Deep Cuts…

The Recall Scam
I recently wrote a piece questioning why the cons are so interested in wasting money on a recall campaign against Gavin Newsom. $400 Million dollars just to be able to say they had brought down another duly elected Democratic governor on false pretenses seems…excessive. I guess I should have thought about it longer because I’ve thought of at least one other thing – and it’s big. Dianne Feinstein. No, I don’t mean Dianne is big. She seems normal sized to me. But you know what else she is? Old. Like, WAY old.

Age, in and of itself, of course, is no indicator of incompetence. I know many people in their 80’s and 90’s who are doing quite well, thank you very much. But the reality is, age doesn’t impact all of us in the same ways and it seems to be taking a harsh toll on the senior Senator from California. There are many reports that she’s not tracking well. To be clear, she’s not Reagan-deep in Alzheimer’s but, according to reports, she’s showing signs of dementia.

So…ONE possible reason to have a Republican governor sitting in the Governor’s chair is that if Feinstein has to step down in the next year or so, a Republican Governor would replace her with a Republican Senator, thereby flipping the balance of power in the Senate and subjecting everyone to more Republican obstruction governance (best described as comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted). That might be worth $400 million dollars to Republicans. (Especially since they don’t have to pay it…)

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Accessory to Murder?
I’ve seen in the news that the people who were supposed to be guarding and monitoring Jeffery Epstein while he was in jail have now admitted that, well, they didn’t. They didn’t guard him. They didn’t protect him. They didn’t even monitor him. For a given period of time, they looked the other way. Then, they falsified the records. Now, the guards have reached a plea deal and they won’t be going to jail for their “failures.” That bothers me. It feels like just one more ‘that doesn’t track’ in a story that, well, just doesn’t track. These guys confess to taking a powder when their primary charge just coincidentally ends up dead and all they face is a slap on the wrist? The official claim is that Epstein hanged himself but there’s a lot of ‘doesn’t track’ around that story. Now, the fact that the jailers were intentionally looking away supports the suspicion that Epstein, perhaps, did not kill himself. That Epstein guy clearly threatened a LOT of very rich and very powerful people. That’s all we know for sure…

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B-sides and Deep Cuts
I write songs. No, nothing you’ve ever heard but I write ’em anyway. Sometimes, I write a song and think, “Well, maybe it’s a B-side.” The phrase is archaic. (Sadly, in many ways, so am I…) I recently purchased a new CD player. (Yes, really.) I popped in a disc (Why yes, I DO still have discs) and went about my business. I did NOT push the magic “shuffle” button. I was just listening to the collection of music put out by a given musician – the albums.

While I was listening, I had a realization. We have lost (or very nearly lost) something we didn’t even realize we were losing: B-sides and Deep Cuts. See, in the old days (dinosaurs pulling our Conestoga wagons while we listened to our 45’s) people bought music in, basically, one of two formats. Either you bought a full album (10 – 15 songs) or you bought the 45, a “single” track, the hit song. An artist (or group) would go out and record a collection of music. A team of professionals from the record company would pick and choose the “best” songs and put them in the collection AND pick which of the songs had the greatest “hit” potential. The song chosen by the “experts” would then be the radio song the record company put out to promote the album. It usually became the most well-known song on the album.

Commonly, though, it was NOT the BEST song. It was just the most commercial song, the song the company thought would make the most money. I can’t tell you how many times I discovered songs on an album that I liked FAR more than the “headline” song. (In fairness, some albums were pure crap but for the “hit”…) Vinyl discs back then were two-sided beasts. One would listen to one side, then physically turn the disc over and listen to the other side. The two were usually labeled ‘Side A’ and ‘Side B,’ see? Even if you bought only the 45, the song you wanted was the A-side but the format required a song on the other side, too. So, they’d slap on a song nobody expected to be a commercial success and sent the thing out.

The experts weren’t always right about the commercial successes. Elvis Presley’s version of ‘Hound Dog’ was originally a B-side of ‘Don’t Be Cruel.’ The Rolling Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ was a B-side to ‘Honky Tonk Woman.’ Rod Stewart’s ‘Maggie May’ was a B-side to ‘Reason To Believe.’ The Beatles, it seems, never even tried for the knock-off B-side. They have several B-side songs that became famous. (‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘I Am The Walrus’, ‘Revolution’) I play rhythm guitar and sing in a band and we recently decided to learn a Led Zeppelin song called “Hey, Hey, What Can I Do?” I mentioned it to one of my known Led Zeppelin fan friends who didn’t even recognize the name. When I looked into why, it turned out the song was a B-side of a song Zep released in 1970 but only in the UK and it was never included on any album during the Led Zeppelin heyday. It was finally released in the US in the 1990’s in a boxed set.

And those are just the singles, the 45s. When one put on an entire album it was common to find songs buried in the collection that appealed more or were just plain better songs – if not more commercial songs. THOSE were called “Deep Cuts.” Some of my all-time favorite songs are Deep Cuts – songs few, if any, people would ever had heard in an environment of selling only the hits – the environment we live in today. By and large, people don’t listen to collections anymore. Heard a song you like? Log onto iTunes and download the hit. That’s it, that’s what you get. Not even a B-side.

There’s one more album phenomenon that has been lost – concept albums. From time to time, an artist would write a collection of songs that, together, told an entire story. Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ is one. The Who had one called ‘Tommy’ that actually became a movie and a play. One of my personal favorites is from Alice Cooper and is called ‘Alice Cooper Goes To Hell.’ It’s just a “then I woke up” story but it’s all done in a collection of songs, any one of which stands alone as an individual song. (That particular album produced ‘I’ll Never Cry,’ one of Cooper’s bigger hits.)

It leaves a guy like me wondering how much great music we’re missing out on because some record executive out there doesn’t see commercial potential…

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