News for the ‘Film Soundtracks’ Category

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #78 – Stealers Wheel: “Stuck In The Middle With You” b/w “José”– A&M 1416 (Q8/R8)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #78 – Stealers Wheel: “Stuck In The Middle With You” b/w “José”– A&M 1416 (Q8/R8)

Some songs are forever changed by the movies that they appear in. For instance, Roy Orbison’s rather innocuous “In Dreams” took on a more sinister tone when it was used by David Lynch in the film Blue Velvet, forever changing the hue of the song for all of those who saw the movie. And one can’t help but feel the pain and helplessness of the police officer in the sadistic torture scene of Quentin Tarentino’s film Reservoir Dogs when listening to today’s jukebox classic, “Stuck In The Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel.

Tarantino: “That was one of those things where I thought [the song] would work really well, and [during] auditions, I told the actors that I wanted them to do the torture scene, and I’m gonna use ‘Stuck in the Middle With You,’ but they could pick anything they wanted, they didn’t have to use that song. And a couple people picked another one, but almost everyone came in with ‘Stuck in the Middle With You,’ and they were saying that they tried to come up with something else, but that’s the one. The first time somebody actually did the torture scene to that song, the guy didn’t even have a great audition, but it was like watching the movie. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is gonna be awesome!’” (Rolling Stone)

The song was written by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan who formed the group Stealers Wheel in Scotland. The hand-clappy folk-bubblegum confection was released on Stealers Wheel’s 1972 self-titled debut album which was recorded at The Beatles’ Apple Studios at 3 Saville Row in England and engineered by Beatles’ engineer Geoff Emerick. The album and today’s jukebox single were produced by legendary songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller and the single reached the #6 position of the US Hot 100 charts in 1973, selling well over a million copies. The group consisted of Gerry Rafferty, Joe Egan, Paul Pilnich, Tony Williams and Rod Coombes.

Rafferty left the band a few months after the debut album was recorded and was replaced by Luther Grosvenor (of Spooky Tooth), but with the success of the single, Rafferty was persuaded to rejoin the group. Rafferty: “I was going through a very strange period in my life right then, I’d got married, had a child, I was twenty-four, and one day it was like I’d been living in a dream for six or eight years and suddenly I woke up. It was a pretty scary kind of feeling. Perhaps I was on the edge of a nervous break-down — that’s how it felt, anyway. I just had to get away, away from groups, managers, record companies, the whole thing. So I picked up and moved [from London] back to Scotland to sort myself out.” (Rolling Stone 8/24/78)

The group then became just Rafferty and Egan and whomever they chose to back them since Grosvenor, Pilnich, Williams and Coombes left upon Rafferty’s return. In the loopy, stoned-out video, Joe Egan is seen lip synching the song, however it was Rafferty who handled the vocal chores on the track.

The lyrics were written as a parody of a Hollywood cocktail party using the vernacular of Bob Dylan, and the song has seen covers by Juice Newton, Jeff Healey, Susanna Hoffs, Michael Bublé, Keith Urban, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and many others. The flip of the single is the polar opposite of its top side. While “Stuck” is an incredibly infectious poppy confection, José is a lowdown, bluesy rocker that was also taken from the group’s debut album.

Rafferty stuck in the middle of Stealers Wheel for two more albums before taking off for a solo career that gave us the smash hits “Baker Street” and “Right Down The Line” from his second solo album City To City, which earned the distinction of knocking the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack out of the top slot of the album charts in 1978. Rafferty continued to record music throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s until his alcoholism got the best of him. He succumbed to liver failure in January of 2011.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: September 29th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #49– Nilsson: “Everybody’s Talkin’” b/w “I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City” – RCA Gold Standard 45 447-0838 (S5/T5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #49– Nilsson: “Everybody’s Talkin’” b/w “I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City” – RCA Gold Standard 45 447-0838 (S5/T5)

Harry Nilsson was a puzzlement. He was a brilliant songwriter who wrote some of the greatest pops songs of the 1960s. Songs like “One” (Three Dog Night), “Cuddly Toy” (The Monkees) and “Without Her” (Glen Campbell) came pouring from his pen providing many artists with some of their biggest hits. Yet the hits he scored on the charts were primarily written by others. Go figure…

Today’s jukebox classic is one of Nilsson’s biggest hits; some would say it is his signature song. And it is one that Nilsson (the songwriter) did not write. “Everybody’s Talkin’” was written and originally recorded by singer/songwriter Fred Neil. Neil was a big deal of the Greenwich Village folk music scene in New York City of the early 1960s.

Neil’s version was the last song written and recorded for his essential eponymously titled album which was released by Capitol Records in 1967. Neil was itching to get back to Florida and the ocean but needed one more song for his debut album. The song was hastily written as an afterthought at the urging of his producer, and recorded in one take. The album also included Neil’s song “The Dolphins” (covered most famously by Jefferson Airplane). In fact, several years after recording the song, Neil made good on the promise of the lyrics and gave up the music business entirely in favor of living in Florida near the ocean, working with dolphins until the end of his life in 2001.

Nilsson recorded the song at the behest of his producer Rick Jarrard for his second album Aerial Ballet in 1968. The Beatles’ press officer Derek Taylor was a big fan of Nilsson’s 1967 debut album Pandemonium Shadow Show, and famously ordered a case load of the album and gave them out to all of his friends including The Beatles who also became huge fans and good friends with Nilsson.

Taylor suggested Nilsson to film director John Schlesinger who was actively looking for a theme song to his current movie Midnight Cowboy. Schlesinger had been using Nilsson’s recording of “Everybody’s Talkin’” as a place holder in the film until the right song came along. Nilsson suggested that he use “I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City,” a song he wrote from his 1969 Harry album for use in the film. Schlesinger had grown so used to hearing the song matched with the corresponding scene that he decided to keep “Everybody’s Talkin’” in the film. At the same time, Bob Dylan also pitched a newly-penned song that he specifically composed for the film called “Lay Lady Lay,” however his submission came too late for its inclusion. Ultimately, Dylan’s recording of “Lay Lady Lay” became one of his biggest hits climbing all the way to #7 on the singles charts in 1969.

After its appearance in the movie, Nilsson’s version climbed to the #6 position of the singles charts in 1969 and sold over a million copies. It also won Nilsson a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Male in 1970. After the song became a hit for Nilsson, Capitol Records rereleased Fred Neil’s self-titled 1967 album under the name Everybody’s Talkin’ and released his version as a single.

The song has been covered numerous times by artists including Tom Jones, The Beach Boys, The Ventures, Tony Bennett, Matthew Sweet, Neil diamond, Arlo Guthrie, Percy Faith, The Four Tops, Iggy Pop, Engelbert Humperdinck, Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, The Kingston Trio, Liza Minnelli, Chet Atkins, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Buffett, Willie Nelson, Bill Withers, Linda Eder, Dwight Yoakam and many others. Nilsson’s version of the song is also heard in the films Forrest Gump, Borat and The Hangover III.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: July 7th, 2015

Groovy Ghouls and Haunted Hits – The Ultimate Halloween Playlist by Eric Berman

Halloween

Groovy Ghouls and Haunted Hits – The Ultimate Halloween Playlist by Eric Berman

For your Halloween party pleasure, cue this ghoulish playlist up in Spotify!

  1. This Is Halloween from the Nightmare before Christmas
  2. Monster Mash – Bobby Boris Pickett
  3. Boris the Spider – The Who
  4. Haunted House – Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
  5. I Put a Spell on You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  6. Theme from the Munsters – Billy Strange
  7. The Blob – The Five Blobs
  8. The Adams Family Main Theme – Vic Mizzy
  9. Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
  10. Witch Doctor – David Seville
  11. They’re Comin’ to Take Me Away – Napoleon XIV
  12. Frankenstein – Edgar Winter Group
  13. Welcome to My Nightmare – Alice Cooper
  14. Witchy Woman – The Eagles
  15. Season of the Witch – Donovan
  16. Hocus Pocus – Focus
  17. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  18. Thriller – Michael Jackson
  19. Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.
  20. Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo
  21. Ghost Town – The Specials
  22. Twilight Zone – Golden Earring
  23. Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
  24. Abracadabra – Steve Miller Band
  25. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
  26. Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) – David Bowie
  27. The Creature from the Black Lagoon – Dave Edmunds
  28. Pet Semetary – Ramones
  29. Zombie Zoo – Tom Petty
  30. Devil Inside – INXS
  31. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow

Edited: October 30th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – Selections from “Popshopping Volume 1” by Various Artists

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – Selections from “Popshopping Volume 1” by Various Artists

Popshopping is a compilation of German TV commercial production music from the 1960s and 1970s. Compilation producers Sir D’Oeuvre and Senor 45 collected these tracks from flexi discs and dusty TV production tape vaults.

Many may consider this music nothing more than a bunch of blaring, dated background noise, but to others (including me), this is highly stylized and inventive music created by some of Germany’s finest composers including Christian Bruhn, Max Meir-Maltez, Klaus Wuestoff, Gert Wilden and Johnny Teupen.

Today’s Song Of The Day includes Christian Bruhn’s music for Ford Capri, Ford Taurus and “Komm In Fahrt” for Hansa-Pils commercials (all 1973), Klaus Wuesthoff’s “Swing A Little, Kim A Little” (1967), Klaus Doldinger’s “Wild Freshness” (1970) and Max Meir-Maltez’s music for Moulinex (1972). All of the tracks collected here are exceedingly groovy, as is the companion compilation to this one, Popshopping Volume 2!

Edited: June 29th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 10/3/13 – “Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)” by Devo w/Neil Young

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)” by Devo w/Neil Young

Q: Where do the worlds of The Kingston Trio, Devo and Neil Young all collide?

A: In the film Human Highway, of course!

Human Highway was a dreadful film released by Bernard Shakey (aka Neil Young) in 1982. The move was filmed between 1978 and 1981 and it starred Neil Young, Dean Stockwell, Dennis Hopper, Russ Tamblyn and Devo. It was briefly shown in movie theaters upon its release and was never to be seen again until its home video release in 1995 on VHS. It is currently out of print.

While the movie is quirky and mostly incoherent, it is also very funny and somewhat entertaining in places. Devo were cast as Nuclear “Garbagepersons,” but getting into the convoluted plot that deals with a nuclear power plant and the last day on earth would be as convoluted as watching the film again.

Devo can be seen performing the Kingston Trio classic “Worried Man Blues” on the back of a truck and “Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)” with Mark Mothersbaugh in his “Booji Boy” guise on the vocals and Neil Young on guitar. In fact, it was in this performance that Mothersbaugh first uttered the words “rust never sleeps” that gave Young the title to his next record.

Edited: October 2nd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 7/3/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “All Er Nothin’” from the Original Soundtrack to “Oklahoma!”

The Broadway version of “Oklahoma!” opened in 1943 and ran 2, 212 performances. With music by Richard Rodgers and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein III, the Pulitzer Prize-winning score gave us the standards “Oh What A Beautiful Mornin’,” “People Will Say We’re In Love,” “(Everything’s Up To Date In) Kansas City,” “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top,” “The Farmer And The Cowman” and the hit title song.

The 1955 Academy Award-winning film version starred Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, Gloria Grahame, Gene Nelson, Eddie Albert and Charlotte Greenwood. Paul Newman, James Dean and Joanne Woodward all screen-tested for the film and were denied parts.

Here we have a Gene Nelson (as Will Parker)-Gloria Grahame (as Aldo Annie) duet with a great string arrangement and some of the most clever lyrics in the entire musical, opening a window to a sadly, by-gone era of articulate songwriting.

Originally posted 9/24/12

Edited: July 2nd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 5/6/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Midnight Cowboy Theme” by John Barry

Not only is today’s Song Of The Day perhaps one of the greatest movie themes of all time, it is also from one of the greatest films of the 1960s.

The 1969 film Midnight Cowboy was based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. The movie starred Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight (in his film debut) and was directed by John Schelsiinger. It won three Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. When it was originally released, it was given an X rating, so it also holds the distinction of being the only X-rated film to ever win an Academy Award for Best Picture.

The hit theme from the movie was written by John Barry who also composed eleven soundtracks for James Bond films between 1963 and 1987 as well as the famous “James Bond Theme” from Dr. No, the first Bond film. He also wrote the award winning scores to the films Dances With Wolves and Out Of Africa as well as the scores for The Lion in Winter, Born Free, and Somewhere in Time. Barry won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Theme for today’s Song Of The Day as well.

The film also included the hit version of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” which was performed by Harry Nilsson, who also took home a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Nilsson’s “I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City” and Randy Newman’s “Cowboy” were also considered for the film but never used. The soundtrack included songs by Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson and Elephant’s Memory, plus a song called “He Quit Me” which was performed by Lesley Miller and written by a then-unknown Warren Zevon.

The song starts off with a mournful harmonica solo, played by Toots Thielman in the film and Tommy Reilly on the soundtrack with a light rock backing, and culminates with a majestic full orchestral crescendo. It is far superior to the hit version that was recorded by twin piano duo Ferrante & Teicher, who brought it into the top ten of the charts in 1969.

Edited: May 5th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 2/22/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Willkommen” by Joel Grey from the film “Cabaret”

A funny thing happened to the Broadway Musical Cabaret during its adaptation to the big screen. It lost ten out of its original fifteen songs. Many of the original Broadway songs were in the play to express the emotions of the characters and move the plot line forward, something that the medium of film was able to accomplish by using visuals. As a result, Bob Fosse only retained the songs “Wilkommen,” “Two Ladies,” “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” “If You Could See Her,” and “Cabaret” for the film. The rest were dumped, as were characters and elements of the original plot.

Cabaret opened on Broadway in 1966 starring Jill Haworth, Bert Convy, Lotte Lenya, Jack Gilford and  Joel Grey. Grey would reprise his role as the Emcee for the film. The show was directed by Harold Prince and choreographed by Ron Field and had a successful run on Broadway. The musical was based on the 1951 play I Am Camera which was written by John Van Druten, and Druten’s play was adapted from the 1939 short novel Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood.

The 1972 film starred Liza Minnelli, Michael York and Joel Grey and was directed by Bob Fosse with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. Kander and Ebb added new material to better fit the film’s plot including, “Mein Herr,” “Money Money” and “Maybe This Time.” Minnelli had been performing “Maybe This Time” for many years already, since it was not originally written for the film. As a result, it was not eligible for an Academy Award nomination.

Today’s Song Of The Day opens the musical with a solitary drum roll rather than an overture. The song introduces the show girls of the Kit Kat Klub, “Each and every one, a wirgin!”, where much of the action takes place. Most of the action that takes place in the club reflects what was going on outside in the real world of Nazi Germany. The song and film clip are classic Joel Grey in his signature role, playing up the kitsch factor in tantalizing fashion for the cameras. You’d be hard pressed to find another actor as “on” as Grey in this role. Indeed, the soundtrack outsold the Broadway recording spurred on by the film’s success, but also because Grey and Minnelli turned in indelible performances on screen and in the recording studio.

The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards in 1973, winning a total of eight, including awards for Best Director (Bob Fosse), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Liza Minnelli), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Joel Grey), Best Cinematography (Geoffrey Unsworth), Best Film Editing (David Bretherton), Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score (Ralph Burns), Best Art Direction (Rolf Zehetbauer, Hans Jürgen Kiebach, Herbert Strabel) and Best Sound (Robert Knudson, David Hildyard).

It was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, but lost both to The Godfather. As a result, Cabaret holds the somewhat dubious distinction for winning the most Academy Awards while not winning the Best Picture award.

Edited: February 21st, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 1/19/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Dance At The Gym” from the Original Soundtrack of “West Side Story” – Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim

Broadway musicals don’t get any better than this!

You can keep your Andrew Lloyd Webber with his one song per musical, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim were the real deal! And their musical, West Side Story, has never been bettered.

West Side Story was one of the first musicals where dance played as important a role in story development as dialog. The choreography was expertly done by Jerome Robbins, who also choreographed the Broadway stage version. Robbins was fired from the production before it wrapped due to it going over budget.

The film starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno and George Chakiris, and was directed by Robert Wise. As was common for film musicals, Natalie Wood didn’t sing any of her parts, and her vocals were dubbed in my Marni Nixon. The same goes for Russ Tamblyn, whose voice was dubbed by Tucker Smith.

The Original Soundtrack recording was one of the biggest selling albums of the 1960s, spending 54 well-deserved weeks at the top of the Billboard charts. The performances on the Soundtrack are far superior to those from the Original Broadway Cast recording.

The musical was set in New York City of the late 1950s and was loosely based on Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet, except the lead characters, Tony and Maria, were of American and Puerto Rican descent respectively. In its original incarnation, the story focused on a Jewish and Catholic couple and had the working title of East Side Story. (Another working title for the musical was Kids With Matches.)

When original work began for the Broadway production of West Side Story, Stephen Sondheim was a complete unknown, while Bernstein was a renowned conductor and composer who had written several other musicals (On The Town and Wonderful Town ), operas (including Candide which also ran on Broadway), ballets (Fancy Free),film scores (On The Town and On The Waterfront), plus a fair share of choral music, symphonic music, and piano music.  

Today’s Song Of The Day is “Dance At The Gym” features several sections: a blues, promenade, mambo, pas de deux and jump. This gorgeous piece of music is breathtaking in its scope, and works on every level: as ballet, as orchestral work and as jazz.  The piece has such power, that stripped of its visuals from the movie, it stands on its own as a modern Jazz classic. Never before and never again would we ever get music this expertly crafted for the Broadway stage.

Edited: January 19th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 10/21/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Jack’s Lament” by Danny Elfman

Halloween is in the air…and so is the greatest Halloween and Christmas film ever made! Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” has become a modern-day classic. The film had a ten-year gestation period and was released in October of 1993. The soundtrack was composed and mostly performed by Danny Elfman, who was a member of the new wave band Oingo Boingo from 1976-1995. The band had their own Halloween-themed success with their minor hits “Dead Man’s Party” and “Weird Science” (from the film of the same name). Elfman met Burton while working with Paul Reubens on “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” and has scored numerous Burton films including “Beetlejuice,” “Batman,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Batman Returns,” “Mars Attacks,” “Planet Of The Apes,” “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory,” “Corpse Bride,” “Alice In Wonderland,” “Dark Shadows” and the recently released “Frankenweenie.” Elfman’s other credits include composing the “Simpson’s Theme,” and music for “Pee Wee’s Playhouse,” “Desperate Housewives” (theme), “Milk,” “Spider-Man,” “Men In Black,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Dick Tracy” and many others. Pay close attention to the orchestration on this track, that’s where its magic fully lies. Elfman’s vocals are wholly theatrical and full of emotion. This song would later be covered by All American Rejects when the superb soundtrack was re-released with a bonus disc of rock covers for the deluxe edition a few years ago.

Edited: October 20th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 10/11/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Bruca Manigua” by Ibrahim Ferrer

He became the bolero king of Cuba…forty years into his recording career. From his humble beginnings, orphaned at age twelve and forced to busk on the streets singing to survive, to becoming the Grammy-winning “Nat King Cole of Cuba,” Ferrer’s story is indeed a tale of rags to riches, but he wasn’t alone and shared his story with many other deserving musicians. Ferrer sang in Cuban bands during the early 1950s and even had a hit with his recording of “El Platanal de Bartolo.” But like many Cuban artists, Ferrer hit upon hard times because the venues he had made a living playing at were closed by the government during the Cuban Revolution. Ferrer ended up becoming a janitor with his music career far behind him, seemingly for good. Enter rock guitarist extraordinaire, Ry Cooder, who had a successful recording career as a session musician playing with everyone from The Rolling Stones to Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, and was also a successful recording artist in his own right. Cooder travelled to Cuba in the late 1990s to work on a project with British producer Nick Gold, mixing African high-life and Cuban son musicians together in the studio. When visas did not come through in time for the African musicians, Cooder and Gold changed their plans and located retired orquestra musicians like Ferrer, Compay Segundo (vocals), Rubén González (piano), Omara Portuondo (vocals), Eliades Ochoa (guitar), Manuel “Guajiro” Mirabal (trumpet) and many others, and formed The Buena Vista Social Club, named after one of the many clubs shut down by the Cuban government in the 1950s. The group recorded and then filmed two shows, one in Amsterdam and the other at Carnegie Hall in New York City, resulting in the hit film and album “Buena Vista Social Club.” All of a sudden the musicians, many in their late 70s and early 80s found themselves as in-demand celebrities and began touring the world and releasing hit records. What followed were several Buena Vista Social Club tours, as well as solo records by some of the standout musicians including Ibrahim Ferrer. This track comes from his first solo record, “Buena Vista Social Club Presents: Ibrahim Ferrer” released in 1999. Ferrer continued to tour with the Social Club until his death in 2005.

Edited: October 10th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/24/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “All Er Nothin’” from the Original Soundtrack to “Oklahoma!”

The Broadway version of “Oklahoma!” opened in 1943 and ran 2, 212 performances. With music by Richard Rodgers and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein III, the Pulitzer Prize-winning score gave us the standards “Oh What A Beautiful Mornin’,” “People Will Say We’re In Love,” “(Everything’s Up To Date In) Kansas City,” “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top,” “The Farmer And The Cowman” and the hit title song. The 1955 Academy Award-winning film version starred Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, Gloria Grahame, Gene Nelson, Eddie Albert and Charlotte Greenwood. Paul Newman, James Dean and Joanne Woodward all screen-tested for the film and were denied parts. Here we have a Gene Nelson (as Will Parker)-Gloria Grahame (as Aldo Annie) duet with a great string arrangement and some of the most clever lyrics in the entire musical, opening the door to a sadly, by-gone era of articulate songwriting.

Edited: September 23rd, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 8/15/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – Selections from “Popshopping Volume 1” by Various Artists

“Popshopping” is a compilation of German TV commercial production music from the 1960s and 1970s. Compilation producers Sir D’Oeuvre and Senor 45 collected these tracks from flexi discs and dusty TV production tape vaults. Many may consider this music nothing more than a bunch of blaring, dated commercials, to others (including me), this is highly stylized and inventive music created by some of Germany’s finest composers including Christian Bruhn, Max Meir-Maltez, Klaus Wuestoff, Gert Wilden and Johnny Teupen. This selection includes Christian Bruhn’s music for Ford Capri, Ford Taurus and “Komm In Fahrt” for Hansa-Pils commercials (all 1973), Klaus Wuesthoff’s “Swing A Little, Kim A Little” (1967), Klaus Doldinger’s “Wild Freshness” (1970) and Max Meir-Maltez’s music for Moulinex (1972). All of the tracks collected here are exceedingly groovy, as is the companion compilation to this one, “Popshopping Volume 2!”

Edited: August 14th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 6/23/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)” by Devo w/Neil Young

Q: Where do the worlds of The Kingston Trio, Devo and Neil Young all collide? A: Why, on “Human Highway,” of course! “Human Highway” was a mostly dreadful film released by Bernard Shakey (aka Neil Young) in 1982. The film starred Neil Young, Dean Stockwell, Dennis Hopper, Russ Tamblyn and Devo and was filmed between 1978 and 1981. It was briefly shown in movie theaters upon its release and was never to be seen again until its home video release in 1995 on VHS. It is currently out of print. While the movie is quirky and mostly incoherent, it is also very funny and somewhat entertaining in places. Devo were cast as Nuclear Garbagepersons, but getting into the convoluted plot that deals with a nuclear power plant and the last day on earth would be as convoluted as watching the film again. Devo can be seen performing the Kingston Trio classic “Worried Man Blues” on the back of a truck and “Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)” with Mark Mothersbaugh in his “Booji Boy” guise and Neil Young on guitar. In fact, it was in this performance that Mothersbaugh first uttered the words “rust never sleeps” that gave Young the title to his next record.

Edited: June 22nd, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/13/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Six Women (Me & Henry The Eighth)” by Cliff Edwards

Cliff Edwards was a crooner, musician, voice actor and a star of film and TV. He got his start in the early 1920s playing ukulele in vaudeville acts in Chicago and became known by his stage name, Ukulele Ike. He was largely responsible for the popularity of the instrument during the era. He was probably best known as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in the Walt Disney film, “Pinocchio” where he sang “When You Wish Upon A Star.” He also voiced the head crow in Disney’s “Dumbo” and sang the song “When I See An Elephant Fly.” He scored a number one hit in 1929 with his version of “Singin’ In The Rain,” and appeared in numerous films for RKO. Here’s a hilarious 1934 novelty from George White’s “Scandals” which was a film revue not unlike “Ziegfeld’s Follies.”

Edited: March 13th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/6/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “I Wanna Be Like You” by Louis Prima and Phil Harris

Disney lyricist Robert Sherman has died at the age of 86. Robert Sherman and his brother Richard wrote the songs for such Disney classics as “Winnie The Pooh,” “Mary Poppins,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “The Aristocats,” “The Parent Trap,” “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and the Disney theme park theme “It’s A Small World.” The duo also wrote the hits “Tall Paul” by Annette Funicello, “You’re Sixteen” by Ringo Starr and “Let’s Get Together” by Hayley Mills. This joyous jazz-tinged favorite hails from the 1967 Disney film, “The Jungle Book,” and is sung by Las Vegas star Louis Prima and Phil Harris, who is best known for his novelty hit “The Thing.” The song has been covered by everyone from Phish to Los Lobos to Smash Mouth to The Jonas Brothers.

Edited: March 6th, 2012

Song Of The Day – 11/19/11

Song Of The Day – “Prologue from West Side Story” from the Original Soundtrack Recording

So the question isn’t whether “West Side Story” is the greatest musical of all time (it is!)…the question is if you’re a Broadway Cast maven or a fan of the film soundtrack. I think most people my age and younger lean toward the film version…and with the 50th anniversary of the film just past, it’s time to view it again.

Edited: November 18th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 8/20/11

Song Of the Day – “Me And My Arrow” by Harry Nilsson

From the 1971 animated TV special “The Point.” The main character was Oblio whose head was round while everyone else had pointed heads. Arrow was his dog. While Ringo Starr supplied the voice of the narrator on the home video, it was Dustin Hoffman’s voice in the original telecast. The voice of Oblio was supplied by Bobby Brady of the Brady Bunch…

Edited: August 19th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 8/8/11

Song Of The Day – “Midnight Cowboy Theme” by John Barry

One of the great losses of this year was the death of film composer John Barry. His scoring credits included such films as “Goldfinger,” “Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” “From Russia With Love,” “Born Free” and “Midnight Cowboy.” This song captures the mood of the film perfectly.

Edited: August 7th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 8/3/11

Song Of The Day – “Diamonds Are Forever” by Shirley Bassey

James Bond themes written by John Barry from the ’60s and early ’70s pack a powerful wallop of equal measures of drama and kitsch. This 1971 Bond theme is no different especially when in the hands of Bond chanteuse, Shirley Bassey. It was her second time at bat with a Bond theme following the classic “Goldfinger.”

Edited: August 3rd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 6/10/11

Song Of The Day – “Season’s Trees” by Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi featuring Norah Jones

This is the second song I’ve featured from the album “Rome,” which is the best album I’ve heard all year. The first one featured Jack White on vocals. Luppi writes film scores in the style of Ennio Morricone, while Danger Mouse is one of today’s most in-demand artists and producers.

Edited: June 10th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 5/27/11

Song Of The Day – “The Rose With A Broken Neck” by Danger Mouse, Daniele Luppi & Jack White

Daniele Luppi is a composer of film music influenced by the likes of Ennio Morricone. Danger Mouse is a producer extraordinaire and half of Gnarls Barkley. Jack White is a singular guitarist of his own Stripe. This song comes from the album “Rome” that also features Norah Jones.

Edited: May 27th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 4/9/11

Song Of The Day – “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” from “Mulan” by Donny Osmond

When you have kids, you find yourself watching films over and over again and we spent lots of time as a family in front of this one.  It is one of Disney’s better films and you can’t argue with the vocals of Donny Osmond on this song!

Edited: April 8th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 3/9/11

Song Of the Day – “Two Ladies” by Joel Grey

A song about the power of three from the 1972 film version of the musical “Cabaret.” The film starred Liza Minnelli, Michael York and Joel Grey and was directed by Bob Fosse with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. For those who observe Lent…here’s something else you never want to give up…

Listen: “Two Ladies” by Joel Grey from “Cabaret”

Edited: March 9th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 3/3/11

Song Of The Day – “Luck Be A Lady” by Marlon Brando from the film version of the musical “Guys And Dolls”

One of composer/lyricist Frank Loesser’s most enduring songs…and who knew that Marlon Brando could sing! During production, this film was considered to be totally miscast.  Smooth voiced Frank Sinatra’s Nathan Detroit was considered too smooth for the part and Brando as Sky Masterson was chosen over Gene Kelly purely because of his marquee power. The lead female characters in the film played by Vivian Blaine and Jean Simmons were up for consideration by Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly…just imagine the possibilities…

Edited: March 3rd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 1/23/11

Song Of The Day – “The Bare Necessities” from the Disney film “Jungle Book”

Performed by Phil Harris as Baloo and written by Terry Gilkyson – Or is that “The BEAR Necessities” Go Bears!

Song Of The Day – “Bennie And The Jets” by Elton John from the album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

 J – E – T – S  JETS! JETS! JETS! GO JETS!

Edited: January 23rd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 11/18/10

Song Of the Day – “Circle Sky” by The Monkees from the film and LP “Head” 

Right from the beginning, it was always the intention of The Monkees’ handlers for them to make the jump from the small screen to the big screen. However, by 1968 when the film “Head” was made, The Monkees’ TV show had been cancelled and they were in dire need of some credibility in the music world.  Enter film maker Bob Rafelson and an up-and-coming actor named Jack Nicholson who wrote and directed a film that would make Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels” look positively coherent by comparison.  “Head” is a psychedelic mess in the first degree…but an interesting one interspersing drug-induced visuals with graphic scenes of war…and, of course, The Monkees.  The “Head” album had some of their finest songs on it also interspersed with sound collages that made it an uneven listening experience.  This Mike Nesmith gem is one of his finest songs and the Monkees’ performance centerpiece of the film. This clip includes a false start of the song and a resynching of the film to the song when it starts up again and plays to the end. The “Head” album has been expertly expanded into a 3 CD box set by Andrew Sandoval and Rhino Handmade…not for the casual fan for sure…but if you are a Monkees obsessive it’s well worth the price of admission.

Listen: “Circle Sky” by The Monkees

Edited: November 18th, 2010

Song Of The Day – 11/10/10

Song Of The Day – “People Like Us” by John Goodman from the film “True Stories”

Actor John Goodman shows off his singing chops on this Talking Heads song from the film “True Stories.”  Talking Heads recorded their own version of the song with David Byrne on vocals from the album “True Stories.”  It always mystified me as to why the Goodman version of the song wasn’t included on the official non-Talking Heads soundtrack to the film.  It was released as the B-side to the long-out-of-print single “Wild Wild Life” instead.  Indeed, this wasn’t Goodman’s only singing role.  He can also be heard singing “Viva Las Vegas” over the opening credits to the film “Father Of The Pride, ” “Good Golly Miss Molly” in the film “King Ralph,”  and on the TV show “Rosanne” singing “Sweet Home Chicago” with John Popper and “There’s A River.” Rock on John Goodman!

Listen: “People Like Us” by John Goodman

Edited: November 10th, 2010

Song Of The Day – 11/4/10

Song Of The Day – “Tevye’s Dream” from original soundtrack recording of “Fiddler On The Roof”

Today’s song of the day is in tribute to composer Jerry Bock who passed away yesterday at the age of 81. “Fiddler” is one of the longest running and best-loved musicals ever. The story was based on “Tevye And His Daughters” written by Sholem Aleichem. The Broadway musical, starring Zero Mostel, held the record for longest running musical for ten years until “Grease” came along.  The film version starring Topol as Tevye was directed by Norman Jewison and won three Academy Awards.  Bock also wrote the music for “Mr. Wonderful” (starring Sammy Davis Jr.), “The Rothschilds” and “Fiorello!” for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. Here is the famous dream scene from the film which must have been an inspiration for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

Listen: “Tevye’s Dream” from “Fiddler On The Roof”

Edited: November 4th, 2010

Song Of The Day – 11/1/10

Song Of The Day – “Theme From Shaft” by Isaac Hayes

Nobody dresses up as John Shaft for Halloween.  Now that would be one badass costume…just like this is one badass track! Call him “Shaft”…call him “Black Moses”…call him “Chef”…but one thing is for sure, he was responsible for some of the funkiest and smoothest hot-buttered soul ever committed to wax. Hayes started out playing sax for The Mar-Keys before becoming the keyboard player for the STAX Records house band writing classic songs with his partner David Porter like “Soul Man,” “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby,” “Hold On, I’m Comin’” and “B-A-B-Y.” He also wrote the not-so-classic “Chocolate Salty Balls” for “South Park” where he provided the voice behind Chef before falling out with Trey Parker and Matt Stone over the content of an episode that poked fun at Scientology. “Theme From Shaft” was Hayes’ first chart-topper in 1971 going on to win an Academy Award for best film score that year.

Listen: “Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes

Edited: November 1st, 2010

Song Of The Day – 10/31/10

Song Of The Day – “This Is Halloween” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” film soundtrack. 

Danny Elfman was a founding member of Los Angeles New Wave band Oingo Boingo. While Oingo Boingo made some solid albums during their day, it was Elfman’s soundtracking work that really made a name for him including this Halloween gem from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Indeed, it is Elfman who supplies the voice of Jack in the film and sings many of its most memorable songs. 

Listen: “This Is Halloween” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

Edited: October 31st, 2010