Archives for December 2012

Six Boring Hours For Sandy Relief

I’m not usually one for benefit concerts or all-star assemblages of disparate talent. They usually run way too long, and feel self-indulgent, even when they’re in the service of something bigger. But this week’s “12.12.12: The Concert For Sandy Relief” touted the biggest gathering of stars ever, even bigger than the concert for 9/11, so I couldn’t resist checking it out. Is Nirvana really reuniting with Paul McCartney in place of Kurt Cobain? That alone is enough to make me want to watch, and if I’m gonna watch, I might as well blog the thing, no? (I will probably regret this decision.)

7:30pm: The introductory footage of the devastation to New Jersey, Brooklyn, and Staten Island is really affecting. It’s weird how quickly major disasters like this are swept under the rug in favor of the next thing, like this phony “fiscal cliff” debate. There’s no denying, this is a good cause. Having said that, the footage is kept mercifully brief, though I’m sure there will be a lot more of it as the evening goes on.

7:34: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band kicks things off without so much as an introduction. The house lights in Madison Square Garden are still on, which seems like a strange choice. Bruce has never really been my cup of tea, but he looks great here. (As my wife likes to say, he looks rich.) As a non-Bruce fan, I don’t know if “This Train” is a new song or an old classic, but they’re certainly doing it justice, and the message of optimism is appropriate. I still don’t really dig Bruce though.

7:38: Segueing into Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” is a nice idea. Although, Bruce and the E Street Band, as the world’s unfunkiest band, is particularly unsuited to the task.

7:40: Once again, I don’t know if “Wrecking Ball” is a new song or what, but to a non-fan it plays like a parody of a Bruce song: quiet intro listing off his various Jersey bona fides, followed by shouted “1! 2! 3! 4!,” the drums kicking in, and inspirational choruses about steel and rust and youth and beauty and blue-collar yes we can. Once again, I guess it’s appropriate, but still, I’m reminded why I don’t really like Bruce.

7:46: Back to the “People Get Ready” chord changes, while Bruce waxes elegaic about Asbury Park, with a special shout-out to the gay community for gentrifying and improving the area. Whoops! I guess this is a Bruce song, “My City of Ruins,” with the same exact chord changes as “People Get Ready.” I think Bruce seems like a nice guy, I have nothing against him, it seems like he runs his band like a family and it’s all about positivity and being proud of where you come from and I’m in favor of all that… I still don’t like the music, though. It’s like the unfunkiest blue-eyed soul ever.

7:55: Jesus, Bruce, enough already. Was “My City of Ruins” nine minutes (and counting) on the record?

7:56: Bruce brings out Jon Bon Jovi and Madison Square Garden has a Jersey orgasm as they begin a duet on “Born to Run.” This is pretty much the only Springsteen song I ever liked at all (but still not that much) and they sound great.

8:00: It’s weird how much Jon Bon Jovi’s image changed when he cut his hair off. He went from cock-rock d-bag to respected figure in the rock canon. That didn’t happen with Metallica or David Lee Roth or anybody else that cut all their hair off. I guess just because Jon Bon is soooooo handsome.

8:02: Half an hour in, here’s the official slate of performers: 75 classic rock heroes, and Kanye West!

Read More

I’ve Got Chills, They’re Multiplying

1681701-poster-1960-john-travolta-olivia-newton-john-look-super-normal-on-their-christmas-album-cover

Did you hear the news?!? The reunion that everyone in America, Australia, and parts of Europe was waiting for (in 1980) has finally happened! Yes, JOHN TRAVOLTA and OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN got together and recorded a Christmas album!

Everybody loved these two together in Grease, of course — at least, the girl who lived down the street from me in elementary school loved them together, enough that when we played House or Cops and Robbers or Fumbling Medical Exam she always insisted that my play-name be “John” and hers “Miss Olivia.” I should have been nicer to that girl.

Anyway, Grease was a movie musical about ’50s high-school kids from different worlds: one a beautiful, goody-goody, obviously over-30 woman from Australia, the other a juvenile delinquent a little too quick to break into song to qualify as a “juvenile delinquent.” Their romantic difficulties resolve when Danny (Travolta) decides to wear a lettered sweater and be a nerd like Sandy (Newton-John), only to find she’s decided to dress like a ’70s Lower East Side hooker (despite being a high-school kid in the ’50s), and they celebrate their perfect union by duetting on the movie’s eleventh completely anachronistic song in a row, “You’re The One That I Want.” (Though by no means the most anachronistic: “Grease Is The Word” was written and recorded by the Bee Gees [with ’50s teen idol Frankie Valli singing], and couldn’t possibly feel more out of place for a movie set in the ’50s, from the fake-strings intro forward.)

People have enormously warm memories of the “You’re The One That I Want” finale to this movie, and to some of them, this couple represented the Platonic ideal of romantic success, of love conquering all, of opposites attract, of a bad boy being tamed by a good girl. That is, until they reunited in 1983 for a truly terrible movie called Two of a Kind, whose biggest success was landing its almost-as-awful theme song, “Twist of Fate” by Ms. Newton-John, in the top ten. (That video deserves its own live-blog, by the way.)

But nearly 30 years have passed, and Travolta and Newton-John have finally reconvened for their holiday album, “This Christmas.” And guess what else? They made a video for the leadoff single, “I Think You Might Like It,” which just so happens to have been written by the author of “You’re The One That I Want,” John Farrar. With megatalents like these getting back together, how could it possibly be bad? Oh, boy, let me count the ways:

Read More