A wire service story today about country singer Tim McGraw's love of fast cars and speed might surprise some, but tiese between country singers and NASCAR, of course, have a long history that goes back nearly 50 years and involved one man: a singer in his prime equal to any current stars: the Marty Robbins (1925-1982) whose hit records spanned four decades.
The new inductees for the Country Music Hall of Fame were announced yesterday, two living and one deceased: singer Ronnie Milsap, the youngest member, singer-guitarist Mac Wiseman and singer and master Nashville songsmith Hank Cochran. Cochran died in 2010, but Wiseman and Milsap are still around, Milsap appears at Greensburg's Palace Theater on May 18.
News that Steely Dan will appear in Pittsburgh August 11 at the Benedum Center (tickets go on sale Friday), bring up memories of that band's storied 42 year history and its deep and abiding ties to jazz (including Pittsburgh jazz players), and their occasional shout-outs to the music on their records.
Spoiler Alert: Don't proceed unless you've seen last night's episode of Mad Men, titled, appropriately enough, "A Day's Work."
Today's "Believe Your Ears" PG music podcast features my review of Ronnie Milsap's new album Summer Number Seventeen, an album of newly recorded versions of R&B, country and pop oldies, not unlike Martina McBride's new R&B cover album Everlasting. The singer appears at the Palace Theater in Greensburg on May 18.
Sunday night's Season Seven premiere of Mad Men began in January, 1969, yet the two songs included were each hits two years earlier: The Spencer Davis Group's "I'm A Man" and at the show's end, as Peggy melts down on her apartment floor, Vanilla Fudge's reimagination of the Supremes' "You Keep My Hangin' On."
My Monday morning discussions of various historical songs featured in Mad Men episodes proved pretty popular last year. So I'll resume posting Monday mornings, following the Season 1 (Part 1) premiere Sunday. If you weren't around last season, I'd look at the history and circumstances of songs used on the show, who wrote them and originally recorded them, with added context on the circumstances and my opinion how the song (or songs) fit ioto a given episode. The first episode this season starts in January of 1969 (when I was in the final semester of my Senior year of high school), so we'll just have to take them as they come.
Today's "Believe Your Ears" Music Podcast reviews Young Guns, a never-released 1968-69 performance by the Gene Ludwig-Pat Martino Trio, a classic Organ Trio led by the late Pittsburgh Hammond B-3 master Gene Ludwig, who died in 2010.
Amid all the Mickey Rooney film comedies and his Emmy-award winning starring role as a mentally disabled man in the TV movie Bill, one of his most memorable roles is often forgotten, and it's my personal favorite: his portrayal of ruthless, psychotic comic and TV mega-star Sammy Hogarth, a former vaudeville funnyman, in Rod Serling's teleplay The Comedian, adapted from Ernest Lehman's 1952 novelette. This 1957 dramatic presentation that was one of the high points of the prestigious 1950's live TV dramatic anthology Playhouse 90, a program considered a gem of the first Golden Age of Television. Other memorable Playhouse 90 adaptations by Serling included Requiem For A Heavyweight, starring the late Jack Palance.
Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney, who died yesterday at 93, left his mark on American film and stage acting along with various TV roles. One thing not so well known today were Rooney's musical skills, more substantial than many realized. He was skilled on drums, piano, vibes and vocals. Virtually all movies featuring actors as musicians had professionals record for the soundtrack, but Rooney was the rare one able to it himself. Check out these examples.