Several Weeks Behind the Zeitgeist
Repeating a note from last week: It's come to my attention that when this blog is viewed with Internet Explorer, the sidebar column drops to the bottom of the page. I have spent several hours over the last couple of days trying to find a fix that will accommodate all the stuff currently found in the sidebar--but I have decided that several hours is enough. This blog simply isn't going to look right on Internet Explorer. If you want it to look right, you'll need to use the Mozilla Firefox browser, which is what I use, or Netscape, on which the Firefox architecture is based. I don't know what things look like with the Apple Safari browser--but you can get a Mac version of Firefox if you want it. Firefox is better than Internet Explorer anyhow--more secure, more flexible, and you can import all of your IE bookmarks with one or two clicks. Get it here.April 17, 2004: At a memorabilia auction in Dallas, the piano on which Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote many of their most famous songs was sold for $140,000. Kurt Cobain's guitar went for $100,000. A 1966 Rickenbacker guitar that had belonged to Roger McGuinn of the Byrds went for $99,000. The headphones I used during my last months on the radio remain for sale. Cheap.
And now back to the blog, already in progress.
April 17, 1971: The British singles chart contains hits by all four solo Beatles: John's "Power to the People, " Paul's "Another Day," George's "My Sweet Lord," and Ringo's "It Don't Come Easy." This feat wouldn't be duplicated on the American chart, although the singles by John, Paul, and Ringo would appear together on the chart dated May 22.
April 17, 1970: Johnny Cash appears at the White House, where Richard Nixon requests "A Boy Named Sue." On the same day, Paul McCartney's solo debut, McCartney, is released.
April 17, 1967: Saxophone legend John Coltrane dies of liver cancer at age 39. Few musicians have been more influential. I was a sax player myself, back in the day--and since I've gotten more into jazz, I have wondered if my parents had bought me records by Coltrane instead of Boots Randolph, whether I'd have stayed with it longer.
April 17, 1960: A car crash in England kills rocker Eddie Cochran and seriously injures rocker Gene Vincent. It's a widely known trivia nugget that Cochran's then-current hit was called "Three Steps to Heaven."
Jan Hammer is 56. Best known as the composer and performer of the Miami Vice theme, which hit Number One in 1986. However, Hammer was better-known before that as a major figure in jazz fusion, with his own Jan Hammer Group, and as a member of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Don Kirshner is 72. Couldn't play or sing a note, but had a knack for identifying those who could, and for what made a hit record.
Number One Songs on This Date:
1997: "All By Myself"/Celine Dion. In retrospect, covering Eric Carmen's histrionic 1976 hit was an inevitable choice for her to make.
1985: "We Are the World"/USA for Africa. On April 5, five thousand radio stations had played the record simultaneously. Since the music service my station subscribed to was several weeks behind the zeitgeist, I had to go out and buy a copy so we could participate. When I brought it back to the office, I put it down on my desk--and accidentally broke it, the only time in my life I've ever broken a 45 that way. Christ, what an idiot.
1975: "Philadelphia Freedom"/Elton John Band. A record that blew away my 15-year-old self from the first time I heard it. I was disappointed that it didn't appear on the contemporaneous album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, although it does now.
1973: "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia"/Vicki Lawrence. Good Lord: this, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon," and "Sing" by the Carpenters in the top five during the same week. Were it not for Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" down at Number 23, the Earth may have spun off its axis and into the sun.
1918: "Dark Town Strutter's Ball"/Arthur Collins and Byron Harlan. As we've mentioned here before, Collins and Harlan were major figures of the pre-1920 Pioneer Era of recording. The recording of "Dark Town Strutter's Ball" by the Original Dixieland Jass Band, from 1917, is considered one of the first jazz records.