Updike: Music from Rabbit at Rest

John Updike

John Updike

Today is the birthday of one of my favourite writers, John Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009). Few have written so sensuously of love and sex – or anything else under the sun.

Here is Updike writing about one of my greatest loves – pop music from the Fifties and Sixties. This is from Rabbit at Rest. An ageing Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom is listening to oldies but goldies on the radio as he drives through Florida. Here are also videos of some of the songs mentioned in the text.

Love Me Tender — Elvis Presley [Read more...]

Happy birthday, Neil Sedaka

Happy birthday, Neil Sedaka! Born on March 13, 1939, Sedaka turns 75 today. Birthday greetings are pouring in on Twitter.

I love his songs. So here are three of my favourites: Oh Carol, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, and Calendar Girl. Neil Sedaka sounds really sweet. [Read more...]

Buddy Holly and The Crickets: Maybe Baby

I just read that Buddy Holly and The Crickets recorded Maybe Baby on this day (May 12) in 1957. The song entered Billboard’s Top 100 a year later, on February 25, and spent 14 weeks there, peaking at No 17. Written by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty, it was credited to The Crickets, Holly’s backing band.

[Read more...]

Remembering Pete Seeger

I can’t forget the folk singer Pete Seeger, who died aged 94 on January 27. I couldn’t post anything then because I can’t access the internet very often where I am now. But who can forget a singer like Seeger? Some of his songs like Where Have All the Flowers Gone, If I Had A Hammer and Turn, Turn, Turn will always linger in our memory. [Read more...]

Eric Clapton, feel free in Singapore

Eric ClaptonEric Clapton begins his Asia and Middle East tour in Tokyo on February 18 and will perform at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on March 4. Ready to rock? Fans can buy and sell tickets on Ticketbis.com.sg.

Clapton, who first performed in Singapore during his Journeyman tour in 1990, has played at the Singapore Indoor Stadium twice before — in 2007 and 2011 — but this will be a special occasion for Clapton fans.

The legendary guitarist, the only artiste inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame three times, has just completed 50 years in the limelight.

In October 1963, Clapton was invited by singer Keith Relf and bassist Paul Samwell-Smith to join the Yardbirds and catapulted to fame.

Clapton left the Yardbirds after they scored their first hit, For Your Love, in 1965 and joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.

I love For Your Love and enjoyed every minute of the Yardbirds’ gig shown in the Antonioni movie, Blowup. You can see the sequence on YouTube. It was as a Yardbird that Clapton was first inducted into the Hall of Fame.

But Clapton, for me, will be always be associated with the band he joined after leaving the Bluesbreakers.

In 1966, Clapton was invited by drummer Ginger Baker to join him and bassist Jack Bruce, another Bluesbreaker veteran, in his band, Cream, and the rest is history. [Read more...]

RIP Phil Everly

Phil Everly is dead. He was 74.

I love the Everly Brothers. Phil and his elder brother, Don, created some of the sweetest hits back in thr 1950s and early ’60s. Their sweet harmonies and steel-string guitar playing influenced acts ranging from The Beatles to Simon & Garfunkel, The Everly Brothers along with Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Fats Domino are my favourite artistes from the early days of rock’n'roll. Here are some of my favourite songs performed by the Everly Brothers.

Wake Up Little Susie  [Read more...]

Lou Reed and Rolling Stone

It was on this day in 1967 that the first issue of Rolling Stone was published, The Writer’s Almanac recalled yesterday, and which I just happened to read today. I remember when the weekly looked like a newspaper, published on newsprint, with black and white photos and pages you could pull out, like from any daily newspaper. Those were the days it used to review new releases by artistes like Cheap Trick and Alice Cooper. What a long time ago that was.

Looking up the Rolling Stone website (I don’t see the printed magazine or listen to new musicians any more), I saw tributes to Lou Reed, who died last month.

I am a fan of the Beatles and the Beach Boys and Bob Dylan. Reed was too avant-garde for me. However, he was one of the great seminal musicians of the time.  So here is some of his music. [Read more...]

Those were the days

Google is on a history jag. Yesterday’s Google Doodle featured Shakuntala Devi, the Human Computer. Today it’s the turn of Raymond Loewy, who designed cars, locomotives, the logos of Shell and Exxon, the Lucky Strike package and the Air Force One livery. Reading about his long life — he died in 1986 at the age of 92 — made one thing clear to me. The world is no longer as creative as it used to be.

I know this sounds strange, what with the internet, social media and new gadgets that seem to be proliferating like bunny rabbits. But look at all that happened between the advent of the King in the Fifties and the split-up of the Beatles in 1970.

[Read more...]