Nancy Sinatra, You Only Live Twice, Mad Men Season Finale

Posted in Mad Men, Nancy Sinatra on June 11th, 2012 by Willie

Mad Men is a hell of a show.  When it first premiered, I was intrigued because I loved the Sopranos, and knew that Matthew Weiner, one of that shows head writers, was behind its creation.  At first I wasn’t hooked.  I thought many of the characters were overly stylized and inauthentic.  I also thought much of the first season’s hook was portraying the chauvinistic and racist world that world that was very much in full swing in the early 1960s.  So, after a few episodes, I stayed away from Mad Men, casually sympathizing with those who thought the show to be an over-hyped and empty experience.  The show drew me back though after the conclusion of season 2.  I had caught a few more episodes, and was reluctantly entertained.  When I made an effort to follow up on several of the episodes’ smokey cliffhangers, the reluctance was gone, and I was hooked.  This past week, in gearing up for the season 5 conclusion, I found myself looking back at season 1 with fresh eyes, re-watching classic moments from other moments of the show, like how the characters react to the Kennedy assassination, and all around just soaking in the smugly rewarding atmosphere that indulging in this show offers.  Season 5 ended last night, and I am a bit sad because it was my favorite season by far.  At last, in the midst of season 5, and to apparent great expense, the Beatles were heard on the show.  Hearing “Tomorrow Never Knows,” from Revolver, finally filled a great cultural void that existed only due to the near impossibility of getting all the Beatle heirs to agree to allow a real Beatle master tape to be played on television.  It was immensely satisfying as a Beatle fan to hear the group that could not be avoided in the real 60s, to finally find a place in the fictional Mad Men 60s.  Then there was the inevitable LSD episode, also executed brilliantly, capturing an unsensationalized and mature look at that curious drug’s power, a welcome change of pace from the countless overblown depictions of the drug and its effects across the span of pop culture history.  Those highlights aside, the season was full of the same witty writing, stunning dramatics, and impeccable set and prop design which are the show’s hallmarks.  Season 5 ended like many Mad Men episodes do, with a montage of our favorite characters in their most private and isolated moments, all set to “You Only Live Twice,” by Nancy Sinatra.  Nancy had some spellbinding hits throughout the 60s, really capturing the more “swinging” side of the 60s through her cinematic cool anthems.  This song, known mainly as a James Bond theme song, finds new life spilling over the secret worlds of our favorite group of spiritually desolated protagonists.  I’ve got the song below, but I do want to close by saying that if you’ve had reservations about Mad Men, drop them.  Start with season 2 and either work yourself forward or backwards.  Like I said, its a hell of a show.

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The Rolling Stones, Some Girls

Posted in The Rolling Stones, Youtube Favs on November 29th, 2011 by Willie

Some Girls is one of the best Rolling Stones records.  It’s sleazy, dirty, punky, and country.  It came out in 1978, and has just been reissued it a nice little collectors package.  You should get it; I know I will.  To celebrate its corporate repackaging, I present to you a thoroughly scandalous fan made music video of the title song from the record.  The video features classic films such as “Easy Rider,” “Backbeat,” “Quadrophenia,” “Death Proof,” “Goodfellas,” and “Dr. No.”  It also has great clips of the Sex Pistols, Blondie, and the Rolling Stones, all vamping it up for one of the Stones most booziest songs.

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Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Gotta Serve Somebody vs. Serve Yourself

Posted in Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Youtube Favs on August 4th, 2011 by Willie

John Lennon was really offended by Bob Dylan’s latest single, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” Dylan recorded the song for his 1979 album Slow Train Coming.  The album and the song was part of Bob’s short lived conversion to Christianity.  In his diary, John wrote, “The backing was mediocre by Jerry Wexler, the singing was really pathetic, and the words were just embarrassing.”  The Grammy people didn’t think so, they gave Dylan a huge spotlight at the 1980 awards, and let him take home the trophy for “Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male.”  In a snide retort, John wrote/improvised a funny little rant called “Serve Yourself,” a track which never got an official release.  Well, the Grammys are a joke, and always have been, and I fully understand John’s sense of embarrassment and betrayal by Dylan, but I kinda love “Gotta Serve Somebody.”  I think the message is clever enough that it extends beyond the religious into the philosophical, and it sets up an interesting battle of ideas between the two rock gods.  I always suspected that “Gotta Serve Somebody” was Dylan’s response to Lennon’s line from ten years earlier when John proclaimed, “I don’t believe in Zimmerman [Dylan’s real name for the uninitiated],…I just believe in me” from “God” (Plastic Ono Band.)  It’s Dylan rejecting Lennon’s idea of discarding all figures of worship and idolatry and claiming that in the end, whether you like it or not, you are serving something, whether it be a God, a devil, or just a concept.  Lennon disagrees, and he makes no bones about making it known, or he would have had he lived.  Anyway, here are both tracks, in all their glory.  Who do you think wins?  Dylan, Lennon, God, or the devil?  Let me know.

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