Tue, 15 September 2015
Welcome to Light On Light Through, Episode 103, in which I interview Linda Kaplan Thaler. Linda and I wrote a bunch of songs in the late 1960s, including "Not Yet Ready to Say Goodbye," which appears on my 1972 Twice Upon a Rhyme album, mentioned from time to time on this podcast. Linda went on to write the world-famous, iconic "Toys R Us" jingle in 1983 ("I Don't Wanna Grow Up, I'm a Toys R US Kid"), mastermind the Aflac Duck campaign nearly two decades later, and work on the political campaigns of both Bill and Hillary Clinton. She has also co-written four books, including The Power of Nice, and the recently published Grit to Great. We discuss all of this and more on the podcast.
You can get Grit to Great here.
Other helpful links -
Lyrics to songs in the podcast -
words by Paul Levinson
music by Linda Kaplan
nestled in the quiet vapor
of the clouds
above the crowds
that teem and dream
set against the pastel paper
of the sky
I wish that I
could see those colors
Wonder what you see
Looking down at me
Wonder who I am
Wonder what I'll be?
dressed up in the sparkling drapery
of night, it's always bright
outside for you
NOT YET READY TO SAY GOODBYE
Words by Paul Levinson
Music by Linda Kaplan
Things been getting’ worse, lately
Been lovin’ in reverse, lately
Almost time to say we’ve had our fill
Seems from here the road is all downhill
Don’t you believe it girl, we’ve something still
Hey, we’re not yet ready to say goodbye
“Sure gonna miss you” just won’t get by
Goodbye don’t make it
We can’t forsake it
We’re not yet ready to say goodbye
Life’s been down on us, lately
Been causin’ quite a fuss, lately
Breakin’ up would be the simple cure
But the treatment would be mighty poor
Long empty evenings never feelin’ quite sure
Can’t say so long – it’s been so long
Can’t say that’s all – ‘cause that’s all wrong
A PIECE OF THE RAINBOW
Words by Paul Levinson
Music by Linda Kaplan
A piece of the rainbow
fell to the ground and burst into colors
And I picked up a piece of the rainbow
A pretty little star
I put you in a jar
so I could watch you grow
And I brought home the piece of the rainbow
Enchanted little elf
I put you on my shelf
And hoped that you would glow
And I watched you every day
And you slowly turned to gray
And I picked up my piece of the rainbow
And tossed you back to the sky
And waved a last goodbye
I had to let you go
Words by Paul Levinson
Music by Peter Rosenthal
I wake to find you gone
The bed I sleep upon
is strangely smooth and white
Touched only by me and the empty night
A fog upon my brain
condenses into rain
and tears begin to swell
but you couldn't tell that I loved you well
So we loved each other in passing
But I'll keep searching for something more lasting
Like the poet looking
for the once in a lifetime rhyme
I glimpse a distant form
I sense that she is warm
but question what I feel –
reflection of me or something more real?
Thu, 7 November 2013
Welcome to Light On Light Through, Episode 89, which contains Patrick Rands and Carl Thien's recent "spotlight" on my science fiction and music, broadcast a few days ago on Patrick's WZBC Radio show. Patrick decided to do this segment after hearing Sundial Symphony's new recording of my "Looking for Sunsets (in the Early Morning)". He put together a wild, cool set of my music over the years, and began by inviting Carl to talk about my science fiction.
The playlist follows. More about Sundial Symphony - consisting of Don Frankel (who played keyboard on the 1972 recording of Looking for Sunsets) and Robbie Rist (cousin Oliver on The Brady Bunch, the bus driver on Sharknado, and everything in between) - on their Facebook page.
1. Ring Around My Rosie - recorded by Protozoa - song written by David Fox, produced by Paul Levinson, Ed Fox, and Herb Abramson, Buddah Records, 1969
2. Sunshine Mind - recorded by Donna Marie (who sang in the Archies) - song written by Paul Levinson, produced by Jimmy "Wiz" Wisner, released on Columbia, 1968
3. Love Colored Glasses - studio demo recorded by Mikie Harris & Paul Levinson, written by Paul Levinson & Mikie Harris, 1968
4. Not Yet Ready to Say Goodbye - recorded by Paul Levinson, with Ed Fox and Peter Rosenthal (Paul singing lead) - written by Paul Levinson & Linda Kaplan, produced by Paul Levinson & Ed Fox, released on Twice Upon A Rhyme LP, HappySad Records, 1972 (musicians on this album also include Don Frankel, Jay Sackett, Alan Fuhr, Boris Midney)
5. Skyscraper - studio demo by Linda Kaplan (later wrote "Toys 'R Us" jingle), written by Paul Levinson & Linda Kaplan, 1968
6. Lime Streets - live performance by Paul Levinson on Patrick Rands’ 2006 WZBC Radio show, written by Paul Levinson, 2006
7. Looking for Sunsets (in the Early Morning) - Sundial Symphony (Don Frankel & Robbie Rist), written by Paul Levinson & Ed Fox, 1969 (released on Twice Upon A Rhyme LP, HappySad Records, 1972), 2013 (mastered by Steve Katz)
more about my music at Twice Upon a Rhyme
You might also enjoy Patrick Rands' 2006 60-minute WZBC Radio show about my music, with interview.
Sat, 25 September 2010
Welcome to Light On Light Through, Episode 79, in which you will hear the complete 65-minute interview Patrick Rands did with me about my music, in June 2006. I drove up to WZBC Radio studios outside of Boston on a beautiful early summer afternoon for the interview by Partick Rands on his "Test Patterns" radio show on WZBC (Boston College) Radio. With my 1972 LP, Twice Upon a Rhyme, re-issued in mini-CD by Big Pink/Beatball Records in December 2008, and to be re-issued in a vinyl re-pressing by Whiplash/Sound of Salvation Records in November 2010, I thought this interview, in which Patrick played 14 of my songs (many rarely heard before) to be especially significant. A complete playlist and links to the music on the Web follow below ...
I had first come to know Patrick after his review of Rhino Handmade's Come to the Sunshine compilation CD in 2005 - the CD has my group The Other Voices (aka The New Outlook) singing "Hung Up On Love," a song I wrote with Mikie Harris, produced by Ellie Greenwich & Mike Rashkow, and released on Atlantic Records in 1968.
Patrick played "Hung Up On Love" and a dozen other recordings that I wrote, sang, produced (or all three) on our show in 2006. As a special coda, I performed my new song, "Lime Streets," for the very first time at the end of the show. I had written it just a month before the interview. Patrick was good enough to lend me his daughter's cool little keyboard for my rendition - it was my only instrumentation, so I was practically unplugged.
A complete list of the songs played on the show follows. Patrick has a nice 'n' easy interview style, and I really had a good time.
Among the secrets revealed for the first time on the show: how Ed Fox and I wrote "The Lama Will Be Late This Year" (and who, exactly, was 'Hawaiian Herb'?) . . . .the real reason that jazz-man Boris Midney left the Soviet Union . . . what song got in the way of The Vogues releasing their recording of my song, "Unbelieavable (Inconceivable You)", on Reprise Records? . . . . and how old was Linda Kaplan when she wrote "Skyscraper" with me in the late 1960s? ( well, a lot younger than when she later wrote the famous "Toys 'R Jingle" . . . . "I don't wanna grow up . . . .")
And the playlight is as follows:
1. No Olympian Height(s) - recorded by The Other Voices (The New Outlook), Paul Levinson, Stu Nitekman, Ira Margolis (Stu singing lead), song written by Brute Force, produced by Ellie Greenwich & Mike Rashkow, 2nd single released on Atlantic, 1968
2. Hung Up On Love - recorded by The Other Voices (The New Outlook) - Paul Levinson, Stu Nitekman, Ira Margolis (but Mike Rashkow singing lead) - song written by Paul Levinson & Mikie Harris, produced by Ellie Greenwich & Mike Rashkow, B-side of both May My Heart Be Cast Into Stone, and No Olympian Heights, singles released on Atlantic, 1968 (included on Rhino's Come to the Sunshine CD, 2004)
3. Picture Postcard World - recorded by The Definitive Rock Chorale - studio group with Ellie Greenwich, Toni Wine, Ron Dante, etc - song written by Paul Levinson, produced by Ellie Greenwich & Mike Rashkow, released on Decca, 1968
4. Unbelievable (Inconceivable You) - recorded by The Vogues - song written by Paul Levinson, produced by Dick Glasser for Reprise, 1968, but never released
5. Sunshine Mind - recorded by Donna Marie (who sang in the Archies) - song written by Paul Levinson, produced by Jimmy "Wiz" Wisner, released on Columbia, 1968
6. Love Colored Glasses - studio demo recorded by Mikie Harris, written by Paul Levinson & Mikie Harris, 1968
7. Teacups and Tapestry - studio demo (artist unknown), written by Paul Levinson and Boris Midney, 1969
8. Skyscraper - studio demo by Linda Kaplan (later wrote "Toys 'R U" jingle), written by Paul Levinson & Linda Kaplan, 1968
9. Ring Around My Rosie - recorded by Protozoa - song written by David Fox, produced by Paul Levinson, Ed Fox, and Herb Abramson, Buddah Records, 1969
10. Merri- Goes-Round - recorded by Trousers (studio group; Bruce Scott singing lead) - written by Paul Levinson & Ed Fox, produced by Paul Levinson & Ed Fox, released on Wizdom Records, 1969
11. Not Yet Ready to Say Goodbye - recorded by Paul Levinson, with Ed Fox and Peter Rosenthal (Paul singing lead) - written by Paul Levinson & Linda Kaplan, produced by Paul Levinson & Ed Fox, released on Twice Upon A Rhyme LP, HappySad Records, 1972 (musicians on this album also include Don Frankel, Jay Sackett, Alan Fuhr, Boris Midney)
12. The Lama Will Be Late This Year - recorded by Paul Levinson, with Ed Fox and Peter Rosenthal (Ed singing lead) - written by Paul Levinson & Ed Fox, produced by Paul Levinson & Ed Fox, released on Twice Upon A Rhyme LP, HappySad Records, 1972 (musicians on this album also include Don Frankel, Jay Sackett, Alan Fuhr, Boris Midney)
13. Alpha Centauri - recorded by Peter Rosenthal (home demo) - written by Paul Levinson & Peter Rosenthal, 2000
14. Lime Streets - live performance by Paul Levinson, written by Paul Levinson, 2006
And you'll also hear nice medley of New Outlook folk rock under some of the interview near the beginning...
Links to the music on the Web:
Wed, 12 September 2007
I'm still thinking about Scorsese's No Direction Home - likely because I watched another piece of it, again, last night ... the "Meet the Press" section...
Dylan was the quintessential anti-interview in the 1960s...
Q - How many protest singers are there?
A - Dylan - About 136 ...
Q - About or exactly 136?
A - Dylan - 142...
He bristled and laughed at questions, and pretty much refused to answer them. Most of this was well-deserved - the questions were vacuous, even ridiculous...
If ever there was an example of the merit of I. A. Richards' advice that the creator of a work is the last person you should ask about the meaning of a work, Dylan in the 1960s would be it. This was the case with Dylan even when he wasn't being sarcastic. In an early radio interview, he tells Studs Terkel that "A Hard Rain" is not about atomic rain - it's just about something important about to come down. I. A. Richards would say that shouldn't prevent anyone from hearing apocalypse in that song.
So how seriously should we take Dylan's commentary that is the backbone of Scorsese's movie? Now in the 21st-century, Dylan seems to have little problem reflecting honestly on his work. Actually, I first noticed this in the excellent interview Dylan gave to Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes a few years ago.
The reasons for the change in Dylan's interview performances are complex and multiple, like everything else about Dylan. The questions today are not as stupid as those in the 1960s. Dylan in the 1990s began to redefine his interviews as part of his serious creative work - rather than part of his spoofs - likely because he finally saw them as useful on the path to understanding himself and his impact, which has always been his goal.
All of which is good for us.
Category:Music -- posted at: 2:59pm EST
Tue, 11 September 2007
I continue to be fascinated - haunted, even - by Martin Scorsese's 2005 film about Bob Dylan, No Direction Home. I'd seen large pieces of it before, but saw the whole movie for the first time just a few nights ago.
Dylan's performance of "With God On Our Side" at the Newport Folk Festival with Joan Baez in the summer of 1963 is the high point of the movie. His voice never sounded better - Joan Baez's voice has always sounded great. She takes him by the hand out on stage, and the two waifs open up with what is probably the most powerful anti-war song ever written - we all go to war irrationally thinking and claiming God's on our side. This is exactly what Mike Huckabee said in defense of staying the course in Iraq, when Ron Paul spoke out in last week's debate about the war being wrong, strategically, as well as unconstitutional. Dylan's lyrics are, sadly, as searingly relevant today as in 1963.
But by 1964, Dylan was singing another kind of song at the Newport Festival - "Mr. Tambourine Man". This was the pivotal transitional song. The lyrics are sublime, but they never had much relevance to any current event. The Newport crowd applauded, willing to give Dylan the benefit of the doubt. He was, after all, still acoustic, and still sincere.
But Dylan was singing "Like A Rolling Stone" in 1965 in Newport, with electric backing. In just two years, he had morphed from the most powerful, splendid, social critic ever known in folk song to a caustic, psychedelic commentator on the human condition. Someone who even, for the first time, it seemed, may even have been sarcastic and condescending to his audience. For all of that, he got booed...
I've always loved both of Dylan's phases. But given the state of the world today, I miss the Dylan who sang up there with Joan Baez, and still wonder at the transformation. The assassination of JFK, Dylan's wanting some of the fame enjoyed by the Beatles, just needing to move on to other things - these were no doubt important factors. But, somehow, insufficient, either singly or in concert, to explain just what happened to Dylan....
Category:Music -- posted at: 6:42pm EST
Thu, 6 September 2007
The following is a letter my wife Tina just saw on eBay - being sold along with a copy of my album, Twice Upon A Rhyme - I wrote the letter shortly after the release of the album, in September 1972 ... (Tina was my girlfriend, back then)...
See also The Lama Will Be Late This Year
Category:Music -- posted at: 9:12pm EST
Tue, 21 August 2007
I've getting a few requests for the above, so I thought I'd post it here.
First, the lyrics (which you can read while you're listening), then the story ...
written by Paul Levinson & Ed Fox, 1969
(a brief question-and-answer period)
(cameo appearance by the Hawaiian Herb Singers)
Children don't you know it's past your bedtime
People all been cold for such a long time
It's time alright and yet it's not the right time
the story ...
Ed Fox and I wrote close to a hundred songs in the Fall 1968 - Winter 1969. He usually wrote most of the music and I wrote most of the lyrics, but not always.
One night, in November, I dropped by Ed's brownstone apartment on East 85th Street after dinner. Ed had a copy of some newspaper in his hand, and pointed to a headline - "The Lama Will Be Late This Year" - something about the Dalai Lama's trip to somewhere being delayed.
"Good title for a song...," Ed said, and I agreed.
I wrote the lyric in about 10 minutes, and Ed wrote the music ...
We recorded and mixed it in a variety of studios in New York City from 1969-1971. Ed's singing lead, and I'm doing the harmony (falsetto) with Ed. Pete Rosenthal's playing at least 2-3 guitars, and electric harmonica. I'm playing piano and tablas, and Jay Sackett's on bass.
We put "The Lama" on our 1972 album, Twice Upon a Rhyme ... over the years, it's been lauded in Japan and Scandanavia (by Patrick the Lama - understandably) ...
In a separate post, maybe, I'll someday tell you the secret of Hawaiian Herb...
Category:Music -- posted at: 1:53am EST
Thu, 16 August 2007
I was just listening to Bob Shannon on WCBS-FM "oldies" radio in New York. It's good to have him back.
As some of you may know, Bob and the WCBS-FM dj staff were abruptly banished a few years ago, when WCBS-FM Radio became "Jack" radio. I'll resist the four letter word that fits with "Jack" and rhymes with fit, but let's just say that "Jack" didn't fit New York City or oldies music, and this sarcastic, automated, sour format brought down what good music the format managed to play.
"Jack" was brought in to increase the ratings and revenue of an oldies station that was already doing fine in both areas - "Jack" was inoculation against the graying oldies audience.
Well, every once in a while, commerciality comes through heroically, and, in Jack's case, it turned out that the ratings actually dwindled under his format.
And so Bob Shannon and some old and new, fully human, disc jockeys were brought back along with the good name and sounds of WCBS-FM oldies radio in New York City last month.
You know, there's no substitute for a human, not-pre-recorded disc jockey. Especially when he has the easy, encyclopedic knowledge of rock music, as Bob Shannon has, along with a great, sparkling sense of humor.
Welcome home, Bob!
Category:Music -- posted at: 3:08pm EST
Sat, 4 August 2007
I first fell for the Starland Vocal Band in the summer of 1976. My wife and I were on our honeymoon in London, and the BBC was playing "Afternoon Delight" at least a couple of times an hour.
The record has everything - vibrant harmonies, catchy tune, and a clever and well crafted lyric. I agree with every word of it. Why wait until the cold dark night if you can have it right now, in the afternoon. Plus, it's fun easily seeing the person you're making love to...
Bill Danoff wrote a classic song.
The Starland Vocal Band is often cited as a classic one-hit wonder. Although Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert Danoff (half of the Starlight Vocal Band) had earlier written "Take Me Home, Country Roads" with John Denver, and often performed with him, nothing much happened with the Band after "Afternoon Delight".
Doesn't matter. Bill and Taffy and Margot Chapman and Jon Carroll made a record which, although it's only one, can stand up to the best of the Mamas and Papas and the other great harmony groups.
Why I am a writing about them now? I just came across their page of MySpace, and put in them in my Top Friends - which, in a way, they've been for years...
One other thing ... I just noticed - I may have already known but forgot - that the Starlight Vocal Band's second album is titled Rear View Mirror.
Like Light On Light Through, Rear View Mirror is a phrase that Marshall McLuhan loved to use...
at the 1977 Grammy Awards... (The Starlight Vocal Band won a Grammy for the Best New Artist of 1976) ...
Category:Music -- posted at: 5:01pm EST