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Thursday, January 8, 2009

GMVW # 53: "Gonna See My Picture on the Cover"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 53: Gonna See My Picture on the Cover
Song: Dixie Flyer by Randy Newman
(Songwriter:  Randy Newman)
January 8, 2009

Most everyone has a favorite magazine subscription, whether it is Sports Illustrated, National Review, the New Yorker, Smithsonian, Country Living, People, National Geographic, Bon Appetit, Newsweek, or any number of other periodicals.  For some time now, my routine monthly reading has been Natural History, but for 12 years from the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s, I was an avid reader of Rolling Stone Magazine.  Anybody who visited
109 Lake Street
in Waltham knew as much:  The most recent issue was typically sitting on the lobster trap coffee table in the living room.  I was always up for discussing the latest cover story, which was either based on an interview, a retrospective, or on occasion an investigative report.

In 1987, Rolling Stone Magazine celebrated its 20th anniversary, which was launched with a fantastic 2-hour television documentary.  Following up on that, there were three special edition issues released over the course of the year, including one which reviewed some of the magazines best feature articles over its history, and another which contained lengthy interviews with many of rock n rolls most respected musicians.  It was the 3rd special edition issue, however, that had the most lasting impression on me.  This was the issue which featured Rolling Stone’s top 100 albums of the prior 20 years. 

‘Top’ lists have been all the rage over the last few decades or so as the baby boomer generation seeks to define itself in history.  You see them everywhere: Top 100 Baseball Catches on ESPN; Top Comedians; Top Singers; Top Movies; Top Actors; Top Athletes; and a slew of Top Songs lists.  Most have been entertaining, but for me, none have hit the nail on the head quite like that September 1987 Rolling Stone issue.  Often with a ‘Top’ list, I see a hidden agenda, but not with this one.  Predictable it was not.  Insightful and entertaining it was.  The first 10 albums were 2-page stories, and all 100 had interesting tidbits of information. 

Looking back on this list (which is below), a number of pleasant surprises still jump out at me: ‘Plastic Ono Band’ (Lennon’s first solo album) at # 4; ‘Astral Weeks’ at # 7; ‘Horses’ at # 16; ‘Shoot Out the Lights’ at # 24; ‘Tonight’s the Night’ at # 26; ‘Trout Mask Replica’ at # 33; ‘Squeezing Out Sparks’ at  # 45; ‘The Modern Lovers’ at # 52; ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ at # 82; ‘Sail Away’ at # 89.  Rolling Stone Magazine was not looking to put together a most popular album list, not even on the scale of an individual artist.  This list was looking at what was innovative, what was pushing new boundaries, what was influencing peers.  A perfect example was Neil Young’s ‘Tonight’s the Night’.  Neil Young has had far more financially successful ventures, but this dark, brooding album made the list for the brutal honesty in the music and lyrics.  It also had a brilliant on-the-edge sound (N. Young albums are known for minimalist overdubbing in the studio where the musicians play as a live band, typically releasing the first cut).

I know this list prompted me to expand my knowledge of at least 2 musicians.  The first was Richard Thompson, whom I have written about (along with his ex-wife, Linda Thompson) in earlier gems.  The second was Randy Newman, whom I have also written about and whose song ‘Dixie Flyer’ is this week’s Gem.  ‘Dixie Flyer’ (or ‘Dixie Fly’ as Charlotte and Peter used to sing in their younger days), shows another side of Randy Newman from what I discussed in Gem # 11.  This song reveals Newman’s ability to take you back in time.  Few artists are as good at this as Newman (Steve Earle comes to mind).  

Below this week’s Gem is a link of Dr Hook and the Medicine Show singing ‘Cover of the Rolling Stone’ with many of the best Rolling Stone covers shown.  Below that is the list of the 1987 Rolling Stone Top 100 Albums of the prior 20 years.

- Pete

“Her own mother came to meet us at the station,
  Her dress as black as a crow in a coal mine
  She cried when her little girl got off the train”

Gem Video: Dixie Flyer

Cover of the Rolling Stone

ROLLING STONE TOP 100 ALBUMS OF THE LAST 20 YEARS - September & October 1987
Editions (As part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the magazine)
1. The Beatles - Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. The Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks
3. The Rolling Stones - Exile On
Main Street
4. John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band
5. Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced?
6. David Bowie - The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust
7. Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
8. Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run
9. The Beatles - The Beatles
10. Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
11. Elvis Costello - This Year's Model
12. Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks
13. Bob Dylan & The Band - The Basement Tapes
14. The Clash - London Calling
15. The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet
16. Patti Smith - Horses
17. The Beatles -
Abbey Road
18. The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed
19. The Band - The Band
20. Prince - Dirty Mind
21. The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground And Nico
22. The Who - Who's Next
23. Derek & The Dominos - Layla
24. Richard & Linda Thompson - Shoot Out The Lights
25. The Doors - The Doors
26. Neil Young - Tonight's The Night
27. The Clash - The Clash
28. Bruce Springsteen - Born In The U.S.A.
29. Evis Costello - My Aim Is True
30. Sly & The Family Stone - There's A Riot Goin' On
31. The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers
32. The Velvet Underground - Loaded
33. Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica
34. Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells A Story
35. Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon
36. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Willy And The Poor Boys
37. Stevie Wonder - Innervisions
38. Television - Marquee Moon
39. Prince - Purple Rain
40. Bruce Springsteen - Darkness On The Edge Of Town
41. The Band - Music From Big Pink
42. The Pretenders - Pretenders
43. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Green River
44. Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow
45. Graham Parker - Squeezing Out Sparks
46. Joni Mitchell - Blue
47. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV
48. Aretha Franklin - Lady Soul
49. Randy Newman - 12 Songs
50. Big Brother And The Holding Company - Cheap Thrills
51. Bruce Springsteen - The Wild, The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle
52. The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers
53. Talking Heads - Remain In Light
54. Graham Parker - Howlin Wind
55. The New York Dolls - New York Dolls
56. Paul Simon - Graceland
57. Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings And Food
58. R.E.M. - Murmur
59. Van Morrison - Moondance
60. Original Soundtrack - The Harder They Come
61. John Lennon - Imagine
62. Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland
63. Bruce Springsteen - The River
64. Stevie Wonder - Talking Book
65. Elvis Costello And The Attractions - Get Happy!!
66. Neil Young And Crazy Horse - Rust Never Sleeps
67. Bob Dylan - John Wesley Harding
68. Michael Jackson - Off The Wall
69. Ramones - Ramones
70. The Rolling Stones - Between The Buttons
71. Neil Young - After The Goldrush
72. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
73. Todd Rundgren - Something/Anything
74. Crosby, Stills And Nash - Crosby, Stills And Nash
75. Al Green - Call Me
76. Elvis Presley - From Elvis In Memphis
77. The Mothers Of Invention - We're Only In It For The Money
78. Sly And The Family Stone - Greatest Hits
79. Pink Floyd - The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
80. Talking Heads - Talking Heads: 77
81. Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
82. The Byrds - Sweetheart Of The Rodeo
83. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II
84. Roxy Music - Siren
85. Michael Jackson - Thriller
86. Richard And Linda Thompson - I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
87. Sly And The Family Stone - Stand!
88. Iggy And The Stooges - Raw Power
89. Randy Newman - Sail Away
90. Various Artists - Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychadelic
Era, 1965-1968
91. Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
92. Southside Johnny And The Asbury Jukes - Hearts Of Stone
93. Simon And Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Waters
94. Talking Heads - Fear Of Music
95. Otis Redding - History Of Otis Redding
96. David Bowie - ChangesOneBowie
97. The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground
98. Steely Dan - Katy Lied
99. The Who - Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy
100. T.Rex - Electric Warrior



About the video: Performed at the Jazz Open in 06

Video Rating: 1

Best Feedback: Jen

Pete,

Sometimes it takes me a few days to get around to the Gems, but I always do.  I enjoyed this....your commentary, Randy Newman singing, and seeing the covers along with the "Cover of the RS" audio. Thanks.

Jen

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