In the early 2000s, influenced by my friend David, I explored electronica music. One group I discovered Orbital, an English band. My favorite track by them was a remix of the “Doctor Who” theme called “Doctor Look Out.” Here’s one version of the song, mixed with clips from the first 50 years of the program. Enjoy.
I heard “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins on the radio today while driving around town doing errands. It made me smile. I don’t have an particular memory tied to this song, but listening to it felt like a summer’s day a long time ago when the days were long and everything felt loose, fast and free. Enjoy
I came across a new country CD by Danika Portz called “Set This World On Fire.” Portz is a native of Remsen, Iowa, a city of about 1,700 people in Plymouth County in the northwestern edge of the state. Portz is delightfully earnest in her YouTube videos about her work, decision to move to Nashville and growth as a performer. She has that kind of “Let’s do this” pluck that I associate with my home state. I really like the first single of the record, “Greatest Show on Earth.” It has a nice mix of style from big top barker to a more traditional country song. My favorite part of the song is when Portz sighs. It’s a weary moment, a person tired of nonsense. It’s a good touch in a good song. I enjoyed it. I hope you do, too.
Aimee Mann, one of my favorite recording artists, turned 54 on Monday. I missed the occasion, but somehow doubt she felt the slight. Mann is probably best-known for her hit “Voices Carry” with the band ‘Til Tuesday and the Oscar-nominated “Save Me” from the soundtrack to the 1999 film “Magnolia.” Mann is one of the few artists that I am so loyal to that I will buy an album by her without having heard a single note before its release. I find her voice both soothing and haunting. And one of her ‘Til Tuesday songs, “Coming Up Close,” is among my favorite songs of all time. Here is “Soon Enough” from her 2012 album “Charmer.” The video is a parody of the then-popular reality series about interventions. Another great quality about her work is her willingness to be funny and have fun at her own expense. Enjoy this song and have a good day, friends.
Patsy Cline would have been 82 years old today. She died a plane crash in 1963 at just 30. She was one of the great female voices in this history of country and pop music. She had a brassy, bold sound that matched anything her male contemporaries poured out. Listening to one of her records, you felt something strong, pure, sometimes sad, but always hard and visceral. Few performers can do that and almost none can do it with the sweet simplicity she did. Here’s “Walkin’ After Midnight.” Enjoy this song, my friends.
One of my favorite Waylon Jennings songs comes from his first album, “Waylon at JD’s.” The album in its original form is out of print, but has been reissued under various names over the years. “Big Mamou” is a fun, upbeat song from 1964. Written by Link Davis, Jennings’ interpretation echoes of his time as a bassist for the late Buddy Holly, for whom Jennings worked when the Crickets broke up. I love this song. I hope you like it, too.
The most important element of any art is truth. That’s why I love “Perfect Lover” by JP, Chrissie Hynde and the Fairground Boys so much. The song is straightforward and about Hynde’s relationship with JP Jones. They were romantically involved when she was 59 and he was 31. There is an earnestness in the lyrics as Hynde struggles with the joys of romance against the stigma of dating a younger man. Their relationship did not last forever, nothing ever does, but it produced a very good song that I enjoy. I hope you like it, too.
I could put together a whole mixtape just of the so-called “hair ballads” from the late 1980s and early 1990s that hold fond memories for me. I hear this song and think of myself as a teenager, my heart racing at the thought of asking a girl to dance or seeing a cheerleader in her pleated skirt that showed just enough thigh or a sweater that hugged her curves. Relationships are complicated endeavors. It only seemed simpler then because we didn’t understand the situation. That state of mind isn’t a place I live anymore, but for the duration of a song, I can visit. This is “When I See You Smile” by Bad English. Enjoy.
The great country and Western star Conway Twitty would have been 81 today. He died in 1993, so don’t rush out for a card. “Family Guy” has used Twitty’s music videos as a running gag in recent years. Still, Twitty had 51 No. 1 hits, a beautiful voice and wrote songs perfect for crying in your beer. Here is one of Twitty’s signature tunes, “Hello, Darlin’.” Enjoy.
Guitarist Rudolf Schenker of the band the Scorpions is 62 years old today. I’m not the kind of music fan who can tell you whether Schenker is a great guitarist or not. I’m really only marking the occasion because their 1991 hit “Wind of Change” mentions Gorky Park in Moscow, Russia. The park is named for the Russian writer Maxim Gorky. I don’t know anything about him, either. But Gorky is a great name. It’s such a great name that I convinced my friend Jessica to name her cat Gorky. Gorky died a while back. She misses him a lot and sees his face in other cats at the shelter. None of this really has anything to do with this song, which is about the end of the Cold War. But I am the kind of music fan who makes bizarre connections to songs. And this is a nice ballad, too. So for whatever reason you like a song, enjoy it.