Tuesday, October 04, 2005

History Lesson: Nobody's Business

October 4, 1992: Sinead O'Connor commits career suicide by ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live. What made it such a monumentally stupid thing to do is that maybe two percent of the viewing audience might have understood what she meant by saying, "Fight the real enemy." If you're going to make a symbolic protest, you'd best make sure people get the symbolism.

October 4, 1970: Only a couple of weeks after Jimi Hendrix dies, Janis Joplin is found dead of an accidental heroin overdose. Her bandmates complete the album Pearl by including an instrumental version of the track "Buried Alive in the Blues."

October 4, 1966: The Beach Boys release the single "Good Vibrations." Eighty-two miles of tape are used in the recording, which took six months to complete--but the single is released in mono.

October 4, 1964: Rod Stewart releases his first single, a version of the blues number "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl." It fails to chart. Nevertheless, his career turned out OK.

Birthdays Today:
Patti Labelle and her fellow Labelle member Nona Hendryx are both 61, and are still trying to get out of some of those costumes they wore onstage in the 1970s.

Number One Songs on This Date:
1983: "Total Eclipse of the Heart"/Bonnie Tyler.
Represented the high-water mark of Jim Steinman's career as a producer of dramatically overblown sludge. The world has forgotten that he produced hits by Air Supply ("Making Love Out of Nothing at All") and Barry Manilow ("Read 'Em and Weep") at about the same time.

1977: "Star Wars-Cantina Band"/Meco. A disco version of the Star Wars theme was unavoidable in 1977, I suppose. But this isn't as bad as it could have been.

1971: "Maggie May"/Rod Stewart. The one Rod Stewart record to take to the desert island. Many hits followed, none as essential as this.

1963: "Blue Velvet"/Bobby Vinton.
Yet more evidence for why the British Invasion had to happen.

1919: "It's Nobody's Business But My Own"/Bert Williams. From the 1870s to the 1940s, minstrel shows were a popular form of entertainment, in which performers would blacken their faces with cork and perform skits and songs in African-American dialect. Williams was a major star on the minstrel circuit. Despite the fact that he was in fact black, Williams was still expected to "cork up" for his performances.


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