Saturday, May 1, 2021

And it's, "Hey babe, your jukebox is waiting for you..."

To wrap up the week, I am kicking myself that in writing Post #1 and Post #2 about Genesis' "Home by the Sea" and "Second Home by the Sea" — and their relation to super-long songs being played on jukeboxes — I didn't bring up another Genesis song: 1972's "Supper's Ready."

That 23-minute magnum opus by Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett and Rutherford could never be played on a traditional jukebox full of vinyl records. But technology is a wonderful thing. Digital jukeboxes, with no restraints on the playlist, started to debut in the late 1990s. 

And, at that point, "Supper's Ready" became fair game.

Or perhaps unfair game, if the crowd at a given establishment didn't appreciate one of the greatest prog-rock songs of all time.

Here's a July 2012 thread I found on Reddit:

Ha! I wish I had been at that New York City bar on the night of the back-to-back-back journeys with the supersonic scientist, the guaranteed eternal sanctuary man, Narcissus being turned to a flower, the flutterbyes and the seven trumpets blowing sweet rock and roll. (This also reminds me of John Mulaney's jukebox story, which is one of Ashar's favorites.)

Anyway, there's been much written on the interwebs about the brilliance of "Supper's Ready." I'm a huge fan of it, too. And, while it might be just a touch of blasphemy, I think my favorite version is the Phil Collins-led live version on "Seconds Out." Differences of opinion always welcome! 

Thank goodness we don't allow unsigned letters today

This is the first of a few posts inspired by browsing through the November 13, 1975, edition of The Scranton Tribune. About 75% of my current job involves assessing and editing letters to the editor, and working with those to submit them to ensure they are clear, accurate and reflective of the writer's views. 

I cannot fathom publishing letters without the full name of the writer, as we see in these two examples from 46 years ago in the Tribune:

Friday, April 30, 2021

Readers relive their lives in what they tell us

Sunday's post about Genesis' "Home by the Sea" and "Second Home by the Sea" spawned a lot of fun commentary across the digital platforms. Let's go creeping up the blind side, shinning up the wall and check it out...

Over on Papergreat's Facebook page, the discussion began with this great story from Wendyvee:
"When I was in college, I was a PT bartender at a little local dive bar. Yes, I was a bartender 3½ years before I could legally drink ... go figure. Their jukebox was roughly 50/50 split between Metal & Contemporary Country. However, the owner's SIL at some point added a novelty 45 with the 'The Ballad of Gilligan's Island' theme song on it. On weeknights, Last Call was whenever the owner's daughter felt like leaving and it was rarely at the same time from night to night. It was often my job to override the current song and play Gilligan as a Last Call signal. The regulars were used to it ... but it frequently pissed strangers off."

John Byrne, who says "Second Home by the Sea" is in his Top 10 favorite Genesis songs, then started ruminating about the length of the single as it relates to potential jukebox play:

"If I can nerd out here for a moment — that B side has to be an edited version — 'Second Home by the Sea" is 6+ minutes long. Nothing worse than an edited single. I bought the Fleetwood Mac 'Sara' single as a kid and I was heartbroken when I discovered it was an edited version."

To which I replied: "I wondered about that, too. But I've also seen plenty of jukeboxes with 'Stairway to Heaven' and some of the other iconic longer songs of the 1970s. ... This interesting thread seems to indicate a number of 8-minute singles on 45's."

John Byrne: "Very interesting! I thought for sure longer songs had to be edited if released on a 45. Thanks for sending."

Wendyvee: "I'm pretty sure that I had to endure 13 or 14 minutes of drunk people singing 'Free Bird' while I was working lol lol."

(Though it seems like a godawful eternity, "Free Bird" is only 9:08 in the album version.)


Meanwhile, in the comments here on blog, Brian Busby of the terrific website The Dusty Bookcase wrote: "[Regarding] 'Who the heckfire played "Second Home by the Sea" on a jukebox??' I was going to suggest a really big fan — but then, as you write, you wouldn't have played it yourself. The weirdest thing I ever played on a jukebox was Bowie's 'V-2 Schneider,' the B-side of 'Heroes,' in a smalltown Quebec pool hall. Well worth the two-bits!"


Finally, when I linked to the "Second Home by the Sea" post on Twitter, I ended up going down an odd National Hockey League rabbit hole with Delmonico Steiner (@ssteiner13), who wrote: "It is so weird you posted this. I have been in a quest for confirmation from anyone please it is driving me crazy: Does anyone remember PHL17  playing this song during [Philadelphia] Flyer Highlights? Second Home by the Sea? Anyyyyonnneee?"

To which I tied almost everything together and replied: "This does remind me of a great story. On May 28, 1987, Genesis was playing at Veterans Stadium for the first of two nights. Next door, Flyers were playing the Oilers in Game 6. When Daigneault scored The Goal, the Veterans Stadium crowed erupted in cheers in the middle of a song."

Delmonic Steiner, clearly a Flyers fan at some level, replied in a way that gave me the sinking realization that he didn't know what I was referring to with Daigneault and The Goal in that year's Stanley Cup Finals.

The. Goal.

And now I feel very, very old.

Speaking of very, very old. Genesis is touring later this year. Or at least planning to. Unfortunately, the tickets for the Splendid Septuagenarians are very expensive, causing Wendyvee to lament: "Thought I might treat myself to a ticket for Uncle Phil & the Boys down at the Senior Citizens Center. Unfortunately, I would have to sell a few organs (and perhaps my soul) on the Black Market to fund it. Anyone want to buy RoadsideWonders as a non-fungible token for a few million $$$?"

P.S. from me: Don't get me started on non-fungible tokens. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Postcrossing folk tale from Indonesia

In yesterday's mail, I received this postcard that was sent from Indonesia, more than 9,000 miles away. It's from Cherlita, who illustrates and creates some of the postcards she sends through Postcrossing

On this one, she wrote on the back and told me a traditional regional folk tale:
"Hi Chris. My name is Cherlita. I'm an art director and illustrator. This is one of my artworks of Indonesian folklore Keong Mas (The golden snail). The story follows a beautiful princess who was envied by her sister. The sister sought a witch to curse her in order to have the prince turned to the sister. The princess became a golden snail. One day, an old widow who lives by the sea was fishing, and she caught the snail in her net. It mesmerized her and she bought [sic] it home. The next day, she came home from work, the house she lived in has been cleaned & food is ready on the table. The princess has helped her! Soon, the prince found the princess & broke the curse with a kiss, & the 3 lived happily ever after. Hope you like the card!" 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Book cover: "Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun"

Thought I'd go with something recent, rather than from back yonder in the 20th century...

  • Title: Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun
  • Author: Sarah Ladipo Manyika (1968-present)
  • Illustration: Anne Whiteside 
  • Book design: Allan Castillo Rivas
  • Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
  • Year: 2016
  • Pages: 118
  • Format: Paperback
  • Excerpt from front flap: Morayo Da Silva, a cosmopolitan Nigeran woman, lives in hip San Francisco. On the cusp of seventy-five, she is in good health and makes the most of it, enjoying road trips in her vintage Porsche, chatting to strangers, and recollecting characters from her favourite novels. Then she has a fall and her independence crumbles.
  • Dedication: "For Us"
  • First sentence: The place where I live is ancient.
  • Last sentence: [Redacted: Slight spoiler]
  • Random excerpt from middle #1: I keep the books that used to belong to my mother in my bedroom.
  • Random excerpt from middle #2: So like the other day, I found all these books just dumped onto the sidewalk. So I picked them I and I gave some to friends, who like to read, you know.
  • Random excerpt from middle #3: I wish I'd packed more than one book. I reach again for my earthquake bag, just to double check because it feels heavy enough to contain another book.
  • Rating on Goodreads: 3.85 stars (out of 5)
  • Excerpt from Goodreads review: In 2016, Jessica Jeffers wrote: "This is not really a book about a plot, it's more of a character study. It's almost Woolfian in its stream-of-consciousness style, but we get the points of view of not just Morayo, but also the Palestinian shopkeeper she befriends, her neighbor, an aide at the home, a homeless woman she crosses paths with, and her ex-husband back in Nigeria. My only complaint about this book, really, is that I wanted more."
  • Rating on Amazon: 4.3 stars (out of 5)
  • Amazon review: In 2019, J. Hill wrote: "If you like stories that tie up nicely in a bow with no questions asked, this is not the book for you. But if you like intriguing and lovable characters, snapshots into everyday life and the trials we have or will face in some way, then it's worth the eyeball time. This book lingers but remains unsolved, and I found that refreshing."
  • My Goodreads rating: 5 stars
  • Joan's Goodreads rating: 5 stars

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Genesis jukebox slip and things that go to make up a life

So, I guess the first question that comes to mind with this old jukebox slip is "Who the heckfire played 'Second Home by the Sea' on a jukebox??" In what 1980s bar or restaurant was this a thing? (I'm sure, of course, "That's All" was played zillions of times.)

The 11-minute, two-part Genesis song "Home by the Sea" and "Second Home by the Sea," recorded in 1983, is one of my absolute favorites by the band. The five-minute first half tells the slightly spooky (think Disney's Haunted Mansion levels of spookiness) tale of an unlucky burglar and a haunted house. The six-minute second half — "Second Home by the Sea" — is almost entirely instrumental and is a revisiting of Genesis' prog-rock roots. The full song was a staple of live shows for years. I know both the album version and some of the live versions, with their slight improvs and additions, by heart. I wore out those cassette tapes while walking between classes at Penn State and, later, during my short forays into jogging or to drown out surrounding noise at work.

A Reddit poster name LordChozo wrote an insightful post — perhaps the definitive piece — about the crafting of "Home by the Sea / Second Home by the Sea" last autumn. It's full of quotes from Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins on how the song was put together in the recording sessions. You should check out the whole piece, but here's a very short (and beautifully written) excerpt:
"I should point out that this is a song about reliving lives, and it was composed by literally reliving/recreating what had been previously produced spontaneously. The entire song of 'Second Home by the Sea' was written in the exact method as the stuff that it’s all about. Life, lived spontaneously. Fleeting moments of clarity and blossoming creativity bursting out of the daily fog that characterizes so much of our existence. A yearning for those moments, and memories that attempt to recreate them, with varying degrees of perfection."
Still, I can't see anyone playing "Second Home by the Sea" on a jukebox, perhaps unless it was by accident. Perhaps the point was to try to capitalize on the success of "That's All" by exposing more people to the other side of Genesis. Folks put in their quarter expecting another catchy pop single featuring Phil Collins ... and got six minutes of art rock.

What's the weirdest thing you ever played, or heard played, on a jukebox? For me, it was a bar in Spartanburg, South Carolina, that had an "Easter egg." The song didn't appeared on any of the jukebox slips, but if you knew which code to punch in, it played John Williams' "The Imperial March" from The Empire Strikes Back. 

For final funsies, here's an old advertisement for a jukebox I stumbled across online: "Psychedelic Money-Grabber"