Even these days, when cheap secondhand pianos are in plentiful supply, having been tossed aside to make way for compact, sophisticated keyboards, not many people can brag about owning a Steinway. Fewer own one that’s not worth bragging about. And then there’s the guy who actually went out of his way to buy one that’s not worth bragging about.
So gather ’round my 133-year-old Steinway upright, and hear a little ditty about a man with a laptop, a rental van and impulse-spending issues.
My tune is not quite a dirge, I suppose, since this piano is actually an improvement on the troll it displaced from my living room. But I’d have endured far less angst, and gotten more piano for my money, if I had listened to the experts before leaping at my “bargain” discovery…
.1943 ~ Joni Mitchell, Canadian folk-rock singer, songwriter and guitarist, 1970 UK No.11 single ‘Big Yellow Taxi’, 1974 US No.7 single ‘Help Me’. She wrote ‘Both Sides Now’ a hit for Judy Collins and ‘Woodstock’ a hit for Crosby Stills Nash and Young and Matthews Southern Comfort. Mitchell’s work is highly respected by critics, and she has deeply influenced fellow musicians in a diverse range of genres.
.1947 ~ Billboard magazine began listing the top 15 popular records. Only 10 songs had been featured previously.
.1956 ~ Elvis Presley hit the charts with Love Me. The song was the first million-seller to make the charts without being released as a single. It was, instead, an EP (extended play) 45 rpm, with three other songs on it: Rip It Up, Paralyzed and When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again on RCA Victor.
.1970 ~ Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? was released by Columbia. It became the third tune by Chicago to hit the pop music charts. Make Me Smile and 25 or 6to 4 were previous hits. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? made it to #7 on the charts, January 7, 1971.
.1976 ~ Gone With the Wind was aired (over two nights) on NBC-TV. The showing was the highest-rated TV show in history. 65 percent of all viewers turned on their sets to watch Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler.
.1978 ~ Nick Gilder, Singer
.1979 ~ The Rose, starring Bette Midler, got star treatment with a world premiere in Los Angeles. The movie was modeled after the life of Janis Joplin.
.2000 ~ Doug Nelson, bassist in teen blues star Jonny Lang’s band, was killed when he was hit by a pickup truck on a rural highway in northern Minnesota. He was 46. Nelson began playing professionally at age 15. He worked in Los Angeles for a time and toured with Olivia Newton-John, before returning in the late 1980s to the Twin Cities, where he played with local bands. He joined Lang’s group about three years ago.
.2000 ~ Columbia Legacy and Verve released a five-CD box set companion titled “Ken Burns Jazz: The Story of American Music” in addition to 22 individual artist discs.
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.2001 ~ Gene Wooten, a dobro player who backed Patty Loveless, the Osborne Brothers, Wilma Lee Cooper and other country stars, died from complications of lung cancer. He was 49. “He was like a teacher for everyone,” said mandolinist Roland White. “He was like our guru. He just helped everybody in music. … There was no ego ever – ever – and that’s hard to find.” Wooten, a native of Franklinton, N.C., attended Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., where he began his career in music. He moved to Nashville in 1977 and was hired by Cooper. Wooten played on the Mountain Soul album by Loveless this year. He was voted best dobro player three times by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass in America.