Wait, What Is This Blog Again?

Hey there! Welcome to Teatro Triste del Clown.

This site started out as something else and then a few years ago, we got it into our head that we were going to write about every song in our music collection. Memo and I have been doing this for years – I’m going forward in the alphabet and just recently started on the letter J and Memo, as it happens, is also on the letter J. As of this writing. It might be a while before I update this pinned announcement again, so, well, yeah.

For a brief overview of my limitations as a music writer, click here. Memo writes with considerably more intelligence than I!

Our Webmaster, Christoph, joins us from time to time.

The Index of what we’ve done so far keeps growing.

If you’re interested in joining us, drop me a line.

M-834 Choke Jack Off Jill

Track Sixteen from 2006’s Humid Teenage Mediocrity 1992-1996 was most likely originally released as Bruises Are Back in Style (Dirty Panties mix) on the 1993 Demo Children 5 And Up.[1] This song opens up with music box playing a standard associated with a baby’s mobile and/or a young girls jewelry box with a spinning ballerina. If add in a line from the lyrics Innocence fuels my foolish mind, there leaves little doubt (in my mind at the very least) that…

This is an expression of ones anger towards someone who took full advantage of ones naïveté.[2]

The simplistic guitar riff with the layered vocals of Jessicka reinforces the “child anger” towards a perp, perhaps an adult that was trusted unconditionally. The song ends with the same music box standard as the opening, underscoring the singer as an innocent youth tainted…

Music over album cover.

Performance from their very first live show in 1993[3]

M-833. “Chocolate Chicken” by Jack Off Jill

Track Fifteen from 2006’s Humid Teenage Mediocrity 1992-1996 was originally released on the 1996 Industry Only Demo Cockroach Waltz.[1] The lyrics seem to be a reference to the world’s oldest profession. The opening musical arrangement sounds like an updated version of Classic Americana and could be a reference to the cottage industry of prostitution in the US.

Fan Video

4245. “Any Way You Want It” by Journey

Official video:

So, there are a few other Journey songs that I actually like enough to listen to on a regular basis (and not just when somebody sings them at my wedding). “Any Way You Want It” is one such song. I cringe calling Journey “hard rock” (that’s like using “rock” and “REO Speedwagon” in the same sentence), but I suppose that technically, this is a hard rock song. Its so very 80’s, but in the best possible way. Primarily because Steve Perry is amazing.

Favorite 4244. “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” by Journey

Official video:

Not even the worst video of all time (debatable) could ruin this song. I mean, the video is epically bad. Here’s a shot by shot remake of the video that drives that point home:

All right, so I have a complicated relationship with Journey. When my wife and I got married in 2007, we wanted our friend to sing “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper. He couldn’t find a version in his range, so instead he sang “Open Arms” by Journey – a song I despise. But, wow, I wish you were there because he knocked the cover off that baseball. I mean, he sounded amazing and his singing elevated the song significantly. I stood and applauded for him. I’d give him a standing ovation again. But, you know, I still can’t stand that song when Journey plays it on the single…

…but I bet if I heard Journey play it live, I’d pee my pants with excitement.

And herein lies the conundrum I face. Since I started singing in a band, my pure respect for Steve Perry has skyrocketed. Seriously, the man has a voice like no other. Ok, one other:

Together with the rest of the band – particularly guitarist Neil Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain – Perry wrote songs that really showcased his voice. Yes, some of them are painfully maudlin, but if you put that aside, he sounds remarkable singing them. I spent half my life mocking Journey and I’m going to spend the rest of my life wishing I could sing like Steve Perry. There’s a bit of karma for you.

Anyhow, in 1983, they released Frontiers. Even at the precious age of 15, I hated Journey. I’d owned a copy of their previous album, Escape (was it a gift? did I buy it?) and wasn’t about to make that same mistake again by purchasing their new record. And then I heard target=”_blank”>”Separate Ways (World’s Apart)” for the first time. Thank goodness I heard it and didn’t see that video because I would have rejected the song just based on the air keyboard moments.

I love the keyboard riff, I love the crunchy guitars and I love the stadium filling bombastic backing vocals (backing the bombastic lead vocals). I especially love it when Steve Perry sings “Ohhhhhhhh” like he’s trying to punch polyps off his throat and beat them to death with his tonsils. As far as I’m concerned, this is just about the perfect pop rock song.

I will fight anyone who disagrees. With my voice.

Favorite 4243. “Jimmy Loves Maryann” by Josie Cotton

Official video:

Further proof that Josie Cotton deserved much more success than she received, “Jimmy Love Maryann” was a moderate college hit from her second album, From The Hip. Again, the song is ridiculously catchy, but her career had already been torpedoed due to the “Johnny, Are You Queer?” blowback. Though this video is eye catching, Elektra (her label) didn’t provide sufficient support for her (and, according to Cotton, her A&R person wanted her to do a Penthouse spread for publicity’s sake – when Cotton refused, she was dumped by Elektra a short time later). She was dropped and didn’t record another album until the 90’s.

The song is pretty awesome, though.

4242. “Johnny, Are You Queer?” by Josie Cotton

Official video:

You have to feel for Texas-born singer Josie Cotton. It seems odd to say this about a singer who was given a prominent place performing a pair of her songs in one of the cool movies of the time, but Miss Cotton got a raw deal.

She entered the scene at the height of new wave with a sound that mixed a 50’s sensibility with 80’s production. Several of her songs got a ton of airplay in 1983 and 1984 on the college stations and she even had some pop success. Her debut album for great reviews. Unfortunately, her super catchy first single, “Johnny, Are You Queer?” ignited a “firestorm of controversy.” The religious right thought she was trying to convert people to homosexuality. The New York gay scene thought she was being a homophobic bitch. And L.A. thought she’d stolen the song from The Go-Go’s:

Basically, recording this song both launched and immolated her career more or less at the same time – which is a shame because, as I mentioned, her music was charming.

Its hard to listen to the song in 2014 and place it in its cultural context. The intention seems to have been to basically be about the frustration of the lead singer upon realizing that the guy she’s chasing is gay without any intended criticism of his homosexuality. Intentional or not, the song sounds like its putting Johnny down because of his orientation. So, interesting concept (Weezer did something similar with “Pink Triangle”), but clumsy lyrical execution. The music, however, is still insanely catchy.

4241. “Bach: Violin Concerto In A Minor, BWV 1041 – Allegro” by Joseph Brezina: Camerata Romana

Right Piece, Different Musicians:

The “Violin Concerto in A Minor” is another one of Bach’s seemingly endless series of effortlessly lovely pieces. I only have the first movement in my library. While it isn’t literally marked allegro on the music, musicians have extrapolated that that was the intention from the 2/4 time signature.

4240. “Bach: Violin Concerto In E, BWV 1042 – 3. Allegro Assai” by Joseph Brezina: Camerata Romana

Correct piece, different musicians:

Bach: Greatest Hits doesn’t bother to include the second movement of the Violin Concerto in E. I suppose its not as big a “hit” as the first and third movement. Also, we listened to this piece earlier this year. Let’s move right along.

4239. “Bach (JS): Violin Concerto In E, BWV 1042 – 1. Allegro” by Joseph Brezina: Camerata Romana

The whole piece, though this is only about the first movement:

This version is much, much faster than the “Camerata Romana” version I have. I am sorry to the anonymous Eastern European musicians who recorded the version I have – unfortunately, I can’t credit you properly!

Bach’s Violin Concerto in E is one of those pieces that you’ll probably know even if you don’t know a whole lot of classical music. Allegro means “quickly and bright” and those words surely capture the spirit of this delightful piece.

It will also sound familiar because both Memo and I have addressed different parts of this Concerto as played by other musicians. Let’s just leave it at that.

4238. “Bach (JS): Concerto For 2 Violins In D Minor, BWV 1043 – 2. Largo Ma Non Tanto” by Joseph Brezina, Feliz Elias; Camerata Romana

Right piece, wrong performers:

The performance is a little sprightlier than the one I have. Much of my Bach collection is from a two CD set called Bach: Greatest Hits – surely a budget collection if ever one existed – that was left to me when one of my old roommates moved out back in the late 90’s. While it includes a great number of excellent compositions, the performances have often left me flat and now that I’ve learned a little bit of the back story about the “Camerata Romana” I understand why.

The second movement of this concerto is played Largo ma Non Tanto, which means “Broadly but not so much.” Broadly is a speed somewhere between slowly and rather broadly – essentially 45–50 BPM. Thanks to EDM, I sort of know what that means.

Oddly, Bach: Greatest Hits doesn’t include the third movement of this Concerto. Indeed, the two pieces don’t even appear next to each other in the track order. This one is on disc one, the first movement is on disc two.

Man, even though I inherited this CD, I feel ripped off.