Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Two Weeks in and a Day Late Saturday Random Ten

I just finished my second week as an official working nurse. I've got some reflections on that coming. But for now, I've got to get my Friday Random Ten posted, a day late.

1. Telstar- The Tornadoes
2. Welfare Mothers- Neil Young
3. Deep Purple- Nino Tempo and April Stevens
4. Baby Love- The Supremes
5. Yellow Submarine- The Beatles
6. 1969- The Stooges
7. All-American Alien Boy- Ian Hunter
8. Hejira- Joni Mitchell
9. Come On Eileen- Dexy's Midnight Runners
10. Right Place Wrong Time- Dr. John

1. I heard on the radio a few months ago that the Beatles were not the first British group to have a #1 hit in the United States; it was this group with this one-hit wonder.
2. Love this rocker from "Rust Never Sleeps."
3. A sweet little one hit wonder from a brother and sister duo.
4. One of the many great Motown hits written by the fabled Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team.
5. Hey, they had to let Ringo sing sometimes, right?
6. Is 1969 okay, all across the USA?
7. Gotta add seeing Ian Hunter in concert to my bucket list.
8. The title track to one of my desert-island albums
9. This one-hit wonder might have been followed by other hits if singer Kevin Rowland wasn't such a dick.
10. One of many great songs put to good use on the "Dazed and Confused" soundtrack.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Johnny Yen's One-Hit Wonders: "Pillow Talk" by Sylvia

I'm apologizing for maybe the dozenth time for my dearth of blogging the last year or so. You've heard all the excuses already-- the second and final year of nursing school, now having two kids in high school, the unexpected move and the exhaustion from learning my new nursing job. No excuses today. I finished with my training on Friday-- on the floor by myself tomorrow. I'm in the last day of a three-day weekend. It's a beautiful, cold, sunny October day here in Chicago. I've got Little Steven's Underground Garage streaming on the computer, playing great tunes. No more excuses. Back to blogging.

Just to remind about the "One-Hit Wonders:" speaking of Little Steven, he once pointed out that it's harder to create an immortal three-minute song than to create an elaborate orchestra piece. Rock and roll One-hit wonders have fascinating stories; the stars align for just a moment in the universe, the elements come together, and a rock and roll gem is created.

I keep a list of future "One-Hit wonders" on my computer. The little Mac Powerbook that got me through two years of nursing school prerequisites and two years of nursing school itself crapped out just after the move. Fortunately, my friend Greg had shown me how to use "Time Machine," and I was recently able to retrieve my list. I decided my next one would be either Sylvia's "Pillow Talk" or the Kingsmen's "Louie, Louie." Recent events prompted me to do the former.

Sylvia Robinson's "Pillow Talk" was her only solo hit, but not the only hit song she was involved with. Born Sylvia Vanderpool, her first brush with the Top 40 was at the dawn of the rock and roll era, 1956, as half of "Mickey and Sylvia," with the song "Love Is Strange," which was written by rock and roll legend Bo Diddley, along with Jody Williams. Ms. Robinson continued until 1959 as half of the duo, when she went solo and married Joe Robinson.

She wrote the song "Pillow Talk" for Al Green who passed on it for "religious reasons," and ended up doing the song herself, releasing it in 1973. It hit Number 3 in the Billboard pop chart and #1 in the Soul charts. In retrospect, it seems like a no-brainer; Ms. Robinson's smoky, sexy voice was made for the song. The "climactic finish" anticipated Donna Summers' "Love To Love You" a few years later. The song is also cited as one of the first disco hits.

Robinson never had another chart hit of her own, but was hugely influential in the record business. She continued to write and produce music, founding Sugar Hill Records in the 1970's; Sugar Hill was a pioneer in hip-hop music. Working with Nile Rodgers and the Sugarhill Gang, she released "Rapper's Delight," the first big rap record. She also co-wrote and produced the socially aware rap song "The Message," by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Ms. Robinson eventually divorced Joe Robinson, but remained in the record business. After Sugar Hill Records folded, she formed Bon Ami records, which had success with the group "Naughty By Nature."

Sylvia Robinson passed away recently, dying of congestive heart failure in Seacaucus, New Jersey at the age of 75.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Payoff Friday Random Ten

The last 48 hours have been some of the most hard-working, exhausting-- and rewarding-- two days of my life.

Yesterday, I worked 16 hours. Two patients, two different hospitals. Lots of problems, a good preceptor helping me deal with them and learn for future patients. I worked from 7 am to 11 pm. I had to go home and grab a few hours of sleep-- I had to be back at 7 am for my last day of training, and a test-- working with two patients at once. Since dialysis is pretty much like working in an Intensive Care Unit (in fact we work bedside with a lot of ICU patients), it's intense. But things that were difficult to do are now effortless. The voluminous paperwork and charting is now easy. And physical skills like changing a dressing or putting a needle in a patient to do dialysis are getting easier and easier every time I do them. Things that terrified me are run-in-the-mill now. At the end of today-- only a twelve and a half hour day-- I felt like "Wow-- I can do this."

I feel really good for not only having overcome fear, anxiety, money problems, out and out exhaustion at times, but have come to realize that this was great for my kids to see: that if you set a goal, and don't let difficulties stop you, that you can reach your goals, goals that bring great rewards-- financial, self-respect and just discovering just what you're capable of. And that is the payoff.

1. Shoot Out the Lights- Richard Thompson
2. Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment- The Ramones
3. I Keep On Dancing- The Gentrys
4. Norman- Sue Thompson
5 Play That Funky Music White Boy- Wild Cherry
6. Willpower- The Replacements
7. Louie, Louie- Motorhead
8. Can't Stop the Rain- The Washington Squares
9. Sausalito Summernight- Diesel
10. With God On Our Side- Bob Dylan and Joan Baez

1. One of the most brilliant, harrowing songs about a marital breakup. I also have a brilliant live cover of this one by Bob Mould.
2. Most groups would be happy to write one song as great as this one. The Ramones wrote about 25 of them. And they can all fit on one cd.
3. Rock Critic Dave Marsh listed this one in the "Rock Book of Lists" in "Songs That Have a False Ending."
4. A weird little one-hit wonder
5. One of the great one-hit wonders of the seventies.
6. From the great "Hootenanny" album.
7. I think I have about ten versions of "Louie, Louie" on my Ipod.
8. The Washington Squares were three people from the New York punk rock scene who formed a "Peter, Paul and Mary" politically-oriented group in the eighties. Their first album is wonderful.
9. Lots of one-hit wonders. This was from 1981 by the Dutch group Diesel.
10. Steve Jobs' obits mentioned that Steve Jobs had dated Joan Baez when he was young; remember reading that years ago, but had forgotten about it.