Click here for my story of how a TV program with antique bicycles leads to a consideration of human sex-differentiation.
It is not a crime to say that men and women are different, it is a fact. It is only a crime to allege the difference is one of merit, rather than kind.
It is notable that these are mostly from the days before The Beatles and Bob Dyan made the professional song writers redundant by popularising the idea that the artists could write and record their own material. (Although both began with covers, and learned to write their own later.) Thus, the lyrics are somebody's idea of how to prompt an emotional experience in the listener, created for someone else to sing, rather than someone's creation of an expression of their own experience.
Here at the Paste magazine site I found a sympathetic treatment of the Brill Building's fade from prominence. There is little mention of these types of lyric though.
There is some strange and dodgy stuff here:
The Crystals' "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)", (Goffin, King) was controversial when released for it's portrayal of violence as a sign of male possessive feelings.
Joanie Sommers' "Johnny Get Angry", (Hal David and Sherman Edwards) is a sort of masochistic invitation to abuse. "These days, feminists would be picketing the record studio for such a song." Discussed well at Songfacts.com.
Lesley Gore's "That's The Way Boys Are" (Mark Barkan, Ben Raleigh) is just pathetic, and made more bizarre when you consider Miss Gore was actually a lesbian, and can't have felt very comfortable with a jolly-sounding song with lyrics like:
"When I'm with my guy and he watches all the pretty girls go by,
And I feel so hurt deep inside I wish that I could die;
Not a word do I say, I just look the other way,
'Cause that's the way boys are..."
Then there is the weeping passivity of a song like The Chantels' "Maybe" by their vocalist Arlene Smith:
"Maybe, if I pray every night
You'll come back to me
And maybe, if I cry everyday
You'll come back to stay
We also have the dreamy acceptance of the done and dumped Connie Stevens in "I Couldn't Say No" (Ripp, Goffin-King, again!):
"You spoke so sincerely
I couldn't think clearly
And somehow, with you
It seemed right
I was too much in love to be wise
And I couldn't say no to you last night"
I found this commentary: "Her utter sincerity in describing post-coital afterglow in “I Couldn’t Say No,” an obscure Goffin-King number Stevens recorded in 1962, defuses a touchy topic--the girl is at first feeling guilt over giving in to her beau’s charms, making it hard to listen to without thinking “date rape” as her misgivings unfold--and transforms the song into an ode to the first blush of new love."
But I can't agree with the above when you consider the song contains the lines
"You wanted my kisses, so I gave you my kisses
Never dreaming today you'd be gone"
".......when I think of you I regret
That I couldn't say no to you last night"
I can't deny the emotional power of some of these songs, but I think we really have to keep in perspective these outmoded attitudes.
Further to my recent post on made-up musical acts, what are we to make of this interview text from Japanese site Tokyo Girls' Update?
First, a little background
I have used quotes from the site as I couldn't make this stuff up.
Site "About" statement: -
Tokyo Girls' Update (TGU) delivers the latest news on Japanese Girl's pop culture mainly in "kawaii!!", "IDOL", "Gyaru". Our mission is to make it accessible to fans all over the world.
Article Title, will be shown to be completely at odds with the interview: -
"EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH YUMEMIRU ADOLESCENCE : SHOWING THEIR TRUE SELVES WITH “BYE BYE MY DAYS””
The site is completely unselfconscious regarding the artificial nature of the "Industry"; the following is is not from somewhere else, "about" the group, this is at the start of an interview article presumably for fan consumption: -
"With its focal point of popular teen fashion magazine models, idol group Yumemiru Adolescence was created in 2012."
MV is, I guess "Music Video, and PV is Pop Video?
The Question: -
– The song and MV this time around are different than anything you’ve done up until now, and they have a more polished feel to them. Is there something you focused on during the production process?
The girls' answers: -
Yamada: The staff that had a hand in the single was different than anyone we’d worked with before.
Ogino: Up until now, when we’d be shooting a PV I’d think, “I wonder if it’ll look like this when it’s done,” but this time I really had no idea at all. We always shoot a lot of singing scenes, but this time there were even more. There were scenes where we’re just walking, or ones where we’re just looking at the camera, and all of us had no idea where they were going to be used. So actually, we were really moved when we saw the finished video.
Yamada: There’s a scene where I’m standing still and holding a guitar, and I was told to, “Try making a kind of sour face,” and I didn’t really understand why I had to make that kind of face, but in the end it came together really well, and I was like, “Ohhh, now I get it.”
Kyouka: When you watch the finished video, it’s very adolescence-like. I understand now why the director asked us to try looking listless. We received comments on Twitter like, “It has a very adolescence feel to it, and we can really see your individual shine,” and, “This is the real Yume Adolescence.” I felt it was it was a reflection of my true self. I was a little rebellious before. (laughs)
Kobayashi: When we got the music, I felt like it had that fresh start feeling just before spring, and I tried to sing it with a feeling of uneasiness and excitement.
Yamada: I especially went into shooting it just being myself. It was such an important piece for our major debut, I just wanted to show my true self without any kind of flair.
If you really must endure more of this exploitative drivel, the page is here:
I don't know what it is about the Japanese obsession with schoolgirls, the site positively skates on the edge of "the ick factor", ref the video here: -
(natsuiro = a transliteration of "natural" I guess)
p.s. I was so struck by the inanity of the interview I forgot to actually watch the video. Having now done so, I have to say it sounds like someone has taken eighties pop, distilled the essence and thrown it away, and made something with what is left, after the style, feeling, originality and talent have gone. With chipmunks added.
Way back in 1996 on a hydrofoil ferry from Hong Kong to Macau, I was subjected to J-Pop videos whose style and sound was almost the same, so much for innovation and originality.
I have just stumbled upon a website which relates to a plot element of the novel "Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land" which I posted a blog about last year. In the novel-within-a-novel, ostensibly written by Byron, the protagonist Ali returns to the Albania of his orphaned childhood, where he was raised with another orphan, a girl who was his first love. He finds she is unable to respond to him. Having tragically remained faithful to his memory and refused marriage, she is thus bound to an oath denying her very femininity: -
Now, I looked upon this a a plot element introduced safely in the knowledge that the average reader would not have an intimate knowledge of Eighteenth Century Albanian tribal customs.
However, it turns out that the custom is all too true, and ongoing, as documented by photographer Jill Peters in a set of pictures taken from 2009 to 2013, displayed at her website here. There is a "Read More" link there which tallies pretty well with the above extract.
I can only give Mr Crowley more credit for the background research that went into his novel.
I was amused by the tale of how a law saying you couldn't leave the stage with anything less than what you arrived with was circumvented by the process of leaving the stage, taking something off, and coming back on. This was apparently only "changing costumes".
In a chapter on promoters, there is a story of how one night a man falls from the balcony during the show. Afterwards the manager approaches him and asks "How much do you want to come and do that every night?"
Then there was the story of the burlesque-loving Governor of Louisiana, whose wife resented his behaviour and got him committed for insanity. However, there being no law expressly forbidding it, he continued to govern by phone from the asylum. He left performer Blaze Starr money but she refused it. I was a bit sceptical about this story but you can read between the lines of this Wikipedia entry.
I got curious about what the performances were actually like. I have done some searching and gathered a selection from YouTube, prefaced by trailers from the original film and the book. At the end of the list is a longer interview with the author on a TV show.
At the second Lily St. Cyr clip, jump to halfway for Tempest Storm (who is quite calm, actually!)
The clip of the aerialist is Tiny Kline, a one-time burlesque performer who ended up hired at age 70 by Disney as the first Tinkerbell, sliding down a high wire at Disneyland.
I can't say I found the actual performances to be that impressive really. The videos show a wide variety of styles and gradation of polish and professionalism, from the cool demeanour and expensive sets of Lili St. Cyr (that's pronounced "sincere" ha-ha), to the more raunchy but pretty limited moves of Candy Barr. The comedians are as corny as hell, but apparently people enjoyed the skill of the delivery as much or more than the originality.
There was little or no training, and girls often did their own choreography, using moves swiped from their colleagues, learned from parents, (a surprising number were second-generation show-business types) and their own trademark moves and gimmicks. The book mentions a girl by the name of White Fury, who painted herself with buckets of paint, and lit her tassels on fire. Wow! LOL! They had dogs, cats, panthers, balloons, fans, snakes, sofas that started smoking, giant oyster shells, giant champagne glasses, you name it!
A great and entertaining read, I would recommend it to anyone, except perhaps those who could be offended by talk of sex, which is a natural consequence of the nature of the art. (The talk that is, not the sex!)
Read as an e-book borrowed from Auckland Libraries via Overdrive, on my Kobo Touch e-reader.
This Huffington Post blog piece by the author has a gallery of illustrations from the book.
I have recently found I am attracted to numerous artists who, as I will put it, "fall under the umbrella" of the label "Americana". When I encountered the term I found numerous artists I had already followed for years were also considered to qualify. I was able to say, "Gee I am an Americana fan and didn't even know it!"
Consider this list at Wikipedia, which contains 129 acts. Of these, many are known to me, and I have recordings by 20, but only two are from within the last five years. I do have recordings not on the list that I would include:
A bunch of purely Bluegrass stuff. 1925 onwards
Cowboy Junkies - The Trinity Session 1988
Iris DeMent - Infamous Angel 1992
Iris DeMent - My Life 1994
Jolie Holland - Catalpa 2003
Jolie Holland - Springtime Can Kill You 2006
Crooked Still - Hop High 2004
Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy -
What the Brothers Sang 2013
Eb & Sparrow - Eb & Sparrow 2014
Various Artists - Americana (12 tracks) 2014
Some of my recent encounters consist of "Adding to Playlists" on YouTube, rather than purchase of recordings. (Runs off to shift previous Country etc. playlist items to a newly created "Americana" playlist for your delectation)
Note: North Mississippi Allstars were discovered and added doing this. The clip is the nearest thing I've found to Alabama Shakes. The black artists don't appear in most of their vids though.
Note: Queen Esther also discovered and added doing this.
Note: After them will be any other new things found since linking to the playlist.
Over the last year or so I have considered what it is about the style that attracts me. This naturally feeds into considerations of what defines the term.
Here we are presented with a range of suggestions which, taken individually cannot be objected to and indeed sound like good advice. But taken as a whole there is what I felt to be a creepy atmosphere of robot-like acceptance of the will of others.
I wondered if the other side of the coin had been covered, and by the simple expedient of editing the word "good" in the URL to "bad", sure enough found "How to Be a Bad Girl: 7 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow". (Looks like its 22/7 = 3 times more work to be good :-)
Here we are presented with more suggestions which cover bad behaviour as in "not following the good crowd" but also as in "covering all the cliches", but with cynically defusing provisos regarding alcohol, drugs and being "trashy".
We seem to be left with both sides failing as advice due to an excess of "good"!
Being too good is bad
Being too bad is bad
Being bad with some good is good
Being good with some bad is good
I was put in mind of the case of Buffy Saint-Marie, who as a youthful folkie cum protest singer ruffled a few establishment feathers, but went on to achieve much in her advocacy for Native American society in general, even achieving such mainstream success as appearing as a regular on "Sesame Street" over a five-year period from 1976 to 1981. I'm sure her achievements would not have arisen had she been a thoroughly "good girl". She was clever enough to be "good" enough to gain acceptance, without sacrificing her aims and individuality.
Then we have to look out for the girls who can be really bad! I found this checking on James Brown - Love or a Game, although the song doesn't appear on this album.
I'm wondering about this image, it has a kind of patronising sexism that says: "Don't worry, real girly girls are safe, but this one isn't really a proper girl, with her smoking gun and cigarette, Elvis haircut, pants and mannish shoes. It is only her possession of these mannish attributes which allow her to be truly bad. Anyway, she's probably butch as well, so her badness is no loss to "proper" girls."
Then it is nicely subverted by the choker with it's submissive overtones, the cleavage and the very narrow waist.
I am an extremely intelligent, witty and fascinating guy.