Happy birthday to Grantland contributing editor Malcolm Gladwell, who has logged in about 438,000 hours in service of his unparalleled ability to prove that even the most commonsensical of ideas can achieve the perception of complexity when expressed with the kind of controlled tone that presents itself as a novel articulation of discovery. I mean, good for him, subsequent attempts by younger practitioners have shown that it is nowhere near as easy as it looks. Anyway, he's 50 today.
We generally restrict our acknowledgment of birthdays in this space to those which end with zeros or reveal that a person is now eligible for Social Security, but some days—particularly slow ones during the last week of summer when even lifting the receiver seems like too much effort for phoning in purposes—we take whatever we can get, and today's 64th turning of the world upon the man known as Leon Redbone will just have to do. I wanted to find a decent video of "Champagne Charlie" but it seems to be in short supply, but then I belatedly recalled that he was the voice behind the theme song to [...]
Robert Anthony Plant, a musician known for his appreciation of Hobbits and Hobbit-related material, turns 65 today. His place as one of the greatest vocalists in rock history is beyond dispute, so perhaps the only thing left to debate is his greatest vocal. Here are some candidates, from the very [...]
Terry Adams, the guiding light behind one of the most rollicking, least categorizable bands in American music, turns 65 today. If you're having a slow start this morning, and who isn't, perhaps this take on the standard "The Peanut Vendor" will put a little spring in your step, or whatever you do at your desk.
Apparently all the Next Big Things are now hitting 50, and today it's jazz pianist Marcus Roberts' turn. Here's a take on Monk, and below there's an interpretation of "Maple Leaf Rag" that is really something to hear.
Happy birthday to actress Lisa Valerie Kudrow, whose flawed but funny show "The Comeback" deserved more time to find its level. You might also remember her terrific supporting performance in The Opposite of Sex. She had a recurring role on "Mad About You," too, but you can't hold that against her because a girl's gotta eat. Anyway, she's 50 today.
For a second there it seemed like Travis would be the next big thing, but that didn't happen and instead we wound up with Coldplay. I guess in the scheme of things it doesn't make much of a difference, and in the end the only thing we can be fully certain of is that we are all going to die and the world will continue to turn as if we never made a difference during our time upon it, which we didn't. Anyway, Travis frontman Fran Healy turns 40 today. Good for him!
Does Elizabeth Fraser have the most beautiful voice in popular music? On most days I'd say yes, so on this day, which is her birthday, it would seem churlish not to reaffirm that opinion. Above, a track from what I controversially but correctly identified as her band's best album in an earlier post. Below, her (and possibly anyone ever's) greatest supporting performance. Happy birthday Elizabeth Fraser.
Myra Ellen Amos turns 50 today. Remember this song? Crazy, man. Anyway, happy birthday!
The man born Rolf Magnus Joakim Larsson turns 50 today, so let's take a moment to reflect upon his signature achievement: this song, which Wikepedia notes "is now a ringtone in hundreds of thousands of mobile phones all over the world." You may find the work to be a bit bombastic or overblown, but unless you have created something that has had just as much significance in the lives of so many different people, [...]
Back in 2009, when a small group of incensed purists derided the man born Anthony Ray for selling out by allowing his career-defining composition to be used in an ad for Burger King, this organization editorialized that the anger was misplaced, and that we should in fact be celebrating the performer for his "continuing devotion to booty. The man liked booty back in the day, and he likes booty now. It's not a career gimmick; it's not a passing fad… it is a deeply held belief in the sanctity of booty, and he doesn't care who knows it. In an age of ceaseless change and easily discarded ideology, [...]
He was once the future of the blues, and now Young Bob is 60. I guess that's what happens. Anyway, here's one of his first big ones. It came out the year before Gary Clark, Jr. was born. It's a funny old world.
Happy 60th birthday to proud Canadian Mr. Gary Lee Weinrib. Let's take a quick tour through some of his vast ouevre, starting with the classic above, which surely has the most impassioned vocal to relate the story of a robot seeking to liberate himself from the tyranny of of an automated existence since Frank Sinatra did it on Swing Easy in 1954.
Susan Eloise Hinton turns 65 today. My personal favorite was That Was Then, This Is Now but you probably liked The Outsiders, or Rumble Fish, or maybe even Tex. Or maybe you've never even heard of S.E. Hinton, in which case you might be better suited reading a BuzzFeeᴅ list of late '90s Nickelodeon shows. I'm sure there's a new one up right now. There usually is.
If you spent any amount of time growing up in the '70s this, along with the various works of Anne Murray, The Carpenters and others, was part of the omnipresent soundtrack which made that decade depressing enough to the extent that it continues to instill thoughts of suicide in those who happen to hear its sounds at, say, the grocery on a rainy Wednesday afternoon. Anyway, David Richard Solberg turns 70 today. He also played Hutch, you know.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin turns 40 today, which means those of us over 40 can feel confirmed in our own senses of failure in life, while those of us who have not yet turned 40 have however many years until we do to have our failures in life confirmed. Happy birthday, Google co-founder Sergey Brin!
On the occasion of Kierin Magenta Kirby's 50th birthday, I think it is time that we make an entirely sober assessment of our current condition and ask ourselves if groove does indeed remain within the heart. If we are being completely frank, I cannot honestly say that it is still in mine. I can't point to any specific instance or series of instances from which this deficiency of coronary groove springs, but all medical evidence shows that as men (and it is particularly the case in men, although it has been known to occur in some women) grow older, their heart contains less groove then it did at their [...]
Basketball legend and New York native Robert Joseph Cousy is 85 today.
Dream-popper Michael Dean Wareham, frontman of Galaxie 500 and Luna, turns 50 today. He also wrote a memoir.