Category Archives: Music

Song of the Day #1872

Song of the Day: This Land is Your Land was given lyrics by Woody Guthrie over the melody of a Carter Family tune called “When the World’s On Fire.” Some folks have insisted this is some kind of “Marxist” response to Irving Berlin‘s “God Bless America.” Whatever its underlying politics, it was a song whose lyrics (all of them) we learned when I was in school, and has become a part of Americana. Check out the original Guthrie recording here [YouTube link]. A Happy and Safe Independence Day to All!

Song of the Day #1871

Song of the Day: 1978 Disconet Top Tune Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Silvio Barthez, produced by Bobby DJ Guttadaro and “Captain” Mike Wilkinson, features some of the biggest dance hits of that year. From “I Will Survive“, “Let’s Start The Dance“, “Boogie Oogie Oogie“, “Instant Replay“, and “In the Bush“—and we’re not talking Presidents!—to “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)“, “Shame“, and “Shake Your Groove Thing“, this one rocked the dance floor back in the day!

Song of the Day #1870

Song of the Day: Stevie Wonder “Stars on 45” Medley [YouTube link] includes “My Cherie Amour” [YouTube link to the original], a song featured on the jukebox on the night that police raided the Stonewall Inn in the wee hours of this date in 1969. The patrons fought back against brutality, in a cry of liberation for the right to live their own lives and pursue their own happiness. That Stonewall storm left a Rainbow of Pride in its wake that illuminates the dancefloor for all those who lovingly embrace the singular authenticity of the music inside them.

Hitchcock on TCM

They’re running a Hitchcock film festival on Turner Classic Movies that started this morning at 6 am and will end on Monday, June 28, at 6 am: 23 films (plus one encore) in a row. All the classics, from “North By Northwest,” “Shadow of a Doubt,” and “Psycho” to “Rear Window,” “Suspicion,” and both versions of “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” it’s quite a line-up. “Vertigo” is on right now, and the score alone is worth the price of admission. I remember seeing John Williams conducting the New York Philharmonic to this haunting Bernard Herrmann music for “Scene d’Amour” [YouTube link to a Boston Pops performance]. Here’s the scene in the film:

Song of the Day #1869

Song of the Day: 1977 Disconet Top Tune Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Tom Savarese, includes some classic disco and funk moments from Barry White, Odyssey, First Choice, Marvin Gaye, Chic, C.J. & Co., Grace Jones, and The Trammps, to name a few. This is the first of the many “annual” Top Tune Medleys that were issued by Disconet, which I’ll be featuring in chronological order.

Song of the Day #1868

Song of the Day: Michael Jackson 70s & 80s Mega-Medley [YouTube link] was mixed by Chris Matthew Sciabarra (yes, Me!) and features some of MJ’s biggest hits from the era that he dominated, including recordings with his brothers, some famous duets (with Jermaine Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, and Mick Jagger), and, of course, classics from his solo studio albums. I mixed this medley from 12″ vinyl records, using an analog cassette tape recorder, without any sampling capabilities, and with the creative, if crude, use of a pause button for a few extra tricks. I’ve digitized it and it debuts on YouTube today. Catch it before they snatch it away! And if they do, then check out the Michael Jackson Disconet Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Tuta Aquino (who did have sampling capabilities!). I had the pleasure of seeing MJ in concert twice—once with his brothers, once solo. Soft-spoken when interviewed, he turned into a lion on stage. On this date in 2009, Michael Jackson died tragically at the age of 50. Scandals, trials, allegations, and controversies aside, few would deny the remarkable musical legacy this artist—perhaps the greatest “song and dance man” of his generation—left behind. This is also linked at Quora Digest. Hope you enjoy this medley of memorable musical moments! (And again, H/T to Ryan Neugebauer for the YouTube tech tips!).

Song of the Day #1867

Song of the Day: Donna Summer Disconet Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Mike Carroll and Steven Von Blau, kicks off The Sixth Annual Summer Music Festival (Dance Medley Edition). The Northern Hemisphere greets the Summer Solstice at 11:32 pm ET, and what better way to embrace the warmth of Summer than with Summer herself! She may have been known as the “Queen of Disco,” but her powerful pipes transcended genres. Her music graced film and even ended up on Broadway in a poignant, joyful bio-musical. From “Spring Affair,” “Bad Girls,” and the technoblazing Giorgio Moroder-produced “I Feel Love” to “Rumor Has It,” “No More Tears (Enough is Enough)” (her duet with Barbra Streisand), and the Oscar-winning “Last Dance,” Donna strikes the match that lights up our Summer dance floor.

2021 Summer Music Festival (Dance Medley Edition)

I’ve been doing a Summer Music Festival now for six years. In 2016, 2017, and 2018, it was an eclectic mix, but by 2019, I began more “thematic” installments, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Woodstock Festival. In the summer of 2020, it was a Jazz Edition. Folks who have followed the 1,866 “Songs of the Day” that I’ve posted since 2004 must know that I have an immensely diverse musical palette, which embraces everything from classical, jazz, musical theatre, and the Great American Songbook to R&B, rock, prog rock, and ‘Planet Rock‘ (hip hop). This year, however, it’s all about Dance Medleys! Yep! Unabashed, unapologetic, dance music—much of it even Disco, stretching from the late 1970s to the late 1980s, the very years that I was working part-time as a mobile DJ and MC, playing engagements, weddings, school proms and reunions, New Year’s Eve parties, and Bar Mitzvahs (see photo below, circa 1986). Not to mention doing custom-made mix tapes for people who attended those parties and for all my friends! (Heck, I even created dance mixes for Ms. Ski‘s [my sister’s] award-winning Dance Teams!)

So, let the Haters sit this one out! This fun, rhythmic music emerged from R&B, soul, funk, and Latino influences, with many of its early DJs coming out of an urban gay subculture. That might explain some of the hostility heaped on the genre in such events as “Disco Demolition Night” [YouTube link], which took place on 12 July 1979 at Comiskey Park. Alas, Comiskey Park is now history [YouTube link], but disco’s influence on house, techno, electronica, hip hop, and dance pop lives on. And we’re not even counting the hundreds of disco hits that have been “sampled” ever since by artists across all genres in the extension of their craft.

So, it’s time to dance down memory lane! Most of the featured medleys this summer are from Disconet, the New York-based “subscription” label founded in 1977 by Mike Wilkinson. Two of the medleys that I’ll post over the summer were created by me back in the 1980s, and will be making their debut on YouTube publicly for the first time! (And a special shout-out to my dear friend Ryan Neugebauer for guiding me through some of the YouTube tech issues! Thank you! ❤).

There were many fine DJ subscription labels, including Hot Tracks and DMC, but Disconet was the pioneer. I was very good friends with the late Bobby “DJ” Guttadaro, an award-winning club giant, from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, who was a member of the original team of remixers hired by the Disconet service. When we walked into a club where Bobby was mixing, I’d slip him a playlist, and could be certain that at some point in the night, he’d play virtually all of my requests! I dedicate this year’s Summer Music Festival (Dance Medley Edition) to his memory and the memory of all those heroic, trailblazing DJs who mastered the art of the mix. We start on June 20, for by Sunday night at 11:32 pm (ET), the Summer Solstice arrives! Watch this space!

^ Me (DJ’ing, circa 1986)

Ten Iconic Hollywood Film Scenes (IX)

The ninth in a series of ten iconic Hollywood film scenes ranking among my all-time favorites is from the 1997 James Cameron-directed blockbuster, “Titanic”, the 11-Academy Award winner that tied “Ben-Hur” (and “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King”) for the most Oscars for any single film. The scene: The Sinking of the Titanic, in which this film’s Oscar-winning direction, art direction, cinematography, costume design, film editing, sound, sound effects editing, and visual effects are all on full display. Not to mention a spectacular Oscar-winning score by James Horner that grippingly augments this harrowing epic scene.