Jukebox Heart 018: Jukebox Heart Is Not Bitter

Happy Valentine’s Day, Jukebox Heart style. Originally inspired by the stench of dead rose water and the flying shards of a shattered vase, by the shocking gross-out discovery of tiny worms in the chocolates after you’ve eaten half the box, by the sudden panic of a pathetically miscalculated Valentine card striking seconds after leaving the post office, and by the resentful misdemeanor of another’s relentless, unassuming popularity, these 22 tracks capture the essence of a Valentine’s Day gone horribly wrong. These are the divas of Jukebox Heart. These are not your typical divas – no Babs or Billie or Judy or Liza. Rather, these are, for the most part, the women scorned, the hoofers climbed over by the likes of Joan Crawford, the never-would-be’s, the Valentines that never came. These songs go for the jugular with a crippled, vulnerable warble, a single broken note, or a gravelly, throaty melody suggesting the passage of years and the consumption of many things illicit – all for the sake of a love gone bad. For best listening, one should be lying on one’s back, in a dark room, smoking vertically poised cigarettes, with a nearly full ashtray balanced on the breastbone beside a half-empty tumbler of boozey goodness. Click on the arrow below to hear many a torchlighter croon, and click on her picture below to learn more than you ever wanted to know about her music. High marks will be given to anyone who can identify – before looking! – all of the ladies below. Extra credit if you have tears in your ears from lying on your back, crying, sighing and dying. All of these are presented in their original format – surface noise be damned – for that extra touch of historical sincerity. Each page opens with the single track of the artist, too, to help you match the face to the song. Savvy listeners will also know how to download the individual tracks for their very own as well..

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The Playlist. Can you match the song to the lovely diva below?

Timi Yuro – Hurt
Miss Toni Fisher – The Big Hurt
The Ronettes – How Does It Feel?
Shelley Fabares – Johnny Angel
Dodie Fields – Miss Lonely Hearts
Marcey Joe – Sine Gary Went In The Navy
The Shirelles – The Dance is Over
The Chantels – He’s Gone
Lilian Leach and the Mellows – Smoke From Your Cigarette
Esther Phillips – Double Crossing Blues
Lavern Baker – Tomorrow Night
Wynona Carr – Should I Ever Love Again?
Brenda Lee – I’m Sorry
Gloria Lynne – I Wish You Love
Sarah Vaughan – You Go To My Head
Dodie Stevens – Poor Butterfly
Etta Jones – Don’t Go To Strangers
Ketty Lester – Once Upon A Time
The Shangri-Las – Remember (Walking In The Sand)
Lesley Gore – You Don’t Own Me
Patty Duke – Don’t Just Stand There
The Angels – Cry Baby Cry

Divas of Jukebox Heart: Kimya Dawson

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Kimya Dawson – Lullaby of the Taken
(Hidden Vagenda CD, K Records, 2004)
3:46 | 3.45 MB

It has been awhile since I revisited the diva category here in Jukebox Heart, but the lovely and unique music of Kimya Dawson certainly earns her a spot in this hall-of-fame-of-sorts. You may be familiar with the Moldy Peaches, whose release on Rough Trde spawned the instant hit “Downloading Porn with Dave” and earned them a spot in the December 2004 edition of Moonlight Radio. Kimya is one-half of that band, and since the band went on hiatus (er, broke up?) in 2004, Kimya has embarked on a remarkble solo career. She has albums out on the K imprint, the famous label of Olympia where she now lives, and on Massachusetts’ own landmark imprint, Important Records. Her fourth album, Hidden Vagenda, is probably her darkest, even more honest than all of her other work if that is even possible. The track selected here is from Hidden Vagenda.

Kimya strips away all the pretenses of every female vocalist who has come before her. The goddaughter of “Antifolk”, Kimya succeeds by simply being true to herself. There is no empty space between her visions. There is no filler in her songs. She prevails by being tender, vulnerable, silly and raw. She shows you what she loves and makes you love it, too. She is the quintessential authentic bohemian artist – what almost every smoky nightclub jazz chanteuse wishes she could be. Dawson is the artist-poet skateboard girl. And, most importantly, she is a delicate human sensing device, the only real human on a planet full of androids. What makes her music so unique and amazing is her undiluted humanity. Hidden Vagenda is her first studio album after a trilogy of home recordings from 2000 – 2003 and was recorded in the Bay Area at Mourningwood Studios and in friends’ bedrooms, garages and yards. She was joined by friends Joe Gore, Arion Salazar, Stephan Jenkins, Daniel Johnston, Vanessa Carlton and a children’s choir in St. Ouen, France. Hidden Vagenda was co-produced and mixed by Jason Carmer (The Donnas, Run DMC, Third Eye Blind), Arion Salazar and Kimya Dawson. I’ve only included on track here, but really, you need to hear it all…

The Divas of Jukebox Heart: Timi Yuro

In this new category on Jukebox Heart, we pay homage to our women. Timi Yuro is a good place to start, because her impact is just so fuckin YUGE; she just sets the tone for the whole diva experience. And this song is just brilliant. I’ve heard other versions of ‘Hurt’, by white bread artists such as Eddy Howard and others, but this song was just waiting for Timi to shred it the way she does. It’s hard to believe she was 18 when she recorded this, because her voice already has the 20-years-of-coffee-and-cigarettes thing going on. Timi Yuro’s ‘Hurt’ is sheer agony.

Timi Yuro promo shot, circa 1961.

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Timi was born Rosemarie Timotea Aurro (thus, Timi Yuro) in Chicago in 1941. She moved with her family to Los Angeles in 1952, where she sang in her family’s Italian restaurant. She had a Mediterranean heritage and was influenced by some of the great Blues singers, to the extent that many people mistakenly thought that she was black.

Timi signed a contract with Liberty Records in 1959. She worked with songwriter/producer Clyde Otis and put 11 songs in the top 100 from 1961 to 1965. The biggest of these was her first, Hurt, featured here, which reached the top ten nationally. Brenda Lee was probably the hottest female singer at the time, but Timi’s songs had a soul sound to them that were in contrast to Brenda’s recordings. Timi put several such records on the charts, including What’s A Matter Baby [Is It Hurting You], Gotta Travel On and Make The World Go Away.

Timi went into retirement but decided to come back in 1980. She assembled a 14-piece band and began rehearsals, but then was troubled by health problems. Doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York performed surgery to remove nodules from her larynx and esophagus. This was followed by six months during which she was not allowed to talk, much less sing.

A video of here performance of Hurt during this comeback period is below. What a pwerful singer, even though you can see she’s beginning to feel her illnesses. Much respect.

When she regained her voice, Timi went to Nashville and recorded All Alone Am I. It was released in Europe by Dureko Records in Holland in 1981. In 1982 she headlined at the Sands in Las Vegas to a packed showroom every night for two weeks. Timi went to Amsterdam to promote her new album and it proved to be immensely popular in Europe. In Rotterdam she performed before an audience of over 20,000 along with Olivia Newton-John, Janice Ian and Art Garfunkel, and brought down the house. Timi Yuro was back. Timi had three more European tours and three more albums followed, including one that she recorded with her old friend Willie Nelson in 1984 titled Timi Yuro Sings … Willie Nelson.

In the late 80’s Timi had more throat problems and sang less and less. In the late 90’s cancer was detected. It began to aggressively attack her throat and larynx, and in early 2002 this fine singer’s larynx was removed to save her life. Her illness finally caught up with her and Timi died at her home in Las Vegas on March 30, 2004.

Timi’s top ten recording of Hurt remains as one of the best vocal performances of 60’s pop music. Here is a 1964 Scopitone clip of one of her lesser known masterpieces, “If”.

And for my collector geek buddies, here are images of the original LP and 45.