Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Culture”

Here’s Looking At You, Kid

 

IT MAY HAVE SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME, but who would want to get a tattoo on their face? It seems to be a permanent response to a temporary thought. And its gotta hurt.

Getting tattooed, at least in Western cultures, used to be solely in the realm of sailors and cheap crooks. Not any more. These days millions of people get a little butterfly or whatever inked on their body usually in a location where only a lover or a doctor would ever see it. However, there are people who just don’t know when to say “Enough.”

The idea of getting facial tattoos still remains largely in the prison/criminal gang subculture. There are others who get facial “tats” who are not criminals. I would put them in the file drawer under “I didn’t know I could drink that much” or just plain “Nuts.”

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A View From The Corner

 

WHO NEEDS TELEVISION? Who needs movies? Who needs any form of traditional entertainment when you’ve got people walking around? Every day, free of charge, there is a non-stop parade of the Human Animal passing by in all its variety. I almost said, “Passing by in all its Glory,” but Glory is rare in humanity. Variety is a better word to describe the people I see every day.

People Watching is more fun than Movies or TV. With the actors on the screen, who are always good looking and mouthing someone else’s words, they are following a Director’s commands. Their moves are predictable and rarely surprising. However, the folks wandering in front of my astigmatic eyeballs are anything but predictable and continue to surprise me on a daily basis.

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“Do You Love me?” – Reblog from The Immortal Jukebox

Today we offer a reblog from “The Immortal Jukebox” about one of the early Motown Singing groups: The Contours and their hit, “Do You Love Me?”

Everybody dance!

The Contours : Do You Love Me (Motown – The Empire lifts off!)

 

 

‘ You broke my heart ’cause I couldn’t dance
You didn’t even want me around
And now I’m back to let you know
I can really shake ’em down!’ (Berry Gordy)

Roma uno die non est condita.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

It takes time to found a mighty Empire that will conquer all the known world.

So, from the founding of Rome (let’s say 753BC) to the final defeat of Carthage it was all of 600 years.

It is therefore somewhat remarkable it took Berry Gordy less than a decade from the founding of Motown in 1959 to establish an Empire that colonised the hearts and souls of music fans from Addis Abbaba to Zanzibar and Zagreb!

An $800 loan from his family became a multi, multi million dollar record company which would record songs that will last as long as we have Spirits that need lifting, hearts that need stirring (or consolation) and hips that just gotta move.

First, get yourself a base that you own.

Let’s show our ambition and call this base, ‘Hitsville USA’.

A Studio come Clubhouse where your singers and musicians can find competition and camaraderie 24 hours a day (acording to legend the local beat cop thought 2648 West Grand Drive Boulevard must be an all hours drinking den given the numbers of shady looking characters turning up at all hours of the day and night).

Next get yourself a live and play in the Basement group of musicians with Jazz chops who can fashion a wholly new sound – which is not jazz, not old school R&B, Blues or Rock n’ Roll.

Let’s call them The Funk Brothers and let’s have one of them, James Jamerson on Bass, be a fully fledged genius who will add grace and depth to every recording he ever plays on.

Let’s have a slogan calling that sound, ‘The Sound of Young America’ and let’s make so many great records that the slogan will became an every day reality on the airwaves and the charts.

And, we don’t mean, in still highly segregated America, the Black Music Charts .

No, no, no.

We mean the Pop Music charts.

Where the real money is to be made.

Open for Business and cast a cool appraising eye on all the would be stars who beat a path to your door.

This kid Smokey Robinson’s a Keeper – he’s got a notebook with hundreds of songs and he can sing ’em like a bird and work the Recording Desk too!

Not that I can’t write and produce myself.

You ever heard, ‘Reet Petite’ or, ‘Lonely Teardrops’?

Big Hits but Berry didn’t get the money!

Not going to happen again!

So, in 1960, New Frontier!, we get our first hit.

Barrett Strong with, ‘Money’ (bunch of English guys in Hamburg called The Beatles will learn a lot playing that one!).

Then Smokey comes up with, ‘Shop Around’ and by the end of the year we got a Million Seller!

Here comes 1961 and we get ourselves our first Pop Number One!

The Marvellettes, ‘Please Mr Postman’.

I got my eyes and ears on that Brian Holland – there’s a lot more hits where that came from!

Early ’62 I figure we need to find a song like, ‘Twist and Shout’ that will have all the White Kids, all the Black Kids and everybody who ain’t tied to a chair out on the floor and running down to the record store to lay down their cash.

Let’s call it, ‘Do You Love Me’.

I thought it might suit The Temptations but maybe they just sing too well for this one (I got big plans for them later).

So, what about The Contours?

 

Probably the best dancers of anyone who ever came through these doors!

Come to think of it Billy Gordon got a, ‘Wake the Dead and get ’em up Dancin” Voice if I ever heard one!

Next time they come through I’m gonna sit down at the piano and teach them the song one evening and record it the next day.

Gonna tell James to drive this one like a runaway train.

None of his fancy jazz licks – nail that backbeat to the Basement floor!

Of course, when Benny Benjamin is behind the Drums, the record is going to sound immense.

Immense.

Maybe I’ll start with a spoken intro and then let The Funk Brothers explode and tell Billy I don’t want him to be able to sing this song a second time ’cause I want him to tear his throats to shreds the first time!

Ok – let’s go!

Now, if that ain’t shaking ’em down I don’t know what is!

The Funk Brothers never let up and Billy Gordon’s lead vocal comes at you like a tidal wave.

Hubert Johnson, Billy Higgs, Joe Billingslea and Sylvester Potts make up a chorus that has an irresitble goofball charm. The trilling guitar comes from Huey Davis.

When I’ve managed to master some skill which has previously eluded me (and there’s a lot of them!) I just can’t stop myself singing, ‘I’ m back and I can really shake ’em down – Watch me now!’.

I love the corny spoken introduction, the false ending, the references to the Mashed Potato and The Twist and the bullfrog, ‘Um, Bom, Bom, Bom, brrrmm’ backing vocals.

Of course Berry got his hit!

Top 5 in every Chart and well over a Million copies sold.

They say it was the fastest selling single in the history of Motown.

Malheureusement, it was the pinnacle of The Contours career though they did make a handful of other excellent recordings.

They were simply too low down in the pecking order of Motown Vocal Groups.

And, when you consider they were up against the likes of The Four Tops and The Tempatations that is hardly to be wondered at.

There’s almost always been a version of the group out there driving a crowd crazy with, ‘Do You Love Me’.

And, by some mysterious alignment of the heavens, in 1987 the song gained a wholly unexpected new lease of life through being featured in the world wide hit film. ‘Dirty Dancing’ (even if they did, disgracefully, chop off the ending!).

One of the versions of The Contours got to go on a world tour and enjoy the big time once again.

Not so, for poor Billy Gordon.

For Billy died in poverty after spending time in prison (bizarrely with one time colleague Joe Billingslea being a Corrections Officer in the Prison!).

So it goes. So it goes.

Yet, every day someone, somewhere, has their life lit up by hearing Billy intone:

You broke my heart ’cause I couldn’t dance
You didn’t even want me around
And now I’m back to let you know
I can really shake ’em down!

And then, if they’ve got any blood in their veins they’ll go stone crazy for the next two and a half minutes.

Watch me Now!

Dedicated to :

Billy Gordon (RIP)

Sylvester Potts (RIP)

Hubert Johnson (RIP)

Huey Davis (RIP)

James Jamerson (RIP)

Benny Benjamin (RIP)

Joe Billingslea

Billy Hoggs

Notes:

Britain’s Ace Records has two excellent complications documenting The Contours recorded legacy.

Tracks to look out for –

‘First I Look at the Purse’

‘Whole Lotta Woman’

‘Shake Sherry’

‘Just A Little Misunderstanding’

The Contours : Do You Love Me (Motown – The Empire lifts off!)

Be Nice And Bring Money

IT TAKES A LOT TO MAKE ME LAUGH OUT LOUD. If you want to sit in a room that is really quiet just be there with 50 comedians who are listening to another comedian perform. Those 50 comedians will be nodding their heads or looking around the room, but they won’t be laughing. They are sitting there analyzing what they are hearing – tearing it apart down to the last molecule of wit. I’m kind of like that too. I’m not THAT bad, but something really has to set off an alarm to get me to guffaw and chortle. It is even harder to do if it is something in print. Then I’m really a tough audience.

I laughed out loud this morning.

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May The Farce Be With You

MY WIFE, THE LOVELY AND WONDERFULLY OBSERVANT, DAWN, and I were having a discussion about our favorite movies when the “Star Wars” franchise came up. I remember seeing the first film back in 19…whatever it was. I know we had electricity, so it was sometime after World War One. It’s been a while that I know.

I enjoyed the movie, but despite all of the special effects and nifty costuming, I realized that “Star Wars” was really just a Cowboy Movie. It was a fun and rollicking Cowboy Movie to be sure, but an Oater nonetheless.

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It Is All In The Statistics

THERE IS AN OLD SAYING about Truth and Lies. That goes something like, “There are three kinds of deception – Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.” The clever wag that coined that must have worked for either a Government or an Internet company.

I’m not accusing anyone of telling lies! OK? I’m just saying that some things are very hard to believe – particularly in the area of Statistics.

This morning I was tiptoeing through the statistical backwater of this blog and I saw some numbers that made me stop, wipe the sleep from my eyes, and down a fresh cup of coffee.

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There Is A Scheme To This Rhyme

  1. “Oh, Spring! Child of the aged Winter, up from the ice and cold with promises of dewy life and coursing warmth. You are most welcome.

“The empty nests in high branches above are homes again with small lives that will grow to sing with their joy of life.

“The icy winds, fleeing as the South moves with the sun and those holy words from men all in blue, ‘Play ball!’”

— Joey Bagadonuts

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This Is Not What I Had In Mind

THERE ARE MORNINGS WHEN I WISH HAD OVERSLEPT. If I was still unconscious I would blissfully miss things that, if awake, I would later end up regretting. Today I was up early.

As I sat there slumped over my coffee trying to find inspiration I was slowly surrounded by several members of the “Usual Suspects” who haunt the chapel of St. Arbucks. Normally, I could ignore them as they carry on, but this morning they snagged me.

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A New Game In Town

IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU CAN SAY about Terre Haute (That’s French for “What time does the game start?”) it is that this town loves Sports. Basketball is the King of Sports around here. It is as close to a secular religion as one can get without taking vows. After basketball you can always find an organized football game going on any time of year.

Terre Haute is the home of the Terre Haute Rex minor league baseball team. Just about any sport you can name will find avid aficionados here along the banks of the Wabash, but now a newcomer has joined the list of sports being enjoyed here: Cricket.

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Cry Havoc, And Let Slip The Dogs Of Law!

OBVIOUS NEWS FLASH!

The ranks of the Super-Rich are about to expand by one new member – a rather dorky looking Doctor from Chicago.

By this time I’m sure that everyone has heard the story about the fellow who was dragged from an aircraft, beaten, and bloodied by Private Security Officers in Chicago. I hope that the CFO of the Parent Company of United Airlines has a nice new pen handy because he is going to be writing a lot of checks in an attempt to settle a parade of lawsuits that are going to sprout up. Salivating lawyers are lined up and ready to eviscerate the “Friendly Skies.”

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In This Sign You Shall Fluff Dry

I POPPED INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD LAUNDROMAT the other day to take care of a few of my “nice and frilly” things when I saw a handwritten sign taped to the wall,

“Free Wi-Fi! Enjoy your time with us.”

Well, I thought that was the most sociable thing I’d ever seen in a laundromat. Most of their signs are of the “Do this” or “Don’t do that,” variety. I remember seeing a sign in a laundromat years ago that said,

“Do not put children in the dryers!”

Always sound advice I would say.

While I was waiting for my things to finish drying I overheard a woman speaking with the young lady behind the service counter. The woman had also seen the sign on the wall and had a question.

“What is this free ‘Wee-Fee’ and how do I get some?”

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It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

ONE OF THE THINGS I REALLY ENJOY about doing this blog is the freedom of expression it allows me. Monday through Friday is pretty much of a Nonsense Dance. I can let my “Silly Gene” run wild. Mutations happen.

Each week I know that I can come up with about five things that can make me, and hopefully a few readers, laugh – or at least giggle.

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I Need A New Shirt

THE RAVAGES OF TIME HAVE TAKEN THEIR TOLL ON MY WARDROBE. At least on the part I care the most about – my Hawaiian shirts. The rest of my clothes are there solely to avoid public prosecution, frostbite, and scaring animals and the rest of the population. I do have jeans that have holes in them and shoes that have outlasted their laces, but I cannot allow my Hawaiian shirts to paint me with a colorful deterioration.

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I Kinda Like The Idea

“IT’S GOOD TO BE KING!” – Mel Brooks

Even in a world with very few Monarchs who are anything more than figureheads being a King still sounds like a good job. The days have passed when mobs of peasants used to storm the Palace with torches and pitchforks. Very few people have pitchforks anymore and I don’t recall ever seeing anyone carrying a real, honest to goodness torch. Yes, I think that might be the job for me – “King Krafty.” That has a nice ring to it.

There are only a couple of obstacles in my way.

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What Is This Stuff?

faber1TO QUOTE THE FOUNDER OF THAT GREAT INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING – FABER COLLEGE, “KNOWLEDGE IS GOOD.”

Knowledge is that which is universally agreed upon to be really good “Stuff”. And it is better to go through life with good “Stuff”.

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Don’t Panic

 

“I REFUSE TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION ON THE GROUNDS THAT I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER.”

— Douglas Adams

I wish that more people would adopt that practice. As each day slops over into the next I become more and more exhausted by people who think that they have THE answer to, not only every question that people ask, but also to the questions that nobody bothers asking.

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Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

joy1HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!

The sun is back rising in the east. Up is up. Down is down and Baseball is soon to reappear and…

My favorite little hole in the wall Chinese restaurant is open again. It was closed last August when two “youths” decided to burn down the Dollar Store next door. A brilliant move it was not. Not only did the fire gut the Dollar Store, but smoke and water damage destroyed my favorite little family run restaurant. All of this just a bagel’s thrown from St. Arbucks. But now…

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A Quiet Morning – Screaming Comes Later

quiet2ON A QUIET MORNING LIKE THIS ONE WHEN IT’S JUST ME AND MY COFFEE I can feel the tensions of Life sloughing off like frost off the car’s rear window.

It is 16° degrees outside, but I don’t mind it right now because it keeps some people at home and away from me.

These days it seems like most people are screaming – at one another, at the government, at the world, at themselves. When things don’t go the way they like they start to scream thinking that will make things better – “Better” being the way they want things to be. It doesn’t work of course. It never has, it never will.

Self-Delusion is so much neater than Reality.

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Throwback Thursday from February 2016

Throwback Thursday from February 2016

What’s In A Song?

Columbus 4.gifA COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO my wife, the lovely and thought provoking, Dawn, posted a question on Facebook that made a lot of people stop and think.

She asked for, “Songs / musical pieces that bring you to tears or grab you and won’t let go.” 

That was not as easy a request as I first thought.

I am a music lover. My tastes range through just about every genre that you can think of. What I have playing in the car could make you scratch your head. I have Hard Rock, Opera, Country, Oldies, Jimmy Buffett, Broadway, Blues, Pop, Classical, Jazz, and even a Folk number or two. I usually have it going in a Random Mode, but if one song or artist hits a nerve I slide into Repeat Mode.

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Not Just Another Day

val1IN CASE YOU HAVE BEEN LIVING IN A CAVE for the last six weeks or so let me be the one to tell you – Today is Valentine’s Day. And you time is running out if you wish to live.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday dedicated to Love, Candy, and Greeting Cards. There is nothing else like it. Christmas may dominate when it comes to the cards and Halloween has a lock on the candy thing, but no other day – not even Opening Day of Baseball Season – can do Love like Valentine’s Day.

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