Conservatism: the racism is the point

I’m not the only person who insists the GOP’s transformation into a racist death cult advocating tax cuts for the wealthy began on January 1981 when Ronald Wilson Reagan put his hand on the Bible. Too often Reagan’s bonhomie masked what Christopher Hitchens called a cruel and stupid lizard. I can’t wait for the RonnieContinue reading “Conservatism: the racism is the point”

Ranking Jackson Browne singles

The cutie troubadour whom every guy from Glenn Frey to David Geffen crushed on, Jackson Browne has put his fresh warm porridge voice at the service of dissections of self-absorption; his women inspired the plumbing of his self-absorption. I suspect Inwas born too late to appreciate. The Hague You’re a Friend of Mine (with ClarenceContinue reading “Ranking Jackson Browne singles”

Twenty years ago today, AOL taught the boy to gay

A few minutes after submitting to a request for online sodomy, I saw a buddy had logged into AOL Instant Messenger. The effect of the four beers had waned, but I was feeling bold. We chatted about the evening wed’d shared: the Ruby Tuesdays coworker he didn’t have the nerve to hit on, how badlyContinue reading “Twenty years ago today, AOL taught the boy to gay”

Ranking Alicia Keys’ top forty singles

“When her mouth drops open, fraudulence emerges. This is soul as exertion; soul as will to power unmoored from a reason for being,” I wrote about “No One” in 2007. What’s changed was a couple days with The Diary of Alicia Keys, her sturdiest album. The title track slipped past me in 2004 — howContinue reading “Ranking Alicia Keys’ top forty singles”

Ranking Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ American top 40 singles

A master of fusing melodies, hooks, and wordplay into the closest approximation to Cole Porter in post-1960 American pop, Smokey Robinson will have generous tributes written when he’s dead. The smashes you know. Even less celebrated hits like “If You Can Want” can sustain whole careers. Meh One Heartbeat Point It Out Sound, Solid (ComeContinue reading “Ranking Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ American top 40 singles”

Telling stories, writing fantasias: ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’

(Spoilers, if you care for this sort of thing) In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, no one has lung cancer, Sharon Tate lives, and Paul is dead. Well, expect Quentin Tarantino to write and direct an alternative history of The Beatles someday. His film depicting the intersections of several characters in a six-month periodContinue reading “Telling stories, writing fantasias: ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’”

Singles 7/26

This week, two discrete takes on Afrocentrism: Whitney Houston resurrected and repurposed, with a cover of Ray Charles devotee Steve Winwood’s Chaka Khan-assisted “Higher Love”; and Jamila Woods, worrying over James Baldwin’s legacy as the decade ends. Sheryl Crow and friends reckon with nothing except their sense of a besieged community of insiders.

Ranking Bob Seger’s top 40 singles

Bob Seger’s beautiful losers climb into empty beds nd struggle against the wind, relying on that old time rock ‘n’ roll for the kicks that life will no longer offer. For a decade he was second only to Springsteen in mainstream outreach, a fact borne out by bar jukebox Greatest Hits (1994); “Bob Seger’s GreatestContinue reading “Ranking Bob Seger’s top 40 singles”

Ranking songs w/most weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100

As “Old Town Road” appears poised to break a century-long record thanks to announced remixes with Dolly Parton, Freddy Mecury, Johnny Ray, Gary Cooper, and William Sherman, it is just and necessary to review its brethren. Most of these tracks, like most experiences, are mediocre at worst; but I still wonder if “See You Again”Continue reading “Ranking songs w/most weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100”

Guess I’ve got the winnin’ touch: The best of Mick Jagger

Accusing Mick Jagger of calculation is like accusing Donald Trump of racism: an insult is worthless if the object revels in it. Jagger’s solo career — four albums, a film soundtrack — vacillates between ballads that expose his allegedly ruminative streak and queued-up Stones-worthy rockers (don’t let reputations fool you: Jagger, not Richards, in theContinue reading “Guess I’ve got the winnin’ touch: The best of Mick Jagger”

Ranking Spandau Ballet’s UK top forty singles

The New Romantic era had no shortage of sartorial eloquence; then there was Spandau Ballet. These by all accounts straight boys dressed as if Sears sold a wardrobe combining Evelyn Waugh’s fashion sense and Sir Francis Drake’s. Their music sounded like it too. Garish, overripe, often functionally illiterate as songs, the Spand’s material encompassed etiolatedContinue reading “Ranking Spandau Ballet’s UK top forty singles”

MTV chart 9/1984

I found this September 1984 MTV chart fascinating. First, Elvis Costello and the Attractions in heavy rotation! With “The Only Flame in Town”! Whatever else, Elvis owed co-vocalist Daryl Hall, at the peak of his imperial phase with an assist to Diana Ross (“Swept Away”) and INXS (“Original Sin”) big time. Glenn Frey’s “Sexy Girl,”Continue reading “MTV chart 9/1984”