May 4, 2019

"Also, this plays like an OLDEN white man's puzzle, real bad. The guy who believes he's a CENTRIST but is really a conservative."

"The guy who believes that as a conservative he favors BALANCED BUDGETS when in fact self-styled conservatives just want massive tax cuts and don't care whether they're paid for or not. The guy who works for some 'business' with a PROCEDURE MANUAL. He's probably got his photo on the OUR TEAM page, smiling his smarmy gruesome boss-pleasing smile. Probably gonna SNEER at the millennials in his office and then drown his sadness in ITALIAN WINE as soon as the work day ends, because ITALIAN WINEs are classy. Nothing SEUSSIAN about this guy's life...."

Ha ha. I love when Rex Parker hates on a NYT crossword. (The all-caps words are in the puzzle.) I especially loved reading that while listening to Terry Jacks selling the words of the olden white man's favorite poet, Rod McKuen...



... who also turned up in today's puzzle.

Goodbye my friend, it's hard to die/When all the birds are singing in the sky/Now that the Spring is in the air...

I'm reading about "Seasons in the Sun" at Wikipedia. It's a Jacques Brel song, originally in French. Rod McKuen provided the English lyrics. It's one of the top-selling recordings of all time, and it also tends to get mentioned as one of the worst songs ever. I'm sure I loathed it as schlocky at the time (1973), but listening to it just now — while staring out the window at a sunlit redbud tree and a big rabbit sitting by the leaf-mulch pile — it felt beautiful. I see that the B-Side was "Put the Bone In," and that sounds dirty, but...



... it's not.

51 comments:

FleetUSA said...

Typo alert: Jacques Brel. A great Belgian singer/song writer from the 50's 60's. Died at 49.

Oso Negro said...

I worked at Half-Price Books in Austin, Texas back in the late '70s. We threw many volumes of "Listen to the Warm" into the dumpster. I think that "Sleeper" had some character with a line "definitely influenced by McKuen". Easily the most vilified poet ever.

alanc709 said...

One of my favorite songs is a Terry Jacks song he did with the band he and his wife had, The Poppy Family: "Which Way You Going Billy". Almost every one-hit wonder had another hit in some form or other.

mccullough said...

Nirvana has a nice cover of Seasons in the Sun

Ann Althouse said...

Typo fixed. Thanks. Sorry.

Here's Jacques Brel singing his song, and I highly recommend listening and reading the English subtitles. It's still about a man who is dying and finding it hard, but the story and the feeling are very different from McKuen's lyrics.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, mccullough.

Here's the Nirvana version, which (I read at Genius.com) was not intended to be released and has the bandmembers playing each other's instruments. Also Kurt doesn't know all the words and puts in lines about "boggy turds" and "shooting birds."

Bob Boyd said...

Goodbye my friend, it's hard to die
With all these tattoos on my ass and thighs
But when my ink is on the wall
Pretty girls it will appall
My old friends will come to call
Let them marvel at my gall

Ann Althouse said...

Kurt did get the line "Goodbye my friend, it's hard to die/When all the birds are singing in the sky." He should have paid better attention to it.

Ann Althouse said...

Yay, Bob Boyd!

Ann Althouse said...

All the hate for McKuen made me go read his Wikipedia page. Excerpt:

"McKuen was born on April 29, 1933, in a Salvation Army hostel in Oakland, California. He never knew his biological father who had left his mother. Sexually and physically abused by relatives, raised by his mother and stepfather, who was a violent alcoholic, McKuen ran away from home at the age of 11. He drifted along the West Coast, supporting himself as a ranch hand, surveyor, railroad worker, lumberjack, rodeo cowboy, stuntman, and radio disc jockey, always sending money home to his mother. To compensate for his lack of formal education, McKuen began keeping a journal, which resulted in his first poetry and song lyrics. After dropping out of Oakland Technical High School prior to graduating in 1951, McKuen worked as a newspaper columnist and propaganda script writer during the Korean War. He settled in San Francisco, where he read his poetry in clubs alongside Beat poets like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. He began performing as a folk singer at the famed Purple Onion. Over time, he began incorporating his own songs into his act. He was signed to Decca Records and released several pop albums in the late 1950s. McKuen also appeared as an actor in Rock, Pretty Baby (1956), Summer Love (1958), and the western Wild Heritage (1958). He also sang with Lionel Hampton's band. In 1959, McKuen moved to New York City to compose and conduct music for the TV show The CBS Workshop. McKuen appeared on To Tell The Truth on June 18, 1962 as a decoy contestant, and described himself as "a published poet and a twist singer.""

Kevin said...

I see that the B-Side was "Put the Bone In," and that sounds dirty, but...

Just as with records, the B-Sides of Althouse posts - the things she adds after her thoughts on the original item have run out and her mind begins to wander - are often more interesting than the original.

My B-Side to this comment:

In another generation or two, no one will know why music had "sides". The inherent idea of the B-Side will likely be replaced by a more relevant cultural artifact and it's associated term.

tcrosse said...

There was a time in the 1960's whem McKuen's poetry was a mainstay at weddings. That or Kahlil Gibran.

Back in those days I had a girlfriend who had spent a few years at school in Fwonce, and had every Jacques Brel record. The experience improved my French skills.

Nowadays, Jacques Brel is dead and far from well and buried in French Polynesia.

Kevin said...

I may begin to note the great B-Side Althouse comments with the phrase: "Way to put the bone in, Althouse!"

Michael Fitzgerald said...

So Rex is as ignorant and bellicose as the average NYT reader, and as stupidly bigoted and partisan as the average NYT writer. Fuck him.
And no man with enough testosterone to grow balls has ever considered poetry by Rod McKuen to be manly.

Mr. D said...

As I recall, from the playground of Jefferson Elementary School in Appleton, February 1974:

We had joy, we had fun
We had seasons in the sun
But the cops had the guns
So they shot us in the buns

William said...

Death is such a poetic and beautiful concept when you're young. No need to cower or rage against it. It's a shame it has to happen to those old people, but the sadness is transient.

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

We had joy, we had fun
We had wieners in our buns


Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

Skinned our hearts and skinned our knees
Pulled our pants down to our knees

n.n said...

The centrist is conservative. The right is populated by libertarians. The left is filled with progressives, liberals.

Big Mike said...

I'm sure I loathed it as schlocky at the time (1973), but listening to it just now — while staring out the window at a sunlit redbud tree and a big rabbit sitting by the leaf-mulch pile — it felt beautiful.

Yes, it felt beautiful because spring is beautiful.

Last night a brother-in-law passed away. Hard to say from what; he had enough things medically wrong with him that the death certificate will probably read something like "his heart stopped beating." His wife, my younger sister, died a couple years ago, also from numerous medical issues and one night in her sleep her heart gave up and stopped. Other brother-in-law is in assisted living, and he won't come out again except to the mortuary. Intimations of mortality. We get old, Althouse, and we realize that if there was anything we really wanted to accomplish with our lives we have either accomplished it or there is no longer time for it be done at all. But the wife and I had our seasons in the sun, and I hope you and Meade have too.

J2 said...

I refuse to research whether Scott Walker performed this song in any language.

The Gipper Lives said...

Balanced budgets are off the table. Hell, BUDGETS are off the table. Every proposed cut is demagogued as killing Granny and starving bunny rabbits by Democrats. And Republicans are nearly as bad.

So the choice is either tax cuts that grow the economy or the stagnant Obama model.

Yancey Ward said...

Nirvana did an hilarious version of "Seasons in the Sun". I think it was probably an outtake from a studio session- it has some funny lyrics and poor musicianship.

John henry said...

Did govt revenues go up after the tax cuts?

Yes. By a lot!

So did the tax cuts "pay for themselves?"

Pretty stupid question.

John Henry

Yancey Ward said...

And that is why it is better to read the comments first. I should have known someone in this commentariat would remember that version.

Yancey Ward said...

"was not intended to be released and has the bandmembers playing each other's instruments."

That explains why the music sounds so bad!

Yancey Ward said...

Wow, Bob Boyd wins the day!

Yancey Ward said...

"In another generation or two, no one will know why music had "sides". The inherent idea of the B-Side will likely be replaced by a more relevant cultural artifact and it's associated term."

It is already apparent that 'b-side' is losing cultural significance. About 5 years ago, I introduced someone much younger than me to Blue Oyster Cult, and she quizzed me about the meaning in the lyric in Burning for You, "time for b-sides". I just laughed out loud.

Yancey Ward said...

"Seasons in the Sun" has a special place in my heart because of where I first heard it- it was 2nd grade, and the teacher I had at the time like to play it and "Top of the World"- The Carpenters version- on her little portable turntable. The class would gather together and sing the lyrics together as a break. I can still sing along to both of these songs because of that, even though I rarely hear either one any longer.

Mr. D said...

alanc709 said...
One of my favorite songs is a Terry Jacks song he did with the band he and his wife had, The Poppy Family: "Which Way You Going Billy". Almost every one-hit wonder had another hit in some form or other.


True. My favorite example for that trend is guitarist Bill Bartlett, who played lead guitar on "Green Tambourine" for the Lemon Pipers in late '67, then followed up about 10 years later as the lead guitarist on "Black Betty" for Ram Jam. Kind of a poor man's Ed King, who went from the Strawberry Alarm Clock to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

The Beach Boys originally recorded "Seasons In The Sun" with Terry Jacks producing. It was never released oficially. The story is unclear but I think the upshot was that everbody in the band came to hate it, even Carl, who sang the lead, so despite the fact they desperately needed a hit at that point, they let it go.

Of course there may be now more unreleased BB material on youtube than official stuff...

Sebastian said...

Sightly OT: Crosswords and regular puzzles have low barriers to entry. Yet men tend to win major tournaments. (A few women have won.) Why?

Stephen A. Meigs said...

Jacks' version musically sounds much better than the original French song. Seasons in the Sun is one of the five or six songs that most musically affect me much without being particularly catchy. But it isn't great and pure in how non-catchy it is (though its beauty more than makes up for its catchiness probably). The lyrics I can't relate to and seem uninspired, though at times they may be sort of right. I'm not much into music though.

tcrosse said...

My familiarity with Seasons in the Sun is from the 1963 Kingston Trio version, which was a soppy as can be.

Greek Donkey said...

I had been told - years ago - that the original French poem (again, as I was told) was about a man who is facing the death penalty for killing his wife’s lover. I am sure I have told this to others. I cannot find any support for this doing a quick web search, but I still like the story — dark French poem becomes sentimental American pop song.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I'm an olden white man, and I fucking hate Rod McKuen.

elkh1 said...

want massive tax cuts and don't care whether they are paid for

Typical leftist propaganda. How about a cut on spending? That way, less spending is paid for with less taxes. Taxes pay for things. Taxes do not pay for tax cuts.

Jeff Brokaw said...

The song itself.... isn’t terrible but I’m not a fan of that cutesy vocal style. Maybe that’s just how he sings all the time.

Thanks for the pointer to “Which Way” — always liked that song but never knew who it was or that it was connected to “Seasons”. Music trivia is one of my favorite things of all time.

Another shlocky hit from that era http://youtu.be/BolPQL83hFA (“Playground in my Mind” by Clint Holmes). At least it’s not about dying! Watch out for an ear worm with this one. I’ve heard he still plays it in Vegas and announces it with “here’s a medley of my hit”, LOL).

Jeff Brokaw said...

Back in the early-mid 70s I would spend New Years Eve listening to the WLS countdown of the biggest songs of the year - here’s the list for 1974 when “Seasons” was number 1 that year http://www.wlshistory.com/big89/1974.htm.

What a disappointment THAT was. There was some really marginal music in the Top 10 that year, saved only by “Band on the Run” and “Bennie and the Jets”.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

I don't know about the top 10 (though I like all of 6, 7, 8 & 9), but there was some great Top 100 music in 1974:

006-Grand Funk Railroad-The Locomotion.mp3
007-MFSB-TSOP.mp3
008-Ray Stevens-The Streak.mp3
009-Elton John-Bennie And The Jets.mp3
013-Maria Muldaur-Midnight At The Oasis.mp3
015-Al Wilson-Show And Tell.mp3
016-Jim Stafford-Spiders And Snakes.mp3
017-David Essex-Rock On.mp3
019-Blue Magic-Sideshow.mp3
020-Blue Swede-Hooked On A Feeling.mp3
022-Paul McCartney & Wings-Band On The Run.mp3
024-Jim Croce-Time In A Bottle.mp3
025-John Denver-Annie's Song.mp3
026-Olivia Newton-John-Let Me Be There.mp3
027-Gordon Lightfoot-Sundown.mp3
029-Andy Kim-Rock Me Gently.mp3
032-Olivia Newton-John-If You Love Me (Let Me Know).mp3
037-Billy Preston-Nothing from Nothing.mp3
039-Carpenters-Top Of The World.mp3
040-Steve Miller Band-Joker.mp3
043-Hues Corporation-Rock The Boat.mp3
044-Brownsville Station-Smokin' In The Boys Room.mp3
046-Paper Lace-The Night Chicago Died.mp3
047-Dionne Warwick & Spinners-Then Came You.mp3
049-Abba-Waterloo.mp3
050-Hollies-The Air That I Breathe.mp3
051-Steely Dan-Rikki Don't Lose That Number.mp3
053-Joni Mitchell-Help Me.mp3
054-Anne Murray-You Won't See Me.mp3
056-Rufus & Chaka Khan-Tell Me Something Good.mp3
063-Bachman Turner Overdrive-Takin' Care Of Business.mp3
064-Golden Earring-Radar Love.mp3
070-Cat Stevens-Oh Very Young.mp3
072-Elton John-Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.mp3
073-Chicago-(I've Been) Searchin' So Long.mp3
077-Paul McCartney & Wings-Jet.mp3
078-Elton John-Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me.mp3
082-Todd Rundgren-Hello, It's Me.mp3
084-Guess Who-Clap For The Wolfman.mp3
085-Jim Croce-I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song.mp3
088-Stevie Wonder-Don't You Worry 'bout A Thing.mp3
092-Paul McCartney & Wings-Helen Wheels.mp3
099-Fancy-Wild Thing.mp3
100-Spinners-Mighty Love (Part 1).mp3

Churchy LaFemme: said...

Dang! I culled the songs I didn't like, but I forgot to take the ".mp3" off the end of them. Oh well.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I am always irritated by the accusations that begin "He probably..." (Or she, or they). It seems high-schoolish.

Anonymous said...

https://youtu.be/7iF26wKF-_M?list=PLd9Vx8o0uUKKXAmF2ANaLgaOVUOmW0PGg

etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terry di Tufo said...

It was pretty tough to hear 100+ times, which I likely did as a delivery boy with a car radio. When Murray the K retired from radio (NBC weekend show around 73-74, this was his farewell song as he took phone calls from listeners saying good bye. This was the “Fifth Beatle”’s swan song.

Snark said...

Music has been my “thing” since I was a kid. The very first memory I have of being utterly enamoured was lying on the hardwood of my mother’s bedroom floor, enthralled by the gadgety wonder of her clock radio, and committed completely to the rending drama of “Seasons in the Sun”.

Nichevo said...


Unknown said...
Dang! I culled the songs I didn't like, but I forgot to take the ".mp3" off the end of them. Oh well.

5/4/19, 6:29 PM

Did you cull "Live and Let Die" by PM&W?

Churchy LaFemme: said...

No, L&LD was 1973, not 1974.

Nichevo said...

Ah, TY

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