Welcome back, my friends, to the "Battle" that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!
This is 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB') where you listen to different recordings of the same song and vote for the one you like best. A new Battle gets posted on the 1st and 15th of each month and six days later, on the 7th and 21st, I place my own vote, tally 'em all up and announce the winner.
Friend? Foe? Stranger? No matter, ALL are welcome. So pull up a chair, pour yourself 24 oz. of DOG BITE High Gravity Lager (or the poison of your choice) and turn it up to Eleven!
[NOTE: Links to the first year of 'BOTB' (#1 - #24) can be found at the very bottom of this page.]

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


STMcC’s Vote On '2016, December 15th: Battle Of The Bands' (Or, 'Bobby Darin Vs. Helen Reddy') And The Final Tally: 
When asked beforehand if this Battle Of The Bands installment would be a blowout -- as I suspected it would be -- the Magic 8-Ball  said  "It is decidedly so." Therefore, I was not surprised, nor even disappointed, when this turned into one of the biggest blowouts I've ever had. It's been ages since I've had such a lopsided BOTB contest as this one was. (Helen Reddy, what happened to your roar?!)

Like just about everybody else, I too voted for Bobby Darin. Those first couple notes from the orchestra on Bobby's (August 18th!!) 1960 recording of 'CHRISTMAS AULD LANG SYNE' set the tone for a bittersweet, melancholic Christmas song that, in terms of its wistfulness, is not unlike 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'.

Bobby Darin = 17 votes
Helen Reddy = 2 votes

My sincere thanks to everyone who participated in this Battle!
Here are my thoughts about Bobby Darin:

It strikes me that the individual human response to music is one of life's most intriguing mysteries. What is that unexplainable thing inside us that resonates to a certain combination of musical notes, or to the tonal quality of particular instruments, but not to others? And why is this response not universal?

For me, the melody of MY FAVORITE THINGS is so pretty, so clever, so powerful that I can't hear it once without it bouncing around inside my skull for the next several hours. And yet I know people who are apathetic about it. How can that be? We even find this mystery taking place between people who inhabit the same musical orbit. The "King Of Rock 'N' Roll" might have two devoted fans -- the first who loves SUSPICIOUS MINDS and MEMORIES, but is not overly thrilled by HOUND DOG and IN THE GHETTO. The second fan's opinion is the complete reversal.

Some might think that this is comparable to our myriad responses to food flavors, but in that example there is a physiological explanation -- something to do with chemical reactions in the glands, the taste buds. With music it's entirely intangible; some "it" within the inner being that responds, makes the body move, the toes tap, the mind rejoice ... or mourn.

That "it" within me loves Bobby Darin's music, but "it" is selective; "it" doesn't care for most of Darin's pop hits.
However, there is a certain something, a quality, in Bobby Darin's voice that can be easily discerned on his ballads. You won't hear it on his uptempo songs, but it's an innate melancholia that can't be taught, nor faked, and you can't miss it in the plaintive numbers. Listen to . . .
You'll hear Bobby's "blue" voice thang goin' on.

I have found this natural melancholic quality in the voices of only two other singers: the Jazz vocalist Astrud Gilberto, and Karen Carpenter, who had it in spades! In fact, Karen had it so much so that it sometimes bled through even on her uptempo numbers like TOP OF THE WORLD and SING. It's a kind of faint whisper of an intense inner aloneness, or a vague remembrance of something; a wistful yearning for what has passed and can't be retrieved -- like a dream of something that glowed golden way back when, in the recesses of the mind. In the Bossa-Nova musical tradition they refer to this quality as "saudade". When I was younger, before I knew that a word for this feeling already existed, I made up my own word for it: goldenshadow. That saudade, or goldenshadow quality permeates nearly all of Bobby Darin's ballads. And my soul loves it!
This being my last post until after Christmas, I thought I'd share with you a Christmas story that I posted recently on Diedre's blog PENSIVE PENS. She had posed the question...

>>... What was the greatest gift you ever received in a small package?

And following is the answer I gave: 
Like myself, my best friend, Marty, was working on building an acting career in Hollywood. But in 1989, a car thief in Los Angeles, trying to outrun the pursuing police, ran through a red light at an intersection. Marty had just entered that intersection on the green light and he was killed instantly.

Now flash forward to 1994. My Sister was a teacher at a Montessori school. One day in December she put on a VHS tape for her little kids to watch while she worked on grading some papers or something. After awhile she recognized a familiar voice coming from the VHS tape, and looking at the screen she saw that it was Marty.

The tape was titled 'PREPARING FOR CHRISTMAS: An Advent Program For The Family'. It had been filmed in 1986 and Marty had played the part of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's son, Charlie, who came home wounded from the Civil War one Christmas Eve. That was supposedly the night Longfellow wrote 'I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day'.

I remembered Marty telling me that he'd gotten that part back in 1986, but I'd never seen the film, and that was the last it was ever mentioned.

So my Sister tracked down a copy for me and gave it to me that Christmas morning in '94. I opened it and saw the title, which didn't ring any bells for me. I asked her what this was and she said, "Just put it in the VCR and play it."

You can imagine my shock when Marty suddenly appeared on the TV screen acting the part of Charlie Longfellow. It was like he'd suddenly, in an instant, returned to life after 5 years!

So, that was the greatest gift I ever received in a package as small as a VHS tape.

-------- The End --------
I hope y'all have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, a Season's Greeting, and a Happy New Beer Year!

See ya New Year's Day in 2017, when I'll have a new (and presumably more competitive) Battle Of The Bands installment for you to vote on.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy


  1. Darn you, McCarthy! Your story made my eyes leak. Loved it! It really is the small things that can matter the most. Merry Christmas BossDawgG and Happy New Year, too!


    1. I thank you, MARY. And a "Mary" Christmas to you and yourn, too!

      See ya in 2017 for more fun Battles and delightfully entertaining commentary.

      [*That may be the first time in my life that I've ever used the word "delightfully". 'REAL MEN' don't say "delightfully". Guess you caught me in a weak moment. ...Now where did I leave my quiche?*]

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

  2. That was some blowout, Stephen and yes, predictable. ☺ Bobby Darin had a fabulous voice. Loved your description of it. "Saudade" was a new word to me; so fitting!

    I can just imagine the emotions you felt while viewing that video of Marty. What a wonderful gift from your sister! Made me a little teary-eyed, even.

    Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas. Happy New Year, too!

    1. DEBBIE ~
      Thanks for the comment and the good wishes. I hope you have a great Holiday also.

      My Sister, "Bonehead", has a knack for giving me great Christmas gifts. I can think of three things she's given me that are three of "MY FAVORITE THINGS". When it comes to gift-giving, she's no "bonehead".

      ~ D-FensDogG

  3. Hey Stephen,
    I LOVED your description of Karen Carpenter's melancholy style. Nice!
    I guess your Magic 8-Ball was right. That version by Bobby Darin was fantastic.

    What an incredible gift your sister gave to you. In that moment, Marty was visiting you, I have no doubt! Such a tragedy. I'm sorry you lost your best friend.

    I hope you have a very Merry Christmas Stephen. Wishing you a fabulous holiday season.

    Michele at Angels Bark

    1. MICHELE ~
      The Magic 8-Ball ain't perfect, but I'd think twice before betting a large chunk o' money against its predictions.

      Michele, I very strongly suspect that Marty orchestrated that little discovery from "the other side". I told his parents about it, hoping it might instill a sense of peace in them about his sudden death, but they weren't very Spiritually-minded people. I'm sure I got more out of it than they did.

      Have yourself a merry biggish Christmas, and I'll catch you on "the other side". ...2017, I mean.

      ~ D-FensDogG

  4. I hear this tonal quality you mention in those singers, including Karen. (It is just other aspects of the voice that put me off. ) But I see what you mean, and that part of it is appealing. And I like Darin, and like Astrud a lot.

    You will no doubt disagree with me on this (since we cannot seem to agree on music, ever), but I think there are other singers that exhibit this quality. Modern ones... rock singers.

    I hear that saudade quality in the voices of John Waite and Brandon Flowers (The Killers), to name two artists off the top of my head. I always hear a little something extra, a bit more emotion perhaps or a wistfulness that stalks in the background even on a delightful (ha) song.

    I really enjoyed hearing the story about Marty's movie surprise at Christmas. Bonehead may be a bonehead about other stuffs, but she did alright on that one!

    Merry Christmas, McBuddy! And Tiny Tim wishes you one, too.

    1. SBB-6 ~
      Thanks for the delightful comment. (John Wayne! John Wayne!) I thought it was lovely. (JOHN WAYNE!!!)

      When referring to that Saudade or Goldenshadow quality in voices, I always mention only those same three -- Karen, Darin, and Astrud -- because anyone else who may have it (and I'm really not aware of any right now) have it to such a yuge lesser degree that it wouldn't put them in the same league, in my opinion.

      In fact, Karen has it to such an extent that it almost -- not quite, but almost -- even puts her in a different league than Darin (2nd place) and Astrud (3rd place). Karen is the ONLY SINGER I've ever heard where that quality can even be discerned in some uptempo songs. Not so with Darin or Astrud.

      I know John Waite's music very well. I was a big fan of The Baby's right from the start and owned their first 3 albums. Didn't care as much for Waite's solo stuffs, never owned any of his solo material but have heard the hits on the radio.

      And, no, you're right, I don't really hear this quality in Waite's voice at all. The Killers' music I don't know other than a couple songs you linked me to which just sounded to me (I apologize) like "generic, nondescript Rock". But if you can think of a couple of their ballads where you feel that Saudade quality shows through, I'd be happy to play them a few times to see if I find it in there also. You just never know.

      If I were forced, LITERALLY FORCED, to choose ONE Rock singer who has that Saudade or Goldenshadow quality, I think maybe I would say Bob Seger. He might have it to a slim degree. But then again, it could just be that he does some songs that are perfect for a person with that kind of voice (like, say, MOMMA, JODY GIRL, FINE MEMORY, DOWN ON MAIN STREET).

      Glad you liked the story of "Marty's Resurrection". It's funny that Bonehead's nickname stuck like it did, when in fact it has nuttin' at all to do with her intelligence or doing dumb things. It's really just a bastardization of a nickname my Ma gave to her when she was just a toddler.

      Nappy and I still Make A Wish For Tiny Tim every Christmas Day, but I've given up on promoting it. My "Stuffs" readers never took to it like I thought they would.

      Maybe next year I'll promote it with the BOTB crowd. Being music-related, they might gravitate to the concept more than the "Stuffs" folks did.

      My Christmas cards are going out late this year (TODAY, in fact), but you'll be getting one eventually. I know you don't really do the Christmas thing, but you NEED to have this card. I think it's the best one I've ever come up with.

      Sheboyganbuddy McSixgun, you and yourn have a Merry and a Happy!

      ~ D-FensDogG

  5. Taste/preference continues to remain a mystery to me. I'll be blown away by something and then go to share it and get a blah response and I'm mystified.

    I like Helen Reddy and would have thought she'd gotten a few more votes than she did, but I guess most everyone heard what you and I did in Darin's version. Then again, at some other time I might have preferred the Reddy version. Sometimes I think preference is a lot to do with mood and timing.

    Good Battle nonetheless. Have a terrific Christmas and the best New Year that you can muster.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. LEE, I'm pretty sure that personal vibratory rate has something to do with why we like and dislike what we do. There is also likely some spiritual element to it. But beyond that, it's all a mystery to me.

      But we know there's music in Heaven, and it's the greatest music (which in our mortal states, we can't even imagine). Everyone in Heaven loves it, so there MUST be some sort of vibratory / Spiritual elements to music that somehow explain likes and dislikes.

      I do know for certain that, for me, there is NO OTHER TIME, regardless of mood, where I might have voted for Reddy's version over Darin's.

      For me, I don't think mood much impacts what I like and how much I like it. For me, mood only determines WHAT TYPE of music I want to hear at the moment. Some fast, high-energy Rock? Some mid-tempo, cool Jazz? Some mellow Bossa-Nova ballads?

      But ANY TIME I might find myself in the mood to hear 'Christmas Auld Lang Syne', it would ALWAYS be Bobby Darin's version I'd want to hear if I have a say-so in it.

      For the first time in awhile, I feel optimistic about the coming year. Some of it has to do with my mindset, and some has to do with Trump going into the White House instead of that luciferian, Hellary Cunton.

      You and yourn have a great holiday, Bro, and I'll catch up with you over the course of the January 1st Battle Of The Bands.

      ~ D-FensDogG

  6. I always liked Darin. I'm not sure I hear that same quality that I agree exists in Karen's voice, but I DO like him. Knew this BATTLE was going to be a blow out, no matter who you put up against Bobby, so it's how it goes. I get it that sometime you just want to use a song by somebody, no matter what.

    Man oh, man, that Marty sure does like electronics doesn't he. When it comes to your friendship with him, 'he has never left'. What a great Christmas gift from your sister.

    1. NITRO ~
      Yeah, this was destined to be a blowout, no matter who I used against Bobby. He "owns" this song.

      I really wanted to introduce this song to people because it's pretty unknown, and I love the way Bobby does it. (Like Robin mentioned, I also really like when he speaks at the end and wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Funny, because normally yakking in a song bugs me, but I LOVE it when Bobby does it in 'Christmas Auld Lang Syne'.)

      Yeah, Marty done real good that year. And I've watched that tape every single Christmastime since. It's become a real tradition for me.

      I'm surprised you've not found that same Saudade or Goldenshadow quality in Bobby's ballad voice that you do in Karen's. I mean, Karen's cup just overflows with it, like no other singer I've ever heard. So it's not nearly to the same degree in Bobby's voice. But it's definitely there.

      To use a "normal" word for it, I guess "yearning" comes closest. When you have a chance, listen to the following three songs and see if you don't hear it. Because I dare say that if you don't find it in the following songs, then I think we must be talking about different things...




      BTW, tonight was my last shift of work until December 27th. I celebrated by buying a bottle of CRUZAN "BLACK STRAP RUM" -- dreams be damned!!!

      ~ D-FensDogG

  7. Yep, I definitely do not have "it". I'm not a huge fan of My Favorite Things, and I love all of Bobby's songs, including some of the cheesy pop ones. I admit it, I admit it! My ears aren't nearly as highbrow as I might otherwise say, but at least they can still safely shun someone like Bieber without leading to me tapping a toe or two.

    Slaughter aside, it was still a great battle, and a lot of fun to participate in. Also, that's an awesome story about Marty. I knew about Marty, but never knew that you had a video tape with him on it. I can only imagine how rare that thing is now. What a cool, meaningful gift. Mine, uh, does not compare to that in any way shape or form, but at the very least, hopefully it'll give you a chuckle?


    1. >>... I'm not a huge fan of My Favorite Things

      You must be a communist then, like that "Father Majeski With The Beard" turd.

      >>... My ears ... can still safely shun someone like Bieber without leading to me tapping a toe or two.

      Welcome back to America, son! Glad you've given up that Communism nonsense!

      Glad you liked the Battle, 6-B. And someday I want to acquire on DVD the episode of 'CHiPs' that Marty performed in. He played a burglar in that one.

      Looking forward to your gift. ANYTHING that puts a smile on my sour puss is always welcome.

      ~ D-FensDogG
      "The King Of Hostility"


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