January 19, 2017

Just got totally distracted into the subject of songs about magazines.

In the comments to the first post of the day, we were talking about the line "We can try to understand/The New York Times' effect on man" which appears in a NYT video about people doing an exercise routine in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I said:
Here's a discussion of the line...  [in the] book "Hot Stuff: Disco and The Remaking of American Culture"... "Presumably [the Bee Gees] were trying to fit in a reference to the city and convey something about upward mobility. But these are such inelegant, head-shaking lines that for years critic Dave Marsh, eager for more class-conscious lyrics, misheard them as 'We can try to understand / The New York Times don't make a man.'"

The author of the book observes that the movies shows the NYT delivered each morning to the female character. I would add — based on decades-old memory of ["Saturday Night Fever"] — that the NYT represented the NYC that the characters — who lived in seedy 70s Brooklyn — dreamed of reaching some day and the characters do make it to Manhattan in the end.

The movie was based on a New York Magazine article "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night." Maybe the NYT is mentioned in the song because "Times" scans better than "Magazine."
But is the word "magazine" hard to work with? Magazine is kind of a great set of syllables. And magazines stir up so many aspirations and desires. Why wouldn't you write a song with the word "magazine"?

2 songs that had popped into my head were not on the list: "Bennie and the Jets" ("She's got electric boots a mohair suit/You know I read it in a magazine"). And "Darling Nikki" — the song that upset Tipper Gore — rhymes "magazine" with "a sex fiend":



Then I found this Guardian article that for no apparent reason had already fixated on the topic and put together a playlist of 55 songs.

It has one song that should have popped into my head, one of my all time favorite songs, "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone":



You're reading all those high fashion magazines/The clothes you're wearin' girl are causing public scenes...

I love the contrast between the "public scenes" in those 2 videos.

32 comments:

harrogate said...

"Steppin Stone" is a great song. Somehow I often forget about it. Thanks for highlighting it today!

rehajm said...

All your life is Time Magazine. I read it too. What does it mean?

Pressure- Billy Joel. Missed that one they did.

In the same song there's also a reference to Channel Thirteen/Sesame Street, the antithesis of the Bee Gees Manhattan intellectual New York Times.

Bob Ellison said...

"I'll Never Be Your Beast of Burden" (Rolling Stones, 1978) seems like an echo of "Steppin' Stone" (Monkees, 1967), but the Stones would probably never admit such a thing.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

The Monkees are underrated.

I just recently read that Carole King wrote Pleasant Valley Sunday. But then again, she wrote, like, everything.

Laslo Spatula said...

The Sex Pistols' version of "Stepping Stone" came to mind. I then looked up who else covered the song. From Wiki:

"The song has been covered by many artists, such as the Liverpool Five, Sex Pistols, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Vicious White Kids, Johnny Thunders, The Merton Parkas, Blutgräfin, Minor Threat, State of Alert, The Flies, The Farm, The Catalina Scramblers, The Feminine Complex, DS-13, Six Feet Under, Trashmen, Intruder, The Untouchables, Hi-NRG act Modern Rocketry, Hot Nasties, Per Gessle, Les Thugs, Fang, The W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band, The Pivots, Deadlok, The Rebounds, Barbi and the Kens, the Argentinian band Massacre and the UK band Scholars. It was also a hit for PJ & Duncan in 1996, when it reached number #11 on the UK Singles Chart.[2]"

I paste this lengthy chunk only to point out a band name:

"The W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band"

I'd buy a concert t-shirt with that name.

I am Laslo.

Arthur James said...

The song that popped into my head was John Cale's 'Dead or Live'. It was not on the list of fifty-five.

Happy to see her in the back of a magazine
Lying there nude sporting that stupid grin
So get on with it straight on and porno bound
Just leave me out of it I'm not proud

It would have taken you a long long time

ganderson said...

"California was a dream, a paradise that he had seen
lots of pretty girls in magazines had told him so"
California Cotton Fields
Merle Haggard

MadisonMan said...

The Monkees are excellent ear candy.

Pleasant Valley Sunday. I'm a Believer. She. Steppin' Stone. Daydream Believer.

Ann Althouse said...

"The W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band"

That was a style of band-naming back then. Long and old-timey. The 1910 Fruitgum Company, etc. etc.

The old-timeiness trend of the late 60s and early 70s is hard for anyone who wasn't there at the time to remember, but there really was a hippie dream of restoring the past in some new, beautiful way.

rehajm said...

Making my connection at the airport I sometimes reenact a Monkees chase montage.

Ann Althouse said...

I had to look up the Wikipedia article to be sure Laslo wasn't making it all up. It is an extraordinary list, but I think it's explained by the status of the song as garage rock. It got played by a lot of bands that were always obscure, but these bands have been remembered and kept alive. I'm saying that mostly based on listening to Little Steven on XM's Underground Garage.

Unknown said...

Why can't Trumpland discuss its culture instead of NotMyPresident country culture which after all is created, produced, distributed by those hated elitist liberals on the Coasts.

Surely, Trumpland has some culture outside of God, Guns and Fox News that you can critique.

Btw, Where did the web come from, you know the thing you're using right now? A Lefty European. Twitter and Facebook? Liberals in Silicon Valley. What about the computer you're using? Liberals on the Coasts. Smartphone? Ditto plus Asia. And on and on and on.

Go on Trumpland, show the world what you've got instead of always whining and whinging about liberal culture.

Ann Althouse said...

"The song that popped into my head was John Cale's 'Dead or Live'. It was not on the list of fifty-five."

Congratulations on your extended attention to John Cale. I didn't make it past "Vintage Violence." There were 2 roads diverged in that wood. I took the Lou Reed path and that has made all the difference.

Ann Althouse said...

I used to look at women in the magazines
I know that it was sexist, but I was in my teens
I was very bitter, all my sex was on the sly
I couldn't keep my hands off women, and I won't till I die

Fernandinande said...

Magazine (band)

Wilbur said...

That's Life.

Jet.

Ebony and Ivory.

Just One Look.

Lotsa' magazine songs.

Wilbur said...

Vogue.

No Time Left for You.

I'll stop now.

Wilbur said...

IIRC, the 1910 Fruitgum Company wasn't really a band, it was more a group of studio musicians with a featured lead singer. Like The Archies or The Ohio Express.

Dave said...

"I know a guy who goes to shows

When he's at home and he blows his nose

He don't use tissues or his sleeve

He don't use napkins or any of these

He uses magazines

Magazines

Magazines

Magazines

Magazines"

- from "She Don't Use Jelly" by Flaming Lips in 1993

Bill Peschel said...

The irony is that the article "Saturday Night Fever" was based on was mostly fiction, according (tying it back to your post) to The New York Times:

"“Saturday Night” would prove to be a blessing and a curse. The story — turned out with the writer’s customary brio — would provide Cohn with a financial cushion and a degree of fame that he still enjoys. But it would forever bind his reputation to work that even he insists was “contaminated.” When the article ran, it was accompanied by the assurance that every improbable, impressionistic word was true. In fact, Cohn made most of it up."

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/magazine/nik-cohn-fever-dream.html

Think of it: Without Nik Cohn, we wouldn't have had the Bee Gees, cocaine, platform shoes and roller disco.

Nik's got a lot to answer for in hell.

Jeff Gee said...

I didn't make it past "Vintage Violence."

Did you find VV off-putting, or was it the next couple of projects? "Church of Anthrax" and "The Academy in Peril" were pretty mouth-dropping major label releases even in the early 70s. Kind of like if Lou'd followed up "Transformer" with "Metal Machine Music" and "Hudson River Wind Meditations."

DKWalser said...

Another song deserving a mention: The Cover of the Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook.

We take all kinds of pills that give us all kind of thrills
But the thrill we've never known
Is the thrill that'll gitcha when you get your picture
On the cover of the rollin stone

khematite said...


With your sheet-metal memory of Cannery Row
And your magazine-husband who one day just had to go

pkay said...

Paul Westerberg:
The magazine she flips through
Is the special double issue
It smells like perfume
She leaves it on the plane.

EDH said...

"I wish life could be... Swedish magazines."

I'm only five foot one

I got a pain in my heart
All the night I'm working
In the amusement park

With a bottle of aspirin
A sack full of jokes
I wish I could go home
With all the big folks

And I wish life could be
Swedish magazines
I wish life could be
Swedish magazines
I wish life could be
Anything

I'm only five foot one
Unless the time has come
I won't grow anymore
Anymore, anymore, anymore

'Till I'm losing my head
I'm checkin' it twice
I'm gonna find out who's naughty and nice

And I'm doing the things a five foot one man can do

dustbunny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dustbunny said...

In Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands..." and your magazine husband who one day just had to go".

Mark Nielsen said...


J. Geils Band - "Centerfold"

Ann Althouse said...

"Another song deserving a mention: The Cover of the Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook."

That's on the Guardian playlist.

"J. Geils Band - "Centerfold""

Also on the playlist.

pkay said...

And the ultra-gloomy post punk band Magazine. Start with "Permafrost"

Ann Althouse said...

"Did you find VV off-putting, or was it the next couple of projects? "Church of Anthrax" and "The Academy in Peril" were pretty mouth-dropping major label releases even in the early 70s. Kind of like if Lou'd followed up "Transformer" with "Metal Machine Music" and "Hudson River Wind Meditations.""

I don't think I bought any albums after "Vintage Violence." I might have been put off by reviews or just not interested enough to spend money after VV. I like the Cale things on Velvet Underground albums, but unmixed with more fun-loving things, I think I found Cale annoying. This was 40 years ago, though, so I can't really say.

Here's "Vintage Violence." It took me 17 seconds to see the problem. I hate the singing. Hate the sound of the voice. It's that simple. Give me Lou Reed type singing any day over that. I just hate it.

Earnest Prole said...

Your commenters discuss “the New York Times effect on man” every day. John Travolta’s character is a Trump voter. His people read the New York Post. The New York Times represents profound class snobbery coexisting with, indeed, thriving because of, phony working-class solidarity. “The New York Times effect on man” used to be called false consciousness.