Prolific Poet/Songwriter Rod McKeun Leaves Behind Large Body Of Work

Posted by Billyjam, January 30, 2015 07:34am | Post a Comment

In honor of Oakland, CA born American poet/spoken word artist/songwriter Rod McKuen, who died yesterday at age 81 following weeks of been treated for pneumonia, I go digging at Amoeba Music for a sampling of the world's best selling poet's body of work.  Ever prolific, especially from the late sixties up until the beginning of the 80's when he took an extended sabbatical, McKuen was once a ubiquitous and seemingly unstoppable part of American popular culture.

As such the distinctively throaty sounding artist released an incredible number of albums (over 200 LPs of which many are still available at Amoeba - mostly in original vinyl format), wrote hundreds upon hundreds of poems, published dozens of books that would sell over sixty million copies (hence why he was the best selling poet ever), and a slew of songs that would be covered/interpreted by such high profile stars as Dolly Parton (they even collaborated in a music and poetry duo on the song "Feelings"), and Frank Sinatra ("Night," "If You Go Away" which was written with the Belgian composer Jacques Brel). In fact Ole Blue Eyes, who was a major fan of his work, even commissioned McKuen to pen content for A Man Alone: The Words and Music of Rod McKuen.

Continue reading...

Happy birthday, John Gray - the real life Dorian Gray

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 2, 2013 01:01pm | Post a Comment
Today is the birthday of English poet and Dandy, John Gray. As a writer, Gray is best-known for Silverpoints,The Long Road, and Park: A Fantastic Story. Though celebrated in his day, today he is perhaps best known for being the rumored inspiration for Oscar Wilde’s fictional character and literature's most famous Decadent and Dandy, Dorian Gray.

English Poet John Gray

John Gray was born on 2 March, 1866 in Bethnal Green, London, the first of nine children. Like most people with great taste, he came from a working class background. At thirteen he quit school and began working as an apprentice metal-worker (continuing his education with evening classes). In 1882 he passed the Civil Service exams and five years later passed the University of London matriculation exams. He subsequently joined the Foreign Office and became a librarian. Gray’s evening classes had included (among other foreign languages) the study of French and he translated the work of Symbolists Arthur Rimbaud, Jules Laforgue, Paul Verlaine, and Stéphane Mallarmé into English -- some for the first time.

Continue reading...

Saul Williams on his new book "Chorus," the Shit we Dance to, Obama ain't Jesus, & More

Posted by Billyjam, September 6, 2012 10:25pm | Post a Comment
In celebration of Saul Williams' new book Chorus, a collection of the work of 100 poets joining Williams in his "literary mixtape," the poet/actor/activist/musician launched a tour (also dubbed Chorus) a week ago with dates over the long Labor Day weekend in Baltimore, DC, and New York City. On Monday (Sept 3) night, I met up with the New York-born Williams, who currently lives in Paris, backstage at Joe's Pub before he went onstage alongside ten contributors to his new book.

Considering our interview was on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama's run for a second term was foremost on his mind, as it was on mine so I was curious to know the outspoken artist's views on the upcoming election. "To me this upcoming election is super clear because the policies are so, for lack of better words, so black and white," he said. "The policies are so clear just in terms of women and what I believe in progressiveness. I mean, the past two thousand years in a nutshell have everything to do with controlling women and enforcing cheap labor; that's what Christianity, all this shit boils down to in my perspective." Williams minced no words when he said, "I would hate to see Romney win. I hate the idea of taking a few steps forward only to get pushed back. It's like the weed fight in California. All of this progress and then all of a sudden it's like people get scared." 

Continue reading...

Black [gay] History Month, 2012

Posted by Job O Brother, January 29, 2012 04:30pm | Post a Comment
black history gay

Ethel Merman’s voice makes my stomach acids sour and the very idea of shopping for clothes gives me a panic attack; despite these and other suspicious facts, I am a member of the LGBT community. For this reason, the issue of equal rights is ever-present in my mind.

There’s been a lot written and said about comparing the history of intolerance between racial minorities and the gay community, most especially in late 2008 when Prop. 8 was passed in the state of California amidst reports that large numbers of black people, urged by their church heads, voted to end the briefly instituted marriage equality of the state.

There were, of course, many exceptions to this and I don’t mean to angle this as a blacks-versus-gays situation – it's far more complicated than anything I'll do justice to here – but it did shine a light on an issue that often ruffles feathers. Knowing my place here on the Amoeblog as “light entertainment,” I will eschew any prolonged essays on the matter (for great, long-winded crap like that you should check out Charles Reece’s blog), but I will say that equal rights for all people is not only a victimless proposition, it’s one that benefits all people. Whether you think it’s appropriate to compare the struggle for gay equality with those of racial minorities, the fact is that everyone should have the same basic, human rights.

It would be one thing if a child was struck with bone marrow cancer every time two lesbians kissed, but kids, that’s just not the way it is and the sooner we let the gays get married, the sooner they can set up homes that will raise the property value of your block.

Continue reading...

Happy 90th birthday Ken Nordine!!

Posted by Whitmore, April 13, 2010 11:11pm | Post a Comment
Ken Nordine
Ken Nordine
You may not know it, but you do know Ken Nordine, and you know him well. His deep resonant, baritone voice, gritty in a perfect kind of way, has sliced through television and radio ads for decades now. But you should know him for his "word jazz." He recorded his first Word Jazz album back in 1957, backed by the Chico Hamilton band. Nordine’s pieces play in the common -- words, bopping and shifting, wit pedaling to and fro in between the everyday bits of everyday life nimbly budging the predictable out of the way. Colorful is the perfect adjective, absurd is another word that should have a turn here too. Mundane is not in his vocabulary.

Anyway, today the legendary wordsmith is 90 years old -- Happy Birthday, Ken Nordine!

<<  1  2  3  >>  NEXT