Bootleg City: Neil Sedaka in London, March ’10

Written by Bootleg City, Music

Citizens of Bootleg City, this is your mayor. This is your mayor on drugs. This is your mayor on drugs trying to get over a bout of hay fever and possibly hallucinating and temporarily leaving the city in the care of Matthew Boles, better known as the Minister of Fast Food and Entertainment. Take it away, giant talking bag of curly fries! —RC

Ahh yeah! I love me a good zombie movie, and I’m stoked about “The Goon and the Prune” being shot here in Bootleg City. I went ahead and had the back 40 cleaned up so all the tourists who’ll be descending on our town to watch the filming have a place to park their campers and pitch their tents without any hassle from Sheriff Buckingham and the local constabulary. Maybe we’ll even put up a stage and hire a few bands to come in and entertain the crowds through these warm spring nights. Better book your space soon — it’ll look like the infield of a NASCAR race when all is said and done.

As for the fine citizens of Bootleg City being hired to play shuffling zombies, that won’t be a problem since acting isn’t required. See, I got the boys working 24-7 on a special product up in the barn that we’re going to dump in the town’s water supply. Trust me, after a few days everybody’ll be shuffling around like zombies just fine. (Zombies that run and jump are just Hollywood myths and you know it.)

But as Mayor Cass mentioned last week, the reason I’m really excited about this whole thing is the fact that my longtime crush, Ms. Betty White, the coolest broad on the planet, is in the mix. It’s true her scenes in “The Goon and the Prune” won’t be filmed in Bootleg City, but there’s a good chance she might show up anyway for publicity purposes.

The one problem she might have is scheduling: the former star of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls has a historical date to keep on Mother’s Day weekend. As unbelievable as it sounds, Ms. Betty has never hosted Saturday Night Live until this season. I know — it’s a travesty. However, over the last few months, a groundswell of popular opinion has slowly snowballed to correct this grave injustice.

Here’s an excerpt of a good summation over at gawker.com discussing the desire — nay, the necessity! — of having Ms. Betty host the consistently inconsistent late-night comedy show:

Betty White would be a brilliant choice to host Saturday Night Live. Not only is she a comedic veteran with excellent timing and a wonderfully daffy new persona, but she is two things we rarely see these days: game and in on her own joke. We have a feeling that she would do just about anything from pretending to smoke weed with Andy Samberg to checking out Justin Timberlake’s dick in a box. And can you imagine what she would do in a skit with Kristen Wiig? Amazing! Please give Betty this gig, and any other jobs out there Hollywood can dream up.

And, of course, when the people clamor, stuff happens.

She’s gonna run circles around those SNL fools. So, on Saturday, May 8, we’re going to rent some big-screen TVs and set them up in the high school gym so everyone can watch. Free popcorn, half-price drinks — the whole shebang. It’ll be epic.

As for my personal connection to Ms. Betty, it looks like there won’t be a wedding — our lawyers simply couldn’t draw up a satisfactory prenup. Ms. Betty’s lawyer said she wanted half of the business I operate out of my barn if she and I ever split up, and I just couldn’t have that. (It sounds like I’m not the only one hallucinating. —RC) In the long run, maybe it’s all for the best — she’s an American entertainment legend, an icon commanding massive respect and love, while I’m just a schmuck who barters ancient concerts and sells adult beverages of excellent quality and dubious legality. Life goes on.

To celebrate the demographic a Betty White sighting will bring out in our community, I present you with a Neil Sedaka concert recorded last month at the Mermaid Theatre (technically, it’s the Mermaid Conference & Events Centre these days) for BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night. The former Brill Building songwriter brings out his special brand of entertainment for this show, including a shitload of songs I never knew he wrote. The deity that oversees Popdose recently eviscerated Sedaka in a review of his latest album, but this performance should put any negative vibes to rest; instead of the cheesy keyboards and weak production that undermined Sedaka on that album, here he’s accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra and its lush strings and powerful horns.

Sedaka plays all the hits (with the obvious exception of “Bad Blood”) to an appreciative crowd that sings and claps along. For a 71-year-old, his voice is nothing short of fantastic, especially on killer ballads like “Our Last Song Together” or “The Hungry Years.” If you’re not moved by this particular version of “Solitaire,” you simply do not have a soul. The band even works up a little sweat on “Love Will Keep Us Together” and England’s biggest seller of this young century, “Amarillo,” made famous in the UK by a couple videos.

And before you dismiss Sedaka as some sort of square … well, you’re right, he is — but he wasn’t always as square as you think. Here’s a still from a 1975 performance on The Midnight Special.

Yes, his shirt is celebrating the Colombian. Neil is the man.

[introduction]
Tin Pan Alley
Oh! Carol
Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen
Where the Boys Are
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
Calendar Girl
The Hungry Years
One More Ride on the Merry Go Round
Love Will Keep Us Together
Solitaire
You
Laughter in the Rain
The Queen of 1964
Turning Back the Hands of Time
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do [Slow Version]
Standing on the Inside
The Other Side of Me
Our Last Song Together
I Go Ape
Betty Grable
Superbird
Going Nowhere
Amarillo
That’s When the Music Takes Me

Not much of a bonus this week — just a conversation between presenter Paul Gambaccini and Tim Rice about Sedaka, this particular concert, and a bunch of other random crap that BBC Radio 2 used to fill time between sets. Extra unintentional comedy points for the fact that they have their conversation in the bar right off the auditorium while the audience is trying to pack in as much drinking as possible during the 15-minute break.

Tim Rice and Paul Gambaccini discuss the music of Neil Sedaka