Patty Andrews


The Andrews Sisters were way before my time, but they represent a cultural touchstone that still gets referred to today.  They inspired countless other singing groups, imitations, and parodies.  I remember seeing Looney Tunes versions of them (though I don’t remember exactly which cartoons).  And they sang beautifully together, the way that sometimes only family can.

Patty Andrews died yesterday at 94.  She was the last surviving sister.

While I try to avoid most of this era’s music, I love “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”  It’s so light-hearted and cheerful, exactly the kind of song needed to boost morale during WWII.  Even though the video sucks, the footage in this clip is kind of amazing.  I like seeing the world through other eyes this way.  Life during WWII is something none of us can possibly imagine, even though we’ve been living with war for more than a decade in this country.  The level of unity and sacrifice was almost unprecedented.  (Yes, there were people opposed to the war; knowing myself the way I do, I might have been one of them.  Even though stopping Hitler and the others was absolutely necessary, I have always believed there was a lot we should have done to prevent any of it from happening in the first place.  But this is not the place for a history lesson.)  The Andrews Sisters were just part of the cultural machine driving the war effort.  It was a different  time.  And even though the music was a product of its time, it doesn’t dim the light pouring from the lovely voices of Patty and her sisters.

Click here for more information on Patty Andrews and her life.

Got Live If You Want It: The Hollywood Bowl


It’s been a while since I’ve been to the Bowl.  Two or three years, I think.  For those of you who don’t live in SoCal, it is the perfect place to go see a concert of any sort–everything sounds good there.  Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, it is blessed with history, beauty, and an aura of otherworldliness.  It’s like you leave the freeways, pollution, crime, and superficiality of California behind and land in this green theater filled with music and magic.

image from

Pretty, isn’t it?

I’ve seen Yo-Yo Ma there.  I’ve seen Sting, Fleetwood Mac, and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers there (twice for the last one).  I like to sit in the cheap seats (those benches in the foreground of the image; you can rent a cushion for seventy-five cents if you don’t bring your own).  It sounds just as good, and I’ve long since lost the need to be right next to the speakers.  You can bring your own food and wine, and dine under the stars.  That’s really great if you take advantage of Park & Ride, which gives you time to sober up before you get home–and ensures you don’t have to deal with the nightmare of parking at the Bowl itself.  (Park & Ride is this fabulous system in which you park at a pre-determined meeting spot near your home, and ride a bus up to the Bowl.  It saves time, only costs a little extra, and you might even make friends on the way.)

One of my fondest memories is going to see The Who in 2002, their first show after the death of John Entwhistle.  It was also right after my aunt had died, so I was feeling really melancholy.  I went with the BFF, who called me spur of the moment to go.  We just felt the need to be there, to honor the memory of one of our musical idols.  It was a breathtaking and cathartic experience.

I found out later that one of my mom’s (and aunt’s) cousins and his wife were at the show, too, probably feeling a lot of the same things I was.  The whole audience was transported.  I know I couldn’t have been the only one brought to tears by their rendition of “Love Reign O’er Me” that night (wish I could’ve found a clip of that).

The Hollywood Bowl just released its 2013 schedule, and I want to try to hit a couple shows there this year.  The ABBA show might be fun, but I’ll bet everyone will want to see that.  It’s just so much damn fun to be out in the open air, surrounded by trees and music and joy.  We could all use a little more joy in our lives.







“Paradise by the Dashboard Light”


Bat Out of Hell occupies a strange place in music history.  It is simultaneously one of the best-selling albums of all time (43 million copies, according to Wikipedia) and a cult classic.  Hell, in some ways, it’s a cult unto itself.  It featured almost operatic rock, with songs reaching both epic lengths and epic production. Meatloaf possessed one of the biggest voices in rock at the time.  Producer Todd Rundgren was famous for his talent and overblown ego.  Everything about it was just huge.

“Paradise by the Dashboard Light” is one of the biggest tracks on the album.  It features Meatloaf dueting with Ellen Foley (she played Billie on Night Court for a couple of seasons).  The story is all teenage melodrama.  Boy and girl start getting hot & heavy in boy’s car until girl demands to know “Do you love me?  Will you love me forever?  Do you need me?  Will you never leave me?  Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?  Will take me away?  Will you make me your wife?”  Boy, in a lust-induced moment of insanity, pledges to love girl “till the end of time.”  Of course, they end the song praying for the end of time.

The song changes gears repeatedly, the mood swinging from ecstatic to angry to depressed.  It even features a mock baseball play-by-play call featuring Yankee legend Phil Rizzuto, playing beautifully on that old metaphor for how far you go in a make-out session.  It seems to encompass the whole of teenage experience in one song–all the joy and freedom of being “barely seventeen and barely dressed” to the disappointing realization that real life is never going to measure up to fantasy.

I’ve always kind of loved everything about Bat Out of Hell.  It’s excessiveness is part of it charm.  I’m not in the mood for it very often, but when I need a little dose of big guitars and inflated sentiment, I go straight for Meatloaf.

“It’s Not My Birthday”


Okay, so actually today is my birthday, but I have the feeling it’s not going to be my best ever.  It won’t be bad, per se, just overshadowed by life.  I haven’t checked my work email yet, but I should be tutoring today (unless there’s a drop call because it’s been duller than doornails over there).  Dad has some issues (nothing bad, just irritating for him and me).  Mom has been sick (that reminds me, I should call her later).  I need to put away/do laundry.  There’s just a myriad of little things that ensures today will be . . . pretty ordinary.  I’m probably going to even end up cooking dinner tonight.  (Okay, here’s my one semi-real birthday-related peeve.  My father thinks nothing of getting the whole family together for everyone else’s birthday, including my brother’s, but never makes a family gathering out of mine.  He’ll take me out to dinner usually, but no one else gets called.  I’m not really feeling the love here.)

Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not really complaining.  And I suck at remembering other people’s birthdays (except for family and my BFF), so I shouldn’t expect them to remember mine.  Most of the music birthdays I’ve posted about I discovered by accident.  So I think I’ll take TMBG’s tack here:

“It’s not my birthday.  It’s not today.  It’s not my birthday, so why do you lunge out at me?  When the world comes down, never more will be around.  Though I’ll wish you were there, I was less than we could bear, and I’m not the only dust my mother raised.”



It’s gonna take a few days to get our old phone number ported over to the new service (the best estimate I could get was “sometime on Tuesday”), so until it happens, I’ll worry that it won’t.  We had trouble the last time.  As a result, I’ve got phone numbers on the brain, hence this wonderfully strange little classic from one-hit wonder Tommy Tutone.

Tommy Tutone wasn’t a person; it was the name of the band.  They were one of the pop-rock artists that came out of the San Francisco area in the late 70s-early 80s, like Huey Lewis and the News and The Tubes.  The video was in heavy rotation on MTV for years after the song charted in 1982.  It was also one of the better early videos, with the band members playing roles in a psychological mini-drama.

When you think about, “867-5309/Jenny” is a seriously creepy song.  For those of you too young to remember, writing names and numbers on bathroom walls was a big deal.  Guys used to get back at girls for perceived wrongs by making the girls sound easy, writing “for a good time call.”  There were probably a few . . . vivacious young ladies who weren’t opposed to entertaining random phone calls from strangers looking for no-strings sex.  But usually it was used as a tactic to smear the reputation of some otherwise proper girl for what was probably a trivial reason.  The song and video up the icky quotient by making the character in the song little more than a stalker: “Jenny, I got your number.  I need to make you mine.  Jenny, don’t change your number, 867-5309.”  It’s the kind of thing restraining orders were created for.

There was a little real life mini-drama about the song.  The reason songs, movies, TV shows, etc. always use “555” as the prefix to fictional phone numbers is that “555” never leads to any place real; it won’t connect you to anything.  (Remember, even before my time, the first three numbers of a phone number actually used to be a location of some sort.  That’s why all the phone numbers in a certain area all start the same.  I don’t know when area codes were added.)  But this song used what was a legitimate phone number.  As a result, places with the number “867-5309” started getting a lot of phone calls for some chick named Jenny. I have the feeling that number isn’t in use anymore, but you also don’t hear too many songs with phone numbers in them anymore.  (Squeeze’s  “853-5937” from 1987 was the last one I can think of; you probably shouldn’t call that number, either.)

Luckily, I won’t have to deal with anything more annoying than robocalls and telemarketers when we get the old number back “sometime on Tuesday.”

“Spill the Wine”


Okay, I’m gonna be honest with y’all here.  At a family birthday celebration today (my uncle’s father-in-law is 90 . . . Happy Birthday, John Ross!!!), I had a little too much wine.  So I am officially not good for anything right now.  And if you knew how much effort it took me to type three sentences correctly, then you’d know just how much I had.

Peace out!

Not-So-Freaky Friday: The Strypes


Note: I am connected!  Our new service is up and running.  Now all we have to do is get the old phone number ported over (we’ve had it since our family moved here some 35 years ago).  But the ruckus has kept me from researching a good freak for today.  Regular Freaky Friday programming will resume next week.

This isn’t really a proper Freaky Friday post.  Or maybe it is, because I am not ashamed to admit that I am freaked the fuck out by this band.  They’re proof that time travel is possible.  Or human cloning.  Or that aliens are doing something not terribly kosher.  I don’t know.  Oh, just watch the damn video, and judge for yourself.

Do you see why they’ve got me all aflutter?  I know virtually nothing about The Strypes, whom I discovered through this post on Dangerous Minds, except that they are Irish and children.  And that they are really the Rolling Stones.  It’s kind of spooky.  Actually, if I weren’t old enough to be their mother, I might be a little bit in love right now.