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I made a decision when I decided to do this "connections" Music Advent theme that I was going to let myself wander a little out of my comfort zone, if that's where the connections took me. So far I've sort of wandered back and forth, into my usual kinds of things (like 80s New Wave) and back out of it again. You'll see that happen again here.

So I ended up the last entry with Joe Jackson - late 70s but wandering into a New Wave sort of vibe. I was in college in the late 70s, and while there was nothing especially avant-garde about my tastes then, I do think this isn't the only place in my album collection where those sort of influences were creeping in. This song is also from 1979 but to be fair I don't think I knew it until later.

(The connection here is that Joe Jackson later did a song for an XTC tribute album.)

Did anybody know that the three surviving members of The Monkees released a new album this year? I have to admit that I did not. I do actually like their old stuff, though - I'm old enough to remember when their show was originally on, but I was a kid and I didn't understand what the heck was going on with it then. (I looked at it much later and thought, "It's a take-off on A Hard Days' Night" but did I know that when they were huge and I was 7? Heck no.) I learned a better appreciation for them later by watching reruns, seriously. (Nick at Night, maybe? I'm not sure.) Don't mock me, Last Train to Clarksville is a good song.

This is also a surprisingly not-bad song. It was written by Andy Partridge of XTC, which is how I got to this in the first place. I didn't try to listen to more of the album but there were some other well-known songwriters involved so there may be some more "hey, not bad!" moments in there. Also Micky Dolenz' voice sounds quite good for a 70-year-old man.

While I was looking up The Monkees, I saw something about how Don Kirshner was their producer early on - he was the one who wouldn't let them play their own instruments. If you know anything about the history there, that's a pretty well-known argument that went on. Kirshner was eventually fired so The Monkees won that one. But the main reason I know Don Kirshner's name at all was (like a lot of people Of A Certain Age, I think) from Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, which was on all through the 70s. (Also because Paul Shaffer used to mock him roundly on early SNL.) So I went looking for clips, and there are a lot of them on YouTube; they all have these same annoying white titles across them regarding the licensing. (But it could be worse, at least they let them put them up on YouTube at all, I suppose!) Anyway, I ended up with very early Jackson Browne:

This is "Looking Into You" off of his first self-titled album (the one everybody used to call "Saturate Before Using" because it says that on the cover).

I had all of Jackson Browne's early albums, back in the late 70s, and I also had and loved Karla Bonoff's albums. So, fortunately just in time to keep this from being an all-white-men entry, we have a later (80s) Bonoff song, her only big commercial hit. (She is better known as a songwriter, now, really; she wrote several of Linda Ronstadt's songs and some for Bonnie Raitt and others.)

Honestly I had forgotten that this song was hers at all. I actually meant to post a different song, but this is not a terrible song, just sort of middle-of-the-road. And Jackson Browne and Karla Bonoff were moving in the same circles at around the same time, so I imagine that you could connect them up in a number of different ways, but the way I followed was through the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Jackson Browne was a member, very early on (which I didn't know at all) and Bonoff recorded a song with them much later. (I flirted around with using a song of NGDB's and couldn't come up with anything I was too crazy about!)


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April 2019


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