HOMEWARD BOUND Playlist #1: Paul Simon’s Jerry Landis years

4paul simon-201 copyIt’s time to play some Paul Simon music.

But first: this there biography of Paul Simon was unleashed officially today, meaning you can find, flip through and purchase it, hurl it through a loved one’s window and/or club a spider with it starting today. You can also buy it online at the following fine retailers:

Homeward Bound
The Life of Paul Simon

Buy the Book:

But now it’s time to get to some music.

I’m going to post a few playlists to go along with the book, and we’ll start here with Paul’s earliest recorded work, along with some of the music that surrounded it.

HEY SCHOOLGIRL: Paul and Artie Garfunkel had signed a holding deal with another independent record company in the early months of 1957 but they were free agents when they wrote and recorded a demo for this song, the co-written pop tune that would in November 1957 launch their brief career as Tom & Jerry, everyday teen high schoolers who just happened to sing like the Everly Brothers:

DANCIN’ WILD: And here’s the b-side.

OUR SONG: Released in the early weeks of 1958, Tom & Jerry’s follow-up single flopped, setting the standard for every other single the teen rockers would release:

TRUE OR FALSE: Contracted, recorded and released by Tom & Jerry’s record label without Artie Garfunkel’s knowledge, Paul’s first solo single “True or False” was written by his professional bassist (and rock ‘n’ roll-hating) father Louis Simon (a/k/a Lee Simms) and performed by Paul, Lou, and a couple of session players. Paul sings as a kind of Elvis Presley type, complete with lascivious slurs, gurbles and audible smirks. It’s actually a lot more charming than it sounds. “True or False,” credited to the pseudonym True Taylor, was a horrific flop, selling less than 100 copies (according to Paul’s testimony in 1967) as well as creating the first fissure in the foundation of his friendship with Artie.

ANNA BELLE: Unbeknownst to his friends at Queens College, Paul spent his off-campus hours continuing his work in the pop music industry in midtown Manhattan. Along with recording demos of new songs for other songwriters he released songs under the name Jerry Landis, his pseudonym from the Tom & Jerry days. “Anna Belle” came out in 1959 and was, again, a flop:

JUST A BOY: Another Landis single, this one from 1960, and a prime example of his romantic pop ballad style. Note the female chorus behind him, and the whispery-cooing vocal style. Note also how distant this all sounds from everything that would follow. Another flop, and deservedly so:

MOTORCYCLE: Credited to Tico & The Triumphs, a young doo-wop group Paul met at a talent show in his family’s neighborhood in Kew Gardens Hills, Paul wrote, produced and sang lead on this rockin’ track about the thrill of two-wheeling. Note the engine sounds (actually the engine of Paul’s sports car) and the Vroom-boppa-boppa background vocals by Tico and company. The song made an early splash, then sank to the bottom when the record company went bankrupt. Still, a regional hit in some northeast cities and a solid #1 in Puerto Rico. And no wonder: it rocks.


Song of the Day: Kasey Anderson’s ‘Don’t Look Back.’

Kasey Anderson has been one of my favorite songwriter/performers for the last ten years. I’m playing keyboards with him at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland on Thursday evening (headliner is Chris Margolin & The Dead Bird Collection) and this lovely song will definitely be in the set.

To learn more about Kasey’s recent jinks, hi- and lo-, check out this interview on the FarceTheMusic website. Then go to Kasey’s website and download his 2012 album LET THE BLOODY MOON RISE, for not a penny more than $5. It’s a great record.

Farewell Pete Seeger: Folk singer, union organizer, political activist, all-around badass

And when these fingers can strum no longer/Hand your guitar to young ones stronger…

Called before the fearsome House Un-American Activities Committee to defend himself against charges of being a Communist in 1955, Pete Seeger refused to name names. He wouldn’t answer any questions about his political, philosophical and personal beliefs. And while Sen. Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communist storm troopers were at the height of their punishing powers, ruining careers and imprisoning suspected troublemakers at will, Seeger didn’t use his Fifth Amendment protections to protect himself, either.

In other words: Bring it on, bitches.

Check the transcript (abridged for brevity, context remains pure)

MR. TAVENNER: The Committee has information obtained in part from the Daily Worker indicating that, over a period of time, especially since December of 1945, you took part in numerous entertainment features. I have before me a photostatic copy of the June 20, 1947, issue of the Daily Worker. In a column entitled “What’s On” appears this advertisement: “Tonight-Bronx, hear Peter Seeger and his guitar, at Allerton Section housewarming.” May I ask you whether or not the Allerton Section was a section of the Communist Party?

MR. SEEGER: Sir, I refuse to answer that question whether it was a quote from the New York Times or the Vegetarian Journal.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I direct you to answer.

MR. SEEGER: I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it.


MR. SCHERER: He was directed to answer the question.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: What is your answer?

MR. SEEGER: I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Willis, or yours, Mr. Scherer, that I am any less of an American than anybody else. I love my country very deeply, sir.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I direct you to answer that question.

MR. SEEGER: I have already given you my answer, sir.

MR. SCHERER: Let me understand. You are not relying on the Fifth Amendment, are you?

MR. SEEGER: No, sir, although I do not want to in any way discredit or depreciate or depredate the witnesses that have used the Fifth Amendment, and I simply feel it is improper for this committee to ask such questions.

MR. SCHERER: And then in answering the rest of the questions, or in refusing to answer the rest of the questions, I understand that you are not relying on the Fifth Amendment as a basis for your refusal to answer?

MR. SEEGER: No, I am not, sir.

That’s guts. And so is this tune, recorded live with Arlo Guthrie in 1975:

Tom Junod’s Bob Dylan


Just when you think you’ve read every word you can stomach about the mysteries and weirdities of Mr. Bob Dylan, here comes Esquire’s Tom Junod (and Jeff Tweedy, with a big assist) to lay it down in a whole new way.

And yet he has not given in; he has preserved his mystery as assiduously as he has curated his myth, and even after a lifetime of compulsive disclosure he stands apart not just from his audience but also from those who know and love him. He is his own inner circle, a spotlit Salinger who has remained singular and inviolate while at the same time remaining in plain sight.

Ted Nugent songs or yoga positions?


1. Downward Dog
2. Great White Buffalo
3. Kiss My Ass
4. Standing Straddle Forward Bend
5. Warrior III
6. Weekend Warriors
7. Legs Up the Wall
8. Spirit of the Wild
9. Elephant’s Trunk
10. Strangle Hold
11. Cobra
12. Tooth, Fang and Claw
13. Wild Thing
14. Upward Plank
15. My Love is Like a Tire Iron





Yoga: 1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14
Ted: 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15