Thursday, July 15, 2010
Birthday gal Linda Ronstadt's career has seemingly touched on every kind of music, and today - even in her fifth decade as a performer and following 30 studio albums as a solo artist - she continues to bring her big voice with its inherent emotionalism and a flawless instinct for phrasing to whatever genre currently holds her fascination, from swing to folk to opera. Her twenty-seven Grammy nominations have yielded 11 wins in categories as diverse as Pop, Country, Tropical Latin, Children's, and Mexican-American.
She started out, though, as one of the first women in rock; her pioneering work with folk trio The Stone Poneys and later solo success has made her a heroine of numerous female singer-songwriters who came later. Whatever else she may have accomplished, Ronstadt was among the first women there, and unlike her contemporary and friend Janis Joplin, Ronstadt survived it. Not only that, but having worked with all the big names in American music since the mid-Sixties has earned her die-hard fans not just among regular people but bold-faced names as well. As late as 1992 she even went so far as to record an advertising jingle for her old friend Barney Gumble - in English and Spanish! - which hearkened back to the earlier days when she'd done just that to pay the bills before hitting the big time.
When Will I Be Loved appeared in 1974 on Ronstadt's fifth album, Heart Like a Wheel, which featured a smooth blend of rock and country that was the defining sound of the mid-Seventies, a genre better known today as AM Gold. Of all the songs of hers I could have featured - songs like You're No Good, Blue Bayou, or later works like Somewhere Out There or Don't Know Much - I chose this one for the most obvious reason of them all...
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Today's birthday boy is Marky Ramone, the drummer for the seminal punk rock band the Ramones who replaced the departing Tommy Ramone in 1978; previously Ramone (Marky, not Tommy) beat the skins for Dust and Richard Hell & The Voidoids. He played with the Ramones on and off for 15 years, following which he collaborated with The Misfits and also recorded solo work with Marky Ramone & the Speedkings.
Marky's first recordings with the Ramones were for their fourth album - Road to Ruin - which contains the timeless ditty I Wanna Be Sedated, arguably their greatest hit*. The song was written by Joey Ramone during a particular boring Christmas spent in London, and is frequently favoured by musicians for its unflinching look at the boredom engendered by touring.
Apropos of nothing (except it's a good chance to include another link!) the video contains an appearance by a young Courtney Love.
*Although I've always been slightly more partial to The KKK Took My Baby Away, even I have to admit that this one does get played more, even on corporate radio; I Wanna Be Sedated also has a higher play count in my iTunes.
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The song Phuck U Symphony first appeared on Millie Jackson's double album Live & Uncensored, her 1979 paean to decadence, which became the must-have party album of those altogether decadent times; Jackson's no-holds-barred, out-and-out raunchy concert was originally recorded live at The Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles, and remains a landmark recording to those of us who, like her, also revel in the altogether sacred combination of vulgar and funky. Here she performs the song in her inimitable manner at London's Dominion Theatre, circa 1984.
Today is Millie Jackson's birthday; may the Pop Culture Institute suggest that you do something vulgar and funky in her honour, in the way that we try to ensure every day is like Millie Jackson's birthday around here by doing just that as frequently as possible.
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[Containing the same passage written in classical Greek,
demotic and hieroglyphic Egyptian, the Rosetta Stone
enabled scholars to finally understand hieroglyphics,
1207 - England's King John expelled the Canterbury monks for their support of Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton.
1240 - A Novgorodian army led by Alexander Nevsky defeated the Swedes - legend has it commanded by Birger Magnusson - at the Battle of the Neva.
1381 - John Ball, a leader in the Peasants' Revolt, was hanged, drawn, and quartered in the presence of King Richard II, in what was surely the goriest Royal Variety Performance ever.
1685 - James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, was executed at London's Tower Hill following his defeat at the Battle of Sedgemore on July 6th.
1741 - When Alexei Chirikov sighted land, possibly at what is now Prince of Wales Island, the men he sent ashore in a longboat to investigate became the first Europeans to visit Alaska.
1789 - Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette, was named colonel-general of the new National Guard of Paris by acclamation.
1799 - The Rosetta Stone was found in an Egyptian village by Pierre-Francois Bouchard; the stone was later seized by the British Army in 1801 and brought to London, where today it resides in the British Museum.
1806 - When US Army Lieutenant Zebulon Pike embarked upon the Pike Expedition from Fort Bellefontaine near St. Louis his stated aim was to explore the American West; Colorado's majestic Pikes Peak today bears his name as a tribute to that brave endeavour.
1815 - Napoleon Bonaparte surrendered to the British aboard the HMS Bellerophon.
1823 - A fire destroyed the ancient Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.
1870 - The Hudson's Bay Company transferred control of Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory to the Dominion of Canada, out of which was created Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.
1931 - Kid Chocolate became Cuba's first world boxing champion.
1954 - The maiden flight of the Boeing 707, the first passenger jet liner, ushered in the age of jet travel.
1957 - Full-scale production of the Ford Edsel began; though in production for three years from 1958 to 1960, the Edsel was a famous flop.
1974 - Florida television personality Christine Chubbuck committed suicide live on the air.
1995 - Amazon.com sold its first item.
1997 - Andrew Cunanan murdered fashion designer Gianni Versace on the steps of Versace's palatial Florida home.
2004 - Monorail service opened along the Las Vegas Strip.
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