Marianne Faithfull’s Tears Gone By

Dec 29, 2015 | 4512 Views | 6 Comments

"I slept with three of them and then decided the lead singer was the best bet." That was burgeoning pop singer Marianne Faithfull in 1964, telling New Musical Express magazine that the quickest route to success would be to snag a Rolling Stone -- most strategically, Mick Jagger. What a cocky thing to say, I thought when I first heard this quote as a kid. I'd always wanted to use the British term strumpet, and now was my chance. Why all the fuss about Marianne Faithfull, anyway? Sure, she was blonde, sexy and had a hit... Read More »

Steve Miller in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Go On, Take the Honor and Run.

Dec 22, 2015 | 4446 Views | 2 Comments

Most columnists have had to squeeze one out now and then, so to speak. You have a tight deadline, you rack your brain for a topic that doesn’t require a lot of research or thoughtful analysis, and you dribble out a little essay that you pray won’t be perceived as lightweight or desperate. Yes, a deadline can serve as a potent literary laxative, and it’s helped me crank out many a “so what?” article in my day.  In fact, I’m going to force one out right now, having been inspired by the opening paragraph of Brian... Read More »

Mixing Melancholy with Merriment: A Realist’s Guide to Christmas Music

| 10307 Views | 3 Comments

Okay, I know it's Christmas season and we're supposed to be happy and peaceful and idealistic, listening to carols both solemn and silly, and trying to be all Norman Rockwelly and stuff. Heck, the last thing I'd want to do is bum you out as you deck the malls, looking for the prettiest Victoria's Secret training bra for little Madison, or the perfect starter rifle for little Ethan. But, as your faithful blogger, I feel I have a duty to expose you to an alternate version of Christmas culture via a smathering of holiday tunes that... Read More »

Bob Dylan: A Jew with Christmas in the Heart

Dec 21, 2015 | 15993 Views | 8 Comments

’Tis the season to see “Jews for Jesus” popping up around Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, the vibrant center of Jewish culture here in the city. Why, just the other day I was strolling to the iconic Little’s Shoe Store, my beloved Bethlehem of Boots, when I saw two spunky dudes dressed in blue “Jews for Jesus” t-shirts (the o in for represented by a Star of David) distributing their mission-statement flyers. But what exactly is their mission? They say it’s “to make the Messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to Jewish people worldwide.” Hmmmm. Well, a Read More »

Happy 100th, Frank

Dec 18, 2015 | 1091 Views | 0 Comments

If you think everyone’s making too big a fuss over what would have been Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday today, then you might have been born too late or you aren’t aware that he was the original bad-ass rock star. Here’s my favorite Frank moment, from the 1957 film “Pal Joey.” I know it’s staged, but I love it. He serenades society girl Mrs. Simpson (the stunning Rita Hayworth, looking gorgeous in her apricot gown) with a Rodgers and Hart song that pokes fun at snobs and phonies. Frank delivers these delicious lyrics with just the right amount... Read More »