Category Archives: Ditties

New Jack Summer

Get those ears ready – you’re about to Hear It Here… Now!

Summer is around the corner, and my musical divining rod tells me that the hip hop and R&B of the years 1988 to 1991, possibly 1992, will be the most exciting and inspiring music and fashion infusion you could imagine for this season of fun on the run. Think head-to-toe style, sophistication, and mastery of beats, lyrics, samples and harmonies – and I think you just saw anywhere from 1 to 4  months ahead into the future.

Do your thing with an ’89 swing with MC Lyte

Or are you more of an Around The Way Girl with bamboo earrings?



Are you dreaming, or is this Christopher Williams with “I’m Dreamin'”?

Or perhaps you’re looking for something Nice & Smooth

If you google “hip hop 1988” like I literally just did, you’ll get Wikipedia’s entry called “Golden Age Hip Hop.” Where was I and what was I doing in that golden age? I definitely had nothing to do with hip hop, so I want to be clear that I’m coming at this from a  place of sheer ignorance and instinct.

Rhymes were focused on boasting about – of all things – one’s rhyme skills. The vibes were romantic yet cautious. And production values minted a particular warmth and soul around funky, free-wheelin’ bass lines and cooley high harmonies.  It’s going to be a New Jack kind of summer.

Some Walk By Night

One day out of the week has to be Monday, that’s for dang sure. And it’s usually on Mondays that you’re feeling the burn of unrealized dreams. Maybe you’re kicking yourself for not opening a detective agency.  Maybe you’re dreaming of a classier bygone era where a war of the wits was only matched by the richness of designer shoulder pads and skinny ties.

No matter where your heart song is, I think the opening theme of “Moonlighting” really captures a quest for sophistication that Mondays sorely lack.

When Monday throws you the old “Wrong Way – Do Not Enter – Severe Tire Damage” sign the way the Moonlighting intro does – just slip into the cool pastel world of Al Jarreau.  You can find this NOT so hidden gem on Al Jarreau’s album “Best of Al Jarreau.” Here’s the full title theme and video:

Full Moonlighting Song and Video

Aside: He also has a song called Golden Girl??

I wish I had a comfortable car to drive home in, so after I listen to the traffic report, I could roll down the windows a little, and pop this into the CD player and enjoy the great sound coming out of my speakers. Maybe I had a hard day at the office and my pantyhose are giving me trouble, so I bring the CD into the house, and play it out of my home system while I go change into a jogging suit. Better open a window, it’s nice out this evening. I think I’ll sit on the couch and enjoy the rest of this song before I have to make dinner.

Music Monday Bonus! Bruce Willis performing in the Seagrams Golden Wine Cooler commercial.This one’s for Fridays.

Spotlight on… The Peanuts aka The Mothra Twins

It’s no secret, I’m a lady of today. If a flight of fancy dances its way into my thoughts, I’ll google it, because in this world, I’m on a strictly need-to-know basis. As I sat down at my desk to start the business day, The Mothra Twins crossed my mind, moseyed down my fingers, and materialized into my search bar. “What’s up with them?” I mused for no reason other than my mind is totally worthless.

Well, it turns out these twins were a singing sensation in the 60s. Identical twin Sisters Emi and Yumi Ito were The Peanuts.

Music keeps the world rotating on an axis of love and harmonies.

Doesn’t it make you wish you had a twin? And if you are a twin – why are you reading this – you should be breaking into showbiz with your other half.

According to Wikipedia (which is basically everything on this site), “The pair retired from performance in 1975.” Won’t you come back, The Peanuts? And somebody get me a The Peanuts album!

Spotlight On… Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Dance to the beat of a Rhythm Nation and Singing Sensation: Ladysmith Black Mambazo! Now that the gods have heard our prayers (the gods must be crazy, fyi) and Wikipedia is back and more revealing than ever, I can give you the full scoop on today’s “Spotlight On.”

One of the things I love about looking up Ladysmith Black Mambazo (not the group itself – this is regarding looking up the group) is that the first phrase used to describe them is “all-male.” I always thought (always = a few times over the course of 25 years) Ladysmith was an honorable title, and “Black Mambazo” was an intimidating nickname. To my shock, Ladysmith is the town from which founder (and possible Family Ties theme inspiration?) Joseph Shabalala hails. So check your preconceived notions at the door – these guys aren’t “lady” smiths – song smiths is more like it!

Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s singing style combines “Isicathamiya,” a South African Zulu style also known as a cappella, and “Mbube” another form of South African vocal music that is “all-male” and is also similar to a cappella. Mbube means “lion” in Zulu, and hails from the year 1933 and a boy named Soloman Linda. Stateside folks recognize this little ditty as The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

I now preset the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. This is a group that went from a dream to a reality to a global phenomenon. I’m going to South Africa soon for the first time, I wonder where they hang out? And if they’d let me lend some of my own song-smithing? Nah!

More facts:

  • They have been BANNED from Isicathamiya competitions because they have the genre on lockdown
  • They deliver a message of peace, love, and harmony
  • They’re touring the U.S. now through March. I hope I’ll have as good a time in their motherland as they’ll have in mine!

Oooh Ladies First, Ladies First

So I was watching the cinematic triumph “Bringing Down the House” the other day. Before I continue, I’d just like to say that every blog entry in the history of time should start this way.

Anyhoo, I love Queen Latifah. She’s classy, a talented comedienne, singer, etc. and a good role model. What’s not to love? She’s had an enduring career spanning all the performing arts and her persona exudes easy going positivity.

Hats off to you Dana Owens. Oh what’s that? Sure I would love to come over to your mansion n New Jersey and have some iced tea by the pool.

Note to self: add her books to summer reading list.

Anyway, this homage has a burning question yearning below the surface. Everybody knows her hit Ladies First, the catchy feminist rap anthem that has stood the test of time. Everybody especially knows the catchy chorus.

WHY OH WHY then on current available recordings is the best chorus in the world replaced with a horn sample? I can’t find anything about why the Ladies First chorus would disappear – rights issues, what have you. I can’t find out what the horn sample is from either.  Who took the sweet melody out of Ladies First?

Here’s the original.  How sweet it is.

Pet Music™ Music for Pets®

What a weekend! From the Tony Awards to the Weiner Awards, what’s not the love about contempo topics? So to keep it exotic, the next installment of this blog for the ages is not one, but TWO double-album reviews.

Yes, that’s 4 compact discs and over 4 hours of music. Sit back as Pet Music™ Music for Pets®  presents two installments of “Music for Pet Stress and Separation Anxiety:” Just Chillin’ and Creature Comforts.

Just Chillin’ eases in with the track “Serenity.” Not only is it serene, but it really brings it home that the next 4+ hours of music are the kinds of song that dreams, hair removal  appointments and 80s action dramas are made of. Synth drum journeys, Native American warrior flutes and proggy arpeggios will bring your pet to the max of chill.  Actually forget the cats,  pop this CD in for your next dream catcher making party or shaman consultation and set your spirit free.

The only artist credit on these says “Thank you for your support, Dan and Andy – Creators and Pet Lovers.”I’ll say!

So far I’ve only made it through the first CD of Just Chillin’. I’m too de-stressed and unanxious to even begin to describe this music. Some tracks that look like they’re going to be fantastic: Refreshing Paws, Cozy Companion, Wet Kisses, Hearts Aglow, Snuggles, and Forever Together.  I better put these CDs in a safe place or I’m going to come home to my cats lounging over a bottle of wine and massaging each other in the candlelight.

Just Chillin’: Music for Pet Stress and Separation Anxiety

Creature Comforts: Music for Pet Stress and Separation Anxiety

Song of 2011

When summer hits, the temps go up, the party shades come out, dogs are strutting their stuff, bare feet are visible and everybody wants to know – What’s the Big Summer Hit? Well as you can imagine I’ve got one heck of a hunch!

I have been hacking away at this post for the better part of a cheese sandwich, so as I was about to post I thought, “I better google this very question to make sure I’m on top of my blog game.” Finger on the pulse, people! It turns out Stereogum posed that very same question today. Today! Are you hearing it here last – or at the same time? Totally zeitgeist.

I was relieved to see that my prediction is neither one of this year’s pop frontrunners, nor was it a summer jam in its day. For the summer treat that can’t be beat, might I recommend a nice piquant 1983 vintage called Heart and Soul?

At the crossroads of David Lee Roth and Daryl Hall vocal emotions is Huey Lewis, blue collar bar-rock creampuff.

In this amazing video, Huey gets seemingly lost at a party in Williamsburg circa now looking for the gal who will called him at 2 AM.  See, she left him at nine o’clock this morning. Where are you, heart and soul? You’re hot and cold! You’ve got it all!!!

What a Party

Huey you better close that door quick – there’s a train coming!

Pop this sucker on your iComputer and blast it poolside, beachside, at a similar Williamsburg party, or at an outdoor eating gathering aka BBQ and people will say things to you like, “Where have you been all my life?” and “I want to hear this song again – right now!”

Bonus points for the languorous JerseyShore fist-pumping and Vampires of the night referencing contemporary cultural overtones.

Good night Huey and Heart and Soul lady.