National Treasures

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(Pictured: “Weird Al” Yankovic, circa 1989.)

I don’t know if anybody reads these Links and Notes posts. (Hell, I’m not entirely sure anybody reads anything around here anymore, based on the stats.) But here’s a bunch of click-worthy stuff that’s appeared on my Twitter feed recently anyhow.

—Michele Catalano briefly wrote the Sound System blog at Salon; now she hangs out on Twitter and posts at Medium. She wrote recently about the lost art of the mixtape.

—From Dangerous Minds (which you really should read regularly without me telling you), what Joni Mitchell has to do with Cheech and Chong’s 1974 hit “Earache My Eye” and hilariously real quotes from real people shopping in record stores.

—Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is considered by some people to be the greatest single album ever made. (Your mileage may vary; mine does, although I like it more every time I listen to it.) You might expect it to have been written while the bard walked across the bucolic Irish countryside (or perhaps, as our pal kblumenau observes, not written as much as it “just sorta happened to him”), but it was actually composed largely during an exile in Boston, while Morrison was hiding out from some mob guys.

—“Weird Al” Yankovic wasn’t a national treasure—yet—when he and his creative partner, Jay Levey, made the movie UHF in 1989. The AV Club rounded up the oral history of the film, and it’s remarkable.

—On the subject of national treasures, the people at Archeophone, who restore and release recordings from the pre-1920 Pioneer Era, certainly qualify. Here’s a fascinating blog post on the process involved in restoring an 1898 recording by Dan Quinn, arguably the first superstar recording act, and one about what the term “hit record” means when we’re talking about the 1890s.

—A few months ago I wrote briefly about the “Outside the Top 40” playlists assembled on Spotify by Matt Hinrichs of He’s got some new ones, including Outside lists for 1976 and 1977 (!) and a playlist of songs to hit #1 on the adult-contemporary chart between 1979 and 2006. Find them and others here.

—On the subject of 1976, this whole blog. And also this collection of disco cash-in merchandise and other ephemera from, including a spectacular 1976 Newsweek cover. Flashbak also posted some 1979 disco stuff here.

—I own a lot of comedy records. There’s a copy of The First Family around here somewhere, a couple of Bob Newhart Button-Down Mind records, Bill Cosby, Monty Python, Robin Williams, etc.—so I found Diffuser’s history of comedy records to be pretty interesting.

—I also bought a lot of CDs in longboxes back in the day. Nobody misses those.

—The long-awaited documentary film on the Wrecking Crew, the fabled group of Los Angeles studio players who were (and in some cases, still are) on everything, is finally being seen, after eight years in the making and another nine in the can. If you read this blog, you’re gonna want to see it.

—KC and the Sunshine Band has released an album of 60s covers. I listened to it, and I live-blogged my experience, with a little help from some of the Popdose crew. The live-blog is here; it may be better without the music.

—The 30th anniversary of “We Are the World” came and went with a tiny bit of fanfare, and this marvelous minute-by-minute history of its making.

—Sha-Na-Na played at Woodstock. Why?

—Now that WKRP in Cincinnati has been released with much of its original music intact, somebody needs to get busy on clearing the soundtrack of FM. My Favorite Decade broke the whole thing down.

I believe that gets us back to the last time we did one of these posts. Hope you find something worthwhile to read. If not here, then someplace.

3 thoughts on “National Treasures

  1. First time/Long time! – Big fan of your ‘Links and Notes’, as well as most everything else you post around these parts. Also follow ‘Your Host’ on the Tweet machine, for whatever that’s worth.

    As for those pesky old CD longboxes? While I never once shed a tear when they went bye-bye, I could never, ever bring myself to throw any away. Not sure what it says about me that I still have every one I ever bought. Started buying CDs in ’88, and have every longbox until their phase-out in ’92-’93 (I’m a sucker for clutter, what can I tell ya’).

    Matter of fact, I tweeted out some longbox porn just last week… Take a gander here, here, and here, if you’re into that sorta’ thing.

    Thanks for taking my call, JB; and keep up the great work!

  2. I bought the CD, “We Are The World” out of a discount bin back in the early ’90s and still have it today. I bought it for two reasons: 1) Live version of “Trouble in Paradise” by Huey Lewis & The News, and 2) Live version of “Trapped” by Bruce Springsteen. Great songs to listen to! I got hooked on those two songs while I was the Music Director at WKAU/Appleton-Green Bay back in the mid-1980s. Our Program Director recommended that I add those songs as nighttime album cuts for us to play. I’m sure glad he did.

  3. Lisa

    I’m a lurker, but I read and enjoy everything you write. Thanks for sharing your experiences and knowledge with us. :)

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