I was saddened today to read about the December 22 passing of Ruth Wallis, a singer from the 40's through 60's who specialized in creative naughtiness. Born in Brooklyn (where else?), she sang with Benny Goodman and owned her own record label, but it was her risque tunes like, "The Dinghy Song" ("He had the cutest little dinghy in the Navy") that brought her the most fame and which became the basis for an unlikely 2003 Broadway hit, Boobs! The Musical: The World According to Ruth Wallis. Here are a few classic couplets from the Wallis-penned title tune:
"You've gotta be filled
Two fried eggs will never grab him like grapefruits will
(And they're both breakfast foods)
But listen girls, don't try to fool your lover
Remember, he can go to Good Year if he wants rubber"
"Just think if all us girls had boobies with fluorination
We could take the cavities out of the whole damn nation
A nibble a day keeps the dentist away"
"Some push 'em up
Some stick 'em out
And some keep 'em flappin' in the breeze
Some tie then down because if they don't
They would hang down to their knees
Just you tease"
Now that Christmas has come and gone, and my need to hear Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bells Rock" has subsided — I'm not sure but I think it has something to do with those electric guitar flourishes, it's seems an appropriate time to say something about the continuing and astonishing turmoil in the record business which according to most sources experienced a nearly 20 percent decline in sales of physical product compared with last Christmas.
"Cavalcade of merciless repetition," is how Jimmy Page described touring in the Sunday Times last week. I still say they're gonna tour but give them credit: they're being coy about being dragged into accepting all that cash.
Needless to say, I'm not in London waiting in line at O2 arena but that doesn't mean my thoughts, like those of about every other music fan on the planet, aren't turned to what's going to happen this evening when Led Zeppelin ends two decades of silence and lets it rip in what's being billed as a one-off show for charity.
There are many nights when being a music writer comes down to the whining about the stark question: why am I dragging my ass out on the town again? What reason do I really have to see this act? Or to see this act one more time?
The new Miles Davis On The Corner set, which Sony says is the last metal boxed chunk of Miles they're gonna release, ever, is also the most beautiful, ever. Like the LP which reached its finest, most completely perfected form just before CDs came in, the boxed set is reaching its zenith with this one. The funky characters from the original cover are now stamped into the metal casing into which the set, book and CDs combined slip into. It's the same setup that Sony’s been using since the beginning of what has proved to be colossal reissue program.
First the sad. An old friend, harp player and all around sweetheart, Gary Primich passed away, suddenly as they say, in Austin on Sunday night. He was only 49. Although he'd had a solo career for some time, Gary was once a member of a smokin' Austin bar band called The Mannish Boys.
Hopefully the Meg White (or not) sex tape dustup will not engender a drummer sex tape trend. There are a lot of skin pounders that I for one have no desire to ever see in the buff. The mental images alone are like taking a woodburner to your brain.
To those who say the Bush Administration hasn't added anything meaningful to American society I say pshaw. He and Cheney have turned lying into an artform. Not lying exactly but a finer, more refined version of not telling the truth. It's still completely self-serving and wrong but now, if you have little or no education and/or sense of any kind, and you’re easily scared, these pronouncements sound vaguely plausible. It's all about the spin. The truth, in that view, is now relative. Everything is shaded and prismatic. Move several steps to the left and everything seems to look different. Looks like the truth. Sounds like the truth. There's a victory to be had in Iraq! Is it any wonder that we've become a more polarized society under the great decider.
The amount of flux in the world of music and the businesses of marketing and selling creativity continues to be absolutely amazing. In nearly 25 years of writing about music I’m seeing things I almost don't believe.
For good measure alone, Critics, particularly the cranky ones like I've recently become, all deserve a well–placed boot up the arse once in awhile and so, much to my delight I too loved much of The Simpsons movie I prematurely sniffed at last week on this forum. I even get to add this delicious addendum: The critics are wrong! It's pretty wonderful. Many great bits. Much self-deprecation. Maggie emerging as a full–blown character. Okay, okay: I was wrong.
Insider music biz stuff should in most cases stay that way because normal folk, what I like to call "civilians," don't care about who said what to whom in the bowels of some label HQ in Burbank or Manhattan. There's also something pitifully self-indulgent and exclusionary and ultimately pathetic about people who are in the know about the music biz and live to tell you about it.