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My Favorite Things: God Bless America Edition | The Nation

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Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

Well-chosen words on music, movies and politics, with the occasional special guest.

My Favorite Things: God Bless America Edition

My new 'Think Again column is called "Republicans Ignore the Evidence About Higher Taxes on the Wealthy," and it's here.

Alter-reviews: Peter Wolf, The Mavericks and WHN

So, Monday night I stopped by Hill Country Barbeque for some excellent guess-what and to listen to a bunch of radio old-timers reminisce about the good old days when New York had an AM country radio station, WHN, which it did between 1973 and 1987. I originally discovered the station looking for Mets games, but it turned out to be the best thing on if you were in a car and didn't have an FM radio. The panel, moderated by Ed Salamon, former WHN Program Director and author of the new book WHN: When New York Went Country was pretty good humored, and most of the audience was made up by former employees of the station, and everyone had a nice cozy feeling. One problem: Alan Colmes was on the stage, but none of the other people seemed to know him.

I had to leave early before the music started because hey, THE MAVERICKS are back together with their first album in seven years, and were playing an insanely crowded show at the Bowery Ballroom. They are really too popular for such a small hall, though not as popular as they should be, because well, okay, the music's great and fun, but Raul Malo has one of the greatest voices of any singer alive and most singers before that. I think he sounds a lot like Elvis. Others say Roy Orbison. The new album is called In Time, and what can one say, it's a Mavericks album. Act now.

The night before I went to City Winery to see Peter Wolf, for the first time since I saw J. Geils with Scott and Paul and the Palladium and we all smoked pot for the first time in 1975. (It's okay, my kid doesn't read this.) We actually didn't get too far with the pot, as we heard something about cops when we were in the bathroom and flushed it down the toilet. Anyway, they were among the greatest live bands ever and Peter Wolf remains a charming, energetic entertainer and storyteller. Sunday night he paid tribute to his roots which stretch from John Lee Hooker to Sonny Rollins to Merle Haggard. One of the world's great DJs, he is an awesome storyteller. One of them actually ended with Hooker watching Lassie and telling the teenage Wolf: "Man, that is one smart motherfucking dog." The band had nice chops and the solo material is first rate, even without Jagger, Haggard and Shelby Lynne, et al. The most recent one got a real workout. It's called Midnight Souvenirs.

So Reed told he wouldn't have anything this week owing to deadline pressure, and I didn't want anyone to feel they had come here for (next) to nothing, so in honor of Ted Cruz, I, too, made a bunch of lists. Mine's not of Harvard commies but a patriotic list of some of the things that make this country great; at least if you're me. I'm sure I forgot stuff, so don't yell at me. (They are not in any particular order.)

My Favorite Things: God Bless America Edition
Directors:
John Ford
Alfred Hitchcock
Billy Wilder
Woody Allen
Martin Scorsese
Sidney Pollack
Howard Hawks
Orson Welles
Frank Capra
John Huston
Francis Ford Coppola
Preston Sturges
Sidney Lumet
Stanley Kubrick

Movies:
Casablanca
Rear Window
All About Eve
His Girl Friday
Philadelphia Story
It's a Wonderful Life
The Searchers
Diner
Groundhog Day
Roman Holiday
Taxi Driver
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Dazed and Confused
Manhattan
Crimes and Misdemeanors
The Godfather
The Godfather II
One Two Three
This is Spinal Tap
Goodbye Columbus
Chasing Amy
Chinatown
The Maltese Falcon
The Big Sleep
Double Indemnity

Novelists:
Henry James
Edith Wharton
Ernest Hemingway
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Truman Capote
Philip Roth
John Updike
John Cheever
Jonathan Franzen
Dasheil Hammett
Raymond Chandler
James M. Cain
Wallace Stegner
J.D. Salinger
Nick Hornby
E. L. Doctorow

Critics:
Edmund Wilson
Pauline Kael
Dwight Macdonald
Alfred Kazin
John Updike

TV Shows:
"The Odd Couple"
"The Simpsons"
"M*A*S*H"
"The Bob Newhart Show"
"The Larry Sanders Show"
"The Wire"
"The Sopranos"
'Deadwood"
"Curb Your Enthusiasm"
"Eastbound and Down"
"Mad Men"
"Freaks and Geeks"
"30 Rock"
"SNL," 1975-1980
"The Johnny Cash Show"
"Dr. Katz"
"Daily Show"/"Colbert"
"Archer"
"Star Trek"
"The Dick Van Dyke Show"
"The Honeymooners"
"Bill Moyers Journal"
"I Love Lucy"
"The West Wing"

Rock bands:
Nirvana
Talking Heads
Allman Brothers
Creedence
Grateful Dead
Eagles
CSNY
The Beach Boys
The Byrds
The Band
Steely Dan
Hot Tuna
R.E.M.
Little Feat

Solo rock performers:
Bruce Springsteen
Bob Dylan
Tom Waits
Roy Orbison
Neil Young
Bonnie Raitt
Paul Simon
Chuck Berry
Elvis Presley
James Taylor
Patti Smith
Jackson Browne
Billy Joel (just barely)

Folk singers:
Bob Dylan
Bruce Springsteen
Simon and Garfunkel
Joni Mitchell
Joan Baez
Leonard Cohen
Woody Guthrie
Laura Nyro
Harry Belafonte

Soul singers:
Aretha Franklin
Sam Cooke
Joe Turner
James Brown
Otis Redding
Sly
Marvin Gaye
Al Green
Stevie Wonder
Levi Stubbs
Solomon Burke
James Carter
Clarence Carter
O.V. Wright
ZZ Hill

Jazz performers and composers:
Duke Ellington
Louis Armstrong
John Coltrane
Ben Webster
John Lewis/MJQ
Miles Davis
Charles Mingus
Thelonius Monk
Art Tatum
Clifford Brown
Sun Ra
Dizzy Gillespie
Count Basie
Dexter Gordon
Charlie Parker
Wayne Shorter
Chick Corea
Stan Getz
Chet Baker
Sonny Rollins
Herbie Hancock
Bud Powell

Vocalists (non-rock):
Frank Sinatra
Tony Bennett
Bing Crosby
Billie Holiday
Abby Lincoln
Ella Fitzgerald
Barbara Streisand
Fred Astaire
Dean Martin
Miss Peggy Lee
Bobby Short
Barbara Cook
Nina Simone

Country singers:
Hank Williams
Johnny Cash
Patsy Cline
Merle Haggard
Ray Price
Willie Nelson
Waylon Jennings
George Jones
Tammy Wynette
Loretta Lynn
Jimmie Rodgers
Jimmy Dale Gilmore
Townes van Zandt
Kitty Wells
Rosanne Cash
Ray Benson
Raul Malo

One (or so)-hit wonders:
Redbone, "Come and Get Your Love"
Tommy Tutone, "8675309"
Dean Friedman, "Ariel"
Zanger and Evans, "In the Year 2525"
King Missile, "Jesus was Way Cool"
Stories, "Brother Louie"
Shocking Blue, "Venus"
Brewer and Shipley, "One Toke Over the Line"
Bobbie Gentry, "Ode to Billy Joe"
Jeannie C. Reilly, "Harper Valley PTA"
Norman Greenbaum, "Spirit in the Sky"
Lee Michaels, "Do You Know What I Mean"
Archie Bell and the Drells, "Tighten Up"
Left Banke, "Walk Away Renee"
Electric Lighthouse, "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes"
Swinging Medallions, "Double Shot of My Baby’s Love"
Bobby Fuller Four, "I Fought the Law"
? and the Mysterians, "96 Tears"
Marmalade, "Reflections (of my Life)"

Videos:
Bruce Springsteen, "Glory Days"
Nancy Sinatra, "These Boots Are Made For Walking"
Beastie Boys, "Fight for Your Right to Party"
Madonna, "Material Girl"
Cyndi Lauper, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
Paul Simon with Chevy Chase, "You Can Call Me Al"
Mick Jagger and David Bowie, "Dancing in the Streets"

Should be (much) more famous than they are:
John Prine
Randy Newman
Loudon Wainwright III
Maude Maggart
The Roches
Iris DeMent
Richard Thompson
Lucinda Williams
Steve Earle
Todd Snyder
Silver Jews
Hayes Carli
Dave Alvin
David Bromberg
David Johansen
Junior Brown
Southside Johnny
Graham Parker
Warren Zevon
Chris Gaffney
Big Star
Tom Verlaine
Kate and Anna McGarrigle
Joan Osborne
Garland Jeffreys

Whatever happened to:
Ricky Fante
David Forman
Terrance Trent DÁrby

Bonus: Best and worst baseball moments, post 1962. (I was born in Flushing, FYI...)
Best:
Cleon Jones catching the ball on one knee (1969)
Ron Swoboda catching the ball sideways (1969)
Seaver strikes out nineteen, sets record (1970)
Tom Seaver strikes out Dave Winfield at Yankee Stadium with bases loaded on 3-2 to get 300 Ks, (1985)
Bill Buckner’s blown grounder (1986)
Sox beat Yankees in game seven (2004)
Endy Chavez’s catch (2006)
R.A. Dickey wins Cy Young (2012)
Worst:
Jimmy Qualls singles with one out in the ninth (1969)
Seaver is traded (1977)
Carlos Beltran looks at three and two (2006)
Madoff is arrested, (2008)
Dickey is traded (2012)
Opening Day (2013), alas.

Editor's note: To contact Eric Alterman, use this form.

For a better take on Washington gridlock, the media should look at proven psychological differences between Republicans and Democrats, Reed Richardson writes in the last Alterman post.

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