Saturday, June 30, 2012


I saw this highly unusual item from 1975 recently, from an odd source - Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) tweeted it. It's a poster advertising the imminent debut of a new late-night comedy show on NBC:

There's a lot of fun stuff in there; for instance, Billy Crystal is listed as appearing, even though he got cut after dress rehearsal and took a lonely train ride home to Long Island. Albert Brooks is the second-leading draw, after Carlin. And I don't know what channel 20 in New York City was - the whole time I lived there, channel 4 was the only NBC station.

But what's really wacky is the title of the show. As you probably know, Lorne Michaels wanted to call his show "Saturday Night Live," but Howard Cosell beat him to the punch with his own show of that title several months earlier. So when Lorne's show went on the air, it was called "NBC's Saturday Night."

Contrary to what the poster reads, to my knowledge, at no time was the show ever called "NBC Saturday Night - Live." It's possible that some zealous adman thought the show was called "NBC Saturday Night" and then added the "Live" to emphasize that aspect, but then the "Live" shouldn't have been in the quote marks. And it was always "NBC's," not "NBC."

Is it possible that the show had this tentative title at some point prior to its initial airing? I doubt it - since the poster says "tonight's host," it couldn't have been printed much before the show's debut, long after they would have settled on a title. I think it's just another example of advertising people not paying attention.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Top Three Paul McCartney Songs About Dogs

1. "Hey Bulldog"
2. "Jet"
3. "Martha, My Dear"

Yes, I know "Hey Bulldog" was mostly written by John Lennon, so it arguably doesn't belong here. But it was originally called "Hey Bullfrog," until McCartney started barking up a storm on the outro, at which point they changed the title. So Paul is responsible for whatever canine leanings that song has.

You know how that song came about, right? The Beatles went into the studio to film a promo clip for "Lady Madonna" just before they went to India, and "Paul said we should do a real song in the studio, to save wasting time," Lennon said later. So while they were being filmed allegedly playing "Lady Madonna," they were in reality laying down "Hey Bulldog." Some bright boy recently had the idea of going back into that footage and recutting it to show the song the band was really playing. Here it is:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bob Welch, 1945-2012

Bob Welch, singer-guitarist for the pre-Buckingham-Nicks Fleetwood Mac and solo artist in his own right, dead at the age of 65. Welch grew up in Beverly Hills, the son of the producer of several Hope-Crosby movies. After graduating from high school, he moved to Paris supposedly to attend the Sorbonne, but in reality he "mostly smoked hash with bearded guys five years older," he said later. He went back to California to attend UCLA for a while, joining an unsuccessful band called the Seven Souls, then settled in Paris. After spending two years "living on rice and beans and sleeping on the floor" and befriending Ed Bradley, Welch was asked to join Fleetwood Mac upon the departure of guitarists Jeremy Spencer, who found Jesus, and Peter Green, who went nuts. Supposedly, the Mac asked  Welch to join without ever hearing him play, which I don't quite believe.

Fleetwood Mac had churned through a lot of personnel in its early years, and the band was already three years old when Welch joined in 1971. In fact, two months after the first album in which he appeared, Future Games, CBS released the first Fleetwood Mac greatest hits compilation. He was instrumental from the get-go, writing the title track to that album, and his "Sentimental Lady" appeared on the next Mac LP, Bare Trees. His FM-radio staple "Hypnotized" appeared on 1973's Mystery to Me, and Welch wrote most of the 1974 Heroes Are Hard to Find. But even though he engineered a move of the band's base to his hometown of Los Angeles, Welch claimed that he felt alienated from the other, British members of the group, and quit the band in December 1974.

He couldn't have been too alienated, since Mick Fleetwood was reportedly still his manager as Welch embarked on a solo career. After leaving the Mac, Welch formed a power trio called Paris, which released a couple of quickly forgotten LPs. His first proper solo album, 1977's French Kiss, contained a re-recording of "Sentimental Lady" produced by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks (who had never even been in a band with Welch), with Christine McVie on backing vocals and Mick Fleetwood on drums. It sounded Fleetwood Mackier than the version he had cut with Fleetwood Mac, and went to Number Eight on the pop charts very early in 1978. (The single's cover art, a detail of the French Kiss cover complete with that Mary Tyler Moore Show font, was kinda gross, if you ask me.) French Kiss had two follow-ups that also made the Top Forty, "Ebony Eyes" and "Hot Love, Cold World."

Welch's next album, 1979's Three Hearts, contained another hit in "Precious Love," which creased the Top 20 in the spring of that year. He continued to release solo albums throughout the 1980s, to diminishing returns. Eventually, he also released two albums worth of re-recorded Fleetwood Mac material.

In 1998, Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The five Rumours-era members were all included, as were Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan.  Bob Welch, who was a key songwriter, guitarist and vocalist through five Mac albums, was not. I have no idea who makes this kind of decision, but it kinda sucks.

Bob Welch died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. I wish I could say I find this surprising, but I don't; we live in a time when meaning falls in splinters from our lives. Bob Welch's fame and success (and possibly his money) all happened a long time ago, and there were stories that his health was poor. After years of being a full-on rock star, I'm sure it's hard to go back to living on rice and beans and sleeping on the floor.