Rest in peace, Johnny Mandel: “Suicide is Painless” (1970)

Award-winning composer Johnny Mandel passed away on Monday at the age of 94. A classically-trained musician, Mandel was responsible for a wide variety of movie soundtrack music. His first notable work was 1958's I Want to Live!, which earned him three Grammy nominations. Mandel was no stranger to the Grammys; he was nominated for a … Continue reading Rest in peace, Johnny Mandel: “Suicide is Painless” (1970)

Rest in peace, Benny Mardones: “Into the Night” (1980)

(Above: Benny Mardones. Credit: Billboard/Getty Images) Billboard magazine is reporting the death of pop singer/songwriter Benny Mardones today at the age of 73 following a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Mardones was born in Cleveland in 1946. His musical career began after serving in the Vietnam War when he moved to New York City and … Continue reading Rest in peace, Benny Mardones: “Into the Night” (1980)

Rest in peace, Vera Lynn: “We’ll Meet Again” (1939)

  "Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn?" That line, in Pink Floyd's "Vera," was my introduction to the existence of Vera Lynn. At the age of 11, with a fresh copy of The Wall in hand, I didn't necessarily understand all of the references (or all of the material, for that matter) contained in it. … Continue reading Rest in peace, Vera Lynn: “We’ll Meet Again” (1939)

On a mission from God: Solomon Burke, “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” (1964)

Forty years ago today - June 16, 1980 - The Blues Brothers made its film premiere. It was the first R-rated film I ever saw. In an age just in line with the advent of home video recorders and the infiltration of cable TV, it just wasn't as easy to see an "under 17 not … Continue reading On a mission from God: Solomon Burke, “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” (1964)

The more things change: Spanky and Our Gang, “Give A Damn” (1968)

(Above: Demonstration in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1967. Photo credit: WOOD-TV) (Above: Demonstration in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2020. Photo credit: John Rothwell) I missed being alive in 1968 by about a year or so. That's not to say that I haven't studied it extensively. One doesn't teach media history to college students and not spend time … Continue reading The more things change: Spanky and Our Gang, “Give A Damn” (1968)