Lou Reed (1987)

In honor of Lou Reed on his birthday, born on this day in 1942, I present to you Lou Reed on Guns & Ammo, an interview with Joe Smith in 1987.

“I write a song called ‘Heroin’, you would have thought that I murdered the Pope or something”

Lou Reed

Here we bring you a rarely heard interview Lou recorded in 1987. It’s vintage Lou. Salty and sweet. Earnest and cocky. Grouchy and kind of endearing. Reed (and his legendary band The Velvet Underground) were those musicians who never got the extensive accolades or awards–nor the riches many of their contemporaries found. Yet he never seemed to waver in his search for the perfect sound and his quest “to elevate the rock and roll song and take it where it hadn’t been taken before.” Here we present some interview outtakes that give a taste for this iconic American musician. Lou Reed died of liver disease on October 27, 2013. He was 71.

In this animated film Lou Reed talks about chasing off nosy college kids on his porch with his shotgun, how he dreamed about writing the great American novel while at Syracuse University, “how savage the reaction against” the Velvet Underground was, the intention of taking books and putting them into songs, writing rock and roll you could grow old with, not thinking The Doors or the Beatles were up to the level of his band, and how he hoped to elevate the rock and roll song to where it hadn’t been before.

Lou Reed (1983)

In honor of Lou Reed on his birthday, born on this day in 1942, I present to you My Name is Mok, sung by Lou Reed in the Canadian animated film Rock & Rule.

My Name is Mok is a song performed for Mok by Lou Reed. The song is abridged in the film and has never had a wide official release, but copies of the complete song are circulating in fandom.

Lou Reed was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and poet. He was the guitarist, singer, and principal songwriter for the rock band the Velvet Underground and had a solo career that spanned five decades. The Velvet Underground was not a commercial success during its existence, but became regarded as one of the most influential bands in the history of underground and alternative rock music. Reed’s distinctive deadpan voice, poetic and transgressive lyrics, and experimental guitar playing were trademarks throughout his long career. After leaving the band in 1970, Reed released twenty solo studio albums.

Rock & Rule is a 1983 Canadian animated musical science fantasy film featuring the voices of Don Francks, Greg Salata and Susan Roman. It was produced and directed by Michael Hirsh, Patrick Loubert, and Clive A. Smith with John Halfpenny, Patrick Loubert, and Peter Sauder at the helm of its screenplay.

Johnny Cash (2010)

In honor of the Man in Black and to celebrate his birthday, born on this day in 1932, I wanted to share this interesting community animation project with you that I really enjoyed watching. I hope you do too.

A UNIQUE COMMUNAL WORK, A LIVING PORTRAIT OF THE MAN IN BLACK

This unique animation was created by participants from various parts of the world who drew their own portrait of Johnny Cash to be integrated into a collective whole. As people all over the world contribute, the project will continue to evolve and grow, one frame at a time.

This animated work is strung together and relayed in sequence with fans art, paired with Johnny’s haunting song. It becomes a living, moving, and ever changing portrait of the legendary Man in Black.

A hand-drawn, animated, music video with each frame drawn by a different person. Participants are invited to create a drawing that is woven into a collective music-video-tribute to Johnny Cash. Set to his song “Ain’t No Grave,” the project was inspired Johnny’s central lyric “Ain’t no grave can hold my body down.” It represents Cash’s continued existence, even after his death, through his music and his fans. The work continues to grow and evolve as more people participate. A collaboration with director Chris Milk.

George Harrison (1970)

In honor of my favorite Beatle’s birthday, born on this day in 1943 in Liverpool, England, I present to you George Harrison’s It’s Johnny’s Birthday, as well as some other great songs. Enjoy!

From the album All Things Must Pass, released November 27, 1970.

All Things Must Pass is the third studio album by English rock musician George Harrison. Released as a triple album in November 1970, it was Harrison’s first solo work after the break-up of the Beatles in April that year. It includes the hit singles “My Sweet Lord” and “What Is Life”, as well as songs such as “Isn’t It a Pity” and the title track that had been overlooked for inclusion on releases by the Beatles. The album reflects the influence of Harrison’s musical activities with artists such as Bob Dylan, the Band, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends and Billy Preston during 1968–70, and his growth as an artist beyond his supporting role to former bandmates John Lennon and Paul McCartney. All Things Must Pass introduced Harrison’s signature slide guitar sound and the spiritual themes present throughout his subsequent solo work. The original vinyl release consisted of two LPs of songs and a third disc of informal jams titled Apple Jam. Several commentators interpret Barry Feinstein’s album cover photo, showing Harrison surrounded by four garden gnomes, as a statement on his independence from the Beatles.

“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”

George Harrison

George Harrison was an English musician, singer-songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Sometimes called “the quiet Beatle”, Harrison embraced Indian culture and helped broaden the scope of popular music through his incorporation of Indian instrumentation and Hindu-aligned spirituality in the Beatles’ work. Although the majority of the band’s songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, most Beatles albums from 1965 onwards contained at least two Harrison compositions. His songs for the group include “Taxman”, “Within You Without You”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something”.

Music video by George Harrison performing This Song.
Taken from George’s eponymous 1979 album, BLOW AWAY was the lead single released on 14th February, 1979.
George Harrison – When We Was Fab
Official Music Video for George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”
George Harrison – What Is Life
George Harrison – Got My Mind Set On You
2021 Remastered Edit: Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison & Prince pay tribute to George Harrison at the 2004 Induction Ceremony.

Happy Birthday, George Harrison!

Nina Simone (1976)

Watch Nina Simone perform a medley of Stars and Feelings live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 1976

In honor of Nina Simone’s birthday, born on this day in 1933, I present to you Nina Simone!

Nina Simone was one of the great female vocalists of the 20th Century. She was equally at home singing jazz, blues, soul, gospel or pure pop. Hugely prolific throughout the fifties, sixties and seventies, she recorded only rarely in her later career, but remained a major live performer until well into the nineties when, becoming increasingly frail, she retired to France where she died in 2003 at the age of 70.

Nina Simone made four appearances at the Montreux Festival between 1968 and 1990. This clip features a segment of the performance from 1976 as the main feature.

Nina Simone was one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century, an icon of American music. She was the consummate musical storyteller, a griot as she would come to learn, who used her remarkable talent to create a legacy of liberation, empowerment, passion, and love through a magnificent body of works. She earned the moniker ‘High Priestess of Soul’ for she could weave a spell so seductive and hypnotic that the listener lost track of time and space as they became absorbed in the moment. She was who the world would come to know as Nina Simone.

When Nina Simone died on April 21, 2003, she left a timeless treasure trove of musical magic spanning over four decades from her first hit, the 1959 Top 10 classic “I Loves You Porgy,” to “A Single Woman,” the title cut from her one and only 1993 Elektra album. While thirty-three years separate those recordings, the element of honest emotion is the glue that binds the two together – it is that approach to every piece of work that became Nina’s uncompromising musical trademark.

By the end of her life, Nina was enjoying an unprecedented degree of recognition. Her music was enjoyed by the masses due to the CD revolution, discovery on the Internet, and exposure through movies and television. Nina had sold over one million CDs in the last decade of her life, making her a global catalog best-seller.

Happy Birthday, Nina Simone!

Nina Simone (1976)

Live At Montreux 1976

In honor of Nina Simone’s birthday, born on this day in 1933, I present to you Nina Simone!

I wish I knew how
It would feel to be free
I wish I could break
All the chains holding me
I wish I could say
All the things that I should to say
Say ’em loud say ’em clear
For the whole round world to hear

I wish I could share
All the love that’s in my heart
Remove all the bars
That keep us apart
I wish you could know
What it means to be me
Then you’d see and agree
Everyone should be free

I wish I could give
All I’m longin’ to give
I wish I could live
Like I’m longin’ to live
I wish I could do
All the things that I can do
Though I’m way overdue
I’d be starting anew.

I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be
If I found out I could fly
I’d soar to the sun
And look down at the sea
And I sing ’cause I know

Nina Simone (1958)

In honor of Nina Simone’s birthday, born on this day in 1933, I present to you Nina Simone!

My Baby Just Cares for Me is a jazz standard written by Walter Donaldson with lyrics by Gus Kahn. Written for the film version of the musical comedy Whoopee! (1930), the song became a signature tune for Eddie Cantor who sang it in the movie. A stylized version of the song by Nina Simone, recorded in 1957, was a top 10 hit in the United Kingdom after it was used in a 1987 perfume commercial and resulted in a renaissance for Simone.

Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel and pop.

The sixth of eight children born to a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied admission despite a well received audition, which she attributed to racism. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree.

To make a living, Simone started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name to “Nina Simone” to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play “the devil’s music” or so-called “cocktail piano”. She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist. She went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue. She had a hit single in the United States in 1958 with “I Loves You, Porgy”. Her musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.

Happy Birthday, Nina Simone!

Nina Simone & Lilian Terry (1968)

“I feel more alive now than I ever have in my life. I have a chance to live, as I’ve dreamed.”

Nina Simone

Lilian Terry had a national radio show in Italy–everyone from Ray Charles to Duke Ellington appeared on her show–and there was one person she always wanted to interview: Nina Simone. But Lilian had heard Nina didn’t enjoy speaking with white people. Thankfully Lillian had a confidant in Max Roach, the legendary jazz drummer, who introduced Lilian to Nina at the Newport Festival in 1968. “Lilian Terry comes from Egypt, ” Roach said. This was true; Lilian was born in Cairo to a father from Malta and a mother from Italy. With that simple introduction, Nina waved Lillian over. Soon they were talking about nefertitti and the pharoahs. Nina even told Lilian she thought she’d been in Egypt in a previous life. A few days later Lilian went to Nina’s house in Mt. Vernon, New York. They sat by the pool, the tape recorder was turned on, and the conversation continued.

Executive Producer: David Gerlach

Animator: Patrick Smith

Audio Producer: Amy Drozdowska

Colorist: Jennifer Yoo

Nina Simone (1982)

Animation brings Color Is a Beautiful Thing to life, off of Nina Simone’s rediscovered album Fodder On My Wings

In honor of Nina Simone’s birthday, born on this day in 1933, I present to you Nina Simone!

Fodder on My Wings is an album by singer/pianist/songwriter Nina Simone. It is part of her later works, and can be regarded alongside Baltimore (1978) as one of her better achievements of that period. It is, however, a rather obscure album and not widely distributed. The album is one of Simone’s most introspective and personal works, with songs about her father’s death and her stay in Liberia, Trinidad, and Switzerland.

Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel and pop.

The sixth of eight children born to a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied admission despite a well received audition, which she attributed to racism. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree.

To make a living, Simone started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name to “Nina Simone” to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play “the devil’s music” or so-called “cocktail piano”. She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist. She went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue. She had a hit single in the United States in 1958 with “I Loves You, Porgy”. Her musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.

Animated video directed by Sharon Liu and Aaron Lampert.

Animated by Nicolette van Gendt & Duncan Gist.

Happy Birthday, Nina Simone!

Nina Simone (1964)

Watch the visualizer for Riton’s Remix of See-Line Woman by Nina Simone from the album Feeling Good: Her Greatest & Remixes

In honor of Nina Simone’s birthday, born on this day in 1933, I present to you Nina Simone!

Originally known as Sea Lion Woman and popularized as See-Line Woman by Nina Simone, is a traditional African American folk song originally used as a children’s playground song.

Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel and pop.

The sixth of eight children born to a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied admission despite a well received audition, which she attributed to racism. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree.

To make a living, Simone started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name to “Nina Simone” to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play “the devil’s music” or so-called “cocktail piano”. She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist. She went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue. She had a hit single in the United States in 1958 with “I Loves You, Porgy”. Her musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.

Animated video directed by Sharon Liu and Aaron Lampert (2022).

Happy Birthday, Nina Simone!

Nina Simone (1965)

Watch the visualizer for Hot Chip’s Remix of Be My Husband by Nina Simone from the album Feeling Good: Her Greatest & Remixes

In honor of Nina Simone’s birthday, born on this day in 1933, I present to you Nina Simone!

From the album Pastel Blues (1965).

Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel and pop.

The sixth of eight children born to a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied admission despite a well received audition, which she attributed to racism. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree.

To make a living, Simone started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name to “Nina Simone” to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play “the devil’s music” or so-called “cocktail piano”. She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist. She went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue. She had a hit single in the United States in 1958 with “I Loves You, Porgy”. Her musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.

Animated video directed by Sharon Liu and Aaron Lampert (2022).

Happy Birthday, Nina Simone!

Nina Simone (1965)

Watch the visualizer for Sofi Tukker’s Remix of “Sinnerman” by Nina Simone from the album Feeling Good: Her Greatest & Remixes

In honor of Nina Simone’s birthday, born on this day in 1933, I present to you Nina Simone!

Sinnerman is an African American traditional spiritual song that has been recorded by a number of performers and has been incorporated in many other media and arts. The lyrics describe a sinner attempting to hide from divine justice on Judgment Day. It was recorded in the 1950s by Les Baxter, the Swan Silvertones, the Weavers and others, before Nina Simone recorded an extended version in 1965.

Sinnerman is one of Nina Simone’s most famous songs. She recorded her definitive 10-minute-plus version on her 1965 album Pastel Blues, on which the credit is simply given as “Arranged by Nina Simone” . Simone learned the lyrics of the song in her childhood when it was used at revival meetings by her mother, a Methodist minister, to help people confess their sins. In the early days of her career during the early sixties, when she was heavily involved in the Greenwich Village scene, Simone often used the long piece to end her live performances. An earlier version of the song exists, recorded live at The Village Gate, but was not used on the 1962 Colpix album Nina at the Village Gate. It was added as a bonus track to the 2005 CD release.

Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel and pop.

The sixth of eight children born to a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied admission despite a well received audition, which she attributed to racism. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree.

To make a living, Simone started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name to “Nina Simone” to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play “the devil’s music” or so-called “cocktail piano”. She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist. She went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue. She had a hit single in the United States in 1958 with “I Loves You, Porgy”. Her musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.

Animated video directed by Sharon Liu and Aaron Lampert (2021).

Happy Birthday, Nina Simone!

Nina Simone (1965)

Watch the visualizer for Rudimental’s Remix of “Take Care Of Business” by Nina Simone from the album Feeling Good: Her Greatest & Remixes (2022)

In honor of Nina Simone’s birthday, born on this day in 1933, I present to you Nina Simone!

Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel and pop.

The sixth of eight children born to a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied admission despite a well received audition, which she attributed to racism. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree.

To make a living, Simone started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name to “Nina Simone” to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play “the devil’s music” or so-called “cocktail piano”. She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist. She went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue. She had a hit single in the United States in 1958 with “I Loves You, Porgy”. Her musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.

Animated video directed by Sharon Liu and Aaron Lampert (2022).

Happy Birthday, Nina Simone!

Emma Swift (2020)

From Emma’s “Blonde on the Tracks” album, released August 2020 by Tiny Ghost Records.

In honor of Bob Dylan’s 1966 song One of Us Must Know, released 56 years ago today, I present to you Emma Swift’s beautiful rendition of the song. Enjoy.

Art direction, concept, graphic design: Yvonne Moxham

Animation: Alex Dar

“Her high, clear voice highlights each syllable, letting you hear the words form, one seemingly following inevitably from the other, until they feel handed down, fragments of old songs now speaking to each other.”

Greil Marcus, LA Review of Books

One of Us Must Know is an emotional confession of mis-connects and apologies from Bob Dylan to a young woman he regrets having mistreated.

Emma Swift is an Australian singer-songwriter. Before becoming a musician, she was a radio broadcaster, hosting Americana music show In the Pines on FBi Radio and Revelator on Double J at Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Sydney, Australia.

Neil Young (2022)

In honor of one of the greatest legends to have ever walked the face of the earth, I present to you a collection of some of my favorite songs and videos curated by the legend himself, Neil Young, only found on the Neil Young Archives: NeilYoungArchives.com

Don’t Forget Love
Who’s Gonna Stand Up
Children of Destiny w/ Promise of the Real
Heart of Gold
A Man Needs a Maid
Harvest
Out On the Weekend w/ Promise of the Real

We’re all in this together.

William Hanna & Joseph Barbera (1946)

Solid Serenade is a 1946 one-reel animated cartoon and is the 26th Tom and Jerry short, produced in Technicolor and released to theatres on August 31, 1946 by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. It was produced by Fred Quimby, directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, and the musical supervision was by Scott Bradley. Ed Barge, Michael Lah, and Kenneth Muse animated it. Excerpts of this cartoon are seen in three other Tom and Jerry shorts: Jerry’s Diary, Smitten Kitten, and Smarty Cat, the latter instance with altered audio and an added scene of Tom whistling.

Animation historian Michael Barrier wrote that Tom’s appearance stabilized by the time of Solid Serenade, giving him a more streamlined and less inconsistent look. Jerry, whose appearance was already economical, only became cuter, according to Barrier. Describing music director Scott Bradley’s work, academic Daniel Ira Goldmark called Solid Serenade “an excellent overview of Bradley’s techniques”, as it uses both popular songs and an original score.

Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby is a 1944 Louis Jordan song, released as the B-side of a single with “G.I. Jive”. “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” reached #1 on the US folk/country charts. The song appeared in the Tom and Jerry cartoon Solid Serenade and sung by Ira Woods as Tom Cat on the bass.

Louis Thomas Jordan was an American saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and bandleader who was popular from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Known as “The King of the Jukebox”, he earned his highest profile towards the end of the swing era. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an “early influence” in 1987.

Bob Marley & the Wailers (1977)

Happy Birthday, Bob Marley!

In the spirit of Bob Marley’s birthday, which, yes, is today, I wanted to share this animated music video with you to help inspire some Bob Marley energy throughout the universe. Peace.

Three Little Birds is a song by Bob Marley and the Wailers. It is the fourth track on side two of their 1977 album Exodus and was released as a single in 1980. The song reached the Top 20 in the UK, peaking at number 17. It is one of Bob Marley’s most popular songs. The song has been covered by numerous other artists. The song is often thought to be named “Don’t Worry About a Thing” or “Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright”, because of the prominent and repeated use of these phrases in the chorus.

Al Brodax & Sylban Buck (1965)

I never knew this cartoon even existed. It’s pretty bad, but still kinda fun to watch.

The Beatles is a Saturday morning animated television series featuring representations of the popular English rock band of the same name. It was originally broadcast from 1965 to 1969 on ABC in the USA. The series debuted on 25 September 1965 and new episodes ended on 21 October 1967. Each episode is named after a Beatles song and based on its lyrics. The series was a historical milestone as the first weekly television series to feature animated versions of real, living people.

Watch the Sesame Street Muppets play a Tiny Desk Concert.

The news has stopped! Count von Count and the NPR kids count us down: 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1!

And there they are at the Tiny Desk: Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Rosita, Abby Cadabby and Cookie Monster, all singing about a sunny day and how everything is A-OK. The Sesame Street crew, including Elmo, Grover and other surprise guests, visited NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to celebrate Sesame Street’s 50 years of teaching the world its A-B-Cs, its 1-2-3s, how to be kind and how to be proud, all while spreading love and joy. Sesame Street has won more major awards than any other group to play the Tiny Desk, including 11 Grammys and 192 Emmys. There was a lot of love as the cast of Sesame Street got to meet NPR hosts and newscasters, who in turn got to geek out meeting their favorite Muppets and the creators behind the felt and fur. These folks include Matt Vogel, Sesame Street’s puppet captain and performer, and music director Bill Sherman.

I even got to sing with Grover. And I’ll also say, on a personal note, that this may well have been the hardest-working, most dedicated group of performers I’ve ever worked with. I’m so proud of these Muppets and so happy to celebrate all that they’ve meant to the world for these 50 years.

MUSICIANS — Leslie Carrara-Rudolph: Abby Cadabby, Penguin; Ryan Dillon: Elmo; Eric Jacobson: Bert, Grover, Oscar the Grouch; Peter Linz: Ernie, Herry Monster; Carmen Osbahr: Rosita; David Rudman: Cookie Monster; Matt Vogel: Big Bird, Count von Count, Mr. Johnson; John Deley: keys; Rob Jost: bass; Michael Croiter: drums

Ralph Bakshi (1986)

In 1985, Ralph Bakshi received a phone call from The Rolling Stones’ manager, Tony King, who told Bakshi that the band had recorded a cover of Bob & Earl’s “Harlem Shuffle”, and wanted Bakshi to direct the music video. He was told that the live-action shoot needed to be completed within one day (January 28, 1986) for it to be shown at the Grammy Awards.

Production designer Wolf Kroeger was forced to drastically compact his sets, and animation director and designer John Kricfalusi had to push his team, including Lynne Naylor, Jim Smith and Bob Jaques, to complete the animation within a few weeks.

The band’s arrival at the set was delayed by a snowstorm and several takes were ruined when the cameras crossed paths. Bakshi was forced to pay the union wages out of his own fees, and the continuity between Kricfalusi’s animation and the live-action footage did not match; however, the video was completed on time.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse (2021)

Director: DHLovelife

Producer: Gary Ward

Animation: @patriclekid – Micah Nelson

Production Company: Lost Planet

In the last decade or two, you generally know what’s coming when you hit play on a new Neil Young record. You know there will be a few sweet love-struck hymns that sound as if they’re being played in dusty Old West saloons or around campfires. You anticipate the songs that wax nostalgic about his childhood, and the ones that rage against the destructiveness and stupidity of mankind and the impact on the planet. You await those moments when he turns the volume knob up and makes his guitar sound like it’s sandblasting paint off an old shed

All those elements are in play in Barn, but the crucial difference is the presence of a reconstituted version of Crazy Horse, with recurring Young sideman Nils Lofgren replacing the retired Frank “Poncho” Sampedro. Young first reconvened his on-again, dismissed-again band for 2010’s underwhelming Colorado, but maybe they all just needed time to warm up. On Barn, cut in just a few days at a log-cabin structure in Colorado, the thunderous and ornery side of Young and the Horse revs up again, and sonically, at least, it’s akin to running into an old friend you haven’t seen face to face since the pre-pandemic days.

Read the remainder of the Rolling Stone article written by David Browne here: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-album-reviews/neil-young-and-crazy-horse-more-barn-1266713/

John Lennon (1969)

Today we celebrate the loving memory of John Lennon. Peace.

In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced him to do an interview. 38 years later, Levitan, director Josh Raskin and illustrators James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina have collaborated to create an animated short film using the original interview recording as the soundtrack. A spellbinding vessel for Lennon’s boundless wit and timeless message, I Met the Walrus was nominated for the 2008 Academy Award for Animated Short and won the 2009 Emmy for ‘New Approaches’ (making it the first film to win an Emmy on behalf of the internet).

On December 8, 1980, a young man named Mark David Chapman asked John Lennon for his autograph in New York. Hours later, he fired four hollow-point bullets into Lennon’s back — killing him almost instantly.

John Lennon’s death shocked the world. On December 8, 1980, the former Beatle was fatally shot outside of his Manhattan apartment building, The Dakota. In minutes, one of the most iconic rock stars was gone forever.

John Lennon (1986)

Design and characters based on drawings by John Lennon
Animation produced and directed by John Canemaker
Executive Producer: Yoko Ono
Copyright © 1986 Ono Video

On the evening of 8 December 1980, 41 years ago today, English musician John Lennon, formerly of the Beatles, was shot and fatally wounded in the archway of The Dakota, his residence in New York City. His killer was Mark David Chapman, an American Beatles fan who was incensed by Lennon’s lavish lifestyle and his 1966 comment that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus”. Though he was killed many years ago, John Lennon lives on in the hearts of those he continue to be inspired by his music and teachings.

Fleischer Studios (1932)

Minnie the Moocher is a  1932 Betty Boop cartoon produced by Fleischer Studios and released by Paramount Pictures.

Happy Halloween!

What better way to kick off this Halloween than with the Betty Boop classic Minnie the Moocher. Enjoy!

The cartoon opens with a live action sequence of Cab Calloway and his orchestra performing an instrumental rendition of the song St. James Infirmary. Then Betty Boop gets into a fight with her strict, Yiddish speaking, Jewish parents, and as a result, runs away from home with her boyfriend Bimbo, and sings excerpts of the Harry Von Tilzer song They Always Pick on Me and the song Mean to Me.

Betty and Bimbo end up in a cave with a walrus, who has Cab Calloway’s voice, and sings Minnie the Moocher and dances to the melancholy song. Calloway is joined in the performance by various ghosts, goblins, skeletons, and other frightening things. Betty and Bimbo are subjected to skeletons drinking at a bar, ghost prisoners sitting in electric chairs, and a cat with empty eye-sockets feeding her equally empty-eyed kittens. Betty and Bimbo both change their minds about running away and rush back home with every ghost right behind them. Betty makes it safely back to her home and hides under the blankets of her bed. As she shakes in terror, the note she earlier wrote to her parents tears, leaving “Home Sweet Home” on it. The film ends with Calloway performing the instrumental Vine Street Blues.

History of Fleischer Studios

Fleischer Studios was an American corporation which originated as an animation studio located at 1600 Broadway, New York City, New York. It was founded in 1921 as Inkwell Studios by brothers Ma Fleischer and Dave Fleischer who ran the pioneering company from its inception until Paramount Pictures, the studio’s parent company and the distributor of its films, acquired ownership. In its prime, Fleischer Studios was a premier producer of animated cartoons for theaters, with Walt Disney Productions becoming its chief competitor in the 1930s.

Fleischer Studios is notable for Koko the Clown, Betty Boop, Bimbo, Popeye the Sailor, and Superman. Unlike other studios, whose characters were anthropomorphic animals, the Fleischers’ most successful characters were humans (With the exception of Bimbo in the 1930s.). The cartoons of the Fleischer Studio were very different from the Disney product, both in concept and in execution. As a result, the Fleischer cartoons were rough rather than refined, commercial rather than consciously artistic. But in their unique way, their artistry was expressed through a culmination of the arts and sciences. This approach focused on surrealism, dark humor, adult psychological elements, and sexuality, and the environments were grittier and urban, often set in squalid surroundings, reflecting the Depression as well as German Expressionism.

The Fleischer Studio was built on Max Fleischer’s novelty film series, Out of the Inkwell (1919-1927). The “novelty” was based largely on the results of the rotoscope, invented by Fleischer to produce realistic animation. The first Out of the Inkwell films were produced through The Bray Studio, and featured Fleischer’s first character, “The Clown,” which became known as Ko-Ko the Clown in 1924.

In 1921, The Bray Studio ran afoul with legal issues, having contracted for more films than it could deliver to its distributor, The Goldwyn Company. The Fleischer Brothers left and began their own studio with Dave as Director and Production Supervisor, and Max as Producer. In 1924, Veteran Animator, Dick Huemer came to The Inkwell Studio and redesigned “The Clown” for more efficient animation. Huemer’s new design and experience as an Animator moved them away from their dependency on The Rotoscope for fluid animation. In addition to defining the clown, Huemer established the Fleischer style with its distinctive thick and thin ink lines. In addition, Huemer created Ko-Ko’s companion, Fitz the Dog, who would evolve into Bimbo in 1930.

Throughout the 1920s, Fleischer was one of the leading producers of animation with clever moments and numerous innovations including the “Rotograph”, an early “Aerial Image” photographic process for compositing animation with live action backgrounds. Other innovations included Ko-Ko Song Car-Tunes and sing-along shorts featuring the famous bouncing ball, a precursor to Karaoke.

L.A. Witch (2020)

Play With Fire out August 21, 2020, on Suicide Squeeze

Animation and motion design by Bradley Hale. Artwork by Future Shock.

LA garage punk trio L.A.Witch have shared their new single I Wanna Lose.

The three-piece band will release their new album Play With Fire on August 21st, and it finds the band draping their guitar pop distortion in waves of reverb.

Play With Fire is a suggestion to make things happen, Don’t fear mistakes or the future. Take a chance. Say and do what you really feel, even if nobody agrees with your ideas. These are feelings that have stopped me in the past. I want to inspire others to be freethinkers even if it causes a little burn.”

-Sade Sanchez

The new single I Wanna Lose is online now, and it’s about letting everything burn down, if only to find a forward path.

A song about sucking up punches. It’s a potent, biting single. Sade continues:

I Wanna Lose is about feeling free and feeling stronger because you’ve lost everything and now you’ve got everything to win. It’s about being a punching bag in a martyr-like way, and losing a fight to move on.”

Bradley Hale animates the video for ‘I Wanna Lose’ – tune in now.

L.A. Witch is a garage-rock trio formed in Los Angeles, California in 2011. Founded by L.A. natives Sade Sanchez and Irita Pai, the band’s sound has been described as a “mix of forlorn psych folk, lethargic lo-fi blues, and boozy garage rock drones steeped in moody, drugged-out surf reverb.” The group’s influences include Black Sabbath, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and seminal L.A. punk rock bands X and the Gun Club.

Asked to come up with a name, the band chose its current name after discovering its first choice, Witch, was taken. Drummer Ellie English replaced original drummer Crystal Nava after the latter left for New York City and didn’t return.

Igorrr (2020)

Very Noise is track 3 from the album Spirituality and Distortion from Igorrr, released on March 27th, 2020 on Metal Blade Records.

Unchain your brain!

Spirituality & Distortion is the newest addition to Igorrr’s musical madness, released on Metal Blade Records. Gautier Serre once again bring his music to another impressive level, with a complex but catchy album.

Bob Clampett (1943)

A Corny Concerto is a 1943 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies directed by Bob Clampett. The short was released on September 25, 1943, and stars Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck. They perform a parody of Disney’s Silly Symphony cartoon series and specifically his 1940 feature Fantasia. The film uses two of Johann Strauss’ best known waltzes, “Tales from the Vienna Woods” and “The Blue Danube”.

Fantasia was marketed to highbrow music fans; the Looney Tunes staff responded by violating the ivory tower of classical music and concert hall culture. A Corny Concerto parodies Fantasia’s Silly Symphonies-derived balletic approach to storytelling. Elmer Fudd stands in for Deems Taylor, and in an anti-highbrow gag, his starched shirtfront keeps erupting from his shirt to hit him on the face.

Rudolf Ising (1931)

Piggy takes his girlfriend, Fluffy, to a jazz concert.

You Don’t Know What You’re Doin’! is a 1931 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoon short directed by Rudolf Ising. The short was released on October 21, 1931, and stars Piggy, one of the series’ early recurring characters. First released on October 21, 1931, the film is perhaps one of the most amusing and effective of the cartoons from the studio’s earliest years.

The musical soundtrack was done by the then-nationally famous Abe Lyman Orchestra, which adds a happy energy throughout the cartoon. The eccentric virtuoso trombone playing of Orlando “Slim” Martin is prominently featured. Martin played not only music but also some rather bizarre effects on his horn. His trombone solo representing the drunken automobile is especially memorable. The Schlesinger Studio had their sound effects department construct mechanical devices to roughly reproduce some of Martin’s sounds, which became standard cartoon sound effects.

Jon Batiste (2021)

I decided to post this video just for the simple fact that Jon Batiste is one of the most animated characters I can think of. That, and we could all use a little FREEDOM!

Check out Jon Batiste on his website at https://www.jonbatiste.com/

New Orleans musician Jon Batiste just released his new song FREEDOM, and his video makes the streets of New Orleans sing.

Batiste, clad in a pink suit, gets New Orleans community members on their feet, singing and dancing throughout Treme, the Seventh Ward, City Park and under the Claiborne Expressway.

The St. Augustine Marching 100 were also prominently featured, which is where Batiste went to school.

Batiste’s music company tweeted the link to the music video Friday, calling it a “tribute to New Orleans.”

Batiste describes the song FREEDOM as “like an old movie,” comparing the likeness of the video’s movements to James Brown and Elvis.

“If you think about movies back in the day, you wouldn’t show a black man with a white woman, or you wouldn’t show a black relationship, or you wouldn’t show a woman in a certain role. That is our sexuality and how people are represented. That’s what people like James Brown, or when we saw Elvis with the twist in the hips, did. They were unlocking something in people that they were trying to hold in. These people became beacons of freedom, and you look at the way they move and the way that they express who they are onstage. That becomes the way that you want to be in life.”

Jon Batiste

When I move my body just like this
I don’t know why
But I feel like freedom (Freedom)
I hear a song that takes me back
And I let go with so much freedom (Freedom)
Free to live (how I wanna live)
I’m gon get (what i’m gonna get)
‘Cause it’s my freedom (Freedom)

I love how you talk
You speaking my language
The way that you walk
You can’t contain it
Is it the shoes
Jumped up, kangaroo
We’re overdue for a little more prancing

Now it’s your time
(It’s your right)
You can shine
(It’s alright)
If you do
I’ma do too

When I move my body just like this
I don’t know why
But I feel like freedom (Freedom)
I hear a song that takes me back
And I let go
With so much freedom (Freedom)
Free to live (How I wanna live)
I’m gon get (What I’m gonna get)
‘Cause it’s my freedom (Freedom)

The reason we get down, is to get back up
If someones around, Go on let them look
You can’t stand still
This ain’t no drill
More than cheap thrills, (Feels like money money money)

Now it’s your time
(It’s your right)
You can shine
(It’s alright)
If you do
I’ma do too

‘Cause when I look up to the stars (Stars)
I know exactly who we are (Ooh)
‘Cause then I see you shinin’
You shinin’
You shinin’ oh!

Free to be!
(Everybody come on) (Freedom!)
(Everybody come ‘round)
(Everybody come on)
(Everybody hit the floor)
Come on now!

I’m stuck to the dance floor
With the, with the whole tape
With the, with the, with the whole tape
(Let me see you wobble)
I’m stuck to the dance floor
With the, with the whole tape
With the, with the, with the whole tape
(Let me see you shake)
Give you just what you ask forgivin’ you the whole shake
I’ma give you the whole shake
(Let me see you wobble)
I’m stuck to the dance floor
With the, with the whole tape
With the, with the, with the whole tape
(Can you make it break?)

I say yeah (Yeah)
Oh yeah (Oh yeah)
(Let me see you wobble)
‘Cause, you do
I’ma do too

When I move my body just like this
I don’t know why
But I feel like freedom (Freedom)
I hear a song that takes me back
And I let go
With so much freedom (Freedom)
Free to live (How I wanna live)
I’m gon get (What I’m gonna get)
‘Cause it’s my freedom (Freedom)

FREEDOM is one of the songs on Jon Batiste’s new album We Are.

Fleischer Studios (1930)

Screen Songs are animated cartoons featuring the famous “bouncing ball” produced by Max Fleischer and distributed by Paramount Pictures between 1929 and 1938. The cartoons are sing-alongs featuring popular song hits of the day along with the ethnic stereotypes and humor typical of the era in which they were produced. In the 1930s, the series began to feature current popular musical guest stars such as Cab Calloway, Rudy Vallee and Ethel Merman. In the 1950s, the series was syndicated to television by UM&M/National Telefilm Associates.

The Prisoner’s Song was one of the top-selling songs of the 1920’s, and of the 20th century. Sheet music sales was the typical way to gauge music sales in the 1920’s, and this song sold over 1 million copies. The song was copyrighted and recorded in 1924 by Vernon Dalhart, who had heard the song from his cousin, who had heard it from his brother – a former prisoner. The authorship of the song has been a major controversy, and one story claims that the songs lyrics had been discovered on the walls of a Georgia cellblock. A Prisoner’s Song was the first country music song to sell over a million records. In 1930, the song was the plot basis for a Screen Songs short film, featuring a bouncing teardrop in the place of the Fleischer’s famous Bouncing Ball. The teardrop bounces over the song’s lyrics for almost an entire three minutes. The Prisoner’s Song also appears briefly in scenes from several other Fleischer Studio’s films.

Danny Elfman & Trent Reznor (2021)

Danny Elfman has enlisted Trent Reznor for a remixed version of True, a track off Big Mess, Elfman’s first solo album in 37 years.

“This is the first duet/collaboration I’ve ever done in my life, so to do it with Trent was a real surprise and a treat. He’s always been a big inspiration to me, not to mention he has one of my all-time favorite singing voices.”

– Danny Elfman

Reznor adds industrial flourishes, distortion, and vocals throughout the remix.

The True video also receives a remix of sorts, with the collaboration accompanied by an Aron Johnson-directed visual that combines archived footage from the original Sarah Sitkin-helmed video along with brand new 3D modeling.

Following a string of singles — Happy, SorryLove in the Time of Covid, and Kick Me. — in 2020, Elfman released Big Mess in June. The album, recorded during the Covid pandemic, also features a reworking of Insects, originally recorded by Elfman’s band Oingo Boingo in 1982.

“Once I began writing, it was like opening a Pandora’s box and I found I couldn’t stop. None of it was planned. I had no idea how many songs I would write but from the start, it quickly became a two-sided project with heavily contrasting and even conflicting tones.”

– Danny Elfman

Written by Daniel Kreps of Rolling Stone Magazine