Posts Tagged ‘Little Richard’

Questions are flooding in! If this deluge continues, I might have to outsource the answers to India. If you have a question and you’re not too picky about an answer, leave it in the comments. From there on, it’s clobberin’ time. 

Dear Run-DMSteve,
Here is a question that I have often pondered. Everyone goes on and on about how brilliant John Lennon was and how thought-provoking and brilliant his solo music was. Has it ever occurred to others that John wouldn’t have been so “out there” if it hadn’t been for his partner in life and crime, Yoko Ono. It’s so interesting that people are quick to joke that Mark David Chapman would have been a hero if he had aimed a little more to the left and shot Yoko, but I truly believe it is because of Yoko that John became the critical darling he was so admired for. Your thoughts?
– Orin

Dear Orin,
John had two partners in life and crime, Paul and Yoko. John and Paul came of age together, worked together, and together achieved results they never would’ve seen on their own. After they became adults, they needed to get away from each other. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have been together for 50 years, but they should’ve divorced 30 years ago. John and Paul had the sense to go their separate ways while they were still on top.

John found a new muse in Yoko, and so we have Imagine, Some Time in New York City, and Mind Games. Double Fantasy bored me, but by then John was supremely happy with Yoko, and I can’t knock happiness.

Yoko never had a fair chance. She faced a public relations attack from the first day her name was linked with John’s. Even today, when the clue in the crossword puzzle is “Lennon’s love,” I laugh to myself as I write in “Ono.” Why do we laugh at her? What was her crime? The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that the only thing she was guilty of was not being Caucasian.

(John had another girlfriend, May Pang, while he and Yoko were estranged, but I can’t say what influence she had on his work.)

Four things I always remember: Where I was and what I was doing the day Ruby killed Oswald, the day Nixon left office, the night Chapman killed Lennon, the afternoon Challenger exploded. Just to lighten the mood here: When Nixon walked out of the White House for the last time, my Grandma Bella, who was in her 70s and glued to her TV, cried because “they’re throwing the poor man out of his house and he has a wife and two children to feed.”

Keep watching the wheels go round and round, Orin.
– Run-DMSteve

Dear Mr. Run-DMSteve/AKA mrlonelyhearts,
Since you asked, I will lay just a very few of the multitude of burning questions which I’ve been carrying around for far too long on you:

Am I the walrus?
How can heroin be “my wife” and “my life”?
How can I live a normal life if I only have eyes for you?
How can Mick get satisfaction?
How can Rhonda help ME?
If it’s my life…what am I doing here?
Is this love or confusion?
What happened to the “Eve of Destruction”? Did the “Dawn of Correction” cancel it out?
What IS new pussycat?
Who did put the bop in the bop shoo bop?
Who did write the Book of Love?
Why can’t you roller skate in a buffalo herd?
Why do fools fall in love?
Why do you keep me hanging on?
Why does no one call me Mellow Yellow?
Why must I be a teenager in love (even at age 60)??
Why won’t my boomerang come back?
Why’s everybody always putting me down?

Your sage answer(s) will be appreciated.
– Mr. Jones

Dear Mr. Jones,
Your questions require answers from sagier pundits than Run-DMSteve. Have you considered Dan Savage, Dear Prudie, or Rick Santorum?

Alas, all I can do is add more questions to your burning multitude:

If I relax too much, won’t I slip out?
If she blinded you with science, did she deafen you with metal shop?
If you put a ring on it, do you buy it from the Shane Company or Good Vibrations?
That’s the way? That’s what way?
Who let the dogs out?
Who’s next?
Why haven’t you found what you’re looking for? You’ve been looking for it since 1987!
You may ask yourself, where is that large automobile?
You may ask yourself, what is that beautiful house?
You may ask yourself, where does that highway lead to?
You may ask yourself, am I right, am I wrong?
You may say to yourself, my god, what have I done?

Thank you for the most excellent laugh, and good luck on your lifelong quest for enlightenment, you love-struck teenager!

(PS: Speak up. Tommy can’t hear you.)

I believe my music is the healin’ music. I believe my music can make the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf and dumb hear and talk, because it inspires and uplifts people. It regenerates the heart, makes the liver quiver, the bladder splatter, and the knees freeze. I’m not conceited, either. (Little Richard)

Let’s give a big Run-DMSteve welcome to today’s contestants:

Golden Oldies: Radio programming.
Golden retrievers: Dogs.

Are you ready to rumble?

Golden Oldies
In 1966 my parents gave me my own radio, with a primitive earbud. They were sick of listening to my music on the family radio, which sat on the kitchen counter beside the bread box. Looking back, I can understand what Mom and Dad were up against. My musical sensibilities at the age of 11 were the equivalent of Lady Gaga and the Jonas Brothers. Who wants to listen to Herman’s Hermits and the tragic story of Mrs. Brown and her lovely daughter?

When I was 11, I certainly did, and when I got to see Herman’s Hermits in concert for a friend’s birthday I was thrilled. But before my 5th-grade colleagues and I could sing along to “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am,” we had to survive the opening act: The Who. (They weren’t famous yet, at least not on this side of the Atlantic.) What followed was, by the standards of that era, full-blown insane flying carnage. Fun!

Wherever you are today, Mrs. M., I’d like to thank you for not taking us home early, though I plainly remember your shock, particularly when the audience was hit by drum sticks and guitar shrapnel.

As the 1960s continued, The Beatles and The Who became more experimental and The Rolling Stones more savage. Other bands followed. Radio stations sprang up to play this music (the first “alternative” outlets). In the early 1970s I noticed that there were other stations, usually on the AM side, that were still playing Herman’s Hermits and similar bands. They didn’t seem aware of Sgt. Pepper’s or Tommy or Beggar’s Banquet. Their playlists stopped in the mid-’60s, and they included songs from a decade I knew nothing about: the 1950s, which in my mind meant crooners (Frank Sinatra) and cool jazz cats (John Coltrane).

As we moved into the 1980s and I learned more about the history of pop music I realized that Golden Oldies radio wasn’t just something I listened to when I didn’t like what was playing on the other stations. Golden Oldies was cultural propaganda, like Fonzi and Happy Days. All of the ’50s music these stations played was white-washed white pop. The only black artists I remember hearing* were Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Bo Diddley – and by the time we moved into the ’90s, Bo Diddley had disappeared and the other three were restricted to a song or two each.

What about all the other black R&B artists? What about rockabilly? What kind of country is this where we have to learn about our heritage from Led Zeppelin?

Today, in 2011, even that remnant of the 1950s is gone. The Golden Oldies songbook begins in the early ’60s with The Beach Boys and The Beatles. Jan & Dean and The Everly Brothers have vanished. Golden Oldies extends into the early 1980s now, and though blacks and women have been allowed into the club (no soul, no Golden Oldies), this format continues to perpetuate atrocities. Where else are you going to hear Chicago, The Dooby Brothers, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Bread? Excuse me while I rinse my brain out.

* Not counting doo-wop. I’m not sure that doo-wop is music.

Golden retrievers
Golden retrievers love chasing tennis balls. They love standing around chewing tennis balls. They love you. They love whatever you’re doing. They would never ever rewrite musical history or suppress music created and performed by women, minorities, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered individuals. They wouldn’t make me listen to Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park.” And if I secretly played “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daugher,” they wouldn’t tell.

Winner: Golden retrievers. W00T! (And w00f!)