“He’s Doing a Public Service by Blasting This Song.”

One of my regular forms of morning commute entertainment is the podcast of Tony Kornheiser’s morning radio show on the ESPN affiliate in Washington, D.C.

The show leads in to each segment with a bit of music; usually an older song, and often one that carries some significance on that day (last week, to honor the anniversary of Let It Be‘s release, they led every segment with a song from the album). Since the podcast is on a delay and usually comes two days after the show aired live, the show I listened to this morning (Wednesday) honored the release of Marvin Gaye’s brilliant What’s Going On, whose 41st anniversary was Monday. 

I love when the show plays songs I enjoy and/or am familiar with – Let It Be, for example – but this morning, I was treated to more than just a favorite tune. The song came with some accompanying commentary from Mr. Tony, which not only referenced Marvin Gaye’s excellence and included some typical “get off my lawn” snark from Kornheiser, but mentioned Tina Fey as well! The trifecta of my obsessions. It doesn’t take much to make my commute more exciting.

I’ve already ruined this by writing too much about it, but whatever. Here’s what made my day this morning. (For full effect, I recommend listening to What’s Going On while reading the quote.)

“Forty-one years ago today, the Marvin Gaye album, What’s Going On, was released, and before we get into the sports aspect of the show, I want to tell you this. I was driving here this morning. I’m driving here and I’m going north on Rockville Pike. And I’m stopped at a light by that, um, Metro Station, is it Marinelli Road, where the driving range used to be?…And there’s a guy in a Toyota with 300,000 miles on it next to me. I mean, it’s like from the mid-90s. Toyota Camry. And he is playing this song, through closed windows, so loud that you can hear it on the moon. So loud. I’m trying to listen to the reading of Bossypants by Tina Fey in my car! I’m drowned out in my own car. So I just turn it off. I turn off mine.

And that’s what I want to say. This is like, this guy is so lucky. ‘Cause I really like this song. He’s doing a public service by blasting this song. But he could have blasted something truly terrible, and there should be…people like that, people who blast their music, honestly, they should be ticketed….You know. Close the windows and keep the music to yourself.”

Not sure what I love more: That he’s calling the act of blasting Marvin Gaye songs in a car “a public service,” or that he was irritated about the music because it drowned out his Bossypants audiobook.

To hear the rant in its full glory, the TK Show podcast is here (May 20, 2013; Hour 1.)

*I think he’s on to something with the ticketing for loud music, though. The NYC subway system could become a much more pleasant place. Do people even know what headphones are for?

Stevie and The Beatles Work it Out

Editor’s Note: This is yet another post inspired by “The Beatles and Their Times,” aka the greatest class in the history of college.

The focus this week was on Rubber Soul and Revolver. Our professor showed a graph charting the relative innovative-ness of each Beatles album, and it showed these two as the point at which they veered away from the traditional love songs with traditional instrumentation and moved into experimental territory. (I have no idea who determined this, as it sounds wildly subjective, but you get the idea.)

Today, we spent a lot of time on the psychedelic “Tomorrow Never Knows,” at the time their most innovative song, but also discussed some of Revolver‘s more conventional tunes. To my delight, this involved talk of how Motown music found its way to the Beatles.

I knew “the sound of young America” had some influence on the Beatles when, sinking into a late-night YouTube black hole, I found this video of George acknowledging Marvin Gaye as one of his favorite musicians (at 1:32).

Hey, George – Marvin Gaye is one of my favorite musicians, too! Let’s be friends.

Anyway, I had no idea “Got to Get You into My Life” (from Revolver) was heavily Motown-influenced. I suppose I could have gathered that from the horn section (Paul McCartney called them “soul trumpets”), but never really thought about it until today. The lyrics are Paul’s, but John Lennon directly acknowledged the music’s Tamla/Motown roots.

The influence ran both ways. We didn’t end up listening to it, but I saw our professor had Stevie Wonder’s version of “We Can Work it Out” in the queue for today; he’ll often play original versions of songs the Beatles covered, or cover versions of their songs (like a relatively unbearable rendition of “Eleanor Rigby” from The Four Tops). Stevie takes a more lighthearted approach to the song, and it’s one of my favorite Motown jams.

It’s probably obvious this post was just an excuse for me to write about Stevie Wonder and the Beatles in the same post, but here’s a question: If you could have any band/artist cover any Beatles song, who and what song would you choose?

Who’s Pumped for the NBA’s Return? Marvin Gaye.

Forget anything from the Super Bowl. Forget that sentimental Chevy ad with Ray Charles’ rendition of “America the Beautiful.” Yes, even forget all the real good times we had with Pitbull’s Dr. Pepper spot.

I’ve found my favorite advertisement of the year: MSG Network‘s season-opener promo for New York Knicks games.

I do not claim to be a huge Knicks fan, but I’ve liked Amar’e Stoudemire ever since Will Leitch featured him in a New York magazine article shortly before his first season with the team. (Let’s be real: It’s the goggles.)

I do claim to be a huge Marvin Gaye fan. I’m fascinated by everything surrounding his music, his life, his death and his amazingly brilliant 1971 concept album. Marvin Gaye sang the classics. Who hasn’t belted “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” at the top of their lungs? (Or is it just me?) He was a cornerstone of Motown records and, in my eyes, a complete musical genius.

But this ad isn’t just terrific because it combines two pretty cool people. It’s brilliant because it gets right at the emotions of hardcore NBA fans in a post-lockout world.

You’ve been trying to hold back this feeling for so long, as the song says. You’ve wanted so badly to head to the Garden, cheer for the Knicks, watch Amar’e and ‘Melo.

But you couldn’t.

Until now.

The lockout is over! The Knicks are back! Let’s get it on!

If this was just another ad promoting the start of another season, it might not have the same effect. But NBA fans have never been so ready to get the games started, and the ad appeals to those heightened emotions.

What did you think of the ad? Did it get you excited about the NBA’s return? Did you just enjoy hearing some smooth Marvin Gaye tunes? Have you seen any other effective examples of teams getting their fanbases excited for the start of the season? Let me know what you’ve seen!

(Credit to this tweet from Arthur Triche, VP of Public Relations for the Atlanta Hawks, for tipping me off to the video.)