Jeff Garlin-This Week’s Podcast

Yes, Larry David’s manager Jeff Greene on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and Murray Goldberg from “The Goldbergs.” Jeff talks about both of those shows, going into how he convinced Larry to do the special that led to the series, as well as talking about his comedy career. He knew his future path upon seeing Jimmy Durante live in his formative years.

Jeff was the most popular guy in his high school class, he knows everybody, and when you listen to this podcast you’ll know why. He’s friendly, he’s gregarious and giving.

You’re gonna enjoy this.

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Goats Head Soup

The POlice in New York City
They chased a boy right through the park

“Goats Head Soup” was a disappointment after “Exile On Main Street.” Then again, what could follow up that two-disc set.

Now “Exile On Main Street” did not set the world on fire. It entered the chart at number one and fell off by time the Stones completed their ’72 tour. Yes, you could get a ticket in ’69, if you were hip to “Let It Bleed.” But most people were not. After the misstep of “Satanic Majesties,” the Beatles had eclipsed the Stones. It was suddenly no contest, until “Beggars Banquet.”

Well-reviewed, “Sympathy For The Devil” and “Street Fighting Man” really didn’t get much airplay. The former really didn’t become famous until the Altamont movie.

But then came “Let It Bleed,” with its eerie intro track “Gimmie Shelter.” You could drop the needle, turn out the light, and venture to another land. And this was before “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was in “The Big Chill,” the band was still playing to fans.

And then came “Sticky Fingers.”

That was the Stones’ “Thriller.” When it all added up. With Mick Taylor wailing and an Andy Warhol cover with a real zipper, “Brown Sugar” was ubiquitous. The party didn’t start until it was played. It was the anthem of Friday night. And the pent-up demand from “Sticky Fingers” filled arenas on the ’72 tour. There really hasn’t been anything like it since, in terms of the news coverage. Every stop generated photos and ink. Truman Capote was along for the ride. And Princess Radish, aka Lee Radziwill. There was a private plane and debauchery and the film of the tour, “Cocksucker Blues,” has never been released, although Annie Leibovitz’s photo of Keith Richards in shades by the water cooler became iconic, it enhanced Keith’s rep.

And the paradigm being a new studio album before every tour, “Exile On Main Street” was released just before the band hit the road. And although “Tumbling Dice” got airplay, Linda Ronstadt’s cover had more impact. But the band was on the road and you needed to own the album and if you listened to it enough, you got it. It’s dark, it’s unique, today it is legendary, back then it was seen as an of the moment relative stiff.

But how do you follow that up?

The truth is the band couldn’t. “Goats Head Soup” was a disappointment.

We read about “Star******,” but when it was released, it was entitled “Star Star,” which seemed too safe. It wasn’t the band’s call, but the holding back of profanity stuck to them.

Now once again, with time “Goats Head Soup”‘s rep has improved.

Actually, “Angie” got traction on the radio, but Johnny Winter rode the “Silver Train” longer than the Stones. But the second side of the LP, with “Hide Your Love,” “Winter” and “Can You Hear The Music,” was trance-like.

But my favorite song on the album was the one quoted above, “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker).” Never a hit, it’s still one of my favorite Stones songs. Especially the way Mick Jagger emotes.

And I know every lick of “Goats Head Soup” by heart, but I hadn’t thought of it recently until I saw Andrew Zimmern’s show “Bizarre Foods: Delicious: Delicious Destinations” tonight.

I know the legend of Anthony Bourdain, but I’ve never seen his show. Ditto on Zimmern, even though I’ve read all about him. I know he checked in to Hazelden, I know he lives in Minneapolis, but… That’s me, I’m a print guy. Who’s got time for TV shows?

But tonight while eating a hamburger Felice had the “Cooking Channel” on and lo and behold the host was Andrew Zimmern, and they were in Tel Aviv, and they were going to the hot spots to uncover shawarma and other delicacies and I couldn’t take my eyes off the show, I wanted to go.

And when the clock struck nine, it shifted to “Bizarre Foods,” and now the location was Kingston, Jamaica. I’ve never been there. Yes, it was de rigueur to go to the islands when I was in high school, but I was too busy skiing. And I loved Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” and purchased “Burnin'” and “Natty Dread” but I really didn’t get Marley until the live album in ’75. One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain. But you know that.

And they go through a long explanation of how you make jerk chicken, and it was pretty interesting, but then they moved on to goat curry.

And I saw the head. And I started to think of the Stones album and its title but there wasn’t a soup, until…

They had a whole segment on “mannish water.” And as I’m watching, I realize this is it, GOATS HEAD SOUP!

There was no internet back then. And the mainstream media barely covered rock and roll. You had to read the rags, like “Rolling Stone,” “Creem” and “Fusion,” but so many questions were left unanswered.

And I always exalted the performers, never thought I was their equal, always thought they were special, not like you and me.

But as time has passed, I realize so much of what I thought was hassled over and debated was an instant choice at the last minute.

I don’t know what inspired the Stones to name the album “Goats Head Soup,” but now I finally know what it is!

Streaming Killed The Gatekeepers

Every technological revolution changes the music.

The invention of the 33 1/3 vinyl album allowed the creation of “Rubber Soul” and then “Sgt. Pepper.” Suddenly the album was a statement instead of a single and a bunch of filler. Then when you could no longer simulcast your AM stream on FM, we got free-form radio. Then MTV came along and made it about how you looked. And without a hit single, you were toast. And then streaming came along and killed the gatekeepers.

The barrier to the creation of music is essentially nonexistent. You can make it on your laptop and for a small fee get it on all streaming services, not that anyone will listen to it. As a result there’s a plethora of product. Those prognosticators of yore said Napster and the internet would kill the production of music, just the opposite has happened.

And now you can break a record without radio. Radio comes last, not first. As for MTV, it’s a non-factor. The labels angry they didn’t get a piece of it should just be glad Murdoch bought MySpace. In other words, music is forever, the platform is not, stay in your lane.

But now the major labels’ lane is signing what is commercial and only commercial. The system needs hits. Furthermore, the labels rarely develop the acts, rather the acts develop themselves and the labels poach them. But if you’re not making hip-hop or pop, or country, no one wants you, does that mean no one wants your genre of music? No.

You see on Spotify, et al, there’s no massaging of the data. A stream is a stream. Such that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In other words, the Spotify Top 50 counts, after that?

The labels and the media are oriented towards this. Hell, seemingly every newspaper prints the “Billboard” Top Ten every week. There’s this focus on the most popular, when the most popular is less popular than ever before.

So no one can force a hit. It’s not about your relationship with radio or TV, that’s not where the active listeners are. Ask any publicity person, other than “CBS Sunday Morning” and SNL, no television appearance moves the needle. When people can see video for free, on YouTube, why should they make an appointment? As for appointments, this is what is killing the old time players, both the networks and the cable channels, they don’t realize the consumer makes the appointment now, they’re in control, and if they can’t watch it when they want to, oftentimes they don’t watch it at all.

And you put out your album and nothing happens.

But why should there be an album?

Albums used to be half an hour, but then when CDs replaced vinyl and cassettes, an album could be seventy minutes, who had the time? But it was financially lucrative. Now the economics are completely different. Oftentimes only the hit is streamed, listeners are not interested in the rest of the dreck. So why make it? This is the tradition musicians can’t understand. Sure, if you have an album you can get reviews, you can concentrate your publicity around it, but it doesn’t matter! Only your fans are gonna listen anyway.

So you can do whatever you want. Which is one of the reasons hip-hop and pop dominate. They don’t wait years between releases, they put out multiple albums a year, singles whenever they want to, they’re in touch with the audience, those in the other genres are not.

And since hip-hop lives online, it dominates the streaming chart. We knew hip-hop was popular, we didn’t know it was THIS popular until streaming, just like we didn’t know country was that popular until Soundscan.

Now some might say playlists are the new gatekeepers. But the truth is, list makers don’t want to piss off the labels, who they depend upon. There was one playlist that mattered, Rap Caviar, and then Tuma Basa bolted to YouTube for more money and was never heard from again. And if Alphabet were smart, it would buy Spotify today, because none of their streaming services have gotten traction, and YouTube and Spotify would meld together well.

Now in the old days, the hits were all that mattered. Then FM gave non-single acts spins and whole new genres of music flared. But this is not happening in streaming because everybody’s still hampered by the old model, where only the big hits matter.

But then Lee Abrams came along and codified FM playlists and AOR radio was king and the music business was never healthier.

Will someone come along and codify Spotify and the rest of the streaming services? That’s what we’re waiting for, someone to make sense of the tsunami of tracks. But the streaming services are run by techies, and if they promote one track they leave another out and the industry gets pissed, whereas with radio music was just fuel for advertising, where the real dollars were. But music is the heartbeat of the streaming services.

So now what?

This limited genre streaming will come to an end eventually. Something will break the hegemony. Because there’s too much unoccupied land waiting to be inhabited. This is how Warner/Reprise became the dominant label in the seventies, they signed multiple genres of acts, no one does that anymore.

And the labels are downsizing and investing in anything but music as they continue to try and make their nut. So they’re leaving a giant opportunity.

The internet has proven there’s an audience for everything, however small in some cases. But in music, we’re narrowing the offerings, that makes no sense.

All we hear about is Beyonce, is she truly the only thing happening in music? This myopic focus on limited product is the antithesis of the internet ethos. It’s why AT&T canned the old regime at HBO. Sure, it was the true Tiffany network, but it didn’t make enough product! In other words, AT&T was smarter than the Hollywooders.

And there are a lot of people smarter than those in music.

But there’s just not enough money in it.

But there will be. And then we’ll see change.

CNNi

Yazhou was in Hong Kong.

Maybe you grew up with this technology, but for those of us who grew up in the twentieth century, it’s positively amazing. It’s kind of like asking my mother what it was like before television, I couldn’t fathom it. And now I’ve lived through a revolution myself, a technical revolution, the internet. It’s commonplace. Even the government has you fill out forms online. Twenty years ago people were afraid to enter their credit card number, now we live on our phones and…

My phone said Portland, OR. I don’t know about you, but this past week I’ve been inundated with calls talking about taxes and social security. I’m savvy enough to know they’re scams, but the worst thing is if only a few people bite, they make their numbers. So they keep dialing, and I keep blocking. But then they call on other numbers. It’s a cat and mouse game I tell you.

Usually my junk calls come from Gardena, CA. Have you been to Gardena? The odds of me knowing someone from there are…nil.

So I don’t pick those up anymore.

And to tell you the truth, I don’t get many phone calls to begin with. I rarely talk on the phone. So if someone is dialing me, is it important?

You know, you wait all day for a call and then a number comes up that’s not in your address book and you decide to let it go to voice mail and then you can’t call back, you can’t connect, it drives you nuts.

But this call from Portland, OR… No message was left, but there was a text, it was Deborah from CNNi. Now I know if they’re looking for me they want me to come on, but I’m out of town, I can’t go to the studio. So we’re texting back and forth and we agree we’ll Skype and dial in the time and…

This is for real business. Oftentimes I deal with companies that are untogether. But they’re gonna test the connection a half hour before and that’s when I get the text from Yazhou.

Now at this point in time, unique names are not uncommon, you don’t think much about it. And a young woman comes on the Skype screen and she has me adjust the angle of my laptop and close the door behind me and we discuss some technical stuff, and then she asks me what I thought about BTS on SNL.

Now I start to wax rhapsodic, telling her I loved the first number, but not the second, where they rapped. And I figure Yazhou was gonna give me the inside spin, being from the demo, and that’s when she tells me she’s in Hong Kong, and that SNL is blocked there.

Now Yazhou goes on to testify about BTS. Smiling as she says that America finally gets it. And I start to kvell. I’m sitting in a condo on a laptop using hotel wifi talking to a young woman in Hong Kong, who’s just doing the technical work, the actual show is gonna be done in Atlanta.

And she speaks English perfectly. I figure she’s doing time over there, paying her dues. But she says she’s Chinese! I can’t believe it, I ask her if she was born in the U.S.A. Nope. But she did spend a few years in school over here, but only a few.

And I’m intersecting with the Chinese miracle on my laptop. Here’s this educated young woman confident in her skills and… Forget all the xenophobic Americans, I can’t fathom it. How did this happen? We feel we can contact anybody in the world whenever we want to. And thirty years ago we thought fax was a breakthrough!

And then I’m connected to Atlanta and we have fun talking about BTS. The anchor asks me if I really think BTS on SNL was better than Gary Clark Jr on the same show, and I say DEFINITELY! Because Gary Clark, Jr. can’t write a song to save his life. He’s an excellent guitar player, but they don’t let the Korean boy/girl bands out in the world until the songs are perfected.

And I’m going on how New Kids On The Block was the progenitor. Oh, don’t e-mail me about some act from the sixties, I get it, you’re a muso and I must be wrong. And then Lou Pearlman perfected the formula, with the dance moves and better songs/production, i.e. Max Martin. And then came One Direction, from a TV show, but they famously didn’t dance. But their career was driven not by radio hits, but online mania. And now BTS has the songs, the dance moves, the meaning, yes, there are messages in their music, just ask their fans, and once again, it all happened online, the traditional music business was caught flat-footed. Yes, the album’s coming out on Columbia, but they’re at the end of the food chain, this was built by people who’d been doing it a long time who were confident in their endeavors and knew it was just a matter of time until the U.S. caught on.

And then John asked me about Blackpink, and I said it was a veritable movement. And it’s so exciting, these Korean acts breaking the hip-hop/pop hegemony. They could have been created in the U.S., but NO!

This shows you what the internet can do.

And I’m still amazed.