I was in London on business this past week. The Olympics were gone, the weather was perfect (in the 70s) and the city, as always, was visually quaint and a throwback to earlier times. [Photo above by Marc Myers]
But what was particularly noticeable was the delightful absence of the word "like." Londoners of all ages still speak in full sentences, and conversations aren't afflicted by the four-letter word that a growing number of Americans now use in almost every sentence. ("I ran into a friend yesterday, who was, like, so cold and distant.")
The word "like" is deployed most often today in the States both as a conversational comma (see "uhhh") and a preamble to displeasure for what follows. For example, "My boss went, like, crazy because I was late for work."
As far as I can tell, "like's" use began in earnest with Moon Unit Zappa's Valley Girl in 1982—a hit that parodied the superficial teen lifestyle of California's San Fernando Valley. [Pictured above: Moon Unit Zappa]
In the 30 years since the song's release, the popularity of the word "like" and its frequent use has made it thoroughly ubiquitous and all but unheard to the American ear. As a result, we've all become bubble-heads.
For whatever cultural reason, "like" doesn't pop up in the U.K. at all. Which was a welcome relief from the listener's perspective, though I'm sure there are grating twists of the English language over there that I completely missed.
For your listening pleasure, here's Moon Zappa singing Valley Girl in 1982:
Singers Unlimited radio. Jazz musician Bill Kirchner will host his "Jazz From The Archives" radio show Sunday with a spotlight on the Singers Unlimited. The overdubbing vocal group recorded 15 albums between 1971 and 1982, several of which will be featured by Bill. You can listen in on your computer from anywhere in the world by going to New York's WBGO here at 11 p.m. (EDT).
Bird and Prez radio. WKCR in New York will present its annual end-of-summer radio celebration of Charlie Parker and Lester Young in its "Bird-Prez" Broadcast on Monday Tuesday and Wednesday (August 27, 28 and 29). You can listen in on your computer from anywhere in the world by going here.
Benny Golson in orbit. In 1959, tenor saxophonist Benny Golson composed and played the incidental music for Stop Driving Us Crazy!, a TV cartoon. Thanks to Bret Primack for sending this along...
Take the Hey Train. Bret also sent along this jumpin' gem from 1941, featuring the Delta Rhythm Boys, one of the earliest hit swing-era vocal groups...
Disco and jazz. Blogger and composer-arranger Darcy James Argue posted last week on jazz's influence on disco. Go to James' blog Secret Society here.
Forrest Westbrook turns 85. Leslie Westbrook sent along two YouTube clips featuring her father—pianist Forrest Westbrook—on Frank Evans' TV show, Frankly Jazz. In both cases, Forrest is with Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars.
Here's the first clip, Willow Weep for Me, with singer Lou Rawls...
Here's the second, Forrest Westbrook's own One for Buck...
Lost TV themes. JazzWax reader Alan Warner sent along this collection of forgotten jazzy TV themes...
Oddball album cover of the week. Meg Myles was a
'50s pin-up gal who by the early 1960s had decided to try her luck as a singer. She was well on her way until a false tabloid scandal involving Sammy Davis Jr. derailed her warbling career. She went on to appear in grindhouse movies (Satan in High Heels, scored by Mundell Lowe), TV (soaps in the '80s) and the theater, with some success. Here's another one of those sultry LP covers that invited the male consumer to be the "me" part of the equation.