Johnny Maraca’s radio salute to Chuck Berry

Hey, if you missed last night’s show on 97.7 the Beach, you can stream all three segments right here. The playlist alternates between Chuck’s originals and cover tunes by the Beatles, Stones and more….plus a few interview clips with the legend we lost a week ago.

Cover scan by Dietmar Rudolph

Segment One

Chuck Berry–Maybellene

Linda Ronstadt–Back in the U.S.A.

Chuck–No Particular Place to Go

Beatles–Memphis

Chuck–Rock and Roll Music

Rolling Stones–Carol

Chuck–Roll Over Beethoven

Segment Two

Nina Simone–Brown-eyed Handsome Man

Chuck–Sweet Little Sixteen

Elvis Presley–Too Much Monkey Business

Chuck–Wee Wee Hours

Ronnie Hawkins–Thirty Days

Chuck–Reelin’ and Rockin’

Bob Seger–C’est la Vie

Segment Three

Chuck–Nadine

Jerry Lee Lewis–Little Queenie

Chuck–Around and Around

Joan Jett–Tulane

Chuck–Promised Land….

and, capping the show off with my favourite song by my favourite rock and roller…

Chuck Berry and Johnny B Goode

 

 

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Back to the future of media and entertainment

When Marty McFly time travels back to 1955 he has a hard time convincing old friend Doc Brown that he’s come from ’85.

“Then tell me, future boy, who’s president of the United States in 1985?”

“Ronald Reagan,” Marty answers.

Doc can’t believe his ears.

“Ronald Reagan, the actor?”

Then again, the idea of an actor who became the Governor of California and then president  seems almost reasonable today in light of you know who.

Bonzo would be more qualified to lead the free world (though you could be cynical and say he is).

BACK TO 1967

I’ve covered the walls in my 97.7 the Beach studio with music photos, including the four Beatle pics that came with the vinyl version of The White Album. John and Paul are to my left, George and Ringo to my right though Harrison’s photo is behind my monitor and I often wonder if he could have imagined our future back in 1967.

George had yet to record “Something” and the Fab  Four were a couple of years away from breaking up, and a year past their final concert. The would never again play live, except for the rooftop performance in ’69.

Would he have envisioned forming the Traveling Wilbury’s with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne?

Back in ’67, the only way to watch television was by hooking up rabbit ears or an antenna. Okay, George, picture a flat-screen television with two little boxes connected to it (my setup). On one side, a Roku that gets free channels. On the other, a jailbroken Apple TV that uses a program called Kodi to get more free channels.

Though in ’67, TV was free. In the ’70s, cable brought us a dozen or so channels you had to pay for, then the 57 that Bruce Springsteen sang about, and eventually hundreds that sent the cost of cable and satellite TV through the roof.

THE HELL WITH BELL

By the way, has anyone else recently cancelled cable or satellite TV? The “loyalty” rep from Bell acted like I was breaking up with her after a long romance. She wanted to keep seeing me and I had to say, no sweetheart, I’ve made up my mind and this is the way it has to be.

Actually she, and the other rep I dealt with were so persistent that I soon lost my cool.

But remember the good times we had together, John? We brought you The Sopranos. Wasn’t that great? Do you really want to cancel? Really? You’ll miss us. People get bored with Netflix, you know.

THE DIGITAL AGE

Getting back to ’67, I’m sure George’s mind would have been blown by the way computers changed television and music.

Songs that exist as wav files or mp3s. Auto tuned voices. Guitar riffs or beats ripped off (okay, sampled) to create new tunes that people mostly talk over in rhyme. Producing an album without actual instruments or vocalists who can sing in key. Or sing at all.

The Beatles honed their chops playing for hours and hours a day at beer halls and strip joints in Hamburg, treating German audiences to renditions of classics by Elvis, Little Richard and Chuck Berry.

THIS SONG IS AN OLDIE…WHERE I COME FROM

And that, conveniently enough, brings us back to Marty McFly, who joined Marvin Berry’s band and ripped into cousin Chuck’s “Johnny B. Goode” at the high school dance where his parents kissed for the first time. Delighting his bandmates and the the audience with a song that “really cooks,” and then baffling them all with an Eddie Van Halen-esque guitar solo.

“Guess you guys aren’t ready for that  yet,” Marty said. “But your kids are gonna love it.”

Who knows what kids will be listening to in 30 years, or how we’ll consume music, movies and TV shows?

Or how we’ll communicate at all. Maybe we’ll go back to the future and actually have conversations in person and not be so obsessed with texting and gadgets.

Nah, that’s too hard to imagine.

 

 

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A Change is gonna come

I have thousands of songs in my Rock and Roll Riot library but the one that affects me the most, even when I listen to the (pre-recorded) airings is Sam Cooke’s stirring civil rights anthem, A Change is Gonna Come.

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Cooke wrote it in 1963 after he and his band members were turned away at a whites-only motel in Louisiana. The African American singer was also inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

I am a proud Canadian. Aside from the climate (why couldn’t they have divided North America down the middle instead of top and bottom?), and with all due respect to my American neighbours, I live in the greatest country in the world.

But….

I am also a citizen of the world. Sounds pretentious and maybe it is, but is a Canadian or American life more important than a German, Japanese, British or (you know this is coming) Syrian life?

No.

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To steal and adapt a line from American President Steve Bannon, Canada first? No, we are great because we welcome immigrants and always have done so. They made us great.

And yes, Bannon isn’t officially the president. Can’t recall the guy’s name but his daughter is hot. But Steve-o seems to be playing a major role in making America white again.

It used to be that left versus right, liberal/conservative or democrat/republican was a matter of politely disagreeing with the other side.

Today, amplified by social media, it’s I’m right, you’re wrong, fuck you.

I have voted liberal or NDP all my life but I also read the National Post and subscribe to MacLean’s magazine, both regarded as conservative. If they criticize Trudeau I am more than willing to read till the end.

Not just the headlines. On Facebook it’s “OMG, I can’t believe it!’

Of course you can’t. You haven’t read it, and know nothing beyond the clickbait likely created by someone who has never interviewed anyone and has zero credentials and limited knowledge.

But repost the nutjob rants and conspiracy theories. I’ll keep blocking them, even if it gives me carpal tunnel syndrome.

Sometimes the legitimate right wing media  are right. And correct. You’d have to be a total twit to swallow everything your party or leader of choice said or believed. You’d be a Stepford wife.

President Bannon has made the media the enemy. So have mind-controlled robots Spicer and Conway because they have been told to do so.

And yet…

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‘How many deaths will it take til he knows that too many have died? The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”

Online subscriptions to The Washington Post, The New York Times and many other newspapers have shot up dramatically because, despite what Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Man said, we can handle the truth.

We want the truth. We want facts. We want answers and accountability.

Without the much-maligned mainstream media Tricky Dick would have remained in office and who knows how many more alter boys would have been abused by priests (rent or download “Spotlight) had it not been for the Boston Globe and its investigative reporters?

In one of my favourite movies, “Inherit the Wind,” Gene Kelly’s E.K. Hornbeck (based on legendary journalist H.L. Mencken) says the media’s job is to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.

That summation is truer today than it has ever been.

And, in closing, lyrics from the great Sam Cooke.

“It’s been a long time comin’ but I know, a change gonna come, oh yes it will.”

 

 

 

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That damned media

Yes, the evil, can’t-be-trusted bunch of liars known as “the media.” 

I’ve been part of “the media” for over 30 years and, as the host of a rock and roll radio show that plays Jerry Lee Lewis every week, you could say the media killed the Killer’s career.

No, Jerry Lee did it all himself. Everyone around him said, don’t take Myra on your British tour and he thought, what’s the big deal?

When the Lewises landed in London the English journalists got curious. Imagine that. Who are you, young lady? His wife? How old are you? Fifteen (she was thirteen, and Jerry Lee’s second cousin)?

The media was doing its job.

I was 13 or 14 when I saw All the President’s Men at the Cedarbrae Cinemas in Scarborough. Watergate was fresh in my mind but at that age, I wasn’t “bigly” interested in politics. Even so, the Washington Post’s dogged search for the truth…follow the money…captivated me. It was a thriller, based on facts.

For any Fox “News” followers out there, facts are things that really happened and are accepted as the truth, as opposed to the opinions of right wing blowhards or “journalists” too lazy to report real news so they invent conspiracies like the War on Christmas.

Did Redford and Hoffman’s…I mean, Woodward and Bernstein’s takedown of Richard Nixon inspire me to become a journalist? Maybe. I didn’t decided to pursue a career in that field until I was 18, and I still remember my interview with Centennial College program coordinator John Lott, who likely shot down many an aspiring reporter with the question:

“Why do you want to take this program? And don’t say it’s because you like to write.”

I did. I still do. I enrolled and graduated.

Truth be told, I didn’t set out to be Woodward or Bernstein. I wanted to write for Rolling Stone and interview Stevie Nicks. I ended up writing for Insight on Collectibles, The Owen Sound Sun-Times and Schizophrenia Digest.

I fell in love with a photo of wildlife artist Liz Lesperance and drove to her studio in Paris, Ontario to write a profile of Liz for Insight. This pic is from ten years later though Liz was still quite lovely. I also interviewed Owen Sound Attack players like Corey Roberts (who hailed from a small town in PEI and had one great season for the Attack but never played beyond the university level) and Mike Lankshear (pictured below) and got paid for stories about them in, respectively, the Charlottetown Guardian and the Burlington Spectator.

Like Woodward and Bernstein, and (swoon swoon) Robyn Doolittle, I took great pride in my research and interviewing skills. Remember how Doolittle and the Toronto Star were accused of being on a witch hunt because they allegedly didn’t like Mayor Rob Ford and were making things up to remove a fine family man from office?

Uh huh. Witch hunt.

It is the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable. 

That quote has been attributed to legendary journalist H.L. Mencken (portrayed by Gene Kelly as E.K. Hornbeck in Inherit the Wind). There is some debate about that, though in his book of quotes, Mencken gave the  credit to an unidentified author. Then again, H.L often quoted himself anonymously.

I believe most of what I read.

If it comes from The Washington Post, The New York Times, The (Manchester) Guardian and most major newspapers and magazines. They employ reporters and fact checkers. Think The Toronto Star published Doolittle’s stories the same day? No, they double checked the info, corroborated every piece of the saga, ran it by editors and lawyers and then…okay, it’ solid, let’s run the story.

FAKE NEWS

Unlike many “news” sites that get reposted on Facebook. I could concoct a story alleging that Kellie Leitch is a robot created by a secret conglomerate that includes Trump, Putin and Colonel Sanders. Okay, that’s true. I read it somewhere.

But I won’t because the journalist in me says, don’t accept it at face value. Investigate. Read, and fucking read more. It’s easy to accept articles that reinforce our beliefs but hey, even Liberal comedian Bill Maher said he wanted to kill himself after watching a few hours of the Liberal-slanted news network, MSNBC.

So here’s to H.L. Mencken, Woodward and Bernstein, Robyn Doolittle, Matt Taibbi, Emma Teitel, Tabatha Southey, the Boston Globe “Spotlight” team and everyone else trying to get the story right, hold those in office accountable and expose corruption and hypocrisy.

Thanks. We need you more than ever.

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