Tales of Rock – Kurt Cobain’s Custom-Built Fender Mustang Is Up For Auction

Kurt Cobain’s Fender Mustang is being sold at auction by Julien’s Auctions. The custom-built electric guitar was played by Cobain during Nirvana’s In Utero tour, and after his death in April 1994 it was given to a fan by Courtney Love.

Cobain’s Mustang is being auctioned as part of Julien’s Icons and Idols: Rock ‘N’ Roll collection, which also sees lots such as a 1988 Guild GF-60NT formerly owned by Eric Clapton and the late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell’s 1993 Gretsch Duo Jet. And hygiene be damned; there are even a couple of Bob Dylan’s old harmonicas on there too.

The Mustang was built by Scott Zimmerman of Japanese guitar manufacturer FujiGen, who held the Fender Japan contract from circa 1981 to 1997. Fender reached out to Zimmerman in 1993 because the Fender Custom Shop was not equipped to build left-handed Mustangs.

(Image credit: Julien’s Auctions)

(Image credit: Julien’s Auctions)

(Image credit: Julien’s Auctions)

The Mustang was among 10 ordered by Fender, with six in Fiesta Red and Sky Blue finishes being sent to Cobain before his death. It was shipped along with another Mustang on 22 October 1993, and those are the only two to have the “Offset Contour Body Patented” decal on the headstock. This Mustang was later modified by Cobain’s guitar tech, who affixed a Gotoh tune-o-matic bridge and installed a Seymour Duncan JB-1 humbucker in the bridge position.

The label on the case indicates the guitar was called the Skystang III, and the guitar comes with the case and a letter from Courtney Love to a fan, plus FedEx receipts and other ephemera as proof of authenticity.

Bidding is presently at $75,000, with one bid accepted. Julien’s Auctions expect it to fetch between $300,000 and $500,000 when the auction closes on 25 October.

See Julien’s Auctions for more details on the guitar and to view the other items in the catalogue.

 

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SPECIAL REPORT: My Daughter has TWO New Original Songs Out!!!

 

During quarantine, my daughter has been working hard in the studio creating not one, but two new songs!

Check them out here!

https://m.soundcloud.com/innovatedtruce/jollyrancher

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Phicklephilly 2 is coming soon on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

 

Phicklephilly Reaches 100,000 Visitors!

Well, we’ve reached another milestone here at Phicklephilly! We finally achieved 100,000 visitors!

 

When I started writing this blog 4 years ago, I never thought I’d reach these kind of numbers! Thank you to everyone who’ve taken the time to visit, read, like, comment and follow Phicklephilly. 100,000 visitors has translated into 168,000 page views so far. I hope to get to 200,000 by years end!

I’ve tried over the years to bring you the best, fun, and informative content I can. A lot has happened during 2020! Despite the obvious challenges we face in the world right now, I’ve taken this time to let my creativity flourish.

In the Spring, I released the book, Crazy Dating Stories. I compiled as many insane dates from hell from my life that I could remember. The book’s done well. Apparently people like to read about insane dating stories.

Summer brought the publication of my first work of fiction, Angel with a Broken Wing. That’s been a great seller and I’m so happy it’s done as well as it has. I have another work of fiction I’m currently working on entitled, Below the Wheel. It’s a hard boiled detective story that takes place in Camden, New Jersey. A couple of young private investigators get caught up in a serial murder case. I hope to publish that in early 2021.

100,000 Visitors!! Thank You!! | The Swiss Rock

I’m happy to announce the anticipated release of the sequel to Phicklephilly next week! The long awaited, Phicklephilly 2 will drop on the 14th! This book picks up where the first book left off. I was now fully ensconced in an exclusive relationship with my girlfriend Cherie, and how that all went along over two years. Michelle makes a few appearances, and there are some surprises along the way. (Some good… others, not so good.) I had a good time, but I really learned a lot about myself being in that relationship, and writing that book.

I can’t promise anything, but there is a possibility that the long awaited, Sun Stories: Tales from a Tanning Salon, may be dropping soon as well. I’m just working through some contractual things and issues in pre-production on that book. It’s a wild story that starts out with some interesting funny stories, but slowly transforms into a series of intense encounters with some of the female clients. I never expected any of that to happen, but life is what it is, and why not do it all with a great tan! If I get a green light on that project I may have that out sooner than later!

I’m hoping to publish a book that compiles stories from my young life in 2021 as well. Two of my sisters think it’s a good idea for a book, so I think it would be fun to write.

I have also been in talks with a long time friend and comedian of mine, about writing a comedy called, The Last Video Store. So there’s a lot going on here at Phicklephilly studios!

Thanks again to everyone who visited the sight! I will continue to bring you interesting and engaging content everyday!

Onward and upward!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Phicklephilly 2 is coming soon on Amazon!

 

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Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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Scientists Claim Men With Dad Bods Are More Attractive To Women And Live Longer

While the plus-size and curves craze have taken over women’s perceptions of beauty on social media, men have quietly been staging their own physical attractiveness revolution. Introducing: the ‘dad bod’.

Ever wonder how Leonard DiCaprio and Vince Vaughn always end up with ridiculously hot women? Dad bod. How Rober De Niro continues to swoon and father children at the ripe age of 73? Dad bod. Yes, packing a little extra weight around the midriff has gone from being considered as something you need to sort out to incredibly sexy.

Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest

In fact, it’s so ‘in’ at the moment, that entire social media pages have dedicated themselves to promoting the dad bod.

It’s not just a trend, scientists have proven that having a bit of a beer belly can and does attract women. According to Richard Bribiescas, Professor of Anthropology at Yale University, older, slightly overweight men with children are the most attractive to women.

Now for the science part: Men who already have children suggest virility – the fact that they have children means they’re capable of reproducing, a factor that has kept our race going since the first human beings roamed the earth. The added weight gain after fatherhood occurs due to a decrease in testosterone levels. While this might sound like a bad thing, it actually strengthens the immune system, making men less susceptible to heart attacks in the future.

In his book ‘How Men Age: What Evolution Reveals About Male Health and Mortality’, Bribiescas states that being “macho makes you sick.”

“While men are on average larger and physically stronger than women, men have a considerable weakness.

 “We have a harder time fighting off infections and illness compared with women, and… men simply do not take care of themselves.

“[One] effect of lower testosterone levels is loss of muscle mass and increases in fat mass.

“This change in body composition not only causes men to shop for more comfortable trousers, but also facilitates increased survivorship and, hypothetically, a hormonal milieu that would more effectively promote and support paternal investment.”

It might sound crazy, but it does make a lot of sense. Fitness is no longer an evolutionary factor when it comes to the rules of attraction, because we don’t have to fight for meals anymore. What’s far more important for the survival of our species is for men to live longer and to be faithful partners who stick around.

So when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, forgetting renewing your gym membership and pile on a couple of extra pounds instead. More to love, that’s what we’re saying!

**We should probably point out that Leonard DiCaprio is also an avid humanitarian and environmental activist, which probably plays a major part in his overall attractiveness…**

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Phicklephilly 2 is coming soon on Amazon!

 

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COMING SOON… PHICKLEPHILLY 2

“He found love… but can he keep it?”

Love at First Swipe! 

Phicklephilly 2 is the sequel to the best selling book, Phicklephilly: One man’s journey to find love in Philadelphia. In the first book, our hero returned to the city in search of the perfect girlfriend. It was a funny, and sometimes heart wrenching tale of a man trying to navigate the pitfalls of the modern dating world. 

After two failed relationships, he turns to online dating. He goes on several crazy dates, but finally finds a woman he really likes. She’s a bright, unique beauty, but like all relationships, they face several challenges.

Phicklephilly 2 continues his journey and shows you what it’s like being in a relationship, and the dynamics that play out living in the city. But several factors work against them both at every step. Will the couple survive the pitfalls and demands of being in an exclusive committed relationship?

He doesn’t always do what’s right, but neither does she. This is his intimate story of what that’s been like for him. Join him to see if he wins… or loses again. 

There’s always three sides to every story. His side, her side… and the truth. 

 

PHICKLEPHILLY 2 will publish on September 14th!

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Tales of Rock – The Best Band You Never Heard – War Babies

 

War Babies was an American rock band formed in Seattle, WA in 1988, fronted by former TKO vocalist Brad Sinsel. Although associated with hard rock, the band’s sound incorporated some elements of grunge music. They only released one album, in 1991, the self-titled War Babies.

After the break-up of TKO, vocalist Brad Sinsel and guitarist Rick Pierce (ex-TKO, Q5, Ze Whiz Kidz) teamed up for a project called Suicide Squad, aided by well-known Seattle drummer, Richard Stuverud who had played with punk rock band, The Fastbacks, and was working with the power metal band Fifth Angel. Suicide Squad released the one-off album, Live it While You Can, (1988), an EP engineered by Jack Endino, on the Music For Nations label in Europe.[1]

Shawn, Guy and Richard playing at “Under the Rail” in Seattle

After Suicide Squad, Sinsel spent time in Los Angeles but was eventually contacted by Stuverud to check out his new band, War Babies with guitarist, Tommy ‘Gunn’ McMullin. Stuverud and McMullin persuaded Sinsel to join War Babies and the band began to gig around the Seattle area, playing with popular local bands like Mother Love BoneAlice in ChainsSoundgarden, and others. In 1990, at the time of Andrew Wood‘s death and the end of Mother Love Bone, Jeff Ament joined War Babies for a brief period before he left to join Stone Gossard‘s new band, Pearl Jam.

Tommy play at a rehearsal.

War Babies, featuring the line-up of Brad Sinsel (vocals), Tommy “Gunn” McMullin (guitars), Guy Lacey (guitars), Shawn Trotter (bass), and Richard Stuverud (drums) scored a contract with Columbia Records in 1991. They recorded their debut album, War Babies (1991) at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA with noted producer, Thom Panunzio and engineer, Bill Kennedy.[2] Their first single and MTV video, “Hang Me Up”, was co-written by McMullin and Paul Stanley of Kiss. Two other singles were released, “Blue Tomorrow” (a song dedicated to Andrew Wood, who was a friend of Sinsel and McMullin’s), and the power ballad, “Cry Yourself to Sleep”, co-written by Sinsel and Stanley.[3] The song “In The Wind” can be heard in the 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer but was not included on the official soundtrack.

By 1993, the War Babies’ sound was deemed too glam metal, and the band broke up. They played their last show on June 6, 1992 as part of the “Rock the Environment” benefit with headliners QueensrÿcheHeartThe WalkaboutsMetal Church, Bananafish, and Rumors of the Big Wave, among others.[4]

After War Babies, McMullin started the band The Dead Letters while Lacey and Trotter formed 8 Days In Jail and later joined Seattle punk rock band Sledgeback. McMullin has been fronting Gunn and the Damage Done for the past several years; they released their debut album, Bury My Heart, in 2010.[5]

Stuverud joined and recorded with several Seattle bands, the most notable being Three Fish, a side-project featuring Pearl Jam bassist, Jeff Ament and Robbi Robb of Tribe After Tribe. Three Fish released the albums Three Fish (1996) and The Quiet Table (1999), through Epic Records. Stuverud also contributed to Tribe After Tribe albums, Pearls Before Swine (1997) and M.O.A.B. (2007). Stuverud and Ament’s other collaborations include Tres Mts.Three Mountains (2011), with Doug Pinnick of King’s X and guest guitarist Mike McCready,[6][7] and RNDM (pronounced “random”) with singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur; RNDM issued their debut album, Acts, in 2012,[8] and followed up in 2016 with the album, Ghost Riding.[9]

Sinsel’s recent projects include American Standard with Flipp guitarist Brynn Arens who issued the “Send Me An Angel” b/w “My Only Friend” single in 2009, Americana act The McClellans, and Angels Of Dresden. The latter released a digital single, “Doomday”, via Suna Sounds [1] in May 2014, with a guest appearance by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

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Sabrina – Post Birthday Brunch

Sabrina looms large in the phicklephilly universe. She first appeared two years ago as part of the Sun Stories series when I was moonlighting at the tanning salon. I met her through one of the other clients named Jill who was one of our regulars.

I haven’t seen or really spoken to Sabrina in a while. We cross paths on social media but that’s about it. She’s been a huge fan of phicklephilly for years, and for that I’m grateful. I remember she once said, “I love all the stories about all of these crazy women in your blog. I read them and pretend it’s me that’s doing all of these crazy antics.” I love that! It’s so nice to have people out there that love what I do. It keeps me going to write more content. It’s been hard the last few months, because there’s been literally nothing happening. I’ve been in quarantine for the last five months!

About a week or so ago, I liked something she posted on social media and she thanked me. Now I remember! She re-posted a pic of me standing in front of a poster of the cover of my last book, Angel with a Broken Wing. The caption said: Buy this book! Of course I loved that. But then she texted this, “Hey, me and Jill are going to dinner at Parc on Sunday. What are you up to?”

“When will you be there? Maybe I could swing by and say, hello!”

“5:30. Swing by. We’d love to see you.”

“Same! I’m gonna put that in my calendar!”

“Yay, I’ll tell Jill.”

I was excited. I need to start getting out more and creating new stories after all of this time in quarantine. So, on the day we were supposed to meet I sent her a text. “Are you still meeting with Jill at Parc today at 5:30?”

“Hey. No. Look what she sent me this morning.” (She enclosed a screenshot from her convo with Jill) It read: “Good morning. My dear friend please have patience with me. I can’t go to dinner today because I’m still broken, but the good news is I’m working on it. I’ve only had one therapy session, so it’s going  to probably take a few more before I can start becoming normal. I love you and miss you.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“I know. I hope she gets better.”

“Yes. The important thing is she’s trying. That’s a lot. I was looking forward to seeing you.”

“I know, Me too! I’m in DC this week for work but I’m around Friday if you want to do lunch or dinner just you and I.”

“That would be awesome. Do you like Korean barbecue?”

“Yes!”

“I have just the place. I can do Friday around dinner time.”

Okay that works. What’s your usual work schedule?”

“I’ve been furloughed since March.”

“Oh, okay. Good for you for taking this time to write your blog and your books.”

“Exactly! It’s been a creative explosion for my daughter and me.”

So that’s bad news about Jill. If you want to learn about the full Jill saga, you can simply put her name in the Search bar on the homepage and you’ll find her history on here. It’s quite the story. Jill is a lovely, hard working woman who has a charming personality. But we all have our demons. For some it’s harder to spank them and make them pay.

So Friday rolls around, and I’m pumped to see Sabrina for some delicious dinner at my new hangout, Southgate.

Then I get this text: “Good morning! I am still in DC today for work so I’ll have to re-schedule our dinner. Could you do Sunday?”

“Sure. See you then.”

Then Sunday rolls around, (My birthday. We all know how that went. See: Iris – Happy Birthday Papa Squirrel)

I get this text: “Charlie, I hate to ask for another re-schedule but I have no car today due to check engine light coming on. If you’re open to one last change tomorrow at 5pm I’ll be so happy. I’m in the office tomorrow on Columbus Blvd. and can just Uber to location.”

“Okay.”

“Tomorrow at 5pm? Oh, you know what place I drove past the other day? Misconduct. Can we go there or are you set on the Korean BBQ? I am trying not to eat meat.”

“Misconduct at 18th and JFK is fine.”

“Yay, see you there at 5pm. Can’t wait to hear all about your life.”

“Yours too!”

So, Monday rolls around and I get this text: “Hey, can you meet sooner, like 3pm?”

An hour later I awaken from my nap and respond.

“Sure. See you then.”

“Okay, great let’s do 3:30pm. My meeting is still going on and will end at 3pm. See you there then. Sorry, last time change.”

“Okay, 3:30pm.”

So, I pull myself together, and spritz myself with cologne. I put on a clean shirt, and suit up to go meet with Sabrina after not seeing her lovely face for over two years.

I make the seven block walk up 18th street through Rittenhouse. I think back to when I first met Sabrina. She and Jill were both sharing some struggles in their lives. I remember when she said her boss where she was working had cut her hours. She was very upset and I told her to meet me at Misconduct, and I’d bring a big list of all of my business contacts, and we were going to find her a job. That day everything changed for her, she updated her resume and sent it out. Several businesses got back to her and she got a great job with a real estate development firm. She loves her job, and is still there today. That’s why she had to go to DC last week. I’m really proud of her and all of her accomplishments. She thanks for my faith, assistance and good energy, but it was Sabrina that made it all happen.

I get to JFK blvd. and head up the steps to Misconduct. One of the girls meets me and I think it’s either the hostess or my server or both. It turns out to be both and her name is Danessa. It’s funny now, I have to gauge peoples emotions by their eyes because everyone’s wearing a mask. She’s very sweet and shows me how to do the bar code thing with my phone but I’m already wise to that thanks to my birthday brunch with Iris.  I like that I’m a little early for my 3:30 meeting with Sabrina. Gives me a chance to get settled and order a drink. I order my signature Manhattan, because I know they’re good here.

The pictures don’t lie…

The dining room is obviously closed to the public but they have plenty of seats on the front deck. I love Misconduct. There are two of them, and this is their second location. I like this one the best. I have so many great memories from this location. I used to come here for lunch when I worked in advertising at Philly Weekly. It was a favorite of mine and my associate Rocco. We were the two old guys in the company. This is the place where I first met and fell in love with my muse for this blog, Maria. She was the inspiration for phicklephilly. She has a pretty long series. You can check out the first post here and decide if you want to go on.

Maria – Chapter 1 – Amor en Vano – Part I

I used to have all my meetings here at table 12. That was MY table. My friend Mary used to work here as a hostess. She’s got to be at least 75 years old now. She no longer works here. I should text her to make sure she hasn’t been taken by the Covid!

I brought my girlfriend Cherie here for her birthday a couple of years ago. Hell… that was the Fall of 2016! Time sure flies. You can check that out right here:

Cherie – Chapter 9 – Misconduct on your Birthday

So many good memories. I’m sitting there listening to some rock on my phone through my earbuds when a woman dressed in black wearing a mask approaches me. Oh my god, It’s Sabrina! She takes a seat and looks amazing. An ageless beauty! She orders a Cosmo and we catch up. She’s doing so well at her job. “I got my house, my kids, and this great job. Everything’s going so well.”

“I’m so proud of you, Sabrina. I knew you’d be a shining star. So, Danessa brings her a drink and off we go down memory lane. We ordered some delicious food. She went with the mac ‘n cheese, (Two different women over the last two days both ordered mac n’ cheese! Kismet!) I went with my favorite thing on the menu, the chicken tenders. (w/barbecue, honey mustard and buffalo dipping sauce!) Misconduct has the best chicken tenders in the city, They make then from scratch, Never frozen!

I hope phicklephilly isn’t turning into a food blog after all of this time in quarantine! It’s been a while for me, so for now, it’s all food and no romance for me yet!

We had a lovely couple of hours eating, chatting and sipping our delicious cocktails. It was a lovely post birthday brunch! This Leo is really feeling like a king this year. First James at the Drive In, then Iris at Lou Birds, now Sabrina at Misconduct! Too good for a man my age, but I feel great! I feel better and younger than I did in my thirties!

I was so happy to see Sabrina that I had to give her something. When we were finished brunch I handed her an envelope. I think she knew what was inside, based on the size and weight.

If anybody deserves a free copy from the author, Sabrina does. She’s been a friend and fan since 2017! She was really happy about getting a copy of Angel.

“Do you want me to sign it?”

“Yes!”

Of course I whipped out my black sharpie that I always carry for such events. I wrote her a nice little note and autographed the book. It felt really good to sign my work and give it to a friend who really cares, and will read it. The pleasure was all mine!

When the server Danessa came by, Sabrina held up the book to her. “Look at this. My friend Charles here wrote this book. He’s a writer!”

“Wow. That’s awesome!”

(I have to admit, I totally loved that moment. I felt like Hank Moody.)

The check came, and she wouldn’t even let me kick in.

“No. It’s your birthday, I got this!”

“Well, I can’t argue with that.”

We gathered our things and I walked her to her car. To my surprise it was a midnight blue Cadillac. Wow, our girl Sabrina is really doing well for herself. She gave me a hug, (masks on!) and she got in her car. She said she’d like to get together for lunch soon. I told her I’d be happy to travel down to the waterfront and dine with her anytime.

Well, it looks like phicklephilly is back in full force on the social scene and I couldn’t be happier! This has been a helluva great birthday thanks to all of the wonderful people in my life!

Thank you one and all! You’re keeping me young!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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Tales of Rock – How The Cars Upgraded Rock and Roll

The late singer Ric Ocasek conquered the mainstream with oddball energy and an understanding of how machines can amp emotions.

Ric Ocasek understood rock and roll as a machine, but he also knew it as a vessel for passion, mystery, and defiance.Michele Eve Sandberg/Invision/AP

A 1979 Rolling Stone feature on The Cars opened with an image from Ric Ocasek’s Ohio adolescence that seemed out of American Graffiti or some other idealization of post-World War II suburbia: a teenager souping up his dad’s car to race against his friends. In secret, Ocasek had tweaked the exhaust pipe of his family’s Mercury Comet so as to at least make a louder vroom, if not a faster ride. When his dad eventually found out, “there was hell to pay,” as Jon Pareles wrote. Of his then-livid father, Ocasek said, “he never understood why I did it.”

That story feels oddly resonant after Ocasek’s death at age 70-something (he long hid his birth date from the press). The grin-worthy yet heady music of The Cars partook of consummately American traditions while also rewiring them. Ocasek was a rule breaker, but a meticulous one. He understood rock and roll as a machine, but he also knew it as a vessel for passion, mystery, and defiance.

Formed in 1976 after Ocasek had organized and abandoned a series of less-successful projects, the Boston-based Cars arrived with a miracle of a debut single, “Just What I Needed,” which is still its signature song. “I guess you’re just what I needed—I needed someone to feed,” went Ocasek’s lyrics, subtly defacing a familiar love-song line with an ambivalent sneer, a move he’d repeat over the course of his career. The song’s guitar splatters conjured lineage stretching from Chuck Berry. But the cool blue tones of the keyboard and the precise tick-tock of the percussion also signaled a new era. Or rather a “new wave,” the term that would describe both the disaffected punk of the ’70s and the synth-powered dance tracks of the ’80s thanks to the bridge The Cars built.

The band served up an impressive number of hugely agreeable singalongs from the time of its 1978 debut album The Cars through 1987’s Door to Door, after which the band didn’t play together again for more than two decades. Its catalogue includes the clap-and-moan fun of “My Best Friend’s Girl,” the peppy MTV staples “Shake It Up” and “You Might Think,” and the reverberating, poignant ballad “Drive.” These are songs that everyone knows; they’re also templates for vast swaths of modern pop and rock. The New Pornographers owe Ocasek a debt, but so does Taylor Swift. It’s fitting that Ocasek served as an album producer for Weezer and No Doubt, two acts that were already zipping down a road that his band paved.

It’s also notable that Ocasek produced works by the band Suicide, whose diffident and experimental noise-pop never had a chance of approaching The Cars’s success. For all his mainstream appeal, Ocasek had an ear for the weird. His lyrics pushed pop’s frivolous clichés into droll jokes, as heard in the plodding, hypnotic title mantra of 1978’s “Good Times Roll.” He made no apologies for splicing electronic elements into guitar rock, even at a time when doing so was often written off as suspect and cheesy. In this, he presaged a lot about how popular music would move in the decades after his band’s debut. His fascination with then-novel sounds began in high school, when he’d spend hours in his family’s basement fiddling with keyboards.

This adventurous sonic sensibility matched his misfit persona. Writers tagged him as “impenetrable” or “dispassionate,” and he copped to being awkward. Though he wrote almost all of the band’s songs and was an arresting singer, he ceded lead vocal duties on some of the band’s biggest and flashiest songs to bassist the Benajamin Orr. He hated touring and spent decades avoiding it after the Cars’s breakup, and instead spent his time recording solo music, producing others’ albums, writing poetry, and painting. When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted The Cars in 2018, he rejoined the band for a performance that, he said, would be a fitting end to the group’s run. It did turn out to be Ocasek’s final show, capping a career that changed music by adhering to his own internal standard: “Success to me,” he had said in 1984, “is actually being able to write songs and like them when I finish them.”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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10 Songs That Changed Music Forever

EMI

A simple definition of art is a creative endeavour intended to move people, and out of all the possible artistic media out there, music remains the most immediate and the most enduring. The opening notes of a song can still induce the same emotional effect on a listener decades after first listening to it. That’s power: songs can change people.

But out of all the millions and millions of songs released in the last century or so, how many have been focal points that changed music itself? The list is still a long one, depending on your criteria. What do we mean by change? What scale and scope of change of change?

That being the case, this isn’t a top ten. Instead, this is a list of musical releases, in chronological order, that had such a seismic effect on music itself that the aftershocks are still being felt today.

By definition, this can’t possibly be a complete list – so if you have ideas of your own for entries eleven, twelve or more, make your case in the comments!

10. Tommy Dorsey And His Orchestra – I’ll Never Smile Again (1940)

Having just replaced singer Jack Leonard with a twenty-four-year-old Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey’s fortunes began to soar. The bandleader immediately saw Sinatra’s potential, recording forty songs with him in their first year together.

One of them was this beautifully melancholy Ruth Lowe number, written following the tragic death of her beloved husband. Lowe had the sense to aim for a more universal experience by recasting her grief as the heartbreak caused by the end of an affair, and her song became the record that catapulted Sinatra to stardom.

But it’s not just the leg-up it gave to a legend’s career that earns the tune its place on this list. ‘I’ll Never Smile Again’ was the first ever number one single on Billboard’s first ever National List of Best Selling Retail Records (which was the world’s first official national music chart), hitting the top spot on July 27th 1940 and staying there the next twelve weeks.

As a result, Sinatra himself also became the world’s first genuine pop star, his live shows swamped with screaming, adoring adolescents. He wasn’t the first teen idol – Franz Liszt and Rudy Vallée had their day years before Frank – but his success coincided with the birth of what we recognise today as the record industry.

This nascent business soon twigged that the spending power and uncontrolled passion of these ‘bobbysoxers’ made them the perfect target audience… leading to the birth of pop music.

9. Bill Haley And His Comets – Rock Around The Clock (1955)

‘Rock Around The Clock’ is one of the many songs that attempts to lay claim to being the first rock n’ roll record.

In truth, that’s an accolade that should belong to half a dozen records by African American artists in the 1940s and 1950s, through the advent of swing music from rhythm and blues. Artists like Roy Brown, Wild Bill Moore and Jimmy Preston were instrumental in laying down the basis for rock n’ roll.

But it’s a sad fact of history that in the fifties white audiences were happy to dance to black music, but would only make a mainstream hit out of a white band. Ike Turner’s groundbreaking ‘Rocket ‘88’ and its peers hit big on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues chart, but ‘Rock Around The Clock was the first rock n’ roll record to reach number one on the mainstream pop singles charts, staying there for eight weeks.

It was the song’s second release – it had been a b-side before being selected as the opening number on 1955’s hit movie The Blackboard Jungle. Originally recorded in a hurry, that seminal guitar solo had been lifted from a previous Haley recording, ‘Rock This Joint’, and a more sonically impressive version of the song had to be spliced together for the re-release.

The US success of ‘Rock Around The Clock’ was replicated worldwide. The song sold millions and catapulted Haley and his band to stardom… but it also helped push rock n’ roll to the forefront of popular music.

8. The Beatles – I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1963)

It’s difficult to overestimate the impact of The Beatles on popular culture.

Although they’d formed prior to 1960, it was 1963 that saw the group’s popularity in the United Kingdom swell to epic proportions, prompting the coining of the word ‘Beatlemania’ to describe the phenomenon.

‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ was the song that broke them in America, however. Catchy as hell with perfect harmonies, the single was number one for seven weeks in early 1964, selling over twelve million copies, and was only dislodged by another Beatles single, ‘She Loves You’, which was itself only dislodged by ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’.

The Beatlemania of before was nothing compared to the adulation they were now receiving. For the next six years, the Beatles had the biggest American single one in every six weeks and the biggest American album one in every three weeks.

Worldwide stardom wasn’t their only legacy, however. The Beatles influence was vast: they created fashion trends; brought about the first British Invasion, sweeping a host of other homegrown bands to stardom in America in their wake; elevated the long-player album over the single as the dominant musical format; and single-handedly popularised the conceit that musicians should write their own material and consider themselves serious artists.

Thanks to this hit single, The Beatles remain one of the biggest cultural and musical touchstones of the 20th century.

7. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ doesn’t lay claim to having the first ever pop video – bands had been filming promo clips, as they were called, for years, and Queen themselves were by then more than used to the format. It’s not even spectacularly original, bearing a suspicious resemblance in many ways to the clip for The Moody Blues’ version of ‘Go Now’ from a decade earlier.

Created to promote an unedited six minute song that everyone of note had assured the band was commercial suicide, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was rushed out to be played on that week’s Top Of The Pops TV show, as the band were booked to play in Scotland that night and couldn’t appear live.

The single, a majestic cod-operatic rock epic, was a huge hit thanks to radio support: it’s difficult to say whether the iconic video contributed to that. However, thanks to the song’s worldwide longevity, that video was played countless times, becoming synonymous with the song itself. From that moment on, it became standard procedure to release a promotional video alongside singles in the UK.

The increasing popularity of the video led to the creation of MTV in 1981. Because the UK music industry had pioneered the format for years thanks to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, the newborn cable channel, hungry for content, broadcast a disproportionate number of British bands in its early years, which led in turn to the second British Invasion of the US pop charts.

6. Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK (1976)

They many not have invented punk, but the short but incandescent career of punk rock legends the Sex Pistols’ led to the creation of an entire subculture of fashion, music, art and philosophy that exists globally in various mutated forms to this day.

By 1976, the Pistols had trawled around the London area for a few years, picking up an almost cultish level of support. Supplied with ‘anti-fashion’ clothes by manager Malcolm McLaren and his partner Vivienne Westwood from their Chelsea boutique SEX, the style had spread to their fans, both organically and as a marketing gimmick.

It’s said that the inspiration for the UK’s punk movement of the late seventies stemmed almost completely from attendees at these early shows: members The Damned, Buzzcocks, Banshees, Clash, X-Ray Spex, Stiff Little Fingers, Crass and god knows how many more saw the Pistols and vanished to form their own bands.

‘Anarchy In The UK’ was the first song anyone else heard by the Sex Pistols, however: their incendiary performance of the song on music show So It Goes in September 1976 led to their infamous interview on the Today programme the week after the single’s release, where their swearing and antagonistic attitude made them household names overnight.

Although the other three singles from their only real album Nevermind The B*llocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols charted higher, the band will forever be associated with ‘Anarchy In The UK’ and those sneered opening lines…

5. The Sugarhill Gang – Rapper’s Delight (1979)

Like the Sex Pistols, The Sugarhill Gang were a manufactured band put together by a svengali (in this case, Sylvia Robinson) to capitalise on an existing sound, the club-based rap and hip hop movement – they’re even named after her record company.

Unlike the Pistols, they never grew past this, and they don’t have the reputation of some of their peers for good reason.

‘Rapper’s Delight’, their only hit, is something of a curate’s egg. Based around a bassline half-inched from Chic’s ‘Good Times’, a big summer hit that year, the sprawling track was fifteen minutes long with many lyrics lifted wholesale from another rapper who wasn’t involved in the project.

Nonetheless, the impact that ‘Rapper’s Delight’ had as a single in 1979 dwarfs that of their more credible contemporaries. It was the first rap song to break the top forty in the US, and it’s rarely been off the radio ever since – and despite its bizarre, inauthentic genesis, the track helped popularise rap music and hip hop and bring it to significant mainstream attention.

4. Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas? (1984)

Written by Ultravox’s Midge Ure and Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof following a TV report on the famine in Ethiopia, the Band Aid charity single concept was cobbled together overnight: three weeks after the report’s broadcast, Geldof had the backing of his peers for a Christmas release.

The song itself is mediocre – ‘cheesy’ is the word that springs to mind. However, the circumstances surrounding it are extraordinary, and Geldof’s forthright approach to the project is legendary.

At short notice, Geldof recruited members of U2, Spandau Ballet, Heaven 17, Bananarama, Status Quo, Culture Club, Wham! and Duran Duran alongside Phil Collins, Paul Weller, Sting and Paul Young. In any given week in 1984, the Top 40 might feature almost all of those artists.

When he found out that the UK’s biggest music show Top Of The Pops couldn’t broadcast the song until it had charted, Geldof persuaded the BBC to rearrange the day’s entire viewing schedule by five minutes so that it could be played before the show came on.

The single was released on 3rd December, hitting number one instantly, outselling everything else in the chart put together and becoming both the fastest and the biggest selling single in UK history, records it held for well over a decade.

‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ made £8million for Ethiopia that year, but the charity records it inspired have made far more – 1985’s US version, ‘We Are The World’ raised over $63million for the same cause.

3. Suzanne Vega – Tom’s Diner (1987)

Folk singer Vega wrote ‘Tom’s Diner’ in 1982 as an a capella track a long time before it was ever released – it got air on an obscure compilation record two years later, and saw life on her second album in 1987.

It’s a nice song, if a little slight, a tune which received significant airplay in 1990 when it remixed as a dance track by the DNA Disciples and became a worldwide hit. It’s the original vocal-only version which makes this list, however.

Audiophiles had been using Vega’s tune as a speaker test track for years, citing it as a great example of a warm vocal recording that could, potentially, reveal problems with a HiFi set-up. German audio engineer Karl-Heinz Brandenburg, part of the team at the Fraunhofer Society engaged in developing the MP3 compression format, also used the song to tune his system and make sure that the result would actually be listenable.

Initially, it was not: it sounded distorted, apparently very much like the voice they mocked up for the possessed child in The Exorcist. Brandenburg refined his set-up over months, reasoning that if the MP3 could retain the warmth and purity of Vega’s voice on ‘Tom’s Diner’, it could provide a quality reproduction of any song at a compressed size.

Those tests led to the most widely used codec in the world. It’s the reason why some call Vega ‘the mother of the MP3’: the format whose popularity helped to bring about the digital music revolution.

2. Duran Duran – Electric Barbarella (1997)

Other songs had been available for download before – Aerosmith’s ‘Head First’, for example, an unreleased track provided to fans in the early days of the internet in 1994, back when everything was made of clockwork and powered by steam. But it was former New Romantics Duran Duran who were the first major label artists to release their new single for high quality download with 1997’s ‘Electric Barbarella’.

Interviewed at the time, keyboardist Nick Rhodes was 100% behind the move, predicting the importance of the digital revolution and the internet for artists in the future.

Initially, ‘Electric Barbarella’ was due to be available from Capitol Records’ website two weeks before the physical release hit record stores, but the outcry from the bricks-and-mortar vendors (many of whom threatened to boycott the album the song came from and even remove the band’s whole back catalogue from sale) changed their plans: the digital and CD releases were rejigged to be simultaneous.

Capitol got bad PR from their partners in the distribution chain, but excellent press from everyone else: they were lauded for being so forward thinking. The rest is history.

And the band? ‘Electric Barbarella’ didn’t do well: enough sticks had been jammed in the spokes that the single wasn’t a hit. Duran Duran, however, continued to attempt to pioneer new ways of listening to and purchasing their music.

1. Marillion – This Is The 21st Century (2001)

Back in 1997, Marillion were facing diminishing returns for their wilfully idiosyncratic take on art rock, and having to explain to their US fans that it would put them in terminal debt to embark on another loss-making tour in the States. Undeterred, said US fans got together and raised the money themselves. The tour took place. The crowd cheered.

Two years later, faced with underwhelming offers from two independent labels for their twelfth record, the band decided to go back to the fans and ask them whether they’d pay for said record up front. By 2001, nearly 13,000 people had pre-ordered the lavishly prepared Anoraknophobia release, raising £150,000 – nearly a quarter of a million quid in today’s money.

The only music released in advance was an edit of the album’s standout track, ‘This Is The 21st Century’, a magnificently brooding meditation on the unexplainable human heart, like the love child of Pink Floyd and Massive Attack.

Anoraknophobia was the first internet-driven crowdfunded album, inspiring the creation of ArtistShare, the prototype crowdfunding platform. Today there are dozens: Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, PledgeMusic and so many more. Crowdfunding has become the go-to model for artists at all stages in their careers, now able to bypass the moneymen and the middlemen to appeal to their audience direct for the funds necessary to produce the art they adore.

And Marillion? They don’t need a platform: they’ve been selling their music direct to the fans from marillion.com for nearly twenty years now. The crowd’s still cheering.

 

 

So That’s Why They’re Called Hookers!

Workers in the world’s oldest profession have been called many things, but why hookers? Source: (history.com)
There are a surprising number of nicknames for the oldest profession in the world—call girls, streetwalkers, strumpets, ladies of the night—but the term you’ve probably heard the most is “hooker.” Unlike other terms, however, it is not easy to see how the euphemism connects to the activity. How exactly does sex work relate to hooks? Whatever it is, it sounds painful. On the contrary, however, it all goes back to a Civil War major, a rowdy New York seaport, and medieval pickpockets.

Major General Joseph Fighting Joe Hooker was a Union general who liked to have a good time. Source: (professorbuzzkill.com)

THE FRAT BOY GENERAL

In the early days of the American Civil War, the Union Army was led by Major General Joseph Hooker, who earned the nickname “Fighting Joe.” Hooker may have had commanding skills as a military leader, but his camp was in somewhat more disarray. Drinking, partying, and all-around debauchery was rampant under Hooker’s command. This type of behavior eventually led to Fighting Joe’s demotion, as his men were often too drunk, hungover, or sleep-deprived to be effective soldiers. After a few costly defeats, Hooker was replaced as leader of the Army of the Potomac.

The ladies of ill repute who followed the soldiers from camp to camp were called Hooker’s Division. Source: (photo by: bildagentur-online/uig via Getty Images)

HOOKER’S DIVISION

A common sight in Hooker’s camp, alongside the discarded vessels of liquor, were large numbers of prostitutes hoping to earn a few coins by keeping the lonely soldiers happy. Although there is no hard evidence to prove that Fighting Joe enjoyed the company of these “fallen doves” himself, he definitely allowed his men to partake of their services. The prostitutes who followed the troops from camp to camp were referred to as “Hooker’s Division.” Though it’s doubtful that this phenomenon alone is responsible for the term, it was a coincidence that certainly helped to spread it. A more likely origin point is …

This well positioned point on Manhattan’s Lower East Side was once called Corlear’s Hook. Source: (en.wikipedia.org)

A ROWDY SEAPORT: THE “RESORT FOR THE LEWD”

Another story claims that the word refers to a place, not a person. In New York’s Lower East Side is a point of land that juts into the East River that was known as early as the 1600s as Corlear’s Hook after an early plantation owner, Jacobus von Corlear. The man, by all accounts, was an upstanding fellow. His land, however, was a prime location for seafaring activities around the island of Manhattan.

Grover Cleveland frowned upon the large concentration of brothels in New York City. Source: (vox.com)

NEW YORK’S MOST NOTORIOUS RED LIGHT DISTRICT

By the turn of the 19th century, Corlear’s Hook was home to shipbuilders and a naval yard, and the influx of sailors to the area brought troves of business-minded women seeking to cater to their needs. Within a few decades, Corlear’s Hook was New York City’s most infamous red light district, boasting more than 85 brothels. One newspaper of the time wrote that the areas was “a resort for the lewd and abandoned of both sexes with its streets abounding every night with preconcerted groups of thieves and prostitutes.” The most notorious residents of Corlear’s Hook became known as “hookers.”

Medieval prostitutes often banded together to pick the pockets of their johns. Source: (daily.jstor.org)

MEDIEVAL PICKPOCKETS AND RIFF RAFF

Most of the prostitutes in the medieval era had particular sets of skills. In addition to the tricks of the trade, they were also petty criminals and pickpockets, and they were just as creative in this endeavor as they presumably were in their primary occupation. They used long poles with hooks on the end to snatch purses, satchels, and other valuables from their unsuspecting victims. It was often a collaborative effort, with one team member keeping the victim occupied while another used the hook to steal away his coin purse. The obvious nickname for this half of the team was hooker. Soon, the word “hooker” was just synonymous with “prostitute,” which must have been very annoying to the more pedantic members of the trade.

A hooker from the 1800s. Source: (bu.edu)

A HOOKER BY ANY OTHER NAME

“Hooker” is still a common term for a sex worker, but many bristle at it. Although the lines are somewhat blurry, there’s a definite hierarchy in the trade, and each rung has its own preferred terminology. The word “prostitute” itself is rather clinical. A “call girl” implies a high-end sex worker. A “lady of the evening” has a slightly old-fashioned and even romanticized connotation, while “streetwalker” conjures images of a desperate woman who has turned to the oldest profession due to unfortunate circumstances. But a hooker … now that implies a person belonging on the lowest rung of the hierarchy. It is a name associated with the loose women that frequented the Civil War camps, the soiled doves of the shipyards of New York, and the wicked thieves of medieval England. No, thanks.

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