Filed under 365

Day of Yore, August 1

August 1, 1981: MTV hits the airwaves.

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You know the first video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles, everyone knows that. If you really want to impress people in bars, you should know the first five songs: 1. The Buggles, 2. “You Better Run” Pat Benatar, 3. “She Won’t Dance With Me” Rod Stewart, 4. “You Better You Bet” The Who (also the first video played twice) and 5. “Little Suzi’s On the Up” Ph.D. (I was just kidding, it won’t impress anyone if you know that, not even Martha Quinn.)

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It was certainly groundbreaking television and it changed music at least for awhile. You still had to be good, but it didn’t hurt your odds if you looked like Duran Duran.

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It was an astonishing change to rock ‘n roll, which had been around for roughly 25 years to that point. (Imagine that, rock n’ roll has been around a lot longer post MTV than before it.)

There was about as 12-year stretch from MTVs beginning where it was almost impossible to hear a song and not think of the video. There was endless debate about whether that hurt or helped music. Some said it helped cement the artist’s vision, others felt a song should conjure up its own images. In the end nobody really gave a crap because it was like arguing about what flavor of popsicle was better. In the end MTV did very little to change whether or not a song was any good or not. (Billy Idol’s “Cradle of Love” and Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do” being huge exceptions.

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Inevitably MTV grew into a massively huge conglomerate, with reality shows (that are about as real as a Robert Palmer video) awards shows and shows about pregnant 15-year olds. Or something. I don’t watch it anymore. They don’t make it for me, I’m 48. But there was a certainly a time when I wanted my MTV.

 

 

Day of Yore, June 25

As John noted earlier, today is the anniversary of The Battle of Little Big Horn. I find it more than slightly ironic that one of the Indian War Chiefs who died that day was named, “Lame White Man.”

With apologies to everyone who lost their lives that day, here in the world of Pop Culture, the June 25th deaths of 2009 are almost impossible to top. Both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died that day. 

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I wrote about Farrah’s death that day here. That post detailed the burgeoning desires of a teenage boy, and it also set off a series of events that led to me getting married three years later. Farrah was a gift that certainly kept on giving. I learned of Michael Jackson’s death in an airport security line, on my way back home to Minnesota for a golf weekend/bachelor party.

What’s the greatest album of all time? Impossible to answer obviously, the music mags and sites have a new answer every five years or so. If you were in high school in the ’80′s like I was, and especially if you grew up in Minneapolis like I did, this one, which came out today in 1984, is on your short list.

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Purple Rain” was so freaking good it made a pretty bad movie a cult classic. In 2008 Entertainment Weekly named it the No. 1 album of the past 25 years. I’m not arguing. The start of “Let’s Go Crazy” was so genius that it’s amazing that nobody had ever thought to use it to start a song before. Nine songs that anyone who went to clubs in the 1980′s knows by heart. If “The Beautiful Ones” isn’t in the top four songs of your album, you’ve made a pretty god damn good album.

I’m now going to admit to a guilty pleasure. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone say they didn’t like this movie, but it’s in my top 10 and even though I’m not really proud of that, I can’t deny it either. “Sleepless in Seattle” came out today in 1993, and though I loved it to death, it’s not the movie I’m talking about. (Psych!)

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I loved every frame of that movie, it’s hard not to, but I didn’t love it as much as this one:

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“The Notebook” came out today in 2004 and it pulled me in hook, line and sinker.

Two pretty people falling in love cute, but he’s a townie with no big future and she’s a richie rich whose parents won’t let her marry outside of her cash class. Young love torn asunder! A war. A best friend dead. A new guy, who’s good looking and charming. An engagement. And here’s where Nicholas Sparks really got it right, in making this the best thing he’s ever written: he didn’t give Rachel McAdam’s character an easy out. The “bad” guy never does anything wrong, he’s just not the guy she’s in love with. She likes him a lot, and loves the idea of him and how easy he’d make the rest of her days, but she’s in love with somebody else. 99.99 percent of stories make the other guy an asshole and an easy out.

If you ever tell anyone I wrote that, I’ll have to kill you. And I’ll deny it. (Google search engines be damned.)

Today in 1976, “The Omen” came out and my wife swears it scared her more than “The Exorsist”. I didn’t see it because I hate scary movies. (You probably inferred that from the last item… I’m seriously not as big of a wuss as I sound today.)

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“Bladerunner” came out today in 1982. I liked it a lot when I saw it that summer, but I’ve never seen it again and I don’t need to. It’s cult status was weird to me. I’d rather watch The Notebook again.

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There have been some pretty stellar debuts that came out on June 25th over the years.

1947 saw the publication of, “The Diary of Anne Frank”. The world view of a young teenage girl in hiding from the Nazi’s is one of the more prized works of the last century.

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Though not as highly praised as that, (although it may be in some circles) Jay-Z dropped his debut album, “Reasonable Doubt” today in 1996. Hailed by critics as a masterpiece, it set the tone for a career that has seen nothing but astonishing success. “Dead Presidents,” “Don’t Knock the Hustle,” “Ain’t No Nigga,” and “Feelin It” are iconic rap songs.

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Another debut that’s led to HUGE success hit today in 2002, when Maroon 5 debuted with “Songs About Jane”. “Harder to Breathe,” “This Love,” “She Will Be Loved,” and “Sunday Morning” were all smash hits and Maroon 5 hasn’t missed since. It remains to be seen however, if Adam Levine’s legacy doesn’t become, “that hot, charming guy in the chair.”

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– Bill Hubbell

Day of Yore, May 29

I imagine it would have trended on Twitter.

Today in 1453, the Roman Empire came to a close with the Fall of Constantinople. It had been a nearly 1,500 year run, so the good ole U-S-of A only has a ways to go for longevity. Most country singers think we’re already the GOAT, but Skip Bayless thinks we need a few more titles. Several Greek intellectuals fled the city before it fell, moving to Italy, beginning the Renaissance era. No big deal or anything, its just that the Middle Ages had come to a close.

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The Middle Ages were resurrected in grand fashion today in 1984, when 45-year old Tina Turner released, “Private Dancer.” It was one of the most amazing comebacks in the history music. Imagine if Natalie Merchant became one of the biggest stars in the world this summer. That’s kind of what it was like. The third single off the album was, “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and it was on after that. “Better Be Good To Me,” “Private Dancer,” and “I Can’t Stand the Rain” followed. The title track was written by Mark Knopfler, and if you listen to it, you can hear him all over it. For Turner it was a third act (most entertainers never get a second) that put her on top of the mountain, and re-wrote her entire history.

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Tonight in 1913 an opera opened in Paris, Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” and it nearly incited a riot in the theatre. It wasn’t so much the material, but the intersection of the stuffy and rich (the normal opera crowd) and the punk rockers of the day, the new bohemia in Paris. Imagine absinthe and Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman at the after party.

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Today in 1954 Alfred Hitchcock released, “Dial M For Murder.” The AFI ranked it the ninth best mystery ever. A retired English tennis star finds out his wife is cheating on him with an American, and tries to have him killed and his wife framed for it. He doesn’t pull it off. What’s Boris Becker up to these days?

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Jeff Buckley was found dead today in 1997, having drowned at the age of 30. This is not a bad legacy.

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Um, ironically? Today in 2007 a New Jersey group named the Gaslight Anthem released their debut record, Sink or Swim.” It got very little attention from critics at large, but those who heard it loved it. Punknews.org wrote, “the type of record that most young bands wish they could create to launch their musical career.” It’s fantastic. I swear I was like the 10th person to watch that linked video on Youtube (some link from a link from a link that said there was a great new band) and I was hooked by the time they hit the chorus.

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Birthday wishes to the deceased: Bob Hope and John F. Kennedy. And to the living: Noel Gallagher is 46 and Daniel Tosh is 38.

Gallagher’s Top 10:

  1. Don’t Go Away
  2. Little By Little
  3. Wonderwall
  4. Champagne Supernova
  5. Rockin’ Chair
  6. Little by Little
  7. Don’t Look Back in Anger
  8. Live Forever
  9. All Around the World
  10. D’You Know What I Mean?

– Bill Hubbell

 

 

Day of Yore, May 28

Mike Tyson might never have existed if Sylvester Stallone hadn’t thought of him first.

“Rocky III” hit screens today in 1982 and Clubber Lang was one of the more intimidating bad guys in the history of movies.

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Sly Stallone had gone all HGH and steroids in the six years since Rocky debuted, and his character had turned his body into nothing even resembling the guy who first fought Apollo Creed. Lang made quick work of Rocky and killed his manager Mickey in the process. In steps Apollo Creed to help Rocky train for the rematch. Maybe it was because I was still young enough, but I remember being quite thrilled when Rocky started saying to Lang, “You ain’t so bad, you ain’t so bad… you ain’t nothin!” Rocky would of course go on to end the Cold War, fight a guy with AIDS and then manage his son.

“Cliffhanger” came out 11 years later to the day. Rocky climbs a mountain in that one. The two pictures combined to make over a half a billion dollars. Sly can afford a lot of HGH.

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Today in 1987 a 19-year old West German pilot, Mathius Rust, flew a Cessna airplane into Moscow and landed it on a bridge right next to Red Square. Rust said he was trying to build an “imaginary bridge” between the East and the West. In a way he did. Several top Soviet military people were fired after the incident and two months later Reagan and Gorbachev signed a treaty to eliminate intermediate range nuclear weapons in Europe. Of course, two years earlier, Rocky Balboa had paved the way for all of this after defeating Ivan Drago.

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Comedian/Actor Phil Hartman was shot and killed by his wife, Brynn this morning in 1998.

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It was today in 2002 that Marshall Mathers released “The Eminem Show.” The album solidified his status as the biggest rapper in the world. The big hit off the album was Without Me,” in which Eminem goes after boy bands, Limp Bizkit, Dick Cheney and Moby among others. You didn’t want any part of a verbal tussle with the Real Slim Shady. Other hits were “Sing for the Moment,” Superman,” and “Till I Collapse.”

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Happy 68th to John Fogerty, 28th to Colbie Caillat and Carrie Mulligan, and 25th to both Percy Harvin and Craig Kimbrel.

Fogerty’s Top Six:

  1. Have You Ever Seen the Rain
  2. Bad Moon Rising
  3. Centerfield
  4. Proud Mary
  5. Lookin’ Out My Back Door
  6. Rock ‘N Roll Girls

– Bill Hubbell

 

 

Day of Yore, May 15

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The first McDonald’s opened today in 1940 in San Bernardino, CA. Two brothers, named McDonald, and their original mascot was a man wearing a chef’s hat named “Speedee”. Ray Kroc entered the fray in 1955, and Ronald McDonald came to be in 1967. Double quarter pounder with cheese, large fries and a chocolate shake. I’ll start getting in shape tomorrow.

The last great MGM musical was released today in 1958. “Gigi” starred Leslie Caron and Louis Jourdan and won nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. The rom-com borrowed heavily from “My Fair Lady,” but holds its own in portryaing love winning out over cynicism.

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Love over cynicism wasn’t exactly what Motley Crue was going for when they released “Girls, Girls, Girls” today in 1987.  Or maybe it was and I just missed the point of: “Friday night and I need a fight…my motorcycle and a switchblade knife…handful of grease in my hair feels right…but what I need to make me tight are…Girls, Girls, Girls”

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“Ishtar” was released on the very same day as “Girls, Girls, Girls” and despite everything you’ve ever heard, it’s pretty damn funny for the first 45 minutes.

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Happy 60th birthday to George Brett, the only player to ever hit .300 in three different decades. He still looks like he could do it. Happy 57th to Dan Patrick.

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– Bill Hubbell

 

Day of Yore, May 13

You’ve done a lot of things you’re ashamed of right? Some things that make you cringe when the memory creeps into your brain? In May of 1981, I told a girl at my high school I’d get back to her when she asked me to a dance. (I eventually said no. JERK)

On May 13, 1981 Mehmet Ali Agca shot the Pope four times in St. Peter’s Square. See, I wasn’t that bad after all.

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Of course, being the Pope and all, John Paul II, forgave Agra and they became friends and pen pals.

Forty years ago tonight, Bobby Riggs beat Margaret Court 6-2, 6-1 in the first “Battle of the Sexes.” Riggs was 55-years old at the time and a Vegas hustler. He bragged that he could beat any women’s player in the world, even at 55. Billie Jean King turned down his request to play, but Court, who was the top-ranked women’s player at the time agreed to the match. King would beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 four months later.

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Dire Straits released “Brothers In Arms” today in 1985 and it’s sold over 30 million copies. Money For Nothing” was the massive hit, poking fun of MTV at the perfect time, when it was at it’s most popular. The crushing guitars and assist from Sting helped too. “So Far Away,” “The Walk of Life,” “Your Latest Trick” and “Brothers In Arms” were all standouts.

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Today in 2003, Third Eye Blind released, “Out of Vein,” the last of their three good albums. Faster,” “Crystal Baller” and My Hit and Run” were standout songs.

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“Bridesmaids” hit screens today in 2011. Women can’t make comedies? How about if they make one that gets up for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress? It was funny as shit.

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Happy 74th to Harvey Keitel, 63rd to Stevie Wonder49th to Stephen Colbert, 47th to Darius Rucker and 27th to Lena Dunham.

– Bill Hubbell

 

 

 

 

 

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Day of Yore, May 10

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One of hockey’s iconic moments happened tonight in 1970, when Bobby Orr took a give and go from Derek Sanderson and scored 40 seconds into overtime to complete a four game sweep over the St. Louis Blues and give Boston it’s first Stanley Cup in 29 years. Believe it or not, that photo did not make Sports Illustrated’s top 100 sports photographs list last year. Really, SI?

Did the ’80′s style officially kick off today in 1982, with the release of Duran Duran’s “Rio”? It only peaked at #6 on the Billboard charts, but it remained on the list for 129 weeks. Don Johnson noticed. Hit singles included, “Hungry Like the Wolf,” Rio,” “Save a Prayer,” and “New Religion.”

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Madonna’s homage to herself (which one?), “Truth or Dare” hit screens today in 1991. It was a sort of boring episode of “Behind the Music.”

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Weezer released their debut album today in 1994. Entitled, “Weezer,” it’s always been known as the Blue Album. It was a fantastic debut and set the course for Weezer’s beguiling run. Hits were “Buddy Holly,” “Undone-The Sweater Song,” and “Say it Ain’t So.” The best songs on the album are My Name is Jonas” Surf Wax America.”

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Today in 1893 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Nix vs. Hedden that the tomato is a vegetable and not a fruit. Imagine the peace the justices slept with that night… but the debate rages to this day.

Bono is 53 years old today and Chris Berman is 58. For someone who was born in 1955, it’s sort of odd that Berman doesn’t have a pop culture reference beyond his 20th birthday. The once beloved anchor has done too much of this to stay that way:

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– Bill Hubbell

Day of Yore, April 30

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“The Cosby Show” ended its eight year run tonight in 1992. The last episode was titled, “And So We Commence.” Theo graduates from college and Cliff remembers how he thought his son would never live up to his potential. The show was about an upper middle class family living in Brooklyn. It starred comedian Bill Cosby and a lot of sweaters. Lisa Bonet had the look of a breakout star, but it never happened for her.

It was today in 1945 that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun killed themselves a day after getting married. I’ve heard of bad honeymoons, but that’s right up there.

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Today in 1975 marked the Fall of Saigon as Communist forces took control of South Vietnam, signaling the end of the war and denting the US’s perfect record.

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A crazed fan came out of the crowd and stabbed Monica Seles today in 1993.

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“Mean Girls” hit the screen today in 2004. The movie that would launch the career of Lindsey Lohan instead pushed Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried toward stardom.

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– Bill Hubbell

Day of Yore, April 24

Today in 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space from the Shuttle Challenger. If I had a nickel for every time someone’s asked me, “like the telescope?” I’d have about a dollar. (People hate science.)

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Talk about Argofuckyourself…. today in 1980 Jimmy Carter’s limp-ass military launched Operation Eagle Claw in an attempt to rescue the 52 Americans being held hostage in Iran. It was one of Delta Force’s first missions and it failed miserably. Eight helicopters were sent to the initial staging area, but only five showed up operational. In planning the rescue mission, it was decided that the mission could be aborted if six or less of the helicopters remained operational, even though only four were needed for the mission. The commanders of the mission asked Carter if they could abort and in a decision that is still discussed in military circles, Carter aborted the mission. Eight US servicemen then died when one of the helicopters crashed into a transport aircraft. I think it was the only time in its history the US ever dropped to “others receiving votes” in the world power rankings.

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Today in 1953 Queen Elizabeth II knighted Winston Churchill. Nick Faldo has since been knighted. That’s sort of like Babe Ruth and Don Sutton both being in the baseball Hall of Fame, no?

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It was today in 2005 that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, taking the name, Pope Benedict XVI. He resigned earlier this year, becoming the first Pope to step down since 1415 and the first to do so of his own accord since 1294. I think you can find him singing karaoke on Tuesday nights at Joe’s Crab Shack in Naples.

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Tom Petty released his first solo album today in 1989, “Full Moon Fever.” Some of the Heartbreakers were a little pissed off about it, but all but one of them ended up contributing at least a little. Petty tells a great story about how Heartbreakers bassist Howie Epstein heard a track and shook his head no and called it terrible. The song was “Free Falling.” The lesson, as always, the lead singer is the lead singer is the lead singer. (Unless it’s Stillwater.) That song, “Running Down a Dream,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Yer So Bad,” “The Apartment Song,” “Zombie Zoo,” I’d say TP did okay.

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David Robinson wrapped up the NBA scoring title tonight in 1994 by scoring 71 points against the Clippers, to finish the year with a 29.8 average, besting Shaquille O’Neal’s 29.3. At the time Robinson was just the fourth NBA player to score over 70 in a game, joining Wilt, Elgin and David Thompson. Kobe has since joined them.

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Barbara Streisand is 71, Danny Noonan (Michael O’keefe) is 58, Kelly Clarkson is 31 and Tyson Ritter (All-American Rejects) is 29.

Ritter:

  1. Gives You Hell
  2. The Last Song
  3. It Ends Tonight
  4. I For You
  5. Kids in the Street
  6. Dirty Little Secret
  7. Swing Swing

– Bill Hubbell

Day of Yore, April 22

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I was living in Scottsdale on April 22, 2004, and it was like the entire city had the wind knocked out of it as the news spread across the radio. Pat Tillman, the ASU and Arizona Cardinal great had been killed in Afghanistan. Tillman had given up the life of a successful professional athlete join the Army after 9/11. He became an Army Ranger and was killed by friendly fire in the hellish mountains of Afghanistan. Tillman’s legacy became complicated in the near term after his death in a way that would have pissed him off to no end. He was a man who followed the voice in his head no matter what, and that’s a brave thing to do.

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It was today in 2000 that federal agents stormed a home in Miami to seize 6-year old Elian Gonzalez and returned him to Cuba to live with his father. Gonzalez had been living with relatives in Miami. He turns 20 later this year and is in the Cuban Army.

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Prince released his follow up to “Purple Rain” today in 1985, “Around the World in a Day.” Though it was no “Purple Rain,” it was still fantastic, with “Raspberry Beret,” “Paisley Park,” “Pop Life,” “Around the World in a Day,” and “America.”

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Happy 76th to Jack Nicholson and 77th to Glen Campbell.

Nicholson:

  1. A Few Good Men (the scene is court gets all the attention… this one might be better)
  2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  3. As Good As It Gets
  4. Chinatown
  5. Terms of Endearment

Campbell:

  1. Rhinestone Cowboy
  2. Gentle on My Mind
  3. I’d Build a Bridge
  4. Sunflower
  5. Galveston
  6. Wichita Lineman
  7. A Better Place (off his last album, after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he sings beautifully about moving on)

– Bill Hubbell