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Friday, Jul 3, 2009
The second biggest selling artist of all time in the United States only had one single become a Top 40 hit.

Garth Brooks is one of the most successful singers of all time. In the United States alone, he has sold more than 68 million copies of his albums since 1991 (when Nielsen Soundscan began monitoring sales), and only the Beatles have sold more albums in American history. He was largely responsible for the massive growth in popularity of country music during the ‘90s, and he has consistently broken box office records when he toured.


Yet, for all of his huge success, he only had one song reach the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Even more incredibly, his only major mainstream hit wasn’t one of his 19 #1 singles on the Hot Country Songs chart. It wasn’t even officially released to country radio and peaked #62 on the country chart as an album cut.


This is the story of the “Lost” one-hit wonder.


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Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009
One sure way to care is a sure investment in health. Health, like love, cannot be bought, but cultivated, and oils the wings of love. So here’s a tip on summer cultivation, a sure way of taking care of your partner from someone who is in the midst of the seven-year itch.

Turn off the lights…


…and light a candle. That’s how severe soul balladeer Teddy Pendergrass wooed them back then. He started out with a group of players, and with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes from ‘72, defined for many the sound of Philadelphia. Remember him crooning on “I Miss You”?


Eventually, Teddy’s mission of sexual healing, of loving women (and himself) the way they loved to be loved, was fulfilled through his solo career. He had to take it one on one.


Sexual healing gets lost amidst all the talk of the redeeming power of sex in relationships. All this talk about sex and screwing—NOT the love-making potential of sex—lets us deceive ourselves into believing the pop culture myth that romantic love will conquer all. And when this little bit of pop-live waivers even a bit, we’re ready to throw it all away. But do we deserve what we haven’t earned? Won’t love continue to pass us by when we neglect to care, even of ourselves?


Let’s take a shower, shower together, yeah
I’ll wash your body and you’ll wash mine, yeah
Rub me down in some hot oils, baby, yeah
And I’ll do the same thing to you


Soul is not just about love, it’s about care. As Teddy expresses here, care is mutual. Care is comprised of action based on affection, considering the other and the self. Care is genuinely not selfless, nor selfish, but decisive giving. Yet, care is only a road to love. Moreover, soul becomes the blues in an abyss of care, so take good care. Teddy offers us tips to approximate that care and cultivate that love. “Turn Off the Lights” is one of a million croons about the matter of care, not just the superficial utterance of love.


These days, love gets easily complicated with care. Care approximates love. Yet, care is not duty, and neither is love. Still, expressing care both expresses and cultivates love. As passionately as resentment can grow from obligation, love can grow from care. With the popular fixation on sensitive organs, let’s take a look at some tips on how to express care for the small, intimate family.


One sure way to care is a sure investment in health. Health, like love, cannot be bought, but cultivated. Care oils the wings of love. So here’s a tip on summer cultivation, a sure way of taking care of your partner from someone who is in the midst of the seven-year itch.


Getting through summer:
Keep yourself and your lover well fed, avoiding processed and packaged food, with plenty of raw and fresh vegetables. Please the senses: feed each other chocolate and summer fruits. Above all, every now and again, place a thick body-butter in the freezer at least until it becomes a thick slush. Use a butter rich in a balance of natural oils—it should be fruity and nutty.


When the butter is good-n-frosty, turn off the lights and light a candle. Play some soft ‘70s soul music—try Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Roberta Flack, LTD, Lenny Williams, Isaac Hayes, or even DeBarge’s older bros in the group Switch. Then, have you lover (or you!) undress and lay comfortably on the bed with a cool beverage. Massage your lover’s skin with the body butter, taking each limb in pieces and the rest in parts. The skin, is also an organ, so go for the skin orgasm.


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Monday, Jun 29, 2009
Sometimes it's tough to get a large group of people to agree on anything. Here are three more personal favorites from 1999 that didn't make the cut for PopMatters'' overall feature.

If you travel in the right musical circles you’re probably familiar with at least two of these albums. The third is mostly forgotten, but still a personal favorite of mine.



cover art

NOFX

The Decline

(Fat Wreck Chords)


By the end of the ‘90s, NOFX was well-established as the good-time jokesters of the punk rock circuit. Sure, they occasionally tossed out more serious songs, but generally they were about sarcasm and silliness. So 1999’s EP The Decline came as a shock. This was an impassioned rant against gun-lovers, Christians, big corporations, and the complacency of the public in general without a joke in sight. And it was all contained within a single, 18-minute-long song. For a band that rarely managed to get beyond the three-minute mark, this was something very different.


The Decline burns through an album’s worth of guitar riffs over its substantial running time, constantly changing tempos and styles along the way. The lyrics are equally wide-ranging, as lead singer Fat Mike takes on a bevy of social and political issues. Despite all these changes, though, the mood remains consistent: angry. It’s that impassioned anger that allows the song to really hang together. Unlike prog-rock and metal bands that regularly go above the 10-minute mark, NOFX had very few templates to follow as they created the piece. Most riffs and themes don’t return once the band moves on—there’s no carefully constructed rock opera background at work here. But somehow, the band makes it work.


Tagged as: music of 1999
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Friday, Jun 26, 2009
by Jonathan Garrett

My mom only had two albums in her car when I was growing up—the Eagles’ Hotel California and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. And given how many soccer practices, guitar lessons, and tennis matches I was shuttled to as a child, I can pretty much hear these albums from start to finish in my head.  In fact, if I’m being honest, I’ve probably heard Hotel California and Thriller more than any other two albums in my life.


But at some point in my early 20s, Thriller vastly eclipsed Hotel California—and all others for that matter.  Rightfully so.


Tagged as: michael jackson
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Thursday, Jun 25, 2009
DNA made "Tom's Diner" into an international sensation but barely profited from their work.

The first time I heard “Marlene on the Wall” playing on the radio, I fell in love with Suzanne Vega. The song was catchy, her voice was soft yet defiant, and the image of a Marlene Dietrich poster passing judgment on a woman searching for love stayed with me long after the song finished playing. Suzanne Vega’s self-titled debut was one of the best albums of the year, with tracks like “Cracking” (“my heart is broken; it is worn out at the knees”), “Small Blue Thing”, and the devastating “The Queen and the Soldier”. But none of the three singles A&M released from the album charted on The Billboard Hot 100.


Surprisingly, neither did “Left of Center”, her enigmatic but hypnotic contribution to the Pretty in Pink soundtrack.


So I was happily surprised when, a couple years later, “Luka” became a major hit, spending three months in the Top 40 and peaking at #3. Finally, other people were discovering what a phenomenal talent Vega was. The Solitude Standing CD peaked at #11 on The Billboard 200 chart, and she was poised to become a major star.


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