7 Songs: Pam Tillis

pamtillisI found out recently that Pam Tillis is going to be at the Lakeside Casino & Hotel in Osceola, IA in October and I’m already plotting how to get there.  I always forget about Pam Tillis, but every so often I totally get on a Pam kick.  As many people know, I have this super-soft spot for 90s country and Pam Tillis is a perfect example of everything that was right with 90s country.  Cheesy yet also full of quality.  Many strive for this but few achieve it.  I am also kind of amazed because she is the only famous person I can think of who is named Pam (except for Pam Dawber.) So today I’m going to write a little bit about seven Pam Tillis songs.  These are probably the seven songs I’ll use to convince Anna she needs to go see Pam Tillis with me in October.

1) Maybe It Was Memphis
If I was forced to name a single Pam Tillis song as my favorite, it would have to be “Maybe It Was Memphis.”  The southern summer nights, Mama’s front porch swing, the Faulkner novel, the misty moonlight, the katydids…what’s not to like?  Heidi and I kind of have a running joke between the two of us when we can’t figure out why something has happened, we usually say “maybe it was Memphis.”

2) Cleopatra, Queen of Denial
Never one to be able to resist a good pun, “Cleopatra, Queen of Denial” has been a long-running favorite.  As Pam’s beau continues to blow her off, she keeps the faith, making excuses for him over and over again.  I was listening to this song in the car the other day with Anna and about half-way through the song, she picked up my phone and looked at the title and was “oh, NOW I get it.

3) Spilled Perfume
“Spilled Perfume” was the first Pam Tillis song I ever heard and it hooked me from the start.  It’s kind of a pun, but not really, but it’s hard to resist someone admonishing you for crying over spilled perfume.

4) Let That Pony Run
Another song from early in my Pam Tillis indoctrination, “Let That Pony Run” tells the story of a divorcee who picks up the pieces after her “husband came clean with the help of Jim Beam and confessed all his sins in one night.”  Heidi and I always laughed at how Pam’s husband in the song had “fallen in love with a barmaid” – what is this, medieval England?  Well, whatever, because it’s a pretty good song and it had Anna’s attention at “pony.”

5) I Know What You Did Last Night (with Lorrie Morgan)
Finally something NOT from the 90s – this song made my best of 2013 list.  Nothing said “shut up and take my money” more than an album featuring Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis, even though I hadn’t really ever listened to Lorrie Morgan beyond her duet with Dolly Parton, “Best Woman Win.”  Anyway, “I Know What You Did Last Night” is fun and they totally get away with a song like this because they are in their 50s and not in spite of them being in their 50s.

6) Almost Over (Gettin’ Over You) [with Billy Gilman]
Talk about a guilty pleasure. “Almost Over (Gettin’ Over You)” was one of those songs I downloaded forever ago (ok, 2006) because of Pam and promptly forgot about.  A few years back, it came up randomly and I really got into it.  There was something that was simultaneously hilarious and disturbing about then 18 year-old Gilman almost over gettin’ over then 51 year-old Pam Tillis. Madonna better watch her back, I guess.  I have no idea whatever happened to Billy Gilman who started with such promise at the age of 11 but whose career petered out after this album. And yeah, this was the best video I could find for the song.

7) Shake The Sugar Tree
Last but certainly not least is “Shake The Sugar Tree” which sounds vaguely naughty to me.  Surely “shake the sugar tree” is a euphemism for something, right? Anyway, you gotta tend to what you planted, and if you take my love for granted, I’ll shake-shake the sugar tree.

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Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Music


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Friday Five: 3/28/14

Here we go again. It’s Friday. I’m going to put iTunes on shuffle and list the first 5 songs that come up and try to come up with something to say about the obscure songs.

So I skipped last week’s Friday 5 and I almost skipped this week but then I thought, no, I can do this.  So hear I am at 10:30 PM after going out to see Divergent with the family (Anna and I liked it, Heidi was lukewarm to it) and now I’m pumped to do this week’s five songs.  Truth be told, last week’s five songs really sucked.

1 – “Rockin’ With The Rhythm of the Rain” by The Judds (from Rockin’ With The Rhythm, 1985)
I was always way more into Wynonna’s solo work than I ever was The Judds, but over the years, I’ve learned to really appreciate their songs, especially the hits. This song is well known and well done, but it doesn’t touch “Love Is Alive” or “Have Mercy” which are far and away my favorite Judds songs, and isn’t even close to my favorite Wynonna songs.  Good 80s country, but that’s about it.

2 – “The Way You Look Tonight” by Chris Botti (from Italia, 2007)
No idea how Chris Botti ended up in my iTunes library as I’m not a huge jazz person and am even less of a smooth jazz person – although I’m not sure how much Botti qualifies as smooth jazz. Anyway, this is a trumpet instrumental of the standard that’s been covered by just about everyone.

3 – “Never Gonna Cry Again” by Eurythmics (from In The Garden, 1981)
I struggle with In The Garden. It’s definitely the Eurythmics at their most unpolished, but there are moments that you see the great pop group they will become.  I think that “Never Gonna Cry Again” is one of those moments.  Nothing is as memorable as “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” but I guess every great band starts somewhere.

4 – “Neon (Acoustic Version)” by John Mayer (from Inside Wants Out, 1999)
I really loved Room For Squares, John Mayer’s debut album but haven’t really liked a full album of his since then.  Many of the songs on Room For Squares originally appeared on the EP Inside Wants Out which Columbia reissued after John Mayer hit it big.  I like the stripped down feel of the song in this version as it sounds very much like something you’d hear in a coffee shop (and I mean that as a compliment!)  Room For Squares slicked the song up a little bit and I like that version as well, but there just seems something a bit more organic about the original.  YMMV, of course.

5 – “Take Me Home” by Cher (from Take Me Home, 1979)
Cher’s disco phase is pretty amazing.  Every artist in the 70s had to do at least one disco song.  Cher did two disco albums – Take Me Home and Prisoner – and the title track of the first album remains one of Cher’s better known hits of that time period.  She’s performed it on the Believe Tour the Farewell Tour and at her Las Vegas residency, each time in almost identical fashion save the color of her outfit, but it hardly matters.  She’s motherfckn’ Cher for God’s sake.  I’m glad to see that it does not make a repeat appearance on the Dressed To Kill Tour which rolls into Des Moines on June 9, but it’s hard to not love the song.

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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Music


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Friday Five: 3/14/14

Here we go again. It’s Friday. I’m going to put iTunes on shuffle and list the first 5 songs that come up and try to come up with something to say about the obscure songs.

I sure am glad that I have the Friday Five to keep me honest in my blogging. Truth be told, even though I didn’t come up with the idea, I really love this little feature as it reaches deep into the depths of my iTunes library and brings up stuff I completely forgot I have.  This week’s Five is a perfect example.

1 – “Wrong Number” by Alisha (from Bounce Back, 1990)
As far as being awesome goes, songs about phones are probably second only to songs that spell. And while no phone song will probably ever be as awesome in my book as “Hung Up”, fellow one-named singer Alisha’s “Wrong Number” is still pretty worthy. What pushes it over the top is that it uses the touch tones on the phone to play a part of the melody. How can you hate that?  I wrote a whole post about this song back in the day – you can read it here.

2 – “Crazy For You” by *NSYNC (from *NSYNC, 1998)
When push comes to shove, I probably prefer Backstreet Boys to *NSYNC.  However, there’s no denying the appeal of *NSYNC’s first album, and “Crazy For You” is a good example of that appeal. We actually bought the *NSYNC album back in the day – it has long since been sold off, but not before importing the best songs into iTunes.

3 – “Let’s Get Funkee” by C+C Music Factory (from Gonna Make You Sweat, 1990)
My friend Mary and i share a love of 90s Eurodance so one Christmas, I bought up a whole bunch the best of the best of the genre via used CDs from Amazon and wrapped them up into a Christmas gift for her.  C+C Music Factory’s Gonna Make You Sweat was one of these CDs.  I’m not as familiar with this song as I am with “Gonna Make You Sweat” which was played ad nauseum in my dorm my freshman year of college.  “Let’s Get Funkee” is about what you’d expect – generic dance music that is still pleasant enough you can hardly find argument with it.

4 – “Bent” by Matchbox Twenty (from Mad Season, 2000)
I would not characterize myself as a Matchbox Twenty fan as I own none of their albums and have never seen them live. Still, one can hardly argue with the fact that they made some pretty catchy singles.  “Bent” is no “3AM” and since I had completely forgotten about it, I was surprised to find that it was actually a #1 hit for the group.

5 – “Danger Zone” by Gwen Stefani (from Love, Angel, Music, Baby, 2004)
Thankfully, this is not a Kenny Loggins cover.  It has taken me a decade to truly appreciate Gwen Stefani’s first solo CD.  I’m not sure why it took me as long as it did.  It is clearly influenced by 80s music and the divas that made that music, so it should have been right up my alley.  I listened to it enough when it was released, but the songs never really differentiated themselves in my head.  So much the better because I get to discover it all over again in 2014.


Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Music


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Friday Five: 3/7/13

Here we go again. It’s Friday. I’m going to put iTunes on shuffle and list the first 5 songs that come up and try to come up with something to say about the obscure songs.

1 – “Be There” by Dolly Parton & Sylvester Stallone (from Rhinestone, 1984)
Really, who told Sylvester Stallone he could sing?  But wasn’t that the whole point of the movie Rhinestone?  It was kind of a turd of a movie and this song isn’t much better, although Dolly redeems it a little bit. All in all, I’d rather listen to the Pointer Sisters’ song of the same name.

2 – “Chickenman” by Indigo Girls (from Rites of Passage, 1992)
I owe Heidi for bringing this song into my life. I liked the Indigo Girls’ debut album enough, but I didn’t really know anything else beyond that. She had most of their albums but didn’t have the debut album – another sign we were meant to be together. “Chickenman” is nonsensical fun.

3 – “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson (from Bad, 1987)
Acha-oo! When push comes to shove, I prefer Bad to Thriller which is heresy in so many circles I can’t even tell you. “The Way You Make Me Feel” is one of the reasons for that. Not much more to say other than Bad was also the last Michael Jackson album I liked start to finish.

4 – “I Will Never Let You Go” by Jackie Greene (from Brokeback Mountain, 2005)
Clocking in at just under 2 minutes, this song is over before it even starts, but it remains one of my favorite songs from the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack.  I feel like it’s one of those few soundtracks whose incidental songs were chosen carefully to reflect the theme of the movie, even though they were just background music in the film.

5 – “What Will Baby Be” by Dolly Parton (from Slow Dancing With The Moon, 1993)
So this week’s Friday Five is bookended by Dolly – I guess there are worse things in the world. “What Will Baby Be” is a 1993 redo of an unreleased Dolly song from the 60s detailing how a baby can turn out good or bad but it “depends entirely on you and me.” Slow Dancing With The Moon is the Dolly album I refer to as her “flying buttresses album” because she had a duet with a hot 90s country star (or four, as in the case of “Romeo”) on every other track, but you can tell that this comes from Dolly’s early years just from the simplicity of the lyrics and her delivery.

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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Music


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The taxman cometh

taxes-uncle-samI haven’t been to smart with my days off these days.  Last Tuesday, I crammed so much into it that I didn’t even feel like I got a day off and today, I made the mistake of scheduling my tax appointment.  It’s a necessary evil. Gone are the days when I can do my own taxes at a card table in the living room. Heidi’s successful career as an author pretty much put an end to that. But this, as I always say, is the very definition of a first world problem. But no matter how many times you tell yourself that, it’s always a small consolation when you have to pay in for the first time in 14 years.

The last time we had to pay in was in 2000. We were young and stupid and didn’t know that by both claiming each other on our W4s, we were painfully underwithholding.  The small consolation in that scenario was that we got a refund on our state return, but we owed more than our state refund to federal.  After that, we changed our W4s and maxed out our withholding from each check.  By God, we were never going to have to pay in again.  To many, this is foolishness because I am basically giving the government an interest free loan until I file my taxes and they have to cough it back up. But I always liked getting a nice sum of money back in the spring and it was worth the peace of mind that I wouldn’t have to come up with money in a hurry like that again.

We were fine all those years that I brought in the lion’s share of the income.  Most of the time, the income that Heidi brought in was hardly enough to be taxable.  I always joked about how she had some miniscule percentage of a contribution to the household finances. But what she lacked in monetary contribution, she always made up for in other ways. You can’t determine the value of everything in dollars, after all.

The last couple years have seen her turn a nice little sum of money from her books – nothing that is remotely a livable wage – but nice supplemental income.  We had anticipated a steady climb in her income and, thanks to our tax lady, had a good idea of at which point her income and its complete lack of withholding would outstrip my withholding.  This year, without even really noticing, we blew past it.  Once we realized this, we started holding back a chunk of each of her checks.  But as they usually do, Things Happened™ and we ended up short of what we thought we might need.  I did a quick and dirty assessment of what I thought we might need and figured it wouldn’t be hard to recoup the deficit.

Boy, was I wrong.

We ended up owing a lot more than I expected. I won’t go into exact specifics, but it’s a lot. Needless to say, we’ll be doing estimated tax payments this year. And for all the talk of penalties for underpayment of taxes, we only got an $8 penalty from the state.

It was hard for me to process.  Things like this bump up against my need to feel safe in all situations and that much uncertainty rocks my core.  It’s easy for me to beat myself up and berate myself until the cows come home. When it comes to finances, it’s very difficult for me to remember that feelings really aren’t facts – they’re real but not true.  It seems like I’ve been getting my shit together for most of my adult life and maybe I’ll die not having my shit together when it comes to things like this.  Maybe I’ve gone to one too many concerts.  Maybe I shouldn’t have bought that coffee at work yesterday.  Maybe I should just sit in the corner and die.  It’s easy for me to jump right to that point.

Ultimately, this is a speed bump in my life.  It’s a pretty sizable speed bump, but it’s just a bump. In the worst case scenario, we take a while to pay it. But pay it we will.  I can see why people get irritated with taxes – it’s hard to see the government get so much of what I work hard for.  But it’s the tradeoff we have to have for not having to hire a private security guard to guard my house and a guy with a hose to stand in the yard in case my house catches on fire.  Our government may not be the most efficient thing in the world, but it’s what we have.

We’ve got a plan for paying it and a plan for avoiding it next year. Not sure if I’ll be able to put off paying in at tax time again for another 14 years, but we’ll sure try.  Life is a learning curve and sometimes, it’s steeper than hell.  Today, it most definitely was.

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Posted by on March 6, 2014 in Life stories


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Friday Five: 2/28/14

Here we go again.  It’s Friday and in keeping with my new custom, I’m going to put iTunes on shuffle and list the first 5 songs that come up and try to come up with something to say about the obscure songs.

That’s right folks, it’s Friday and it’s the right kind of Friday (i.e., a Friday before a weekend that I don’t work) and it’s also Oscar weekend.  So far I’ve only seen one of the movies nominated for Best Picture – Nebraska – but our goal is to watch at least three more before the ceremony on Sunday night.  But enough of that.  On with the Friday Five.

1 – “Satin Chic” by Goldfrapp (from Supernature, 2005)
I have this habit of liking every other Goldfrapp album and Supernature was one of those that I liked. “Satin Chic” lives up to its title by being a glittery disco song that manages to be both retro and current. While probably not as good as “Ooh La La” and “Ride A White Horse”, I was glad this came up because I had kind of forgotten about it.

2 – “The Night Sky” by Keane (from The Night Sky, 2007)
I really don’t have much to say about this Keane song other than it’s pleasant and is one of what seems like a billiion non-album tracks that they have done over the years.  The B-side of this song was a cover of Queen’s “Under Pressure.”

3 – “Dangerous Times” by Cher (from Cher, 1987)
Taken from an album that started my favorite Cher era – her 80s faux metal phase – “Dangerous Times” is a fantastically cheesy album track that is right at home amongst the bombast that was Cher at that time. Wouldn’t it just be amazing if she pulled this out of her butt on the Dressed To Kill Tour?

4 – “Samantha’s Serenade” by Ed Harcourt (from s.Darko, Original Motion Picture Score, 2009)
I’ve never seen the movie s.Darko, the ill-advised sequel to the cult hit Donnie Darko, but for some reason, I bought the soundtrack.  I was probably trying to use up some eMusic money before it reset at the end of the month and I really enjoyed the Donnie Darko soundtrack.  A decent score to what is apparently a very forgettable movie.

5 – “You Need A Man Around Here” by Brad Paisley (from Time Well Wasted, 2005)
I shouldn’t like Brad Paisley, but for some reason, his approach to modern country music is very appealing to me. I am utterly powerless to resist a song like “You Need A Man Around Here” which is a cute turnabout on how a man’s home always needs “a woman’s touch.”  A cheesy yet lyrically clever country song will always get my attention.

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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Uncategorized


How did I get here from there?

Submitted for your approval – a classic “Dan disappears down the Internet rabbit hole” experience from the other night.

Saturday night while I was at work, Heidi linked to this article on my Facebook timeline which detailed how Joan Crawford, not nominated for a Best Actress Oscar in 1962, managed to accept the Oscar on behalf of Anne Bancroft, infuriating Bette Davis was WAS nominated that year and also a favorite to win.  It’s one of those stories out of old Hollywood that you would never see today with all the “I’m so honored to be in the company of all the other nominees.”  We just don’t see great movie diva battles like that any longer.  Whether that’s good or bad, I’m still not entirely sure, but it is decidedly less fun.

Here’s the video of Joan accepting the award.

I knew the story of how this happened, but I read the article anyway as I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff. As it happens,  I ended up clicking on an article on the same site that detailed the 1973 Best Actress Oscar race, one in which the author of the article stated “the Best Actress winner was probably the worst choice in the last 40 years.”  The winner that year was Glenda Jackson for A Touch of Class, up against heavy hitters like Joanne Woodward, Ellen Burstyn and Barbra Streisand.  While the drama surrounding the Best Actress Oscar was interesting enough, I was equally intrigued by how presenter Susan Hayward made her final public appearance that night. Hayward, who was dying of brain cancer at the time and was in pretty rough shape. According to the article “with the help of hours of makeup, a flaming red wig and a large dose of Dilantin she braved the event on the arm of her former co-star Charlton Heston.” This was news to me – I had no idea that Susan Hayward had died. To be fair, it really wasn’t something that I would usually give two whits about, but I just had to see if this footage was on YouTube.

Sure enough, it was.

This led me to read Susan Hayward’s Wikipedia entry. As I mentioned, I knew precious little about her and had completely forgotten that she had played Helen Lawson in the 1967 film adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the DollsA remake of that film is reportedly in the works, with Madonna in the Helen Lawson role.  Madonna is nuts if she does not take this role – someone actually wants her to act! – and the camp value would be off the charts. Not that the original version isn’t campy enough as it is.

But anyway, I got to reading about Susan Hayward’s film The Conqueror.  Released in 1956, it was filmed in Utah a mere 137 miles downwind from where, in 1953, the U.S. government did large scale above-ground nuclear weapons testing.  Not only was there 13 weeks of filming in radioactive fallout, but tons of the radioactive soil was shipped back to Hollywood for soundstage reshoots.  In the end, 91 of the 220 member cast and crew ended up getting cancer. Now there are certainly reasons other than radiation that people might get cancer, not the least of which is smoking which was much more prevalent then, but The Straight Dope has my back on this one although there are also opinions exonerating radiation.  In addition to Hayward, the director of the film died of cancer in 1963, cast member Pedro Armendáriz developed renal cancer in 1960 and in the 70s both John Wayne and Agnes Moorehead succumbed to cancer.  Talk about hazardous working conditions.  And all for a film that is considered one of the biggest box office turkeys not just of the 1950s but EVER.  Who thought John Wayne as Genghis Khan was a good idea?

(obviously not the real trailer, but actual footage from the film, nonetheless.)

From there, I leapt over to Agnes Moorehead’s Wikipedia page.  Best known as Samantha Stephens’ mother, Endora, on the TV show Bewitched, her cause of death was uterine cancer.  She died in 1974 in Rochester, Minnesota, home of the Mayo Clinic.  Admittedly, I knew little about her as well aside from her work on Bewitched, which ran on TBS ad infinitum when I was growing up.  It kind of blew me away that she was born in 1900 – ancient history even to the likes of me and practically prehistoric to my daughter – and that she was most likely a lesbian, although that opinion was up for debate as well.  Obviously, if she was a lesbian, she never came out during her lifetime. The effects on her career would have been catastrophic.  Paul Lynde, who also appeared on Bewitched, is frequently credited with outing Moorehead, saying “Well, the whole world knows Agnes was a lesbian–I mean classy as hell, but one of the all-time Hollywood dykes.”  Keep it classy, Paul.

Naturally, this made me want to read more about Paul Lynde, whose sexuality was the worst kept secret in Hollywood during the 70s. Everyone knew he was gay, but no one talked about it. I vaguely remembered his death in the 80s, and couldn’t remember how he had died – I had thought AIDS initially, but that just didn’t seem right as Rock Hudson was the first big celebrity to die from AIDS.  Turns out it was a garden variety coronary event – a massive heart attack from years of smoking and drinking.  I also wanted to see if there was any Hollywood Squares footage of Paul Lynde on YouTube.  Of course, there was scads of it.  Amongst those results was the video “The Paul Lynde Story: Mysteries & Scandals.” I couldn’t not watch it.

The host is kind of a douchebag, but it was entertaining.  Turns out there are tons of different episodes of this show on YouTube, each highlighting a famous star from yesteryear.  I finished out the night watching the Joan Crawford episode.

And with that, I figured that I’d come full circle and better quit while I was ahead.  But it was a very educational evening, in a most unexpected way.

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Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Uncategorized


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