As both a child of divorce and the warped half of a 17-year "engagement," I have serious issues when it comes to marriage. And yet, even in my bitter, twisted state, I can identify a great, loving couple, that rare tandem of souls that defies the fractious laws of human nature. Or at least, I thought I could. Al and Tipper Gore? Separating after 40 years?! If ever a pair of straitlaced dweebs (and I say that jealously) were perfect for each other, it was those high school sweethearts, the famously PDA'n endurance smoochers. But now what? When ideal couples we all secretly envy decide to call it quits, it's nothing less than an apocalyptic sign that the rest of us are pretty much doomed. If they can't make it work . . . So I think it's in everybody's best interest if we, the people, band together as a nation of social misfits and hopeless, helpless romantics and matchmake these crazy kids back together. I can't offer love advice or, God forbid, relationship tips. But I can suggest a few tunes to commence the swoony reparations.
1. How Do You Keep the Music Playing?, James Ingram & Patti Austin
2. Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again, Barry Manilow
3. I Still Miss Someone, Johnny Cash
4. Can't Get It Out of My Head, Velvet Revolver
5. Telephone Line, ELO
6. Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word, Elton John
7. Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday, Stevie Wonder
8. We Can Work It Out, the Beatles
9. Baby Come Back, Player
10. Return to Me, Dean Martin
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Same old 'Story'?
I'm a drooling, unabashed Pixar nerd, so when early buzz (sorry) on June 18's Toy Story 3 started leaking, I gobbled up every word with fanboy froth. Not surprisingly, the lookee-loos are calling the series finale, which is being presented in 3-D, "brilliant," especially Michael Keaton's Ken doll and a 30-minute goodbye that's leaving people laughing and sobbing simultaneously. Jeez, I'm going to be a wreck.
At the same time the rumors started swirling, I received a digital copy of the Toy Story 3 soundtrack, a momentous occasion as I'm also a Randy Newman fan. Unfortunately, his new rag 'n' soul shuffle We Belong Together is painfully generic and uninspired, an awkward Newman parody; it makes You've Got a Friend in Me sound like In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. The accompanying score, including a Western-themed opening, was also mostly a letdown; any time Newman ventures into Aaron Copland territory (cue up his life-affirming score for The Natural), it usually gives me goose bumps. Alas, I wasn't feeling this at all.
But then I got to the final two tracks: His Zu-Zu (Ken's Theme) is swingin' '60s highball cheese, a short, loungey riot and my dream (house) ringtone. Nothing, however, tops So Long, which bids adieu not just to Buzz, Woody and the gang, who first entered our lives in 1995, but to the world-turning series, as well. The music also sounds deeply personal: Pixar gave Newman a career rebirth, and a whole lot of cash, so he's also saying thanks. The strings are bittersweet — mournful and hopeful — and the piano coda is absolutely gorgeous.
We'll have to wait until June 18 to see how the score merges with the movie, and if Toy Story 3 lives up to Pixar's peerless brand of excellence. But if the plot is as heart-twisting as advertised, and if that end music does its job, I have a feeling I'll be leaving those 3-D glasses on all the way to my car.
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Artist: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
Album: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals (Hollywood)
In stores: Tuesday
Night moves: Led by a 20-something blond knockout who fancies herself a Dustier Springfield, this Vermont quintet was christened a "best new band of 2010" by Rolling Stone. I'm not ready to go that far, as the crew's bluesy, gently hippie-fried retro rock is always pleasant but often forgettable, too. Songs such as Low Road and Colors play like Joss Stone in a juke joint — or maybe Norah Jones at Burning Man. The band is tight and capable, and Potter has a lithe, sultry voice to go with long, sexy legs, which she proudly stretches out all over the saucy liner notes. There's a fire in Potter's vocals, especially on the KISS-y fun of Hot Summer Night and the sharp roadhouse kick of the opening Paris (Ooh La La). But alas, many of the songs she's written here rarely stick, instead waffling into a gauzy midtempo blah. Again, it's all nice to hear, just not very thrilling. Maybe Grace Potter & the Nocturnals are a better live act? You know, I'd be more than willing to watch for a few hours to find out.
Download these: Oasis and Hot Summer Night