A BRIEF REFLECTION ON THE INTERCONNECTEDNESS OF GO-GO-DOM (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #129)

Somehow or other, things connected to the Go-Go’s have always had a singular effect on me, which is best summed up as: So…I am not the only one.¬†

For someone like myself–a true loner, who scoffs at notions of tribe, or “my people,” it would be impossible to overstate how significant a part of the basic survival strategy this connection can be.

The effect was most melodramatically epitomized by the time the Go-Go’s saved my life and maybe I’ll write about that some day.

But there have been other instances and, today, I ran into a new one.

It seems Jane Wiedlin’s sublime solo hit “Rush Hour” retains the power to create very intense reactions. I wrote about mine here.

Really, you need to go there and read (or re-read) that piece before you proceed.

Because, otherwise, you won’t have any idea of why I can’t help feeling a part of this somehow…

…I only wish things like running place and leaping in the air were still available options at the Ross household. Or that I could play drums.

Alas, they are not and I cannot.

But I can still smile…and remember.

BEAST OF WHAT NOW? THE HELL YOU SAY! (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #128)

I’ve always been fascinated by acts who have exactly one great rock and roll record in them. It happened a lot in rock’s first two decades, when amateurs or quasi-pros or wannabes often caught lightning in a bottle. Of such things were doo wop, girl groups and surf and garage band legends made.

Then there were the pros. Barbra Streisand singing “Stoney End” comes to mind. It really was just the one studio moment, as she’s camped up every performance of the song since the day she cut it.

In some ways even stranger is Bette Midler’s take on “Beast of Burden.” She recorded it as a replacement for Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac” when he blocked her from releasing her version because it “wasn’t a girl’s song” and it doesn’t so much smoke the Rolling Stones as stomp a hole through their rotting carcass.

Stranger still because, unlike Streisand, rock and roll seemed like it should have been Midler’s forte. But, except for this, it wasn’t. I can see how the Stones never quite recovered from the shock. It’s one thing if Linda Ronstadt goes toe-to-toe with you. It’s another thing when someone whose entire career has careened from camp to sentiment and back again (sometimes, as on “The Rose” or her cover of John Prine’s “Hello In There,” earned sentiment, more often not quite), just flat out kicks you to the curb like it’s all in a day’s work.

Based on “Beast of Burden” you’d have thought she could be a better Pat Benetar without breaking a sweat.

I thought I had covered all this a few years back when I posted the MTV video of Midler and Jagger having a ball with it. There’s a cleaner version of the video available now–still the only proof I’ve seen that Mick has a sense of humor (as opposed to recognizing the uses of appearing to have one–that came with the Lucifer Lessons).

Even here, though, the Spirit of Camp is hovering nearby. Elsewhere, when Midler performed the song, live or synched, that Spirit always moved in and took over.

Except for once.

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether its angry dispersal here–and Midler’s total immersion in a synched performance, as if she and the song had fused into something no recording studio could contain–had anything at all to do with a nice Jewish girl refusing to camp it up in the home of Weimar decadence, a stone’s throw from the death camps.

Given that dynamic, it’s not impossible to imagine “I’ll never be your beast of burden” took on a whole new meaning. She didn’t do anything like this in Sweden.

**A few years later Natalie Cole’s version of “Pink Cadillac” scorched up the charts and no one was heard to complain. Midler’s live version on YouTube suggests she was better off with “Beast of Burden” but, given what she did with other live versions of “Beast” who knows? Maybe she had two great rock and roll records in her after all. Hope I get to hear her studio version some day, just in case.

WHEN LIFE–OR AT LEAST POLITICS–IS LIKE A PATRICIA HIGHSMITH NOVEL….(Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #127)

…at the moment when the doppelganger decides to become the object of his affection.**

To play him (Donald Trump) right, Reines would have to study not just Trump’s mannerisms but his platform and his style of thinking. Got it, Reines assured Klain, “I understand that this is not a Saturday Night Live character imitation.” Then he went to work on becoming Trump.

First stop: the men’s department at Nordstrom. “I need to look like Donald Trump,’ he told his suit guy. “But not like Halloween.” A week later, he’d have a slightly baggy blue suit with high cuffs–just like the Donald’s. He ordered dress shoes with three-and-a-quarter lifts, a backboard for his posture, and knee braces to combat his tendency to sway. He concluded that acquiring Trump’s carrot skin tone would be too much of a distraction–but only after covering half his face in self tanner one day to try it out. He bought Trump cuff links on Amazon and a Trump watch on eBay–for about $175. Reines even shelled out money for four podiums–two apiece for his apartment¬† and an office at Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias’s firm so that he could do mock debate sessions with friends before he faced off with Hillary. And then there was the “shackle.” Worried about leaving his supersecret prep materials in an Uber, Reines bought a heavy duty tether so that he could lock his briefcase to his wrist. He actually acquired two different versions–one of which was originally designed for bondage enthusiasts.¬†

(From Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, 2017)

This little tidbit is on page 325 (and concerns the Clinton campaign’s general election debate preparation). It’s the first sign of life in what was promising to be 400 of the deadest pages ever printed on dead tree pulp. Trust Donald Trump to pump life into the thing, just by being.

**NOTE–Patricia Highsmith, known round here as The Dark Lady, was the author of Strangers on a Train and the Ripley novels, among others. She is the only author I’ve read who understood sociopaths well enough to make them (as opposed to their effect on the normal people with whom they interact, which is often called a “plot”) interesting. Doppelgangers and false identities were her main thing. When she started, she looked like this…

When she finished, like this…

Understanding sociopathy at the level of real empathy wears on you. She’d have loved Donald Trump.

Better yet, she’d have understood him…and understood why (sociopath or not, and who’s to say?) his opponents (the sort of people who have substituted “bondage enthusiasts” for “the whips and chains crowd” in the name of post-Christian tolerance) continually underestimate him.

Because they’re just what he took them for.

Morons.

SMALL MIRACLES ARE STILL MIRACLES…(Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #126)

I always liked Olivia Newton-John but I also always wondered if her seeming absence of entitlement–evident from pre-fame early Australian TV cuts on YouTube to whatever her latest interview is–was a strategy. It’s a fair question of anybody gorgeous, blonde, eternally thin, with enough talent to become a superstar in the last age when talent was a prerequisite, whether always appearing just a bit awkward and uncomfortable in the spotlight you were born to inhabit is your personality speaking or a way into everybody’s pocket.

I always gave her the benefit of the doubt…while remaining aware that (a la Brigid O’Shaughnessy), she might have been counting on that from me.

Meaning, just once, I wished she would relax and radiate the joy she often conveyed on record in a live performance.

Just once, at 60, on the stage of an Australian charity benefit, with 63-year-old Barry Gibb–a fan for life–there to shade her from the the superstar heat, she did. I just discovered it on the way to something else. And it’s a marvel. God love ’em, they even made me like this song….

SOMETIMES I’M JUST GLAD SOMETHING EXISTS…(Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #125)

As, for instance, I had no idea Patty Duke and Helen Keller had actually met…

..let alone been photographed together.

Slow week so perhaps a good time to revisit what I wrote about Patty Duke and The Miracle Worker, there and there.

The photograph was taken in the early sixties. Keller died in 1968, Duke in 2016. There are people who think we’ll see their like again.

People are amusing sometimes.

SPEAK, ROCK AND ROLL MEMORY (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #124)

Thanks to commenter Chris, who put me on to this lovely little documentary about the life and death of Eddie Cochran, featuring extensive interviews with Cochran’s mother and more footage of his girlfriend, the great Sharon Sheeley, than I’ve seen anywhere else, ever (including what seems to be the only public airing of the song Sheeley wrote in his memory–an excellent song from what one can hear–a Sharon Sheeley song in other words). Also some great period footage of Eddie performing on TV and in the movies. It’s an easy watch. Take the time if you can:

 

PATIENCE, PATIENCE (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #123)

There’s been a first-verse-and-chorus-only version of Patty Loveless singing “Here I Am” (one of the contenders for her greatest recording) live on YouTube for years. Finally, there’s a full version (from Austin City Limits, no less, a place she always seemed especially relaxed). Double bonus since it’s preceded by “Tear Stained Letter” and catches her in her Best-Dressed-Woman-In-Nashville phase. These things can disappear, so catch it while you can!

“YOU KNOW, THEY DIDN’T HAVE GRIEF COUNSELING IN THE BRONX.” (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #122)

I found this through a mention in Greil Marcus’ mailbox. He says he can’t get past the part where DIon explains how “I Wonder Why” grew out of listening to bop at the Apollo. Funny, the hour and seven minutes I spent with it went by like “La Bamba.” To each, his own, but either way this would justify the existence of YouTube if every other video was a Nuremburg rally from 1936.

 

WILL MIRACLES NEVER CEASE….EVEN IN HOGTOWN? (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #121)

“There’s nothing better than 80,000 quiet Gator fans.”
(Peter Tom Willis, former FSU quarterback and radio announcer)

This has been true for eternity. Until now, when there’s suddenly one thing better….

This now my second favorite Swamp moment.

Of course, nothing can ever replace the first….