I post a weekly diary of the historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I featured this past week in "Cheers & Jeers". For example .....
OK, you've been warned - here is this week's
tomfoolery material that I posted.
ART NOTES - an ambitious festival of Cambodian arts - with more than 125 artists of different disciplines, performing or exhibiting in 30 New York institutions (from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Asia Society) - entitled Season of Cambodia takes place from now until July 7th.
QUOTE for today: Charlie Pierce weighs in on the unemployment compensation scandal unfolding in Maine, with this description of the 2010 election of governor Paul LePage:
This was like electing the guy who fills in on weekends on your local talk-radio station. The man is a walking bowling-ball-bag full of idiot resentments and politics concocted from ... equal parts pure lunacy ... and the chain e-mails your crazy drunk uncle sends you after midnight.TUESDAY's CHILD is Bandit the Cat - a kitteh reunited (due to his microchip) with his family and also his brother, Coot: after going missing for thirteen years.
THEN and NOW - in July 1969, the Rolling Stones gave a free concert in London's Hyde Park - just two days after the death of Brian Jones - and will perform there this coming July (nearly forty-four years to the day) ... although not for free, this time.
BRAIN TEASER - try this Quiz of the Week's News from the BBC.
WEDNESDAY's CHILD is Simba the Cat - a Maine kitteh being recognized for his dozen years as a high school mascot, then returns to his home each night.
THREE YEARS AGO after New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage, I noted that several town meetings considered non-binding resolutions opposing it: but most either rejected or tabled them. Then, residents of the Town of Plainfield (1/2 hour south of me) not only rejected it, but adopted a resolution to send a letter to the state legislature thanking them. There was one money quote at Town Meeting - by the mother of a straight son and a lesbian daughter - who said "Gay and lesbian people suffer not because of who they are but because of who we are".
I didn't realize it at the time, but that woman was Gretchen Cherington - whose gay daughter happens to be indie rocker Molly Cherington and whose straight son happens to be Ben Cherington - the general manager of the Boston Red Sox for the past year-and-a-half. She must be one proud woman.
TIME MARCHES ON - a female veteran of the Kenyan independence Mau Mau Uprising refuses to cut her hair at age 83; disappointed at the treatment she and her compatriots have received from successive Kenyan governments.
HAIL and FAREWELL to the actor Jonathan Winters who has died at the age of 87. His death came less than four months after the passing of Jack Klugman ... his co-star in the famous two-actor A Game of Pool episode of the Twilight Zone. As a child, the Ohio native Jonathan Winters shook the hand of Orville Wright ... and forty years later .... the hand of Neil Armstrong .... also both Ohio natives.
THURSDAY's CHILD is Disaster the Cat - who was returned to an NYC police officer (having gone missing for two years) due to his microchip ..... after being discovered in Times Square by an actor dressed as .... a zombie.
TRAVEL NOTES - visitors to the main cathedral of the Tuscan city of Siena will be offered limited access to the uppermost part of the building ... which has been closed off to the general public for centuries.
A TRIO of African essayists believe that it is time to Shine a Light on the Poverty Creation Industry - that while there is no dark, smoky room where this takes place, neither is poverty a "natural part of some universal moral order".
END of an ERA - banned since 1947 for being unsightly, unhygienic and unfair to restaurant owners, street food vendors are set to return to Montreal, Canada.
CHEERS to the twenty-two year old Norwegian Magnus Carlsen - who has just earned the right to compete in the world chess title series (against defending champion Viswanathan Anand) this coming autumn.
FRIDAY's CHILD is Brother Creamy the Cat - Hong Kong's most famous kitteh, after he had temporarily gone missing.
.......... and finally, for a song of the week .................................... with the advent of the hit Broadway musical about Motown Records it might do well to look at the label's ace songwriting trio, who split from the label in 1968 in an acrimonious dispute over royalties. But not before the team of Holland, Dozier & Holland managed to write the bulk of their 70+ hits that reached the Top Ten ... and twenty songs that reached #1 on the mainstream pop charts (and even greater heights on the R&B charts). Among the names that could be said to have written the soundtrack of one's lives if you were of-age in the 60's and 70's .... these Detroit natives (H-D-H for short) definitely have a claim.
Brian Holland (born 1941) began as a singer with the Satintones although he never recorded with them .... since he had a day job working for Berry Gordy at Motown that kept him from rehearsals. Thus, it was easier for him to join-up with the Motown vocalist Barrett Strong - who would later also achieve songwriting fame as a co-composer of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Ball of Confusion" - on Strong's own hit single Money (That's What I Want) in 1960. Brian would be one of the two main music composers of the H-D-H trio and before they joined forces: Brian had already been a co-composer of Please, Mr. Postman for the Marvelettes, which reached #1 in 1961.
Brian's older brother Eddie Holland (born 1939) was a college student when he met Berry Gordy, and dropped out to go to work at the label. Like the others he would later join-up with, Eddie was a performer and had a minor hit with Leaving Here (in 1963) and a Top 30 hit with the song Jamie in 1962. He would become the principal lyricist of H-D-H.
The other music composer of the trio was Lamont Dozier (born 1941) who at age thirteen founded a band called The Romeos who received an Atco recording contract when he was sixteen. Lamont Dozier sang lead on a modest hit called Fine Fine Baby in 1957. When they split, Dozier joined the Voicemasters before signing-on in 1962 to work at Motown.
The three initially sought to create material for both themselves and other artists, but soon found they preferred being simply writer/producers to being performers (especially Eddie, who suffered from stage fright and retired from performing in 1964). The team made their debut with the hit song "Locking Up My Heart”, performed by the Marvelletes.
They had hit songs for many Motown artists, including the Four Tops, the Temptations, Mary Wells, Junior Parker and the Isley Brothers. But their work was perhaps known via Marvin Gaye ("How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" "Can I Get a Witness?" and "Little Darling"), Martha & the Vandellas ("Heat Wave," "Nowhere to Run" and "Jimmy Mack"), and The Supremes ("Where Did Our Love Go?," "Baby Love," "Come See About Me," and "Stop! In the Name of Love"). Other hits will be re-capped later.
Seeking better compensation - as Eddie was also head of Motown's A&R department, while Brian ran the label's quality control section - H-D-H stopped submitting songs for Motown artists to record in late 1967. (Indeed, they actually punched a time-clock there). When Berry Gordy balked at a new contract, the trio left the label, resulting in a breach-of-contract lawsuit from Motown (which was not settled for two years).
The trio launched their own record labels (Invictus and Hot Wax) and had some success in the early 1970's. These included Top Ten hits such as "Give Me Just a Little More Time" by the Chairmen of the Board, and "Want Ads," a number-one hit for Honey Cones in 1971. But (a) first without the backing of Motown, and later (b) the changing music industry - as a more harder-edged sound first (then the disco movement) eventually led to the downfall of Motown itself - their individual fortunes began to decline. Their labels folded by the late 1970's.
First, in 1972, Brian Holland even scored a minor solo hit with "Don't Leave Me Starvin' for Your Love". He remains a record producer and songwriter to this day.
After Lamont Dozier left the trio in 1972 (as will be noted shortly) Eddie Holland and his brother wrote some minor hits for Michael Jackson ("We're Almost There") and The Supremes ("High Energy"). Eddie Holland also settled into a role as record producer.
Of the three, Lamont Dozier has had the most active post-Motown career, first as a performer with 1970's singles such as "Why Can’t We Be Lovers?” and "Trying To Hold On To My Woman". In 1980, he moved to England for several years and wrote for Alison Moyet ("Invisible") as well as Mick Hucknall of Simply Red (""You've Got It"). He had his greatest success with Phil Collins (who already had a Top Ten hit with "You Can't Hurry Love" by H-D-H). They co-wrote the song Two Hearts for the movie soundtrack for "Buster", winning a Grammy and an Oscar nomination. They also co-wrote Loco in Acapulco for the Four Tops.
Lamont Dozier recorded several albums over the years, with his 2004 album Reflections Of features him singing some of the songs he and the brothers Holland wrote. Today he is an artist-in-residence at the University Of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, which created a Lamont Dozier scholarship for their students.
It wasn't until 2009 that the trio held a reunion: to write the songs for the musical stage production of The First Wives Club - that had been a 1990's movie (with different composers).
Besides the songs listed (in various places) above, here are just a few of their other Top Ten hits: "I Can't Help Myself", "Reach Out (I'll Be There)", "Same Old Song" and "Bernadette" (for The Four Tops), "Baby, I Need Your Loving" (for Johnny Rivers), "Nowhere to Run" (for Martha & the Vandellas), and "You Keep Me Hanging On", "I Hear a Symphony" and "Back in My Arms Again" (for The Supremes). There is also an excellent compilation album of their work.
Small wonder that they have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, the three (individually) into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Soul Music Hall of Fame in 2009. In addition, in 2003 they were cited as Music Icons by the performing rights organization BMI. Let's hope the new Broadway musical helps revive the names of these three men, now in their early seventies ... the songs can speak for themselves.
I had too much trouble choosing one of their Motown singles to focus on ... and instead will look at one of their hit songs following their departure from Motown. Writing under the pseudonym Edythe Wayne (while legal proceedings against Motown were underway) the three wrote a tune for the soul singer Freda Payne (who is also in her early seventies) and is active to this day. Rolling Stone named this as #391 on its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.
Band of Gold is about a failed first night of marriage for a woman. Payne was reluctant to record it, but after she did so, it launched her career. The subject matter of the lyrics are a matter of conjecture: a woman who is afraid of sex, a dysfunctional man, or even a gay man who married for appearance's sake ...... below you can hear and decide for yourself.
Now that you're gone,
All that's left is a band of gold
All that's left of the dreams I hold
Is a band of gold
And the memories of what love could be
If you were still here with me
You took me from the shelter of my mother
I had never known or loved any other
We kissed after taking vows
But that night on our honeymoon,
We stayed in separate rooms
I wait in the darkness of my lonely room
Filled with sadness, filled with gloom
That you'll walk back through that door
And love me like you tried before