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- 07/16/15--06:00: _Modern Slang Words ...
- 07/22/15--20:46: _10 Underrated Rolli...
- 07/24/15--19:42: _The Day Agent Dale ...
- 08/01/15--13:23: _My Joan Moment
- 08/03/15--05:32: _Movie Review: John ...
- 08/05/15--14:21: _What'cha Talkin' 'B...
- 08/09/15--13:12: _Ten Favorite James ...
- 08/11/15--19:22: _A Special Thank You...
- 02/25/15--10:39: _Teaching An Old Tub...
- 08/17/15--18:10: _Sake To Me: Western...
- 08/18/15--20:15: _Five Reasons to Wat...
- 08/21/15--12:18: _Anti-Smoking Ads in...
- 08/24/15--18:40: _Why Harry Styles Is...
- 08/26/15--10:55: _Jack LaLanne's Word...
- 08/27/15--14:01: _10 Underrated Billy...
- 08/29/15--20:02: _Movie Review: I Lov...
- 09/04/15--12:55: _RIP Dr. Wayne Dyer
- 09/06/15--18:12: _Hot Ladies of Vinta...
- 09/09/15--12:48: _Chevrolet's Strange...
- 09/12/15--13:03: _Benny Hill's Hilari...
- 07/16/15--06:00: Modern Slang Words and Phrases I Can't Stand
- 07/22/15--20:46: 10 Underrated Rolling Stones Songs
- 07/24/15--19:42: The Day Agent Dale Cooper Walked Into My Gift Shop
- 08/01/15--13:23: My Joan Moment
- 08/03/15--05:32: Movie Review: John and Yoko: A Love Story (1985)
- 08/09/15--13:12: Ten Favorite James Bond Theme Songs
- 02/25/15--10:39: Teaching An Old Tube Some New Tricks
- Use it to store books or your DVD/CD collection
- Use it as a planter for those plants that don't require a lot of sunlight
- Use it as a toy box in a kid's room or to store board games
- 08/17/15--18:10: Sake To Me: Western Celebs in Bizarre Vintage Japanese Commercials
- 08/18/15--20:15: Five Reasons to Watch Inspector George Gently on PBS
- 08/21/15--12:18: Anti-Smoking Ads in the 1960s?
- 08/24/15--18:40: Why Harry Styles Is Not Mick Jagger
- 08/26/15--10:55: Jack LaLanne's Words of Wisdom on Being Happy
- 08/27/15--14:01: 10 Underrated Billy Joel Songs
- 08/29/15--20:02: Movie Review: I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968)
- 09/04/15--12:55: RIP Dr. Wayne Dyer
- 09/06/15--18:12: Hot Ladies of Vintage Auto Parts Advertising
- 09/12/15--13:03: Benny Hill's Hilarious Parodies of '60s Musicians
Modern culture will always be adding new words to the English vocabulary; that I can accept. After all, our parents and grandparents had to get accustomed to hearing words and phrases like "swell," "rad," "awesome," "that's a gas," "what's your bag," "far out," "psyche" and a multitude of others.
However, with the rise of texting and text speak I'm afraid we're truly dumbing down the English language. Words are getting chopped up, mixed with numbers, sliced, and diced, all because some people
Bros before hos
Referring to women as "hos" pretty much guarantees that you'll only be hanging with your bros.
Throwing some shade
I prefer my late father's old saying, "putting the whammy (evil eye) on someone."
How much effort is required from the muscles in the human mouth to say "let me"? Rilly, is dis how laze we b'comin?
It means OK. Who knew. Why not just say/text OK? Too lazy to locate the O button (that is right above the K?)
I leave you with that age old question that Paul Lynde and Dick Van Dyke pondered: what's the matter with kids today? Who can understand anything they say?
What about you? Are there any modern slang words and phrases that you can't stomach, or leave you scratching your head?
Yes, the Rolling Stones celebrated their 50th anniversary last year, but to me their career didn't truly begin until they released "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" 50 years ago this month. Prior to the hit's release, they failed to gain much of a following in the States and in fact, their first U.S. tour--in 1964--was a "disaster" according to Bill Wyman. (Maybe those pesky lads who called themselves the Beatles had something to do with it.)
Since then, the Stones have had little to worry about. While rediscovering a lot of their catalog during the past few weeks, I realized that I have many favorite Stones songs that could be considered underrated, and are often pushed aside on the radio in favor of "Jumping Jack Flash", "Paint It Black", and "Sympathy for the Devil", just to name a few. Not that there's anything wrong with those songs, but it would be nice to hear the ones I've listed below on Sirius a little more often (or maybe I'm just tuned into the wrong stations.)
With the exception of one track, none of these are considered deep cuts or rarities; I'm well aware that the Stones have oodles of such material notched on their recording bedpost, but these are the ones that I find kind of special for various reasons and consistently remind me that there's no other group like the Mick and the boys!
"Off the Hook" (1965)
A hooky (ha) little number from the Stones' second UK album, The Rolling Stones No. 2. I wonder how many younger people who grew up with mobile phones know what the expression "off the hook" means, but yes, there once was a time when it wasn't possible to reach everyone at every moment of the day. "Off the Hook" resurfaces briefly at the end of the music video for "She Was Hot."
"Yesterday's Papers" (1967)
This was the first song that Mick Jagger wrote without Keith Richards, and it turns out it was personally inspired as the song is about Chrissie Shrimpton, the sister of Jean, whom Jagger dated for a few years early in the band's career. One could say that it's considered the first sexist song the Stones released, as it paints a very negative portrayal of women by comparing them to something that can be thrown away, with the lead singer declaring, "it seems very hard to just have one girl, when there's a million in the world." (Newsflash for the new listeners of 1965: meet Mick Jagger; you ain't seen nothing yet.)
I happen to like it for its late '60s, psychedelic sound and Brian Jones' vibraphone work.
"Faraway Eyes" (1978)
I'm not a huge country fan, but even I can admit that there's something truly majestic about the honky tonk sound that the Stones occasionally dabble in; sometimes you swear you're hearing a tune by a backwoods Alabama band and not a British one. Mick does a great parody of a Southern accent on this track although something tells me that he isn't going to be saved by Jesus anytime soon.
"Emotional Rescue" (1980)
Rock and roll purists were none too pleased about their idols jumping into the disco craze, but you have to admit that Jagger's falsetto on this track can stand up to the Bee Gees and Prince anytime. (And side note to Adam Levine: this video, among so many others, proves that there's only one man in the world that has "the moves like Jagger" so quit it, already!)
"Undercover of the Night" (1983)
The '80s was not exactly kind to rock and roll as New Wave music took over the airwaves. Maybe that's why pretty much the entire album Undercover of the Night is an under appreciated effort by the Stones. I'd have to say that the title track is one of my favorite compositions by the band ever. Maybe the political message didn't resonate with listeners, but darned if that driving guitar rift doesn't, especially when it fades out and boomerangs back in. Just a fine rock and roll song, in my opinion.
"She Was Hot" (1983)
I've always said that the Beatles sang about love while the Rolling Stones sing about sex, and this song, like so many others, pretty much epitomizes that theory. A totally infectious, yummy tune also from Undercover of the Night, and the music video is 1980s hilarity at its best.
"One Hit to the Body" (1986)
The album Dirty Work marked kind of a dark time for the Glimmer Twins; Mick was focusing too much on his solo career which caused a lot of friction with Keith and the rest of the band. As a result, "One Hit to the Body" is basically a Keif composition and that's just fine with me.
"Harlem Shuffle" (1986)
Yes, it's a cover of a 1963 R&B song by Bob & Earl, but the Stones were able to take it to number 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart while the B&E version bottomed out at number 44 (although theirs is just as groovy and danceable.) Plus, I'm tickled by everything about the mid-80s video: the opening animation (and the fact that Mick is a cartoon cat), the Miami Vice-like neon set and colors, and costume design.
"Jump On Top of Me" (1994)
I'd like to thank my cool friend and fellow Stones fan Scott for introducing me to this rarity in the RS catalog; it's the B-side to the less exciting "You Got Me Rocking." "Jump On Top of Me" was more than worthy of being included on an album; instead it was used in a 1994 Robert Altman fashion parody movie called Pret-A-Porter (or Ready to Wear.) Mick may have been showing his age a bit here in the lyrics, alluding to a middle-aged married man who just wants his wife to forget about the household chores and give him a piece once in a while.
"Saint of Me" (1997)
Don't ever change, Mick.
What are your favorite Stones songs or ones you feel are underrated?
Fans of Twin Peaks know that the chewing gum they like is coming back into style -- the quirky David Lynch mystery series is being resurrected on Showtime next year, which will mark a quarter century since the show aired on ABC; Laura Palmer herself called it when she said, "I'll see you again in 25 years."
I was a fan of the show until about halfway through the second season; I think after a while I got fed up with the bizarreness (a creepy woman who converses with a log; a dancing midget who sounds like he's speaking backwards; a girl being absorbed by a piece of furniture; cryptic messages about owls, etc.) Yes, all of that curious strangeness is exactly what gave the series its huge cult following that exists today, but I guess you could say that after a while, Twin Peaks really wasn't my cup of tea. Or rather, my cup of coffee. Damn fine coffee.
You see, I did have one reason to keep watching the show week after week, secretly hoping it would eventually make sense, and that was Kyle MacLachlan as FBI Agent Dale Cooper. He was cute. He was quirky. He was cool...and he sure loved his coffee, cherry pie, or doughnuts. Yes, you could say I had a crush on both the character and the actor.
Then came the moment one day which was so surreal, it seems it was lifted straight from the show for me: a real-life Dale Cooper walked into the gift shop once of the hotel I worked at to put myself through college. The guy looked so much like him--right down to the white shirt, tie, trench coat, and dark, combed back hair. He was probably in his early 30s. But more than that, he acted like him.
He quickly nodded at me, and smiled and said hello when he came into the gift shop. Then he looked at the collection of Hanes men's undershirts we sold, for guests who forgot to bring them, and after making a comment about them, added in a sort of rapid fire tone, "Very good idea. Very smart."
I half-expected him to whip out his handheld mini tape recorder at that point and say into it, "Diane, I'm at the Andover Marriott. Make a note of this...the gift shop sells underwear! Oh, and the lobby coffee is damn fine coffee. And the gift shop girl is cute. I think I'd like to stay here again the next time I'm investigating up this way...as long as the room service menu includes cherry pie."
And...that was it. We may have exchanged another word or two before he existed the gift shop and become just a blip of my memory. To this day I don't know why I didn't try to engage him in more conversation...such as asking where he was from, why he was in the area, and if he was a Twin Peaks fan. Actually, I do know why...I was 19 years old and still shy and unsure of myself around guys. The 43 year-old me wants to go back to that moment, enter my 19 year-old self (after smacking her on the head), and chat with him.
Was it the law of attraction that manifested this mysterious dude right in front of me? I have wondered about it. Or it may have just been an eerie coincidence.
And something tells me David Lynch would love this story.
Have you ever encountered someone who appeared to embody a fictional character or celebrity?
Those who have been reading Go Retro for a while know that I usually keep personal issues off the site unless something is affecting me deeply. I had every intention of getting a new retro-related post up this weekend--because writing for me is therapy--however, I really couldn't focus on the topic and decided that getting a few things off my chest may clear the air for me, help me feel better, and move on.
First of all, was there something in the air last month (July)? Was it the full blue moon last night? This was a horrible month, not only for me but for many people I know. In the past week, I've heard nothing about really bad news. The sudden death of someone's parent. A relative's health problems. A friend finding out she is being forced to retire. And that story about Cecil the Lion's death that keeps revolving online and in the media.
My mother had triple bypass surgery this past Monday. The good news is, she's now doing extremely well and may be coming home from the hospital tomorrow (I live with my mother, for those who do not know. While it is not an arrangement I'd ever thought I'd still be in at my age, she's 85 and I provide her with financial support and a lot of help around the house.)
It's been a rough couple of weeks for her and my siblings. She had to have several tests and a few issues cleared up first before they could perform the surgery, and she pretty much went through hell on a few days. It's been very stressful learning her diagnosis day by day, running back and forth to the hospital, dealing with a never ending parade of phone calls, and trying to keep the household humming nicely. But fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and she sounded like her old self on the phone with me earlier today.
The other disheartening situation for me is that a new friendship died abruptly on me the other night. While I understand this person's situation and reason for having to end all contact with me, I'm still not quite over the loss yet. It was a punch in the gut, to be honest. This person was special to me. We emailed each other on a daily basis and had an amazing connection and mutual chemistry--the first I've experienced with someone in years--and it's still painful for me to come to terms with the fact that I'm probably never going to hear from this person ever again, even though I mentioned to them that my door will always be open and available to them if their life changes. I do feel there was a reason we were in each other's lives and the outcome will ultimately benefit both of us; I just never anticipated that it would end so quickly. My appetite has taken a dive and I'm struggling to get enough sleep. In fact, while lying down just now trying to take a nap, my heart area felt heavy--like something was on it. There's no denying it: right now, my heart is broken, only surgery can't repair it like my mother's. The only thing that can is a little time.
So where am I going with all this? A sympathetic friend told me to remember Joan Holloway in the finale of Mad Men (and no, I'm still not over the series going off the air.) Her lover broke up with her, after he initially said he was going to try to make things work despite finding out she had a little boy. She was also dealing with the loss of her job after a sexual harassment filled tug-and-war. Joan picked herself up and sauntered on, launching her own business from her dining room. I guess it's what I have to do, too. I've mentioned before about having bigger plans for Go Retro. Maybe now's the time to start thinking about a layout refresh and changes to the site.
This friend reminded me how Joan has style, didn't compromise herself with Richard, and is a strong lady and inspirational. Honestly, it's the best compliment/comparison I could receive right now.
It's still a little hard to feel the positive vibes right now and focus on what is working in my life, but I really have no choice. So stay tuned, Go Retro readers.
Musician biopics run the gamut from the very good (Ray) to the very awful (Daydream Believers: The Monkees Story). Most of them follow a formula...a rags to riches story with the usual early childhoods struggles and setbacks achieving fame, then a period of addiction to (insert your choice of drugs, alcohol, porn, or any combination of these) followed by a career fall and finally, redemption...or sometimes death.
But when I came across a 1985 television movie on YouTube called John and Yoko: A Love Story, strangely enough, I was not skeptical. I'd never heard of the film and don't remember it airing on American television (despite uncovering a New York Times review of it) and I have to surmise that it was a British production. It also has an off-kilter running time for American TV screens: without commercials, it's almost two and a half hours.
Obviously, John and Yoko: A Love Story chronicles the relationship of Lennon and Ono...one of rock and roll's most notorious couples and soulmate pairings. The film also shows quite a bit of the breakdown of the Beatles, as Lennon met Yoko in the mid-60s and the group officially disbanded in 1970. It even includes a young, pre-Doctor Who Peter Capaldi as George Harrison declaring his famous line to Paul during the recording of Let It Be, "I'll play whatever you want me to play, or I won't play at all." And keep your eyes peeled for an uncredited cameo by Austin Powers himself, Mike Myers.
The main reason this movie worked for me is the marvelous casting: Mark McGann as John Lennon and Kim Miyori as Yoko Ono are probably two of the closest actors chosen to play the Beatle and his wife. McGann in particular hails from Liverpool and has portrayed Lennon on stage for decades. Not only does he look like Lennon, and speak like Lennon, but he sings very much like Lennon. It took me a few seconds to figure out that it's McGann singing "Imagine" over the opening credits. He also has that same sense of humor brimming beneath the surface as evident by the wiggle in his eyebrows and glint in his eyes. No, it's not a perfect match, but it's close--thwarting a problem that is common to celebrity movie biographies.
Not that it matters, but much less effort was put into casting the other members of the Beatles. The actor playing Paul McCartney--Kenneth Price--looks like your everyday cute soap opera actor of the era without sharing a single facial feature with the musician he's portraying. Phillip Walsh doesn't resemble Ringo and the wide eyed Capaldi, even with being slapped with an oversized mustache, doesn't look much like Harrison, although he does give the best side eyes and snarky remarks when John begins bringing Yoko into the studio.
The scene in the art gallery where he first meets Yoko as she's preparing her exhibit the day before it opens plays out exactly the way I've always pictured it. Lennon is bemused and fascinated by Yoko's avant-garde art pieces and impressed by her positivity (viewing the simple word "yes" on the ceiling through a magnifying glass.) He wants to hammer a nail into one of her interactive pieces, but she balks because it will ruin it before it's open to the public, so she asks him to pay money first at which he replies he'll hammer an imaginary nail into the piece. Yoko was impressed with his sense of humor, despite having no clue who he was. (Hint, ladies: if you want to land a date with a rock star, just pretend you haven't the slightest idea who he is. This cluelessness card was also played by Pattie Boyd when she first met George Harrison.)
Yoko sends letters to John while he's off on the Beatles' Indian retreat ("Look up in the sky. When you see a cloud, think of me," writes Yoko.) Their affair begins after a few more meetings when he returns to England. A post-coital Lennon declares, "There's no looking back, you know. This is it." Both divorce their spouses, Yoko fights her first husband for custody of her daughter Kyoto, and the press gets worked into a frenzy. From there, they get married and Lennon sheds his "Beatle John" persona for that of husband and eventually, father.
My fellow Beatles fans won't learn anything new from watching this movie; most of us know about John and Yoko's relationship and marriage ups and downs. One thing I didn't know is that Ono suffered from two miscarriages before becoming a mother to Sean in the mid-70s. A major criticism of the film is that it was made with Ono's close cooperation. That means, of course, that some details were changed or omitted to present her in a more favorable light. I noticed a portrayal of a strong relationship between Lennon, Ono, and his first son, Julian, in the late '70s when in reality, Julian Lennon says he didn't get along with his stepmom at all. But Ono did allow Lennon's songs to be used throughout the production, which isn't a bad thing, and it's awfully nice to hear a good portion of so many Lennon compositions being sung by someone with close vocals.
Lennon's "lost weekend" period is highlighted in the movie, preceded by his blatant infidelity in front of Ono which is what prompted the separation in the first place. It concludes with the 1974 Madison Square Garden concert he performed with Elton John where he reunited with Yoko backstage.
A lot of people forget that celebrities are ordinary people like all of us, so it was kind of nice that the filmmakers threw in some scenes between John and his aunt Mimi, who chides his long hair and bearded appearance, and his introduction to Yoko's parents (turns out they liked him.)
I was dreading the end of the movie for obvious reasons. Fortunately, the filmmakers handle it the softest way they could, with a freeze-frame shot of Lennon being confronted by his murderer before the credits roll. For a made-for-television movie, this one was well done, well acted, and a lot more satisfying than the usual fairy tale puffery presented on Lifetime and Hallmark.
You can view the movie here on YouTube.
Much has been written online about the creepy Diff'rent Strokes "Bicycle Man" episode -- like the episode of Too Close for Comfort where Monroe was kidnapped and raped by a woman and a transvestite, "The Bicycle Man" seems to have taken on a life of its own. I'll try, however, to maybe add my own thoughts about this "very special episode" which I watched for the first time on Video Dailymotion last night (some parts of it were removed from YouTube for copyright violation.)
I've mentioned on Go Retro before how fascinating it is to me that many situation "comedies" of the 1980s would occasionally cover a controversial topic to try to teach the viewer some moral lessons all within 23 minutes -- such as Punky Brewster being bullied into trying drugs or Carol Seever's boyfriend dying after a drunk driving accident in Growing Pains. These "very special episodes" as they would come to be labeled, are part of the reason my TV generation fondly remembers these shows decades after they originally aired. Can the same be said for many current sitcoms such as Modern Family or Two Broke Girls? Today's cowardly television writers would never take a chance on such heavy stuff.
However, of all of the 1980s sitcoms, it seems those pesky Drummond kids managed to get themselves into trouble the most! Let me just copy and paste a key sentence on Wikipedia about the icky topics that Diff'rent Strokes addressed during its 8-season run: "Diff'rent Strokes featured some very special episodes that involved child molestation, child pornography, pedophilia, hitchhiking, kidnapping, epileptic seizure, bullies, racism, bulimia, drunk driving and drug abuse."
I have quite a bit of catching up to do on these very special episodes but as I mentioned, last night I delved into the "Bicycle Man" episode, co-starring Gordon Jump of of WKRP in Cincinnati and Maytag Man fame. He plays the owner of a bicycle shop who gets close -- too close -- to Arnold and his friend Dudley by luring them with ice cream, pizza, and...wine. He also has Dudley remove his shirt before conducting a photo shoot (commenting on his physique and patting his back), introduces the boys to porn via a girlie magazine and a cartoon, then tells Dudley (after Arnold wisely takes off) about a game he has planned for him that involves the shower called Neptune, King of the Sea.
Diff'rent strokes, indeed.
In the two part episode Jump plays Mr. Horton, the owner of a bicycle shop that the Drummonds regularly rent bikes from. After Mr. Horton advises Mr. Drummond that he could save money by just buying bikes, Arnold begs for a bicycle of his own. Mr. Drummond gives in, saying that he'll get it for Arnold's birthday. Mr. Horton tells Arnold that if he can help get the word out about a sale the shop is running, he'll throw in a free radio for his new set of wheels.
Arnold recruits the help of his friend, Dudley, and eventually the two of them discover Mr. Horton's apartment at the back of his bicycle shop, filled with video games, toys, and treats. (Arnold discovers it first. "You know something Arnold, I like you. I really like you. You and I are going to have a lot of good times together," says Mr. Horton to the boy after making him a banana split.) Events escalate with the boys being introduced to alcohol, porn, and pictures of Mr. Horton skinny dipping with other kids. (He tells the kids his nickname is Curly; maybe it should be Horny Horton.) He has a secret hole in the wall where he can view who's in the shop--I found this detail to be the scariest, for some reason, especially the scene where he spies Arnold and Dudley waiting in the shop wearing yellow slickers.
Eventually, Arnold confessed to Mr. Drummond what's been going on, who contacts the police and discovers a dazed and drugged Dudley in Mr. Horton's apartment, just moments away from being diddled. The episode concludes with Mr. Drummond and one of the detectives explaining to Arnold that kids often get blamed for these situations, and that no one is allowed to touch someone where they don't want to be touched.
One of the first things I noticed about this episode were the colorful lines which may or may not have been intended as double entendres:
"What's that old saying? You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."
"This sounds like a job for Captain banana split." (pointing at himself)
"You like bananas, don't you?"
"We'll make this a three dipper job here."
"Chocolate sauce, huh?"
"I'll bet you're a whipped cream man."
Arnold: "My tongue is faster than a hummingbird's wings"
Arnold: "I'm back for another load."
The second uneasy detail I noticed was the audience's reactions to inappropriate moments in both parts, such as when we see a close up of the girlie mag in Mr. Horton's hand before he sneaks it into a pile of comic books on his coffee table. More laughter ensues at the boys' reactions and quips made about seeing pictures of naked ladies for the first time and the cartoon involving a frisky mouse. I will admit that as uncomfortable as the topic presented is, even I felt amusement by Arnold's and Dudley's reactions to experiencing porn for the first time. What is unsettling, however, is that you can hear what sounds like children's giggles mixed in with the adults.
To be fair, the laughter was probably from a laugh track and not a live audience--the episode aired in February 1983 during the show's fifth season; I could only find info online that confirmed season 7 was filmed in front of a live studio audience. But given the seriousness of the topic at hand (as indicated by Conrad Bain introducing each part with a "heads up - this is a heavy episode!") speech, perhaps it would have been best to leave out the laughter all together.
I will say that Jump's portrayal of a disgusting kiddie rapist here is a standout performance; you can totally picture him delivering all of his lines in a scary clown costume, especially when juggling, singing, and hamming it up in front of the boys.
I've probably said on here before that for me personally, the '80s were the era that ended childhood innocence. For several years my friends and I always felt comfortable going someplace in the neighborhood by ourselves without phones and any way for our parents to contact us. I'd ride my bicycle to a friend's house and we'd walk down a few streets to get ice cream and were never scared. After Adam Walsh was kidnapped and his body discovered without his head, however, our world changed a little bit for the worse. I'd have to surmise that that incident rubbed off on TV producers and writers as well which spawned so many worst-case scenarios for viewers.
Would this episode hold up today? Well, it would never be aired on television today and it if were, would most likely involve Mr. Horton conversing with Arnold and Dudley online and via social media. I wonder if it was ever shown in classrooms in the '80s.
As for that pervert Mr. Horton, we can probably assume he ended up in the same prison as "Bill", a creepy character from another Diff'rent Strokes very special episode, "The Hitchhikers." Stay tuned for an assessment of that two-parter!
Watch part 1 and part 2 of "The Bicycle Man."
Although the release of the new James Bond flick Spectre is only three months away, we still don't know yet who will be recording the title song, although rumors indicate that it's probably Ellie Goulding or Radiohead. In the meantime, however, because I'm getting so psyched about this movie, I've been listening to a lot of previous Bond title songs that have played out over the opening graphics through the decades. And you know what? There's something special about James Bond theme songs!
Bond may be the only movie franchise that puts considerate care into its title song compositions. Each one alludes to the man himself and is often sweeping and memorable. Like the cars he drives and the villains he must outwit, the Bond film title songs are always different yet connect a theme of mystery, sexiness, and excitement. So, with that description in mind, here are my top ten Bond theme songs.
1. "Goldfinger" (1964) by Shirley Bassey
Believe it or not, I watched Goldfinger for the first time just a few weeks ago--and quickly realized why it is considered one of the best, if not the best, films in the Bond franchise among fans. Besides bringing together several classic elements that would become known as a Bond recipe for success -- his car, gadgets, exotic locations, a relentless villain and henchman -- we're also treated to Shirley Bassey's magnificent, knee quaking vocals over the opening sequence. This was the first Bond movie where the theme song was actually used during the introductory credits, while scenes from the film are projected onto a gold-painted woman's body. The creative graphics and use of music would set the stage for every Bond film thereafter.
And although the lyrics are describing the bad guy, don't you think they were really referring to Bond himself? (After all, what woman would really fall for Auric Goldfinger?)
2. "Thunderball" (1965) by Tom Jones
There are two interesting tidbits about this song. First, Jones nearly fainted in the sound booth while recording this number: "I closed my eyes and I held the note for so long when I opened my eyes the room was spinning," he said. And because of that close call, the song deserves some respect.
Second, the original title was supposed to be "Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" after an Italian journalist gave that nickname to Bond. I think you'll agree that "Thunderball" was a much better choice.
3. "You Only Live Twice" (1967) by Nancy Sinatra
Yeah, this song was put back on a lot of people's radars after it was used in Mad Men -- but there are two versions of the song that exist; the Asian-flavored one that is used in the film, and a record release. I haven't looked up the alternate version yet, but the original movie track proved to be more popular on the radio. And it's kind of nice to hear Nancy Sinatra singing about love and living twice instead of walking all over a guy in her boots.
4. "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971) by Shirley Bassey
Because you can never go wrong with Shirley Bassey singing a Bond title song. She would return yet again in 1979 to also sing "Moonraker."
5. "Live and Let Die" (1973) by Paul McCartney and Wings
Paul McCartney only sings silly love songs, right? Just three years after the demise of the Beatles, Macca gave us this rocker, which he still performs in concert -- complete with smoky explosions and a laser light show. An interesting tidbit about "Live and Let Die" is that producer Harry Saltzman originally wanted Shirley Bassey or Thelma Houston to record the song, but McCartney insisted that he would only allow it to be used in the film if he and Wings were able to perform it. Saltzman had turned down the chance to produce A Hard Day's Night a decade earlier and remembering that misstep, wisely decided to let Paul and his band own the song. McCartney says the composition did not come easily to him like many tunes as he was writing around a title. I'd say he did a pretty good job.
6. "The Man With the Golden Gun" (1974) by Lulu
It's a tough act to follow one of the Beatles, which is probably a reason why this song is mostly forgotten as far as Bond themes go. However, I think it's catchy, underrated, and I love its '60s feel.
7. "Nobody Does It Better" (1977) by Carly Simon
This is probably the one theme song that makes me swoon more than any other. Bond movie aside, I just think it's one of the best love songs ever written...one of those breath taking, sexy compositions that makes you ponder why nobody seems to be writing music like this anymore. Written by Marvin Hamlisch for The Spy Who Loved Me, it was the first Bond movie title song since Dr. No that deviated from the actual title, although "the spy who loved me" is among the lyrics. It also received an Academy Award nomination and was voted by the American Film Institute as one of the greatest songs to ever be used in a film.
8. "For Your Eyes Only" (1981) by Sheena Easton
Sort of a companion love song to "Nobody Does It Better", I've always loved this one. This may also be the only Bond film where the singer performing the theme is part of the opening credits.
9. "A View to a Kill" (1985) by Duran Duran
It's hard to believe, but so far this is the only Bond theme song that made it to number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It helped that Duran Duran were one of the biggest, most popular groups among my generation when the movie was released, and I remember the song receiving constant airplay at the time. Supposedly John Taylor approached Bond producer Cubby Broccoli at a party and asked him, "When are you going to get someone decent to do one of your theme songs?" I still remember watching the neon-accented women in the opening sequence in the movie theater.
10. "The World Is Not Enough" (1999) by Garbage
Did you know that Garbage is still together? I haven't heard any new songs of theirs in years, which is probably a reason why I find this theme song memorable.
The song is sung by the point of view of the bad Bond girl in this movie, Elektra King, who turns out to be the mastermind behind the villain's plot to steal the world of its oil supply.
Says composer David Arnold, "Part of the reason I thought Garbage would be such a good idea [for the theme song], is that I think Shirley Manson is someone who could easily inhabit Bond's world. The whole thing about the song is that it needs to entice you, and beckon you in. Shirley is the only person I can think of in the world of contemporary music who is the musical equivalent of Elektra. It is as important as casting the characters – getting the right voice and right attitude for the song."
And that's a quote that applies nicely to all of the Bond songs. All will be reviewed soon, I'm sure, regarding Spectre.
What are your favorite Bond theme songs?
I'm a little late in mentioning this but last month, REBEAT Magazine celebrated its first birthday! Over the past 12 months I've written 13 pieces for the site and I've been extremely grateful for the opportunity to contribute to such a fine publication and be among a fantastic roster of talented writers.
However, I was floored when I read the Staff Picks column several of us contributed to, mentioning our favorite REBEAT features from the past year. There's an expectation when you're a writer that you're not going to receive feedback on your content and indeed, there are many times where it feels like no one is reading your site.
Well, I was surprised in a pleasant way to see my name come up several times by other members of the REBEAT staff in the column. One gentleman in particular (and a contributing REBEAT writer thanks to my mention of it on this blog) had this say which nearly brought tears to my eyes:
'I want to refer to Pam Sosnowski’s work. I’ve never met, talked to, or even emailed Pam, but I have been a great admirer of her exceptional work on Go Retro for years. Last summer, she mentioned there that she had done a piece called “Paul is Alive… Kiss Him, Kiss Him,” for a new magazine named REBEAT. That brought me here, and what a wonderful world I discovered! I contacted Allison a few weeks later and asked if she’d be interested in any contributions I could make, and by early August I’d signed on and my first piece came out in early September.
Along the way, I’ve read a lot of articles that made me think, “I wish I’d written that.” The disco demolition piece by Pam was another great one, and I also loved her “Why David Bowie didn’t Want to Sing with Bing Crosby.”'
I didn't realize that there was a president of my personal fan club out there, but I'd like to thank this person from the bottom of my heart. He knows who he is. Thank you!
While REBEAT was celebrating its first birthday last month, Go Retro was celebrating its 8th, believe it or not. July 8, 2007 was my first post and nearly 1,000 posts later, I'm still at it. (It frightens me to look at the craptacular early posts of those first few years, as I was still finding my voice on this site.)
Why do I post here on Go Retro and on its Facebook page? Because it's fun. It isn't that I'm trying to be a show-off or a know-it-all with my posts (I swear, it's not.) It's because I like entertaining people and sharing amusing/interesting content that hopefully brings back warm and fuzzy memories for most people.
So I would to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has ever posted a comment, whether here or on the Facebook page, and/or dropped me an email to let me know how much they enjoy the site, or how much a particular post resonated with them, or just to compliment my writing. Several fans I've even become Facebook friends with. You know who you all are--and I want to let you all know how grateful I am for that contact, because it has helped keep me going here for 8 years and has inspired me to step it up a notch.
A blog doesn't exist without its readers. I'm thankful that I have some great ones.
Vintage television sets pose a conundrum for the retro lover: they are awfully cool to look at, but require some finagling with a converter box and cables to make them functional in today's high-tech world...that is, if their cathode ray tube is still working.
But if you have no intention of watching programs on your set or are unable to, you don't have to recycle it or throw it away. It turns out that there are several cool things you can do with a vintage TV that will add some retro grooviness and a conversation piece to your digs.
1. Retro Style Wet Bar
For starters, I love this bar idea that a friend on Pinterest spotted and sent to me. The owner added some fabric or decorative paper to the inside of the tube, and the martini glasses and swizzle sticks are a nice touch. I'll drink to that!
2. Pet Bed
|Image via HausPanther|
This requires one of those sets that was built into a stand and looks like a piece of furniture by itself. An awesome conversion, although this "chair" may only hold a small child or a very skinny adult. Again, love the shag cushioning!
4. Fish Tank
|Image via Aquahobby|
Here's some other decorating ideas I thought of for old television sets:
It's no secret that the Japanese are big fans of Western celebrities, which means their commercials that feature them are often unapologetically starstruck, melodramatic, and sometimes a little weird -- and that makes them more entertaining than the usual bland American commercial spots. Here's a smattering of commercials that hail from the land of the rising sun featuring American and British stars. Some may make you wonder how desperate these famous folks were for the cash, but I give a huge pass to one, because his commercial is too awesome to be true (hint: it's at the end.)
Leonardo DiCaprio for Honda
I remember this Honda Civic hatchback, and it was a cute little car, although I think it would be a stretch to declare that the ride "feels like a jet." Maybe young Leo just didn't have that many years of driving experience under his belt yet.
Arnold Schwarzenegger for Aluminum V
I have no idea what's going on in this commercial or what they're saying, but the maniacal look and sound of Arnold Schwarzenegger laughing will forever haunt my dreams. That must be some energy drink.
Arnold Schwarzenegger for Nissin Cup Noodles
The Japanese sure are big Arnold fans. The commercials in this compilation get progressively stranger.
Hulk Hogan for Some Air Conditioning Company
A shirtless Hulk Hogan serenades a baby with a nursery rhyme. Amazing.
Brad Pitt for Edwin Denim
I may be one of the only females on earth who doesn't find Brad Pitt attractive. Somehow, his order to look at his denim-covered derrier in this commercial doesn't change my mind.
John Travolta for Tokyo Drink
All three commercials scream 1980s, but it defies logic why John Travolta is dressed like a police officer in the second spot...perhaps he had just come from a Hill Street Blues audition?
Dennis Hopper for Tsumura
Dennis Hopper in a bathtub laughing at a rubber ducky -- what a letdown. He should be promoting PABST BLUE RIBBON!
Sean Connery for Yogurt and Suntory Whiskey
Did I really just watch Sean Connery singing about yogurt with a helium-voiced puppet bunny and driving up to a gigantic carton of yogurt? Yes, I'm afraid I did and so did you.
As for as the ponderous Suntory whiskey spot...I thought Bond preferred martinis, shaken and stirred.
Roger Moore for Lark Cigarettes
Another Bond pitched cigarettes in this 007-inspired commercial that is more like a drawn out short film than an advertisement.
Ringo Starr for Some Brand of Apple Juice
John Lennon said that when he first met Yoko Ono the only member of the Beatles she was familiar with was Ringo, because his name was Japanese for apple. Flash forward to the '90s, and the Japanese seized the coincidence and opportunity to have Ringo hawk apple juice. (Of course Ringo is Japan's favorite Beatle. The Japanese didn't want Paul McCartney after he brought pot into their country.) Ringo is no stranger to commercials both of the American and Japanese variety and speaking of strange, have you ever seen his ads for Simple Life? See below -- today's your lucky day!
Ringo Starr for Simple Life
Believe it or not, these spots were for a leisure suit company, tipped by the jingle "I Love My Suit" as sung by Ringo...even though he's not actually wearing a suit in a few of the spots. I suppose the UFO is an homage to Starr's latest album at the time, Goodnight Vienna. Or maybe someone was just using drugs.
Orson Welles for Nikka and G&G Whiskey
Welles' commercials for whiskey are unintentionally hilarious to me, thanks to these outtakes I wrote about a while back that showed the legendary actor at his tipsiest while trying to film his infamous Paul Masson wine ads. I wonder how many takes it took to get the whiskey promos perfect.
Charles Bronson for Mandom After Shave
Move over, Brad Pitt. The real man has arrived.
Without a doubt, this commercial is clearly the best of the lot here -- 1970s machismo at its best, starring a king of 1970s machismo himself, Charles Bronson. I can't smell the Mandom after shave in the ad, but I can sure smell the testosterone.
What's not to love here? You have a song with the lyrics "all the world loves a lover" playing in the background and Bronson driving a fast machine back to his apartment after relaxing in a lounge. At his apartment overlooking the city lights he grabs a pipe, removes his shirt (with a flourish, by tossing it playfully into the air), grabs one of way-too-many bottles of Mandom from his bathroom and then douses on enough for all members of the Magnificent Seven! The application of the Mandom is interspersed with images of a kick-ass Bronson shooting a gun and riding a horse.
While my stomach turned a little watching Bronson showering this stuff on (I'm not a fan of artificial fragrances and perfume/cologne in general), a male commenter on YouTube assures us that Mandom (it's still being made today) has "a very citrusy scent with a punch of airport, and a nice kick of leather at the end." There are more rave reviews about it on Amazon...perhaps this old '70s commercial is still converting browsers into buyers.
BONUS...since first posting this article I also uncovered a second commercial Bronson did for Mandom, in which he catches a fish with his bare hands. You're welcome!
If you like the '60s, and you like British detective series, then you definitely want to give Inspector George Gently on PBS a try. My local PBS station has recently started airing older episodes of this fine show again, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the latest season that was shown in the UK earlier this year will finally see the light of day here in the States by the time the leaves are falling off the trees.
Inspector George Gently (or GG as I like to call it) follows the familiar British formula of pairing up a seasoned detective with a younger one, but the show is often grittier than the likes of Midsomer Murders, Inspector Lewis, and Grantchester (and it can also be wittier.) The Durham, Northumberland, and Tyne and Ware areas of Northern England serve as the filming locations for the show, lending both their lush, rolling countrysides and hardscrabble working class neighborhoods as settings. And if the presence of cigarettes in Mad Men made you uncomfortable, then you haven't seen anything yet if you haven't watched George Gently! (Not to worry about the actors' lungs; herbal cigarettes are used during filming as confirmed by lead actor Lee Ingleby.)
I got hooked on this program a few years ago and love it so much, I launched both a Facebook page and Twitter account for fans of the series last year because the BBC had dropped the ball on giving it the proper social media attention it deserves. What's amazing is that GG's fan base runs the gamut from teenage girls who are crushing on Lee Ingleby (he IS cute, after all, and looks like one of the Beatles in this show or at least, like he could be a fifth Beatle with his mop of dark hair and mod looking, sleek suits) to ladies a good 20 years older than myself who have crushed on the other lead, Martin Shaw, ever since he starred in another British police drama in the 1970s, called The Professionals, in which he played a dishy, leather jacket-clad law enforcer worthy of a "hubba hubba" from me. (I haven't see any episodes yet of The Professionals, but it looks like a stellar example of 1970s television machismo...a favorite word lately.)
And the fans hail from all over the globe...not just the UK and the U.S., but Germany, Australia, Argentina, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, to name the first few countries on the Insights section of the Facebook fan page. Of course, men adore this show, too.
I'm going to give you five good reasons why these fans and I are Gentlymaniacs (for lack of a better term) and why you may become one, too!
1. The Lead Actors' Chemistry
So, I've already brought up the leads' names, Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby. Shaw plays George Gently, formerly in the British military and now a detective pushing his retirement years, who loses his beautiful Italian wife in the pilot episode after she is run down by a gangster. His partner, Detective (and later, Detective Inspector) John Bacchus is younger, sometimes immature, and becomes increasingly mouthy as the series progresses. Both men are dealing with personal problems -- Gently soothes the loss of his wife sometimes with drinking, and Bacchus is in a loveless marriage, to a woman he felt forced to marry because he got her pregnant. He later gets a divorce a few seasons into the show.
I've seen a few viewers on Twitter vent about how much they don't like "that bloody Bacchus." They think he's hot-headed, a homophobe, has questionable interrogation and investigating techniques and is chauvanistic (in other words, a douchebag) -- and sometimes he is -- but I view him as a sympathetic character not just because of his home life, but also his upbringing, which we gain a little insight into during season six. He can also be very funny with his dialogue. I admit it: I love him.
Gently and Bacchus don't always agree on everything and sometimes get into heated arguments over how a case should be handled, but Gently becomes a kind of father figure to the younger detective, eventually guiding him morally, and their bond grows visibly stronger over time.
Needless to say, Shaw and Ingleby get along great offscreen (they are both born under the sign of Aquarius, so maybe that has something to do with it.) As you can see from this clip below, they joke around a lot in between filming...and that chemistry seems to translate nicely when the camera actually is rolling.
2. The Stellar Writing of This Show
GG doesn't sugarcoat the turbulent times of the '60s decade; the series has dealt with racism, homophobia, and workers' rights as well as the usual uncomfortable topics of murder, rape, incest, kidnapping, business cover-ups, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Some of the episodes are so well written and acted that they stuck with me long after I finished watching them. One of these was "Gently Northern Soul", in which Bacchus went undercover at a dance hall and fell for a young black woman whose brother was murdered. Another was "The Lost Child" where viewers learned how mean Bacchus's father is to him and the twisted sense of humor his mother had while he was growing up. Although the title alludes to a missing baby, I felt that it was also a metaphor for Bacchus's sad childhood.
3. The Humor
Yes, despite its heavy topics the show has some humor...with most of the laughs coming at Bacchus' expense. One of the funniest moments was when Bacchus joined the Freemasons (above) to appease his father-in-law, who was also a member. They dressed him in a half shirt and put a noose around his neck, then later blindfolded him and made him take an oath to stay a member or otherwise, face death in a creepy initiation ceremony.
Then there was the time Bacchus fought Gently in the ring in a boxing match. Gently obviously still works out and has some seriously impressive guns for a 70-something. Bacchus has...well, you can see the photo below for some comparison. Let's just say it was a really quick match...
4. The Show is Based On A Book Series
Just as Ian Fleming created James Bond, George Gently was created by an author in the 1950s named Alan Hunter. The first Gently novel, Gently Does It, was published in 1955. For the next 40 years Hunter would publish another novel in the series pretty much on an annual basis. Many of the show's episodes are based on the story lines of the books, although I've heard from readers that Bacchus' presence is toned down as is his sometimes antiquated view of the world.
Sadly, Hunter never got to see his work get adapted onto the small screen. He passed away in 2005, two years before season one of Inspector George Gently premiered.
5. The Cool '60s Cars, Clothing, and Music
In my opinion, most TV shows that take place in the 1960s put too much of a focus on the clothing and sets and not the substance. Thankfully, GG gives us an intelligent show first accompanied by the right amount of the groovy '60s atmosphere as found in the costume design, automobiles, and sets. Bacchus also never passes up a moment to ogle a girl wearing a miniskirt.
As far as the music used on the show, none of the tunes in earlier seasons are familiar to me, so I'm guessing they were written especially for the series to avoid copyright issues or they are deep cuts by lesser known artists of the decade. Either way, they aren't bad (certainly not as bad as fabricated songs I've heard in movies and other shows) so A for effort in that area. (Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" IS used during the seventh season, however.)
If I've piqued your interest, check your local PBS listings for information on Inspector George Gently and when you may be able to view it. GG's seventh season which aired in the UK this spring may very well be its last (which is another reason I had to write about this show), but you still have plenty of enticing episodes to catch up on. I think you'll dig it!
Here's the BBC TV promo for the seventh season:
I found these great ads on Flickr (all except for the color one, which was on Pinterest) credited to a user named smashingbird. This is the first time I've ever seen anti-smoking advertisements from the '60s, although I'm sure others probably exist out there if I looked hard enough. It's interesting to notice that they were produced in the UK -- the money saved by not smoking cigarettes is listed in pounds.
Other than that, I could find very little about the ad campaign other that the fact it was launched in 1967. Obviously the ads are aimed at the young, mod, swinging crowd with the message that you can save a lot of dough by not smoking that you can instead spend on shopping (so basically, trading one addiction for another...ha) and having fun. The fact that you're also saving your health is mentioned as an afterthought but nonetheless, it shows that the attitude towards cigarettes was ever so slowly starting to change at the time.
As a non-smoker, I have no idea what the going rate for an average pack of cigarettes is these days, but it would be interesting to calculate these amounts out and re-release a similar campaign.
By the way, the amount of the British population that smokes today is estimated to be 19% -- which is the lowest it's been in years and even a bit lighter than the U.S. It only took 48 years to get there!
It may be a little unfair picking on the lead singer of the Simon Cowell-produced, teen boy band phenomenon One Direction now that the members recently announced that they'll be going on hiatus starting next year to pursue solo careers. On the other hand, the announced split gives added ammo to my rant, which is that I'm tired of seeing comparisons between Harry Styles, One Direction's lead, and Mick Jagger...both regarding their physical appearances and their talent.
Yes, in case you weren't aware, there's an awful lot of sites out there that have posted side-by-side shots of Styles and Jagger proclaiming them lookalikes. The comparisons accelerated after Jagger actually hung out with Styles earlier this year, supposedly after a lot of people told Mick that the kid looked like him when he was younger. Even Boy George declared that Styles is "sexually ambiguous"and "clearly wants to be Jagger."
Here's a few of those comparison photos that a few well meaning peeps put on Pinterest, Tumblr, and entertainment news sites. You be the judge.
Not that it matters, but I don't think they look anything alike. A passing resemblance, maybe, but certainly not doppelgangers as they've been labeled in some places. For starters, Styles doesn't even have Jagger's infamous lips! Besides, if David Bowie hasn't slept with Styles yet, then he doesn't resemble Jagger.
Oh! Bad joke?
Personally, and this is totally not an insult, but there is something about Styles that reminds me more of a young David Johansen, aka Buster Poindexter.
And how's this for weirdness? I came across this old photo of Johansen where I feel he looks more like Mick Jagger than Harry Styles does:
Anyhow, photographic comparisons aside, that isn't what's important. What is, is this glaring sentence on a site called Sugarscape that made me cringe a little:
"While they're naturally both icons/iconic/bloody legends in their own right, at a glance they're actually quite similar, aren't they?"
Did a flying pig just go past my window? I had to read the sentence twice to make sure I was seeing it correctly.
Dear Sugarscape, let's get one thing straight here. Only one of these performers is a bloody legend and an icon.
I have nothing against Harry Styles, by the way (although maybe Taylor Swift still has a grudge against him.) He and the other members of One Direction seem like decent guys. But it's absurd to label him an icon. He's only 21 years old, has only been on the music scene for a few years, and isn't exactly known for writing prolific music. I don't even think Jagger was considered an icon until the Stones had been together for a decade or two. Really, the only thing these two have in common at this point is that they are both British, both adored singing when they were kids, and they both know what it's like to have women throw themselves at their feet (although, I am sure the sexcapade stories Mick could tell Harry would put hair on his chest.)
Also, in my humble female opinion, Mick has way more sex appeal. Just saying. Harry doesn't exactly have the Jagger swagger from what I've seen from One Direction's music videos and concert performances.
I remember some similar comparisons between Kurt Cobain and John Lennon after Cobain's death in the early '90s. I don't think of him as a legend, either. It's possible he may have been had he lived and continued his musical career for another 20+ years, even though he was 27 when he died, the same age as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin (who were legends in my opinion, since they recorded so much great music and achieved stronger fame than Cobain within the same short period of time.) We'll never know.
I also tried very hard to listen to some of One Direction's bubblegum pop other than the only one I was already familiar with ("What Makes You Beautiful"). No offense to their fans -- most of whom are children -- but it was torture trying to endure some of these mundane, auto-tuned sounding songs to the very end. One high spot was the folk-tinged "Story Of My Life" which ironically, was one of the few singles actually written by the group. (When I had heard enough, I washed my ears out with the Stones' "Hangfire".)
What I see happening here -- as I've seen more often during the past 20 years -- is the wishful thinking that a new singer or group is somehow going to be the second coming in the music business. Oasis got compared to the Beatles, Michael Buble got compared to Frank Sinatra, and now Styles is suddenly getting compared to Jagger, all because someone thinks his hair flops the same way.
The sad truth is there will probably never be another band like the Beatles, at least not during my lifetime. There will never be another Frank Sinatra, another Elvis, another Rolling Stones.
Chalk it up to luck, magic, the heavens aligning, something in the air, etc. but for whatever reason, the 20th century gave us the greatest variety of musical talent that may never happen again. And sadly, today's music business is all about who can appeal to the masses, not the talented songwriters and bands that I only learn about through my local independent radio station and a few stations on Sirius.
The rumor surrounding Styles is that he's ready to hightail it to Hollywood to pursue an acting career after One Direction begins their hiatus. I think that's a wise decision for a "musician" who doesn't play instruments on stage and has a limited amount of songwriting experience under his belt. He may just end up carving his own path in front of the camera and giving up on music altogether.
And hopefully that means any unfair comparisons between him and the lead showman of "The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band" can be put to rest.
I posted this video clip of Jack LaLanne a few years ago when the fitness pioneer passed away at the age of 96, but I have never forgotten it. His untimely message bears repeating today. Have a listen...
His clip was surprising to me the first time I watched it because I actually thought that people in general WERE happier and smiled more during the '50s and '60s vs. today...who knew?
LaLanne hosted his own daytime exercise show for 34 years, The Jack LaLanne Show, of which my mother was a fan. I've lamented on this blog before about the loss of fitness shows on network television and how bringing them back could potentially help with the nation's obesity epidemic, but that's a topic for another time. What I wanted to talk about here is the observation LaLanne made on his show one day about how unhappy in general people seem to be. (LaLanne's program wasn't solely focused on fitness; he would also take breaks to talk to his audience about eating and nutrition tips, and the importance of mental health.)
In the clip, LaLanne talks about Americans losing the ability to smile, and that there's no point in having it all if someone can't enjoy life and is miserable all of the time. He then relates a story about traveling to South American and riding a bus that was full of poor people, but how all of the travelers starting singing when one woman burst into a song, and how everyone seemed to be more content then their American counterparts who have way more.
I realize, of course -- and would hope that LaLanne did, too -- that it's not easy for a lot of people to be happy, especially today. Many people are dealing with personal problems and chronically stressful situations that make it difficult to feel up on a daily basis. But I have also learned, from reading and following many law of attraction and positive thinking books and video clips, that happiness is an inside job. Only you can truly make yourself happy, because it's one of the few things that you have control over. A job can be eliminated, a relationship or friendship can end, and a loved one can pass away on you. But, if you can ultimately take responsibility for your personal happiness, then you can overcome a lot of life's difficulties.
At the risk of going all New Age-y here on Go Retro, I have also confirmed -- oddly enough -- that when you make the effort to be happy first, get into a good feeling place, and then affirm to the universe that you want something, that things seem to flow more effortlessly to you. You find a good parking space, unexpected money shows up, and you receive an invite from a friend to get together.
LaLanne also talks in the clip about people getting too far away from their natural way of living -- I immediately thought of people who walk around glued to their mobile devices. I plan on writing soon about my hiatus from my personal feed on Facebook recently, and how it's helped me feel more positive on a daily basis (hint: ignorance is bliss!)
The clip made me think about some of the things I do on a daily basis that make me happy:
*I make a mental list of everything that I have in my life that going's right, vs. anything missing or what seems to be going wrong. Being grateful for what you already have definitely helps flip a switch from dwelling on the negative to dwelling on what's possible.
*Interacting with my cats. I have four of them...probably one too many, but two were feral kittens and my mother and I couldn't bring them to a shelter where they would have faced certain death. The female of the two kittens (now three years old) follows me without fail into the bathroom every morning, making it impossible to be in a bad mood. The bond and commitment of being a pet owner and lover definitely makes me happy.
*Exercising, and going for a bike ride or walk/run. Being outside on a nice day makes working out even more pleasurable.
*Of course, watching anything retro that is funny...clips from Laugh-In, The Andy Griffith Show, variety shows, etc. as well as funny scenes from movies.
*Listening to favorite retro music and watching music clips.
*Writing always puts me in a fulfilling mood, whether it's posting to this blog, writing articles for my freelance gig, or writing the blog for the company I manage social media for.
*Going out and laughing with a good friend or my Meetup group.
*Taking a nap or mediating.
*I stay away from too much bad news on the TV stations. Today had yet another sad and tragic national shooting story in the headlines. Sometimes it's best not to turn the news on at all and just take a break from it for a day, when it's nothing but violent and depressing stories.
LaLanne's advice is pretty poignant today. I'm using it as motivation to keep the endorphins going as well as a reminder to smile more.
I worked with a guy who hated Billy Joel, all because of the song "Piano Man." While I can't say I blame him for loathing one of the most overplayed songs heard on mainstream oldies radio stations and in dive bars, I think it would be unfair to dislike every song in an artist's musical catalog because of one unwanted tune. I'm not exactly the biggest Billy Joel fan either, but there's no denying that the guy is a prolific songwriter. With Joel's U.S. tour still going strong through the end of the year, I felt like listing ten of his more underrated (in my opinion) songs. I have no idea how many of these are among his stage playlist, but they definitely don't seem to get played enough on radio stations. Have no fear: there's no "Uptown Girl" or "Just the Way You Are" listed here. Go Retro knows better than that!
"The Stranger" (1977)
It's a little sad to think about people hiding their true self in a relationship, but the takeaway for me from this song is, "Don't be afraid to try again. Everyone goes south every now and then."
As someone who values open communication and being honest, this song -- sort of in the same vein as "The Stranger" -- hits close to my heart at times and sadly, more often than I'd like it to as I've gotten older. I had forgotten about it until it popped up in the Jennifer Aniston film Cake. It's heartbreakingly sad but also heartbreakingly beautiful.
"Allentown" to me isn't just an homage to the failed steel industry of Bethlehem and Allentown, PA but is about Detroit, Baltimore, and any American city or town that was affected by the shuttering of a manufacturing company or industry, resulting in a loss of jobs.
The "Allentown" music video is considered to be one of the gayest ever made, with guys taking showers and operating machinery. I actually think Joel could have gotten away with denying it is, until the guy in his tighty whities starts twirling a sparkler around.
I always thought of this song when I was crunching for an exam or completing a school report up against the clock.
"The Longest Time" (1983)
One of my nieces had the album An Innocent Man and would play it non-stop while she and my sister were living with my parents and me for a while. She loved the song "Tell Her About It", but just about every track on the 1983 release is a winner, due to the doo-wop and Motown influences from Joel's childhood. I could easily pull several songs from it for an underrated list, but "The Longest Time" is one of my favorite Billy Joel songs -- it nails all of those topsy-turvy feelings of falling in love, punctuated by those perfect backing 1950s-esque harmonies.
"An Innocent Man" (1983)
The title track from the same album...I just think it's a beautiful song and definitely underplayed.
"You're Only Human (Second Wind)" (1985)
Wow -- I hadn't heard this one in literally decades, and I rediscovered it on a day when I kind of needed to hear it. Joel wrote it with young people in mind, particularly those dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide. He feared his original version was too depressing, so he rewrote it with a more upbeat sound and optimistic lyrics. All of the royalties from the song were donated to the National Committee for Suicide Prevention.
"A Matter of Trust" (1986)
Billy Joel puts on an impromptu concert in a city neighborhood and everyone is digging it except for the cranky lady on the fire escape yelling "SHUDDAP!"
"Modern Women" (1986)
Great little rocker used in the film Ruthless People featuring that forgotten required studio instrument of the '80s, the saxophone.
"I Go To Extremes" (1989)
An apology to Joel's wife at the time, Christie Brinkley, for his sometimes erratic behavior. They got a divorce five years later. Guess she couldn't take the extremes any longer.
What underrated Billy Joel songs would be on your list?
I was not prepared to find I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! as funny as I did. For starters, despite it starring Peter Sellers, I had never heard of it until coming across a clip on YouTube several months ago while searching for something else. Second, it has a rating of only 17% on the Rotten Tomatoes site. Obviously the haters weren't indulging in the same cannabis-laced brownie recipe that plays a pivotal role in the film when they left their reviews, because I think the movie is an underrated delight. Maybe not hysterical, but it definitely had its moments that made me laugh out loud.
The premise of I Love You, Alice B. Toklas is about a self-proclaimed "square" lawyer (Sellers) who falls for a flower child (Leigh Taylor-Young) and decides to -- in the infamous words of Timothy Leary -- turn on, tune in, and drop out. The movie pokes fun at the American hippie counter-culture of the late '60s, and shows that the grass is not always greener on the other side of a social group. Alice B. Toklas is not the name of the hippie girl, by the way, but Gertrude Stein's confidante and lover...who was also the unofficial inventor of marijuana laced brownies. The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, published in 1954, is one of the best selling cookbooks of all time.
One thing I noticed right off the bat with the film is that Sellers dropped his British accent to play a Jewish-American attorney. That may not seem like a big deal to moviegoers today where a lot of British celebs take on American accents quite convincingly, but this was the 1960s, where actors and actresses would often be cast into any ethnic background, no matter how far fetched they seemed, without any care for authenticity. Color me impressed, but the only films of Sellers' that I'm familiar with are the ones where he speaks with his natural British accent...or an exaggerated French one!
Also, just a warning to anyone overly sensitive to political correctness who intends to watch this movie, but there's an off-color racial gag early on that would NEVER make the cut in a film today without causing an uproar. There's also a car mechanic who complains more than once about his son "running off with a colored girl." And then there's the main character's brother, who wears what he claims is Hopi Indian burial garb to attend a funeral.
Sellers sans shirt is also one hairy-scary dude...which made me appreciative of our modern day manscaping trend. Someone get that man a waxing kit, stat!
Ah...gotta love the '60s.
I Love You, Alice Be. Tolkas introduces us to Harold Fine (Sellers) who is somewhat reluctantly engaged to Joyce (Joyce Van Patten), his firm's secretary. She's 33, wants to settle down, and pesters him until he set a date for their wedding. His co-worker Murray is played by Herb Edelman -- if you're a Golden Girls fan, then you'll recognize him as Dorothy's ex-husband, Stan. Murray is married and has kids but can't resist ogling the young women who walk down the street in their white go-go boots and miniskirts.
When Harold's mother comes to his office, distraught, over the death of a family friend Harold barely knew, he sets out to find his brother Herbie who is living the hippie lifestyle in Venice. It's worth mentioning here that Harold is already getting a taste of how the other side lives; his car has suffered some damage and his loaner vehicle is a psychedelically painted old Buick with a picture of George Harrison and Pattie Boyd on the hood and a smoky exhaust. On the morning of the funeral, he is introduced to his brother's friend Nancy, a wide-eyed girl who reminded me of a cross between Lauren Hutton and Julianne Moore with a breathless voice like Marilyn Monroe.
Hilarity ensues when Herbie appears looking like an extra in a badly made Western; he tells Harold he'll remove the feather or the face paint, but not both. At the funeral home the hearse drivers are on strike, so the casket gets transported to the cemetery in Harold's multi-colored ride. Because he gets pulled over and continuously lost trying to locate the burial grounds, he doesn't arrive to the grave until after sunset. After his brother abandons Nancy on the city streets for the company of another woman, Harold takes her home to his apartment where she can spend the night on the sofa.
Nancy is soon rolling doobies after Harold retires to bed. The following morning, she asks him if she can hang around for a bit after he leaves for work, and finds a box of brownies in the cupboard. She makes the mix and adds her secret ingredient, leaving a note for Harold that she made some "groovy brownies" for him.
That evening after retrieving his repaired Lincoln, Harold is greeted at his apartment's entrance by his parents and fiancée Joyce, who wish to go over the wedding guest list with him. Joyce finds the brownies, which the family declares as so good, they begin devouring them with an orgasmic cacophony of "mmmms" and moans...followed by delirious laughter. Harold's folks can't stop laughing and singing and Joyce is removing Harold's clothes, asking him to take her now, right there on the couch, in front of his parents. Thankfully, Harold's father says he wants to go play miniature golf.
During the game, Harold vanishes into the clothing shop Nancy works at to thank her for the treat. Later that night he takes her back to his apartment where they make love and he declares that the earth moved, something that hasn't happened with Joyce in a long time. A switch has now been flipped and on his wedding day, Harold shocks everyone by leaving Joyce at the alter, claiming that she doesn't know him and that it wouldn't be fair to give her a lifetime of misery.
Harold now goes into full-on hippie regalia mode with Nancy...growing his hair and changing his wardrobe with the pair living out of his car which has now been painted like the psychedelic rental. He meets with a guru for seashore walks who spews New Age garble about flowers and not trying so hard to find himself.
But what started out as peace and love soon turns into a bad acid trip. Harold's once Don Draper-esque apartment has now become -- in his mother's words -- a pigsty and central headquarters for drop outs and their animal companions. Nancy's attention is on other guys. She also wants to go see a six-hour movie called Mondo Teeth which shows nothing but...teeth. In one funny sequence, Harold has hallucinations of his parents tripping.
Harold comes to his senses and realizes that the whole scene is not truly his bag and has failed to bring him the fulfillment he was desiring. He cleans up his act and there's a second trip down the aisle with Joyce...but at this point I can't give away the ending. Actually, the ending is my only complaint with this movie as it seemed tacked on and unsatisfying, but this is a romantic comedy, after all -- not an Academy Award winning film. Perhaps it is the reason for the lower starred reviews on movie sites.
I Love You, Alice B. Tolkas! can never compete with the roster of great films that were released in 1968, but it's a wacky, trippy time capsule into the late sixties and if you're a Sellers fan, I definitely wouldn't pass on it.
It also gave me a serious craving for brownies (without the pot, of course!) Here's the trailer.
"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." - Dr. Wayne Dyer
He wasn't an actor, a singer, or a pop culture figure, but I considered Dr. Wayne Dyer to be more than that: one of my personal law of attraction gurus. I read many of his books, visited his website, watched his PBS specials, and listened to his program on Hay House Radio. His teachings helped -- and continue to help me -- through some challenging days. After following him for several years, learning of his death earlier this week at the age of 75 felt a little like losing a friend. Considering he helped introduce the concept of positive thinking to the masses decades before "The Secret" was published, I feel that he deserves a few words of tribute on this blog.
Even if you're not familiar with any of his books, you may have seen him on PBS in recent years, lecturing to audiences to supplement each new publication. For the past few years I knew he had been battling leukemia, but his cause of death was actually a heart attack. In fact, his family released a statement on Facebook this week that said an autopsy revealed he had no trace of leukemia in his body, proof of his claims that he cured himself of it with his own teachings.
Dyer's personal rags-to-riches story -- which he revealed in some of his books -- is pretty inspiring on its own. He was born in Detroit in 1940, to an alcoholic father who abandoned his mother and two brothers shortly after Wayne's birth. For the next ten years Dyer lived in orphanages and foster homes, returning to his mother after she got remarried -- this time to another alcoholic who was also abusive. “I was aware at age 10 that whatever happens to me, my own destiny was right in my own little hands and in nobody else’s,” he would write years later.
As a child, Dyer fantasized about appearing on The Tonight Show and becoming an inspiration to thousands of people. Teachers and family members would call him a dreamer and gently try to persuade him back to earth, but Dyer recounted years later in the book Wishes Fulfilled that he chose to ignore the naysayers.
Despite a challenging home life, he entered the U.S. Navy and later become a high school guidance counselor and college professor at St. John's University. His lectures at St. John's -- focused on positive thinking and motivational speaking -- started to become popular with the student population, which inspired him to write his first book, Your Erroneous Zones: Step-by-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life, in 1976.
He felt a very strong inner urging to quit his teaching job that year, despite having a family to support, and promote the book himself by visiting bookstores and giving interviews out of the back of his station wagon. After an interview on a very popular radio station, the title became a best seller and Dyer was invited to appear on The Tonight Show, making his childhood dream come true.
|Wayne Dyer appearing on the Phil Donahue Show in the '70s|
*You create your life first in your imagination, then by feeling it into existence
*You are more than just your profession or career
*You are connected to a higher source (God, the Universe, etc.) that is all loving
*You must choose to feel good despite any outside circumstances
*You must let go of the past and forgive anyone you feel has wronged you in any way
*Letting go of resistance and judgment is one of the fastest ways to manifest anything in your life
Ironically, Your Erroneous Zones is one of the few Dyer books I have not read yet. I own a copy of Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting and You'll See It When You Believe It. Real Magic is also a favorite of mine.
Dyer's personal life, however, wasn't perfect, and was often used against him by skeptics. He was married three times and currently separated from his third wife for a few years at the time of his death. He struggled with alcoholism, the very addiction that plagued his home life, and he could be judgmental and critical of other people until he learned it wasn't serving him. He got angry once while on tour because room service wasn't available to bring a sandwich to his hotel room -- until he remembered his teachings earlier that day and decided to purchase a sandwich in the hotel restaurant.
He passed away at his home in Maui, leaving behind his estranged wife, two sons, and six daughters.
I think the best way to end this is with some inspirational Wayne Dyer quotes, many of which has resonated with me through the years.
“With everything that has happened to you, you can feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.”
“If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t you will see obstacles.”
"When I chased after money, I never had enough. When I got my life on purpose and focused on giving of myself and everything that arrived into my life, then I was prosperous.”
"Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.”
“Circumstances do not make a man, they reveal him.”
"How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.”
"You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”
"When the choice is to be right or to be kind, always make the choice that brings peace."
"When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself."
"There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love. There’s only scarcity of resolve to make it happen.”
Thanks, Dr. Dyer, for the reminder.
No idea how to sell mufflers, exhausts, and tires and make them look sexy? No problem! Just put a hot chick in your product's ads. Apparently, it worked very well back in the 1970s...or at least, got the customer's attention. You can even get a little wild and racy with the tag lines, because this is the '70s and no one will ever assume you are talking about the car parts, and not lady parts.
This post is a long-delayed follow-up to Hot Women + Cars = Sales...Or At Least, Your Attention that I published a few years ago. I found a good portion on Flickr credited to a user named Glen.H, but many more have been scoured from various sources across the web. Click "read more" below to delve in. Enjoy -- if you're one of my male heterosexual readers...you're welcome!
These boots were made for riding.
You gotta love the double-entendres in these ads...today, they'd probably cause an uproar. That and the fact that some of the models are not wearing bras. Actually, I did come across one Pro-Trac ad where the girl wasn't wearing anything on top, but I can't post it here.
I have a theory that perhaps the girls wore bikinis in these ads so that they wouldn't get their clothing stained with grease.
The ad is correct. It's not how big the part is, but the quality of the ride you get (hee hee.)
The phrase "sweet-talkin' purple hornies" makes me think of an unaired, uncensored episode of Barney the Dinosaur getting frisky with Baby Bop but nope, it's just an ad for Cyclone mufflers.
Sure they do. Tire trouble is always such a turn-on!
I've noticed that the vintage Italian auto parts ads are so much more polite than their American counterparts. No cleavage, just an attractive lady holding or cozying up to a tire or holding a part. But speaking of cleavage...
Wait. Is the product's name Show Tubes or Show Boobs? Ha ha, couldn't resist.
Why is this woman floating down the highway in a bikini? I guess there are some mysteries that just can't be answered. (If you're a man, do I even have to ask?)
Three Doug Thorley ads; same lucky model (who looks waaaay too happy to be holding an exhaust pipe in that first ad.)
However, I'm sold on the "easy riding comfort" copy in the Vantopia ad. Those reclining seats do look comfy and perfect for some van a'rockin' action (so don't come a'knockin'.)
Remember that time when Chevrolet released a folk rock album about safe driving featuring Carly Simon? I'm sure you have this gem in your music collection, right? No?
Well, it happened and the result was called Chevrolet Sings of Safe Driving and You, an unusual marketing piece that comes off a little bit like School House Rock with deep educational lyrics such as, "look at the silent snow but remember to go slow...when it gently covers the ground, turn on your lights and...slow down."
The album is a lost relic of the 1960s, a Mad Men-esque advertising technique that came to be known as "industrial musicals." A company -- usually one with a bland product or service -- would put out an album of songs meant to promote the company and get people excited to buy the brand. The most unusual one I've seen so far is a late '60s album that American Standard produced called The Bathrooms Are Coming!
Chevrolet Sings of Safe Driving and You was released either in 1965, '66, or '67 (sources differ) and was aimed at the younger driver demographic; the newly-licensed teens and young people receiving their first car. There's not much info available on how the record was distributed...most likely it was given away at Chevy dealers...but what is obvious is that all of the songs are about safe driving, weather conditions, and the rules of the road. My favorite track is "The Natural Laws (Laws of Motion)", a kicky, Sonny and Cher-esque number with the prolific lyrics, "And when you're in a move...yeah, really in a groove...what keeps you going on your course? Of course...centrifugal force."
Today's teens would surely roll their eyes if such a record was released today!
In between the lyrics, Simon and her male singing partner speak of the rules of safe driving (which kind of breaks the momentum of the music.) Other songs include "An Exciting Thing (Driving A Car)", "When the Wrong Things Happen (Stopping Distances)", "Nowhere Fast (Observance and Enforcement)" and "Cities and Towns (Driving in the City and Heavy Traffic)".
Perhaps the strangest thing about the album are the reviews I read about it online; collectors of LP rarities find the songs well composed and Carly Simon fans are practically orgasmic at the idea of the songstress contributing to such a project. Supposedly the price of this album went up on sites such as eBay once it was revealed Simon was the female vocalist on it. Personally, while I can appreciate the effort that was definitely put into it, I just can't see pulling this one out and playing it on purpose for enjoyment. But, whatever floats your boat...or toots your horn.
Want to have a listen? Here's several of the tracks that were uploaded to YouTube. Crank it up!
I've extolled on here before about my appreciation for The Benny Hill Show, an unusual series for a woman of my generation to be a fan of for sure, but I only have watching episodes of it in the 1980s with my parents to blame. Little did I realize, however, until I wrote the first blog post that Hill's show existed in various forms as early as 1955 before eventually becoming the bawdy program it did in the '70s and '80s. The show wasn't quite as raunchy in the 1960s, but thankfully it wasn't any less funny.
While strolling through YouTube the other day I came across several hilarious send-ups Hill did in the '60s of the decade's most popular musicians. In these clips Hill imitates Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones (The Strolling Ones!), Sonny and Cher (or Char), Roy Orbison, P. J. Proby, and Peter and Gordon. (OK, one of the Roy Orbison sketches is from the '70s.)
I don't know which segment I found the funniest -- The Rolling Stones one with Hill playing all band members, one of the screaming girls and the one lone, out of place boy who always seemed to be in the audience during these taped television performances, or the Peter and Gordon one with Hill portraying a Ready, Steady, Go-type host with bangs in her eyes who overuses the words fantastic and super and compliments a ketchup stain as "pop art."
(I noticed the same silly lyrics, "How could you kiss the butcher when we owe the milkman so much?" came up in two of the songs.)
I laughed so hard, I cried...which is always the best way to have your funny bone tickled. Click on read more below to view and enjoy them before the copyright cops at YouTube discover them as well.