Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What I Learned From Award Season

Greetings Pups,

So, the Oscars aired a few days ago, apparently putting an end to yet another award season. Thank God. Okay, I used to be really into the whole thing, and I have no idea why. I guess some of those award shows are a place where writers still get appreciated, for better or worse, depending on who wins. But nowadays, I only tune in because of what happens on Twitter. I have to say, the people I follow there should get hired to write for the hosts of those shows, because they are much better at keeping me entertained. So, now that it's all over, what did I learn from, not only this, but most of the award shows from the past several years? Okay, technically, I'm probably just going to cover this last Oscar show, because how am I supposed to remember any others?

Well, one thing is that it's all about timing when it comes to winning. Hopefully, you'll be at your best the same time that others were not. And, hopefully, you'll be at your best when you won't have to go up against a dead person, because, let's face it, if a nominee is dead, they will most likely win. Whether they deserve to do so or not. Okay, I'm not sure THAT one applies to this year. Go back to 2009 for a reference. You might also want to make sure that whatever project you're involved in has to do with something that Hollywood is enamored with. There's a reason why if I ever get to write an adapted script for a remake of The Cross and the Switchblade, I won't get nominated. That's a book that makes Christians look good, by the way.

Let's see, what else? Well, I learned that it's okay to make racist jokes and comments, depending on who you are. Seriously, imagine if Clint Eastwood made a green card comment. I learned that some women who call themselves feminists actually want us to get equal pay, but only if we do equal work, not just because we're women. At least, I really hope that's what Patricia Arquette was saying. I want to like her. I learned that Lady Gaga has decided to remind us how beautiful and legit talented she really is, which is kind of spillover from the Grammys. Please keep this up and just do an album of you and your piano, Lady...I mean, Ms. Germanotta. And I also learned that songs from movies tend to sound better within the movies, especially that Lego song. Oh, that performance. Just..I don't know.

But the most important thing I learned about these awards, especially the Oscars, is that they don't matter. Maybe they once did, but not anymore. You know, as I've mentioned, one of my favorite films of all time is Quiz Show, and a big plot point of that hinges on a man knowing who won an Oscar three years earlier. It is deemed a very easy question. I don't think it would not be that easy today. Even I, someone who used to follow these things very closely, would not be able to tell you who won three years ago. Because who cares? Sure, maybe winning an Oscar or a Grammy will give you some clout, but it doesn't automatically make you good all the time. As Weird Al once said concerning his first Grammy win, "The only thing that changed was that now I can say 'Grammy Award Winning Weird Al'" And when he won another? "Now I can say 'MULTI-Grammy Award Winning Weird Al'". None of these awards are a measure of how good you are on a regular basis. Congrats to the winners, but how much weight can an Oscar really hold when it has passed over people like Vincent D'Onofrio, Hope Davis, and John Cusack, just to name a few. I mean, Peter Lorre and Edward G. Robinson never even got nominated, for crying out loud. And don't even get me started on how many people have been overlooked by the Grammys. But again, who cares?

An award will not make me like a movie or an actor/actress or a song or a singer. It just won't. You know what an award is? It is an opinion dipped in gold...usually. I don't know what the SAG statues are made of. But that's all it is. A bunch of people said you were good this time, and that's it. It doesn't make you an artist. It won't make you be loved and appreciated by the people who love and appreciate cinema and music. I don't care that Gary Sinise didn't win an Oscar for Forrest Gump. He's still may favorite actor. I don't care that Stevie Nicks' best album, in my opinion, got ignored by the Grammys. I still love it and her. And the best thing about the Birdman craze is that Michael Keaton is back, not any awards.

So, listen, people who make movies and music and TV and books and everything else, just make it good. Make it good for yourself and for the people who will truly be grateful for it - your audience. They are the ones who keep you going and give you a career. Not something you can put on your mantle.

So, yeah, to wrap up, award season is pretty pointless. Unless you count pretty dresses and the awesomeness of some people on Twitter. People like me. Yes, I am hilarious at the Twitter, especially during award ceremonies.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Top Ten Behind the Music Episodes

Greetings Pups,

I certainly do enjoy a good music documentary. Heck, I might even enjoy a bad one every now and then. I've just always loved music, and I've always loved knowing how that music came to be and about the people who created it. Exposing myself to such things was one of the reasons I was so motivated to become a songwriter myself. So, you can only imagine how thrilled I was when, in 1997, I found out that VH1 would be giving me music documentaries on a weekly basis. And thus began the phenomenon of Behind the Music, which was, I think, a serious game changer. I don't think I had ever seen artists so willing to sit down and discuss all the highs and lows of their career. One of the things I loved best about The Beatles Anthology was that it included The Beatles themselves telling their own stories, rather than relying completely on "experts" who were just stating facts. Behind the Music carried on this legacy. Of course, they did interview outsiders, if you will, but we came to hear those artists talk about their own experiences. So, I was hooked from the beginning. I don't think I've ever seen an episode that didn't, at the very least, hold my interest. I even watched ones featuring artists I didn't like. But a few of the episodes of Behind the Music will always standout for me. And so, here are my personal favorites. My Top Ten episodes of Behind the Music. I think I'll just call it BTM from now on. Saves time, but you know what I'm talking about. Off we go.

#10. New Kids on the Block - This is one of the newer episodes of BTM, coinciding with their reunion, and it was called a "Behind the Music Event". Of course, it was. Their whole reunion was an event. Now, look, as someone who was there at the start of their career, this one held a lot of nostalgia for me, and it made me even more excited about their getting back together. Still haven't seen them in concert yet, though. Someday.

#9. Weird Al - One thing that stands out about this show is that they always talk about the most difficult parts of an artist's life. Unless they don't have any. And, at the time, Weird Al really hadn't had too much down in the dumps time. He even made fun of that fact within the episode. But after all the heaviness of so many episodes, it was a delight to have one that would just make us smile.

#8. Milli Vanilli - You always remember your first, as they say, and this one was the first for everyone. The very first episode and it covered one of the bigest scandals in music history. This was the one that hooked everyone, and rightfully so. It was a great story with which to begin, and if they ever air it again, I'd watch it for sure.

#7. Alanis Morrisette - I always love to hear people talk about their songwriting process, but there a few who I REALLY love listening to where that's concerned. One of those people is Alanis, and she talked a lot about it in her BTM episode. She has a way of speaking that people who don't get it might call pretentious, but I understand the importance of this craft, so I always enjoy what she says about it.

#6. The Monkees - I've loved The Monkees since I was a little girl, but back then, I only knew that I liked their music and they made me laugh on their show. I had no idea about the rough times, and that's never easy to hear. Although, this episode needs to be watched, if for nothing else than the "Mike Nesmith punching the wall" story. Oh, it's classic.

#5. Julian Lennon - I think I've mentioned once or twice that I despise great artists being underrated and underappreciated. I'm pretty sure that Julian Lennon is the patron saint of those people. I don't think anyone's parentage has ever been equal amounts of blessing and curse as it has been with him. Thankfully, he got some well-deserved attention with this episode.

#4. The Day the Music Died - Whist BTM primarily covered artists and their careers, they occasionally went into other territories. Some episodes dealt with movies that heavily influenced music, or even entire years that left a significant mark. In this case, they discussed three artists and the event of their deaths, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Rivhardson a.k.a. The Big Bopper. I think this might have been the first hour and a half episode. It needed to be that long. There was a lot to talk about, and it was pretty heartbreaking. But their stories deserved to be told. I'm glad they were.

#3. Stevie Nicks - I know that the word "legendary" gets thrown around a lot, so much that it's one of those words that has almost lost its impact. But if one uses it to refer to someone like Stevie Nicks, its power is restored. Truth is stranger than fiction, indeed, and I'm sure a lot of writers wish they could make up the experiences that she has lived through. Yeah, LIVED through. Talk about a miracle.

#2. Andy Gibb - Here's another person that is severely underrated, possibly due to those to whom he is related. I watched this one, mostly, because it was around the time I really started getting into the Bee Gees. I cried for this episode. A lot. And I don't know if it's legitimately possible to miss someone you've never met, but I think you can.

#1. Goo Goo Dolls - Believe it or not, I remember the exact day that I first saw this episode. It had been a tough day, and I did not expect anything to help. But I sat down, starting watching the show, and suddenly I was getting drawn in to the story. Most of all, I gravitated to what John Rzeznik had to say about his bouts with writer's block, something I had been dealing with quite severely at the time. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and people might call me crazy for saying that this changed my life, but it did.

And there you have my favorite episodes of Behind the Music. I think they occasionally still make them, and I still watch. But I would love to, once again, get to watch those old episodes. Here's hoping we get a deal between VH1 and Netflix to get these on Instant Streaming. Or something like that. It would make me quite happy.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dear Zachary - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

There are many reasons why I do this blog. I do it to share my opinions and info on things like movies, books, music and such. Sometimes I share my feelings about more personal things, which means that I am occasionally serious. But when I discuss the arts and entertainment, I usually like to be entertaining myself. I enjoy attempting to make people laugh. Hopefully, I succeed. Today, however, as I share a very important work of art, I will not be making any jokes. I am not even capable of doing so.

For quite a while, I had been getting recommendations to watch a 2008 documentary called Dear Zachary. Of all those recommendations, they always had two things in common. Number one: I was told that this was an amazing film. Correct. Number two: I was told that I would cry. Extremely correct. I'm going to continue that tradition, and I am going to share a little more about the movie. I can only say so much, though, because this is absolutely something you have to experience for yourself.

Dear Zachary was made by Kurt Kuenne, and it is the story of his friend, Andrew Bagby, as well as Andrew's beautiful son, Zachary. Andrew was tragically murdered in 2001 by an ex-girlfriend, allegedly. I think I legally have to say allegedly. In 2002, she gave birth to Zachary. By the way, all of this is in the trailer, so no spoilers. Kurt follows what happens next, being a close friend to the family, documenting everything. And so much happens. So many unexpected and unbelievable things. Things that he never, ever could have predicted, which forces the project into directions he could not have imagined. And as a viewer, you feel as though you are right there with Kurt, as well as all of Andrew's family and friends. This is really why I can only go so far into the story. Events are being revealed to us as they are revealed to all of these wonderful people. And that's something else I want to talk about.

This is such a tragic story, but, believe it or not, as sad as it made me, I walked away with a smile on my face. And I did so for a few reasons. First of all, those wonderful people I mentioned a moment ago. There were so many interviews about Andrew in this film that I couldn't even keep all the faces straight. This man was about as loved as any person could possibly be. I think, until you see it like this, you can forget how much one person can touch so many lives. Also, I should say a little about Andrew's parents. They are amazing, and they personify one of those great lessons about life. One of those lessons that you think you understand until you see people like this, and you know that you really had no idea. We are all taught that bad things, even terrible things, will happen to us, but what matters is what we do after they happen. Do we let anger and misery and grief consume us or do we take what we've been through and use it to make the world better and to help as many people as possible. Andrew's parents chose the latter. They are the main reason why, despite how heartbreaking this story was, I could walk away with a glimmer of hope in my heart.

I have seen many movies that were difficult to watch, but afterwards, I was very glad that I watched them. Why? Because they changed me. Because they taught me something important that I will always hold on to. I don't think any other film I've seen can be described that way more accurately than Dear Zachary.

So, I know that this review was short and not like my others, but what else can I really say other than watch this movie? It is special. It will make you cry, but, ultimately, it will make you smile. Because of those people. Those people who loved their family and friend so much that they will not let any memory fade. God bless all of them.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Goodness of Good Bad Flicks

Greetings Pups,

So, terrible movies are pretty fun, am I right? Okay, I know I've complained a lot about how complacent and lazy and just plain wrong so many film makers have been, especially in recent years. But since we can't change what has already happened, we may as well enjoy what we can in the cinematic cesspool. So, yes, I do enjoy a good bad movie every so often, for several different reasons. Whether I like them to mock them or because I think they're good whilst others don't, not-so-great movies have their place. But how do we navigate through the billions upon billions of awful movies to find ones that we can actually get a kick out of? Well, for that, you've got to go the professionals, and one of the best to seek out is Good Bad Flicks.

Good Bad Flicks is a web series that began in 2010, and the man behind it is Cecil Trachenburg. As far as I know, he works alone, like many great men. Anyway, I've been a fan of his for a few years now. Coming from a family of bad movie lovers, I gravitated toward his take on them. Going back to some of his first videos, I noticed that he started with a lot of unknown B-movies, usually of the horror genre, and most of which I had never heard. Apparently, that was his intention when he began, to share such movies. As time progressed, he started to review films that fell more into a cult classic status, slightly more well known, and now, in addition to those, he also covers a lot of box office flops that most of us have heard of.

Now, like what I said about myself, Cecil says that he enjoys all the movies he reviews, but for different reasons. Sometimes, he just likes to make fun of the ridiculousness of them, but other times, he sees them as misunderstood gems that other people think are bad simply because they think they're supposed to do so. In turn, this leads him to being more informative about the behind the scenes aspects of certain film productions than some other reviewers. Not to say that just because he's a bit more cinematically educational it means that he's not entertaining. Oh, no. He is plenty funny, as you tend to have to be in order to keep the audience happy. I'm certainly happy.

But besides doing only the expected movie reviews, Cecil has branched off and added some other types of videos to his repertoire, if you will. Of course, like most reviewers, myself included, he has dabbled in the art of List Making, and he weekly tells us of his Netflix Instant Streaming recommendations, which come in handy. For you gamers out there, he even covers some Good Bad Games. He has also done a few somewhat editorial-like pieces, discussing things like "What happened to the PG-13 rating?' and "What happened to movie trailers?", good questions both. But I think the best thing he does is his "Exploring" series. With these, he is even more informative than usual, and while still entertaining, these tend to be a tad less jokey, at least, in my opinion. Still, they are fantastic. I think with the "Exploring" series, more than anything else, this is where he really goes in depth to try to gain these films the legitimate appreciation and respect that they deserve. Sounds good to me. And as someone who likes to think I know very much about cinema, even I learn a lot with these videos. See, I can be humble.

As far as where you can find Cecil Trachenburg and his Good Bad Flicks series, he is pretty much EVERYWHERE! Yeah, he's like a Kardashian that we DON'T want to send off to another planet. Hmmm. I feel like I should take that joke back. Seriously, though, the series can be found on YouTube and his own website. Just do a Google search, if all else fails.

Obviously, I am recommending the Good Bad Flicks series to anyone who finds any kind of joy in such movies, as I do. But even if you don't tend to go that way, you will still be entertained and informed. And who knows? You might even make your way to seeing one of the featured films. Bottom line, this guy is good at what he does, and if you can support him, one way or another, I say go for it. Oh, and by the way, when I say he's "good", I mean, good good. Not good bad. See what I did there?

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, February 9, 2015

Archipelago - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

So, it's Tom Hiddleston's birthday today, apparently. How do I know this? One word: Twitter. Yes, it would seem that many of his fans have been preparing for this day for a while, making plans to celebrate in their own special ways. And when I say "special" I certainly don't mean "disturbing". At least, not in most cases, though I'm sure the disturbing ones exist. What were we talking about again? Oh, yeah. Hiddleston. Look, I am more than happy to admit that I am a great admirer of his work. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that he cares a great deal about what he does, which makes him a rarity these days. Also, he likes books and poetry and he seems to be terrible at math, so we have some things in common. Back to his acting. Whilst many people know his from his work with Marvel (I plead the fifth on my feelings about that), he has done some great stuff outside of that "universe". Anyone who follows movie news will know that he has several upcoming projects, but today, I've decided to go back in time a bit to when he was merely on the cusp of the insane success that lay ahead. So, for my own special and hopefully not disturbing way of celebrating Tom's birthday, let's talk about Archipelago.

Archipelago is a 2010 film about a family on a vacation on the lovely island of Tresco, where they are forced to deal with some issues whilst there. The story is seen mostly through the eyes of Edward, the character that Tom plays. He is a young man about to head off to Africa in order to help with AIDS education. His mother, Patricia, played by Kate Fahy, seems to be proud of him and appears, at least, somewhat supportive. On the other hand, his sister, Cynthia, played by Lydia Leonard, does not exactly feel the same way. To say the very least. Hats off to this actress, by the way. She has mastered the art of being condescending. Oh, yeah, honey. You sound really happy for him.

So, yes, there is quite a bit of anxiety on this family outing. There's clearly love, as well, but also tension. Some of it stemming from Cynthia's disdain for her brother's life choices; some of it from Edward's disappointment in not being able to invite his longtime girlfriend to what has been deemed a family trip. That's right, little brother. You cannot have your girlfriend of a year and a half on this trip to spend time with her before you leave for Africa for eleven months. She's not family. Besides, we need room for this artist guy who's going to teach mother to paint. Also, we've got the cook we hired even though there are only three of us here. Yeah, that happens. And I am rather okay with it because it lets us get some good performances from Christopher Baker and Amy Lloyd, who play Christopher the artist and Rose the cook, respectively.

Now there's not much I can tell you all about the plot, nor would I want to do so. See, this film is, in my opinion, far more character driven than plot driven. The happenings go from internal to external, with the people affecting their surroundings rather than the other way around, like many movies do. Frankly, I adore this method, and it seems like one that Joanna Hogg, the director, does quite well. When you gather up a great script and great actors to deliver it, you won't need a lot of other things getting in the way of the character development. And this film really is so much about these characters evolving and opening up about their feelings, for better or worse. I love that. I love getting into characters heads and seeing how they change and act based on little more than their reactions to each other. That is not an easy thing to do, and it certainly isn't an easy thing to do well. So, no problem where that is concerned.

And while we're here, I'd like to talk a little about the look of this film. According to my info, they shot it on location, and it is beautiful. It realistically beautiful, to be precise. I mean, I have seen movies that are extremely gorgeous to a point where they appear a bit fake. Here, this looks like an actual place. An actual, lovely place, that you can go to and it will look exactly as you expect based on these visuals. I suppose the subtly of them lends itself quite well to much of the subtly contained in this film. Oh, and I love the house they shot in. It's so quaint. And when I say quaint, I also mean small. And when I say small, I mean it is kind of amusing to watch Tom have to duck to get through all the doorways. Perhaps, it's symbolism, like he just doesn't fit. Or something.

So, if not's obvious, I am certainly recommending Archipelago. And not just to the Hiddlestoners. No, this is the kind of movie that everyone needs to watch in order to appreciate the art of exquisite film making, and so you can see how having a strong foundation can affect the work that is done. If you like a film with stellar acting, writing and directing, where you can sit there and slowly but surely get drawn in to the lives of the characters, this should definitely be on your To See list.

And once again, happy birthday to the Tom Hiddleston. It's the least I can do for you, sir. No, I mean it. Writing something for/about you is literally the least I can do, since I cannot afford to get you that Jaguar that you have been so obviously hinting at.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Top Ten Worst Hit Songs of 1961

Greetings Pups,

And for the Worst songs of a year I did not have the pleasure(?) to live through. So, here's the thing about the music of this time period. Yes, there was good stuff. I think I proved that yesterday. But much was not so good. Actually, a lot of it was unmemorable and samey sounding. That is, when it wasn't being downright ridiculous. The bad kind of ridiculous. I'm convinced that some of these songs were written by people who spent hours sitting in front of those newfangled microwaves, totally amazed by what they were seeing. But I digress. Let's just get this thing over with. Worst Hit Songs of 1961. According to me, anyway.

#10. "Who Put the Bomp (In the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp) Barry Mann - I've promised to always be honest with you guys when I make these lists, but sometimes it's difficult. Like right now, for example. I absolutely LOATHE having to put Barry Mann on here. Don't know who he is? Well, he just happened to write some of the greatest songs ever heard, including my favorite songs by The Righteous Brothers AND The Monkees. Including a song on my best of this year list that I did yesterday. He wrote "Somewhere Out There" from American Tail for crying out loud! I love this guy, but I have always not loved this song. I'm sorry, Barry. Everyone is allowed to write something not so good, and, for me, it's this one. Ik now some people love it, but I just can't

#9. "Travelin' Man" Ricky Nelson - Say, do you know what a man-whores are? You do? Well, here's their theme song. Actually, it's more like an early theme song. There would be more to come. But, seriously, this song is all about a guy who's got women in every port, so to speak. Not cool, man. Not cool. Also, some of the lyrics make me uncomfortable. Like how he refers to certain women based on where they come from. Oh, well, it was the early sixties. It's low on the list, because the music is okay, but...yeah, uncomfortable.

#8. "Where the Boys Are" Connie Francis - Look, I'm no feminist, at least, not by today's standards, but come on, Connie. Why are YOU waiting for some man? Perhaps, you got an early release of Twilight, but don't believe the whole "life begins at man" thing.

#7. "Last Night" The Mar-Keys - There was a huge trend on this year's charts - instrumentals. I kid you not. It felt like every other song on there was a no lyric tune. Nothing wrong with that, per se. I personally like some instrumental artists. But these ones? I think I could have picked any of them, but I think this was the worst. It was so repetitive, to a nauseating degree. And I know I shouldn't blame the song in its day for this, but it's one of those stock songs that has been used a million times in movies and TV, so I am sick of it.

#6. "Let's Twist Again" Chubby Checker - Remember how I said something about songs being samey sounding? Yeah, why again did we need another song about doing The Twist? Way to capitalize. I guess it was just Chubby Checker's thing. He had a lot of songs that were about dance crazes, or attempted dance crazes. But I just don't get this one.

#5. "Mother In Law" Ernie K-Doe - Something about this song made me uncomfortable. Hmm, there's seems to be a lot of that going around. It was not the fact that he took a common sitcom joke and turned it into a song. And, yes, I think it was already common even at this point. No, I think it was when he referred to the titular SATAN! What is wrong with this song?!

#4. "Baby Sittin' Boogie" Buzz Clifford - Baby sounds. Gross, gurgling, baby sounds. That was the gimmick of this thing. You have GOT to be kidding me!

#3. "Michael" The Highwaymen - Yes, this is "Michael" as in "Michael, row the boat ashore". I don't know if there has ever been a contest for the World's Most Boring song, but I feel like this one might win.

#2. "The Boll Weevil Song" Brook Benton - Okay, I can enjoy a good story song as much as anyone. I happen to think it takes a lot of talent and creativity to do one. But...a boll weevil?! A song about a boll weevil?! I just...WHAT! And then, this lightning bug shows up and they start talking! I just don't get it. Look, I'm sorry if there's some deep meaning behind it that I'm just not getting, which is probably the case and everyone is going to be mad at me. But seriously, was there not a better way to relay the message?

#1. "Does Your Chewing Gum Lost Its Flavor (On the Bedpost Overnight?) Lonnie Donegan - This is a joke, right? And I don't mean a "Ha Ha" funny joke, because this song is not funny. I mean, like are we getting punked with this one? I don't what you were on when you wrote this, person who wrote this whoever you are, but I think you got a bad batch. And who would have a choir singing this at their wedding?! I just...I can't....AAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!

Okay, I'm done with this year. Listen up, youngsters. The next time that Mom or Dad or Grandma and Grandpa try to tell you how much better muic was in their day, I give you permission to use this list as ammunition. But do it respectfully, of course. That is one thing their generation did better.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, February 2, 2015

Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 1961

Greetings Pups,

Okay, I know I just did a Best/Worst Hit Songs list for 2014 very recently, and I don't like to do them so close together. However, I promised someone last year that I was going to do 1961 at some point, so I figured why not now. And this will be interesting because I think it's the first time I covered a year that I was not around for. This particular year was a tad difficult to deal with, though.

The world of music, especially popular music, has had its mountains and valleys. Around this time, it was a bit of a valley. This was before The Beatles, it had been a mere two years since the loss of promising acts Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, and Elvis was only sort of present but not nearly as much as he had once been. Everything was mostly...meh. Some was awful, but we'll get to that tomorrow. Today, let's concentrate on the good stuff I could find in my perpetual source, the Billboard Year End Chart. And now for my personal Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 1961.

#10."Without You" John Tillotson- As much as I like older music, I actually only knew about half of the songs on the chart for this year. This is one I didn't know. However, after taking a listen, I ended up really liking it. If for no other reason than the fantastic hook. Still, it only made it to Number Ten because it had that dreaded thing that I think started in the previous decade - talking. You know, having some spoken word lines in lieu of a bridge? Not good. Ever. Not even with Boys II Men.

#9. "Wings of a Dove" Ferlin Husky - First of all, this guy has an awesome name. Second, I have a question. You know how country music of today is constantly pretending to be something it's not? Like, say...hip-hop? Well, back in the day, country music liked to pretend a lot that it was gospel. Difference is, it worked back then. My, how times have changed. I don't know if they'd ever let a song like this on the charts now. What a loss.

#8. "There's a Moon Out Tonight" The Capris - So, who was Frankie Valli before we had Frankie Valli? I'd say whoever was hitting the falsettos in this song. And there's really nothing like a good love song with the word "moon" in the title. I think we may have had one or two of those.

#7. "Quarter to Three" Gary U.S. Bonds - I've always liked Gary U.S. Bonds. He's a cool dude, and he knew how to make a good dance song. This one here is no different. I absolutely love the music, the beat is stellar and it's just so feel-good. That seemed to be the theme, or the attempted of this time in music. Stock piling, perhaps, for what was to come. But this song certainly does a great job of lifting spirits. Even if it's done on a somewhat superficial level. Yeah, that's right. You dance to the sax, my children.

#6. "Spanish Harlem" Ben E. King - I assume most people would have chosen "Stand By Me" as the Ben E. King song de l'annee, and no doubt, that one is good. But, as a lyric snob, I absolutely love how picturesque the words are to the one I've chosen. Believe it or not, unique creativity and quality don't always go hand in hand, but it was done near perfectly here.

#5. "Runaround Sue" Dion - That's right, boys. Listen to Uncle Dion and stay away from the town skank. What? That's exactly what this song is about. They're not even trying to give us the "runaround" (Heh, heh) on this one. Plus, it's Dion, so what more do you what?

#4. "Bless You" Tony Orlando - Hey, remember that chick Sue I was just talking about? Well, guess who dated her when he was a teenager? Tony Orlando! Okay, to be fair, I don't know if real-life Sue was the woman in the story of the song, or if they wrote it, needed a name and decided on hers. I hope it's the latter. But moving on, "Bless You" was recorded by Tony Orlando when he was only sixteen years old. Amazing! And what a voice! Even without Dawn backing him up. Not that it hurt.

#3. "I Fall to Pieces" Patsy Cline - Yeah, I don't care what anyone says or what comparisons are attempted to be made, there is no one like Patsy Cline. I remember someone describing a teardrop in her voice, and I agree. She could certainly make anyone listening feel something. Unfortunately, in this case, what we felt was depressed. Hey, it's a downer song. What do you want? But, frankly, I'd rather be depressed by Patsy than overjoyed by any "artist" these days.

#2. "Crying" Roy Orbison - Speaking of depressing...another heartbreak song!? I guess there were a lot of these to counter balance all the giddy, possibly even silly, music people were making. But again, Roy Orbison sang with so much devastating emotion that it almost made you thrilled to be sad. Only the greats can make you do that, and he was one of them.

#1. "Runaway" Del Shannon - I don't know why, but I have never not loved this song. Maybe it was his voice, which, by the way, is one of the most underrated in music history. Maybe it was the melody, or that awesomely memorable Musitron (Google it). Who cares? All I know is that of all the songs I heard from this year, "Runaway" is my absolute favorite.

So, there are my personal Best of 1961. Join me tomorrow as I reveal my personal Worst.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer