Sunday, March 20, 2011

Saturday Song Selection - Ball of Confusion

“Segregation, determination, demonstration,
Integration, aggravation,

Humiliation, obligation to our nation
Ball of Confusion

That's what the world is today” -Whitfield/Strong

It certainly has been a bit of a delay but Saturday Song Selection returns in fine fashion with a Motown classic that is, unfortunately, as relevant today as it was upon its release in 1970. From the most supreme vocal group in the history of popular music - the amazing, unforgettable, incomparable, remarkable, unparalleled, unsurpassed (if I’m remiss and have forgotten any further appropriate superlatives, please chime in) tempting Temptations. The Temps have long been a particular favorite of, “... and several butcher‘s aprons,” and as it‘s my quill and papyrus, I selfishly reserve the right to make such grand, sweeping, unarguable definitive statements. In the interest of fairness, however, if any one would like to posit another troupe of troubadours as being superior to Detroit‘s finest please do so and let the conversation commence.

For purists, the true Temptations are the classic-5 line-up of Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Otis Williams, Paul Williams and David Ruffin, but some 22 members have donned those slick shiny suits, conquered that complicated choreography and mastered those heavenly harmonies. The Temps are still recording and touring today with sole surviving original member Otis Williams keeping those soulful fires aflame into a fifth decade. Although incontrovertibly clueless about the exact number of Temptations that first must come and go before the inevitable happens and nycityman finally gets his rightful chance - and I ain’t too proud to beg - nary a shower has passed in those very same five decades that didn’t include a “My Girl,” a “Since I Lost My Baby,” or a “Just My Imagination,” (hmm, that title appears painfully prophetic) the preparation has been done.

“Fear in the air,
Tension everywhere

Unemployment rising fast,”

As to my proclaimed relevancy of this 41 year old recording - some current events (send the kids out of the room now, we’ll have some more fun again later.) Today the United States began active involvement in its third simultaneous war. If we separate out the secret campaign that we’ve also been conducting in Pakistan from the overall larger conflict in Afghanistan, in reality we are engaged in four wars at one time.

“An eye for an eye
A tooth for a tooth

Vote for me, and I'll set you free

Rap on brother, rap on
Well, the only person talkin'

'Bout love thy brother is the preacher
And it seems,

Nobody is interested in learnin'
But the teacher”

Libya. Afghanistan. Iraq. Iran. Unemployment. Home foreclosures. Climate change. Terrorism. The Republican’s war on women, working people and education. The protection of predatory priests. The earthquake, tsunami and the threatening nuclear catastrophe in Japan. (to lighten up this all too depressing tally we’ll now conclude with the current, catch all, go-to punch line) And Charlie Sheen. “Just a Ball of Confusion.” Regarding the current unfortunate situation in Japan and in the interest of full disclosure - as we self-important types sometimes say as if what we’ve experienced or what we ponder is of grave interest to the planet - nycityman is an anti-nuke guy from way back and still has the souvenir button from the “No Nukes” rally attended sometime in the 80’s. Unfortunately the “We are the World” sweatshirt worn while holding the hands of complete and questionably hygienic strangers at Hands Across America, has long since met the multiple-washing fate that all poorly manufactured garments eventually succumb to.

“Round 'n' round 'n' round we go
Where the world's headed, nobody knows

Just a Ball of Confusion

Oh yeah, that's what the world is today.”

Saturday, March 19th Birthdays -

Billed as "The Funniest Woman in the World" and the oldest person to have a US top 40 hit at age 75, pioneering comedienne Jackie “Moms” Mabley was born 117 years ago. The fact that I remember someone born in 1894 so well is, needless to say, a bit disconcerting and never to be discussed again.

The extremely intense, extremely cool and extremely not a number but a free man, late Patrick McGoohan, proudly born in New York, would have turned 83 today.

And happy 75th to Ursula Andress, and if I may be so bold as to speak for the earth’s population in its entirety, we are humbly and gratefully in debt for the legendary picture below. Thank You.

The almost classic-5 Temptations, Dennis Edwards having replaced David Ruffin, with Ball of Confusion (That's What the World is Today.)

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