Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


iPod song of the week – UB40

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week
On May 31, 2009
At 2:00 am
Comments : 3

This is not about Red Red Wine.

Still reading? OK. When I was a kid, I wrote a song, lyrics only. I’m sure it was crappy, I was probably in 6th or 7th grade, but I really felt as a person who listened to at least thirty songs a day that I could do this. And so I did. I gave it to a friend of mine (I have no idea why) and her mother, who was a piano teacher, wanted to put it to music. It was going to be a lovely piano tune and so I said no. You see, it was all about the Rock ‘n Roll, man. Yeah!

I remembered this story this week when I was looking through the exciting database of scanned Billboard magazines on Google. I used to read this magazine every freaking week back in the day. Ironically, now that I’m at a label, I never do. Maybe I see all the same stuff on the Internet anyway. But in re-reading, I’ve come across lots of interesting things and, of course, there’s lots of looking back at the past through the present lens (CD’s will last forever! Music sales increase every year! The Internet will be our salvation!) and snickering,

I wonder what would happen if one day I was listening to the radio and I heard my awful 6th grade lyrics in some hit tune. How weird would that be? Of course, I don’t even remember the lyrics but work with me here. Because this did happen to someone and when I read about the lawsuit (in a 1995 issue) I sat bolt upright. Because this song, my favorite UB40 song ever, has the stupidest, most simplistic lyrics you could imagine. I felt no surprise at all knowing they were not written by someone who made a living writing songs. In fact, I always assumed UB40 had written them because, as we all know, UB40’s stock in trade is remaking other people’s songs, probably because their songwriting skills were on the level of this number.

So why did I love it? Well, of course there was the catchy melody and gentle reggae lilt, but really, when you’re 14 years old, lyrics like these just appeal to you:

You shoot me down in flames
You put me down a lot
I’m giving you my heart
Go on take it
Please be careful
Not to break it
Just remember it’s the only one I’ve got
It’s the only one I’ve got

Don’t break my heart
Don’t break my heart
Don’t break my heart

You make me laugh a lot
And buy me silly things
I’d rather be with you
Than anyone else
But if you make me mad
But if you make me mad
You’ll wish that you had not
You’ll wish that you had not

Don’t break my heart
Don’t break my heart
Don’t break my heart

Right. Yeats it is not. Actually, it was written by a secretary from Birmingham England named Deborah Banks who penned amateur poetry and had a friend who was looking for songs. So she wrote him a couple and he said, don’t worry, I’ll see you right if I ever end up doing anything with it. We now know how that went. Later, he sold it to UB40 for £10,000, which is about $16,000, and they had a massive worldwide hit with it in 1985. Now, I don’t know how she figured out that it was her song but I like to imagine that one day she was folding laundry or typing a memo and listening to the radio when something sounded familiar… The thing I do know is that she won her lawsuit by proving the song was hers (I wish, too, that I knew how she did this… notebooks? Diaries? Letters?) when the friend denied it. She was awarded damages and royalties and the song credits now lists her as a co-writer. Go Deborah Banks!

I always knew UB40 couldn’t write their own songs. Even the trite ones.


American dream

Filed under : Life in general
On May 21, 2009
At 7:35 pm
Comments : 4

Like most people who are employed in this economy, I’m doing the work of three people. Myself, a person they laid off, and a person who we really should hire but can’t because no one’s in the mood to buy anything. Particularly things that you can’t eat or fuel your car with. This is one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging a lot. By the time I finish with my ten hour workday, my brain is too fried to do anything but lie in a vegetative state on the sofa watching Nick Swisher hit the ball out of the park for some kid in the hospital.

Of course I feel lucky to have a job and every time I see the person whose job I’m also doing show up on my IM list, I feel awful because it’s months now and she still hasn’t found anything. I have to laugh at the British phrase for laid off, “made redundant.” Of course she’s redundant! Why, clearly I can do her job too now that I no longer have a life. And I, who do nothing but work, am undoubtedly the fortunate one. I tend to forget that.

Just now, while I was toiling away here at work (I never see the first innings… baseball is always six innings long for me unless it’s a weekend game. They seem to have nine then!), the cleaning lady came in to empty my trash cans (two! recycle and regular). She’s really too gorgeous to be a janitress, even in her shapeless powder blue uniform, and she wears this lovely, fragrant perfume that you can smell all the way down the hall so you know she’s coming. And she ALWAYS smiles. She doesn’t speak much English but her happy smile says a lot. She feels lucky. And as she thanks me for letting her take my trash, me in my comfy chair, doing nothing more strenuous than filling in a spreadsheet, with my big window and my designer sofa and my chic glass-topped desk, I do feel very, very lucky. Because if it were me, I’d hate me. The me that is sitting typing this, that is. I mean, why am I here and she there?

Once upon a time, my grandmother slept with two of her sisters in one bed in a tenement flat on the Lower East Side. I don’t really know what her parents did for a living. But I thank them and all my great-grandparents for doing menial things so I could sit here. I know they uprooted themselves and moved to a strange land so their children could have a better life, even if theirs wasn’t always so great. I know they worked hard for their children and grandchildren and I am certain that they dreamed of me, nearly one hundred years later, sitting uptown in my important office selling 78 RPM records about bitches & hos.

Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money


Twitter: the tennis fan’s delight

Filed under : Tennis,The Internets
On May 14, 2009
At 4:50 pm
Comments :Comments Off on Twitter: the tennis fan’s delight

Oh, this was fun today!


In more depressing news, in case you haven’t checked the Where in the World is David Nalbandian page (and why would you, I update it every three months), he is out having hip surgery and today’s tweets tell me he will miss the US Open. So much for my annual bonding session with the Argentines on Court 11. This year, I must search for a new man. Stay tuned.

For those on Twitter who dig the tennis, try:

Players/Former Players
Andy Roddick
Andy Murray
Amer Delic
Justin Gimelstob
Jim Courier

Tennis News
The Tennis Channel
Jon Wertheim from Sports Illustrated
Tennis Nation

And if you know any others, let me know!


All I ever wanted, all I ever needed

Filed under : Depeche Mode,Judaism,Music
On May 11, 2009
At 6:15 pm
Comments :Comments Off on All I ever wanted, all I ever needed

Speaking of my mother, she was born before Israel was a state and she used to get excited at all the things that implied Israel was a “real” country. “Look,” she’d say, “we have an Olympic team!” Or, “look, we have an airline!”

I think I felt a little of that last night. Look, we have a Depeche Mode concert!

Martin Gore on stage in Ramat Gan, Israel.

I’ve seen DM maybe 15 times. God, am I spoiled. Go you, Israeli fans.

Dave Gahan at the Kotel (Western Wall). Should have told my Dad to go that day. Nuts.

All photos from Reuters via Yahoo.

Title from:
Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence


iPod song of the week – Malcolm McLaren

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week
On May 10, 2009
At 6:15 pm
Comments :Comments Off on iPod song of the week – Malcolm McLaren

Recently, the FB group I’m on that reminds you of a new song from the 80’s/90’s Alternative scene every day did one that actually made me cry while I was listening to it. The more shocking thing, really, was hearing a song from the 80’s that I haven’t heard since the 80’s. That’s a hard thing to do. But this one isn’t available in the US, or at least not via download, so it’s not on my iPod and can’t be on yours. Unless you’re in the UK and to my two UK readers, I say, download this now! Then send it to me.

This song has a sad motif, true, but that’s not why it made me cry. It’s because when I heard it, I immediately flashed back to sitting in the car with my Mom on the way to school. See, I went to private Yeshiva high school in a nearby town and there was no bus, so you had to carpool or, more usually, my Mom would drive me there and pick me up. And she wasn’t one of those, “it’s my car and I’m driving so I’ll listen to what I want” people (coughDadcough), So we usually listened to WLIR and occasionally my mother would comment on the music. She did like some of it but she hated this song. That’s because she loved the opera it came from and it irritated her to no end to have it distorted, set to a beat, and have this other stuff around it. The opera spoke for itself and needed no accompaniment. It was one of the only times I ever remember her making me change the station.

And she was right, you know. Later, I bought the opera (it’s the only opera CD I own) and it’s so beautiful. I’m obviously not the only person to say this, but the faith of this woman waiting futiley for the person she loves is so vast and painful. I still love the Malcolm McLaren version, though. I probably wouldn’t if I’d loved the opera first, but maybe not. As a person who loves The Clash’s “Straight To Hell,” it was hard at first for me to like MIA’s “Paper Planes.” But I eventually did.

Still, being reminded of a conversation you had with your mother years and years ago that you had nearly forgotten is a great Mother’s Day present. And that crying was the good kind. I hope you had a good Mother’s Day, wherever your mother is.

The sexy video seems somewhat unrelated to the subject matter, but enjoy!