Jules’s Jukebox: Lady Gaga’s Subtle Protest Rocked Super Bowl LI

Tonight’s jukebox is dedicated to Mama Monster!

Lady Gaga took to heart the fact that she was performing for all of America in her halftime show for Super Bowl LI, but her message of support for immigrants and the LGBTQ community still rang loud and clear.

Her opening with “God Bless America” segueing into Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” spoke to all of us in organized labor, but it also spoke volumes to those who have spent the past week resisting the Muslim Ban. Guthrie’s lyrics highlight that our land and freedom to roam it belongs to all of us–even immigrants and those enslaved by poverty and hunger, not just those who are wealthy or have plenty.

“This Land Is Your Land”
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

Coupling the few lines from Guthrie with her own song, “Born This Way,” added a little gravitas to her set of dance favorites. Singing “Born This Way” in front of VP Mike Pence, a pro-conversion therapy politician, paid direct homage to the LGBTQ community along with the immigrant communities of our nation. (Here’s the official video:)

“Born This Way”
It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M
Just put your paws up
’cause you were born this way, baby

My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars
She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir

“There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are”
She said, “‘Cause he made you perfect, babe”
“So hold your head up girl and you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say”

I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Oh there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
Baby I was born this way
Oh there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Don’t be a drag ‒ just be a queen [x3]
Don’t be!

Give yourself prudence
And love your friends
Subway kid, rejoice your truth
In the religion of the insecure
I must be myself, respect my youth

A different lover is not a sin
Believe capital H-I-M (Hey hey hey)
I love my life I love this record and
Mi amore vole fe yah (Love needs faith)

[Repeat chorus + post-chorus]

Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re Lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
’cause baby you were born this way

No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to be brave.

[Repeat chorus + post-chorus]

I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!

[Fade away:]
Same DNA, but born this way.
Same DNA, but born this way.

Lady Gaga managed to stage a mainstream, prime-time show for a wide audience while embedding a subtle, but clear message of acceptance in the face politicians who would work to strip rights from Americans. Her entertaining performance will long be remembered for its nonpolitical skin with a political heart.

Here’s her entire Super Bowl LI performance:

Jules’s Jukebox: Richard Ashcroft

This evening I splurged on a weeknight out for myself come April by purchasing a ticket to go see Richard Ashcroft in concert. I rarely venture from the Beach Cities to go to LA/Hollywood proper on a weeknight because traffic + late nights make for a cranky morning at work the following day. But when I heard that Ashcroft, former lead singer of The Verve, would be playing The Wiltern, I threw caution to the wind. I’m going to have an epic Monday night to carry me through that early April week.

So here’s a pair of Ashcroft’s solo songs for tonight’s jukebox picks:

“Hold On” by Richard Ashcroft, the second single from his 2016 album These People.

This single speaks to my current political mood as I resist in today’s post-US inauguration landscape. These lyrics, originally written about the Arab Spring uprisings, particularly stood out to me:

“…Until you get some pepper spray
And water cannons on the way
Fighting on your own
Can turn your heart to stone

And truth is on the march again
Wipe those tears away
Apocalyptic mind…”


“Words Just Get in the Way” by Richard Ashcroft, the third single from his 2006 album Keys to the World.

This ballad holds a touch of symphonic melancholy that gives way to hope as Ashcroft velvety voice offers to support during stormy times. Magnificently penned lyrics are the highlight of this song.  It connects thematically to the first song for me in that it is easy to lose hope in a world so full of chaos and despair. It is easy to feel that we may have outlived our usefulness in this mess of a world, but this song speaks of friendship, lending a helping hand, of finding that human connection that gives hope when words just can’t explain or make meaning for us.

The lines that stand out mid-song pointing out just how devoid of hope the person he sings to has become. His refrain of “if you want it/ you know I’ve got it” closely follows to show his commitment to being that silent rock of support:

“When you’re feeling like you’ve lost
When all your hope is gone
And the bridge above the river
Is only the beginning of your fall…”

I highly recommend giving Ashcroft a listen if you’ve not listened to anything other than The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.”

Jules’s Jukebox: Songs for Social Justice

As I enter this bizarre week bookended by juxtaposing events, I can’t help but think of that long arc of history bending toward social justice–and popular music’s strong ties to helping spread the word on our society’s most pressing social issues. Tomorrow, our nation will honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Stride toward Freedom while on Friday giving the oath of office to a man who maliciously called one of Dr. King’s civil rights brothers all talk and not action–for the very action of standing up to him. While searching for songs to properly encapsulate this week, I found some amazing lists that I would recommend to anyone for listening (maybe check out this one from Amnesty International). I looked and looked and selected the following two–one for MLK Day and the other for Inauguration Day.

“Strange Fruit” by Billie Holliday. This Jim Crowe era song from 1939 describing lynching is an appropriate choice for both occasions this week in reality. Rebecca Ferguson, an X Factor UK singer, offered to sing at DJT’s Inauguration under one condition–that she sing Holliday’s haunting “Strange Fruit.” At last check, she was not on the list featuring acts such as Toby Keith, Jackie Evancho, and 3 Doors Down. And now that DJT is no longer attending his MLK Day event at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, one would think a reach out to this key constituency would be in order. Instead, he doubles down on the insults to civil rights leaders.

To capture what all my right-wing friends think about where I live and what I believe, I chose to add a little dark irony to the mix. This song was originally written in 1979 as a piece of Juvenalian satire against California Governor Jerry Brown (yes, he is our governor again, hence my tongue is planted in my cheek). Since Governor Brown has vowed that California will work to protect the environment despite a DJT administration’s efforts to roll back environmental regulations, this seems like a perfect song highlight the dichotomy and divided nature of the right’s view of all of us flakey La La Land libs against the pervasive views of the progressives’ views of DJT and his incoming administration.

“California Über Alles” by The Dead Kennedys–a single in 1979, released in 1980 on the album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables.

Jules’s Jukebox: “Getting Over the Flu” Music Medicine

I’ve spent the last two weeks holed up with a viral respiratory infection that just seems to enjoy hanging around and partying in my lungs. So in honor of my slowing beginning to feel human again, I’ve selected a few songs with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

“Bad Medicine” by Bon Jovi from 1988’s New Jersey. The first hit off of their fourth album starts tonight’s healing music. “And I got all the symptoms count ’em 1, 2,3…”

“Sick of You” by Lou Reed from his 1989 album New York. It’s just coincidence that the two selections today come from albums named for neighboring states, but this song just seems so fitting considering that a) I am sick and b) this next week’s political activities make me sick at heart, and c) Reed even mentions the PEOTUS by name in this song. How prescient, except the Mt. Sinai part… 😉  “They ordained the Trumps/ and then he got the mumps/ and died being treated at Mt. Sinai…”

Jules’s Jukebox: The Promise of 2017

The year that was 2016 created a void in the pantheon of pop culture, but that does not mean that 2017 is devoid of hope for some fantastic artistic expression.

Last year was a year of transition in my household. The first half of the year was filled with excitement for my family. My only son graduated high school, we traveled the UK and France over the summer, and he settled into college life this autumn. Songs like “Wings” by Birdy, “Make It Happen” by Gareth Emery featuring Lawson, and “Way Down We Go” by Kaleo cycled through my playlists and provided a backdrop for our European travels and my 2016. Now I’m looking for a new year’s soundtrack.

In November, my son voted in his first presidential election. And since November, the politics of our nation has seemed like a really bad dream playing out in slow motion to close out an otherwise fantastic year. While we were overseas this summer, people kept asking us if we thought DJT could really win. We acknowledged that the chance was there, but we hoped (and worked on campaigns throughout the fall) for a different outcome. Since early November, we have felt a little besieged with bad headlines in both the world of politics and pop culture. So the good headlines we’ve grabbed onto with a whole lot of hope for a fantastic 2017 soundtrack. Familiar names like Brian Eno, Dropkick Murphys, The Flaming Lips, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Depeche Mode, Gorillaz, and many others announced new works to be released in 2017. But two names really stood out to me on the list of upcoming releases.

Today’s jukebox picks reflect those two names and what I consider the good headlines from December: both Noel and Liam Gallagher will have solo projects out in 2017–hopefully by mid-year. Since Oasis is apparently not going to regroup anytime soon, hearing from the feuding brothers separately is still good news. So in honor of their upcoming solo efforts, I’m selecting a solo Noel song and a Liam-penned Oasis song for today’s jukebox duo.

Noel hopes to have his third solo project wrapped by June. He is working with the same producer (David Holmes) that he worked with on his second project, Chasing Yesterday. He claims that he is using a different method than he usually does in writing and completing his songs. I’m excited to hear what this new direction in his creative process brings about. In a recent interview highlighted in NME, he said:

“All the songs that I was writing towards making a record have not been used because when we decided to make a record with David Holmes the way he works is that all the writing gets done in the studio.

“So I started this record at his house in Belfast. The process is the complete opposite to the way that I’ve always worked. With this, you have no idea what you’ve got until it’s there, and the end results are great because they’re constantly evolving.”

Read more at http://www.nme.com/news/music/noel-gallagher-sets-deadline-third-solo-lp-1910652#7yp5hHE7gopKKVTD.99

“If I Had a Gun…” by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds from their eponymous first album. What a great video…


In early December, news regarding Liam Gallagher’s previously announced solo album hit the internet: “His solo album has been described as sounding like The Velvet Underground.” After the demise of Beady Eye, Liam’s post-Oasis band, in October 2014, fans have been waiting patiently to hear more from the frontman.

Read more at http://www.nme.com/news/music/liam-gallagher-making-progress-solo-album-1886372#SXyFsjQ3oUkBm4dl.99

In a recent Mirror online piece, journalist Claire Rutter wrote, “But while Liam has vented about the past and how he’s been portrayed in the media, he has admitted that he’s reluctantly doing a solo album and is prepared for people to ‘hate it’.

He said: ‘I’m doing a solo record, with gritted teeth because I’d rather be in a band, but I’m doing that and that’s going to be recorded and should be ready for the summer.'”

So in honor of Liam’s upcoming solo effort:

“Born on a Different Cloud” by Oasis (written by Liam Gallagher) from the 2002 album Heathen Chemistry. (This is among my favorite songs written by Liam.)


I hope that songs from these two will make the soundtrack of my 2017!

Jules’s Jukebox: Year in Review, pt. 1–The Lost Artists

The year that was 2016 will long be remembered for the music artists that we lost. With so much talent taken by the hands of time, tonight’s Jukebox will celebrate a small handful of the superstars whose lights were dimmed in 2016.

  1. David Bowie: Bowie died on January 10th after a long battle with cancer. He did gift the world one last album in the days preceding his death. Blackstar was released on his 69th birthday on January 8th to overwhelmingly positive reviews (Rolling Stone called it an anti-pop masterpiece; Pitchfork ironically opened their review with “David Bowie has died many deaths yet he is still with us. He is popular music’s ultimate Lazarus: Just as that Biblical figure was beckoned by Jesus to emerge from his tomb after four days of nothingness, Bowie has put many of his selves to rest over the last half-century, only to rise again with a different guise.”) But rather than focus on Mr. Bowie’s final opus, I’m going to go back in time to the 80’s–the playground of my adolescence–and pick the song of his that I loved forever and a day: “China Girl.”

“China Girl” by David Bowie, from the album Let’s Dance.

2. Glenn Frey: Frey, one of the founding members of The Eagles who went on to have a robust solo career as well, succumbed at the age of 67 to a combination of rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, and pneumonia on January 18th. While the Dude Lebowski wasn’t an Eagles fan, I grew up loving songs like “Hotel California,” “Desperado,” and “Lyin’ Eyes.” Frey and Henley were the face of The Eagles for me, and they both peppered my high school years with great solo songs, including this jukebox pick.

“You Belong to the City” by Glenn Frey, written specifically for Miami Vice.

3. Keith Emerson and Greg Lake: Keith Emerson, age 71,  died on March 11th (self-inflicted gunshot wound, depression, nerve degenerative disease) and Greg Lake, age 69, (cancer) followed his long-time band mate on December 7th. In less than nine months, two-thirds of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer was gone. And while I wasn’t a huge ELP fan, I find their music influential–and I do like their ballads. So here’s my favorite ELP song.

“C’est La Vie” by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer from Works, Volume 1.

4. Merle Haggard: Growing up in central Oklahoma with a country music-loving father, the “Okie from Muskogee” was a mainstay on rides in the truck with my dad. My dad considered Haggard one of the greats. He died on his 79th birthday on April 6th from complications with pneumonia, but this member of the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame made a lasting impact on the genre. Toby Keith even played with the Country Legend in one of his last concerts in Las Vegas, NV.

“Today I Started Loving You Again” by Merle Haggard from his album The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde.

5. Prince: Prince Rogers Nelson featured regularly on the soundtrack of my high school years. My cousin loved Prince so much that he bought all his music on vinyl, cassette, and CD, as well as going to see him multiple times in concert. My friends loved Purple Rain (for which he won an Academy Award for Best Song Score) and 1999 so much that we the words to the songs by heart. I liked some of Prince’s songs, but I was never the fanatic that my friends and cousin were. I still appreciated his talent, his influence, and his energy. I honored how he would always push the envelope innovating along the way. And I was utterly shocked when he died at age 57 from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs on April 21st. “When Doves Cry” and “Kiss” are among my favorites, but my first favorite song of his was this one.

“Little Red Corvette” by Prince from 1999. (Not the original sexy video…sry.)

6. Leonard Cohen: Leonard Cohen has been featured on my jukebox before. His influence reaches far and wide, and his lyrics are incomparable in their beauty and complexity. The folk legend died in his sleep after a fall in the middle of the night on November 7th. He was 82 years old. For tonight’s jukebox, I’ve selected a song from 1967 that was originally published as a poem and has been covered by many artists like Judy Collins and Nina Simone.

“Suzanne” by Leonard Cohen from Songs of Leonard Cohen.


7. George Michael: Another icon from the soundtrack of my high school years has fallen too soon. At only age 53, George Michael died in his sleep from heart failure on Christmas Day. I vividly remember “Careless Whisper” from my sophomore year of high school–it was the first Wham! song I liked. And then my sophomore year of college, he blazed new trails with his solo efforts “I Want Your Sex” and “Faith,” not letting controversy stand in his way. Despite his trouble with drugs and the law over the years, his music transcended conflict and strife. For tonight’s final jukebox selection, I’ve selected his song that spoke most to me (and no, it’s not “Teacher” even though that’s what I am).

“Freedom! ’90” by George Michael from Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1.


We lost many, many more artists through the year, but the few represented here show just how devastating the losses have been to the world of music. May they all rest in peace, and may 2017 be kinder to our icons.

Jules’s Jukebox: I Guess It’s Time for a Christmas Tune

I’ve put off posting Christmas tunes simply because they are so overplayed. Now that we are only a few hours from Christmas Eve, I will relent and pick a couple of tunes to spread some holiday cheer:

“Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters. I’m a huge fan of the Andrews Sisters. And I have plenty of memories of Bing and videos of The Sisters on variety shows when I was little kid (all those old Bing Crosby Christmas Specials and Dean Martin shows…). But this song has a special meaning to me since I live in a place where it doesn’t snow and palm trees sway (SoCal can easily be a substitute for Hawaii in this song–especially with the large Polynesian community here). Plus, it’s just plain fun to say Mele Kalikimaka.

“A Marshmallow World” by Dean Martin. No Christmas list is complete without at least one member of the Rat Pack represented, so I stick to my favorite Rat, Dean Martin. This song reminds me of playing in the snow as a kid, making snow ice cream, building snowmen. I can remember looking out my bedroom window at the puffy, white, beauty of the snow and knowing that my brother and I were about to stomp tracks all through it, smearing it in each other’s faces and throwing snowballs until we couldn’t feel our fingers from the cold.

And now for something completely different…

On a non-Christmas side note, I wanted to include something that just deliciously fun (and to send love, support, and prayers for strength and healing to Carrie Fisher and her family):

“Seagulls! (Stop It Now)” A Bad Lip Reading of the Empire Strikes Back

Jules’s Jukebox: Remembering Lennon

Today marks the 36th anniversary of John Lennon’s assassination by Mark David Chapman. Thankfully, Chapman was denied parole for the ninth time in August for the rock legend’s murder. He will come up for parole again in two years. So for two more years we can forget him and remember the man he took from us despite him.

The story of how Lennon died is so chilling, but today I remember not how John Lennon died. I choose to remember how he lived–as an activist  who topped J. Edgar Hoover’s secret FBI “enemies” list (his dossier was over 300 pages), who had to fight deportation from the U.S. for participating in anti- Vietnam War efforts, and who had to battle even harder to secure his green card to live in the U.S.

Lennon’s example of standing up against injustice is not lost on me. I’ve long believed being a BMW (a bitcher, moaner, & whiner) solves no one’s problems. Getting involved, being an activist, learning as much as possible about my issues, educating others, mobilizing and organizing on my issues…those are things that can promote progress.  Lennon proved himself a leader of people–one who would stand up at the front of the crowd and show them how to work for social justice even at the risk of being labeled “subversive” by the U.S. government. One doesn’t have to agree with Lennon’s left-wing politics to recognize and honor his dedication and investment in progressing his beliefs for peace and justice.

Photographer Allan Tannenbaum took the last photo shoot of Lennon for promotion of what would be his last album, Double Fantasy, ten days before his death. Tannenbaum said,  “He loved to push ­boundaries like that,” referring to Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, posing nude. The photographer related that “nudity was just another form of expression for them.” The image most easily found online from this photo shoot shows such happiness and ease from the couple.


One of Allan Tannenbaum’s photos from John Lennon’s last photo shoot.

To honor his activism and his life on this day, I stand with his widow, Yoko Ono, in pleading for common sense gun laws in America. On her Facebook page, Ono eloquently wrote:

Dear Friends,
Every day, 91 Americans are killed with guns.
We are turning this beautiful country into a War Zone.
Together, let’s bring back America, the green land of Peace.
The death of a loved one is a hollowing experience.
After 36 years, our son Sean and I still miss him.
Yoko Ono Lennon
8 December 2016


She also shared this heartbreaking and shocking image/meme:


So today’s jukebox duo of songs are to celebrate the activist, the leader, the man–John Lennon.

“Remember” by John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

“Power to the People” by John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

Jules’s Jukebox: Clannad

I hung out with the girls last night, and up popped a song by Clannad. I hadn’t heard a Clannad song other than the two on my current playlist in eons–much less in rotation on someone else’s playlist. Nothing like some Celtic folk/new age tunes to start off our evening. Ok, nothing like Celtic music and whiskey to start off our evening…before walking the beach at dusk and binge watching Vikings

So along with my Irish boyfriend Jameson, I give you a Clannad twofer:

“Love and Affection” by Clannad is probably my favorite song of theirs. Love, love, love this song.

“…Sweet justice hard to find
Say the same with deceit…”

Clannad became known for being Enya’s first band and for having songs used in movies, even though the songs may or may not have been written for the films. “Theme from Harry’s Game” was used in 1992’s Patriot Games starring Harrison Ford and Sean Bean, but the song appeared years earlier on their album Magical Ring in 1982. Their songs have also appeared in movie’s like Mel Gibson’s Braveheart and Blake Edwards’s Switch. But one song that was written expressly for a film is my second choice tonight:

“I Will Find You” by Clannad appeared on the group’s 1993 album Banba, but was written for the film The Last of the Mohicans starring Daniel Day Lewis. Parts of the song are sung in Mohican and Cherokee.

Bonus song:

“Brave Enough” by Clannad is from the band’s most recently released album Nádúr, which they released in 2013.