This Year’s Best Rock Book: “Here Comes The Night”

Here Comes The Night by Joel SelvinJoel Selvin has been a preeminent rock music authority in the Bay Area since the 1970s. He founded the “Night Times” (an entertainment paper discussing the East Bay entertainment scene) and from there went to the San Francisco Chronicle, where he covered the Bay Area music scene for decades. We @ Open Source Music are proud to post the podcasts of his radio show.

Selvin has also written many books about music, but his most recently published work is his most fascinating of all. “Here Comes The Night” is a true labor of love. It took him almost 20 years to research and write. The book is about Bert Berns, a major 60’s song writer, music producer, and music label mogul responsible for many rock classics. He wrote “Twist and Shout” and “Piece of my Heart.” He also introduced Van Morrison and Neil Diamond to the world . Rather than review the book for the umpteenth time, here are the highlights of already written praise.

He wrote ‘Hang On Sloopy’ – and dozens of other hits. Meet Bert Berns via this brilliant new bio
He wrote or produced “Twist and Shout,” “Hang on Sloopy,” “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Piece of My Heart.” And you almost certainly don’t know his name. But you’ll know that and a lot more after you meet Bert Berns, courtesy of Joel Selvin, whose biography of Berns represents a masterpiece of research, writing and investigative literature about one of the most influential and little-known songwriters in rock history.

• New York Times: Sunday Book Review
Hit Man: ‘Here Comes the Night,’ by Joel Selvin
Bert Berns the producer is the Phil Spector you’ve never heard of. Bert Berns the songwriter is the Leiber and Stoller you’ve never heard of. Bert Berns… .

• NPR: Obscure Producer’s Clear Impact On ‘The Dirty Business’ Of R&B
Many of the hit-making songwriters of the 1960s are remembered by name: Burt Bacharach, Carole King, Lennon-McCartney, Holland-Dozier-Holland. But the man who wrote (or co-wrote) classics like “Twist and Shout,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Hang on Sloopy,” “I Want Candy” and “Here Comes the Night…”

• The Irish Times:
Bert Berns: label boss, friend to wiseguys and foe to Van Morrison
“Remembered with equal parts animosity and affection, the Bronx-born music man blazed a trail in an era of industry pimps, visionaries and gangsters.”

Baseball’s Anthem Was Written By Two Songwriters Who Never Saw A Baseball Game

The opening days of baseball season are upon us. It’s time to think baseball. No other song embodies baseball like “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” This song, written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tizer, is the de-facto official baseball song, a true anthem of America’s national pastime. Neither of the songwriters ever attended a baseball game prior to writing the song in 1908. Showing the true power of a well-written song, this song’s chorus is broadcast over the P.A. systems at most baseball stadiums during “the seventh inning stretch,” with the fans singing along in today’s world.

Although there have been many recorded versions, the most famous was done by Ed Meeker for Edison records. This version was selected by the Library of Congress as an addition to the National Recording Registry.

Here’s a link to Ed Meeker’s version.

Here are the original lyrics, as sung by Ed Meeker:

Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad.
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev’ry sou
Katie blew.
On a Saturday her young beau
Called to see if she’d like to go
To see a show, but Miss Kate said “No,
I’ll tell you what you can do:”


Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names.
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along,
Good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song

Can A Song Questioning The Use Of Guns On T.V. Be Entertaining?

tvguns-orange-300pxT.V. Guns is currently: “My most favorite song, I’ve ever produced.”  It’s also one of the most meaningful songs I’ve been involved with.

It’s amazing, in my lifetime, just how much music has changed things. I think as a society we should all be concerned with glorification of guns on T.V. and video.  The golden age of smoking in film was bad enough. Is the world we live in now going to be known as “The Golden Age of Gun Abuse On Video?”

Eric Din, the songwriter of T.V. Guns, is always making a point about the world he lives in. This entertaining song is so topical, and Eric’s voice is so intelligent. Give it a listen:

The Berkeley California Ska band, The Uptones have always made their opinions about the world we live in known, while still rocking out. A feat that very few can achieve without sounding pompous.

I’m such a fan, I’ve seen almost all their recent shows.

It’s also been my pleasure to help this song become realized.

-Matthew King Kaufman

The Beserkley Story on Selvin On The City

Beserkley Records’ “Reigning Looney” Matthew King Kaufman visits the basement record library to recall his subversive rock guerilla encampment with Earth Quake, Jonathan Richman, Greg Kihn, the Rubinoos and others.

Five songs that make more sense now than when they were recorded

Pioneer Songwriters: Prophets Of Pop

1. “I Want To Kill Everybody”

Performed by Ed Haynes, written by Ed Haynes
His depiction of the current state of government is way truer today than when it was recorded in the 80’s. Plus his answer to the frustrations is way more timely. This song is a must listen.

Read the lyrics

2. “It Takes Money”

Performed by The Uptones, written by Paul Jackson
This decade of “Too Big To Fail” has promoted a consciousness of selfishness and economic power that is expressed in this song.

Read the lyrics

3. “Radiation Boy”

Performed by The Uptones, written by Eric Dinwiddie
The tsunami in Japan made this ditty about a boy who was adversely affected by radiation near his home very, very relevant.

Read the lyrics

4. “Outback”

Performed by The Uptones, written by Ben Eastwood
The troubled areas of our planet were highlighted in this song written in the 80s. I’m glad to see The Uptones are still performing the song today.

Read the lyrics

5. “I Am a Janitor”

Performed by Surface Music, written by Gary King
With all the talk about the minimum wage, this song about the joys of honest labor makes more sense today than it did when it was recorded.

Read the lyrics

A Must Read For Any Beatles Fan

GK_rubber_soul_cover200pxGreg Kihn is a true pioneer of the rock thriller genre, and this book is a perfect example. As a Beatles fan, I loved this novel by musicologist, hit recording artist, and dedicated rocker, Greg Kihn. What a page-turner, I almost read the whole book in one sitting. It is a well researched work, based upon numerous interviews with Beatle members and their wives. These facts make “hanging out with The Beatles in Liverpool” seem so real. This is a great romp thru Beatlemania. Rubber Soul includes a lot of action, as well as a murder mystery. I highly recommend this read to any and all Beatles fans.

Learn more about this book