Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Jukebox Tip Tray and My First Time Singing On Stage In Mannnnny Years…..

Mere days after my first and only album, Childstar, was released on Epic Records in 1974, I walked on stage in front of 10,000 people to open in Boston for folksinger David Bromberg.

The only other time I had been on stage before was when I played a little fur tree in a school play when I was 8. Now here I was singing soul music, the first 10 songs I ever wrote, plus a Mary Wells medley and Brenton Woods’s ”Oogum Boogum”. My band, the singers of whom would go on to become Chic, were dressed as sequined vegetables and I was in a satin suit that I’d autographed from head to toe. This is a really crappy photo of part of the costumes on mannequins but it’s all I’ve got;

Me and The Angle Babies aren’t in costume here but you can get a pretty good idea that between us and our costumes we weren’t what the folksinging crowd came to see.

I didn’t have a very good time on stage. I never could remember my lyrics and I always spent more time designing the sets and costumes than I did rehearsing or getting comfortable being on stage. After five performances on the East Coast we were booked into a lunchroom at Ohio State, the only way the college could also get Joni Mitchell to play in the main auditorium because we had the same agent. Our only audience were three people at a bridge table eating hot dogs and a psychology class being conducted in the back of the room, with the professor telling us to lower our volume after every song. I walked offstage after six songs and made the decision to just be a songwriter, where at least if I was being tortured it was in the comfort of my own room.

Through the years I’ve gotten much more comfortable performing – in my own unique way of doing so which doesn’t include singing live – mostly because I’m a big party thrower and walk around on mic the whole time.

Almost every conversation I have comes through the speakers and I’m literally directing and producing the party as I go. Throw in the thrift shop auctions and stupid party games that I lead the guests through and I’ve gotten very relaxed holding that cold metal thing in my hands.

But I still never have gotten it together to sing anywhere other than in the studio.

So the fact that in mere hours I will be up on the stage for the first time in almost four decades and I’m not sitting here throwing up is a MASSIVE ACHIEVEMENT! Me and five other well oiled songwriters will be singing our greatest hits and talking about how they were written. It’s just with a keyboard – Chris Price, who I’ve been writing and recording a song with and shooting a video all on iPhones, is accompanying me –  but I’m singing and remembering lyrics and lines nonetheless.

And if I can get through the evening not thinking about soul singers dressed as vegetables, psychology professors and hot dogs I will have made a big breakthrough.

I’ll be performing “September“, “Boogie Wonderland”, “Neutron Dance”, and “I’ll Be There for You (theme from Friends)“. At least radio has regaled me with these songs thousands of times over the years so I’m hoping that for once I can remember my own lyrics and be happy I’m up on stage.

Wish me luck!

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Categories: Accessories, Afro, Art, Boogie Wonderland, Creative process, Creativity, Disco, Discography, Earth Wind & Fire, empowerment, Fashion, Friends theme, Games, Hollywood, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Lyrics, Music, Neutron Dance, Party, School, Self expression, September, Songwriting

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Allee Willis’ “The 365 Days Of September” – Day 9

sept-http-www.youtube.comwatch-v=AlMX2OVeBsE&feature=related

I’m always happy when my work inspires folks to take on their own creative endeavors. But in this case, the spirit of my song, “September”, just might have inspired a little too much confidence in three college boys out to make a concept video. I get the fact that the guy in front suspects something is going on yet somehow misses that there are two (bad) dancers prancing behind him, but as storytelling goes this sinks like a tugboat loaded with cement. I especially love that the dancers often duck prematurely, even before the guy in front turns around to discover nothing. And sometimes the music just mysteriously stops. Best is once the innocent in front leaves the room so that the guys don’t have to mime anymore, one of them continues to silently mouth the song. Once it turns into a full-blown dance off, I can’t say I would be awarding any prize other than to advise them that their allowance money ought to go towards a new mic. Without question, the best part of this video is the toilet paper covering the door of the room across the hall.

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Categories: 365 Days Of September, Dance, Kitsch, Music, People, Self expression, September, Songwriting, video

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Allee Willis’ Soul O’ Day – Earth Wind & Fire At the Hollywood Bowl with a Seventy Piece Orchestra and Fireworks!

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Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t go to concerts. I don’t like the crowds, I don’t like the walking, I don’t like someone singing next to me or standing up in front of me dancing. I understand this is the nature of concerts and I’m not out to change that so I was always happier sinking my head under a set of headphones and listening to the intricacies of the music rather than the  idiosyncrasies of the crowd. This includes concerts where my own music is being performed. Of the hundreds and hundreds of songs of mine that have been cut I’ve seen maybe ten of them performed live. One of the most memorable nights ever for me was in 1979 at the Los Angeles Forum when half of the songs performed by Earth Wind & Fire were mine, including “September”, “Boogie Wonderland” and “In the Stone”.  Although I’m blessed to have some of my tunes among their most popular I never saw the band perform live again. Until last Friday night when I saw a performance that blew my head off my shoulders and still has me skipping along the sidewalks of Los Angeles, a very happy girl.

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Categories: Afro, Boogie Wonderland, Celebrity, Creativity, Dance, Disco, Earth Wind & Fire, Hollywood, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Lyrics, Music, Party, People, September, TV/Radio, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Vintage Bongos & Pomplamoose

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These 1950′s bongos with pearlized crushed ice wrap and heavy chrome hardware have been beaten on just about every song I ever wrote.  If it weren’t for their bone crushing girth they would be in my suitcase right now as I’m on my way up to northern CA. to finish six songs with Pomplamoose.

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Categories: Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, Musical Instruments, Pomplamoose, Songwriting

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day update – Disco suitcases temporarily retired

My trip was postponed for a month so the suitcases on are back in the closet and the percussion is resting nicely in its regular bed.

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Categories: Creativity, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, Musical Instruments, Pomplamoose, Songwriting, Travel

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What Social Networks And Songwriting Have In Common

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What’s to make me join yet another social network when I’m already a member of so many, dragging myself ’round the clock to fulfill my duties as a responsible citizen on each of them? What’s to make me listen to a record that sounds like everything else – same beat, loop or intellectually challenged lyric? It’s one thing to be first. It’s another to be 43rd.

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Categories: Afro, Boogie Wonderland, Earth Wind & Fire, Lyrics, Music, Social networks, Songwriting

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – James Brown, Me & How To Write for Money

 

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Categories: Afro, Celebrity, Discography, empowerment, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, People, Reality tv, Songwriting, video

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The Reality Of Being A Songwriter

grammy-winning-85 Winning the Grammy in 1986

Yesterday I wrote an open email to a widely read music industry newsletter re the longstanding mistreatment of songwriters in the entertainment industry, veering off into the music industry ignoring the Internet until it had almost swallowed them up. Today, Mark Cuban posted this on his Facebook page which led to it spreading virally. I’ve had so many people email me and send me Facebook messages today I decided to post what I wrote myself:

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Categories: Art, Consumer Alert!, Creativity, Discography, Financial, Friends theme, Interactivity, Lyrics, Music, Neutron Dance, People, Self expression, Social networks, Songwriting, Technology, willisville

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“Badeya, Say do you remember…?”

A friend just sent me this. It was on Ellen two years ago. 

 

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Categories: Art, Kitsch, Music, Songwriting

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Being Boogie Wonderland

When I co-wrote the song “Boogie Wonderland” in 1978 every other record that came out had the word “boogie” in it to capitalize on the Disco craze that had wrapped itself around the world tighter than a spandex miniskirt. I spent hours with Jon Lind, eventual writer of such hits as Madonna’s “Crazy” and Vanessa Williams’ “Save The Best For Last”, discussing how we could use the word “boogie” in a song without using it as a synonym for ‘dance’ as trillions of composers before us already had.

I had just seen the movie “Looking For Mr. Goodbar” in which Diane Keaton goes to the disco every night, picks up men and brings them home, eventually stumbling on a serial killer. The state of mind of a club-goer who gyrates their brains out on a dance floor, escaping for a precious few hours their otherwise dysfunctional life is the state of mind that to us was Boogie Wonderland, a wondrous and temporary headspace where all is well and life is bouncing to a happy beat until the record ends and life deflates back into its more depressed state.

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Categories: Boogie Wonderland, Creative process, Discography, Earth Wind & Fire, Lyrics, Music, Songwriting

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