THE FOURTH of JULY WEEKEND STARTS HERE:
...with THE BEACH BOYS! Because folks my age will always remember their mammoth July 4th concerts at the Washington Monument -- as with these 1980 takes on "Good Vibrations", and "Do It Again." Given the time of year, I have to include this 1964 clip of "Surfin' U.S.A." which I think is from the same gig that produced these takes on "Little Deuce Coupe," "In My Room" and "Fun, Fun Fun." Their take on "Dance, Dance, Dance" from Shindig! later that year is like a slice of Christmas in July. There's also a nifty twofer of "I Get Around" and "'When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)" from their first UK TV appearance on Ready Steady Go! The Jack Benny Hour produced these quick takes on "Barbara Ann" and "California Girls." There's a primitive video for "Wouldn't It Be Nice" that starts with a cameo from Brian Wilson's dogs (Banana and Louie), who appear at the end of the Pet Sounds LP. And I'll finish with a live version of "God Only Knows" from the 1967 European tour -- one of the last Brian would do for a decade or so.
RAY CHARLES performs "America The Beautiful" like no one else.
A MIX FOR AMERICA: Streaming via NPR.
INDEPENDENCE DAY: Bruce Springsteen, circa 1978, before it came out on The River.
THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER: From 2008, Hidden Track serves up 12 video versions. And the only ones not working now are Jimi Hendrix and Whitney Houston.
THE UNITED STATES prepares to celebrate the 233rd anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. As the Wikipedia notes, this is a little arbitrary: New Englanders had been fighting Britain since April 1775; the first motion in the Continental Congress for independence was made on June 8th; and the Congress voted 12-0 for independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July 2nd. Even so, the publication of the Declaration was momentous . If you're not in DC, the best way to see and learn about the Declaration may be through the Charters of Freedom website. But you can watch Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas, Renee Zelleweger, Kevin Spacey, Wynona Ryder and other Hollywood folk read the Declaration, after a short introduction by Morgan Freeman.
Of course, the holiday more broadly celebrates the American Revolutionary War, and the Founders' unlikely victory. People with the highest standard of living and the lowest taxes in the Western World fought a sometimes unpopular war for our freedom. Early on, the Revolutionaries (also known as "Americans" or "Patriots") had the active support of about 40 to 45 percent of the colonial population. By 1779, there were more Americans fighting with the British than with Washington, which is why Washington needed help from the French, the Spanish and freed Blacks. You can separate fact from fiction regarding the sacrifices and fates of the Founders at Snopes. You can hear two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough read from the first chapter of his 1776 via NPR. Or watch a nifty clip on the drafing of the Declaration from the John Adams miniseries, which is running again on HBO tomorrow night.
DAVE ALVIN: Hey, baby, it's the "4th of July."
WAVVES is streaming King of the Beach, which was just named Best New Music by Pitchfork.
SLEIGH BELLS: Alexis Krauss talks to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the adjustment period going from session musician and school teacher to unleashed frontwoman.
CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS are profiled at PopMatters.
FRANZ NICOLAY (ex-Hold Steady) is interviewed at Largehearted Boy by Demander's Karen Kanan Correa about his chapbooks. I love that in the first segment, Franz mentions both oysters and snails without any reference to Spartacus.
DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS: Mike Cooley talks to The Boot about the band's country influences, and their opening slot for Tom Petty. (Thx, LHB.)
ARETHA FRANKLIN will duet with former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a fundraising event for inner city children in Philly.
THE TOP 50 BEATLESONGS, according to Gibson.
THE BEST ALBUM COVERS, according to Flavorwire.
CUTOUT BIN: From Linda Ronstadt to the Ramones, from Sly & the Family Stone to the Housemartins, from Billy Bragg to William Shatner, plus X, the Steve Miller Band, Dick Dale, the Kinks, the Modern Lovers and more -- this Friday's fortuitous finds are streaming from the Pate page at the ol' HM.
NOW SHOWING: In addition to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which is scoring 50 percent on the ol' Tomatometer, The Last Airbender opened on Thursday with a Tomatometer reading of 06 percent. Not looking good for M. Night Shamalayan, is it?
MAD MEL UPDATE: In one of the most explosive, racist and vile outbursts by a celebrity ever caught on tape, Mel Gibson told the mother of his love child that the way she was dressed would get her "raped by a pack of n***ers," according to RadarOnline.
TIGER WOODS will be a single man by the end of the day, perhaps for a lot less than the 750 million bucks reported earlier this week.
BRITNEY SPEARS was visited by social workers as part of an investigation by the L.A. Dept. of Children and Family Services into charges that the singer abused her two sons, says RadarOnline.
KELSEY GRAMMER's third marriage is coming to an end.
PEE-WEE HERMAN myy be headed back to the big screen, with an assist from Judd Apatow.
AFSHAN AZAD, who has appeared in four Harry Potter movies, was allegedly attacked at her home in Longsight in Manchester on May 21. Her father and brother have been charged with threatening to kill her. Will anyone be shocked if this turns out to be an attempted honor killing?
JEFFREY JONES, best known for his portrayal of a high school principal in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," has been charged with a single felony count of failing to update his sex offender registration.
THE BEST SHOT MOVIES of 1998-2008, according to cinematographers polled by... American Cinematographer, natch.
100 GREAT MOVIES Every Guy Must See.
THE 100 GREATEST MOVIE INSULTS in 10 minutes. Content Warning for language/sexual allusions.
TWIGGY: For the Fourth of July weekend, why not another look at the water-skiing squirrel? Great story. Compelling and rich.
A PUPPY near death was rescued from a deep slot canyon on the Utah-Arizona border. Video at the link!
SWEARING PARROT F***s Off.
SMUDGE the TERRIRER hits the open road on a classic motorcycle.