Re-recording Sgt. Pepper

Fun videos from the BBC of several bands re-recording songs from Sgt. Pepper. Naturally, I gravitated toward the Stereophonics entry.


To blog or not to blog?

Through Mindy McAdams’ blog, I stumbled into some back and forth on why all journalists should blog. Or not. The last word for now goes to Bobbie Johnson of The Guardian, who wrote the initial “not” post in this conversation and, naturally, finds himself on the defensive.

That’s the way things go in these discussions. As Bobbie puts it, debates over journalism and the Web tend to have a lot of “with us or against us” rhetoric. Scott Karp, who pushes the “all journalists” theme here, is actually a bit more receptive to Bobbie’s argument than most Web hipsters I’ve seen. I’ve been in some conversations with people who have all the dogmatic zeal of a religious convert, and they don’t appreciate even a gentle teasing — say, being labeled as a “Web hipster.”

Basically, there’s a “cool crowd” in journalism these days, and it’s full of early adopters of any Web technology you can imagine. You’d think I’d fit in with them, having spent close to a dozen years involved with the Web, but I really don’t. For one thing, I’ve seen too many “latest things” on the Web fail. Web hipsters can gripe about newspapers all they want, but newspapers are still in business — and quite profitable, though they’re obviously not growing in the way stockholders would like.

I usually see where the Web hipsters are coming from. I often like the technology as much as they do. I’m just not as willing to posit my news-reading habits on the population at large, and I share Bobbie’s aversion to sweeping generalizations.

In this case, Karp makes a convincing argument on the benefits of blogging. But he doesn’t convince me everyone should do it. Here’s part of the response I left on his site: “Blogging is just one of several skills you can develop as a journalist. A reporter who can blog is valuable, but so is a reporter who can edit. So is an editor who can create multimedia presentations. So is a Web content developer who can debug code.”

That covers one half of the argument — that blogging rounds out journalists’ skills. The second half is that blogging teaches journalists how dive into the messy but rewarding world of interacting with readers.

But that assumes journalists weren’t interacting with readers before “blog” entered some dictionaries.

Just as blog evangelists (including me) could argue that journalists could learn something about interaction via blogs, newspaper vets (also including me) could argue that every journalist should spend time with a small- or mid-sized paper, dealing with angry callers and getting yelled at by high school coaches.

And the feedback you get via blog is rarely representative of your readership as a whole. If you’re out in the neighborhood and people know you’re working for the paper, they’ll often tell you what they think of the paper. Blog feedback is less random — and frankly, less useful.

Because here’s the funny thing about all the lecturing that Web hipsters love to give journalists: You can convince the journalists that they’re supposed to be doing all these things. But you might not convince the readers the they’re going to use the tools the way you’ve envisioned.

music, tv

Live-blogging VH1’s soft-rock countdown

I can’t promise all two hours, but I’ll go for a while.

40. Bertie Higgins, Key Largo — Video starts with a guy leaning against a palm tree with an open shirt, smoking. I suppose someone once considered that sexy.

Hey, Godfrey’s wearing a real shirt!

“Bertie Higgins had the look” says some guy I don’t know. Someone else explains — you need a beard, about 20 extra pounds. Yeah, but there’s only one Michael McDonald.

Today, after rehab, he has a band called “The Pirates.”

39. David Soul, Don’t Give Up on Us, BabyRemember those weird variety shows in which TV stars would sing? In this day of cheap reality programming, no one’s thought of reviving this idea?

I’ll blog an interesting comment when we get one. The good news here — Soul was in a musical about Jerry Springer!

38. Peter Frampton, Baby I Love Your Way — You have to love his Family Guy and Simpsons appearances. Few people have aged quite this well. (Attitude-wise, anyway.)

Hey, the Donnas! The drummer and … one of the other ones. They used to stare at the album cover.

Carlos Alazraqui: Frampton’s so cool. Still is.

Dave Rhodes says he’s no soft-rock Samson (referring to his current lack of hair) — his power comes from within. That’s kind of clever.

37. Leo Sayer, When I Need You — They’re going too fast!

The trivia from the unseen narrator is outstanding. He’s named “Leo” because of his mane of hair? That’s awesome.

He apparently threw a hissy fit on Celebrity Big Brother UK, saying something about a lack of underwear. Maybe it was actually Commando Big Brother UK.

(Phew! First ad break. Not sure how long I can keep this up. I plan to multitask during the ads.)

36. 10cc, I’m Not in Love — GREAT song. Jake Fogelsang seems excited.

Chris Jericho, first sighting: If Pink Floyd had no balls, they’d be 10cc.

Brad Sherwood repeats the myth about how they got the name.

Wait — it’s true?? But didn’t Pop-Up Video say it’s a lot less?

(Mrs. MMM says this should be in the top 10.)

35. Extreme, More Than Words“I totally lost my v to this song,” says some female comic. Andrea Rosen, apparently.

I guess Nuno forgave VH1 for the whole Bands Reunited fiasco, because here he is, bragging about how many people got laid to this reprehensible piece of crap. And yes, I’ve lost a little bit of respect for The Donnas’ drummer because she likes this. There … this special on soft-rock songs has made me cry, though not in the way anyone intended.

(Most people probably didn’t notice this, but when I mentioned the Bands Reunited fiasco, I got a very interesting comment. Please check it out.)

(Mrs. MMM thinks this should be called the “shut up and blow me” song. Which is true.)

34. Dan Hill, Sometimes When We Touch — Jason covered this one far better than the VH1 guys ever could.

Why does Chris Wylde look like he’s auditioning to be one of Billy Crudup and Jason Lee’s bandmates in Almost Famous?

But we must pause here to present VH1 Snark-By-Numbers Movement #4: The overly literal or out-of-context reading of a lyric, accompanied by a condescending remark that such a thing would be painful. (Fictional example: “Annie, if it feels like you’re walking on broken glass, you should probably check out your shoes.”) It’s provided here by the aforementioned Rosen: “I don’t want anyone to ever hold me until we both break down and cry. That’s just too weird for me.”

33. Cat Stevens, Peace Train — No mention of 10,000 Maniacs removing this song from future pressings of In My Tribe after the Rushdie thing. Dolly Parton, bless her against-the-Nashville-grain heart, covered it in 1996.

(Before the ad — smoothest soft-rock sax solos. It’s Careless Whisper, with a couple of dorks pretending to play sax.)

32. Kenny Loggins, This Is It — “The Bohemian Rhapsody of soft-rock songs?” Uh, Jake Fogelsang? Care to elaborate?

It’s actually a prequel to Faith No More’s Epic.

I believe this is our first Michael McDonald sighting.

Megyn Price! The rich man’s Scarlett Johannson! She says he looks like Doug Henning. She’s right.

Kenny himself thanks Footloose for re-establishing him as a rock guy. Yay.

31. Richard Marx, Hold On to the Night — An indie record person says his voice is like Velcro — scratchy on one side, smooth on the other, and it sticks. That’s somewhat creative. Good for her.

Last person to wear a mullet non-ironically and have it work, says the same person.

Narrator says he has aged really well. And he has.

Chris Wylde thinks he’s made a funny by calling him “Dick Marx.”

30. Andrew Gold, Lonely Boy — Ever hear a bleep and have no idea what was said? Comedian Lisa Arch calls it a “(bleep) ballad.” Then she rightly takes him to task for griping about his sister stealing the spotlight.

This is a standout of the Worst Rock and Roll Records book. Not quite Metal Machine Music, but …

Whoa … whoa … correction time. Steve Huey says Gold wrote the theme songs to The Golden Girls and Mad About You. No, no. Not Mad About You. Gold sang it, but Paul Reiser co-wrote it with Don Was.

29. Debby Boone, You Light Up My Life — She apparently couldn’t manage a follow-up and went back to Christian music. We all give thanks.

28. America, Horse With No Name — Kevin Cronin, of all people, shows up to praise this.

Somewhere, I recently saw the quote “You’re in the desert. Name your danged horse.” Ah, here we go — Corndog.

The song was banned for perceived drug references? Realizing that the band must have been high isn’t really a drug “reference.”

27. Lionel Richie, Hello — As David Hasselhoff is to Germany, Lionel Richie is to … Iraq? Interesting.

26. Harry Chapin, Cat’s in the Cradle — “Saddest soft rock song ever,” says Rosen. Some truth to that, but Mrs. MMM just mentioned Wildfire, so I’ll need to go into the shower and bawl for a while.

No mention of the Ugly Kid Joe cover. Probably for the best.

25. Anne Murray, You Needed Me — Everyone says she looks and sounds like his or her mom or mom’s best friend. Yeah, it’s kind of difficult to picture her in some sort of relationship.

Chris Jericho says Canada is wacked out for having an Anne Murray museum but no Rush museum. I sense an opportunity here.

24. Phil Collins, One More Night — This apparently caused my dog to freak out and sit on the remote. That’s bad, because I was watching a few minutes behind on the DVR.

So I’ll need to look up the songs I missed …
23. REO Speedwagon, I Can’t Fight This Feeling — Ugh.
22. Roberta Flack & Peabo Bryson, Tonight, I Celebrate My Love — Meh.
21. Orleans, Still the One — Dang, I wish I’d seen this. I hope they got Stephen Colbert.
20. Captain & Tennille, Do That To Me One More Time — Have I really never mentioned on this blog how frightening I find Tennille’s request here? I mean, if you held a gun to my head and told me I had to spend time with a dominatrix, I’d opt for Jane Wiedlin.
19. Michael Bolton, How Am I Supposed to Live Without You — How appropriate that he sounds like he’s dying here. One nit-pick with a great In Living Color parody in which James Carrey does Bolton doing When a Man Loves a Woman — they say Bolton was stealing a song from a “long-dead brother.” But Percy Sledge still isn’t dead.

18. Toto, Rosanna — I’m back, and they’re pointing out that this song actually rocks a bit. It does. Rosanna Arquette, object of the song’s desire, says it’s “embarrassing.”

Mrs. MMM, who really should be doing this instead of me, brings up the great NewsRadio bit in which some ex of Lisa’s writes a song: “Come back, Lisa … Lisa Miller.”

17. Juice Newton, Angel of the Morning — Great misheard lyric: “Just brush my teeth before you leave me.”

Alison Becker says one-night stands aren’t really like this, and Lisa Arch says it’d be a little creepy to hear “angel” from such a guy. I wouldn’t know.

16. Bread, Baby I’m-a Want You — Arch picks up VH1 Snark-By-Numbers Movement #7, the grammar nerd. Yes, we know, it’s not a sentence.

Brad Sherwood: “Baby I’m a sandwich.” I like that.

15. Journey, Open Arms — Association I have with this song — middle school talent show in which I made the final cut with a decent piano solo. Among the other finalists was a girl who I just adored. She sang this. If I’d stayed in public school through high school, I would’ve made an idiot of myself over her.

That memory is so strong that I have no idea what any of VH1’s panelists said. Sorry.

14. Seals & Crofts, Summer Breeze — This is about as cool as it gets in the ’70s. The melody in the verses is sublime, and I don’t mean it’s a crappy ’90s punk band.

Megyn Price offers a misheard lyric — something like “jazzbone in my mind.”

13. Carpenters, Superstar — Another song about a one-night stand? Apparently about a rock star, which makes Mrs. MMM do her Lois Griffin impression: “Chyam?” She’s on fire tonight, folks.

12. Starland Vocal Band, Afternoon Delight — Love the variety show footage of the crowd recognizing the song about halfway through the first line and suddenly breaking into applause. “Hmmm, wonder which song they were going to sing …”

They mention the song was inspired by a restaurant appetizer. Clyde’s in the house!

11. Olivia Newton-John, I Honestly Love YouBrad Sherwood says he saw her singing straight into the camera and thought she was singing straight to him. That’s sweet.

I’m not a fan of “Miss Info.” Pick a name like that if you’re going into roller derby, not radio and snarkdom.

10. Chuck Mangione, Feels So Good — If these people were on the ball, they’d get the King of the Hill clip of Mangione asking the crowd, “Are you ready to soft-rock?!”

Godfrey likes the hat, saying he looks like a pimp. “The Ice-T of jazz!”

9. Hall and Oates, One on One — Another song with a tremendous melodic hook in the verse.

Godfrey says they’re the “Starsky & Hutch of music.” Then who’s David Soul.

They find the album cover a little amusing. It is. Why are they staring at each other, all sweaty?

8. The Doobie Brothers, What a Fool Believes — Some comedian did a version of this that had me laughing so hard I ached. Not here, of course. Somewhere on Comedy Central. Godfrey gives it a whirl, though.

Alison Becker says she can’t even hit those notes, and Michael McD’s a dude.

So Loggins co-wrote this? Interesting.

7. Kansas, Dust in the Wind — Lots of comments about the hair.

I maintain this is one of the great Christian rock songs, even if Kansas hadn’t gone Christian rock at the time.

6. Air Supply, Making Love Out of Nothing at All — All yours, Jason.

Lots of Megyn Price in this segment. She apparently loves it, which saddens me a little.

5. Chicago, If You Leave Me Now — Nothing wrong with this song except that it seemed to embolden the Peter Cetera power balladeering that ruined this once-interesting band.

How many outfits is Chris Wylde wearing? When are they going to do another season of Stripmall anyway?

4. Barry Manilow, MandyMegyn Price says this was the first song she ever memorized and played for a piano recital.

They showed a bit of the sheet music, and I happened to notice the Bbmaj7. Miles Davis once said he would play that chord if he was ever depressed, and he’d feel better right away. I mentioned this to my music theory class freshman year and found myself on the hook to play it as often as possible.

(Before the last ad break — softsensational make-out songs … Chris DeBurgh’s Lady in Red? I call bullshit. They just wanted to get that song in here somehow.)

3. Rupert Holmes, Escape — One of the goofiest bits of performance footage I’ve ever seen. He mugs around like he can’t find the camera. Hint, Rupert: It’s not between you and the curtain.

They found Rupert and offered him a pina colada. That’s nice.

2. Styx, Babe — As Mandy was to Megyn Price, this was to me. Sort of. I mostly did classical, but I managed to pick this one up as well.

They show Dennis DeYoung singing it in his living room to his wife, which would be sweet if I weren’t so distracted by his living room looking like that of a late-middle-aged 1970s piano teacher. Seriously — I can imagine being there, botching a couple of notes in Fur Elise while she cringes. They ought to do an MTV Cribs on this guy just for contrast with the hip-hop guys who have stuffed gorillas in front of marble fireplaces in the kitchen.

1. Christopher Cross, Sailing — Hey, my misheard lyric is here — “the candle can do miracles.” It’s apparently “canvas.”

Why they don’t play this on America’s Cup broadcasts, I don’t know. Trust me, they don’t.

Hear Christopher Cross rip through a guitar solo at Jason’s blog.

The version they’re playing here omits the percussion (maybe claves, perhaps a couple of woodblocks — sorry Jason) that it shares with Captain & Tennille — it’s the “we’re breaking ice at the bar to freshen up your drinks” sound.

And it sort of peters out from there.

Phew! That’s tougher than live-blogging the Olympics. Again, trust me.

Happy soft-rocking. Hope it inspired you to pull your sweetie close and turn off the TV.