News & Rambling

News & Rambling

Sonny Curtis wrote songs for Mary Tyler Moore and The Clash

Sonny Curtis (born May 9, 1937, Meadow, Texas) is an American singer and songwriter. He was a teenage pal and band member with Buddy Holly in Lubbock, Texas. Curtis joined The Crickets after Holly’s death in 1959, and soon took over the lead vocalist role in addition to lead guitar. Curtis is the author of 189 registered works on including five BMI award winners. He is a member of the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of the Crickets).

“Love Is All Around”
Composed and Performed by Sonny Curtis

“I Fought The Law”
Composed by Sonny Curtis
Performed by the Clash

“Walk Right Back”
Composed by Sonny Curtis
Performed by the Everly Brothers

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Otessa Moshfegh – My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Bernard Cornwell – (The Warlord Chronicles) – The Winter King, Enemy of God, Excalibur

Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai – The Teachings of Buddha

I read some excellent books in 2019 as well.

Above these thoughts are a few photos from my phone.

(Updated October 5, 2020)

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I can make the runner stumble. I can make the final block.

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The last time I can remember being ahead of the times was in 1976, when I became a vehement Jimmy Carter supporter at age 4. The next step off the cliff of the present was in 1985 or so, when I turned from the pop radio station to the oldies station. Within a few years, I had a copy of Joel Whitburn’s Top 40 Hits, a book listing every song that had been on the charts from 1955 to the present.

As I write this, I’m listening to Making Love Out of Nothing at All, written by Jim Steinman, recorded by Air Supply. To this day, I think I’d rate Air Supply in my most memorable shows of all time. For the sake of honesty, let’s see if I’m correct.

  • Ray Charles
  • Frank Sinatra
  • James Brown
  • They Might Be Giants
  • Battershell
  • Blossom Dearie
  • Willie Nelson
  • Air Supply
  • Harry Belafonte
  • Billy Joel
  • Eagles of Death Metal
  • Violent Femmes

I’m sure I’m missing something, but that’s about right for now.

In the past, I’ve found that learning how to play a song, getting it inside you, so that you can play it again to yourself, or for a friend, that’s the best way to get rid of what they call “an earworm.” Should I be working harder on my Air Supply covers? That’s a good question. The answer is: probably. At least this one. I don’t think I’ll ever be manic enough to do another birthday tribute show again, or at least another new one. So far, I’ve done several tributes to Johnny Cash and one each for Katy Perry and Frank Sinatra. I was really stoked about doing a BeeGees show for awhile, but that idea faded away.

Damn, that Jim Steinman can write a song. I’d love to see him in concert someday.

Above these thoughts are a few photos from my phone.

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Songwriters on the “Hilltop”, or, when a jingle hits the charts.

In 1971, Coca Cola released their iconic “Hilltop” TV commercial. The underlying jingle “I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing” proved so popular that radio station listeners started requesting it. Two separate versions of the song reached the Billboard Top 20 in 1972. (Hillside Singers, #13; The New Seekers, #7)

“I’d Like to Teach The World to Sing”
(Spot name: “Hilltop”, McCann-Erickson, 1971)
Music by Bill Backer, Billy Davis, Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook
Performed by The New Seekers

“I’d Like to Teach The World To Sing” was written by four interesting characters, Bill Backer, Billy Davis, Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook.

Bill Backer (1926- ) was an executive at the McCann-Erickson advertising agency, the Charleston, S.C., native created some of the most successful ad campaigns in history. Backer contributed his songwriting skills to the jingles on more than one of the spots he created.

“Here’s to Good Friends”
Words and Music by Bill Backer
Performed by Arthur Prysock

Roquel Billy Davis
(July 11, 1932 – September 2, 2004) of Detroit was an American songwriter, record producer, and singer.

“Reet Petite”
Words and Music by Billy Davis & Berry Gordy, Jr.
Performed by Jackie Wilson

“Lonely Teardrops”
Words and Music by Billy Davis, Gwen Fuqua & Berry Gordy, Jr.
Performed by Jackie Wilson

Roger Frederick Cook
(born 19 August 1940, in Fishponds, Bristol, England) is a well-known songwriter who has written many hits for other recording artists. He has also had a successful recording career in his own right. Most of the hits he has written have been in collaboration with Roger Greenaway, whom he originally met while they were members of a close harmony group, The Kestrels.

Roger Greenaway (born Roger John Greenaway, 23 August 1938, [1] Fishponds, Bristol), is a popular English songwriter, best remembered for his collaborations with Roger Cook.

“Talking In Your Sleep”
Words & Music by Roger Cook & Bobby Wood
Performed by Crystal Gayle

“Long, Cool Woman in a Black Dress”
Words & Music by Roger Cook & Roger Greenaway
Performed by The Hollies

“You’ve Got Your Troubles”
Words & Music by Roger Cook & Roger Greenaway
Performed by The Fortunes

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The Nightlife – Episodes 1-20


The Nightlife was originally conceived as a template for a midnight, three hour radio show. I tried to envision myself at a radio station on a Saturday night, pulling records off of the infinite shelves of Spotify. But because I wasn’t talking between the songs, at times I felt like I was back at the old tape deck, making a mix tape for a friend. Now I’ve got this box of mix tapes, and I wish I’d labeled them better. But if you’re going somewhere, or cleaning the house, and you wanted to hear a few of my favorite tunes and artists, The Nightlife is here for you.

Episode 20 / Episode 19

Episode 18 / Episode 17

Episode 16 / Episode 15

Episode 14 / Episode 13

Episode 12 / Episode 11

Episode 10 / Episode 9

Episode 8 / Episode 7

Episode 6 / Episode 5

Episode 4 / Episode 3

Episode 2 / Episode 1

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Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, hit songwriters

Nickolas Ashford (born May 4, 1942, in Fairfield, South Carolina) and Valerie Simpson (born August 26, 1946 in The Bronx, New York) are a successful husband and wife songwriting/production team, as well as being recording artists in their own right. This performing and songwriting team met in the choir of Harlem’s White Rock Baptist Church.

“Lets Go Get Stoned”
Words & Music by Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson, & Josephine Armstead
Performed by Joe Cocker

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
Words & Music by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
Performed by Diana Ross

“Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing”
Words & Music by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
Performed by The Jackson 5

“Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)”
Words & Music by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
Performed by Aretha Franklin

“You’re All I Need/I’ll Be There for You”
Words & Music by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
Performed by Mary J. Blige & Method Man

Words & Music by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
Performed by Ashford & Simpson

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Cindy Walker, teardrops on the bar

Cindy Walker, (July 20, 1918 – March 23, 2006) was an American singer/songwriter and dancer. Born in Mart, Texas, Walker wrote a great many hit songs for a number of country music stars such as Bob Wills, Eddy Arnold, and Carl Smith. In 2006 American music icon Willie Nelson released a CD album featuring 13 of Walker’s well-known songs. The album title is You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker.

“You Don’t Know Me” performed by Willie Nelson
Words and Music by Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold

“I Don’t Care” performed by Webb Pierce
Words and Music by Cindy Walker and Webb Pierce

“Cherokee Maiden” performed by Merle Haggard
Words and Music by Cindy Walker

“Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream?)” performed by Roy Orbison
Words and Music by Cindy Walker

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Christmas classic, or, Birdwatching by-product

“Jingle Bells”, also known as “One Horse Open Sleigh”, is one of the best known and commonly sung secular Christmas songs in the world. It was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) and copyrighted under the title ‘One Horse Open Sleigh’ on September 16, 1857. The song has been translated into many languages. The Singing Dogs version was originally created by Danish recording engineer Carl Weissmann who discovered, while editing the sounds of barking dogs out of birdsong recordings, that perhaps dogs can sing as well.. Awesome guitar solo added later, in the United States.

Jingle Bells performed by the Singing Dogs
Words and Music by James Lord Pierpont

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The Nightlife: Episodes 1-5

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The Nightlife is a weekly playlist based on what I think it’d sound like if I had a free-form midnight radio show. I look at this like I’ve rolled into the radio station to have the best time of my life playing great records in sequence and hearing the beautiful stories they tell each other across time. Another way to think of it, is like I just sent you two 90 minute mixtapes in the mail. And of course you don’t have to listen at midnight. You can listen anytime.


As I understand it, Spotify Premium members can listen to these shows complete and in order, whereas Spotify Free users can listen to a shuffled version of each playlist with added commercials and missing the songs only allocated for premium members.

The Nightlife: Episode 1 – 10/5/19

The Nightlife: Episode 2 – 10/12/19

The Nightlife: Episode 3 – 10/19/19

The Nightlife: Episode 4 – 10/26/19

The Nightlife: Episode 5 – 11/4/19

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Copyright 2014 Alex Battles.