Can't Get It Outta My Head








                A Baby Boomer


       Muses on The Music

The DeVille that Didn’t Sell

A while back, on his excellent “Buried Treasure” show on SiriusXM, Tom Petty played a song by Mink DeVille. Which prompted me to wonder, whatever happened to Willy DeVille? To make a long story short, and give the game away, William Paul Borsey Jr. — his real name — died in 2009, from pancreatic cancer. His passing nevertheless escaped my notice, which underlines the question, what happened to Willy, and why wasn’t he a big enough star that his death garnered more notice? I certainly thought he would be, the first time I saw him. It must have been the late 1970s, on “Soundstage” or some other TV music show. I remember watching this guy — tall and skinny, in stacked heels and pompadour, the h

Those Other Flesh Failures

I was trying to get away from writing these Requiems for Rock Stars, but they keep dropping like flies (Firesign Theatre callback alert), the most recent being Keith Emerson. The former Emerson Lake and Palmer keyboardist died two weeks ago, two days after Beatles producer Sir George Martin, whose passing may have overshadowed Emerson’s. He was the sixth member of a major rock band to die this year. But while the deaths of the previous five were the results of health conditions common to humans in their late 60s to mid 70s — heart ailments, Parkinsonism, Alzheimer’s — Emerson’s was something else entirely, and offers us Baby Boomers something to ponder. The keyboard wizard, reportedly depres

The Beatles’ Fifth

Back in the very late 1960s, Billy Preston was sometimes referred to as “the fifth Beatle.” Already an accomplished session keyboardist for much of the decade, Preston indeed is the only musician other than the original Fab Four to be credited on a Beatles recording. The group’s 1969 No. 1 hit “Get Back” is credited to “the Beatles with Billy Preston.” But the real fifth member of the band was its long-time producer, George Martin, who died last week at the age of 90. (And, really, the group’s first manager, Brian Epstein — who died in 1967 — had much more influence on the Beatles than Preston. Sorry, Billy — you’re down to No. 7.) Martin worked as a producer and arranger for more than six d

I Don’t Love Reggae

The Continuing Digitization Project earlier this year went into the reggae section of my friend Ron’s Vinyl Vault. And after ripping four albums — three by Jimmy Cliff, one by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers — what I can’t get outta my head is, what’s with this music? Back in the heyday of The Music, when I was living in Madison, Wis., and the area, you’d occasionally hear people advise you to check out reggae — it was going to be the next thing, they said. (People used to say the same thing about disco; that’s not a comparison of the two musical forms themselves, but a comment on the eternal Next Big Thing.) But Jamaican music didn’t seem to penetrate the Mad City airwaves much. WIBA, wh

Opening My Ears

Opening My Ears These days, I’m listening to The Music more like the way I did when it was contemporaneous. Over stereo speakers, that is. That may not sound like much of a revelation, but in recent years, I mostly have listened to music via things stuck in, or placed over, my ears. Sure, I have sat radio, or sometimes an iPod, playing through the sound system in my pickup when I’m driving. And when I sit out on the deck, weather permitting, the Bluetooth speakers are paired to an iPod and playing. The Dakota has a decent stereo, but the interior of a truck — even a quad cab — isn’t the ideal acoustic environment. The Jam speakers I use on the deck (and occasionally in other places when I’m

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