This holiday season The Pretenders’ Christmas release “2000 Miles” turns 40! Although thought to be one of the most romantic holiday songs of the modern era, it was written by Chrissie Hynde during a time of grief and tragedy while launching a brand new era for The Pretenders. Who was James Honeyman-Scott, and why we should remember him every time we hear this seasonal favorite.
In the 1930’s blues man Robert Johnson travelled through the Mississippi Delta playing juke joints for tips and drinks. Unknown during his lifetime, in death he would become known as the greatest blues man that ever lived. But legend has it that Johnson made a deadly deal with the devil at a crossroads at midnight to gain his mastery of blues guitar, and months before he would have found fame, the devil came for his payment. A look at Robert Johnson’s deal with the devil, and its surprisingly legacy which continues today.
In 1968 performance artist Arthur Brown brought his Faustian nightmare journey through hell to music audiences via his album “The Crazy World of Arthur Brown” and became the godfather of “shock rock.” Through his high pitched wails and the helmet that shot flames from his head, Brown would be considered a “one hit wonder,” but changed the face of rock performance forever. A look at the career of “The God of Hellfire,” the birth of shock rock and Arthur Brown’s continuing influence on the rock n’ roll landscape today.
Is Stevie Nicks a witch? Since her first commercial breakout on 1975’s “Fleetwood Mac,” rumors that the pop icon has a connection with old world magik have continued to be a part of her mythos. But, while she has denied being involved in witchcraft on many occasions, she leans into it in her lyrics, aesthetics and lifestyle. A look at her 1976 hit “Rhiannon” and an exploration into the spell that Stevie Nicks has her fans under.
In this world there are “Rocky Horror” people, and there are “Phantom of the Paradise” people. “Rocky Horror” fans seem, for the most part, to be ignorantly unaware of “Phantom of the Paradise,” while “Phantom of the Paradise” fans just simply know which film is better. A loving look at Paul Williams’ phantastic soundtrack to the 1974 cult film “Phantom of the Paradise.”
In 1967 country storyteller Red Sovine released a different kind of truck driving story about a different kind of dead person. The story of Big Joe and “Phantom 309” would become a spooky tale beloved by music fans But is there truth behind the tale? The heartbreaking true story of heroism and sacrifice that inspired the song “Phantom 309.” Extra: Tim Burton, Pee Wee Herman and Tom Waits’ tributes to Big Joe and “Phantom 309.”
In 1970 director Russ Meyer introduced a new rock band, The Carrie Nations, to audiences in his film epic “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” With music written by Stu Phillips, and featuring the talents of Lynn Carey, The Strawberry Alarmclock, and The Sandpipers, the film contained some of the freshest and most dynamic rock music ever written for a film, reflecting the sounds and attitude of Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip culture. But the music would be ignored by the Billboard charts and barely found an audience while one of the key players was mysteriously missing from the soundtrack album. An introduction to the world of “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” and the music of The Carrie Nations.
This week we said goodbye to The Sugar Man. In 2012 Detroit based singer/songwriter Sixto Rodriguez inspired struggling musicians and music fans world wide via the Oscar winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man.” The lessons I learnt from Rodriguez, how his story changed the way I thought and wrote about music, and a loving tribute to his songs and legacy.
In 1956 Roy Orbison and his band, The Teen Kings, arrived at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee to recut their record “Ooby Dooby.” However, despite being signed by Sam Phillips, Roy would find himself floundering at the legendary label and wouldn’t find chart success until 1961 and at a different label. Why did it take Roy Orbison so long to make it, and how did Sam Phillips allow Roy Orbison to slip through his fingers? A look at Roy Orbison at Sun Records.
When Bruce Springsteen released “Born in the USA” he went from struggling singer/songwriter to a rock n’ roll icon. But when President Ronald Regan name dropped The Boss, perhaps he should have listened to Springsteen’s lyrics first. A look at “Born in the USA” and the history of Republican politicians who have foolishly tried to use it. Extra: How Bruce Springsteen keeps Sam Tweedle’s spouse up at night.
After getting thrown out of a Hollywood restaurant in 1965, a fed up Sono Bono wrote an emotional manifesto titled “Laugh at Me,” which became his only hit record, A look at “Laugh at Me,” Sonny’s fight for respect, and why he allowed the laughter to continue through the 1970’s and beyond. Extra: The lasting legacy of Sonny and Cher, and Chaz Bono’s attempt to reinvent “Laugh at Me” as a transgender anthem.
When Sonny met Cher in 1962, he was a struggling songwriter working as an underdog in Phil Spector’s studio, and she was a teenage runaway with dreams of stardom. Ambitious and in love, the pair spent three years being kicked around the LA scene until 1965, when Inspired by the love that bonded them together, Sonny Bono wrote one of pop musics greatest love songs, “I Got You Babe,” catupultiing them to the top of charts and international stardom. A look at the early days of Sonny and Cher.
When Bob Dylan released his sacond album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” in 1963, he gained world wide fame for his political writings and anti-war musings. But behind the songs was the influence of his then girlfriend Suze Rotolo, who was immoralized walking with him on the album’s front cover. Who was Suze Rotolo, and how did she help shape the legend that would become Bob Dylan? A look into their relationship and Suze’s important place in the Bob Dylan mythos.
If Jethro Tull and The Doors had a love child, it’d be Mashmakhan. Montreal based prog-rockers Mashmakhan had a massive hit in Canada and Japan with “As Years Go By” but the less commerical psychadelic infused tracks that made up the remainder of their 1970 debut album confused radio programmers and record buyers, making them a “one hit wonder.” An appreciation of one of the best underappreciated Canadian albums ever recorded.
Although it was one of the biggest box office bombs of the all time, Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1970 film “Zabriskie Point” spawned one of the best soundtrack albums of the era with original music by The Grateful Dead, The Youngbloods, Kaleidoscope and Pink Floyd. The resu.t was a soundtrack album more culturally relevant and remembered than the film that spawned it. Extra: A brief overview of the lives of the couple on the cover, Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin,.
40 years after her self exile from the music industry, singer/songwriter Bobbie Gentry has finally found appreciation amongst modern music fans. Too honky tonk for rock fans and too progressive for country fans, Bobbie was perhaps too ahead of her time in the 60’s and 70’s, but is finally gaining a modern cult following for her swampy blues-country originals and genre spanning crossover masterpieces. However, while the world finally listens, Bobbie doesn’t want to be found.
His first solo album in years, David Bowie’s 1993 album “Black Tie/White Noise” got little attention upon it’s original release, but has reemerged as one of Bowie’s most powerful statements about racial conflict and American hate. How the LA riots juxtopossed with his mariage to Iman inspired Bowie to write an overlooked masterpiece which deservesd rediscovering.
In 2022 Kate Bush hit the mainstream for the first time when a new generation discovered her via the hit Netflix seriesd “Stranger Things.” Sam Tweedle travels back to 1989 when he disocvered Kate Bush at age fifteen with her album “The Sensual World” and how it changed the way he listened to music forever.