Category Archives: Music

Song of the Day #1806

Song of the Day: Ben, music by Walter Scharf, lyrics by Don Black, was the title track to the 1972 flick, sequel to the 1971 killer rat film, “Willard.” A young Michael Jackson (born on this date in 1958) sings this song over the film’s closing credits [YouTube link]. The studio recording [YouTube link] would go on to become a #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit, the first of so many solo MJ hits to come. It would go on to win a Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Other renditions include those performed live by Billy Gillman and by Dutch violinist Andre Rieu [YouTube links]. In keeping with our Summer Music Festival (Jazz Edition), check out this big band arrangement by Jim McMillen and Company [YouTube link] (from the album “Swingin’ to Michael Jackson: A Tribute” [YouTube links]). Tomorrow is the VMAs… where MJ collected quite a few awards over the years.

Song of the Day #1805

Song of the Day: The Breeze and I, music by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuono (originally entitled “Andalucia” [YouTube link]), Spanish lyrics by Emilio de Torro, English lyrics by Al Stillman, was a huge hit in 1940 for the Jimmy Dorsey Band, featuring vocalist Bob Eberly [YouTube link]. It was also recorded by vocalist Dinah Shore with Xavier Cugat, Caterina Valente with the Werner Muller Orchestra, Vic Damone, and Bing Crosby (in a medley with “Malaguena”) [YouTube links], as well as by alto saxophonist Art Pepper. My all-time favorite instrumental rendition comes from the irrepressible jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery [YouTube link].

Phucumol: Remedy for the Political Season!

I don’t do TikTok or much of any other social media (except blogging, Facebook, uh, okay, fuhgedaboudit!)… but this one went viral last month, and given that we’re now moving Top Speed into the political season, this has become my general attitude. If folks don’t care for language of this sort, well, You Need to Calm Down and Take Phucumol.


Song of the Day #1804

Song of the Day: Never Let Me Go, words and music by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, was first heard in the 1956 Michael Curtiz-directed crime drama, “The Scarlet Hour” brought to life in the film by the great Nat King Cole and in a longer studio recording as well [YouTube links]. Jazz pianist Bill Evans recorded this song for his album, “Alone,” for which he received his third of seven Grammy Awards (out of 31 total nominations in his career). The legendary musician was born on this date in 1929. Check out Bill’s 14+ minute solo piano performance of this lovely composition [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #1803

Song of the Day: C.E.D., composed by jazz guitarist Joe Pass and jazz pianist Arnold Ross, is featured on Pass’s debut album—and what a debut it was—“Sounds of Synanon,” recorded with patients of the Synanon Drug Center, where a young Pass was being treated for heroin addiction. Influenced by jazz guitar pioneers Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian, Pass would go on to become one of the greatest jazz guitarists in the history of the genre. (In fact, his tribute album, “For Django” [YouTube album link] remains a staple in the jazz guitar pantheon [YouTube link to a Django tribute from jazz guitarist Johnny Smith]. Check out the album version of this opening track to the Synanon album and a live TV version [YouTube links], where you can witness the birth of that unique fiery, rhythmic, melodic, virtuosic technique that Pass would come to master.

Song of the Day #1802

Song of the Day: Blue Trombone [YouTube link], composed by trombonist Rex Peer, is delivered with lyrical, melodic flair by my long-time friend—author, editor, and trombonist Roger Bissell—on his album “Reflective Trombone.” Just another reason to love and celebrate Roger and his gifts.

Song of the Day #1801

Song of the DayThe Time is Now [YouTube link] was composed by jazz pianist David Hazeltine, who performs it with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster as the title track to his 2019 album. Enjoy this trio of ol’ pros; they are so in sync with one another.

Happy Eighteenth Anniversary to Notablog!

Yesterday, I celebrated my 1,800th entry in “My Favorite Songs” with the Sonny Rollins tune, “Oleo,” part of this year’s Jazz Edition of my annual Summer Music Festival.

Today, the numbers “1” and “8” show up again: I am celebrating the 18th anniversary of the beginning of Notablog!

It was on this date in 2002 that I made my very first post, which announced the publication of an installment in the New York Daily News series, “Big Town Classic Characters: New Yorkers of the American Imagination,” entitled “From ‘The Fountainhead’: Howard Roark,” which was subsequently re-published by The Atlas Society. Since then, I’ve posted 3,057 entries on subjects from politics, culture, and social science methodology to sex, sports, film, and music.

I’d like to express my thanks to all my readers for your continued interest in my work. Watch this space for upcoming information on the migration of Notablog and my home page to new domains. That’s going to happen very, very soon… we’re talkin’ soon … because New York University is finally retiring its ancient i4 server, in which my current blog and home page are stored. Much more to come …