hits – I won’t prime the pump with an initial entry. I will say, however, that songs like The Beatles’ “Flying” DO NOT COUNT. Unless you can show me evidence of that instrumental charting in Nambia or wherever.

As always, don’t Bogart this thread. Please limit yourself to ONE ENTRY PER POST.

Dec 022020

Go ahead, call this Dad Rock. I dare you.

Let’s jam on it. What random topics are floating your boat in the homestretch of 2020?

Dec 012020
“Glory of love…”

I believe no song in Lou Reed‘s catalog better represents the hardships he overcame as a musician than “Coney Island Baby.” I wish there was video of the live version from Take No Prisoners, with the sincerely beautiful, painful, uncomfortable intro about wanting to play football for the coach, but this will have to do. It helps to have video evidence of the struggle simply playing rhythm guitar and singing was for Lou.

I’ve spent a lot of time through the years having a laugh over Lou Reed, but I love the man’s music and the awkward pathos he brought to rock ‘n roll. I think about the expenses that went into paying studio cats and the highly accomplished road warriors who made up his touring bands to put flourishes on the 4 chords Reed can barely muster playing on songs like “Coney Island Baby.” I think about the background singers who had to get paid to accompany his hectoring on the choruses. I think about how much effort went into this attempt at reaching out to The People, the way Bruce, The Boss, has been able to do since he ambled out of his mother’s womb. Does “Coney Island Baby” land as intended for all but a handful of even Lou’s most passionate fans? Probably not.

“Coney Island Baby” always hits the spot for me. We typically measure our heroes up by their greatest accomplishments, their “Sweet Jane,” their “Like a Rolling Stone.” Greatness can also be measured by an artist’s “missed landings.” I want to play football for the coach.

Is there a missed landing, an against all odds numbers by one of your favorite artists that does as much to demonstrate that artist’s greatness as their acknowledged classics?

Nov 252020

The other day must have been Diana Ross‘ birthday, or something, as our local AAA station played a block of her music, from The Supremes through the excellent “Upside Down” single she did with the Chic crew. The penultimate track in the block was a song that, when it started out, I’d forgotten about, “Love Hangover.” While driving around and digging this unexpected block, I turned up the volume once more and as this forgotten hit from my early teen years started up. Then it happened: the song suddenly shifted to a Why Bother? disco jam that never let up for the rest of the song. It kicks in about 90 seconds into this live version.

“Why bother,” those who like to dance may say, “because we like to dance, Cement Hips!” I don’t know, even if I could dance, what’s there to get out the tacked-on disco exercise that that song turns into. I might as well be strapped into a massage chair. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

It made me think of the classic Mel’s Rockpile episode on SCTV, where Richard Harris performed his new stylings on “MacArthur Park.” That bit said it all about the moment when disco went from a fun, innovative, cultural celebration to an impersonal Happy Ending.

Nov 242020

Perhaps a few of you also suffer from a “hard drive” cluttered with weird pop culture knowledge gathered from sudden dives into rabbit holes. I forget a lot of important things, I am pretty sure, because my brain retains so much pointless information that only interests me. Here’s the latest case in point.

I was watching this excellent episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show the other night, and in the middle of an already top-shelf episode involving the possible firing Sally or Buddy and Rob getting an offer from a puppet, who should show up but Laugh-In cast member and Philadelphia native Henry Gibson. I always get a kick out of that guy!

At the following point in the show, he stands up and recites a poem. For the next few days, I kept thinking, “Where have I heard that before?” See if it rings a bell for you.

Last night, while washing the dishes, out of nowhere, I finally made the connection…after the jump! It goes without saying that as soon as I finished my chore, I jumped down a rabbit hole and eventually forgot to tell my wife something important.


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