What’s with Frank Reich and Epic Comebacks?

After the San Diego Chargers’ semi-epic NFL comeback last night from 21 points down, several times, on the road against the San Francisco 49ers, Frank Reich once again became associated with a monumental comeback! It was only semi-epic because in Reich’s past, he had orchestrated 31 and 32 point comebacks, victimizing his latest success. 🙂

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Favourite Songs I Heard for the First Time in 2009

What were your favourite pieces of music that you heard for the first time last year?

I don’t necessarily mean music that came out last year, just that you heard it for the first time last year because it was new to you. If you care to share, you can put it in the comments following the post. I’d love to know to expand my musical horizons.

Below are a list of favourite songs I heard for the first time in 2009, enough that would fit on CD were I to have made one. Most were from musicals as I really got into them in 2009 after my classic jazz year in 2008. A few were one-off takes on television events, though, so I’ll start with one that was both. It was available on YouTube like most of my selections so I have included the videos to have the music right here for you. I also linked the songs to blog posts I did inspired by them, where I did one.

Someone Like You

from Jekyll & Hyde
Linda Eder & Frank Wildhorn on 2000 PBS Special
Linda Eder delivers a loving performance of this gorgeous song with touching lyrics, accompanied by husband Frank Wildhorn, who had composed the song. (blog post)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Upload of this video sometimes seems a bit slow so please be patient.

If You Were Gay

from Avenue Q
Rick Lyon and John Tartaglia

Love and humour, not just in song but also video spoof. (blog post)

The Internet is for Porn

from Avenue Q
Stephanie D’Abruzzo, Rick Lyon & the Guys
Possibly the funniest song I have ever heard! (blog post)

Mix Tape

from Avenue Q
Stephanie D’Abruzzo and John Tartaglia

A song that dragged my emotions up and down, enhanced by Stephanie’s nuances of acting while singing this song. (blog post)

As Long as You’re Mine

from Wicked
Idina Menzel and Norbert Leo Butz
An often overlooked song from Wicked that I only heard once I saw the musical, rather than hearing the more popular songs from it. However, I loved it immediately, especially the soft-spoken ending.

Academy Awards 2009 Introduction

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway
This number was both brilliant and unexpected in being clever, funny and spectacularly performed. My intro to the full talents of Hugh Jackman. (blog post)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Monologue Song

from Saturday Night Live November 7, 2009
Taylor Swift

How to trash everybody you want to with class and humour while being really cute about it. (blog post)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Dark Eyes

by Bob Dylan
Judy Collins
Judy Collins gives this sad Dylan song a haunting rendition. (blog post)

Better Angels

Lesley Gore
The original It’s My Party girl seriously grows up with this beautiful tune I first heard on CSI Miami (compilation video of episode shown below).

I Got a Feeling

Black Eyed Peas
Just an awesome dance song, ’nuff said cause I’m getting dancing! Best 2009 song in my opinion. (I chose the flash mob version shown on Oprah for the video cause it’s also so awesome!)

Wake-up

The Arcade Fire
I heard this song via the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are and thought they had made a pretty good choice for a theme song.

The Closest Thing to Crazy

by Mike Batt
Katie Melua
Pretty much describes what feeling in love feels like to me. (blog post)

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Gayla Peevey
I heard it on a Telus commercial and loved it immediately, a bit surprised I had never heard this 1950s seasonal classic until now. (blog post)

You’ve Gotta Have a Gimmick

from There’s No Business Like Show Business
Bernadette Peters, Julia McKenzie, Ruthie Henshall
This is probably the ultimate example of my claim that girls have all the fun songs in musicals, and the video only emphasizes the point.

Married

from Cabaret
Ron Rifkin, Michelle Pawk
A charming little song about marriage. A compact version is shown below.

Mystery

performed on the show Inside the Actor’s Studio
Hugh Laurie
A hilarious and charming example of how lyric writing sometimes feels like to me, trying to find desperate rhymes and more desperate words that conform with desperate rhymes. (blog post)

Love, Look in my Window

from Hello Dolly!
Ethel Merman

There isn’t a video for this one but the piece was written for Ethel Merman when she joined Hello Dolly! If you hear her perform it with the emotions she does, you’ll know why it was written for her. I can hardly keep from crying at points in it. Probably good I don’t have the music for that reason!

My Video for The Lies of Handsome Men, sung by Margaret Whiting

Jack Wrangler & Margaret Whiting

Jan 2011 update:
Margaret Whiting passed away on Jan 10, 2011. It is sad, of course, but what a legacy she left us with, including the song in the video below written by Francesca Blumenthal in 1986. Rest in peace, Margaret.

At this time in 2009, I started building this blog as part of my year to learn about social media. In 2010, I am learning about multi-media and this is my first video. I should point out that like my study of social media, it’s about knowing its capabilities and potential more than the technical stuff, though a lot can be learned by doing hands-on technical stuff. It’s too bad all too many “boss” types in the world never really learn the details of things they “manage” from doing to appreciate the challenges and power of those things.

I used Windows Movie Maker to make this video, with its rather limited capabilities and features. I know it’s not a great video editing program, but I’ll get around to one soon enough. I created the images from Photoshop actions I made to save a lot of time and repetitive effort.

The idea for this video first came to me in the middle of 2009 when I wanted to social media share the 1986 song The Lies of Handsome Men, written by Francesca Blumenthal, sung by 1940s crooner Margaret Whiting in 1990 when she was 66! Thank you to Francesca for correcting my mistake in a comment below. What a beautiful song this is and I hope you’ve got more such songs in your repertoire, past and future!

In my opinion, Margaret’s version is the definitive version of the song. I haven’t heard anybody else sing it like it, and I love it when I find definitive versions of songs that just blow the rest of the versions away. What made the difference for me, as I later found out through research, was that Margaret had been involved in acting and she used those acting skills to put just a little more intonation and feeling into the song. I listened and I really believed she meant everything she said. Mind you, the way she ended up with a former gay porn star 20 years her junior while in her 50s for 33 years of her life (see notes near the end of the notes before the video), she’s a mighty fine actress to have convinced me she believed those lies when she obviously brushed them aside!

Usually, I can find what I want in music online on YouTube. However, there was no version of this song I could find anywhere to share so I penned it down as an idea for a video in 2010 when I would be focusing on learning multi-media. I thought of it as a simple project, to create a slide show video where the images would be male movie stars and musicians of an era past, in black and white.

Images were mostly from an amazing site of black and white movie portraits called Dr Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans. Portraits were so beautiful and noble back in those days! Order of the portrait tied the images to something in the lyrics as much as possible, albeit sometimes rather vague and sometimes without connection because it isn’t easy to have a limited collection to suit any old set of lyrics, you know! Names of subjects are at the bottom of this post.

I wanted to use past celebrities’ B&W portraits because they were more true to the song’s age and feel, as well as avoid all the people today created out of hype with faults yet to be found. The stars in the past have had their good and bad days and have their legacies pretty much written so they are more “timeless” since public opinion won’t likely change much on them any more.

Had I thought of this video in December, I might have gone after the images of the women of Tiger Woods. Hahaha!

But I can still dedicate it to them, can I not?

Alas, they ain’t got nothing on Margaret! On her fourth marriage, Margaret married a gay porn star 20 years her junior in the late Jack Wrangler (neé John Stillman), who eventually also came to do straight porn.

Ooops. Bad pun intended! 😉

According to Jack, this was how they met.

In 1976, Jack Wrangler met celebrated 1940s pop singer and film actress Margaret Whiting when she attended one of his one-man erotic shows in New York. As he later recalled, “I was with my manager when I looked over at Margaret, who was surrounded by five guys at a booth. ‘There she was with the hair, the furs and the big gestures. I thought, ‘Boy, now that’s New York! That’s glamour!’ I had to meet her.” A relationship developed. He was 33; she was 55. When Wrangler confided to Whiting that he was gay, her response was “only around the edges, dear.” The couple has never married. As Whiting told People magazine in 1987, “There’s no point in us getting married. We’re not having kids.”

Remember, Margaret Whiting made her debut as a crooner in the 1940s! Those women of Tiger Woods ain’t got nothin’ on her!

Margaret is still alive so far as I know. Jack passed away in April 2009 from emphysema after 40 years of smoking. Their picture together is the slide in the video.

Seems Margaret didn’t believe in the lies of handsome men if she convinced Jack to be her mate despite his openly gay declaration. 😉

Here is the video below. Please give constructive criticisms if you can afford the time. Thank you.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.1

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LYRICS

I believe in star signs
And I believe in film romances
I believe in in fantasy
And I believe with just one glance he’s
Crazy for my eyes
‘Cause I believe the lies
Of handsome men

I believe in witchcraft
And I believe in Cinderella
I believe in gypsies
And I believe I cast a spell that
Sends him to the skies
‘Cause I believe the lies
Of handsome men

Somewhere in a corner of my mind
I’m not a fool, completely blind
But even though he’s hooked me on his line
I find the pleasure has been mine

I believe in love songs,
They seem to know just what I’m feeling
I believe in Prince Charming
I never guess he’s double dealing
How my spirits rise
Believing in the lies
Of handsome men

Sometimes in a dark and quiet place
The truth and I meet face to face
And even if his Highness disappears
I keep some lovely souvenirs

So I believe in heroes
And I expect that happy ending
Wishing on some rainbow
I pretend he’s not pretending
Someday I’ll get wise
But right now I need the lies
Of handsome men

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STARRING
(in order of appearance, group by song verses)

Margaret Whiting

Bing Crosby, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Duke Ellington, Paul Newman, Basil Rathbone, Tony Curtis

Lex Barker, Gene Kelly, Rudolph Valentino, Cary Grant, Louis Armstrong, Robert Young, Elvis Presley

Rock Hudson, Humphrey Bogart, Ray Charles, Henry Fonda, Warner Baxter, John Wayne

Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, Rudolph Valentino, Rudolph and wife Natacha Rambova, Clark Gable, John Garrick, Ronald Reagan

Ralph Bellamy, Robert Montgomery, Buster Crabbe

Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Vincent Price, Sidney Poitier, Laurence Olivier, Johnny Mack Brown, Errol Flynn, Claude Rains

Muhammad Ali, Gene Autry, Fred Astaire, Joel McCrea, Vic Damone, Gregory Peck, Clint Eastwood

Jack Wrangler and Margaret Whiting

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Some Lyrics for Singing Voice Mail Messages

I had written these “voice mail songs” many years ago, when I used to live in Vancouver and we only had answering machines. It was also when I didn’t have to worry about getting “professionals” calling me. If you might have to worry about that, I highly recommend you don’t use these and just enjoy them. The singing messages are about 30 seconds long to sing, which is long for a voice mail, but that’s these lyrics’ “price” of fun. That’s why I recommend no intros, despite some being written as first verses of the songs where you could have the intros.

I sang these lyrics into my answering machines with the real music playing in the background, loud enough so you had the tune, but not nearly loud enough to overpower my voice. Given the recording quality of answering machines then, it was as good as poorly recorded karaoke. That technique can still work today, but given all the tech out there for karoake YouTube videos and recording features right on the cell phones and computers, try recording using the karoake links below with your cell phone or computer recording feature.

Or just record singing solo, unaccompanied.

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Mr Grinch, from the original Dr Seuss Christmas special

This is most appropriate for December, or whenever you feel is appropriate to start having the Christmas theme in your life. However, I don’t think it has to be for December or Christmas. For singing purposes, it is the part from 1:25 in the video below. In the lyrics of the real song in the video link below the lyrics to the karaoke version, it’s the verse that starts with You’re a foul one, Mr Grinch.

Don’t hang up please, like the Grinch,
Leave a message, it’s a cinch!
Leave your number and your name,
And a message if you’re game,
It’s a cin-inch!
The three words that best describe when
Are as follows, and I quote:
“At! The! Beep!”

Mr Grinch Karoake Link to YouTube

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Somethin’ Stupid, by Frank and Nancy Sinatra

This is meant to be recorded straight up from the beginning. To keep your message as short as possible, though, I would recommend skipping the intro and starting at 0:11 of the video below (or the equivalent in the karoaoke video link below the lyrics).

Hello, my friend, you’ve reached (two-syllable name)
But I’m not home to get the phone
And chit-chat with you.
But if you leave a message then, I’m sure that when
I’m home I’ll get in touch with you.
So at the beep please leave your name and number
And why you called me so I won’t be blue.
And then hang up so when I’m home
I’ll know you called and I’ll make sure
I call you…
(I’ll call you –
like at the end of the song)

Somethin’ Stupid Karaoke Link to YouTube

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Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, by Bob Dylan

This one I would absolutely recommend skippping the intro cause it’s 35 seconds long and people will hang up before then, wondering what the heck that music is all about, including if they’ve dialed the correct number. I don’t care if there’s auto-dial these days. They’ll recheck, or think they hit the wrong auto-dial. You’ll have wasted their time, and if it’s long distance, their money. So start at 0:31 or so of the video for a brief lead-in, or the equivalent spot on the karoake video link.

They’ll phone ya when you’re tryin’ to have some fun,
They’ll phone ya when your mind is out to lunch,
They’ll phone ya when you’re tryin’ to make a buck,
They’ll phone ya when you’re tryin’ to get a (beep!),
But never will they phone when you’re at home!
(That’s when) Everybody should get phoned!

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 Karaoke Link to YouTube

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Games that Lovers Play, by Connie Francis

I think Wayne Newton has the more famous version of this song, but I was not able to find it on YouTube. However, composer James Last wrote it for Connie Francis, specifically, so this is the original version. The intro is pretty short, but I would still skip it and start at 0:09 of the video below. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a karoake link. If you can find either the Wayne Newton version or karoake link, please do share. Thanks!

There are games that many foolish callers play,
Like how some don’t leave a message come what may,
Never caring who gets hurt along the way,
Let’s not play those games that callers play.

No karoake link was found for Games that Lovers Play

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What’s Your Song of Love? (Part 6 of 7 of the World in Six Songs)

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Book and Theory Background

Daniel J. Levitin wrote an absolutely brilliant book called The World in Six Songs, supported by a great website with the many music samples referenced, among other great related material.

My basic paraphrasing of the concept is this. All the songs in the world could be fit into at least one of six categories providing an evolutionary benefit to humanity, often ultimately tied to our social nature.

The book and website offer far more detailed interpretations, of course, but I will expand on my paraphrasing with each post and the associated topic.

Daniel J. Levitin and The World in Six SongsIn a series of posts, I will describe each of the six categories in brief, one at a time:

  1. Friendship
  2. Joy
  3. Comfort
  4. Knowledge
  5. Religion
  6. Love

I will describe what the categories are about because they are not as limited in scope as the category names suggest. I will then supply one of my choices and ask all readers to do the same if they so wish. In the seventh post of the series, I will offer the chance to put the song choices all together so readers can read the entire set on one post. I do this because it would be a long post to describe all six categories at once, but to have all the answers in one place might be nice.

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This post focuses on Songs of Love

July 30th add-on in italics, from Dan Levitin in a summary article
Love songs serve as an expression of emotion, commitment, and honesty. They play a role in mating and bonding. Love provides an evolutionary advantage because it is altruistic, and corresponds with commitment, which leads to better care of children, which is an obvious fitness advantage. With altruism, the greater good comes before the individual, strengthening infrastructure.

Some may question whether there would be much to say in this chapter because intuitively, I don’t think anybody would say they couldn’t name a “love song”. But that’s a love song in their definition, or a romantic love song, not a song of love as Daniel defined it, backed up by some very prominent names. Indeed, the chapter opens with a quote by Frank Zappa that says “Romantic love songs are a sham that perpetuate a lie on unsuspecting young kids”.

Somehow, I don’t think it stops at young kids.

Frank further follows up with “I think one of the causes of bad mental health in the United States is that people have been raised on ‘love lyrics’.”

Polar opposite Joni Mitchell then jumps in to agree with “There’s no such thing as romantic love. It was a myth invented in ancient Sumeria, repopularized in the Middle Ages, and one that is clearly not true. Romantic love is all about ‘I’ this and ‘I’ that. But true love is about ‘other’.”

And if I were anybody, I’d have jumped in to agree, but I’ll just have to agree on my blog. Songs of love by Daniel Levitin’s theory, and in the purest sense of the word, are about intense feelings for another of any kind. That could be parental, friends, god (no caps on purpose), country, idea, etc. It is about something external and bigger than the self, and bigger than even we, never mind just me, like so many love songs are often about. And it is this something bigger and external to the self, the ideals we have in many aspects of life that develops pillars in our lives and society, that help create the social structure necessary for society and raising children (along the same belief that it takes a village to raise a child).

A note should be added here to clarify that while religion is also about something bigger and external to the self, it is about a search for meaning. Love songs are about the motivation and the doing, without that greater meaning of placement, using the something greater towards creating a favourable social architecture for increasing our chances of survival and evolution.

As for how romantic love songs fits into all of this, they are just a smidgeon of songs of love, and likewise, romantic love of love in the greater sense. The world is full of bad love songs, then, if you think of romantic love songs as representatives of the love song category, for the most part. They are still important, but think of it as strength in numbers rather than true strength within for the few. Many romantic love songs are just for the here and now, to get us there and hold us a bit until either another one comes along or something else comes along to help us. I don’t mean their popularity on the charts, but rather their relevance to us for a moment. They are also an “honest” signal harder to fake than language because it’s harder to hide an emotion via a song than in speaking a phrase. By the way, keep in mind we have only had recording devices to use songs the way we do today in about 0.0001% of our evolutionary history, so the honest signal theory  that we sang the songs ourselves to communicate, comparing to speech to say something, applies well to our history. Most of our ancestors could not request or play a song for someone like we can today.

To defend his point that romantic love is just a tiny part of love in the bigger sense, Daniel Levitin presented a very compelling physiological and neurological argument of how romantic love is just a chemical high. In contrast, the idea of love being about the “other” and not the self, is what truly drives us to raise our children, who take far longer and far more resources to develop into a self-sustaining adult than any other babies in the animal kingdom. Romantic love songs only use the “conveyance” component of language, the easy one to get to the here and now, not the computational component that is much longer term. Romantic love songs are about the moment, not the long-term future.

Love, in the real sense of the word that is about the “other” and not the self, is easily just as deep as religion, and the chapter shows it with a lot of deep material touching everything from the psychological, physiological, neurological, philosophical, evolutionary and other aspects of love. It is not challenging to read for reading level required, but the ideas will take time to think about and absorb if you read it seriously. Religion only seems deeper because of its theoretical boundlessness, and because simple romantic love songs have made love seem so trivial. However, I don’t think anybody would disagree that love is what ultimately binds us all together most, and to that end, the Beatles may well have been right that all you need is love. Well, maybe not all as life might still be difficult if that was all you had, but for sure, love is the most imporant thing we need.

Audio sample of songs from the Love chapter in The World in Six Songs can be found on the website. No direct link was available, but click on the Songs menu option and appropriate page number range link carrying pages 229 to 289. Please note that not all songs are meant as samples of Love songs. Some are just referenced material in the book text.

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Author Daniel Levitin chose

Bring ‘Em All In, by the Waterboys, not just as an example of a love song suitable to his theory, but also as the ultimate love song to fit the example (lyrics).

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My choice for Song of Love is

We are the World, written by Michael Jackson and performed by a collective of artists (listed with lyrics).

Of the many songs I love as love songs, all are of the romantic love song nature that is but a petty part of the songs of love defined by Daniel Levitin in his World in Six Songs theory. It is really tough to think of a song that unites us all in a caring cause, for the future as much as now. However, I think this one does pretty well, talking about the world, the children, in a call to action (now) for a brighter day (future). I am just very saddened listening to it to see how far Michael Jackson has fallen from a pop star with the often cited Greatest Album of All Time in Thriller (MTV, even in Apr 2009), to someone who could write a song as this, to what he is now.

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What is your choice for Song of Love?

Please leave your choice as a comment.

Lyrics and YouTube/audio link would greatly enhance your answer so readers can know more about your choice. They are not necessary, though, and not possible if no lyrics or version exist.

You can include songs you wrote as a choice, too!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.1