Author Aliases: The Name Doesn’t Remain the Same

I’m currently reading a novel by the famous writer Marie-Henri Beyle. Who is that, you might ask? Well, literature lovers know him as Stendhal.

Beyle — author of The Charterhouse of Parma (the 1839 book I’m reading) and The Red and the Black — is one of many writers who have used what are variously described as pen names, aliases, pseudonyms, noms de plume, and “don’t you dare call me Marion Morrison, pilgrim, because I’m John Wayne.”

Authors change their names for all sorts of reasons, ranging from wanting to disguise their identity to desiring a catchier or less-clunky moniker. Beyle is said to have chosen Stendhal because the Frenchman admired archaeologist/art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann from the German city of…Stendal.

Perhaps the most famous authorial pen name is Mark Twain, which Samuel Clemens adopted in 1863 after his pre-Civil War experience as a riverboat pilot. The pseudonym refers to marking water depth — with the depth of two fathoms (“twain” being the archaic word for two) considered safe for ships to pass over.

Another famous alias is O. Henry, which William Sydney Porter took to shrink the odds of his stories being rejected because of his incarceration for embezzlement. One theory for how Porter chose his pen name involved the existence of a prison guard named Orrin Henry, and another theory has O. Henry as a combination of Ohio (where Porter was jailed) and penitentiary.

There was also Voltaire. To come up with that name, Francoise-Marie Arouet might have combined an anagram of the Latin spelling of his last name with the initial letters of the French phrase le jeune (the young). In Arouet’s case, he adopted the Voltaire name after imprisonment.

One of the most famous living authors using an alias is Lee Child, whose real name is Jim Grant. The author of the wildly popular Jack Reacher thrillers chose Child because he wanted his novels on bookstore shelves between the works of Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie.

Another living author, Toni Morrison, was born Chloe Wofford — but the change in her first name was more a matter of people having trouble pronouncing “Chloe” than for literary reasons. Her last name became Morrison by marriage.

Various female authors have used pseudonyms to disguise their gender — more often before the 20th century, when women writers were especially frowned upon and/or not taken seriously. So we had the Bronte sisters taking the names of Currer Bell (Charlotte), Ellis Bell (Emily), and Acton Bell (Anne) — though they were of course later published under their real identities. Then there was George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), George Sand (Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin), etc. And Jane Austen’s novels were published anonymously during her lifetime.

Austen’s male contemporary — Sir Walter Scott — also published many of his novels anonymously, with a big reason being that he was first a renowned poet at a time when novels were not considered as respectable as verse.

Other female authors have masked their gender by using initials — witness J.K. (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling, A.S. (Antonia Susan) Byatt, M.L. (Margot) Stedman, P.D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James, and various others. Initials also have a “cool,” sophisticated vibe, and not just for women. J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, D.H. Lawrence, H.P. Lovecraft, and W.E.B. Du Bois certainly roll smoother off the tongue and please the eye more than John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Clive Staples Lewis, David Herbert Lawrence, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, and William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. (While his nonfiction writing is much better known, Du Bois also wrote several novels.)

For her crime novels, Rowling writes as Robert Galbraith. J.K. was outed as Robert against her wishes — illustrating how hard it is to keep an identity secret in today’s 24/7 media and social-media environment. But Rowling, because of her previous Harry Potter superstardom, got a huge spike in Galbraith sales. If Jane Austen were alive today, she probably wouldn’t remain anonymous for long (especially since she would be 239 years old, but that’s another story).

“Anonymous” was also the authorial byline used by columnist Joe Klein for his political novel Primary Colors. It allowed Klein to be more candid about things (his book includes real-life aspects of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign), and the mystery of who wrote the novel increased interest and sales.

Some authors — such as Charles Dickens as Boz — wrote under pseudonyms for a while and then dropped them. In certain cases, writers use pen names to cover the embarrassment of penning trashy novels as they struggle early in their careers, as Honore de Balzac did under aliases such as Horace de Saint-Aubin.

Other authors use both a real name and an alias because they write in more than one genre or are so prolific they don’t want to oversaturate their “brand” by churning out too many books under their birth name. The latter reason was why Stephen King wrote several novels as Richard Bachman.

One reason why some novelists seem so prolific is that they have assistants helping them, with books published under the name of the “head author.” James Patterson is a current example of that phenomenon.

Another guy who had a “factory” approach was Henry Gauthier-Villars (aka “Willy”), the first husband of Colette. Her debut novel Claudine at School was initially published under his name, as were books by other writers.

It’s also well known that some young-adult series containing many books have been penned by various authors even as one name — real or fake — appears on all the covers.

Then there are writers who mostly keep their own name for their authorial identity, but streamline it or jazz it up. Examples include Wole Soyinka (Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka) and Erich Maria Remarque (Erich Paul Remark).

Of course, nonfiction writers also hide their names — with one of the most famous cases being Thomas Paine’s anonymous publishing of the 1776 revolutionary pamphlet “Common Sense.” If the British knew who penned that “treasonous” treatise, Paine’s life would have obviously been in danger.

For fun, I thought I’d also name a few of the many notables who changed names while making their names outside of literature: Elvis Costello (Declan McManus), Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman), Judy Garland (Frances Gumm), Whoopi Goldberg (Caryn Johnson), Cary Grant (Archibald Leach), Elton John (Reginald Dwight), Ben Kingsley (Krishna Pandit Bhanji), Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer), Spike Lee (Shelton Lee), Bruno Mars (Peter Hernandez), “Brenda Starr” cartoonist Dale Messick (Dalia Messick), Julianne Moore (Julie Smith), Katy Perry (Katy Hudson), Pink (Alecia Moore), Sting (Gordon Sumner), The Clash’s Joe Strummer (John Mellor), and Stevie Wonder (Stevland Morris).

Who are some name-changing authors (or non-authors) you’d like to mention? Also, your thoughts on the idea of aliases?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area β€” unless you’re replying to someone else. Also, please feel free to read through comments and reply to anyone you want; I love not only being in conversations, but also reading conversations in which I’m not involved!)

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301 thoughts on “Author Aliases: The Name Doesn’t Remain the Same

  1. Another fascinating post. Trying to imagine Stendhal as someone else. Stendhal has such a ring to it, probably because there’s no first name attached. Then of course there’s the biz of writers who write different genres and have diff names. I have a few well kept secrets that way from authors who maybe left a blog comment under the wrong name where it was very clear they’d commented under the wrong name and were in a panic about it coming out that in addition to being a respected horror writer, they wrote some very ‘frivolous’…..shall we say…. stuff too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A very interesting post about pen names and aliases. I didn’t know J. K. Rowling was outed as Robert Galbraith against her wishes.
    In Greece where I come from I remember that the translations of the Harry Potter books were written under the name of Joanne Rowling and not J. K. Rowling as in the U. K. and the States. Maybe they thought a female author would appeal as more ”suitable” to write children’s fiction? Maybe they found using initials to be more complicated for young readers, especially since we use greek characters?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, mensrea3!

      Interesting — I didn’t realize the “Harry Potter” books were published under the name of Joanne Rowling anywhere. I think I read that, before the series made its debut, the publisher didn’t want an author’s name to be clearly that of a woman on a series of books starring a male and on a series of books that are kind of a fantasy work. Which was unfortunate and sexist.

      Your reasons for Joanne rather than J.K. for the Greek translations sound plausible.

      Thanks again!


  3. I will be away till next you blog, Mr. Astor, but in rereading this week’s, as you began with Stendahl, I will finish my comments with him>

    I can’t quite locate my copy of The Charterhouse if Parma, nor The Red and the Black, but I’m pretty sure the following snippet from an review of the former derives its declaration as to the number of his aliases from the introduction to one of these books. Still, it looks overlarge:

    “Officer, diplomat, spy, journalist, and intermittent genius, Marie Henri Beyle employed more than 200 aliases in the course of his crowded career.”

    Haven’t stumbled on anything like a list of them on the series of tubes we call the internets.

    Have a lovely weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Please leave out of your mind the phrase ‘of the former’– I blame my editor.

      Also, I think the editions of these books that I possess were published by Penguin, not long ago (last 20 years), in paperback. If any of the readers here own them too, I’d like to know if they found the source for that huge number of aliases.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Whatever the exact number, jhNY, it sounds like Beyle had a heckuva lot of aliases! I guess Stendhal was the one that stuck, and even today it has kind of a modern feel. Maybe it’s because some of today’s big celebs go by one name (Beyonce, Madonna, Adele, Sting, etc., etc.).

        I’ve read about 80% of “The Charterhouse of Parma,” and am greatly admiring its psychological depth and the way it depicts political intrigue among the elites. I can’t say it’s a page-turner, but it’s very absorbing. Hope to finish it this weekend.

        Have a great weekend, too, and thanks for all the terrific comments!

        PS: “I blame my editor” — funny! πŸ™‚


  4. Just recalled another author who could technically be considered to write under a pseudonym (forgive me if someone has already mentioned him; I’ve had very limited computer access this week since my laptop died)–Joseph Conrad. His birth name was JΓ³zef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski. Born in Poland at a time when it was part of Ukraine and considered a Russian subject. Through various chains of circumstance he ended up in England and later became a British citizen but always considered himself a Pole. Nevertheless, he wrote all of his published fiction, to the best of my knowledge–at least the best known works, in his second language, English. It is ironic that he is considered one of the master stylists in the English (his second) language.


      • bobess48, very sorry about your laptop dying. That is no fun at all. 😦

        Joseph Conrad had not been mentioned, so I’m glad you did! I think an Anglicization of a name counts as a pseudonym, partly because an author can technically keep his or her more “ethnic” name if desired.

        It’s amazing when an author, like Conrad, can write so well in what is not their native language. I believe Nabokov fits into that category, too, penning his early novels in Russian before becoming an amazing literary stylist in English.


        • I can access the Internet through a Kindle Fire and a SmartPhone but I can’t see some displays or images very well. Also, if I want to do anything with MS Word such as write and post book reviews I have to use one at the library, for the time being. I’m hoping a friend can take a look at it soon and render a verdict so I know what I need to do next.

          Liked by 1 person

    • As are at least two others out of the East I can think of off the top of my head: Nabakov and Brodsky– and in each of their cases, I’m not certain English could be counted as their second language, as each may well have learned another language or two besides, and previous to mastering English.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I promise to stop hogging all the print space here, as I now noticed I most definitely have done– I claim enthusiasm for topic, and hope I will be forgiven.

    BUT I just thought of another writer using an alias, although there is still some controversy as to who B.Traven, the author of The Treasure of The Sierra Madre, actually was. According to wikipedia, most researchers believe B. Traven to be the nom de plume of Ret Marut, a German actor and anarchist. He settled in Mexico, where as a young man, my father met him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Comments are always welcome, jhNY! And that’s another great addition to the world of author aliases. Things get especially interesting when it’s not absolutely certain who the real author is.


  6. Did you know that Agatha Christie used Mary Westmacott as a pseudonym? This gave her freedom to get away from the murder mystery to a fine romance of novels. Outside literature the name change,clearly to Americanize his brand,hiding his Judaism in process, Ralph Lipchitz,otherwise known as Ralph Lauren. The latter rings better on a runway! Actors such as Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas to name a few changed their names to simplify a personna, be easier to remember and of course pronounce on a marquis then a Russian Jewish name particularly in anti -semetic times, a gentleman’s agreement revisited. Yet they were doing pretending on screen too,alter egos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds vaguely familiar, Michele. I’ve read a biography of Agatha Christie, but that was many years ago. Thanks for mentioning that pen name of hers! Makes sense to have a different identity for writing in a different genre.

      Thanks, also, for mentioning several non-literary notables who changed their names. Certainly, many Jewish people anglicized their last names in more anti-Semitic times.

      A great point about actors and actresses basically assuming a new alias with every role!


  7. Just in case I missed this before and to bring it back to books, how about Alisa Z. Rosenhaus, otherwise known as Ayn Rand. I dislike her philosophy, and I think I’ve said before that I don’t know which of her books I have read before.


    • Ayn Rand — great addition to this discussion, Kat lib! As punchy as her pen name is, her real name has a certain zing to it, too. But her philosophy — yecch. If one is judged by one’s “friends,” the fact that many reactionary Republicans admire Ayn Rand is very telling. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

          • True, bebe! One of many reasons to be mad at Paul Ryan. Another thing that really irks me about him was that he used Social Security benefits to help pay for college after his father died, but now he wants to slash government programs. What a *#@&! hypocrite. 😦

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ryan knows, somehow, that the applicants following him could never be as worthy as he once was, and so, would now draw up the ladder of opportunity behind him.

              See also former US Senator Pot Hole Al D’Amato, whose grandfather fed his family from government relief supplied by Democrats in the ’30’s. When he had the power to do such things, Senator Al misdirected poverty housing funds to inappropriate people and places near home, and far from poverty.

              And I’ve read several places that steely, stand-alone Ayn Rand found uses for government, in the form of assistance, at the end of her life.

              I chalk it up to the ingratitude of ingrates.

              Liked by 1 person

              • “Ryan knows, somehow, that the applicants following him could never be as worthy as he once was, and so, would now draw up the ladder of opportunity behind him” — sublimely stated, jhNY!

                D’Amato is indeed another ungrateful ingrate, as is Clarence Thomas — who benefited from affirmative action but doesn’t want it for anyone else.

                Didn’t know that about Ayn Rand! She sounds like those Tea Partiers who rant against government spending while accepting lots of government benefits. I guess they just don’t want “those people” (of color) to get those benefits. Racists.

                The hypocrisy is astounding. I wish just one of the right-wing congresspeople who oppose “Obamacare” would give up their top-of-the-line, government-funded medical benefits.


                • I think I remember a clip during the early daze of TP Frenzy on the teevee news wherein somebody was carrying a sign that said something like: Big Government– Hands Off My Medicare!

                  I have now seen the entirety of the PBS multi-part series on the history of Italian-Americans, and what struck me most was how pitilessly one ethnic group, newly arrived, was exploited by the society at large as a labor force, and pitted against whoever had gotten here just ahead of them. The Irish were used for the worst work until they had secured a place in politics, from which place they kept hammering at the Italians by means of the Church they supposedly had in common, and by means of the police, whose ranks they occupied in great numbers. One of the rites of passage to the American Dream seems to have included, for better than a century, at least a first generation of abuse and misuse– in the forms of low pay, terrible working conditions and much projected dislike and mistrust on the part of those who hold themselves to be socially superior.

                  It’s like a fraternity hazing ritual in a way– something to be endured so as to enjoy the rewards of belonging. And once endured, it is not easily laid aside by those who have done so, and most often is precisely visited on those coming up next– by those who were lately hazed, and by those lucky enough to enjoy legacy membership.

                  But the poor we will always have with us– to vilify and exploit– as object lessons in an immorality play. There are those from whom we have taken much that we have never quite allowed as equals among us– the Native Americans, the Latinos, and African-Americans– whose very presence seems eternally provisional, their status low, though always improving.

                  The teeming shores of Otherland (and our own urban and rural Netherland) remain a nightmare vision to those safely arrived here, even those most lately debarked. Those who have risen above their beginnings hold themselves apart from those who have not. Those who cannot rise are unloved and mostly unassisted– and very often, by those mostly lately in their social position. Except in those cases where poverty itself seems institutional, if also instituted.

                  Fear, cruelty, resentment– the essence of the TP brew. Around here, for reasons at least partially outlined above, these three are laying around as thick as leaves on the ground. Anybody willing to stoop so low can gather them up by the bushel and make a fire, or at least a lot of smoke. And in that haze, too many folks see things that aren’t there, and miss things plain as black and white.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I think I remember that sign, too! And in a related matter, red states with lots of anti-government TPers tend to get more return on their taxes (federal largesse) than blue states do.

                    Sad, unfortunate, and true that immigrant groups are abused, gain some power, and then abuse others — whether the next wave of immigrants or people (often of color) who are more permanently marginalized. Fraternity hazing is a great analogy.

                    One example of that phenomenon is the way so many Irish and Italian people became (often-oppressive) NYC cops. And the U.S. as a whole is historically a (somewhat) revolutionary country that now is a (mostly) counterrevolutionary country. The same could be said for Israel.

                    Eloquent analysis by you, jhNY!


                    • Those without permission to leap in, or those those wish to stay out of the melting pot, can be still useful as fuel for the fire below.

                      The right of liberty, self-conferred by sons of Englishmen out of the Enlightenment, has been only grudgingly and occasionally extended– most often to those least distinguishable from themselves.

                      Liked by 1 person

  8. Dave…so many comments like a long winding road..I wonder if J. K. Rowling was mentioned her name is Joanne “Jo” Rowling and have written books as Robert Galbraith .

    Astounding information I did not have a clue that Robert was JK ..her books are The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm as Robert Galbraith.
    I am well aware of those books the later one is newly released…thanks for your blog now i know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am not a biblical scholar, but I have read the New Testement, and did not fully realize that the Gospels were not written by the attributed group of four. This post prompted me to do some superficial on-line research, so I was surprised to learn that most experts comfirm the anonomous sources. There seems to be some outstanding question that Luke did have something to do with his gospel and with the book of Acts.

      Speaking of the Luke and the book of Acts, I’ve recently read a pretty fascinationg novel by Anthony Burgess (Clockwork Orange fame), titled “The Kingdom of the Wicked” which uses the the book of Acts, especially as it relates to Paul, to write a historical novel about the early days of the Christian Chuch against the backdrop of the Roman Empire under Claudius and Nero. The chapters, if I recall correctly, alternate between the actions of Paul (and his educated companion Luke), and the goings on in Imperial Rome. A pretty good read if you ever come across it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, drb19810, for that research and your interesting comment!

        “The Kingdom of the Wicked” does sound like a compelling novel, so I just put it on my list. “A Clockwork Orange” is the only book I’ve read by Anthony Burgess, and I’d be very curious to try something else by him.


  9. My last literary alias of the day (and not a moment too soon, I’m sure), and one of literature’s first:

    ‘Noman’, as employed by Odysseus in the Odyssey when asked his name by the cyclops. When Odysseus had blinded him, his fellows cried out: “who has wounded you?” The wounded cyclops answered “Noman”. Which his fellows, naturally heard as ‘no man,’ and so, did not come to his aid while Odysseus and his crew sailed away under a shower of stones that all missed, the stone thrower being blind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow — an early alias and a REALLY interesting one.

      This is a totally weird and nearly unforgivable connection, but I’m reminded of “The Family Circus” comic kid who, when asked if he did something bad, replies that “No One” did it — with “No One” shown as sort of a person. (Or maybe it’s “Nobody”; I can’t quite remember. πŸ™‚ )


      • And No One or Nobody was drawn as a sort of ghost, right? I am a Circus veteran, not quite a fan, but…

        Here’s another similar case:

        Betty Boop for President, a Fleischer cartoon. She is pitted against an opponent named Mr. Nobody, whose campaign song included these lines, dear to my heart:

        Who cares about the common man?
        Mr. Nobody!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes! Kind of like a ghost.

          I wasn’t a huge fan of “The Family Circus,” either. But within its gentle/sentimental parameters, it was quite funny at times. And the comic’s creator, the late Bil Keane, actually did totally different (and HILARIOUS) insult humor when he spoke at cartoon conferences. I was shocked when I first heard him.

          Didn’t realize Betty Boop ran for president! I was never a big fan of that character. Maybe I like Hillary Clinton better, but perhaps HC is more corporate than BB? πŸ™‚


  10. Here’s an alias, though calling it ‘literary’ might be a bridge too far. Your column’s topic caused me to dredge it up from the mental depths (from wikipedia):

    “Naked Came the Stranger is a 1969 novel written as a literary hoax poking fun at contemporary American culture. Though credited to “Penelope Ashe”, it was in fact written by a group of twenty-four journalists led by Newsday columnist Mike McGrady. McGrady’s intention was to write a deliberately terrible book with a lot of sex, to illustrate the point that popular American literary culture had become mindlessly vulgar. The book fulfilled the authors’ expectations and became a bestseller in 1969; they revealed the hoax later that year, further spurring the book’s popularity.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow — that’s “meta” on more than one level!

      Given the pseudonym used, I wonder how many of those 24 journalists were women? Newspapers were certainly, and unfortunately, more of a “boys’ club” back then.

      Great comment, jhNY!


  11. From the American folk song collection, another alias:

    But that dirty little coward
    Who shot Mr. Howard
    Has laid Jesse James
    In his grave

    Jesse James was first a Confederate raider in one of those outfits like Quantrill’s, who later went into the outlaw trade. When he decided to move on from his past life, he settled down under the alias of Mr. Howard, but he was shot, back turned, by ‘little Robert Ford, for the sake of a reward’. Ford, ‘that dirty little coward’ was a peripheral member , if i remember right, of the James Gang. James was shot, according to song, while hanging a picture.

    By contrast, there’s another example out of the songbook in which a man insists on his right name: the assassin of President James A. Garfield, if the song is to be believed–

    My name is Charles Guiteau
    That name I’ll never deny

    Liked by 1 person

    • A couple of memorable/evocative verses, jhNY! Thanks!

      The first set of lyrics reminded me that there was a film a few years ago called “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Rather long for a movie title… πŸ™‚


    • That wonderful verse reminded me of Jesus Christ – Woody Guthrie ” Jesus Christ was a man, a carpenter by hand , his followers true and brave, one dirty little coward called Judas Iscariot has laid Jesus Christ in his grave” .. I wonder if there’s a connection ?

      Liked by 1 person

      • There undoubtedly is,, and I’m all but certain that the James song is first. Guthrie did this sort of thing sometimes– Vigilante Man is an example, based melodically on See That My Grave Is Kept Clean, a song Lemon Jefferson made popular.

        In the present case, I also feel sure that he wanted his listeners to connect his song with the earlier James one– it was widely known.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Howdy, Dave!

    β€” Who are some name-changing authors (or non-authors) you’d like to mention? β€”

    You and the DAOLiterati already have discussed the once-unmentionable Eric Arthur Blair (as George Orwell) and Samuel Langhorne Clemens (as Mark Twain) in this context, so I will go with the amazingly prolific Kilgore Trout, whose only surviving full-length book paradoxically appears to be β€œVenus on the Half-Shell”: Theodore Sturgeon provided the inspiration for the authorial unit’s name, while Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and Philip Jose Farmer provided the perspiration for the novel itself (a very little by the former, a very lot by the latter).

    I love the fact I was unaware the book was written not by Vonnegut but by Farmer for about the first two decades of its existence. In the area of cosmic jokes, this was a good one!

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1 [Among Others])

    Liked by 1 person

      • A friend bought it when it came out, and upon reading, declared the title to be the best part. I never read it my self, but I do think Venus on the Half-Shell is a fab title. Can’t look at Botticelli without thinking of it….

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy, jhNY!

          β€” A friend bought it when it came out, and upon reading, declared the title to be the best part. β€”

          All comparisons are odious, avers the particularly pertinacious protagonist of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s β€œThe Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha,” but my eyes nonetheless would rather be served a hundred helpings of Kilgore Trout’s β€œVenus on the Half-Shell” than one of James Joyce’s β€œFinnegans Wake.” However, I do agree with your friend: The title is the best part. Well begun is half done and all that.

          To the best of my knowledge, the title makes its debut in the Kilgore Trout multiverse around the middle third of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s β€œGod Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” close to where Vonnegut observes: β€œThere was a photograph of Trout [on the back cover of β€œVenus on the Half-Shell”]. He was an old man with a full black beard. He looked like a frightened, aging Jesus whose sentence to crucifixion had been commuted to imprisonment for life.”

          So it goes.


          Liked by 1 person

          • Greetings, JJ McGrath!

            The song says there’s lots of fun at Finnegan’s Wake, but I understand nobody was singing about the book.

            I’ve got to read more Vonnegut. For some reason, he too is an author to whom I intend to get around, but having read only Mother Night and Slaughterhouse 5, and those decades ago, my intentions to date have gone unrealized. I did happen on a signed letter of his, which I kept, but that signature is the most Vonnegut I’d read until you made your above reply.

            Liked by 1 person

  13. A Pop Music Alias:

    When the British Invasion was in full effect, American musical groups had a hard time getting airplay, and since then, I had always thought that the 1965 release of the 45 single Don’t Think Twice by the Wonder Who was a bit of desperately clever marketing by the Four Season’s new label, Phillips. There was a connect-the-dots puzzle on the sleeve and when completed, the answer was : your friends. The Four Seasons were never named.

    The vocal was weird– and now I know, thanks to the ‘nets, it was originally sung in falsetto by Frankie Valli as a joke, after several takes in full voice he didn’t like. Still, for us teens at the time, we knew the Wonder Who were the Four Seasons, and eventually, the deejays said so too.

    Turns out that connect-the-dots and fake name stuff was not a play for teen attention by an American band struggling to compete with Brits. Contractual difficulties between the band and its old label was the inspiration. The moptops never figured in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a great trip down memory lane, jhNY! I didn’t know about that Four Seasons alias thing, and it’s interesting that the reason turned out to be nuts-and-bolts contractual rather than related to competing with the British Invasion. (An invasion a man with a pseudonym — Richard Starkey as Ringo Starr — kind of lucked into being part of.)


      • His luck was also the Beatles’, as Ringo was very popular among the Liverpool crowd as the band was readying itself for world assault, and he was, after, very popular (second, if I remember, only to dreamy Paul) in the crucial early years of the band’s world icon status.

        Liked by 1 person

        • He indeed was and is an excellent drummer, with an engaging personality. I guess the luck involved joining the band later than the other three members — though, as you say, he contributed a lot to the band’s enormous popularity that happened soon after he joined.


          • When auditioning drummers many moons ago, my bassist turned to me while we watched a poor candidate depart and said: “As Pete Best left the Cavern Club…”

            Of course, as we never became even a l’il famous, we weren’t the Beatles ourselves….after a while some of the best one-liners come back and bite.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Pete Best — how unluckily close he came to being part of a mega-superstar dream without attaining that dream. Then again, from what I’ve listened to and read, he just wasn’t that good a drummer.

              I hear you — most of us are Pete Bests in a way. But it’s easier to take when those around us are also Pete Bests rather than becoming legends like John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

              And I would wager, jhNY, that your writing and other intellectual talents are infinitely better than Mr. Best’s. πŸ™‚


            • You played in a professional band?! Nice!

              bebe was in the music business for a long time, jh played in a band, and Dave is a well-respected, published author. All of this star power on the blog. I need to figure out whose entourage I should be in.

              Dave, I’ll probably join yours. During my layover in Newark this summer, I can drop your name around town and get into the best restaurants/clubs.

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                • *blushes* And thank you for asking about my brother:) He is wonderful. The physical therapy really helped with his mobility issues. We were so worried because his legs took most of the damage after the blast. A few cuts on his face from the flying glass/debris…nothing compared to the severe injuries on his legs. Lots of scars and injuries, but he’s great now thanks to the PT and wound care.

                  I can’t wait to see him and the rest of the fam this summer as we celebrate our Cape Verdean heritage. Two of my cousins from Toronto will be joining us as well. I’m calling this my Cape Canadian family reunion. LOL.

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              • Thanks, Ana! Given all the talent here, we can all join each others’ entourages. πŸ™‚

                Ha — not sure if you can get into any New Jersey restaurants or clubs using my name, but I’ve heard that using the names of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, and Andrew Jackson can help — when green paper money accompanies the use of their names… πŸ™‚


              • I’ve played in several, none made money, and a only a few made recordings. My most upscale musical achievement is that I played dobro for Hank Snow, on an lp made in 1976, on RCA, titled Still Movin’ On. Recorded in Nashville, natch.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Even if you didn’t make any money nor achieve fame, you still had some pretty good experiences.

                  I’m not as familiar with Hank Snow as I am his son Jimmy. Jimmy Snow was the host for the Grand Ole Opry gospel time radio show. His show featured a lot of born-again country artists (Connie Smith, Pat Boone). I remember the Opryland tour guide telling me how popular his gospel show was, so popular that he eventually built a church and ministry in Nashville.

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                  • Meanwhile, for my part, I had never, before your reply, heard of Jimmy Snow or his ministry. But Nashville being Nashville, there are ministries abounding, and folks to fill the churches. And sons of old Opry stars too. My best friend bought a used car from Ernest Tubb’s son, and a Suburban from Duane Eddy. Not intentionally. They just happened to be sellers of what he was buying….

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                  • Guitar, including slide or dobro– though I don’t play that way often any more– mostly when that sort of thing is needed on recordings. Telecaster, Martin 00-18– you get the picture, I’ll bet. But most of what I write these days, despite my rootsy playing style, has jazzy harmonies.

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                  • Thread’s maxed, so I’ll reply here:

                    That’s how I started, singing in local bands. Didn’t pick up a guitar till i was 19, which is latish. I was usually the singer in all the bands I founded– nowadays, not practicing daily, or ever, I’ve got a small range with too much warble in unexpected places. Perhaps a bit of work would improve things….For the time being, being a bigmouth, I really like being able to express myself without words. Makes a change, as the Brits say.

                    My sister was also a singer. She too appears on that Hank Snow lp, Still Movin’ On, singing harmony with HS on the old Lovie Austin classic Trouble In Mind, under the name of Gina del Rey. As I liked to joke at the time, ‘Marina’ was taken.

                    Perhaps because it’s how I started, but I believe the singer has the most important post in the band, and commands by far most of the audience’s attention. A less than good one can really make for a long night for everybody, on stage or out front. But a good one makes magic all over, even if some other band members occasionally falter.

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                    • Oh wow.that is amazing…you and your own band……my mom started me on so many things..these days they call those as ” Tiger moms”..she was not that just wanted me to be exposed in different things. Violin, arst, music….I had the voice . I was working on keyboards then was told if I continue to sing with keyboards I will not be able to sing w/o any instruments. Anyways…now I don’t sing in public anymore but before there was always someone else playing some keyboard ,drums and strings with me.
                      In Nashville I had a voice coach..he is a rock n roll singer but classically trained from Manhattan school of music.

                      Now I have this CD and DVD by Renee Grant-Williams it works…even when doing my chores I put that tape on πŸ™‚

                      Liked by 1 person

  14. Dave, the first one to come to mind as an author was Pittacus Lore, the author of the Lorien Books, it is the pseudonym of James Frey and Jobie Hughes.

    You mentioning Lee Child looking to sit next to famous names reminded me of The Beau Brummels, the band, picking their name to be close to the Beatles in the record shop and increasing sales because the Beatles were often sold out.

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    • Great, great mention of the Beau Brummels. Right outside of Nashville and near Old Hickory Lake is the studio where they recorded the Bradley Barn’s album.

      The studio is also called Bradley’s Barn. Many heavyweights in the rock, pop, rockabilly, and country genres (Conway Twitty, The Who, Gordon Lightfoot, Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, k.d. lang, Waylon Jennings, and of course Beau Brummels) recorded there. Anyone who visits Music Row and/or the Mt. Juliet regions of Nashville must stop by this place.

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        • You don’t know the half of it. Music Row is a music lover’s dream. I’ll go as far as to say the entire route between Memphis and Nashville is a music lover’s dream because Jackson TN (midpoint between the two cities) has a prominent place in music history as well. Carl Perkins, Sonny Boy Williamson (the Yardbirds and *I think* the Grateful Dead covered some of his songs), Tina Turner, Elvis, and many icons had/have musical roots in Jackson.

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          • I think Tennessee wins the “State of the Day” award in this comments section, Ana. πŸ™‚

            But, seriously, that’s one amazing stretch of musical geography, wonderfully described by you.


          • Hellooooooo…Ana..did I hear “Music Row “? It is music to my ears…just a step away from Vanderbilt University, close to Downtown Nashville TN. It is a business center for not only Country, Gospel for all kinds of contemporary music, world music as well.
            Down the memory lane walked so many times through those streets…wonderful eateries close by.

            Dave another name could go to your category….Cat Stevens , changed his name to Yusuf Islam ( not an alias of course) . Several years ago after Bush invaded Iraq , he was coming from overseas for recording for his upcoming album but was detained and send back .

            Liked by 1 person

            • Good morning, bebe! Cat Stevens definitely had a major name change, stemming from religion/faith — sort of like Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali back in the 1960s.

              “Peace Train” is such a nice song! (10,000 Maniacs later did an excellent version in the 1980s.) Not nice was George W. Bush and his administration’s disastrous Iraq War. It’s dismaying that many of the people who started that war are now advisers to Jeb Bush. So much for him being very different from his brother. 😦


              • Just looked…Natalie Merchant have such a powerful voice…I miss such voices a lot…what happened to Adele perhaps taking a break, another powerful voice of today is Kelly Clarkson.

                Bothersome could it be Scott Walker the top candidate now ? How could that be remotely possible. Then Jeb Bush…the papers are digging dirt on Hillary Clinton, what about Neil Bush in S & L scandal…

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            • I. Love. Nashville. So much to do, see, eat, experience, and enjoy. Middle TN is the prettiest part of the state to me. That drive from Memphis was always so lovely. The mountains, those huge rock formations right outside of Jackson, those rivers…just lovely.

              I don’t know if you’re familiar with Alamo TN, but that is the home of the TN Safari. Such a cool and fun place to visit. You can either drive through, or walk around to the animals to pet and feed them.

              bebe, how are you doing? We haven’t chatted in awhile…

              Liked by 1 person

              • Yes I have heard of Alamo TN..never been in OH…don`t like it here..we are having terrible weather as the rest of the country. The problem is my soul-mate is a 14 pounder Pomeranian/ Chi beautiful female and we walk 3 times in the block. We have not walked for at least a week. Just took her out to walk but sadly no place for her to go with mountains of snow.

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                • bebe, you have the most beautiful photos, whether it’s your dogs or something in nature. I’m still in love with your lavender garden pic you had on HP.

                  Most of my family lives in New England, and they are sooo tired of these snowstorms. My mom commented the other day that the weather is the one thing she misses about TN. She now has to re-adjust to those brutal New England winters.

                  I’m already preparing for spring. Slowly getting my planting supplies ready, and I purchased some shorts, tees, and yoga pants on sale earlier this month so I can be ready for my outdoor exercises/activities once spring kicks in. *sending good weather vibes to bebe and her lovely little dogs*

                  Liked by 2 people

                  • oh thanks….I will bring out my bird bath with lavenders in spring again. Oh New England…so sorry….Nashville is now an iceland but it is temporary. I talk with by best friend several times a week..she resembles Helen Mirren , but best qualities in her she says oh well..and goes non with her life.

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          • Sonny Boy was also covered by Led Zeppelin: Bring It On Home.

            They did not credit the writer when it was first released, though they did later on, after settling a royalty dispute with: songwriter extraordinaire Willie Dixon. Williamson’s version was the ‘inspiration’ for LZ’s.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Giving or not giving credit can certainly be a fraught thing in the music biz. As you know, Led Zeppelin also did the “Gallows Pole” song that was a version of “Gallis Pole” previously sung by Lead Belly (not sure if Lead Belly wrote it). I hope Led Zep gave credit there!


              • They also covered, though without regard to the original save lyrically, When the Levee Breaks by Memphis Minnie. I don’t know who got credited for that or the Lead Belly(Huddie Ledbetter, btw)– my impression is that they were Brit bandits who appropriated whatever was attractive to their enterprise, settling credits and payments once lawyers got involved. I believe the Rolling Stones behaved similarly, at least from time to time, as in the song Prodigal Son, a Rev. Robert Pete Williams number, if memory serves.

                Liked by 1 person

                • LZ’s “When the Levee Breaks” is an amazing song, and I didn’t realize it wasn’t completely original to LZ.

                  White bands from Britain certainly had a mixed record back then when it came to crediting the African-American musicians who influenced them and who they often “swiped” from.

                  In some ways, bands like LZ and the Stones brought some needed attention to certain African-American musicians, and I believe the Stones even had some of them as opening acts. Yet there was undoubtedly some exploitation going on, and of course there’s an element of racism in white bands making black music more “accessible.”


                  • Absolutely a complex relationship– Brit bands and US blues men. The Stones insisted on having Howling Wolf on the show when they were on Hullabaloo or Shindig– and it’s probably when the man was seen by more people than ever in his life. They toured with Muddy Waters and BB King, and enhanced the sales and careers of each.

                    My take: From the beginning, the publishing and copyrights and attributions for blues was spotty and anarchic. Blues artists frequently made their own versions of other blues artists’ songs, and claimed writer credit– or at least their label did. The Stones merely did what their idols appeared to have done; but they were not blues artists selling to a shrinking market, they were worldwide pop stars. And the earnings those uncredited covers made caused a great many lawyers to do a lot of billing.

                    Also, in the early ’60’s, the blues was thought and described by musicologists as a kind of folk music, and folk music was thought to have been passes around and altered and in the end, nobody could claim it. But the blues is not folk music first– it was from the beginning a commercial music offered for sale in record form. That lesson was learned in and out of court by a few ’60’s popsters.

                    Liked by 1 person

                • And not entirely unfair, as Lead Belly was known more as a song collector than song composer. Still, as some of the songs he brought to disc would in all likelihood have never been heard by the wider world if not for him, I’ve always believed he should have gotten whatever money he could for them, including what would have come to him or his estate by way of authorship credit: Jump Down Turn Around (Pick a Bale of Cotton) and Goodnight Irene are enduring American folk music.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Good point, jhNY. A lot of Lead Belly stuff wasn’t written from scratch. I don’t know a huge amount about his life, but I hope he made at least some decent money from his songs and his performances (after he got out of prison).


                    • He got out a few times– at least once by pardon, which he received after singing for the Governor of Texas, Pat Neff. He was big and occasionally rough. And across his throat, if his shirt was unbuttoned, you could see the scar made by a razor across his throat.

                      I think Ry Cooder covered it, but have you ever heard Leadbelly’s song about Washington DC? Title: “It’s a Bourgeois Town”.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I think I’ve heard that song, jhNY, but I’ll see if it’s on YouTube later to double-check. πŸ™‚

                      So, several times in prison? Not an easy life.

                      When I was in college, I was a “stringer” for The New York Times for two years — covering stuff at the college. My editor was a guy named Les Ledbetter, and I’m pretty sure he was some relation to Lead Belly. But I’m not sure what relation.


            • That’s one thing I always admired about Willie Dixon. He was such an advocate for musicians, always demanding that songwriters and musicians receive their fair share of royalties, credits for song lyrics, etc.

              Dixon (or someone like him) was especially needed in the 50s and 60s music scenes. Motown and Stax artists were being ripped off by everybody….record label execs, publishing companies, lawyers, and other artists.

              If you ever get a chance to visit Memphis, you should check out the Stax Museum. Some of those exhibits and private collections of artists/session musicians/people who worked closely with the label are amazing.

              Liked by 1 person

              • This might surprise you, but as I once worked for the label that first distributed Stax nationally, I see things a little differently– but only a little.

                Stax was founded by two people in Memphis, Estelle Axton and Jim Stewart, and housed in a former movie theater– recording facility, sales office, label staff, everything. The concession stand was converted into a sales area, and local people could drop by and pick up the latest singles. The recording ‘studio’ was the stage of the theater, its velvet curtain behind the band absorbing sound. Most of the records most people associate with the label (Otis Redding, Booker T, Carla Thomas, The Bar-kays, etc.) and the studio (Sam and Dave) were recorded on 2-track machines, with new parts added ‘live’ via sound-on-sound. The record label I worked for eventually supplied them with a 4-track….and later, maybe 1968, they acquired an 8-track.

                David Porter sacked groceries nearby. Maybe his partner Isaac Hayes did too. Booker T and the MG’s were nothing more fancy than a local Memphis band that mostly played fraternity dates at local colleges.”Green Onions’ started life as the band’s ‘break’ song. Carla Thomas was the daughter of Rufus, a local deejay who went on to later fame as the performer of Walking the Dog.

                Point is– it was a very downhome local operation without national distribution or much capital, and although they made great recordings, too few beyond Memphis heard them. That’s where my former employers stepped in– they took a chance on a shoestring business, for which they over-rewarded themselves by contracting to own all masters of all records they chose to distribute from Stax and Volt. The Memphis folks thought this was a fair deal till they saw how much money my label was making, and how much the masters were liable to be worth in future. What they forgot was how little money they’d managed to earn before they made the deal.

                A clause in the contract allowed Stax and Volt to leave the distribution deal if my label was sold. In 1968, Stax and Volt and Atlantic Records parted company, with no love lost on the Memphis side. But they’d earned millions by then, in no small part because Atlantic, the most powerful and successful r+b label of the time, had taken them under their wing, while taking a little more than they might have.

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      • Bradley’s Barn was opened by Owen Bradley, the most successful country producer of his era, save Chet Atkins. Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb, Patsy Kline, Webb Pierce all recorded for Bradley, who had a small studio or two in Nashville first, which he eventually sold. Bradley’s Barn was the most famous of his recording set-ups.

        Liked by 1 person

          • No– wasn’t aware that it had. Glad they were able to rebuild; glad also that locals and others got together and saved the RCA studio that was nearly demolished last year.

            Haven’t been to Nashville for longer than a visit in decades. My folks are still hanging on down there– will be going to see them in March if all goes according to plan.

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      • Theodor Seuss Geisel, the person we all know and love as Dr. Seuss, wrote under this name as a way to poke fun at his father who wanted him to become a doctor.

        I had the honour and pleasure of meeting Don Lee at Howard University during an African American lecture series. He’s a terrific writer and poet, university professor, and was one of the most influential members of the Black Arts Movement in the 60s. Don Lee writes under the Swahili name Haki Madhubuti.

        For musicians/non-literature people:

        Bono, aka Paul Hewson. Bono was a nickname given to him by his classmates from Mount Temple School. It comes from the name of a hearing aid store in Dublin called Bono Vox.

        The Edge, aka Dave Evans. Nickname given to him also by his friends because of his sharp intellect.

        And last but not least, the greatest musician and bassist to ever live…..the man who influenced my HP and Twitter user IDs…the man who I will be seeing live 3 times this summer…the man who makes me proud to share Canadian heritage with…Geddy Lee. AKA Gary Lee Weinrib, Geddy Lee’s nickname came from his mother due to her heavy Eastern European accent. While pronouncing the name “Gary”, it sounded like she was saying “Geddy”, so the name stuck. His high school friends referred to him as Geddy, and he went on to use it professionally.

        Liked by 1 person

        • My forgetting to mention Bono and The Edge in my celebrity-pseudonyms paragraph — smacking my head. Especially since I’m seeing U2 later this year (as are you, Ana). “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (my brain). πŸ™‚

          Nice explanations of how Bono and The Edge got their aliases — and a masterful look at how Gary Lee became Geddy Lee. Thanks!

          Your Dr. Seuss and Haki Madhubuti paragraphs — also excellent!


  15. Hi Dave, one of the first mystery writers that I adored when I started reading that genre was Ellery Queen. I’m going to have to cut and paste this from Wikipedia, because I’ll never remember all the names. Ellery Queen is “both a fictional character and a pseudonym used by two American cousins from Brooklyn, New Yorkβ€”Daniel Nathan, alias Frederic Dannay, and Emanuel Benjamin Lepofsky, alias Manfred Bennington Lee.” I either never knew or perhaps forgot their alias were also aliases (does that even make sense? πŸ™‚ They also wrote a series about an amateur sleuth named Drury Lane, under the pseudonym of Barnaby Ross. Another American detective writer was John Dickson Carr, he of the “locked room puzzle” mysteries fame, and who also wrote under the pen names of Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson and Roger Fairbairn. Women who write under pen names in this genre are Ruth Rendell, who also writes under the name Barbara Vine, and Barbara Mertz, who wrote under two pen names, Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels.

    A person who’s been in the media very much over the past several weeks is Jon Stewart, an alias for Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz. He is of course most known as a comedian and host of “The Daily Show,” but he has also released three books. I for one am going to miss him when he leaves TDS, but I think he’s right that it was time for him to go on to other things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ellery Queen has to be one of the best pen names ever! Thanks for mentioning it, Kat Lib! I didn’t realize it was used by a team of two people.

      As your great comment indicates, quite a few mystery and detective writers seem to have used aliases. Makes sense in a way. πŸ™‚

      Nice mention of Jon Stewart! I guess he continued a tradition of making names simpler and less “ethnic.” My (not famous!) paternal grandfather also did that, or had it done, during or around the time of his Ellis Island arrival. Stewart is absolutely wonderful, and it’s kind of rare when someone leaves a job when they’re at the very top of their game.


      • Yes, many immigrants around that time had their names changed. I tried to track down my father and his parents’ arrival at Ellis Island from Sweden, without success, so they must have made a major name change. I lived in Minneapolis some years ago, and the entire city and state are full of Andersons, Carlsons, Johnsons and Olsons. I find it odd that both sides of my family felt it necessary to immigrate from Sweden to this country, whereas now all of the Nordic countries seem to me to be so much more evolved than we or most countries are today, with their strong social welfare systems. We, on the other hand, seem to be regressing (or there are many in power who want to regress) in all areas where they excel, such as healthcare, education, parental childcare leave, and taking care of all of their citizens. Sorry, I don’t mean to digress, but this has been on my mind for a while now, especially since I read so many mysteries written by Scandinavians (which obviously means that they do have their share of criminals!).

        Liked by 1 person

        • Unfortunate that name changes can make it harder to find information about our ancestors. Sorry you didn’t have better luck finding more info about yours, Kat Lib.

          It IS interesting to wonder why people came/come to the U.S. from more humane countries. I suppose part of the explanation is that the “myth” of the U.S. is better than the reality. And as you note, things are getting worse — as the gap between the rich and poor increases and in all the other areas you aptly mentioned (even though there are some “band-aids,” like Obamacare, that squeak through despite the presence of so many vicious right-wingers in power).

          The only Swedish mystery/thriller I’ve read is Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, and there were definitely more Scandinavian “bad guys” than I expected. πŸ™‚


          • Dave, since some others have been talking about musicians, how about one that we discussed last week, Lesley Gore, born Lesley Sue Goldstein. By the way, I’ve not been able to get “You Don’t Own Me” out of my mind all week.

            Another musician is David Bowie, who was born David Jones. He had to change his name so that he wasn’t confused with Davey Jones of The Monkees. As much as I enjoyed that group, Bowie far surpassed Davey in just about every way possible, in my opinion. However, now that I’ve brought this up, I’m now going to have “Daydream Believer” playing over and over and my mind. This has happened before, and I can’t make it stop!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Two great examples of musicians who changed their names, Kat Lib! I SHOULD have known it, but didn’t know how/why David Bowie became David Bowie until seeing your comment. I did know about Lesley Gore being born Lesley Sue Goldstein, but not until reading her recent obituary. 😦 “You Don’t Own Me” DOES stay in one’s mind.

              Yes, Bowie is much more consequential than The Monkees, whose work (such as “Daydream Believer”!) was very catchy but not exactly groundbreaking.

              Funny last line of yours! I know the feeling.


              • I forgot to mention that the story goes that Bowie chose that name after the “Bowie knife,” although the pronunciation is a bit different, because he wanted something similar to Jagger.

                Liked by 1 person

              • A bit nitpicky, but Keith Richards used to use the alias Keith Richard, so as to be associated in the public mind with Cliff Richard, a huge Brit pop star when the Stones were starting out…

                The band generally was fond of aliases. When I was head of the music library at one of their old labels, I discovered tapes by bands called The Cockroaches and Tired Straits. Both proved to be aliases for The Rolling Stones, or for Keith’s live band performance in Canada, where he played a benefit to work off a drug bust.

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                  • Chuck Berry was my idol, and when I heard Keith doing all those Chuck riffs I was hooked– from the very first Stones lp. I can remember sitting up late in the dark for hours waiting for WLS to play Satisfaction when I was staying in Iowa for a summer. Fell off the Stones bandwagon pretty much entirely by Voodoo Lounge, and thought by then that nothing they did or will do would top Exile on Main Street. Also, Brian Jones– as much as I liked the more guitaristic Stones after his death– his unique ideas for accompaniment I sorely missed the longer the band went on. He played cello for the first time and last in his life on Ruby Tuesday– chalk on the neck so he’d know where to press. Think he might have played the recorders too.

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                    • Another great comment, jhNY! Didn’t Brian Jones play the sitar, too?

                      Don’t get me wrong — I liked the Stones; just didn’t love them. And they’ve certainly coasted for a very long time. But at their peak, they were pretty amazing.


                  • Thread’s maxed, so:

                    Yep, Brian Jones does play the sitar on Paint It Black and the lp Their Satanic Magesties request and I think on Beggar’s Banquet a bit too– it’s been a while.

                    I think it’s fair to say he employed instruments (besides guitar and harmonica) for specific production purposes, without mastering them per se. But his ideas were strong, at least most of the time….

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • That’s right — on “Paint It Black”! One of my favorite Stones songs. Glimpses of Brian Jones on the sitar here:

                      I guess if someone plays multiple instruments, it’s hard to play all of them masterfully. But Jones certainly sounded quite good on sitar, even if he was an amateur at it. Maybe the sitar just sounds fantastic even if it’s not played expertly!

                      Jone was certainly a VERY integral part of the Stones before his 1969 death.


            • Perfectly acceptable to have certain songs on your mind. On a past article, I somehow got on the topic of 60s rock. I played The Zombies non-stop on my ipod for a full month after that conversation. Brief Candles, She’s Not There, Changes, Time of the Season, Friends of Mine….I just kept hitting repeat on those songs.

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        • For a lot of immigrants, the U.S. is viewed as a country where they can thrive. I think the perception that the U.S. is the place of upward mobility and freedom is diminishing.

          My mom is from Cape Verde, dad is from Canada. They met while living in the UK. Back in the late 60s – early 70s, the U.S. was where they wanted to move to and settle down in because of America’s reputation. Ask them their views on the U.S. now, and they greatly differ from their views back then.

          A country that was once was known for its innovation and education is now known as a country that favours creationism and the dumbing down of children. We have religious extremists in positions of power and political office, an inequality gap that keeps growing, and civil rights that are constantly under attack. This is not the America my parents envisioned.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ana, well said and heartfelt.

            The U.S. as a place to thrive has definitely been the view of many immigrants — and it works for some (less than in the past, as you note), while not working for others. For immigrants to thrive in the U.S., they often need to not only work hard but be willing exploit others — the American Way. 😦

            Totally understandable that your parents don’t view the U.S. the same now as they did then. Things have changed a LOT during the past few decades, thanks in large part to the disgusting “Reagan Revolution” that greatly widened the income gap you mentioned. Plus all the other depressing things you aptly cited in your third paragraph. (Great last line.)


            • Goldsmith’s Friend Abroad Again by Mark Twain perfectly describes the perceptions vs the realities that some immigrants face. Many come to America filled with hope and optimism, but end up disappointed. And for those who continue to believe the “great American myth” even as they are being mistreated…I don’t know whether to admire them for their tenacity and strength, or feel sorry for them.

              My parents had what I could best describe as cautious optimism. Yes, they looked forward to having the American dream, but they also learned not to get too caught up in the romanticised ideals of America.

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        • I also should mention that while my father’s immigration records were difficult to find, I had little difficulty finding my dad’s birth record in that he was born to a single mother and in the space for “father” there was the word that translates to “bastard” or some such nonsense. Although most of us children have no problem with this, my dad had a big problem with this when he found out at his mom’s funeral that he was adopted when he was in his 50’s. Wow, Dave, I’m being very introspective in this column; perhaps it’s because of the horribly cold and nasty weather most of us are experienced in area (though not as bad as in Boston and Maine).

          Liked by 1 person

          • A shame your father wasn’t told earlier that he was adopted. And it’s outrageous that some equivalent of “bastard” was used on his birth record! I guess society has evolved in some ways since then.

            A lot of families have secrets, whether embarrassing or not. There was a whopper of one in my family, but I can’t discuss it publicly here!

            As for the weather — awful indeed. It’s supposed to hit zero tonight where I am; I’m sure it’s similar where you are. 😦


  16. George Orwell was the pseudonym of Eric Blair. I am not sure why he chose to write under a pen name, or how he chose “George Orwell”, but the word “Orwellian” certainly seems to have a greater impact than “Blairian” would have when describing a “1984” type society (which I believe gets closer and closer to becoming reality).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow — how did I forget that one? πŸ™‚ And I reread “1984” not that long ago, and mentioned that novel in my previous post!

      You’re right, drb19810 — “Orwellian” is a much more evocative term than “Blairian” would have been. And I agree that a “1984”-like world IS getting closer and closer, with all that government surveillance, tons of governmental and corporate lying, seemingly endless wars, etc.



      • And lets not forget all of the “newspeak” terms we have – “job creators” = rich people, “death panels” = end-of-life planning, etc.

        How about Mayor Rudy? It reminds me of something I read in “Mad Magazine” when I was a kid. “A Patriot is someone who loves his country, but hates 90% of the people who live in it.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • So true, drb19810. All that language used by “the powers that be” to lie, spin, mislead, obfuscate, etc. Orwell was very wise.

          As for Rudy Giuliani, he is indeed awful. Such a nasty, hateful, racist person/ex-politician who now does nothing but try to make tons of money while coming out with occasional venomous statements!

          Great quote from Mad magazine!


          • Off topic, but another pithy quote I remember from “Mad Magazine” of my youth – “The difference between Communism and Capitalism – under Communism ‘man exploits man’; under Capitalism, it’s the other way around.”

            Mad Magazine – pretty subversive for a kid’s magazine.

            Liked by 1 person

            • LOL — that’s a classic Mad line! I loved that magazine as a kid. It was indeed very subversive in its way.

              For some reason, I still remember the title of a long-ago Mad spoof of the “Marcus Welby, MD” TV show. Something like “Makeus Sickby, MD.” πŸ™‚


              • I LOVED their spoofs of popular TV and movies. I looked up to see if Mad was still published. It is, but has a very small circulation now. One thing that was pointed out – Mad Magazine now runs advertisements. The Mad of my youth never ran ads in the magazine. Looking back, this publication was very influential to my world view, and I don’t think I am alone.

                Liked by 1 person

                  • I also had a subscription – also the first other than W.R. (which we were prettey much required to purchace for the classroom). My very conservative parents never realized that Mad was anything other than a glorified comic book.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Nice, drb19810, to put something like that over one’s parents! πŸ™‚

                      Not sure I’m remembering right, but did Mad start as a comic book in the 1950s before evolving into a magazine (with plenty of art)?


                    • I didn’t know that. (the 50’s were a bit before my time). However, some quick on-line researched confirms this. In 1955, Mad converted from a ‘comic book” to a “magazine” specifically so it could avoid the censorship of the “Comic Code Authority” that was in effect at the time.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • A bit before my time, too (well, at least the EARLY 1950s part πŸ™‚ ), but thanks for that research! I didn’t know the reason for Mad’s conversion. That Comic Code thing — not good.


                • Definitely very influential in a LOT of people’s worldview, drb19810! (Including the worldview of subsequent humorists.)

                  I also loved Mad’s TV and movie spoofs — many of which were hilarious and wonderfully drawn (by the likes of the great Mort Drucker).

                  A shame Mad’s circulation is smaller now, and that it runs ads. (I wonder if the magazine still lampoons ads now? πŸ™‚ ) But Mad was amazing in its heyday.


            • Full disclosure – I was doing some “surfing” this afternoon regarding Mad. I definately read the above “man exploits man” quote in Mad, but the quote was originated by John Kenneth Galbraith.

              Liked by 1 person

                • Can I mention that I and none of my girlfriends were into Mad Magazine way back when? Is this a guy thing such as The Three Stooges? Although I must admit that my best friend and I found the latter very funny, though must say we found Pogo much funnier than Mad Magazine.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Kat Lib, I think you’re right that Mad was mostly a guy (boy) thing! The fact that virtually all that magazine’s editors, writers, and artists were male didn’t help.

                    I’m much more a fan of The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, etc., than of The Three Stooges. A little intellect along with the slapstick is nice. πŸ™‚


                  • My sister loved reading Mad as well, but you are correct, most of the big fans I knew were boys. I think Dave’s comment – mostly male writers – probably had a lot to do with it, and much of the humor was definitely geared to typical male tween and adolescent sensibilities, but what made it so brilliant was its consistent effort to highlight the hypocrisy of so many of the middle class mores of the time. For example, it was certainly antidrug, but did not hesitate to point out the hypocrisy of society’s acceptance of cigarettes and alcohol, or to emphasize the emptiness of “keeping up with the Jones’s”. It was much more than the Stooge’s slapstick folderol. (even though I also loved the Stooges at that age).

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Very well put, drb19810! While a portion of Mad’s humor was sort of goofy/juvenile stuff that seemed to appeal mostly to boys, there was also lots of more sophisticated, socially conscious humor that (as you spot-on noted) really took aim at hypocrisy. Glad your sister was a Mad fan! I don’t think mine was. πŸ™‚


                • I remember another line of JKG’s, more or less, spoken at a commencement, which I’ve now found on the ‘nets:

                  In all life one should comfort the afflicted, but verily, also, one should afflict the comfortable, and especially when they are comfortably, contentedly, even happily wrong.

                  John Kenneth Galbraith

                  Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh yeah, I forgot to add David Cornwell aka John Le Carre’. I think in those years ‘John’ was the fashionable first name for British spy/mystery writers. I think it’s just a great writerly first name in general.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Another great post, Dave! You mentioned Balzac’s birth name. I believe that he also wrote some of those early pot-boilers under another pen name, Lord H’Roone (?), if I’m recalling correctly from the Balzac biography I read about 20 years ago. Of course, the mere addition of ‘de’ to his name is an affectation that’s somewhat pseudonymous in itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind words, bobess48!

      You’re absolutely right about Balzac “fancying up” his name (in addition to using more than one pseudonym for his early-career potboilers). Sort of like the moniker-embellishing that Erich Maria Remarque did. And I’m not sure if Walter Scott put “Sir” on the covers of his later books, but he certainly loved that royal designation!


      • I picked up a bound copy of Ivanhoe, published by Hurst and Company, New York. From what I could figure out on the ‘nets, this edition might have been originally put out as a soft cover, in about 1889– long after its original printing date, noted in pen on its title page as 1819. My copy was later bound for library use, and was once the property of the Riverside Study Center, here in NYC.

        At any rate, the title page of this edition reads as by “Sir Walter Scott, Bart.”– baronet. The typeface and layout of the thing looks much older than its pub date, so may have been sold on, set type and all, to Hurst from another, earlier publisher. Sorry I can’t definitively say whether or not he signed his works as this edition shows when they were published, or more exactly, after he had received his title.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for that information, jhNY! Definitely “Sir” on that book. And I think that, even in his lifetime, Walter Scott had his name on some of his novels after his initial anonymous policy.

          Wonderful that you have such an old copy of “Ivanhoe”! It was the first Scott novel I read (as I imagine is the case with many people), and it spurred me to read and greatly enjoy more than a half dozen of his other novels. (I think we’ve discussed Scott before, as well as what Mark Twain thought of him. πŸ™‚ )


  19. Great topic Dave , shall be back later..hope you are doing okay is this brutal weather, we are so snowed in.

    Nora Roberts also writes as j.D. Robb..have to admit haven’t read any one of them πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you liked the post, bebe!

      Yes, this weather has been very annoying. So cold most days, and a few more inches of snow every few days on top of the previous snow that barely melts.

      I’ve never read Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, either, but thanks for adding her to the pen name list. πŸ™‚

      I look forward to hearing back from you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dave I had no idea about Lee Child , funny now you are reading Jack Reacher…you found that out.
        Finally I finished Grey Mountain by Grisham. was about the dangers of coal mining and litigations and broken laws..I returned the book after 100 some pages. I re-borrowed it back and now finished. Liked the book which is his latest.
        You covered all of my favorite authors including O Henry…did not even know that was not his name.

        Last night watching Oscars ( haven’t seen a single of those movies) , Lady Gaga gave a nice tribute to Julie Andrews. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta is her name? I just checked it out.
        So many actors and musicians use Aliases than their real names. Common the Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr ha..

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for the kind words, bebe!

          I guess I just happened to spot that alphabetical fact on Wikipedia. Jim Grant certainly chose some august company for his “Lee Child”-written Jack Reacher books to be shelved in-between. πŸ™‚

          Glad John Grisham wrote another good book. I guess he rarely misses.

          Lady Gaga is definitely a great, punchy alias for someone with a rather lengthy real name. And so true that various rappers are among those who have adopted pseudonyms!

          Liked by 1 person

          • As were some of the blues greats from the 20’s and since:
            Sweet Papa Stovepipe is a personal favorite psuedonym out of the early years, bu more famously there’s Howling Wolf (Chester Burnett), Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield). Then there’s Sonny Boy Williamson. There are two– the original Sonny Boy who was killed in the late ’40’s and the far more famous Rice Miller, who adopted the name of Sonny Boy Williamson and insisted till his death he was the first to use it. It’s SBWII you almost always hear nowadays when you hear a Sonny Boy Williams song.

            Liked by 1 person

        • I saw her performance on Youtube. Very nice.
          I have some of her earlier music from her NYU days where she is singing and playing the piano. Beautiful vocals and delivery. She didn’t get noticed until her persona changed, then the auto-tunes and gimmicks started.

          I think we are witnessing the transitioning of Ms. Gaga. She is mellowing out and returning to her roots. You’ll notice that she’s toned down the over-the-top performances (like the meat suit she wore, and that time she hatched out of an egg). She’s connecting with more established musicians, and is showcasing her actual singing talent. I hope she continues this trend.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, a very interesting career trajectory in her going back to her roots after all the excess. But I have a feeling she’ll pivot again at some point. I think her playbook is to constantly reinvent herself — sort of like Madonna. But I don’t think Madonna ever got mellow enough to do duets with people like Tony Bennett. πŸ™‚


            • I think you’re right. Elton John is a good example of something who successfully pulled that off. Between the late 60s and the 80s, he was pretty out there with the costumes and stage props. Beethoven outfits, feathers and plumes, sailor suits, a Donald Duck costume, skin tight one-piece suits….you just never knew what Sir Elton would do.

              And even though he’s toned that down, every now and then he’ll wear something shiny. LOL. I think I posted some pics on FB of that concert I caught in Memphis in 2013. His suit was glistening.

              One thing that never changed in the decades-long career is his enormous talent. He’s the type of musician that I want to hear sing just because. He could follow me around the supermarket, sing off my grocery list, and I’d be happy. “Anaaaa, you need some milk, bread, eggs, and cheese…..and don’t forget your husband’s decaf.” LOL. But I can see Lady Gaga following a similar path as Sir Elton.

              I’ve overstayed my welcome with side conversations on music, so I’ll stop here. Have a good day, Dave:)

              Liked by 1 person

              • Great comparison, Ana! There is/was definitely some Elton John in Lady Gaga, and vice versa.

                I think the VERY early Elton John (of the “Your Song” time) was somewhat low-key, then lots of flamboyant years before, as you say, the toning down with some occasional sizzle.

                LOL about Elton John following you around in the grocery store singing! Would Bernie Taupin write the shopping-list lyrics? πŸ™‚

                Have a good day, too!


              • In the mid-1970’s I worked for a short while in the fashion photography biz. One of our shoots was for a record cover and for it, we borrowed a cape Elton John had worn in performance at least once from the man who designed it. The poor woman on whom we draped the thing was a good sport, and we used the photos with the cape for the cover– but that cape was made of many layered pieces of wool felt, and it weighed A TON!

                Elton must have sweated gallons…..

                Liked by 1 person

                  • Perhaps the strangest job experience: Nashville, 1971, I was working in the kitchen (dishes mostly) of The House Restaurant, so named because the place had once been somebody’s house. White linen, table service, 30 kinds of hamburgers from around the world, sorta. Mexican burger with beans and chili, etc.

                    One night we got a call from RCA Studios and a take-out order for 50 burgers of one nationality, and 2 of another. I was pressed into service at one of the char-broiling grills, and had to keep busy with the fries next to it– each order came with some.Sadly, the years have robbed me of the memory of precisely which of our burgers were ordered.
                    It was excitedly revealed to us by the person who took the call that we were making food for Elvis and his entourage and the musicians with whom he was working– the 50 were for everybody else, the 2 for Elvis and Priscilla. Nowadays, I like to joke, when I tell this tale, that the 50 were for Elvis and Priscilla got the other two.

                    So there it is: I once made hamburgers for THE KING!

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Making burgers for Elvis and his entourage! Now that’s an impressive anecdote, jhNY!

                      I guess he diversified once in a while from his diet of fried peanut butter-and-banana sandwiches? πŸ™‚


                • Why aren’t you writing or lecturing somewhere?? You have met the most fascinating people in literature and music, and have had some amazing experiences in your lifetime. You have no idea how many people would be willing to pay just to hear or read your stories.

                  @Dave, I know I promised to stay on topic, but I had to ask that question before the blog ends for the week. It’s a West Coast thing…we just take over and do what we want.

                  Liked by 1 person

          • I have heart she is a classically trained musician…perhaps she needed all those shocking gimmicks to get noticed. her connection with Tony Bennett did her a lot of good…both befitted from each other.
            I understand the humongous egg is her bed now πŸ™‚

            Liked by 1 person

            • Sounds like Lady Gaga had more serious musical training than Madonna! And you’re absolutely right, bebe, about how LG shocked to get noticed. These days, that’s a major way to try to become a star. Often style over substance. But LG seems to have both, musically. Your funny last line — egg-cellent! πŸ™‚


              • True…look at Miley Cyrus and what she does…although I don`t care for her voice or music..then Beyonce I am not a fan either…but whatever she does folks like that.
                Adele or Norah Jones are great singers never needed those antics…I like Cher`s voice what a resonance and depth she has.

                Liked by 1 person

                • bebe, great mentions of two singers who over-promote and two singers who under-promote. I prefer the latter approach, but understand the former approach! (And I guess Norah Jones had the advantage of a famous father; that might have opened some doors.)

                  Cher DOES have a superb voice.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Actually Norah made name by her talent her fathers identity came much later..she always credited her mom for upbringing , much later she was united by her father. Her father loved women and it is women were crazy about extremely charming man he was πŸ˜‰

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • And one who confounded the expectations of his fans, in at least one instance of which I am aware. A friend, while living in Austin in the late ’60’s, was part of a group of hip types who pooled resources and managed to come up with the front money for a Ravi Shankar performance. By way of welcome, members of the group prepared a classic Indian meal of many courses. When informed of the repast when they were driving him from the airport into town, Shankar demurred, and asked the driver to stop at a mall nearby, where he bought a fifth of Jack Daniel’s and a bucket of KFC, after which, he asked to be dropped off at his hotel. I understand his performance the next day was characteristically amazing.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • very interesting..was it in late 60`s ?
                      I met Maestro Shankar in ` on my very close senior friend was a patron of Kansas City Symphony..knew how I loved his music..let me host Shankar day before for dinner. The concert was a written by Zubin Mehta. I was so nervous and was besides myself..cooked a full course meal and bought a cannon camera from Kmart. The he called to let me know he is a vegetarian and wants hand made Indian chapatti and 7 up was all he needed as drink. Later we spend 3 days on and off with him took him around the city to show plaza lights..that was right before thanksgiving. A soft spoken gentleman and that time was something to remember. πŸ™‚

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • That’s hilarious, jhNY! One of your best stories yet! Junky fast food can unfortunately be such a draw…

                      My wife and I just had an Indian meal last Friday. Sure beat KFC! πŸ™‚


                    • The thread’s maxed, so I’ll reply here:

                      I like your story better, and it seems much more characteristic of the man I think I’m seeing in performance than the one I related. But the man who told me insisted–I asked– that his story was a true one. He also said he’d been in the car as part of the welcoming committee, and so, heard Shankar’s request first-hand. And my friend was very much a fan….

                      Still, come to think of it, my friend kidnapped my cat Inferno, refusing to bring him to me after I’d settled into my new digs– the cat had been staying with him while I was moving. Which proves in at least one instance, he could not be entirely trusted….

                      Liked by 2 people

                    • LOL..please ask your friend if he was telling a Brian Williams story..Ravi Shankar is a proud classy gentleman KFC would not be his style. He was upset to talk about those days of`60` when listeners were smoking pots in front of his concert.
                      Ha..a cat knapper…no he was pulling a Bill O’Reilly`s πŸ˜€

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • bebe, so exciting that you hosted Ravi Shankar! Wow!!! Nicely told memories. πŸ™‚

                      And, yes, Bill O’Reilly is a MUCH bigger “poster child” for journalistic lying than the also-disgraceful Brian Williams. Not even a contest. I heard O’Reilly speak in person once, in Philadelphia in 2007. I was maybe 10 feet away from him, and he gave me the creeps. He also has a history of sexual harassment. 😦

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Dave…I was besides nervous..Ravi Shankar in our house. Previously i fixed a grand dinner, lamb, shrimp and so on, then had to set those aside and fixed a meal which turned out..poorly… 😦
                      Then a few days off and on …there was this Indiana Jones Temple of dooms movie out. Somewhere some Indian Royalties serving blood and heads of something. Sharnkar said how ridiculous Indian Royalties were classy people then…

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • bebe, I can totally understand being beyond nervous in a situation like that! And then to have to switch to vegetarian cooking midstream. 😦

                      I never saw any of those Indiana Jones movies. Perhaps best I didn’t!

                      Liked by 1 person

            • I think the fact that she is classically trained is the one attribute that sets her apart from many new singers of today. The Tony Bennett pairing was excellent. I like cross-genre projects and collaborations. The older, more established artists get exposed to a younger audience, and the younger artists gain opportunities to work with and learn from the legends.

              The Beach Boys paired up with the Fat Boys. Johnny Cash paired up with Nine Inch Nails. Pavarotti paired up with Barry White and the Love Unlimited Orchestra. U2 paired up with B.B. King. Elton John paired up with Eminem. Each side brought their own style and flavour, and created things that can’t be duplicated by anyone else.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Those cross-genre and/or cross-generational pairings can indeed be “win-win,” Ana. You mentioned and nicely described several great examples.

                Frank Sinatra did that, too, with his late-career “Duets” album — singing with Bono, Aretha Franklin, and others. But I believe those duets were spliced together rather than the singers being next to Sinatra in the studio.


              • You and JhNY have unlimited knowledge in music industry among other attributes so is Dave πŸ™‚
                Hey, did I say another lovely profile, who is the photographer..your hubby ? ❀

                Liked by 1 person

                • jh is cool. I want to be like him when I grow up. bebe, you’re cool too, and I want to learn how to grow lavender the way you do. I’m pretty good with growing herbs, but my lavender plants fall short every year.

                  Tell you what: why don’t you send me some of your lavender when it comes in this season? Dave doesn’t know it yet, but he’s gonna give up a few of his 45s that I’ve been asking for. So what you guys can do is send both items at the same time to save on shipping costs. I’m considerate like that…

                  Liked by 2 people

                • *blushes* Thanks for the compliment. Yes, he took that when we were at the Air Supply concert in Tacoma over Valentine’s Day weekend. They were performing All Out of Love when I stood up. I was in my zone and totally oblivious to everything around me. Love that song. I didn’t even see him snap this pic on his phone.

                  Liked by 2 people

              • And, years ago, country legend George Jones teamed with Elvis Costello and James Taylor!

                On the blues front, Howling Wolf made The London Sessions with Stevie Winwood, Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman. On Fathers and Sons, a Chess lp, Muddy Waters plays with Mike Bloomfield and I think Paul Butterfield too– it’s been a while since I listened.

                Liked by 1 person

                  • As a fellow immersed in things New Orleansian of late, I appreciate the image– especially knowing that levees are so often breached…

                    Could have used more Mavis, myself. I always detect a bit of bray in Merchant’s singing, which generally, does not endear her to me. But she’s a fine songwriter. Nice song.

                    I have a sore spot in my heart for 10,00Maniacs and Natalie Merchant. I came under heavy pressure as manager of their label’s tape library when a new mix of a proposed single was ‘lost’. Turned out they’d put the new mix on the end of a finished master they’d taken with them to the studio. The master had already been cataloged when we first received it– every song on it identified and entered into our database. The band did not alert us that they’d added anything to it, so we shelved it when it was returned.

                    It was several months before they needed the new mix, by which point, they had forgotten that they’d attached it to the old tape. Instead, they insisted they’d sent in the mix on a separate reel– which it was, till they spliced it to the master. In the tape library, we searched our database (over 1,000,000 total entries), and our shelves (about 4 miles of tape reels set side to side) for a week for the phantom reel, during which time, the head of A&R was making very disappointed, even vaguely threatening noises on the phone. Only when, at week’s end, in desperation, we checked that master reel for something unremembered by those who placed it there, did we find what everybody wanted us to find. The A&R head offered to buy me dinner, but I was in no mood– what a waste of time and labor! The unsubtle intimations of my inefficiency and the incompetence of my staff and myself that had been made over the week would have made me unfit company in any case.

                    Had the band had nothing to do with the mix-up, or had they been less insistent as to how they’d turn in the reel, I guess I wouldn’t find myself such a sorehead on the subject even after several years.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • The two of them alternating on the verses would have been much better!

                      Natalie Merchant periodically uses different kinds of voices and registers — sometimes it works, sometimes not as much.

                      And, yes, levees and New Orleans — imperfect together. 😦

                      Very sorry to hear about that incident with 10,000 Maniacs. Was it the band as a whole or one or two members who made things difficult? I’ve been in touch with one member of the band here and there since 2011 (when I wrote an appreciation of 10KM for The Huffington Post), and he’s very personable and fan-friendly. I also talked with him briefly after a 2011 10KM concert in NYC’s City Winery. (Merchant was long gone by then; she left the band in 1993.)

                      Also, out of curiosity, do you remember the name of the single?


                  • thread’s maxed, so:

                    Don’t remember who from the band had contact with the tape library, and it’s been too long generally, so i don’t know the proposed single name either, or if it came our as such. Something tells me it might have been a new mix of an older Maniacs tune, possibly done to drum up interest in a hits release that was put together after the band was no longer an item. Because I remember, indirectly, that Merchant was part of the hoopla. I started that job in ’94, and I know our week of fruitless searches took place later than my first year.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Thanks, jhNY! Yes, after Merchant left in 1993, she was successful as a solo artist but the rest of the band had a tough time — dropped from their record label, etc. They regrouped later in the ’90s with a new lead singer (Mary Ramsey), put out a couple of original albums, sort of faded once more, and now tour a lot again (with another album a couple of years ago and a new one due in 2015; both “crowdfunded”).


  20. Wow! Dave! Your piece is full of information that I had never heard before! Fascinating stuff! The author that comes to mind when you mention aliases is Isak Dinesen of “Out of Africa” fame. Her real name was Karen von Blixen-Finecke, nΓ©e Karen Christenze Dinesen, and she was a Baroness. Who KNOWS why she used an alias! I understand that she used more than one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a GREAT addition to this discussion, lulabelleharris! I’ve read the evocative “Out of Africa” (and seen the Meryl Streep movie), but forgot to include its author in my blog post.

      Karen von Blixen-Finecke DID have an excellent pen name, and, like you, I don’t know where it came from. I might have to book a trip to Wikipedia. πŸ™‚

      And thanks for your generous praise of the column! I appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Aliases are seen in posting, even our own comments, to any number of sites. Commenters may well believe they are speaking to a woman v a man, and it can throw them into emotional reactions that seem truly inappropriate, even when commenting on politics. I have found this to be the case and have tested it. It is remarkable how biased people can be. This makes it very clear to me why people would write their books using aliases. Easy to understand.

    Nice article, Dave. Happy reading! And writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aliases in posting! Why didn’t I think to mention that? πŸ™‚ Very glad YOU did, HopeWFaith, and that you related that to pen names by authors. When one doesn’t know the gender of someone, it can indeed color one’s response in ways that might be revealing of bias.

      Reminds me that when Mary Ann Evans began writing under her George Eliot alias, most readers naturally took her for a male author. But one exception was an admiring Charles Dickens, who was pretty sure he was reading the work of a woman.

      Thanks for your kind words and terrific comment!


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