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Check this news out: Michael Jackson? He's kinda weird.

I watched the 20/20 Michael Jackson documentary last night. Well, I watched the first hour, then wasn't feeling too healthy, so I went to bed. But it was fascinating television, I'll give it that, and unlike the Diane Sawyer-Lisa Marie interview, you did get an idea that you were seeing the "real Michael." Though what in God's name is the real Michael? A tragic figure, though one who appears to be a megalomaniac with visions of royalty and strange issues with young children. Watching him go through a Vegas store filled with tacky 250,000 dollar urns, and saying, I want that one, that one, that one, that one, probably racking up a price tag of 50 million dollars... then seeing the images of inside his movie screening room and studio, where he's surrounded by paintings of himself, including one where he is draped like Botticelli's Venus, surrounded by little boy cherubs (ulp)... this is one unique individual.

That said, for all of his psychoses, Michael does win out in this documentary in one regard: the interviewer was so unlikable, so unsubtle, so oppressive in his tabloid-level questions, you started feeling sorry and sympathetic for this strange, strange dude. Kinda.

posted by Anon. 8:09 AM


More than I can do

Driving home last night, I listened to a Steve Earle mix I burned a few years ago. One of my favorite songs by Steve is "More Than I Can Do," off of his Feel Alright record, the second record Steve made after leaving the slammer. It's a bouncy, happy, melodic song. Then you hear the lyrics.
I'm trying hard to let you go
But it's more than I can do
But that ain't nothing new
'Cause we both know I'm crazy 'bout you

You say you're gonna call the cops
But I ain't gonna run
'Cause you're the only one
And I just can't seem to live without you

Just because you won't unlock your door
That don't mean you don't love me anymore

So I'm never gonna let you go
No matter what you do
'Cause we both know that's more than I can do
Yes, a bouncy, happy, melodic... stalker's anthem. I'd make the case that the song is that much more effective because it's not a melencholy melody, but instead a melodic song with great harmonica, where the lyric kinda ... creeps up on you.

Another example of this is Guy Clark's "Tryin' to Try," from his wonderful Dublin Blues record of '95.
Threw a rock at your window
Just to let you know I love you
Just to let you know I care
I'm not scared to show you how I feel
Blew a kiss through your keyhole
Just to let you know I'm breathing

Okay, time to take a shower. I feel unclean.

posted by Anon. 7:58 AM

If you found this blog today after seeing my name in the story credit of part one of the Inauguration episode last night, and then googled me: hi.

posted by Anon. 7:41 AM
An (un)marriage of melody and lyric

Unmarried activist. Author. Blogger. Scone lover. Now, Marshall Miller introduces a new side to himself: song compiler. He's starting a new series on his blog: unmarried song lyrics. Starting with a song by alt-country singer Robbie Fulks, he of "Fuck This Town," a lovely paen to Nashville living.

posted by Anon. 7:37 AM



The double standards applied to accepting obscenity from white artists vs. black artists is nothing new. Just look at it this way: Alanis Morrissette gets no Parental Advisory Sticker when she sings about going down in a theater, but any hip-hop reference to fellatial acts gets a big ol' censor sign.

In this latest news, Russell Simmons is calling for a boycott of Pepsi, after Pepsi censored rapper Luducris for being foul-mouthed, but then put Ozzy Osbourne in one of its prominent Super Bowl advertisments.

posted by Anon. 2:22 PM

The Phil Spector story keeps getting weirder and weirder. Turns out that Phil met the woman he allegedly killed that night at a concert at the House of Blues, where she worked as a hostess.

But there are some even weirder details:
The concert? A solo show by the former lead singer of Judas Priest. Not exactly the Ronettes.

Who knew that Phil Spector lived in... Alhambra? To give non-LA readers a sense of Alhambra, it's no Beverly Hills, no Bel Air, no Hancock Park. It'd be like finding out that Phil Spector lived out in, I don't know, Richmond Hill in Queens. Weird choice.

All this, and Lana Clarkson, the actress-hostess whose life was lost, had her own website. With Steely Dan playing in the background. Can't make this stuff up.

posted by Anon. 9:34 AM


Love spat

So Courtney Love has to steal shtick from Peter Buck? Evidentally so, as the actress and part-time musician has been arrested at Heathrow for being verbally abusive to the Virgin Atlantic staff. No crockery was damaged, to the best of my knowledge.

posted by Anon. 8:24 AM


Wall of Sound

The world is truly a wonderful place, that is, unless you're Phil Spector or the woman that he's been accused of killing. Truly a strange story. The only person who comes out of this in better shape is Pete Townshend.
Music producer Phil Spector held in fatal shooting
Feb 3 2003 2:55PM
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Legendary record producer Phil Spector, who changed the course of pop music in the 1960s with his "Wall of Sound," was being held as a suspect Monday in connection with the shooting death of a woman at his mansion in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra, police said.

"Shortly after 5 o'clock this morning (8:00 a.m. EST) Alhambra officers responded to a shooting call and discovered a female shot inside of the location," Los Angeles County Sheriff's spokeswoman Faye Bugarin said.

"She was pronounced dead at the scene and suspect Phillip Spector ... was taken into custody and is currently being detained," Bugarin said. "The body is still at the scene.

Bugarin said the identity of the victim was being withheld pending notification of her family and described her only as a white female. She said Spector was being questioned as a suspect by homicide detectives but had not been arrested.

Representatives for the reclusive Spector, 62, could not immediately be reached for comment.

A pioneer in pop record production, Spector is famed for his "Wall of Sound" technique that featured lush orchestration that added strings, horns and additional percussion into the spare instrumentation of rock music.

Formerly married to Ronnie Bennett of the Ronettes, one of several girl groups he ushered into super-stardom, Spector developed a reputation as a temperamental, reclusive and erratic genius.

Spector got his start in the music business in 1958 as a songwriter, guitarist and backup singer for the Los Angeles group the Teddy Bears, which had a hit single with "To Know Him is to Love Him" and became a millionaire by age 21.

Soon after the group split, Spector moved to New York to pursue a career as a songwriter and producer, working primarily with the Crystals and the Ronettes. He went on to produce records for the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Ike & Tina Turner, Eric Clapton and the Righteous Brothers. He was voted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

He was hired by the Beatles to do post-production work on their "Let It Be" album, which Paul McCartney and many critics later criticized as overdone.

He also produced the first solo albums from John Lennon and George Harrison.

posted by Anon. 12:51 PM
Experiment, done

There's a message on my voicemail from Chris Otto. Does this mean the experiment was a success?

Not exactly.

It seems like Chris's call was completely unprompted by the flurry of internet posts regarding his whereabouts. He just decided it was time to get back in touch.

The world is truly a wonderful place.

posted by Anon. 12:49 PM
Karaoke warlords

My first memory of Karaoke was probably seeing it on a big screen on Christmas Day. I was probably ten or eleven, and after having Christmas eve and early Christmas morning with my mother, my father picked me up and we spent the day together. Since the rest of my father's family was out of town that Christmas, he and I went to the movies. We saw True Stories, David Byrne's movie featuring John Goodman, Swoosie Kurtz, Spalding Gray, and yes, the Talking Heads. We saw it at the Cineplex Beverly Center. And the guy in front of us in line had free passes -- a WGA member or a DGA member -- and extended the Christmas spirit by using me as his plus one. I remember that well.

And I remember the great scene in the movie where a bunch of the oddball residents of a small Texan town take turns lip-synching to the Talking Heads' "Wild Wild Life." Okay, so it wasn't exactly karaoke. As they weren't really singing it. But it was close enough.

Saturday night, I attended a friend's birthday gathering at the Farmer's Market, right at 3rd and Fairfax. It's probably the big karaoke scene in the city of Los Angeles. Observations:

1) Karaoke performers seem to be made up of three different cross-sections: first, the guys who can really sing and sing well, and are doing it earnestly; second, the people who are lousy but who are earnestly trying; third, the professional jokers, the people who have a shtick and are sharing it with the world.

2) The professional jokers' most popular gambit seems to be the "one person singing a duet" shtick. I had seen this before, with one person doing both the Julio Inglesias and Willie Nelson parts of "To All the Girls I've Loved Before." But this time, there was one guy who did both Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand on "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," quite well, it should be said, as well as another guy who did "Unforgettable" with both the Natalie and Nat King Cole parts. Clearly, one must have a good falsetto in his quiver to attempt these things.

3) There's a subset of the professional jokers which is just the mean kitsch guy, as typified by the guy Saturday night who did "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince, and instead of Prince's usual spoken word intro, improvised a "we all need attention, I need love from complete strangers, I need love and acceptance from people I've never met before" bit.

4) The saddest thing about Karaoke are the people who are actually really great singers. A tall African-American man in a Kanga hat did a version of Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al," and it was terrific. Which makes me sad. Terrific singers shouldn't be left exploring their inner muse at a karaoke bar. Leave karaoke for the jokers and the no-talents.

Bonedigger, bonedigger...

posted by Anon. 9:53 AM