Category Archives: BACK.

Yes. Yes. & Yes!

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Just as we were putting together the post production to touches to the latest edition of Life Elsewhere, news came in that the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriageInstantly, we decided we needed to hear from frequent contributors to the program and get their opinions on this landmark ruling. Sir Mix-A-Lot, the legendary rap artist, already booked to voice his opinions on the Charleston massacre, gladly gives his honest take on the Supreme Court’s edict. Mix who has a passion for fabulous cars, was taking one of his Italian roadsters for a spin, through the Cascades mountains, east of his home in Seattle, as the interview took place. It would seem the horsepower in his motor was a little too eager and quicker than our cell phone connection, but we did capture enough of Mix‘s opinions to make it worth your while to stay listening to the whole program.

We asked frequent contributors Audrey Bilger and David Warner to voice their opinions on the Supreme Court’s ruling. Audrey a professor of literature and co-author of Here Come the Brides!: Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage admits to being elated. While David Warner, editor-in-chief of Creative Loafing, Tampa, tearfully says he became giddy when he heard the news.

Also in the program Stephen Witt talks about his new book, How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy. This is the enthralling story of the birth of mp3’s, streaming music, the music piracy revolution and the mysterious man who almost singlehandedly took down the music industry. Coincidently, Taylor Swift‘s complaint against Apple happened as Stephen Witt‘s book is published. 

Plus, this week’s Hit That Never Was features Ashley MacIsaac, a Canadian fiddler, singer and songwriter from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. MacIsaac caused controversy back in the early 90’s by announcing he was gay, when that was just not done by an aspiring musical act. From his 2003 self-titled album, you’ll hear Lay Me Down, a terrific qualifier for the Hit That Never Was.

This is a bumper-packed edition of Life Elsewhere and we urge you not to miss one moment. Life Elsewhere airs Sunday, June 28 at 12 noon ET on The Source WMNF HD3 and Monday, June 29 at 5.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio

There are new additions to the BACK. page, take a look and enjoy the links Norman B has curated for your viewing pleasure.

The Original Louie Louie & New Music

For the Hit That Never Was this week we selected a request from Spencer, who wrote: “Dear Mr. B, I read that Jack Elyformer singer of The Kingsmen who had a hit with Louie Louie, died this past week, age 71. The article went onto say The Kingsmen‘s was the original version. I don’t think that is true. Am I correct in thinking there was an earlier version by Richard Berry? If I’m right, can you play that version as this week’s Hit That Never Was?”

Spencer is absolutely correct, and we will play the “original” version of Louie Louie for the Hit That Never Was. Singer Richard Berry wrote Louie Louie in 1955. Berry was inspired to write the new calypso-style song, Louie Louie, based on the Rhythm Rockers‘ version of René Touzet‘s El Loco Cha Cha, and also influenced by Chuck Berry’s Havana MoonBerry also stated he had Frank Sinatra’s One For My Baby in mind when writing the lyrics. One night waiting backstage at the Harmony Club Ballroom, Berry took the rhythm of El Loco Cha Cha, and began to add lyrics, writing them down on toilet paper. Richard Berry & The Pharaohs recorded and released the song as the B-side to his cover of You Are My Sunshine on Flip Records in 1957. It was re-released as an A-side and, when the group toured the Pacific Northwest, several local R&B bands began to adopt the song and established its popularity. It finally became a major hit when The Kingsmen‘s raucous version – with little trace of its calypso-like origins other than in its lyrics – became a national and international hit in 1963 (Paul Revere & The Raiders also recorded the tune in the same studio the week after The Kingsmen, but their version was not a hit). The nearly unintelligible (and innocuous) lyrics were widely misinterpreted as obscene, and the song was banned by radio stations and even investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The song has been recorded over 1,000 times, However, Berry received little financial reward for its success for many years, having sold the copyright for $750 in 1959 to pay for his wedding. Berry commented in 1993, “Everybody sold their songs in those days. I never was bitter with the record companies. They provided a vehicle for five young black dudes to make a record.” In the mid eighties Berry was living on welfare at his mother’s house in South Central L.A.. Drinks company California Cooler wanted to use Louie Louie in a commercial, but discovered they needed Berry‘s signature to use it. They asked the Artists’ Rights society to locate him, and a lawyer visited Berry. The lawyer mentioned the possibility of Berry taking action to gain the rights to his song. The publishers settled out of court, making Berry a millionaire.

We’ll also introduce you to new music Norman B has discovered. First up, out of the UK, London-based DJ and producer, Throwing Shadewith Honeytrap featuring Emily Bee. The track serves as a taster for the upcoming sophomore EP, Fate Xclusive, due out on May 25th. When asked where and when Honeytrap would sound best, the answer was “whilst walking languidly through London on a hot summer evening.” We think it sounds excellent at anytime…anywhere.

Staying in the UK, we head down to Brighton, on the south coast and find Inad, a solo musician with the seemingly sweet Blue Nue. Yet listen closer and notice its got off-kilter sounds and a lovely guitar part. Also, we wondered if the title should be Crazy! Listen to the show and tell us what you think? We understand the record is coming out sometime this month on Hello Thor Records.

Make sure you visit our BACK. page and scroll down for many more of Norman B’s musical discoveries.

Life Elsewhere, airs Sunday, May 3, 12 noon ET, at The Source WMNF HD3 and Monday, May 4, 5.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio

Marilyn Wedge. Gwen McCrae. John Szwed.

          

Next on Life Elsewhere we’ll cover three divergent topics. First, Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D. a family therapist who has helped children, adolescents and families since 1988 talks about her new book, A Disease Called Childhood: Why ADHD Became an American Epidemic. She asks, what some believe are controversial questions, such as, “Is ADHD a genetically based disorder?” “What roles do schools play in a child’s getting an ADHD diagnosis?” “What does neuroscience teach us about ADHD?” “Is there anything parents can do to help their ADHD child besides giving them medication?” Marilyn Wedge will talk candidly with Norman B about big pharma and the truth behind ADHD diagnosis.

This week’s Hit That Never Was features a singer who grew up in Pensacola, Florida, singing in her pentecostal church, later she discovered secular singers like Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin. She began performing in local clubs as a teenager, and singing with local groups like the Lafayettes and the Independents. In 1963, she met a young sailor named George McCrae, whom she married within a week. Following husband George‘s  unexpected solo success with Rock Your Baby, she went on to have a major hit of her own in 1975 with Rockin’ Chair. Gwen McCrae went on to have a follow up hit with Love Insurance, but by this time the separate successes of George and herself took a toll on their marriage. Gwen moved on to have a few minor chart entries, but by the mid 80’s her records were mostly revered by the UK’s Northern Soul scene. Our Hit That Never Was, 90% of Me Is You never made a big dent in the charts but has consistently enjoyed rave reviews from the always enthusiastic Northern Soul scene.

When Billie Holiday stepped into Columbia’s studios in November 1933, it marked the beginning of what is arguably the most remarkable and influential career in ?twentieth-century popular music. Her voice weathered countless shifts in public taste, and new reincarnations of her continue to arrive, most recently in the form of singers like Amy Winehouse and Adele. Most of the writing on Holiday has focused on the tragic details of her life—her prostitution at the age of fourteen, her heroin addiction and alcoholism, her series of abusive relationships—or tried to correct the many fabrications of her autobiography. But now, Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth stays close to the music, to her performance style, and to the self she created and put into print, on record and on stage. Drawing on a vast amount of new material that has surfaced in the last decade, critically acclaimed jazz writer John Szwed considers how her life inflected her art, her influences, her uncanny voice and rhythmic genius, a number of her signature songs, and her legacy. Don’t miss Norman B’s conversation with John Szwed as he passionately talks about Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth.

Life Elsewhere, airs every Sunday, at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time at The Source on WMNF HD 3. Click on this link and then click on The Source. The show is repeated every Monday, at 5.00pm Pacific Standard Time on NWCZ Radio. The show will also be available at Soundcloud.

Check the cultural links at BACK.

Do You Speak English & Is The Pope Catholic?

Our headline is made up of two jokey rhetorical questions. The first, more commonly heard in the USA, is often used as an insult or at best as an inquiry to comprehension. The second, possibly more colloquial in the UK, where sardonically stating the obvious is a part of everyday British life and humor. Those differences in the use of language in Britain and America form the basis of a witty new book, That’s Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us. Author, Erin Moore will join Norman B to talk about how two nations share a common language but often misunderstand what each other are saying. Erin and Norman will also discuss and say, naughty four-letter words. Norman B has no doubt Pope Francis is catholic, despite having used the “Is the Pope…” line almost as many times as he’s had hot dinners. But he will ask Garry Wills if the Pope is relevant. Mr Wills’s new book, The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis could be a plodding dry academic read, instead the author explains a complex subject adroitly. As a counterpoint to the lighter part of the program on Britishisms and Americanisms, Norman B’s interview with Garry Wills will take a serious but revealing tact with questions on Pope Francis’s future dictums on birth control, abortion and Islam.

Make you do not miss the next edition of Life Elsewhere, we air every Sunday, at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time at The Source on WMNF HD 3. Click on this link and then click on The Source. The show is repeated every Monday, at 5.00pm Pacific Standard Time on NWCZ Radio. The show will also be available at Soundcloud.

Check the cultural links at BACK.

Bowie – Song By Song

Young Bowie

Have you ever heard Cygnet Committee  or Alternative Candidate? Two songs, most fans of the man who wrote Space Oddity  are probably not familiar with. Those two rarities, along with Space Oddity,  Man Who Sold the WorldStation To Station  and many more are featured in a new book, Rebel Rebel. This exhaustive and fascinating publication covers David Bowie’s output from first his single in 1964 to Station To Station, his landmark album of 1976. This is volume  one, of what will be the entire discography of Bowie’s recorded work.  Author Chris O’Leary, a past guest on Life Elsewhere, digs deep into the history of each Bowie song, scrupulously examining every one, with a break down of who recorded it, who played on it and produced it, when it was played live or broadcast on TV or radio. He also provides critical interpretations of Bowie’s music and lyrics, as well as how Bowie’s  personal history and cultural trends collided to inspire a particular song, whether it was Tibetan Buddhism, the Apollo moon landing, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four or Philadelphia Soul.

“There had never been so self-conscious an act as Bowie’s in pop before,” writes Chris O’Leary, he continues, “Only the prosperous, youthheady, pop music emporia that was Britain and America in the Sixties and Seventies could have produced Bowie the rock musician. Had he come early in the 20th Century, he would have been a painter or a music hall performer; had he come today, he’d likely be writing for Image Comics.”

Die-hard fans, music lovers and everyone interested in popular culture cannot miss the next edition of Life Elsewhere, when Chris O’Leary will join Norman B to unravel the facts, explain the real stories and play rarities of David Bowie songs.

Life Elsewhere airs Sundays, at 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  and Mondays, at 5.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio

Make sure you check out the cultural links at BACK.

Life Elsewhere is now available at Soundcloud

 

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