Mr. Moderator

Mr. Moderator

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

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.

Nov 202020

Hey Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee?

I can’t meet a person named Luke – or talk to that same Luke for eternity – without thinking of this line from The Band classic “The Weight.” I’ve never met and may never meet an Anna Lee, so for me, the name Anna Lee does not count in this thread.

Is there a name in operation in your life – a name attached to people you actually meet – that you associate specifically with a particular line in a song?

This is NOT a Last Man Standing thread, so don’t start throwing out songs with names in them willy-nilly, like Maybelline. I may have to call bullshit on you if you tell me that you always think of the song “Maybelline” when you meet a Maybelline. If you really know a Maybelline, however, be my guest.

Nov 022020

It’s your busy Moderator here. Sorry I’ve been out of touch. Between a new job, real life (in general), and working on new music, it’s been hard to give time to the Hall that I’d like to give. For now, here’s an offering.

Oct 072020

As a young punk, when they emerged on the scene, I was never a fan of Van Halen. I thought Eddie Van Halen was a particularly evil force in terms of the downward spiral of popular aesthetics. Over time, however, I came to appreciate the band Van Halen, for their craftsmanship, for David Lee Roth’s comic swagger, and for the song “Jump,” the one Van Halen hit that barely features Eddie’s guitar wankery.

That said, I was sadder than I could have imagined when I saw the news that Eddie Van Halen died last night, at 65. He was a fierce adversary in my imagination. To be the best, we’ve got to beat the best. He was among the best in his field of practice, and I respect – and now miss – that.


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