Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fifties Shades of Grey: An oldies compilation




If Fifty Shades of Grey had been set in the 1950s or '60s, then these pop, country, and R&B classics would have fit right in with the film's themes of bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism, and innocence and experience.

Fifty Shades, if you haven't read the book or seen the movie, is a timeless love story about the billionaire business magnate and helicopter pilot Christian Grey and the naive college student Anastasia. In the story, Christian detects something that he'd sorely like to dominate in the mousy Anastasia and sets about indoctrinating her into his world of BDSM hanky-panky. Yes, it's all pretty ridiculous, but so was Lucy, and I enjoyed that movie. 

The soundtrack album for Fifty Shades (not to mention the film itself) is a massive hit, but I believe that anything can be improved. In that spirit, I offer you the prospective soundtrack to my remake of Fifty Shades that is set in the 1950s. I'm calling it Fifties Shades of Grey. Some of the songs are from the '60s, but that's a mere technicality that viewers will enjoy pointing out as "goofs" on Internet Movie Database when my new version hits the silver screen. 


Brian Hyland – "Let Me Belong to You" (1961)

"Make me your slave," Hyland sings. "Tie me down, make me behave."




Pat Boone – "Anastasia" (1956)

Pat sang this ode to Anastasia, the main character of Fifty Shades of Grey, seven years before the book's author was born. 




Marcie Blane – "Who's Going to Take My Daddy's Place" (1963)

"I need someone to scold me whenever I am bad," sings Marcie Blane, sounding an awful lot like the similarly fatherless Anastasia.




The Crystals – "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" (1962)

"He hit me, and I knew I loved him/he loved me." Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote this dreary song about the experiences of Little Eva ("The Loco-Motion"), who was their babysitter at the time. Phil Spector produced it. 




Dodie Stevens – "No" (1960)

"Don't you know that a girl means 'yes' when she says 'no'?" Anastasia's mixed signals and ambivalent feelings are a constant element of the Fifty Shades story.




Evelyn Knight – "With a 'No' That Sounds Like 'Yes'" (1951)

Ladies "wanna say 'go' but they gotta say 'no' with a 'no' that sounds like 'yes'," Knight sings. This song, like Anastasia's character, exemplifies weak protests and conflicted desires. 




Joanie Sommers – "Johnny Get Angry" (1962)

"Let me know that you're the boss," Sommers sings to her guy, whom she's trying to provoke into becoming a "caveman." This is a notoriously un-PC song, but Frank Zappa recognized its excellence—he borrowed the main riff for the Mothers of Invention's "Any Way the Wind Blows." 




April Stevens – "Teach Me Tiger" (1959)

"Take my lips, they belong to you. But first, teach me what to do." April Stevens' "Teach Me Tiger" (written by her brother, Nino Tempo) captures the cat-and-mouse character of the sexual initiation in Fifty Shades, as the dominating Christian Grey inculcates the innocent Anastasia into his world of exquisite perversions. 




Kris Jensen – "Torture" (1962)

"This torture I'm going through is worth the pain if I have you," Jensen sings. Songwriter John D. Loudermilk intended for the Everly Brothers to record this song, and it sounds like it. The Everlys missed the chance to have a major hit with it but eventually got around to recording it themselves.




Nat "King" Cole – "Don't Hurt the Girl" (1955)

"Why don't you pick on someone your size? Can't you see, she's not your kind?" In my '50s version of Fifty Shades of Grey, this would be the theme song of Anastasia's upstanding male friend, José.  




Hank Penny – "Catch 'Em Young, Treat 'Em Rough, Tell 'Em Nothing" (1951)

"Catch 'em young, treat 'em rough, never tell 'em nothing, 'cause that's what gets results," Hank Penny sings, echoing Christian Grey's personal philosophy on love. 




Ann Cole – "Darling, Don't Hurt Me" (1955)

"When you need me, I'll be there, but do me a favor: darling, don't hurt me. I'm on my knees, begging you, please," Ann Cole sings, voicing the pleas of the submissive.




The Cookies – "Chains" (1962)

"My baby's got me locked up in chains," the Cookies sing. In one of Anastasia's first encounters with Christian, he's buying cable ties, not chains, but same difference. The Cookies were the background singers for Little Eva, who was previously mentioned in the part about the Crystals' "He Hit Me."




Sandy Posey – "Born a Woman" (1966)

"A woman's place in this old world is under some man's thumb. And if you're born a woman, you're born to be hurt."




Sandy Posey – "What a Woman in Love Won't Do" (1967)

Another Sandy Posey song. "What makes me keep on putting up with this?" Posey sings. "What keeps me kneeling underneath my master's kiss?"




Sunday, February 22, 2015

Betty Smith's "Hand Jive": The hit that never was


 

The hand jive was supposed to sweep the nation in 1958. The clapping game, which originated in England and was later depicted in the film Grease, was "destined to become the biggest teenage fad in the history of the record business."

So said London Records, the label that released the original version of "Hand Jive" by the Betty Smith Group. Billboard reported that Smith's "Hand Jive" was the hottest selling record in Denver at one point, and London's ads said that one spin of "Hand Jive" in New York had elicited over 1,000 inquiries from listeners.

London promoted the record heavily, taking out full-page ads in the trade magazines to offer DJs free records and free instructions on how to do the hand jive. The clapping game was said to be a great alternative to dancing in spaces where "the dance floor is too crowded" or "where dancing is not allowed." The label issued an entire hand-jive album by Betty Smith, Music For Hand-Jiving, which was accurately billed as the "first hand jive LP."
Smith sang the lead vocal on "Hand Jive," but—despite all of these promotional efforts on behalf of the hand jive—American DJs flipped her record and played the instrumental B-side instead. The B-side was a smoky saxophone version of the song "Bewitched," a tune from the 1940 film Pal Joey that was originally known by its full title, "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered." The song had been a hit for several artists in 1950, including Doris Day and Gordon Jenkins. Somewhat surprisingly, Smith herself was the saxophone soloist on her group's rendition of "Bewitched." The record reached #51 on the Billboard Hot 100.
A competing hand-jive song, "(Six-Five) Hand Jive," was released in two versions: one by Don Lang & His Frantic Five and one by the Show Brothers. Both groups were British. Neither of these records were hits either.

It would take an American act, Johnny Otis, to break through with a hand-jive song. That song, "Willie and the Hand Jive," was a Top 10 hit on the pop and R&B charts in 1958. Eric Clapton put the song in the Top 40 again with his 1974 remake.

Betty Smith playing her saxophone
As for Betty Smith, she released a few more singles on London, but none were hits in England or the United States. Malcolm Lockyer was the musical director on Smith's early recordings, and she continued to work with him into the 1970s. In 1974, they released an album titled I'm Old Fashioned on the British label Contour Records, which specialized in easy listening and budget recordings.  





Sunday, February 8, 2015

G Stands for Go-Betweens: Speed problems




G Stands for Go-Betweens is a lavish—and expensive—four-LP and four-CD box set from Domino Records that compiles the first five Go-Betweens singles, the first three Go-Betweens albums, a live set from 1982, three discs of rarities, and a thick booklet that Robert Forster wrote. (The first 600 copies included books from the library of the late Grant McLennan, and Music Weird is compiling a list of those titles here.) Despite the deluxe presentation, a number of listeners have noted speed problems on some of the tracks. This post will provide details on the tracks that need speed correction.

Archie Moore's review on Sound It Out from January 25 noted the speed problems: 
All of the non-single material from the 1999 release 78 ‘Til 79: The Lost Album appears here, but it’s significantly slower than on that CD, sounding slightly sluggish and tuned-down (i.e. it seems that the slower speed is incorrect and accidental, a tape transfer error, not a correction). It is possible that this has been addressed and/or fixed since I got the digital review copy.
This problem hasn't been addressed, because my standard release copy has the same problems.

The songs from The Lost Album aren't the only ones that sound slow, though. Here's the breakdown:


Life as Sweet as Lemonade  
Tracks 3-22 are slow




Skeletons That Cry  
Tracks 7-11 are slow









First Five Singles
"By Chance" is slow










I haven't heard from Domino Records yet about whether these CDs will be remastered to correct the speed problems. At the very least, the downloads for purchasers should be corrected, but the best possible outcome would be for the affected discs and LPs to be remastered and replaced. Considering the price of the set and the attention to detail that otherwise went into it, these problems are surprising and upsetting.

If you have additional comments about the speed issues on G Stands for Go-Betweens or run across additional reviews that mention them, please let me know and I'll add them to this page.





Monday, February 2, 2015

G Stands for Go-Betweens: Grant's books




The first 600 copies of Domino Records' limited-edition Go-Betweens box set G Stands for Go-Betweens: Volume 1 included books from the library of Grant McLennan, who died in 2006. I'm using this page to compile a list of the books that buyers received. If you are one of the lucky fans who received one or more of Grant's books, please send the authors and titles and I'll add them to the list. 

These titles include the three books I received with my copy as well as the titles that have been posted on go-betweens.net, stevehoffman.tv, and Right Here: The Go-Betweens Appreciation Society group on Facebook. 

One of my three books was the one by Angela Carter. I was excited to get it, because Grant wrote a song titled "Angela Carter" for the 1995 Jack Frost album Snow Job. The book is signed by Grant and dated 1982. Grant must have kept his books in alphabetical order by the authors' last names, because a lot of people have received bundles of books by authors whose last names start with the same letter.

People are finding interesting things inside Grant's books. Many of the books, like my Angela Carter one, are signed and dated by Grant. Photos, receipts, and tickets have also been found. For longtime Go-Betweens fans, it's a magical experience to hold these little scraps of Grant's life. 

  • Alice Adams – Rich Rewards
  • Michelangelo Antonioni – Blow-Up
  • Michelangelo Antonioni – L'Avventura: A Film by Michelangelo Antonioni
  • Nicholson Baker – A Box of Matches
  • Nicholson Baker – The Size of Thoughts 
  • J. M. Barrie – Peter Pan and Wendy
  • Jean Bedford – Sister Kate: A Novel
  • Dianne Benedict – Shiny Objects
  • John Betjeman – Collected Poems
  • Louise Bogan – The Blue Estuaries
  • Joe Bob Briggs – Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In
  • Bill Broady – Swimmer
  • Kevin Brownlow – The Parade's Gone By
  • James M. Cain – Double Indemnity
  • Peter Carey – Illywhacker
  • Angela Carter – Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces
  • Brian Castro – Birds of Passage
  • Raymond Chandler – The Blue Dahlia
  • John Cheever – The Stories of John Cheever
  • Rene Clair – Le Silence Est d'Or, La Beaute du Diable, Les Belles-de-Nuit, Les Grandes Manoeuvres
  • Nic Cohn – WopBopaLooBop LopBamBoom
  • Beatrice Davis, ed. – The Illustrated History of Australian Verse
  • Marele Day – Lambs of God
  • Don DeLillo – Great Jones Street
  • Rick DeMarinis – The Burning Women of Far Cry
  • Michael Dransfield – Drug Poems
  • Umberto Eco – The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • James Fenton – Terminal Moraine
  • John Gardner – The Wreckage of Agathon
  • Helen Garner – Monkey Grip
  • William Gaunt – Victorian Olympus
  • Theofile Gautier – My Fantoms
  • Tim Gautreaux – Next Step in the Dance: A Novel
  • Fran Gordon – Paisley Girl
  • William Goyen – Had I a Hundred Mouths
  • Sara Gran – Come Closer
  • Henry Green – Caught
  • Geoffrey Grigson – Collected Poems 1963-1980
  • Todd Grimson – Brand New Cherry Flavor
  • Kirsty Gunn – The Keepsake
  • Seamus Haney – The Spirit Level
  • Jim Harrison – After Ikkyu and Other Poems
  • Maureen Howard – Natural History
  • Ted Hughes – Birthday Letters
  • Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas – Star Wars: A New Hope
  • Frank Kermode – Shakespeare's Language
  • Chip Kidd – The Cheese Monkeys
  • Sibylle Knauss – Eva's Cousin
  • Malcolm Knox – A Private Man
  • Julia Leigh – The Hunter
  • Lorca, selected and translated by J.L. Gili – Lorca
  • Christopher Marlowe – The Complete Plays
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez – No One Writes to the Colonel
  • Roger McDonald – Shearers' Motel
  • Anne Michaels – The Weight of Oranges/Miner's Pond
  • Dan O'Brien – Spirit of the Hills
  • Robert Olmstead – America by Land
  • Ignacio Padilla – Shadow Without a Name
  • Joan Perucho – Natural History
  • Caroline Polizzatto – A Trick of the Light
  • Anthony Powell – Books Do Furnish a Room
  • Anthony Powell – Casanova's Chinese Restaurant
  • Frederic Prokosch – The Missolonghi Manuscript: A Novel
  • E. Annie Proulx – Heart Songs and Other Stories
  • Elizabeth Redfern – The Music of the Spheres
  • Dilys Rose – Our Lady of the Pickpockets
  • Salman Rushdie – Midnight's Children
  • Scott D. Ryersson and Michael Orlando Yaccarino – Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati
  • Saki – The Best of Saki
  • William Saroyan – Dear Baby
  • Steven H. Scheuer, ed. – Movies on TV, 1975-76 edition
  • W. G. Sebald – After Nature
  • George Bernard Shaw – Major Barbara
  • Steven Sherrill – The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break
  • Frank Stanford – The Light the Dead See
  • Gaby Wood – Living Dolls

Friday, January 2, 2015

Nat Stuckey's "Plastic Saddle": What's it about?




It has been described as a "clever country ode to unprotected sex." Others have said that its "innuendo is truly perplexing." The song is Nat Stuckey's 1968 Top 10 country hit "Plastic Saddle," and in it, an affluent man-about-town expresses his preferences in women in a series of double entendres. But what do they mean?

The lines that provoke most of the confusion are in the chorus:

Don't give me no plastic saddle
I want to feel the leather when I ride
Don't give me no paint and powder
'Cause I want to feel the hide

A common interpretation holds that "plastic saddle" is code for "condom," and that "ride" is code for sex. If you read the comments under the YouTube videos of this song, you'll find many comments that reflect this interpretation, such as, "Too many strange diseases floating around now to fool around without a 'plastic saddle.'"

The line "I can tell a fast train by the way she blows" is also open to interpretation. 

In case you haven't heard the song, here's Stuckey's original:



The composer of the song, Vic McAlpin, died in 1980, so we can't ask him about his intentions. Nat Stuckey, the original artist, and Jerry Reed, who recorded the song in 1970, are gone too. In their place, I asked Danny O'Keefe, who recorded the song for his 1977 album American Roulette, what he thought it meant. O'Keefe said:
Someone told me about the song at the time I was recording American Roulette and I thought it was funny. I assumed the message was the singer/writer wanted a real woman, not one who relied on exterior applications for her beauty. It seems self-evident in the lyrics. I never met Vic McAlpin, so I don't know what his story was for the song. It's basically, as far as I'm concerned, a good-time song about wanting a real woman, but that's probably overstating it. 
Here's O'Keefe's version:



It seems obvious to me that the song was meant to be suggestive, regardless of the specific meanings that McAlpin attached to its double entendres. Although a country song that explicitly advocated unprotected sex probably wouldn't have flown in 1968, sexually suggestive "skin songs" were soon to become very popular in country music, so "Plastic Saddle" is a trailblazer in that sense.

"Plastic Saddle" is very funky for a country song, and fittingly, a funk group called City Lights recorded it for RCA in 1979.



Jerry Reed, as I mentioned, also recorded it. I think that his version is the best one. The All-Music Guide review of Reed's Better Things in Life album described this as a "raunchy cover of Nat Stuckey's 'Plastic Saddle'," even though it's faithful to the original:


And finally, the same year that Stuckey recorded "Plastic Saddle," June Stearns recorded a version of it. It seems like a very odd song for a woman to sing: 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Music Weird's best albums of 2014


I'm calling this a "best of 2014" list, but it's really a "my favorites of 2014" list. For one thing, I didn't listen to every recording that was released in 2014. In fact, no one did, which makes any so-called best-of list instantly ridiculous. We could list the 10 or 20 or 100 best grains of sand in the world with exactly as much authority and credibility as these best-albums-of-the-year lists that are popping up everywhere.

I also take issue with the notion of "best" in music, but "my favorite albums out of the ones I managed to hear in 2014" wouldn't make for a very catchy headline, so we won't dwell on it.

 

1. Miniature Tigers – Cruel Runnings

This was my summer album. I never got into the earlier Miniature Tigers albums very much, but this one really hit the spot.

 

 

2. Featherweights – Featherweights

Quiet, wryly humorous story songs by a Swedish boy-girl duo. I listened to this album a lot.

 

 

 

3. Neighbors – Failure

Synth-y, '80s-inspired pop from Brooklyn. Not to be confused with the power-pop group of the same name.

 

 

4. The Memories – Touched by an Angel

The Memories are prolific stoners who crank out lo-fi pop gems between bong hits. That's their image, at least, but I think they work a little harder than their image suggests. The Memories released two albums in 2014: Touched by an Angel and Hot Afternoon. Both are good, but Touched by an Angel is especially good.  



5. Ocean Party – Soft Focus

The fourth Ocean Party album is their best one yet, in my opinion. Jangly, meticulously arranged Australian pop.

 

 

 

6. Ariel Pink – Pom Pom

One of the few "critics' favorites" on my year-end list. Pom Pom is bursting with ideas, which is impressive coming from an artist who has such an extensive discography. Some of my favorite songs are ones that other people have told me they hate, like "Black Ballerina" and "Sexual Athletics."

 

7. Broncho – Just Enough Hip to Be a Woman

Their band name is hilarious. The cheesy, videotaped video for "Class Historian" looks like something from Tim and Eric Awesome Show.

 

 

 

8. Forest & the Trees – Missions

Slick, airy Swedish pop. "The Song That Breaks My Heart" was the first one that grabbed me.

 

 

 

9. French for Rabbits – Spirits

I miss the days when practically everything that came out of New Zealand was great. French for Rabbits are more lovely than scrappy, so they don't sound much like the Flying Nun bands of yore.

 

 

10. Twerps – Underlay

The new Twerps release is categorized as an EP, but it has eight songs, which is as long as many albums were in the LP era, so I'm counting it as an album. (If I were including EPs on this list, I'd add Croquet Club's Jacuzzi.)

 

 

 

11. Night Dew Call – Spots

Night Dew Call is an especially cool band because they're from the Ukraine. The vocalist reminds me a bit of Tobias Isaksson from the Swedish band Irene.

 

 

 

 

12. Ginnels – A Country Life

 An excellent new album from one of Ireland's finest exports.

 

 

 

 

13. Tape Waves – Let You Go

A bit like early Tennis combined with early Beach Fossils but in higher fidelity.

 

 

 

 

14. Alpaca Sports – Sealed with a Kiss

This would have been a more exciting release if nearly all of the songs hadn't come out previously on singles and EPs, but the first full-length by Alpaca Sports is still very good—it just didn't seem very new.

 

 

 

15. Sun Kil Moon – Benji

Morbid story songs about dead people. I'm a big fan of Advance Base, and "Jim Wise" is practically an Advance Base song, so that's what got me into this album.





16. Tycho – Awake

I admire artists who record instrumental rock albums today. Instrumental rock plummeted in popularity after 1963, so the cards are stacked against the instro rockers. This is a good one, though, and a great album to play while driving.




17. Cher Lloyd – Sorry I'm Late

I don't even think this is all that great of an album, but I listened to it so much this year that I feel obligated to include it among my favorites. I'll admit to being a "brat" (as Cher Lloyd's fans are called) even though her handlers do everything they can to mess up her music. "I Wish," for example, is almost ruined by T.I.'s lame rap. "Dirty Love" could have been this album's "Superhero" if the production hadn't been so gimmicky. "Just Be Mine" and "Sirens" are pretty good, but the whole second side is weak. Nevertheless, I love listening to Lloyd's vast array of vocal techniques. You can tell that she's a hard worker.


18. Craft Spells – Nausea

Craft Spells' second album is uneven, but I appreciate the richly orchestrated sound they went for this time, and "Breaking the Angle Against the Tide" is a great single. I wish I had written that guitar riff.




19. Allo Darlin' – We Come from the Same Place

A new Allo Darlin' album will almost automatically make it onto my list, unless they do something really screwy.

20. Advance Base – Plastic Owen Band

A name-your-price odds-and-ends album that appeared without fanfare on Bandcamp in November. This one makes the list just because I love Advance Base. The cover of CCR's "Lodi" is especially good.

 

 

 

Best reissues of 2014



1. Ronnie Dove – The Complete Original Chart Hits: 1964-1969 (Real Gone)

This was the one physical CD that I actually pre-ordered in 2014. I love 1960s easy listening pop vocal music that has one foot in the Nashville Sound, and that describes Dove pretty well. Dove had a lot of minor and middling hits in the '60s but never had a really big one, so he's not a household name in most households. Boy, could he sing, though. "Say You" is awesome. Dove's catalog hasn't been well handled, and many of the reissues of his classic recordings suffer from poor fidelity. This hits collection from Real Gone Music is the first one to present all of his chart hits in excellent sound quality. 


2. Various Artists – Complete Pop Instrumental Hits of 1959

I worked on this collection, so it might be a conflict of interest for me to list it here, but it blew me away. The Complete '60s label's Complete Pop Instrumental Hits series previously rounded up every charting instrumental hit for each year from 1960-1962, but then the label went back to 1959 for this year's installment. All of the collections in the series present these vintage recordings in the best possible sound quality, but this one is particularly impressive. The Virtues' "Guitar Boogie Shuffle," for one, is unbelievable.  


3. Various Artists – Native North America vol. 1: Aboriginal Folk, Rock & Country

This is another one of those awesome anthologies that Light in the Attic compiles, like last year's I Am the Center: Private Issue New Age in America, 1950-1990. I had never heard of any of these Native American artists before I got this double album. Some of this is like a cross between Peter La Farge and the Meat Puppets, which isn't a combination I would have thought of, but it's one that I immediately like. 


4. Lavender Country – Lavender Country

You might assume that a record billed as the first openly-gay country record would have primarily historical or novelty value, but this 1973 album by Lavender Country is just plain good. I listened to "I Can't Shake the Stranger Out of You" endlessly.







Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Did Kurt Cobain and Rod McKuen write songs together?


"I did some writing with Kurt Cobain," Rod McKuen says in the 2006 Dutch documentary Rod McKuen, A Man Alone. (He says it at 3:38 in the video below.)




That portion of the documentary also aired on American television when McKuen appeared on Patti Gribow's PG Show. (The statement in question is at 1:49.)

 

I was extremely surprised—incredulous, even—when I heard this claim that McKuen and Cobain wrote something together, so I tried to find out more about this very unusual alleged collaboration between 1960s/70s pop poet Rod McKuen and grunge icon Kurt Cobain. 

On his website, McKuen talks a little bit about Cobain but seems to contradict what he says in the video:

I was pleased that Kurt liked my work and the feeling was certainly mutual. He had a way of finding the unusual in every day things and writing about them in a very unique way. We had even kicked around the idea of writing something together. I had spoken with him on the telephone not long before his death so I was really stunned at the news. What a loss. To my way of thinking he was just beginning to find his legs as a songwriter.

The link between McKuen and Cobain is pretty tenuous, but a few examples exist, apart from their aforementioned telephone conversation.

Nirvana once half-assedly performed "Seasons in the Sun," a Jacques Brel song that McKuen adapted into English. The song was recorded by McKuen himself and the Kingston Trio in the 1960s but didn't become a hit until Terry Jacks recorded it in 1973. Cobain told interviewers that the song, which is sung from the perspective of a dying man, made him cry when he was a child, and Songfacts claims that Terry Jacks' version was the first record that the young Cobain ever bought. Nirvana's informal performance of "Seasons in the Sun" was included on the DVD that came with the 2004 Nirvana box set With the Lights Out.


Dave Grohl, in a satirical account of his first encounter with Cobain and Krist Novoselic, said, "Krist walked around with these poetry books by Rod McKuen, and Kurt would do interpretive dances while Krist recited Rod McKuen's poetry."

Charles R. Cross, in his book Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain, quotes a Boston Globe critic who described Nirvana's lyrics as "moronic ramblings by singer-lyricist Cobain, who has an idiotic tendency to sound like the Rod McKuen of hard rock." 

That's the extent of their "collaboration." I hate to question McKuen's veracity, but there's no evidence that he and Cobain ever wrote anything together.

Cobain wasn't the only indie-rock guy to harbor a strange fascination with Rod McKuen. Yours truly has a big collection of McKuen's albums, and I even corresponded with him briefly in the 2000s when I was trying to arrange for Collectors' Choice Music to reissue some of his recordings. (Gordon Anderson from Collectors' Choice later started Real Gone Music, which reissued McKuen's albums Listen to the Warm and Sold Out at Carnegie Hall in 2013.) And Aaron Freeman, AKA Gene Ween, recorded an entire album of Rod McKuen's songs, Marvelous Clouds, in 2012.

I wish that Cobain had stuck around to write some songs with Rod McKuen. Frank Sinatra and Glenn Yarbrough recorded entire albums of McKuen's songs, and Madonna co-wrote a song with McKuen, so Cobain would have been in good company.