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Archive for the ‘People’


New Orleans 100.

August 30th, 2008

 

The New Orleans 100

Since August 2005, I’ve put up nine posts about the problems our country’s faced since the horrors that nature and man have reaped. Unfortunately, I assume there will be many more. As many on the ground have observed, it’s going to be at least a decade before we begin to repair at least the surface damage.

I’ve suggest, and you’ve followed up on, a number of ways to help the devasted area, whether it’s a straight donation or buying records or posters who funnel your payments to help centers. And you should continue to do do: CNN’s set up a special page that can help you figure out the best place for you to participate.

There’s really a dilemma. Things are terrible, and things are improving. The New Orleans 100 was set up by All Day Buffet to highlight the good works that are making New Orleans and the area better, with links to lots of the organizaitons you can help. Take a look, maybe something will strike your fancy.

Americans deserve better than we’ve done for them so far. Please help.

(via Twink Fly Me To…)

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Jerry Wexler, R.I.P.

August 16th, 2008

Jerry Wexler recording with Aretha Franklin, circa early 1970s

It might seem odd to remember a great record producer on a cartoon blog, but it’s probably just as odd to take cartoon producing lessons from a great rhythm & blues producer (the producer who coined the term ‘rhythm and blues’, not so incidentally), like I sort of did. But when I was coming up there was no place to learn to be a producer (if it is indeed possible to learn such a thing) so I took my inspiration from the great record men I could read about. Like Jerry Wexler.

Ironically, I’d started re-reading Jerry’s autobiography just this week when I got word he’d passed away yesterday in Florida.

Jerry is my number one producer hero, which is saying something considering my dozen other favorites including the likes George Martin or Berry Gordy or Quincy Jones. The thing I most admired most about him was the finesse to allow musicians to play exactly how they wanted to play, but somehow coax mega hits out of them at the same time. A rare, sometimes, seemingly unique ability.

Sure, the music made my antennae go up (Aretha, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Bob Dylan, Dusty Springfield, the list is almost incalculable), his company too (he was a partner in the great Atlantic Records), and the fact he was a Manhattan-ite in love with Black music. I’ve heard he could be an irracible jerk (he who casts the first stone….). But, unlike a lot of the other great producers who were often highly trained arrangers or musicians or engineers themselves, Jerry seemed that he was just a fan first and foremost (I say “seemed” because he was a highly skilled writer and journalist before joining Atlantic in his 30’s).

Jerry just loved music. He married his fandom and knowledge to his impeccable instincts for talent. (He convinced Carole King and Gerry Goffin to write “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” after musing about John Henry’s term “natural man” and shouting out to them on a New York street to write a song with that title. He hummed a favorite country song to Patti Page and she sold millions on “The Tennesee Waltz”).

You can read more and better about Jerry Wexler in thousands of places. Do it, you’ll enjoy yourself. But, in the meantime, I realized that without thinking about it over at my music blog I’ve posted five tracks that Jerry produced or caused to be produced in the last few weeks alone. They’re the best way to hear what I’m talking about. Jerry Wexler made us all a lot richer.

Aretha Franklin > Rock Steady

King Curtis > Hold On, I’m Comin’

Carla Thomas > B-A-B-Y

Sam & Dave > I Thank You

Otis Redding > (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

R.I.P. Tony Schwartz

June 17th, 2008

Tony Schwartz
Tony Schwartz, 1923-2008: his ‘daisy ad’ changed political advertising.

Even though he became famous in an era of black & white and radio, Tony Schwartz taught core lessons of communication to everyone in the media. Whether they knew it was coming from him or not.

His most famous piece was this campaign spot for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, which, lore has it, ran only once (and never even mentioned the opponent’s name) but was responsible for defeating Barry Goldwater in a landslide.

The Responsive Chord
My mentor, Dale Pon, not only insisted I buy and read Tony’s book “The Responsive Chord,” but that I should meet the man himself, which was an incredible experience. From then on, I made the book required reading among my promotion staff.

Check it out. The things you think you know because you’re smart are probably things that Tony was smart about before we were born.