Saturday, April 29, 2006

Do Ya, Do Ya Wanna Job

Yep, it's another one.

The Electric Light Orchestra song ”Do Ya” is the second track on their “A New World Record” album, released in 1976. It became a minor chart hit in 1977, peaking at #24. The band started in 1971 and had a string of hits from ’76 through the early 80s.

The band officially disbanded in 1986 and leader Jeff Lynne went on to produce and write for the likes of Tom Petty, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. Lynne, Petty, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan formed the Traveling Wilburies in the late 80s. ELO went through more transformations without Lynne and was eventually reformed with Lynne in 2001.

This year, contemporary act Pussycat Dolls sampled ELO’s “Evil Woman” in their single “Beep.”

But “Do Ya” probably gets more media airplay these days as the soundtrack of the Monster Jobs web site TV ad.

Monday, April 24, 2006


If you have read this blog for awhile, you know how frustrated I get when I hear music from my youth being used to sell me something today. Often it feels like a twentysomething marketing manager assumes that using something retro automatically endears me to a product. It doesn’t.

By contrast, a product designed in some retro manner sometimes does get my attention in a positive way.

Like many guys, I am a car nut. Not a gear head – there is a difference. I am into styling cues more than engine performance. And apparently I have always been a car nut. I was reminded of this at an odd moment. After my mother’s funeral last October, I was talking with two sisters, childhood neighbors I hadn’t seen since before high school. One of them asked me what I was driving. I pointed to my wife’s minivan and asked her why she wanted to know. Her answer – when we used to play together in your back yard, you were always talking about cars. As we laughed about that, I realized I can still identify nearly every make and model of American car made from the mid 50s to the mid 60s.

I say all that to say I love the new, obviously retro Mustang.

Mustang has been and still is my favorite car, although I have only owned one. During the 1970s I bought a very used 1966 model. The only option was the 289 V-8 engine, second biggest of that year’s model, and an AM radio. Front seat belts were standard by then, but rear belts were optional and my Mustang did not have them. The transmission was the basic 3-speed floor shift; there was no air conditioner, no power steering, and no power brakes.

My ’66 was the fastest car I’ve ever owned, and got better gas mileage than most cars I have owned. I would still be driving it if it hadn’t been stolen and dismantled for parts.

My favorite Mustangs are actually the 1967s-1969s. My high school girlfriend had a ’67 and kept it long past college and well into her career. She and her husband bought and restored several more Mustangs from that era. A guy I worked with in the 80s had a new one and a restored ’65 convertible. My wife and I rented a ’96 Mustang during a trip to Hawaii that year.

As I write this, I am wearing a Mustang shirt my sister gave me last Christmas.

Back to the present: what I like is that the 2005 and 2006 Mustangs have the look and feel of the ‘stangs of my youth, but also the luxury and safety features I like in middle age. A Mustang would not be very practical for me now, but I’d like to have one anyway. It would be a way to visit my youth without actually living there.

And Mustangs are still cool, to boomers and to some younger people who weren’t even born in the ‘60s. Maybe that is because the Mustang, according to Ford officials, has played a starring role in more than 500 films. John Wayne was only in 140 movies.

So I will continue to whine when I hear songs from the 1960s and 1970s in commercials. And I’ll drool when I see a Mustang.

I am so glad I didn’t like AMC Gremlins.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bobby Permanente

Could little Bobby Zimmerman, born in Duluth, Minnesota six months before the day that would live in infamy, have imagined as a kid that he would find fame as a spokesman for the next generation?

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand

What he wrote and sang in his 20s, during the 1960s, so eloquently portrayed the era.

Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command

The title song of his third album, released a few months after President Kennedy was assassinated, was the only “hit” on that album but became an anthem for boomers coming of age.

Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.

Yet in “Chronicles, Vol. 1,” his autobiography released a few months after his 63rd birthday in 2004, he says “… the press kept promoting me as the mouthpiece, spokesman, or even conscience of a generation. … All I'd ever done was sing songs that were dead straight and expressed powerful new realities. I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of.”

Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand

And the newest reality for the man we know as Bob Dylan is that this song is on the audio track of a Kaiser Permanente television commercial.

For the times they are a-changin'.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Three or Three Hundred

Some boomers remember when there were only 3 or 4 television channels. Most TVs did not have a remote, so one had to get up, walk across the room and turn a knob to change the channel. In my house, that usually only happened between shows; we didn’t surf. The channel choices on our one TV were guided strongly by our parents. Whoever got up to change the channel also had to adjust the antenna for clear reception.

I was home this morning, a Friday, feeling ill, getting some rest in a comfy chair 10 feet from one of my four TVs. My cable plan includes only 78 channels, not the 300 that are available.

Within a 10 minute period of surfing I found the following:

- The Today Show (Katie laughing her last laughs before moving to her serious new CBS job)
- Simply Quilts
- The Firm (burn fat 3x faster)
- Al Roker Investigates
- The Sleep Number Bed
- C-Span2 – Senator Spector droning about immigration
- A bunch of guys welding a Harley
- History Channel - the history of machine guns
- The new Redskins schedule (their first game is on 9-11 !!!)
- Joan Rivers selling nail polish
- The County Council meeting from Tuesday
- Chuck Norris demonstrating a workout machine
- Chuck Norris talking about the Bible
- The Weather Channel – wow, it’s raining in Wichita
- A 1930s British war movie
- A beautiful woman telling me about stocks
- Teens having sex – an MTV reality show
- Bon Jovi performing his latest song on VH-1
- Bon Jovi performing the same song with a female country singer on CMT
- Doctors performing stomach surgery on an animal

Plus, three sports channels, five different weather forecasts and a channel that just tells us what is on the other channels.

Oh, one channel was playing a show that would have been on one of the 3 channels when I was growing up.

Boomers and Gen-Xers control TV now, but I’m not really sure having four televisions and 78 channels (or 300) is significantly better than having one TV with only three channels. While contemplating that idea, I used the Recall button to toggle between the History Channel and MTV. Hmmm, I wonder if I need the Psychiatrist Channel.