Daily Archives: January 31, 2010

Sunday Night Music Byte

George Benson (born March 22, 1943) is a Grammy Award-winning American musician, whose recording career began at the age of twenty-one as a jazz guitarist. He is also known as a pop, R&B, and scat singer. This one-time child prodigy topped the Billboard 200 in 1976 with the triple-platinum album, Breezin’. He was also a major live attraction in the UK during the 1980s. Benson currently lives in Florida and is an active Jehovah’s Witness. Benson uses a rest-stroke picking technique very similar to that of gypsy jazz players such as Django Reinhardt.

Benson was born and raised in the Hill District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the age of 7, George first played the ukulele in a corner drug store to which he was paid a few dollars. At the age of 8, George was playing guitar in an unlicensed nightclub on Friday and Saturday nights which was soon closed down by the police. At the age of 10, George recorded his first single record with RCA-Victor in New York, called ‘She Makes Me Mad’.

Miles Davis employed Benson in the mid 1960s, featuring his guitar on “Paraphernalia” on his 1968 Columbia release, Miles in the Sky. Benson went to Verve Records afterwards. Then, Creed Taylor signed him up for his CTI label, where he recorded numerous albums with jazz heavyweights guesting to limited financial success. Benson also did a version of The Beatles’s 1969 album Abbey Road called The Other Side of Abbey Road, also released in 1969, and a version of “White Rabbit”, originally written and recorded by San Francisco rock group Jefferson Airplane, around this time.

By the mid to late 1970s, as he recorded for Warner Bros. Records, a whole new audience began to discover Benson for the first time. With the 1976 release Breezin’, Benson began to put his vocal on tracks such as “This Masquerade”. He had used his vocals on songs earlier in his career, notably his rendition of “Here Comes the Sun” on the Other Side of Abbey Road album.

Benson toured with soul singer, Minnie Riperton, in 1976. Riperton had been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer earlier that year. “This Masquerade” won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year and the live take of “On Broadway”, recorded two years later from the 1978 release Weekend in L.A., also won a Grammy. Benson made it into the pop and R&B top ten with the song “Give Me the Night”, produced by Quincy Jones. On Warner Bros., Benson accumulated three other platinum LPs and two gold albums.

He also recorded the original version of “Greatest Love of All” for the 1977 Muhammad Ali bio-pic, The Greatest, which was later recorded as a cover by Whitney Houston. During this time Benson recorded with the German conductor, Claus Ogerman.

Please enjoy this video clip of George Benson performing “On Broadway” in 1998.


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Sunday Morning Coffee (or Tea) – 27

Just a few noteworthy political meteorites and comments thereon that have been careening around the galaxy this past week.

BREAKING NEWS: It was refreshing to see President Barack Obama venture into the enemy territory of the House Republicans’ Retreat in Baltimore where he delivered a cogent and fact based dissertation of the state of the economy; his administrations policies to address the economy; the Republicans’ lack of support for any of those policies and the Republicans’ lack of any policy proposals of their own (other than to extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest 1% of Americans). Obama then proceeded to allow questions from the Republican attendees which he also answered in a thoroughly fact based manner. He swatted boilerplate Republican talking points like flies and then challenged Republican and non-partisan fact checking organizations to prove him wrong. Republicans, oh Republicans, is there anyone out there? We are still waiting….

THIS JUST IN: Did we mention that the Obama smackdown of Republicans was televised? What, we didn’t? Well, please take a look at Luke Russert describing to the nation how the televised event was an embarrassment to Republicans and how some Republicans admitted as such. By the way, when are the brass at Meet The Press going to wake up and replace the ineffectual Dick Gregory with Tim Russert’s more than capable son?

BREAKING NEWS: Remember all the doom and gloom about the passage of a health care reform bill after the Massachusetts Senate election of the nudist Republican, Scott Brown? The loss of the 60 vote Democratic party super majority was alleged to be the death knell to the passage of any such legislation. Of course, that was not the truth. After all, the bill could either be passed by means of the reconciliation process that requires only 51 votes or the House could adopt the Senate bill, as is, and it could be passed with only 51 votes. Well, leave it to the good folks over at the Huffington Post to inform us that there is even a more simple way to pass health care reform with only 51 votes, and that is to simply change the Senate rule regarding filibusters. According to the Constitution, as affirmed by the U. S. Supreme Court, the Senate can change its rules at any time by a simple majority vote. Here is the finding from U.S. v. Ballin, 144 U.S. 1 (1892):

… The constitution empowers each house to determine its rules of proceedings … It is no objection to the validity of a rule that a different one has been prescribed and in force for a length of time. The power to make rules is not one which once exercised is exhausted. It is a continuous power, always subject to be exercised by the house, and, within the limitations suggested, absolute and beyond the challenge of any other body or tribunal.
The constitution provides that ‘a majority of each [house] shall constitute a quorum to do business.’ In other words, when a majority are present the house is in a position to do business. Its capacity to transact business is then established, created by the mere presence of a majority, and does not depend upon the disposition or assent or action of any single [144 U.S. 1, 6] member or fraction of the majority present. All that the constitution requires is the presence of a majority, and when that majority are present the power of the house arises.

Now get out there and inform your senators of this mechanism and let’s get health care reform passed!

THIS JUST IN: Speaking of Republican Senator Scott Brown, let’s keep reminding him and all the other members of the G.O.P. of this:

BREAKING NEWS: Glenn Beck, the uneducated and memory challenged Fox News host was spewing falsehoods once again on January 28th. Media Matters informs us that:

Beck again falsely claimed he opposed bank bailouts. Beck also asserted of the “greedy bankers” who got bailout money: “I didn’t want them to get the money in the first place.” In fact, in September 2008, Beck called for a bailout bigger than $700 billion, but subsequently claimed he “hated” former President Bush for starting the bailouts. Beck previously acknowledged supporting the bailout on the December 2, 2009, edition of his show.

THIS JUST IN: What is with Sarah Palin and her obsession with sports? She let us all know about her high school basketball nickname of “Barracuda”. She then had a very short and unremarkable career as an Alaskan TV sportscaster. While running with McCain, she began referring to herself  repeatedly as a hockey mom even though none of her children were playing hockey at the time. She then started appearing at N.H.L. games to drop the puck for  opening faceoffs (appropriately enough, the home team went on to lose all of those games). Next, there was her feud with David Letterman over remarks he made about one of her daughters while they were at a New York Yankees game. Did we mention the “Arctic Cat” sponsorship controversy at Alaska’s Iron Dog snow-mobile race? That was followed by her incoherent speech about why she quit her job as Governor of Alaska which was couched in terms of something to do with a point guard looking for the open shot. She announced her decision to be the keynote speaker at the Bowling Convention in Las Vegas and we just learned that she will be appearing in some unspecified capacity at this year’s Daytona 500.

Sarah Palin has certainly covered all the bases (if we may be allowed to coin a baseball phrase). Wait, what’s that? We forgot something? Oh, yes, Sarah Palin has now injected herself into the N.F.L.’s Super Bowl by means of telling the world (on FaceBook, Twitter and with pal Greta Van Susteren) that she defends a proposed pro-life Super Bowl TV commercial paid for by Focus On The Family. The ad in question features the mother of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow saying that she is glad that she did not abort him. Just wondering, but would Palin’s mother say the same?


Please remember to click on the song link below to familiarize yourselves with the tune and to have more fun singing along with today’s song parody.

Big Shot song link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFvlF2CirP0&feature=related

BIG SHOT

(sung to the Billy Joel song “Big Shot”)

Well, you went off campaigning with ol’ John McCain
With your new G.O.P. purchased clothes
You had that beehive hairstyle on your head
And high heels for your toes
Ooh,, and when you woke up in the mornin’
With your bub-ble burst
And tears pouring out of your eyes
We know “Thanks But No Thanks” was just
Another one of your lies

Because you had to be a big shot, didn’t cha
You had to open up your mouth
You had to be a big shot, didn’t cha
Now your smile’s become a pout
You talked a lot of Reverend Wright
But all you did was scream and shout
You showed us that you’re way too uptight
You tried to be a big shot that night (Ooh oh)

And no one was impressed with your wolf hide dress
Just because you shot the wolves from a plane
And nobody could have really cared less
That you can see the Ukraine
But now you just don’t remember
The dumb things you said
And I’m damn sure you don’t want to know
I’ll give you one hint, Barbie
I think you got plumbed by Joe!

Yes, yes, you had to be a big shot, didn’t cha
You had the SarahPac girls wowed
Your nose was running pig-snot, oh ya
Hockey mom without a doubt
Your interviews were such a sad sight
You’re so much fun to be around
You had to have the front page, bold type
Upstaging McCain most every night, (Ooh oh)

Oh Oh whoa whoa oh, Oh Oh whoa who-oo-oo-oo-ah,
Oh Oh Oh whoa whoa oh, Oh Oh whoa.

Well, it’s no big sin to stick your two cents in
If you’re talking to someone that’s grown
But you’re attacking Levi
Because he was on the Tyra Banks Show
No, no, no, no, no, no

You had to be a big shot, didn’t cha
You had to badmouth that young boy
You had to be a big shot, didn’t cha
Just because you were annoyed
You had to have the last word, that’s right
You know what everything’s about
But still we know that Levi spent nights
Sleeping at your house within your sight, Oh oh

Oh Oh whoa whoa oh, Oh Oh whoa
Big shot…Big shot… Big shot…Mmmm…Big shot…Whoa whoa
Big shot…

Saturday Night Music Byte

Manfred Mann were a British beat, rhythm and blues and pop band of the 1960s, named after their South African keyboard player and founder who later led the successful 1970s group Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.

Mann went on to write advertising jingles after the group’s demise, but still continued to work in the group format. Initially he formed Manfred Mann Chapter Three (with Mike Hugg), an experimental jazz rock band, described by Mann as an over-reaction to the hit factory of the Manfred Mann group. This was, however, short lived and by 1971 they had disbanded and Mann had formed a new group, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.

This group had a UK top 10 hit in summer 1976 and No 1 Billboard Hit in February 1977, a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light”. In the 1990s, most of the original 1960s line-up reformed as The Manfreds, minus Manfred Mann himself (hence the name), playing most of the old 1960s hits and a few jazz instrumentals, sometimes with both Paul Jones and Mike d’Abo fronting the line-up.

At the same time, Jones and Tom McGuinness (McGuinness formed McGuinness Flint in 1970, but they disbanded in 1975) have been mainstays of The Blues Band (which they helped form in 1978).

Please enjoy this video clip of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band performing “Blinded By The Light” in 1975 on television’s Midnight Special.