Saturday, April 14, 2018

Da Da Da by Trio

The same friend who inspired yesterday's post about Billy Crystal also inspired today's post.  Here's a catchy number by a German band called Trio.  It was popular in 1982.

I remember hearing this song in the old teen sex movie, Private School.  My parents were pretty slack about monitoring what I watched on HBO.

Not surprisingly, this song's title is equally non-sensical.  It's called "Da Da Da" and it was a huge hit in Germany and 30 other countries.  Alas, Trio was not destined to hit the jackpot twice.  "Da Da Da" was their biggest hit and their only hit outside of Germany.  I'm not sure songwriting was their strong suit, although the melody is definitely an ear worm.  

You can hear "Da Da Da" on this ad for Private School...  Trio probably got well compensated for that.  

It was also used in a Volkswagen ad in 1997.

Although I was never into sex movies for teenagers, I do remember loving Private School.  It had some funny parts in it and a great soundtrack.  I was also horse crazy at the time and there was a very memorable scene involving horses in that movie.  Private School was released in 1983.  I turned eleven in June of that year.  No, I shouldn't have been watching it, but my parents didn't care.

I see someone posted the whole film on YouTube, but it's a bit distorted.  I could probably waste some serious time watching crappy 80s movies today, but the sun is out and it's the weekend.  So instead, I think I'll try to come up with something interesting to do.  

Friday, April 13, 2018

You Look Marvelous!

An old friend shared this today...  I had long ago forgotten about Billy Crystal's classic bit!

"You Look Marvelous" was a hit in 1985, which was 33 years ago!  I can't believe how quickly 33 years have passed!  The above video has a cameo by Sting and mentions of some of the biggest divas of the 80s.

Here's a video starring Billy Crystal, explaining where he got the inspiration for the song and his character "Fernando", who sings it.  Fernando was, of course, inspired by Fernando Lamas.  

I miss the days when Saturday Night Live was funny... and we had so many bigger than life stars... and our president wasn't a total schmuck.  Kudos to my old friend and Billy Crystal for making me smile today.

Billy Crystal talks about Muhammad Ali at Ali's funeral.  He got his start imitating Ali in 1974.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Fame reunion!

In the 80s, I was a big fan of the show, Fame.  You could say I watched it religiously, even though the storylines were kind of cheesy and the musical numbers were often either corny or badly sung.  Fame had a lot of good dancers, probably due to Debbie Allen's influence.  However, there were only a couple of good singers.  Lee Curreri, who played Bruno, was legitimately a talented keyboard player and composer, but his singing left something to be desired.

Anyway, Fame is evidently still very popular in Italy.  A few months ago, they had a reunion concert in Italy and quite a few of the original players gathered to sing the songs that were featured on the show.  Here are a few videos from that concert, as well as one they did at The Troubadour in Los Angeles to raise money for the Actors' Fund.

In loving memory of Fame players lost...

"Starmaker" again...  I'm struck by how nice Cynthia Gibb's voice is here.  She's obviously invested in a lot of training, since she sounds much better here than she did on the show.

This was one of my favorite songs on Fame...  I believe Lee Curreri actually composed this.  It sounds a bit like something Boz Scaggs would have recorded.  It holds up to time.

Nia Peeples sings one of her best known ballads from the show.  She was probably the best singer they had when the show aired.  Jesse Borrego is there to dance with her.  They were a couple on Fame before Nia's character, Nicole, was killed off.  I think in real life, Nicole was engaged to Carlo Imperato, who played Danny Amatullo.

Debbie Allen sings at the L.A. reunion.

And you can click here to see the Fame gang in Los Angeles, singing their iconic theme song.  I can't say this is the best rendition I've heard, but they sure look like they're having fun.  I best this show was a blast.  I think even Eartha Robinson got in on this one...  She was a dancer on the show!

I'm going to have to keep my eyes peeled for future Italy shows.  Apparently, they've done shows there at least twice since we moved back to Europe.  These clips are making me feel old, though... I can't believe the 80s were so long ago.  Where did the time go?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Ode to a dog...

Here's something from the "shit I never knew" file.  The song, "Shannon" by Henry Gross, is about a dead Irish Setter.  I found this out by listening to a recording of the late Casey Kasem going off about having to dedicate a song to some people whose dog, Snuggles, had just died.  Below is Casey's rant.

I grew up listening to Casey Kasem's Top 40 countdown every weekend.  I never knew he had such a potty mouth!

Anyway, this guy wrote to Casey Kasem about his dog who had died.  Casey was recording his show for September 14, 1985.  They had just played "Dare Me" by the Pointer Sisters.  Kasem thought it was inappropriate to do a death dedication after such an uptempo song.

"Shannon" was about Beach Boy Carl Wilson's dog, an Irish Setter, who had died.

Honestly, before today, I don't think I had ever heard this song in its entirety.  I do remember hearing snippets of it on one of those ads for compilation records.  "Shannon" was Henry Gross's big solo hit in 1976, even though he was part of the 50s parody act, Sha Na Na.  

Actually, as I watch my own dogs get older, I realize this song could end up being a comfort to me, too.  The song reminds me of something I'd hear on The Partridge Family or something.  But the melody is pretty enough.  Gross gave this song sort of a Beach Boys sound.  

There are several different stories about the song "Shannon".  This is the version that seems the most plausible to me.  I see it's also on Gross's own Web site, so I guess it's the truth.

It's a nice song... maybe a little bit corny, but anyone who has ever loved a dog understands the sentiment.  Losing them is the worst part of having them.

Friday, February 9, 2018


Hey!  It's time for the 2018 Olympics in South Korea!  For some reason, tonight I thought of this song for the first time since the 1980s...

Sergio Mendes did "Olympia" in 1984...  That was probably the last time I heard it.

I actually kind of like Sergio Mendes.  He did that classic duet "Never Gonna Let You Go" back in the 80s, which never gets old...

Someone's video of a classic song.

Sergio Mendes also did some other jazzy hits... some of which were not as well known as they should have been...

I like to sing this one myself.

"Olympia" has always kind of been etched on the brain.  I've always remembered the song, but never really felt like I needed to go out and find it.  Until tonight....  it's probably the second bottle of wine that's driving me.

Anyway, at least it's topical, right?  I can't believe 1984 was 34 years ago.  I am getting old as hell.  It brings me comfort to know that every day, I get closer to being beamed out of this world.  On another note, it's nice to be able to put the name of the artist with the song that's been beaming in and out of my head since the 1980s.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hey Ricky!

For some reason, I woke up with this song stuck on the brain...

It was in this morning's dream for some reason.  It's been redone by a whole bunch of people, but it seems the Skyliners were the first.

I was thinking about trying this song myself... but then another song came creeping in.  It was an old song by Weird Al Yankovic.  I hadn't heard it in many years until this morning, when I found it on YouTube.

"Hey Ricky" was one of Weird Al's first hits...  I give him credit for being very creative with the lyrics. I'm not sure it would have occurred to me to connect I Love Lucy with "Mickey".

Since Weird Al was born in the 50s, he no doubt used to watch I Love Lucy.  He probably saw it when it originally aired on prime time television.  In the early 80s, he turned the show into the subject of his parody song, "Ricky", which was inspired by the original hit, "Mickey", by Toni Basil.  Toni Basil's hit was a staple on MTV and HBO's Video Jukebox, so the video for that is etched on the brain.

It doesn't get much more 80s than this...

I always have something stuck on the brain.  My head is like a radio that never shuts off.  It usually plays what are now considered "oldies".  

I'm kind of giving some thought to playing around with some music today.  Hopefully, it'll rain.  That makes making music easier, mainly because people don't tend to linger outside when the rain is falling.  I feel less self-conscious.  Also, rain puts me in a moody frame of mind that lends itself to making music over writing blog posts.  

I wish I could remember what this morning's dream was about... but I do know it had a soundtrack.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Reposted review of Shining Star, Philip Bailey's life story!

Here's a reposted book review I wrote in 2015, before Maurice White died of Parkinson's Disease.  I'm putting it here for all who are interested...

Having been a child of the 1970s and 80s, I am well acquainted with the fusion genius of the band Earth, Wind & Fire. I had a sister who played their music all the time and, of course, I heard it on the radio non-stop. When I got older, I started to buy the band’s better known albums. I have always admired the great talents of the people who comprise the elements of Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF), especially the band’s founder, Maurice White, and falsetto frontman and conga player Philip Bailey. When I saw that Bailey had written a book about his life and experiences in EWF, I knew I had to read it. I just finished the book the other day and feel like I came away with new respect and knowledge for a very long running and talented band.

The band back in 1973.

Bailey co-wrote his book, Shining Star, with ghostwriters Kent and Keith Zimmerman, but I always got the sense that the words in this book were coming straight from Bailey himself. He starts at the beginning, explaining how his parents moved to Denver, Colorado, where he was born. Since Bailey’s father was a military man who had a rocky relationship with his mother, Bailey didn’t really know his dad until he was well into adulthood. He and his sister were primarily raised by his mother and his stepfather. Bailey expressly thanks the public education system of Denver, Colorado for giving him strong instruction in music. That education led him to his chosen career as one of the lead singers for one of the most influential, most talented, and best loved bands in music history. He also writes about Maurice White, who grew up in Memphis and eventually moved to Chicago, where his mother and stepfather, Verdine Adams, Sr., gave him two half brothers. Brothers Verdine White, the frenetic bass player for EWF, and drummer brother Freddie, changed their surnames to White’s out of a sense of solidarity with their older brother. 
Bailey offers a colorful account of the band’s earliest days, when they traveled to gigs in station wagons. I got a kick out of his commentary about how the band got around in the early days. Apparently, Verdine White is a fantastic bass player, but can’t drive worth a damn. He also writes about how the earliest stage shows were conceived, where they got their costumes, and even offers some fun trivia about EWF in its heyday. For instance, I had no idea that the band hired Doug Henning and David Copperfield to make their live shows more exciting and… magical. Bailey also writes about some of the less pleasant aspects of being in the band. During EWF’s heyday, Bailey was pretty much an employee in the group and was paid accordingly. Maurice White called all the shots and was paid the most, which naturally led to some friction, especially when the band temporarily broke up in the 1980s. Bailey and the rest of his bandmates were enjoying a steady and generous paycheck, which abruptly stopped when Maurice White determined it was time.

One aspect of this book that I found especially interesting was EWF’s association with David Foster. In 1978, Foster was a young, up and coming composer. He approached EWF with a ballad he’d written called “After The Love Is Gone”. It, of course, became a monster hit for EWF and launched a successful partnership between Foster and EWF. David Foster has gone on to have a great career composing music for other bands and movie soundtracks. Indeed, he’s work a lot with another brass heavy band called Chicago, which has been known to share concert billing with Earth, Wind & Fire. Aside from working with David Foster, Bailey also famously sang a duet with Phil Collins. If you were around in 1984, you might remember “Easy Lover”, which Bailey recorded with Collins right after EWF temporarily folded.

Philip Bailey discusses his memoir, Shining Star.

Bailey also reveals information about his personal life. Bailey married his first wife, Janet, when they were both very young. Life on the road presented a lot of temptations, though, and Bailey admits that he was not faithful to his wife. One affair produced an out of wedlock daughter. He also dabbled a bit in drugs. Nevertheless, they went on to have four children. After their divorced, Bailey got remarried to a woman named Krystal with whom he had two more kids. They divorced in 2010.
Unfortunately, Maurice White no longer performs with EWF. He suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, which makes making music at his prior level impossible (edited to add: Maurice White died in 2016). White still maintains an executive role in the band, which is now wholly fronted by Philip Bailey, Verdine White, and Ralph Johnson. I still love listening to this band even without Maurice White at the front. Just watching Verdine White dance while he plays bass is enough to get me going. 

Shining Star is required reading for any EWF fan. Bailey does a great job balancing his personal story with that of the band’s, offering plenty of interesting stories without getting bogged down in minutiae. He includes photos and lots of juicy tidbits about what it’s like to work with some of the finest musicians popular music has ever heard, but he never gets long-winded. Naturally, I recommend his book! It made the music nerd in me sing!