…nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time

When Guy Laliberté returned to Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec after trying to make a go of it in Europe as a busker he brought home a new skill, the art of fire-breathing. Unfortunately there wasn’t a huge market for fire breathers in Baie-Saint-Paul that summer of 1979 so, while collecting unemployment insurance, he helped some friends to organize a local fair.

One of these friends was a fellow named Gilles Ste-Croix, who managed a hostel for performing artists and was amazed at the depth of their talent.  Ste-Croix had dreamed up the idea of organizing them into a performing troupe.  Laliberté was game.  There was even government funding available for such endeavors, all they had to do was convince the right people.

So Ste-Croix borrowed a pair of stilts and walked the 56 miles from Baie-Saint-Paul to Quebec City.  By the time he arrived at the Parliament Building everyone in the province knew who he was and the grant was received.

Although the touring troupe was popular it was becoming financially unviable by 1983, when just in the nick of time Laliberté managed to land a $1.5 million grant to host a production as part of Quebec’ 450th anniversary celebration of Jacques Cartier’s discovery of Canada.

The 1984 production was called “Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil” and it was a huge success.  So much so that the two men managed to secure even more funding to hire Guy Caron of the National Circus School to transform their show into a theatrical “nouveau” circus (along the lines of the Moscow Circus) that relied solely on performing people as opposed to performing animals.

Now based in Montreal, Cirque du Soleil is an entertainment company that employs nearly 4,000 people from over 40 countries.  With an annual revenue of around $810 million (US), it features 19 different shows, with performances in 270 cities on every continent except Antarctica. While Ste-Croix left the show (and later returned) and financial investors have come and gone, Laliberté remained and now has 95 percent ownership.

The largest venue for “Cirque” is a specially built theatre at the Las Vegas Mirage Hotel & Casino that can accommodate 9,000 spectators a night. By far the most popular ongoing production there is “Love” which combines re-produced Beatles numbers with an interpretive acrobatic performance.

Yet another amazing concept, it was the result of a friendship between Guy Laliberté and George Harrison. Although it took years of heavy negotiations between surviving Beatles, Beatles widows and Apple records, the show finally set sail in 2006 … with today’s selection as one of its numbers.

Written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon/McCartney) “All You Need is Love” was initially performed on “Our World,” the first live Global television link in history (June 1967), watched by 400 million people in 26 countries. The BBC had commissioned The Beatles to write a song for the UK’s contribution and the day before the broadcast they decided to release it as their next single. It went straight to Number 1 in both the UK and the U.S. as soon as it was released.

As color television broadcasting had yet to reach much of the world, including Britain, in 1967 the program was broadcast in black and white and only later partially colorized (based on color photographs) for The Beatles Anthology documentary.

Here is the Cirque du Soleil mix that intriguingly blends a few quick disparate “samples”, including the White Album’s “Good Night.”  What better way to kick off another LOVE  themed week?

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Sunday 16 September

  All You Need is Love

 Love, Love, Love.

Love, Love, Love.

Love, Love, Love.

 There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.

Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.

Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.

It’s easy.

 Nothing you can make that can’t be made.

No one you can save that can’t be saved.

Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.

It’s easy.

 All you need is Love.

All you need is Love.

All you need is Love, Love.

Love is all you need.

All you need is Love.

All you need is Love.

All you need is Love, Love.

Love is all you need.

Nothing you can know that isn’t known.

Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.

Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.

It’s easy.

 All you need is Love.

All you need is Love.

All you need is Love, Love.

Love is all you need.

 All you need is Love (All together, now!)

All you need is Love (Everybody!)

All you need is Love, Love.

Love is all you need (Love is all you need)

Love is all you need (Love is all you need)

Love is all you need (Love is all you need)

Love is all you need (Love is all you need)

Real savage like!

A friend recently posed the question, “What is your favorite Fleetwood Mac album?” Considering that, with the occasional hiatus, the group has been touring since 1967 and has released 17 albums, it’s worth a pause for reflection.

Peter Green, who founded the band, came up with the name by combining the surnames of two of his former band mates with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, stalwart drummer Mick Fleetwood, who is the only original band member remaining and bassist John McVie (Fleetwood Mc?) who was not initially part of the group but who joined after the release of their first single.

Green had included McVie’s name in hopes of enticing him to leave Mayall for the new band, which he most certainly did. Keyboardist Christine Perfect was nearly there from the start too, first playing as a session musician and then becoming a permanent member of the band in 1970 after becoming Mrs. John McVie.

In Green’s days Fleetwood Mac was a popular British Blues band, scoring a huge hit with “Albatross”.  But musical tastes and band personnel changed (Green suffered from mental health ailments), and then changed again, and by 1974 Mr. Fleetwood and the McVies had come to join forces with Californians Lindsey Buckingham and his beloved, Stevie Nicks, who had toured and recorded as Buckingham-Nicks.

Now with a more pop oriented sound the two couples and a drummer released the eponymous “Fleewood Mac” album, which flew to Number One on the Billboard Charts in 1975 while sprinkling such hit singles through the airwaves as: “Over My Head”, “Say You Love Me”, “Landslide” and (taken by the sky) “Rhiannon” …

Unfortunately this would be the zenith for the romantically linked allies.  By the time Fleetwood Mac released its next album in 1977 the McVies had divorced, Buckingham and Nicks were living separate lives and even Mick Fleetwood had gone through a divorce. But their music provided a perfect outlet for all the emotional turmoil and “Rumors” won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.  With tracks like “Go Your Own Way”, “Dreams”, “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun” it would become one of the highest selling album of all time.

Which brings us to my friend’s question. Although the group survived all the turmoil and half a dozen albums followed, the mid ‘70s was clearly their prime. My favorite album? Gotta’ be “Fleetwood Mac”.  How about you?

One may then wonder about today’s selection, released in 1979 as part of the experimental double album “Tusk”. Written by Buckingham, yes the lyrics are rather bitter but listen to that primal beat!

Recorded in L.A.’s Dodger Stadium in collaboration with the USC Trojan Marching Band, “Tusk” (the album’s 19th track) holds the record for the highest number of musicians performing on a single, peaking at Number 8 on the Billboard charts and Number 6 in the UK.  The following year Buckingham, Nicks and Fleetwood personally presented the Trojan Band with a platinum disc during a college football game in the LA Coliseum.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Saturday 15 September

Tusk

 Why don’t you ask him if he’s going to stay?

Why don’t you ask him if he’s going away?

 Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?

Why don’t you tell me who’s on the phone?

Why don’t you ask him what’s going on?

Why don’t you ask him who’s the latest on his throne?

Don’t say that you love me!

Just tell me that you want me!

 Tusk!

Just say that you love me!

Don’t tell me that you…

 Real savage like!

Tusk! Tusk! Tusk! Tusk!

Tusk! Tusk! Tusk! Tusk!

Tusk! Tusk! Tusk! Tusk!

Tusk! Tusk! Tusk! Tusk!

Tusk!

 

The mornin’ sun is shinin’ like a red rubber ball

Surely modern London is the greatest cultural crossroads the world has ever known. Just as it was in 1964 when an Australian folk singer, named Bruce Woodley, and his mates landed there after having experienced some success back home.

Calling themselves the Seekers they would go on to score with a number of top ten hits, including “I’ll Never Find Another You” and (who can forget) “Georgy Girl” before disbanding in 1968.  But Woodley would also become part of a brief but fascinating songwriting team when he met an American named Paul Simon.

After Simon & Garfunkel’s acoustic debut album (“Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.”) had floundered in 1964, Simon decided to move to England to pursue a solo career. And there he met Woodley, whose group was making the same folk club and coffee house circuit. The two singer/songwriters became friends and began to co-write a number of songs, including “Cloudy”, which was initially recorded by The Seekers and would later appear on Simon & Garfunkel’s third album “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”.  And then there was today’s selection.

Simon later claimed to have sold the entire rights to the song to Woodley because he needed the £100 advance and, indeed, the Seekers included “Red Rubber Ball” on their 1966 album “Come the Day” (released in the U.S. as “Georgy Girl”).  Of course by this time Paul Simon had returned to the States as a star.

Unbeknownst to either Simon or Garfunkel the producer of their “Wednesday Morning” album had taken the liberty of overdubbing one of the tracks with electric guitar, bass and drums (having heard Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”) and released the new creation as a single.  By New Year’s Day of 1966 “The Sound of Silence” was Number One on the Billboard Charts and Simon & Garfunkel were together again.

A new album, “The Sounds of Silence” recorded in their new folk-rock style soon followed as did their first big concert tour, which included as its opening act, the Pennsylvania-based the Cyrkle.  During the tour Paul Simon suggested they try-out the song he’d written with Woodley and the resulting single hit Number 2 on the Billboard Charts, just in time for the group’s next opening gig, the Beatles final tour.

Discovered by Beatles manager, Brian Epstein (over from London, of course) during the Beatles ’65 tour. it was none-other than John Lennon who had suggested the group’s name after recalling a peculiar sign he’d seen for a “Traffic Cyrkle” in Easton, England.  Notably they were the opening act for the Beatles final live concert at Candlestick Park on 29 August 1966.

For one final aside, after the Cyrkle’s breakup the following year, lead singers Din Dannemann and Tom Dawes went on to become professional jingle writers, scoring hits with the 7Up “Uncola” song and most memorably… “plop-plop-fizz-fizz” for Alka-Seltzer.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Friday 14 September

Red Rubber Ball

I should have known you’d bid me farewell

There’s a lesson to be learned from this and I learned it very well

Now, I know you’re not the only starfish in the sea

If I never hear your name again, it’s all the same to me

 And I think it’s gonna’ be alright

Yeah, the worst is over now

The mornin’ sun is shinin’ like a red rubber ball

 You never care for secrets I confide

For you, I’m just an ornament, somethin’ for your pride

Always runnin’, never carin’, that’s the life you live

Stolen minutes of your time were all you had to give

And I think it’s gonna be alright

Yeah, the worst is over now

The mornin’ sun is shinin’ like a red rubber ball

 The story’s in the past with nothin’ to recall

I’ve got my life to live and I don’t need you at all

The roller-coaster ride we took is nearly at an end

I bought my ticket with my tears, that’s all I’m gonna spend

And I think it’s gonna be alright

Yeah, the worst is over now

The mornin’ sun is shinin’ like a red rubber ball

 Oh, I think it’s gonna be alright

Yeah, the worst is over now

The mornin’ sun is shinin’ like a red rubber ball

There’s a pink one and a green one and a blue one and a yellow one…

Born in San Francisco in 1900, Malvina Reynolds was an American folk/blues singer-songwriter and political activist, who began her performing career late in life.   After receiving her doctorate in English from UC Berkeley she returned to study music theory in her mid-40s and began to write folk songs. It was Pete Seeger who encouraged her to perform some of them and much to her surprise a number of them became popular, especially today’s selection. In her later years she contributed a number of her songs to PBS’s Sesame Street, on which she occasionally appeared as a character named Kate.

‘Though some have called it “sanctimonious” this satirical song, which became famous after Seeger performed and recorded it, was inspired by a drive Reynolds made through Daly City, California one day in 1962.  Reynolds’ version first appeared in 1967 on her album, “Malvina Reynolds Sings the Truth”.

When “Newsweek Magazine” later asked her to point out the houses that served as her inspiration she couldn’t find them, so many more had been built around them and every hillside was totally obscured.

There have since been numerous covers of the song, including a delightful French version by Kate and Anna McGarrigle.  This winning (embedded) YouTube version is performed by the Ontario-based, self-managed, Walk Off the Earth, now famous for its quirky low-budget music covers of popular songs

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Thursday 13 September

Little Boxes

 Little boxes on the hillside

Little boxes made of ticky-tacky

Little boxes on the hillside

Little boxes all the same

There’s a pink one & a green one

And a blue one & a yellow one

And they are all made out of ticky-tacky

And they all look just the same

And the people in the houses

All went to the university

Where they were put in boxes

And they came out all the same

And there’re doctors & lawyers

And business executives

And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky

And they all look just the same

 And they all play on the golf course

And drink their martinis dry

And they all have pretty children

And the children go to school,

And the children go to summer camp

And then to the university

Where they are put in boxes

And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business

And marry and raise a family

In boxes made of ticky-tacky

And they all look just the same,

There’s a pink one and a green one

And a blue one and a yellow one

And they are all made out of ticky-tacky

And they all look just the same.

…it’s a long, long while from May to December

Born in Toronto in 1884, Walter Thomas Huston (father of John, grandfather of Anjelica) was one of America’s most distinguished stage and screen actors in the ‘30s and ‘40s, best remembered by some for his stage and screen portrayal of Sinclair Lewis’ “Dodsworth” and by others for his memorable “prospector” dance in John Huston’s “The Treasure ofthe Sierra Madre.”

He is also fondly remembered for the original recording of this song from the 1938 Broadway production “Knickerbocker Holiday.” Written (in a couple of hours) by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson after Huston requested a solo for his lead role, it was specially fashioned to match his limited vocal range.

Although the musical closed within a few months the song became a standard, with Huston’s recording topping the “Hit Parade” after his and Weill’s deaths (only a few days apart) in 1950, when it was featured in the film “September Affair”.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Wednesday 12 September 

September Song

When I was a young man courting the girls

I played me a waiting game

If a maid refused me with tossing curls

I’d let the old Earth make a couple of whirls

While I plied her with tears in place of pearls

And as time came around she came my way

As time came around, she came

But, it’s a long, long while from May to December

And the days grow short when you reach September

And the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame

And I haven’t got time for the waiting game

 And the days turn to gold

As they grow few

September, November,

And these few golden days I’d share with you

These golden days I’d share with you

 And the wine dwindles down

To a precious brew

September, November,

And these few vintage years I’d share with you

These vintage years I’d share with you

…just out to find the better part of me

It’s interesting how some dates are so filled with memories.  First there’s this day, 11 September 1992, twenty years ago, when while on a corporate retreat my wife and I huddled through the eye of Iniki, the most powerful hurricane to strike the Hawaiian Islands in recorded history. Already well circulated, I made this YouTube video last year (many will recognize the music).  For once 20 years seems about right.

Then, of course, we all have our memories of a beautiful Tuesday morning (at least here in the Northeast) eleven years ago (such an iconic number now). Here in Concord many of us remember Al Filipov who was booked on another flight to Los Angeles out of Logan and at the last minute switched over to his favored AA Flight 11, a flight he’d flown so often that he knew most of the cabin crew.

I’d had a few engaging conversations with Al through the years, certainly engaging enough that I didn’t notice that he and I shared the same shirt size.  I only discovered this when I received a pile of nice “yard work” shirts from Al’s wife, Loretta.  They were his and I wear them on occasion to this day, as I am now in great comfort.

As we know from a previous selection, Five For Fighting is the stage name for Vladimir John Ondrasik, who released his second record, “America Town” in September of 2000.  It wasn’t until the following year, however, after Ondrasik’s performance at the Concert for New York City, that Five For Fighting became a household name.  And this song became an “anthem” for stouthearted first responders.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Tuesday 11 September

Superman (It’s Not Easy)

 I can’t stand to fly

I’m not that naive

I’m just out to find

The better part of me

 I’m more than a bird…I’m more than a plane

I’m more than some pretty face beside a train

It’s not easy to be me

 I wish that I could cry

Fall upon my knees

Find a way to lie

About a home I’ll never see

 It may sound absurd…but don’t be naive

Even heroes have the right to bleed

I may be disturbed…but won’t you concede

Even heroes have the right to dream

And it’s not easy to be me

Up, up and away…away from me

Well it’s all right…You can all sleep sound tonight

I’m not crazy…or anything…

I can’t stand to fly

I’m not that naive

Men weren’t meant to ride

With clouds between their knees

I’m only a man in a silly red sheet

Digging for kryptonite on this one way street

Only a man in a funny red sheet

Looking for special things inside of me

Inside of me …… inside of me …ya inside of me… inside… of me

 I’m only a man in a funny red sheet

I’m only a man looking for a dream

I’m only a man in a funny red sheet

 It’s not easy …

It’s not easy to be… me…

wish it was Sunday….my I don’t have to run day

In 1980 Los Angeles-born-and-raised lead guitarist Vicki Peterson formed a power-pop girl band with her younger sister Debbi (who played drums) and rhythm guitarist Susanna Hoffs.  Initially they called themselves “the Colours” then the “Supersonic Bangs” and then settled on “The Bangs”.

By the time they’d committed their first single to vinyl in 1982, the group had begun to make a name for itself as part of LA’s “Paisley Underground” scene, incorporating Folk-Rock with Psychedelia and Garage/Punk.  Unfortunately (at least at the time) due to some inane legal wrangling they were forced to change their name just prior to the single’s release.   So they simply added an “les” to the end of the name and became known as “the Bangles.”

After releasing their 1984 debut album,“All Over the Place” the Bangles (which now included ex-Runaways bassist Michael Steel) began to serve as Cyndi Lauper’s opening act and caught the attention of Prince Rogers Nelson, aka Prince, aka the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, who a few years later (while allegedly “linked” with Susanna Hoffs) gave the group today’s selection under the pseudonym, “Christopher” (his film character in “Under the Cherry Moon”).

Featured on their second studio album “Different Light” the Bangles at long last had a hit with “Manic Monday” reaching the Number 2 spot on the U.S., the UK and the German charts in 1986.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Monday 10 September

Manic Monday

 Six o’clock already

I was just in the middle of a dream

I was kissin’ Valentino

By a crystal blue Italian stream

But I can’t be late

‘Cause then I guess I just won’t get paid

These are the days

When you wish your bed was already made

 It’s just another manic Monday

I wish it was Sunday

‘Cause that’s my fun day

My I don’t have to run day

It’s just another manic Monday

Have to catch an early train

Got to be to work by nine

And if I had an airplane

I still couldn’t make it on time

‘Cause it takes me so long

Just to figure out what I’m gonna’ wear

Blame it on the train

But the boss is already there

 It’s just another manic Monday

I wish it was Sunday

‘Cause that’s my fun day

My I don’t have to run day

It’s just another manic Monday

 All of my nights

Why did my lover have to pick last night

To get down

Doesn’t it matter

That I have to feed the both of us

Employment’s down

He tells me in his bedroom voice

C’mon honey, let’s go make some noise

Time it goes so fast

When you’re having fun

It’s just another manic Monday

I wish it was Sunday

‘Cause that’s my fun day

My I don’t have to run day

It’s just another manic Monday

As we circle the world, with our wandering airs…

If you’ve ever spent much time watching public broadcasting you have doubtless come across an Irish step-dancing performance, with a group of three or more athletic (generally female) dancers in flawless unison, upper bodies rigid, arms fixedly down their side, and hard-tapping footwork perfectly accompanying the lively traditional music. It’s a dance style that requires supreme balance without the use of arms and although there’s no definitive record as to its origins, theories abound.

Blame the English – Indeed, Irish defiance dates back at least as far as the 14th Century when the Statute of Kilkenny sought to outlaw Irish culture, including games, language and dance. When royalty arrived in the years that followed it was said that the Irish would refuse to raise a hand in greeting, defiantly keeping their arms by their side, hands formed in fists and that this was eventually translated into a new form of dance.

Blame the Church – In a time of rigid Catholicism some believe that Irish dancing came to reflect Catholic ideals, arms down, no smiling and no holding hands between the sexes.

Blame 18th Century Etiquette – Clearly influenced by such continental dance forms as the Quadrille, 18th Century dance masters were mindful of etiquette and danced with their arms in a fixed position (holding a stone in each hand to keep them in a fist) to eliminate unruly arm movements.

Blame a Lack of Space – These same dance masters would travel throughout Ireland to dance at fairs and in competitions.  With little room to perform, they would dance on tabletops or even barrels and, as a result, their dancing needed to be extremely contained. As dance competitions became more sophisticated through the years the dance venues became larger and the dance style grew to include more movement.

Which brings us to the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest being hosted by Ireland. Born in Limerick, composer/songwriter Bill Whelan was commissioned to prepare a piece for one of the intervals. Entitled “Timedance” it included accompanying ballet dancers and was later released as a single.

When in 1994, the Eurovision Song Contest returned to Ireland, Whelan was again commissioned to prepare an interval piece, and the result was a three-part suite entitled, “Riverdance” that included a striking seven minute display of Irish step-dancing and traditional music.  The response was deafening and the performance eventually evolved into the full-length stage production that continues to be performed all over the world.

Perfect for a season-changing Sunday morning, sans any sense of defiance, today’s selection is one of the more languid numbers from the original 1997 Soundtrack of the show with soloist Katie McMahon…

  LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Sunday 9 September

Home and the Heartland

High in the sky

Through the clouds and rain

Every familiar field

Seems like an old friend

When every hand that you shake

Is like a warm embrace

Could only be one sweet place

Home and the Heartland

 Sing out your songs

And ring out your stories and rhymes

Weave from your dreams

The mystical dances that lead us to

Bind in heart and mind

 As we circle the world

With our wandering airs

Gathering here and there

Leaving behind our share

Like the leaves in the wind

They are blown along

Melodies rising from

Home and the Heartland

Sing out your songs

And ring out your stories and rhymes

Weave from your dreams

The mystical dances that lead us to

Bind in heart and mind

…deceitfully simple, it refuses to be squared

While serving in General George Patton’s Third Army he volunteered to play piano at a Red Cross show…and missed the Battle of the Bulge as a result.  The show was such a hit that he was ordered to form a band.  And so, in 1944 he created The Wolfpack, one of the U.S. Armed Forces’ first racially integrated musical groups.

Born in Concord, California in 1920, David Warren Brubeck has long been seen as an icon of the “West Coast/Cool Jazz” style (ranging from “refined to bombastic”) reflecting his incredible improvisational skills, as well as his musician mother’s brave attempts to provide him with classical training as a boy…only years later did he admit that he could not read sheet music.

In 1951, having landed a gig in Honolulu, Brubeck brought his young family to Hawaii and nearly lost his life. “I was swimming with my kids on Waikiki Beach and my last famous words were, ‘watch daddy,'” he later said. “And I dove into a wave and there was a sandbar right in front of me. And rather than hit it with my face, I turned my head and it almost broke my neck, and I thought I was gonna’ be paralyzed. I had to go to the Army hospital and stayed there for twenty-one days in traction and they were able to pull my neck back.”

Having lost the gig Brubeck was in a financial bind and reached out to some old friends (including saxophonist Paul Desmond who was a member of The Wolfpack) and formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet.  After becoming regulars at the Black Hawk nightclub in San Francisco and joining the college campus performance circuit the quartet began to record a series of popular albums.

By 1954 Dave Brubeck was on the cover of Time Magazine, after Louis Armstrong only the second jazz musician to receive such an honor, although he found it embarrassing as he thought that Duke Ellington was more deserving and suspected that race was a factor in selection.  As with The Wolfpack, the Dave Brubeck Quartet was racially integrated and right into the ‘60s Brubeck regularly battled with club owners and concert promoters who opposed the idea, and canceled a number of appearances as a result.

By then the quartet was releasing up to four albums a year, many of them notable for the use of contemporary paintings as cover art and more significantly for their contrasting meters and rhythms. In 1959 came “Time Out”, an album with original compositions that contained truly unusual time signatures (eg. 5/4, 3/4, 9/8, etc.).  With such tracks as “Take Five”, “Blue Rondo a la Turk” and “Pick Up Sticks” the album went platinum.

A number of other albums soon followed that also explored uncommon time signatures, including “Time Further Out” in 1961, which contains today’s selection, a hit single that reached Number 74 (not bad for a Jazz number) on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Written and recorded during a single day trip to the recording studio, according to Brubeck’s liner notes, “Unsquare Dance”, in 7/4 time, is a challenge to the foot-tappers, finger-snappers and hand-clappers. Deceitfully simple, it refuses to be squared. And the laugh you hear at the end is Joe Morello’s guffaw of surprise and relief that we had managed to get through the difficult last chorus”.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Saturday 8 September

As you can see here, Carlu Carter and her husband Bill McGrath, a couple of Canadians who had danced with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet prior to migrating to Australia, actually tried to perform a version of the “Unsquare Dance”.  The YouTube footage comes from “Review 61” an Australian television show hosted by Digby Wolfe.

I’ll shine up the old brown shoes, put on a brand-new shirt

In their late ’70s heyday they were sometimes described as a couple of “bozo geeks” paired with a couple of “heartthrobs” but the beginnings of the (still-touring) power-pop band, Cheap Trick stretch back more than 50 years, to a Rockford, Illinois kid with a penchant for collecting guitars, who formed his first band in 1961.  He was a dead ringer for Huntz Hall of the Bowery Boys and with a grace-saving sense of humor to match, lead guitarist, songwriter and arranger Rick Nielsen slowly gained a reputation for his bouncing onstage antics and habit of flicking guitar picks into the audience.

Nelson and bassist Tom Petersson had already played in several groups together before teaming up with rival band drummer, Rick Carlson, aka Bun E. Carlos. Initially calling themselves “Sick Man of Europe” they decided to adopt a new name, just prior bringing  on new lead singer Robin Zander, having recently seen the British glam rock band Slade in concert. Here was a band, according to Petersson, that used “every cheap trick in the book” as part of their act.

Now with a line-up that included two glamor boys of its own (Petersson and Zander), as well as a chain smoking drummer who resembled a ’40s era tire salesman and an over the top lead guitarist who sported a checkerboard motif while taking the Huntz Hall resemblance to the extreme by wearing a flipped up baseball cap, Cheap Trick hit the road, playing 300 nights a year throughout the Midwest.

Although their first three albums went virtually unnoticed in the States they were hugely popular in Japan and a Japanese tour was planned as a result.  What wasn’t planned was the frenzied reception the group received upon their arrival.   Referred to as “the American Beatles” they were mobbed wherever they went and it was quickly decided that some of their concerts should be recorded so that a live album could be released exclusively in Japan.

Predictably, the resulting 1978 album was a Japanese chart topper, but the unexpected import demand was considerable enough for the record label to release it domestically the following year.  Peaking at Number Four on the American Billboard charts, “Cheap Trick at Budokan” went triple platinum in the U.S. alone, and the odd assortment of bozo geeks and heartthrobs became international sensations.

Today’s selection (featuring songwriter, Nielsen in his awesomely contrapuntal guitar glory) is by far Cheap Trick’s biggest selling single, reaching Number 7 on the Billboard Charts and Number 29 in the UK.  First released on the “In Color” album it was superbly reinvented before a live Japanese audience on “Cheap Trick at Budokan”.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Friday 7 September

I Want You to Want Me

 I want you to want me

I need you to need me

I’d love you to love me

I’m beggin’ you to beg me

I want you to want me

I need you to need me

I’d love you to love me

I’ll shine up the old brown shoes, put on a brand-new shirt

I’ll get home early from work if you say that you love me

 Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you cryin’?

Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you cryin’?

Feelin’ all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin’.

Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you cryin’?

I want you to want me

I need you to need me

I’d love you to love me

I’m beggin’ you to beg me

I’ll shine up the old brown shoes, put on a brand-new shirt

I’ll get home early from work if you say that you love me

Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you cryin’?

Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you cryin’?

Feelin’ all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin’.

Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you cryin’?

Feelin’ all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin’.

Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you cryin’?

 I want you to want me

I need you to need me

I’d love you to love me

I’m beggin’ you to beg me

I want you to want me

I want you to want me

I want you to want me