The Deciderer's last 1000 days

If our country lasts that long....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

579. The Law & Order ticket

Oh, darn! It appears that Sam Waterston is a Democrat.... But that's OK, since Thompson clearly doesn't care much about law and order anyway.

UPDATE: Oops! I just noticed that I misspelled Waterston on the button. Oh well... back to the PhotoShop board.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

581. It was 40 years ago today...

No, not Sgt. Pepper or anything Beatles. On June 17, 1967, Janis Ian's "Society's Child" debuted on the Billboard Top 40 chart, eventually reaching #14. This song told of an ill-fated interracial romance that family, peers and American society as a whole could not and would not tolerate. Radio stations around the country banned it from their playlists.

While we've undoubtedly come a long way in race relations since the mid-1960's, it's all too obvious that the fight for social justice continues. Let's never lose sight of the important and difficult battles that so many brave others have already won on this front as we prepare for the battles ahead of us.

Originally written by 14-year-old Janis Ian in 1965, she performs the song here on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" in November, 1967. Not surprisingly, this performance was censored in several U.S. television markets. (Note that she's singing live over the musical track used on the record.) I still get a lump in my throat whenever I hear this song, especially so watching this performance.

Society's Child
Janis Ian

Come to my door, baby
Face is clean and shining black as night
My mother went to answer
You know that you looked so fine
Now I could understand your tears & your shame
She called you "boy" instead of your name
When she wouldn't let you inside
When she turned and said
"But honey, he's not our kind"

She says I can't see you any more, baby
Can't see you any more

Walk me down to school, baby
Everybody's acting deaf and blind
Until they turn and say
"Why don't you stick to your own kind"
My teachers all laugh, their smirking stares
Cutting deep down in our affairs
Preachers of equality
Think they believe it
Then why won't they just let us be?

They say I can't see you any more baby
Can't see you any more

One of these days I'm gonna stop my listening
Gonna raise my head up high
One of these days I'm gonna raise up
My glistening wings and fly
But that day will have to wait for a while
Baby, I'm only society's child
When we're older, things may change
But for now this is the way they must remain

I say I can't see you any more, baby
Can't see you any more
No, I don't want to see you any more, baby

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Society's Child"
was originally recorded for Atlantic Records, who paid for the session; after they heard it, they quietly returned the master, saying they could not release it. Years later Jerry Wexler (president of Atlantic at the time) apologized publicly to Janis for this, saying "If any company should have released Society's Child, it was us".

In 2001 "Society's Child" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I had the pleasure of seeing Janis perform live a few years ago at McCabe's in Santa Monica, California, a guitar shop by day magically transformed into a wonderfully intimate performance "hall" (100 seats) by night.... the kind of place where the performers never fail to come out into the front shop area right after the show to schmooze with the fans. Janis is currently writing her autobiography, so isn't touring much these days. But when she gets back on the road, treat yourself if she comes to your town.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

587. I'd like to buy a vowel, Mitt.

    Mitt for Brains              Peter Tomarken

All these Republican talking heads blathering on about Mitt Romney's "presidential good looks." To me, I think he looks and acts more like a game show host.

Actually, he does look like a game show host: Remember Peter Tomarken, probably best known for hosting "Press Your Luck"??