author jeff giles discusses his brilliant new book,posted at 2:17 pm by brandon in child, my work
who will join in on those harmony parts
posted at 1:38 pm by brandon in sweet you rock and sweet you roll
(or: we’ll (still) rely on each other, uh-huh)
(or: october 13′s honey from the hive)
Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton — “You Can’t Make Old Friends”
(from You Can’t Make Old Friends) —
Thirty years, precisely to the month, since an innocuous little Bee Gees ditty called “Islands in the Stream” shot to the top of urry chart and helped cement Kenny and Dolly — the (never-were-a-)couple with enough combustible chemistry to burn down a thousand laboratories — as worldwide superstars, the pair have reunited on the slightly sappy lead single from Rogers’ first studio album in nearly a decade. You might argue they had stronger material the first time around, and you might be right, but there’s no denying that old black magic — whatever odd alchemy develops betwixt these two whenever they share the same space — hasn’t faded one damn milligram. These two voices, blended in sweet, stirring harmony? Still money, honey.
Phillip Phillips — “Gone, Gone, Gone”
(from The World from the Side of the Moon) —
Do you ever bet that Mumford & Sons wish this Phillips punk would go back to wherever the hell he came from? Sure, they get all the album sales and critical love and Grammy glory, but then this poor socially awkward gravelly-voiced child comes along and essentially apes the Mumford sound wholesale — perhaps buffed up with a slightly poppier sheen — and steals all the mainstream radio airplay right out from under them. (A nifty trick our favorite Idol grad in forever has pulled off here, but how long until top 40 grows bored with the apparent one trick this kid can successfully perform?)
Serena Ryder — “Stompa” (from Harmony) —
Pity the plight of the poor Canadian songstress, who eternally seems to face a steep climb when trying to broaden their audience stateside. (Indeed, for every Joni Mitchell or Sarah Mac that breaks through the din of noise, there’s a Chantal Kreviazuk and a Jenifer McLaren wondering why the hell they can’t get themselves arrested south of Saskatchewan.) This ravishing track has been a sensation at adult radio for most of the summer and now faces a tough transition to top 40; I strongly suspect this tune might require the exact same tender loving care that made Emeli Sandé’s deliciously nifty “Next to Me” a hit a full year after the album dropped, but this oddball opus feels to me like a sleeper smash just waiting to happen. A single of the year contender, without question.
Daniel Merriweather featuring Adele — “Water and a Flame”
(from Love and War) —
I heard a rumor — that’s a damn lie, I read it in Billboard last week — that none other than Celine Dion is covering this criminally overlooked gem on her next album (due in November). And while I’m trying hard not to pre-judge this endeavor as anything other than a massive creative folly before actually having heard Dion’s take on it, if her decision to give this tune whatever would be the pop-star-equivalent of a papal blessing actually ends up driving much more attention to the original version than it has won heretofore — odd, particularly when you take into account the ginormous scale of Adele’s coming-out party a couple of years ago — that can’t be a bad thing.
Air — “Redhead Girl” (from Pocket Symphony) —
“I screen-tested with Bob Woods. There were two other girls: a dark-haired girl, a redhead, and then me, and at the time, I was sort of light-brown hair with blond streaks in it. . . . And I’m doing the screen test, and the director — we called him ‘The Maestro,’ David [Pressman] — we did it once, and then he walked out [on the floor] and said, ‘I want you to look at me.’ And I looked at him and he goes, ‘Can you see the camera lens?’ I said yes, and he said, ‘Can you see the light on on that camera lens?’ I said yes, and he goes, ‘Great. Do me a favor and nod your head up and down.’ I nod my head up and down and he says, ‘Great, thank you,’ and he turned around to walk back in [to the control room], and I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, what?’ And he came back and he said, ‘They asked me to give you a note that I don’t agree with, so we’re just gonna do it again, and they’ll think I gave you the note, and you’ll be fabulous.’ We did the scene again, and I got called up to Linda [Gottlieb, then One Life's executive producer]‘s office, and she said, ‘Well, I don’t. . . I don’t really get you.’ She said, “Maybe. . . how would you feel about being a redhead?’ I said, ‘Well, if you think we’re all the same, you have a redhead down there. Why don’t you just hire her?’ And she said, ‘That’s not the point. How would you feel about being a redhead?’ And I said, ‘I have no problem being a redhead.’ I left there and [said to myself], ‘I think One Life to Live is safe from me. I’m not gonna get this job!’”
— the dazzling and divine Hillary B. Smith, detailing to me (in a forthcoming exclusive interview for Brandon’s Buzz Radio) how the role of a lifetime — that of brilliant defense attorney Nora Hanen Gannon Buchanan on the classic soap One Life to Live — fell into her lap in the summer of 1992. (Twenty years ago this very day — August 6, 1993 — was a red-letter day for an entire generation of us rabid One Life fans, as that was the day that the show’s ‘A’ story that summer — the gang rape of confused co-ed Marty Saybrooke, and her ensuing brave quest to make her attackers accountable — came to a big climax, courtesy of the ravishing Ms. Smith. A couple of weeks prior, Nora, who was defending the boys whom Marty had accused of rape, had stumbled upon evidence which strongly suggested that her clients were indeed guilty, and, caught between doing her job and doing what was right after a series of situations in which she tried to coax the unrepentant jocks into confessing their crimes, a guilt-ravaged Nora chose to stick with her principles and threw the case during her summation, in a last-ditch lunge to ascertain true justice. Smith’s intense, incendiary performance capped what I continue to insist was the strongest summer in One Life‘s regal and impossibly rich history, and the scenes in question — which can be seen here, if you don’t mind the less-than-stellar video quality — helped to land her the Outstanding Lead Actress Daytime Emmy Award the following year and instantly catapulted her into the pantheon of daytime’s absolute best. To mark the aforementioned twentieth anniversary, I have been hard at work for most of the summer trying to pull together a number of principals involved with the show during that magical summer, in an attempt to create for Brandon’s Buzz Radio some sort of aural history detailing how all of the disparate pieces of the show’s canvas clicked brilliantly into place. I had a thrilling and exhilarating 90-minute chat with Smith a couple of weeks back, in which we covered everything from the rape trial to the infamous cabana incident to her hilarious stint as a contestant on Celebrity Family Feud, and I will be deciding how best to share that conversation with you guys just as soon as I hear back from the last couple of people to whom I have submitted interview requests. In the meantime, this fun anecdote felt like a mighty fine way to mark the true anniversary of one of the greatest pieces of television — daytime, prime time, any-friggin’-time — that I’ve ever laid grateful eyes upon.)
Mandy Moore — “The Whole of the Moon” (from Coverage) —
For much of the summer, I’ve been working on a special tribute project for Brandon’s Buzz Radio — watch this space soon for further news on that front — and it has turned into a soul-sucking endeavor that has seemed to monopolize my every waking second for the past few weeks. Luckily, it’s a slow day at work today, so I can spend a few moments tending to my poor, neglected baby here. I snapped the photographs below on my iPhone a couple of Friday nights ago while waiting (rather impatiently) for my two dogs — particularly Miss Kelly, whose occasional crotchety tendencies have led A to refer to her, affectionately, as “The Diva” — to take care of their business before bedtime. In reality, it was so bright and clear that I swear I could make out individual craters with my naked eye, but in case you can’t tell from the sadly hazy pictures, that glowing blob in the center of the frame, shining without flaw through the tree limbs, is the moon.
Matt Nathanson — “Kinks Shirt”
(from Last of the Great Pretenders) —
The never-boring Nathanson gets more friskily ambitious with rhythm and percussion (read: more James Brown, less James Taylor) on his eighth career record, a lilting love letter to racing after romance in the City by the Bay. Listening to this, you just know the boy’s gonna get his heart stomped by the flaky gal in the thrift-store threads, and he’s gonna love every last second of it.
The Civil Wars — “The One That Got Away” (from The Civil Wars) —
I am entertaining out-of-town houseguests this morning and am not sure of their political persuasion, so I have decided to forgo my typical AM television fare — Morning Joe, MSNBC’s marvelous mix of news, chat, and fun — for VH1′s non-threatening block of music videos, which just brought me into close contact for the first time with the new single and video from this tortured duo, whose debut project — the blistering, brilliant Barton Hollow — burst out of the box a couple of years ago in a blaze of Grammy-winning glory. I just happened to read a newspaper article last week about how Joy Williams and John Paul White are no longer on speaking terms following their acrimonious split while in the midst of a European tour half a year ago, and rumors are flying that White’s actual participation in the completion of the Wars’ sophomore album was fairly minimal (rumors that would seem to be buttressed rather convincingly by the set’s intense, intoxicating lead single, in which White comes off as little more than a featured harmony vocalist). The video itself packs more fascinating romantic drama and yearning into three-some minutes than most films manage to fill two hours with; indeed, not since Fleetwood Mac dusted off their forgotten classic “Silver Springs” in 1997 — and put Stevie and Lindsay on stage, staring sharp daggers straight into each other’s very souls, to sing it — has a band’s rocky interpersonal dynamics (not to mention what we, the salivating audience, happen to know about same) led to such a rough, riveting musical triumph.
Sarah McLachlan — “Full of Grace” (from Surfacing) —
So, what was supposed to be an unassuming chat on my ramshackle radio show about a self-published memoir from an actress whose work I have long admired has turned into something of a blockbuster, and has given Brandon’s Buzz Radio its most listened-to week in the four-and-a-half years of its existence. In case you missed all the hoopla: the brilliant Alicia Coppola — who will forever be remembered in this household for her three-year stint as that hot-tempered hellcat Lorna Devon on NBC’s dearly departed classic soap Another World — stopped in to the Buzz last Thursday to discuss her brand new book Gracefully Gone, a compelling chronicle of her father’s ten-year battle with brain cancer which is told through interlocking entries from both his and her journals. My show’s network, BlogTalkRadio, showcased the episode as one of their “Staff Picks” all day last Saturday, and by the end of the weekend, the episode had become my most downloaded episode ever. Here we are exactly one week later, and Alicia’s episode is still the second-most popular outing in the “Books” category across the entire network. (And with over 15,000 active hosts currently populating the network’s airwaves, that stat is nothing to sneeze at, people!) If you have yet to catch this installment, you can listen to it here, or — as is the case with all ninety-three episodes of Brandon’s Buzz Radio — you can download it as a free podcast from the iTunes music store. (My beloved, A, would like me to type here a simple note of caution: Alicia and I talk about some fun stuff across the course of our hour together — like how she hungered to rummage through Linda Dano’s turbans and boas and pilfer a few for her own back in the day — but be aware that the conversation does get a bit heavy in places.) As ever, I am overwhelmed by your generosity as you continue to make the various platforms of this homemade endeavor regular stops in your daily journey along the paths of popular culture. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to entertain you, even if only for a few, fleeting moments.
Tyler Farr — “Redneck Crazy” (from Redneck Crazy [Single]) —
I don’t know if I connect with this two-hundred-seventeen seconds of craziness because it’s so funny (it’s hilarious, and made even more so by the fact that Farr plays it mostly straight) or because I share my bloodline with a fair number of folks whom I have no doubt would behave exactly like this if they found themselves trapped in a similar scenario. (Not all of said folks are male, either; regardless of chromosome placement, we Henslees aren’t exactly shy, retiring wallflowers, and thus, the women in my family tend to be a bit on the mean side.) It seems a relative certainty that Mr. Farr has done hopped the bus to One-Hit Wonderville with his ridiculous novelty smash, but it’s a frivolously fun ride nonetheless.
Ed Sheeran — “Lego House” (from +) —
Don’t allow this tune’s titanically ludicrous title — after all, if the name of a song is meant to evoke imagery and deep emotion, I think we can all agree there’s a wonderfully wide gulf between Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” and/or Tom Waits’ “Ol’ 55″ and this, though could we reasonably expect something more from a chap who decided to name his debut album after the mathematical symbol for addition? — to distract you from its simple, serene quality: when the books are written on 2013 and its music, this modest ditty might just emerge as the year’s sweetest love song.