Thanks For Your Support

This is one of those things that starts with a story.

Several months ago I attended a podcasting conference, my first one. And one of the presentations there came from the folks at Patreon. They had all kinds of cool ideas about how You Can Monetize Your Podcast And Life the Comfortable Life Forever As A Professional Podcaster (I’m way overselling their oversell, but you get the idea). So with a little bit of their guidance I signed up and set up a Patreon page.

But while I was doing that setup, I realized that I didn’t really have a lot extra to offer someone who took the time to send me money. I couldn’t guarantee bonus episodes because I’m crushed for time, especially during the year. And stickers/mugs/other merch…I dunno. It frankly felt a little bit weird. So I looked at what other shows were doing and I got some ideas from them, but they also had WAY more listeners than I did (do), so their stuff scaled up pretty easily. I put in just enough to get the page active (there was a time constraint to setting up, but I don’t remember why), and I pretty much walked away from the idea. Didn’t mention it here, didn’t mention it during the show, didn’t mention it in the social media.

And then…and then.

Someone found it anyway.

So despite the relatively small return on investment, Gary Black took the time to poke around the internet to determine whether I had a Patreon page, and not only did he find it, he bought into it. Thanks so much, Gary!

So I guess it’s time to go public. While this podcast is, indeed, a labor of love, and I’ve borne all the expenses on my own so far, it does cost me a few hundred bucks each year to deal with hosting and bandwidth (which has gone up since I’ve accumulated listeners), plus equipment, not to mention that I pay for some of the artwork that accompanies episodes, and I buy lots of books each year to aid my research. In short, it’s an expensive hobby, especially since I committed early on not to run ads.

So while I’m not at the level of begging, I am thankful for any support and/or assistance you can throw my way. If you can afford to support the show, Great. If you can’t? No harm, no foul. I still love you.

Here’s the link to my page: https://www.patreon.com/HowGoodItIs

Tune in later tonight for a look at a hit by The Kinks!

116–Mister Blue Sky

Out of the Blue was an honest-to-god masterpiece of an album, and probably the pinnacle of the Electric Light Orchestra’s use of the classical music instruments in rock and roll songs. And the centerpiece of this album was almost certainly Side Three.

The four songs that comprised that side of the album were collectively known as the Concerto for a Rainy Day, meant to evoke the emotional responses that we have to the weather. And when the sun emerges after a storm, and it’s just plain glorious outside, that’s the feeling that “Mister Blue Sky” manages to convey so masterfully. As Jeff Lynne himself said in the 2018 book Wembley or Bust:

The lyrics to ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ are simple and easy to visualize. When the song is playing, you can picture everything that’s going on and everybody knows what I’m talking about. It’s the thought of, ‘Oh, isn’t it nice when the sun comes out?’ And you know, it really is. ‘The sky is blue, wow, what a thing.’ It’s a simple kid’s story.”

A couple of housekeeping notes on this episode:

First, I screwed up some of the geography involved with Lynne’s writing of the album. The cabin was in Geneva, not Munich. However, he did record the rainstorm in Munich. Anyway, please forgive the error.

Second, I need to give credit to Soundjay.com for that needle-drop sound effect I used right before “Sweet is the Night.”

Third, some parts of this episode were a nightmare to record, so I’m sure my family is wondering why they heard me saying the same things over and over again. (This may also account for my geography error, too, but I should have caught that before committing the episode.)

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

115–Cold Turkey

So I’m sitting here in my home office-slash-podcast studio, researching and writing this week’s episode, and setting up the audio clips, and my dog is sitting at my feet pretty much the entire time. And as soon as I cracked the microphone open, he decided he needed to leave the room. Did he need to go outside? No. He just wanted to be in the next room. How’s that for a criticism?

Ah, well. At least I have you. Right? RIGHT??

John Lennon’s first non-Beatles single for which he gets sole writing credit was misunderstood and probably alienated Beatles fans, but you can’t deny the power of Eric Clapton’s guitar riffs and the claustrophobia of the mix provided by Klaus Voormann’s bass and Ringo Starr’s drumming. And it should be noted that the moaning and screaming at the end actually pre-dates Arthur Janov’s book The Primal Scream, so once again Lennon was a little bit ahead of his time. (Albert Goldman’s book about Lennon suggests that he and Mick Jagger got advance copies of the book, and that John Lennon actually underwent primal scream therapy for awhile. However, Goldman’s book appears to have only a casual relationship with the truth.

It’s allergy season and I’m sounding great, my friend. Have a listen.

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

114–Leader of the Pack

I worked about as not-very-hard on this picture as I worked very-hard on the Taylor Swift picture. Go figure.

In 1964 the Shangri-Las got on a sudden hot streak with their sultry recording of “Remember (Walking in the Sand)”, written by George “Shadow” Morton.

Morton had bluffed his way into the Brill Building by telling Lieber and Stoller that he was a songwriter (he wasn’t), and when he was asked what kind of songs he wrote, he said “hit songs” (also a lie). But Lieber and Stoller took his word for it and asked him to write a song. A week later, Morton came back not only with a song, but with a quartet of teenage girls from Long Island City called The Shangri-Las. Lieber and Stoller liked both the song and the girls, and signed them to a contract (well, their parents signed the contract; they were still minors at the time). I saw somewhere that there might have been some controversy about the Shangri-Las already being signed to another label, but I couldn’t substantiate that claim.

And that’s just one of several nebulous stories that surround the Shangri-Las and their first couple of hits. We look at a few of the ones that are connected to their second, much larger hit. Have fun with it.

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

Episode 113–Shake It Off

WHAT! you say. We’ve been waiting a month and he brings us a Taylor Swift song?

Well…yeah. But don’t click away just yet.

Here’s the thing: I want to expand the scope of the show a little bit, and recently I heard a rather high-level discussion of Swift’s work on another podcast called Switched On Pop, which looks at songs and artists from a musical standpoint rather than a conceptual one. If you’re not well-versed in the language of music (and I’m not), you might find some of it tough to understand (and I do), but it’s still a pretty interesting show. Their look at Taylor Swift was one of their earliest episodes, so they were still looking at the 1989 album and “Shake It Off” as a new phenomenon. Anyway, they inspired me to take a modern-day look at her, a few years after her transition from Country to Pop.

And, since some people are kind of stubborn about modern-day artists, I thought it’d be a fun challenge to try and draw those folks in. Not you, of course–you’re a very open-minded person. Other people.

But this was the leadoff single from her first purely pop album, and the reaction was generally positive, though there were some people who decried her turning her back on the Country music scene. And I get that–I do miss all that banjo in her music.

As promised, here’s the clip of Dwayne Johnson lip-synching along with Taylor Swift:

For what it’s worth, later in the show he synchs the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” to win the game. Also, Jimmy Fallon commenting that Johnson probably sings the song in his car proved to be kind of prophetic, because….

…here’s Johnson in a clip from his show Ballers, which aired just a few months later. Which means he was probably learning “Shake It Off” for Lip Sync Battle around the time he shot this episode.

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

112–Rhiannon

Don’t forget to leave a review on Podchaser so they’ll send some money to Wheels on Meals America through the #Reviews4Good program.

Or, The Episode Where I Can’t Speak Welsh.

There’s an old Doonesbury strip (Aug 1977) where rock star Jimmy Thudpucker is sitting on Bob Dylan’s porch, chatting with Dylan (who appears as a disembodied voice coming from inside the house), and they’re discussing the fact that then-President Jimmy Carter has just called him, looking for a quote to use during his next presidential chat with the public. Apparently the President thinks very highly of Dylan, who doesn’t necessarily agree with this assessment:

DOUG ROCKS RECORDS - LEGEND

And there’s a little bit of this with the Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac song “Rhiannon”: Nicks saw the name in a book and was taken with it, so she began to write a song centered around the image that the name presented to her. In fact, she began a series of songs about the Rhiannon that she had in her head.

Later on, she discovered that Rhiannon was a Welsh goddess whose attributes dovetailed rather nicely with the character she’d envisioned in her head. So when the song became a hit, she began to attribute the song as being about “a Welsh witch” (I can barely type that–no wonder I had trouble saying it). But the fact is, she knew nothing about the Welsh mythology when she first wrote the song.

That doesn’t take away from the overall quality of the song, but it does, at least a little bit, suck away some of the mystique that Nicks attached to it during the live performance, methinks.

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

Don’t forget to leave a review on Podchaser so they’ll send some money to Wheels on Meals America through the #Reviews4Good program.

111–Werewolves of London

Warren Zevon was a talented musician and songwriter who had a lot of friends in the business, but didn’t have the commercial success that his contemporaries had.

One day in 1975 he, along with guitarists Waddy Wachtell and LeRoy Marinell, are just goofing around with their guitars when someone asks them what they’re playing. Zevon, referring back to a joke he’d recently heard, told that person that they were writing “Werewolves of London”. The joke actually started to take shape, but was quickly abandoned.

That is, until other artists picked it up. According to Wachtel, it was one of the toughest recordings he’d ever done, but the appeal of the finished product—to practically everyone but Zevon—was undeniable. It became Zevon’s highest-charting single, and even at that, it wasn’t the monster (heh) hit people remember it being.

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

110–Blue Moon

Holy Moley, kids. It’s another overstuffed episode of the show for you. But, I guess that’s what happens when you’re dealing with a song that goes clear back to 1933.

“Blue Moon” was written by Rodgers and Hart, and it was going to be used in a movie, then it wasn’t. Then it was going to be used in another movie, then it wasn’t. Then it was again, and the publisher at MGM thought the melody would make a pretty nice popular song, so he convinced Lorenz Hart to change the lyrics. And it did take some convincing, for reasons you’ll get to hear about during the show.

While you’re here, let me give extra thanks to Bill Tyres for his permission to use the audio from one of his YouTube videos. You can find his over at his main webpage, or through his YouTube channel. Tell him I sent you.

Also, as promised, here are the stories about the woman who claims her dad was the true composer of the song:
New York Times article (soft paywall)
Liz Roman Gallese’s website.

And finally, as a little bonus, here’s Elvy Yost, singing the first incarnation of the song. She appeared on an episode of The Catch singing a later version of it (and it looked like a YouTube video in the show), but it doesn’t appear that she actually made a video for YT consumption.

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

Episode 109–Get Go-Going

The Go-Go’s (somehow that always looks wrong) started out in the late 1970s as a punk band in Los Angeles, and they were a pretty solid presence in that city’s Punk scene. But as they started to grow in prominence, they moved away from that edgy sound and into more of the pop scene.

When IRS records finally signed them in 1980, they cut their first album, which included a re-recording of their first single. If you listened to college radio, you probably remember the original version of “We Got The Beat,” which was an import here in the US and was actually part of their demo record. You probably also found yourself wondering what happened to it when you finally heard the song released as a single in the early days of 1982, while “Our Lips Are Sealed” was making its slow climb back down the charts.

Well…wonder no more, because I’ve got that story for you right here.

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

Episode 108–Books on Vinyl

Last week’s show was short, time-wise, and I promised I’d make up for it. And make up, I did, because this is one of my longer non-interview shows, clocking in at 20:30. If you listen to this show during your morning commute, you may have to circle the block a few times before going in to work.

But it’s so packed with stuff that I don’t think you’ll mind. This week we’re looking at songs that were inspired by books, a topic that’s turned out to be HUGE, and we’ll be visiting again in the future if you’re digging it.

As promised here are links to the stories I talked about during the show.

This is the link to “The Sound-Sweep.” It’s a little on the long side, but I think you’ll like it.

This is Ray Bradbury’s “Rocket Man.” I think it was scanned into someone’s computer because there are some weird typos.

Click here for a transcript of this episode.